Your mother is your real teacher

Your mother is your real teacher

Dza Paltrül was sitting one day with his devoted disciple Nyoshul Lungthog. They were sitting in silence, as they were wont to do on occasion, when Paltrül questioned Nyoshul rather abruptly: “Hey, Nyoshul! How often d’you think about your mother?” Nyoshul looked a bit perplexed, but answered: “Well... not really very often. I try to keep my mind on my practice mostly.” Paltrül frowned but said nothing further. A while later, Paltrül suddenly announced: “But your mother has been thinking a lot about you.” Nyoshul replied that he thought that was indeed possible, to which Paltrül asked: “Do you remember her in your practice?” Nyoshul wondered where this line of questioning was leading. “Sometimes...” he replied, “but in general I try to contemplate the suffering of all sentient beings.” Paltrül was looking out of the window at this point, in a disinterested manner. “And so you say...” Paltrül sighed, but had nothing further to add. It seemed as if it was time for Nyoshul to take his leave. He offered his respects and backed toward the door, but Paltrül ignored him.

The next day some butter arrived for Nyoshul, as a present from his mother. He went immediately to see Paltrül and offered it to him. It was a very fresh, fine, and flavoursome consignment of butter which the dear old lady had lovingly churned herself. To Nyoshul’s perplexity, his teacher was appeared displeased with the butter and pushed it away as if it offended him. He watched his disciple for a moment, and then exploded: “You miserable little sod Nyoshul! Where are you! What are you thinking of! Is this any way to treat your mother! Get out of here! I don’t want to see your face for a week you crawler! Spend the time contemplating nothing but your mother’s kindness, or don’t bother to call on me again!” Nyoshul was rather petrified by this chastisement and scuttled off into retreat for a week.

After the week was up, Nyoshul went to see Paltrül in a state of amazement. He had thought about the kindness of his mother continuously, and it had moved him to such a degree that he finally understood something of the core of what it means to wish for the Liberation of everyone. As he spoke to Paltrül of what had happened to him in his contemplation, tears flooded down his face. He begged leave to visit his mother one last time before she died. But Paltrül said: “No, you must not go just yet, there’s still more for you to practice.” Nyoshul looked stricken at the thought, “But what if she dies before I see her again?” Paltrül looked at him and smiled, saying: “There are pilgrims coming to see us in a day or two – we need to see them first, but you will not be long delayed.” Nyoshul returned to his meditation, and felt emotionally burnt to a cinder by a fire in his heart that kept becoming more expansive. By the time Paltrül summoned him his experience had evolved to a pitch that was physically almost unendurable. Paltrül obviously understood exactly what was happening to Nyoshul. He had nothing much to say but smiled and advised him to relax a little.

The two Lamas received the pilgrims, and Paltrül surprised Nyoshul by accepting all their offerings. When the pilgrims had left, Paltrül said: “Now go see your mother. You were right, she doesn’t have long, but long enough for you to spend time with her. Take these offerings to her as a present. That’ll make her happy. Stay with her when she dies and practice the passage of the bardos with her. Once it’s all over you can return here, because I have something to tell you.”

Nyoshul followed his teacher’s instruction. His mother was delighted to see him after many years, and said nothing in the way of an admonition for his neglect of her. She was deeply moved by the presents he brought her, and the effect this had on Nyoshul simply propelled him further into the rising tide of meditational experience that had begun with his contemplation of his mother’s kindness. It seemed that there was no end to the energy that was manifesting.

After some months his mother died. He remained to perform all the necessary rites and bardo meditations. He became aware that his mother was a great practitioner herself, and that she needed little assistance from him in the dissolution of the elements. Once the period of meditations was concluded, Nyoshul returned to Paltrül for what was to be the last time. Arriving back in Dza-chukha he presented himself to his Lama, who addressed him in a very kind and loving manner. “It’s now time for you to go into a long retreat, and when you come out, I shall also be gone. Always remember your mother’s kindness, Nyoshul, and remember how you received this transmission.” During the next days Paltrül gave his student much advice, before Nyoshul finally went on his way to the meditation cave determined for him. As he was leaving Paltrül called out to him a few parting words: “Remember your mother Nyoshul! Your mother was your real teacher!”

< Prev   Next >