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    Birth and Death

Letting Go

By Lama Gendun Rinpoche, translated from the Tibetan

Happiness cannot be found through
great effort and willpower,
but is already there, in relaxation and letting go.
Don’t strain yourself, there is nothing to.

Whatever arises in the mind
has no importance at all,
because it has no reality whatsoever.
Don’t become attached to it. Don’t pass judgement.

Let the game happen on its own,
springing up and falling back
— without changing anything —
and all will vanish and reappear, without end.

Only our searching for happiness prevents us from seeing it.
It is like a rainbow which you run after without ever catching it.
Although it does not exist, it has always been there
and accompanies you every instant.

Don’t believe in the reality of good and bad experiences.
They are like rainbows.
Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.

As soon as you relax this grasping,
space is there — open, inviting, and comfortable.
So make use of it.
All is yours already.

Don’t search any further.
Don’t go into the inextricable jungle
looking for the elephant
who is already quietly at home.

Nothing to do,
nothing to force,
nothing to want
— and everything happens by itself.

The following is an extract from a letter from the Venerable Changchub Nyingpo of Thongdrul Ling, Le Bost, France

The traditional retreat in Tibet was three years and was a balance of instruction and meditation practice. Here in Le Bost, because of various problems and difficulties, the program is extended over 6½ years. There is a short break halfway and not all continue. The instruction remains the same but the practical application, the meditation, is expanded. A switch in emphasis, you could say.

Lama Gendun was born about 1917–18 in the north-east part of the Tibetan province of Kham. Right from the start he seems to have been interested in religion. At an early age, about 13, he went to a monastery, but was disinterested in the traditional occupations of a monk, learning by rote, rituals, and so on. At 21 he began the traditional 3 year 3 month 3 day retreat in the retreat centre of his monastery. Later he continued in retreat in the monastery itself. After several years his teachers told him his practice was complete and now it was time for him to benefit beings. He undertook an extended pilgrimage to Tibet’s various sacred places. Because of the now unstable conditions in Tibet, he meditated in the Himalayan region, leaving for Bhutan in 1959.

In 1975, at the request of the 16th Karmarpa, he came to the Dordogne. In 1984, the first 3 year retreat for 15 men and 10 women began. We are now in the 4th cycle and have grown to 4 retreat centres of approximately 15 persons each for men, and the same for women. For more than 3 years now, at any one time, there are more than 100 persons in strict retreat. A monastery — 60 monks — and a nunnery — 40 nuns — together with a temple, are nearing completion. Lama Gendun makes plain to his students that he regards them as links in the chain, transmitting from one generation to the next the Dharma. Several of Lama Gendun’s Lamas now travel and teach extensively throughout Europe, even as far as St. Petersburg. Now in his late 70s, one may say that Lama Gendun’s life has been unusual and fruitful.


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