Change Comes

IMG_1618This is me learning Tibetan. Slowly, but learning. They say that Tibetan grammar developed to carry the teachings. This phrase, it’s poetry and philosophy together. That second character, the horizontal one with the squiggle underneath…it does this: “shows that an object and action are of the same nature.” Water, of the same nature, being whirled.

Movement and matter are no different. There is no subject in this phrase, but if there were, it would be transformed by this unimposing little preposition. They call it a ladeun, and it’s grammar for impermanence.

IMG_1617

Butter, fire, of the same nature, being burned. There is no difference between the action of burning and the nature of fire. The nature of this fire is that it is burning. Combusting, incinerating, transforming, changing. Butter is not burning into some other object that is static and fixed. Butter is burning into fire and fire itself is burning–again: combusting, incinerating, transforming, changing. There’s no god damn thing to hold on to.

I think of the Buddha of Infinite Light. The qualities of discriminating awareness and understanding of phenomena. The Shamarpas are the physical manifestation of all this. And though all physical things are ladeuned into other things, the qualities of mind remain. Change comes and forms go and wisdom abides. It’s a kind of wisdom that you can’t hold on to, but it’s there all the same.

**This post is part of a larger project culminating in a week of creative journalism in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal chronicling the cremation of the Tibetan spiritual master Shamar Rinpoche. To find out more or make a donation to this project, go here.

 

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