Sunday 25 November 2018

Kartok Getse, The Fearless Warrior

This post is humbly offered as a dedication to the memory of H.H.Kathok Getse Rinpoche, as we remember and honour a great and fearless Dzogchenpa. *

There are no random acts in the life of a Mahasiddha!
This must be loudly and clearly proclaimed because we ordinary beings with our limited perception perceive events very differently from those who come to this earth to benefit others.

Based on the evidence at hand, many would say that Getse Rinpoche left this world prematurely, due to an accident. But let us repeat. There are no random acts in the life of a Mahasiddha and nothing is as it appears to be. Transform this 'accident' into an act of supreme sacrifice and we come much nearer to the truth. Bodhisattva's appear in this world to remind sentient beings to recognise what actually is.

And this needs to be mentioned, in fact, it needs to be 'shouted from the rooftops' lest we forget!

And we do forget, constantly and miserably...

Getse Rinpoche was no more timid when facing death than he was in life. Having recognised the true nature of 'reality' he could move in this world without attachment and without fear. He did not relish the strictures of monastic life and yet neither did he shun them. He could 'dance the dance' while ever mindful of what really is and what really is, beckons us all.

In recognising that his time had come, he strode unflinchingly towards what awaited without even the least hesitation. By so doing, we can trust that impure karma has been averted and the unrelenting guru of impermanence has been clearly and unmistakably pointed out.

He had the courage to embrace the mortality of this earthly body and let it go when all the causes and conditions had ripened and in so doing he has bestowed upon us the supreme gift of the Dharma; that of remembering that we are not this body nor this mind!

He could gaze into the face of death without fear because he had established himself in what is deathless. In these impoverished times, when the Dharma is often practised without sincerity or determination, there are few who can understand the true activity of one such as this.

And yet here is the greatest teaching. Right here under our very noses. Not disguised, not edited, not covered over and not hidden. Right here and right now, as this whole mighty ship of samsara, within which we live, move and dream the dream of our lives, slowly and irrevocably sinks into the infinite ocean.

We, who are unmindful of what is approaching, continue to play out our lives, consumed by our dramas and our endless preoccupations.

Can we not give ourselves pause for thought? Can we not look up for a moment with an unclouded and undistracted view?

To the Lama who points fearlessly to that which is, we who falter in samsara bow down in profound gratitude for your immeasurable kindness...


Geste Rinpoche
(shared by Tulku Jigme Wangdrak)

I was blessed. I met Getse Rinpoche soon after he left Tibet and arrived in India.
It was in the winter of 1997/8... It was in Bodhgaya.

Every day I had been passing many hours in a spot near the Bodhi tree, the place where the Buddha attained realisation. Just in front of me, a young Tibetan Lama was performing prostrations. Many hours of the day he was there, polishing the wooden prostration board with his gloved hands and long red robes...

In little breaks, we sometimes shared a few words and a few jokes. He knew a smattering of English and I a smattering of Tibetan.

One day, quite out of the blue, he asked me to accompany him to meet a Lama.
At first, I was hesitant, not wanting to be sidetracked or distracted. However, the following day, he spoke of this Lama again, impressing upon me, that he had just come from Kathok in Tibet, the place where my own teacher, Chadral Rinpoche, had spent many years.  When, on the following day, he asked me for the third time I began to take note. In a dynamic place such as Bodhgaya, unexpected meetings can come ones way and in turn be meaningful.

I followed him in the early afternoon through the market streets outside the stupa compound and into a small room in a simple building above the crowded bazaar. In that first meeting, I was somewhat taken aback, surprised, unsettled in a way which I could not quite understand. It was nothing which was said, as we merely exchanged pleasantries and discussed our respective teachers but the 'atmosphere' of this meeting somehow lingered on.

After that first meeting, I seemed to bump into him all over the place and at all times of the day and evening. I joined him and a group of his close ones on a pilgrimage to Nalanda and Rajgir one day and it was on this occasion that I became fully aware of his considerable power and presence.

During the bus ride on our way back to Bodhgaya that evening, he was facing me. Some hours into that journey, I suddenly looked up, as if prodded by some invisible hand. The first thing I saw was Getse Rinpoche's face and he was looking directly at me. He fixed me with a gaze for which I was entirely unprepared. If that moment had been in any way contrived, shyness would very likely have forced me to look away, but in the disappearing light of the day, my mind simply went blank and I was drawn into a vast and unfolding silence. His gaze was like a doorway into something beyond the universe. It was utterly riveting...

Before I knew it we were all clambouring off the bus and heading towards our various accommodations. He and I exchanged no words, nothing at all was said. After such a gaze, what could possibly be said? The world had stopped, period!

During that particular winter prior to meeting Getse Rinpoche, I had been deeply immersed in the mystery; 'who am I?' I had taken it as my main practice. Hours and hours I sat in blessed proximity to the Vajrasana seat beneath the sacred Bodhi Tree where the Buddha had realised the ultimate reality. I was determined to find a way into the ever-present portal of my own mysterious awareness. And then right there, and quite unbidden came one who had gone before, who had embraced the mystery, who could open the 'door,' and who was absolutely fearless and staring directly into the face of truth...

How can one ever repay such kindness?

I was fortunate to meet him on many occasions during the months and years that followed that first meeting in Bodhgaya. One can recount so many things about these times, but I will mention just one which comes instantly to mind.

One time when I was staying near Chadral Rinpoche's retreat centre in Godavari, he came for an unexpected visit. At that time a number of students were staying in the retreat centre inside the beautiful compound and gardens. Near the entrance into the retreat, Chadral Rinpoche had placed a notice announcing that none should enter the precincts therein save those mentioned right there on the notice. None would ever think to challenge the command of Chadral Rinpoche, an elder Lama, whose authority was sacrosanct.

Yet, after perusing the sign at the entrance way, Getse Rinpoche strode right on in, met with the students staying inside, exchanged a few words and a bit of banter and then went on his way again. Many of those who were there that day, were somewhat taken aback yet, this was quite in keeping with Getse Rinpoche's character.

Read on in Pieces of a Dream