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I am looking out over the hills of Toscana. The sun is rising in the distance is Merigar and I can also see the Maistro’s house from the pensione we have rented. Last night as I drove home from dinner at a friend’s house a white owl flew near my car, and lingered. I am reminded that I had a very similar experience with a white owl while visiting Hawaii a few years back.  I had also presented a course on dreams there. I ask myself is this a dream.

It is the second consecutive summer that I have presented a course on Dream Yoga at Merigar and now I am staying on so as to participate in a course with Rinpoche. I feel a great honor to present this material at Rinpoche’s invitation as his dream transmission is the heart essence gift which he gives us his students.  Although my capacity in comparison is like a candle to the sun I hope to communicate something useful as Rinpoche has only two arms.

There is something gnawing at me since the Dream course concluded, perhaps it is related to the strong emotions that welled up within me as the course ended. I feel an urgency to write. As I begin the theme becomes clearer.

Two of the participants in this years course were struggling with cancer.  One of them had remarked that all other fears are insignificant to the fear of death. As I write I remember back now nearly fifty years.  My mother is tickling me and I am nearly crying with laughter. These years have passed impossibly fast and now it is I tickling my son to tears. I think also of my teachers Dudjom Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche and Lama Gonpo who have passed.  I am wondering if the white owl might be a reminder that death is our shadow.

It is our condition that we become so involved in our complicated lives we forget the need to prepare for our death.  Perhaps we forget that Samsara is an ocean of suffering and the preciousness of the human rebirth. I also prefer to put these considerations off also after all tonight there is the fine wine of Montalcino. Yet there is also the voice of Rinpoche whispering about that famous tomorrow, a tomorrow that may not come, and there is the white owl, and the students struggling with cancer, and the years which pass more and more quickly 

It is something like thirty years I am practicing the Dharma.  I have forgotten even the name of so many important secondary practices  I am attempting to work with instant presence.  As Lama Tarchen once reminded me it is something relatively easy to pick up but difficult to carry.  In the lives of the Mahasiddhas there are stories of those who upon receiving a direct introduction became instantly realized.  Guru Padmasambhava for example achieved the great transference in his life.   When I look in the mirror I don’t believe it will happen to me.  On the other hand I am still hoping that I might do something at the time of my death.

According to the teachers there are two opportunities for liberation at death.  These correspond to the Chonyid and the Sidpai bardos. The opportunities at these times are directly related to the Practice of Natural Light, and the Dream yoga practices respectively.  For example if one is successful with  the practice of the night one’s familiarity with presence may allow one to integrate with the natural light of our intrinsic nature. The unification of the mother and son.

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