Can the lotuses in a lake stay ever together?

Statue of the 6th Shamarpa carved by the 10th Karmapa

Statue of the 6th Shamarpa carved by the 10th Karmapa

Here is an extract from the late 14th Shamarpa’s book “A Golden Swan in Turbulent Waters”, about the life of the 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje. It illustrates their close relationship as student and teacher.

Here, the 10th Karmapa relates a conversation with his root teacher the 6th Shamarpa:

Shamarpa: “Can the lotuses in a lake stay ever together without separating?”

Karmapa: “No.”

“Shamarpa continued, ‘That’s right. Sometimes, the lotuses will disappear first, while the lake remains. Sometimes the lake will dry up first. Likewise, some people die poor, while others die rich. Some die young, while others die old. Nevertheless, like flowers, all humans and beings of the universes go through the cycle of birth, aging, and death.’

Then I [Karmapa] was very sad. Usually when bodhisattvas have finished their work in one planet, they will go to another planet to help. There are two reasons for their passing. The first is to teach people about impermanence; to teach them about the problems of self-clinging due to ignorance and how to solve them through the teachings of selflessness and meditation. When the teachings have been given, the bodhisattvas show the impermanence of physical form and life by their own passing.
The second is to further engage in bodhisattva activities for sentient beings elsewhere, as they wish to liberate limitless sentient beings.

. . . Shamarpa then said that because we were jointly engaged in bodhisattva activities together that we would forever be each other’s helper. I knew then that it was his last teaching to me – that he would pass away very soon.

Shamarpa then said, ‘When I pass away, please don’t worry. Please remember the teaching that all phenomena are impermanent.’

[The next morning] Shamarpa entered parinirvana without any pain or suffering.

He was like the moon in this Dark Age. He passed away and left us with only his teachings written by his hand. Therefore, disciples, you should follow them.”


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