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Oct 17
Dharma Teachings
The Joke’s on Me

Snowy Transportation. Photo courtesy of Joey Johannsen.

Snowy Transportation. Photo courtesy of Joey Johannsen.

From the column Dharma Snacks by Cynthia Kneen

Trungpa Rinpoche always asked me to help him–at Tail of the Tiger, at Naropa University, and later, as he put it, “by infiltrating the business world and telling me what they are up to.” “Please,” he’d say, “Help me. Will you help me?“

The first time he asked, I cried. It’s embarrassing. Lip trembling, I said, “But I don’t want to.” And I cried, “What about me?” Maybe you don’t see the joke. I thought he was the Buddha and time wasn’t really real, that the historical Buddha was probably a fiction and Trungpa Rinpoche was IT. So I was saying to the Buddha, “Oh world-honored one, I will do anything for you, but please don’t ask me to do this. What about me??”

I did say, “Yes,” he thanked me, and I’ve tried to live my life accordingly. But there is more to the joke, which maybe you will get. A few days later Rinpoche gave me a card with a snowman on the front. The snowman was crying because the sun was shining, blazing really, and the snowman himself was melting. The sun’s rays were everywhere, naturally shining, like Buddha nature or the Great Eastern Sun shine. And the snowman’s melting was natural, too. Yet the snowman was crying! Boo hoo!! Inside the card, Rinpoche wrote, “You will feel better! Love, Chokyi.” So sweet and humorous.

I’ve been thinking about what the world needs from would-be Bodhisattvas and Shambhala warriors. I’ve been thinking about change inside my heart, change in the economy and in the world geopolitically, and how I best can help before I die. But really everyone needs help every moment, including me, and the sun is shining. It’s sweet and humorous. The joke’s on each of us.


Cynthia Kneen is the author of Awake Mind, Open Heart: The Power of Courage & Dignity in Everyday Life (Avalon, 2002), and the CD course, Shambhala Warrior Training (Sounds True, 1996). Cynthia has taught Shambhala Buddhist programs throughout the mandala for over thirty years and is currently writing a book on business and dharma. Visit her website at www.cynthiakneen.com

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