By Joanne Friday When Thay was in the United States last June, I dreamed he had died. For me, it was a nightmare; I woke in a panic. I immediately started to have regrets. I had wanted to attend the three-week retreat, but was unable, due to finances and litigation I was involved in. I was thinking that I had missed my last opportunity to be in Thay's presence and to learn from his teachings. I was so distraught. Then, I began to consider what I had been doing during those three weeks. I had been involved in litigation with an opposing attorney who attacked my integrity and my character. It required intense practice to keep praying for his instant enlightenment and not to become anger and hatred too. He was a very demanding teacher!
I also had a very good friend who was dying of brain cancer during those three weeks. I sat with him and held his feet. I remembered Thay's teachings about being with Alfred Hassler when he was dying. I reviewed with my friend the contributions he had made and the wonderful legacy he was leaving behind. I was able to be truly present for him and for his wife.
I also remembered Thay's teachings in a recent Mindfulness Bell that a true teacher is one who facilitates your realization of the goodness, truth, and beauty that you embody. Truth isn't outside you in the person of your teacher or lover.
So in the middle of the night, having looked deeply, I realized that there was no missed opportunity. Although I didn't have the pleasure of being in Thay's company, Thay was with me all along because I was practicing the teachings that he had transmitted. What I had mistaken as a nightmare had been a deep teaching on no bilth, no death.
Joanne Friday, Clear Beauty of the Heart, is an artist and counselor, practicing with Clear Heart Sangha in Matunuck, Rhode Island.