Clown Repa Shares His Dream With Tokpa Dorje Who Reveals Its Meaning.

Clown Repa awoke one morning having dreamed a curious and wonderful dream that he felt surely must portend auspicious accomplishment in his practice but he could not understand the signs so he decided to briefly break retreat and go beseech Tokpa Dorje for his clairvoyant interpretation. These days Tokpa Dorje was very old and usually remained in his room which is where Clown Repa found him. As Clown Repa entered the room with his head bowed, Tokpa Dorje opened one eye and then closed it again.

           “Dear son, why have you broken your retreat?” he asked.

           Clown Repa bent his knee to the floor and placed his hands together, “Lama I have had a most amazing dream unlike any I have yet experienced and I’ve come to beg your interpretation of it.”

           Tokpa Dorje’s eyes remained closed but he raised his eyebrows and then narrowed them in obvious consternation, “You broke your retreat because of a dream! What is it with you westerners and your dreams?” Tokpa Dorje shook his head.

           “Well since you’ve decided to come out you might as well make yourself useful. Go to the kitchen and help with whatever needs to be done; bring food first to the three workers who are repairing the stupa on the western slope, and then bring food down to your brothers who are plowing the fields today. Help them with the labor and don’t come back until it’s finished!”

            Clown Repa had hoped Tokpa Dorje would simply give him his interpretation so that he could continue his retreat but this was inconvenient.

            “Will you hear me this evening?” Clown Repa asked.

            Tokpa Dorje gave a slight nod and said no more. That night Clown Repa shared his dream.

Clown Repa’s Dream

            “I dreamed I was preparing for a great journey. I approached my horse but before lifting myself up I kissed the ground and the earth trembled. As I pulled myself up the horse snorted wildly but as I planted myself in the saddle it calmed down immediately. I noticed I was wearing a full suit of radiant golden armor. Three maidens were there to see me off. They were beautiful and serene. The first one said, “May your enemies tremble in your wake.” The second one said, “May your journey be light and free of toil.” The third said, “May you reach the destination on which your sight is set.” They each handed me a crystal. These I pocketed and without looking back, I started down the road. My right hand held the reigns and my left hand rested on a saddle bag filled with texts, religious implements, and ceremonial cakes.

            “I traveled for a long time. Occasionally brigands would approach me and then turn and run for the hills, or poor, hard faced peasants would shout abuses as I approached and then go mute and look away. Sometimes I would pass through a village and there would be great fanfare and celebration of my arrival. To all of this I paid little heed, but rather kept riding down the road.

            “After having traveled night and day for quite some time I came upon a woman picking berries by the wayside. My heart started beating riotously. She looked up and our eyes met and I was almost knocked off my horse with sheer awe and wild adoration. There, standing before me was the most beautiful, luminous being I have ever seen. She popped a berry into her mouth and smiled. Not knowing what to say or what to do, I reached into my bag and withdrew a cake which I offered to her in my trembling hand. She approached me and it took all my power not to crush the cake with apprehension. She accepted the cake and thanked me silently. Her smell was all around me and I wanted to fly and weep and sing and die all at once. Then I continued onward.

            “Night was falling. The sky revealed an endless vault of stars, such as I have never seen. I realized my left hand was resting against my heart and so I returned it to the saddle bag, but it was gone. I didn’t care in the least. There was a soft breeze, the sound of the horse’s hooves, and leagues of silence in all directions. Our pace slowed, and I could not begin to remember or imagine my original intention for setting out on this journey. The horse stepped ever so gently, ever so slowly, and I laughed out loud. Then a vast light dawned from behind my eyes, and I awoke…”

            Tokpa Dorje drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Interesting indeed,” he replied. “However I am very old and very tired, so come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you about your dream, if I’m still alive!”

            Tokpa Dorje laughed and coughed and wheezed, impeccably feigning a decrepit vulnerability so that Clown Repa wondered if he wouldn’t unhinge and unravel before his eyes. Clown Repa hid his exasperation, but that night he selfishly prayed that the dream portended accomplishment and that his teacher didn’t die before telling him!

            The following morning Tokpa Dorje was looking over a text with another monk and answering questions when Clown Repa arrived. The old Lama and his student looked up and Tokpa Dorje admonished Clown Repa, “You’ve come here without bringing tea and those little cookies of yours that I love so much!”

            Clown Repa turned around and went to fetch his master tea and cookies. He could hear Tokpa Dorje and the monk laughing together. He returned with tea and cookies (his single amenity he had brought in great quantity from home, which had endeared Tokpa Dorje to him from the beginning). Tokpa Dorje’s eyes lit up and he began loudly enjoying his favorite snack. There were more monks and they all smiled. Clown Repa sat against the wall as various visitors, pilgrims, dignitaries, and villagers, came and went throughout the morning. Some days were extremely busy and constant and others were completely quiet. Generally Tokpa Dorje preferred maintaining a certain peace for his community and he seemed to be able to control how many visitors arrived, raising and closing some invisible psychic gate, as he would never turn anyone away if he could help it. Clown Repa was somewhat agitated and impatient but he truly enjoyed sitting on the side and watching Rinpoche with his visitors.

            When things had quieted down, Tokpa Dorje beckoned Clown Repa.

            “Did you have any more special dreams last night?” he asked.

            “No, well, only a small one, but it’s not significant,” Clown Repa replied, averting
his Lamas’ gaze.

            Tokpa Dorje grinned, “Tell me anyway.”

            Clown Repa shifted his body awkwardly, “I dreamed I was in a store trying to buy beer and lottery tickets but I couldn’t decide what to get, so I gave up and walked out.”

            “Beer,” Tokpa Dorje repeated, “Yum!”

            But then furrowing his brow he asked, “What are lottery tickets?”

            “It’s a game millions of people pay money to play, on the chance that their tickets, which have numbers on them, will match the winning numbers, and eventually someone wins a lot of money.”

            “Hmm, so one person wins and everyone else loses, but often nobody wins?”


            Tokpa Dorje burst into laughter. “They should all be happy they don’t win because the one who wins all that money is the biggest loser!”

            Laughing still, Lama Dorje calmed himself and asked Clown Repa if he had ever played this game.

            “Yes,” answered Clown Repa, looking at a pebble on the floor.

            “Oh really?” Tokpa Dorje grinned, revealing all nine of his teeth. “How often have you played this game?”

            Clown Repa hesitated, “More times than I can count.”

            At this, Tokpa Dorje roared with laughter, choking and sputtering, “Yes, yes, it’s just like that.” He wiped the tears from his eyes and composed himself.

            “Now you want to know the meaning of your very special, wonderful dream?”

            Clown Repa prostrated, “Please explain its meaning!”

            Tokpa Dorje chuckled, “Oh Clown Repa, you are such a clown, and very dear to my heart, so listen closely.”

Tokpa Dorje’s Interpretation

            “Of course this dream concerns your spiritual journey in this life and it is quite auspicious. Before mounting your horse you kissed the ground and the earth shook. This indicates the ground of your entire journey which must be cultivated first and foremost; the pure motivation to love and serve all sentient beings and the pure aspiration to attain liberation so as to accomplish their benefit. Just this Bodhicitta alone is enough to shake the earth to its core.

            “The horse is your very breath which one must ride until the end of this precious life, thus it is certainly trustworthy and should not be neglected. Its wild snorting alludes to the waywardness of discursive winds in the body that are tamed and focused once one is seated in an upright posture upon the saddle of the umbilicus, the navel being the royal seat of the breath and its attendant winds. One’s mind remains present with the breath, as a rider aligns his mind with the horse, skillfully guiding its path.

            “Your golden armor is clearly the adamantine armor of basic awareness, the very light of sentience, original and wakeful. It is the natural clarity of mind’s nature, birth-less and without ending; simple, subtle, and ordinary. This mindfulness that is free of deliberation, imputation, and interpretation; free of all concepts, fixation and distraction; is without a doubt, the supreme source of guidance and protection. It is the vajra essence guru of your Buddha nature. There is no equal. Its flawless protection is demonstrated throughout the journey so I’ll continue.

            “The three maidens were undoubtedly wisdom Dakini’s bestowing the blessings of crystal conduct. Having donned the armor that recognizes Buddha nature one no longer differentiates the nature of their own mind from that of Buddha. One wholeheartedly engages in the crystal conduct of Foe-Destroying Confidence, Utter Relaxation, and Perfect Patience; as indicated in their subsequent parting words. The enemies of confusion are destroyed with confidence that is free of doubt and hesitation; one is utterly relaxed because there is nothing to accomplish; and one is perfectly patient because they are not waiting for anything, nor do they wish anything to be other than it already is.

            “Riding forward, your right hand holds the reigns of single pointed intention and your left hand rests on the bag of religious articles and so forth. These articles are the provisions of method and means. They correspond with the distinctive display of your particular path of accumulation, purification, and insight, and serve as nourishment and support throughout the journey.

            “Then there are the brigands and beggars, your belligerent greed and impoverished neurosis of lack, threatening you with treachery and fear. As well there is all the fanfare of self aggrandizement and pride with the attendant temptation to cease your journey and rest in the illusory village where you are regaled with fleeting honors and praise. However, due to the flawless protection of your radiant armor of awareness, demons tumble back on themselves and are silenced in their place. Its guidance was adamantine so that when gods came calling; you gave as much attention to their praise as you would the sound of horse shit landing in the dirt. Mind’s nature is that of a polished mirror, reflecting all that is displayed, but it is constitutionally unconcerned with whatever arises. It knows that its stainless clarity ceaselessly prevails and so is consummately meaningful, while even the slightest straying from this primordial clarity constitutes an adventitious reflection and is thus exceptionally meaningless!

            “You continued traveling day and night. Obviously this speaks to your undying commitment and tireless diligence. These qualities must not be overlooked and cannot be over emphasized. To neglect this simple and natural course is to take all of one’s accumulated wealth of merit and dump it into the ocean, and then run and make a home in hell for eternity.

            “And then my favorite part! Certainly this last maiden was none other than Prajnaparamita herself. The berries are the fruition of the awakening of all Buddha’s of the three times. She eats enlightenment for breakfast! However, that she was Prajnaparamita is almost irrelevant because the sheer infinitely incomprehensible magnitude of her gone-beyond nature eludes any context of elucidation. Really, to distinguish Prajnaparamita apart from anything is preposterous because she is all that there is. All of your conduct throughout the journey was simply the spontaneous diamond dance of Prajnaparamita. What is more important is that you saw her and fell madly in love! You traveled so long with such determined poise and eloquence only to be reduced to a dumbstruck animal of devotion! Every last trace of supposed knowledge and cleverness leaked right out of your ears! This maiden more relevantly embodies the total faith and devotion of your heart. This faith and devotion are complete, they are self sustaining, requiring no object of support. Once established this faith is whole unto itself. That you offered her a ritual cake and she accepted it is truly marvelous. Everything that you spoke of in your dream, the entirety of your journey, was in that cake. And you surrendered it all to her! This is the ultimate refuge.

            “You rode away haplessly in love. Your hand rested on your heart because it is all that remained. You eventually remembered your bag and when you reached for it, it was gone. This illustrates how ultimately means and method truly are provisional; in the light of Truth, where diamond mind and heart overflow with the clarity of faith and devotion, you couldn’t care less about any of it.

            “You are entering nightfall, yes? The landscape recedes into darkness and silence. You are riding forth into the very Womb of Truth. All those stars are all sentient beings, including Buddha’s and their kin, for within the womb of perfect wisdom they all look the same. So there you are, slowing down, maximally carefree, the final vestiges of duality are fading behind you. You have the original innocence of a child not yet born. As the armor of your minds inherent luminosity indicates throughout your journey and clearly demonstrates as you softly motion in wonder within the womb of Enlightened Intent; Truth, the wish fulfilling gem of basic space, is all pervasive and innate; there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. Everything is left in its place. Additionally, Primordial Truth is self knowing. This means it will not be realized by means of the intellect. This is good news; not only is there nothing to do and nowhere to go, but as far as sentient migrators are concerned, there isn’t even anything to know! Despite the overall display of your passage, there is not a moment of deviation from the womb of perfect wisdom, the end result is purely the final clarification of your view; this womb is where you’ve always resided. In the end you witness that enlightenment is self dawning. It cannot be poked and prodded; the sun always rises by itself. In this moment you awaken, to find
that it was all a dream…”

            Clown Repa burst into tears and began openly sobbing. He prostrated many times and then kneeled by Tokpa Dorje’s bed, head bowed, shuddering his final tears. Tokpa Dorje patted him on the head chuckling all the while.

            “I don’t know what to say,” stammered Clown Repa.

            “Oh don’t say anything at all, please,” laughed Tokpa Dorje. “I’ve said too much already, pour us some tea.”

            Clown Repa poured.

            “I will give one last piece of advice.

            “Engaging with demons or gods, amassing additional provisions in distant townships and so on; these are all deviations from the direct path, the path that is before you. Spiritual complexities and antidotes can weigh one down and cause them to linger in various realms of delusion, thereby increasing opportunities for their body, speech, and mind to be seduced into non-virtuous activities. However, the path of the heart arises out of the meeting between one’s unique karma and the interdependent circumstances of this life. Only through one’s own wisdom discernment and experience can one judge the merit of their course and conduct; this is not the province of others. I offer this cautionary advice in lieu of the many sophistries and dogmas one is sure to encounter along the way. Of particular danger are those who love to smell their own farts of fragmented understanding regarding the Great Perfection or whatever you want to call it. That is all I have to say. Good dream!” Tokpa Dorje yawned and closed his eyes.

            Clown Repa looked up, “But Rinpoche, how could I have had such a pointless obscurative dream in the night following such a gloriously auspicious one?”

            Tokpa Dorje sputtered and smirked, “You’ve hardly figured out which direction to sit on the horse, let alone perfected the wisdom of your Buddha parents! He clapped Clown Repa on the shoulder, “Look at you, you’re supposed to be a Repa and you’re wearing three coats! I may be a dusty old corpse but all I have are these angrag pants and a blanket that’s hardly fit for rodent nesting; and still I often have to fan myself with my prayer book!”

            Tokpa Dorje laughed, “Do not worry, the second dream merely indicates that you are still enmeshed within a delusional climate of hope and fear. Fortunately it also indicates that in time you will give up on Samsara, and walk out…”

Comments | 2

  • Wash Your Bowls

    This reminds me a bit of one of my favorite books – Zen Comments on the Mumankan. It has zen buddhist koans and stories, coupled with Master Mumon’s commentary, and then commentary upon the commentary to help guide those of us who need some of it explained further.

    What’s interesting is that modern physics is coming around to support the idea that everything we know and see may just be a form of holographic projection. In other words, an illusion.

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