A Small Orange Book With a Huge Heart
Jose Luis Angulo writes from Madrid: “My first encounter with Sogyal Rinpoche’s book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, was as a witness to a fact that, at that moment, I didn’t understand very well.
It was in Kuala Lumpur in September of the year 2003. I was there with Pia, my wife, on our last stopover on our way back home from a trip to Cambodia.
On the flight back I slept peacefully, as I usually do. Meanwhile, Pia was devouring her book. From time to time I opened an eye and saw her crying, and she would wipe her tears and tell me between sobs: “What a book! What a marvel!”
I looked incredulous. She was crying like a baby, but she said that she was enjoying it, and that she had never read anything like this. But not even this was enough to stir up my curiosity; I thought the jet lag was making her emotional, and she would relax when we arrived home was able to rest after such a long trip.
As soon as we arrived, however, she immediately searched on the internet, and found something called Rigpa, a group that was following the teachings of the same master who had written the damn book, and they were even meeting weekly in Madrid!
She decided to try going to one session. She tried to get me to go with her, but I only told her: “Be careful, because in these places they only want to flirt, and I am sure they also want to take your money. Don’t trust.”
The weeks went by, and Pia kept going to the meetings quite regularly, and coming back very happy and excited. It didn’t look like she was flirting with anyone, and our bank account didn’t have any holes in it at that point. I started to feel curious, and one Tuesday I went with her.
I have to say I went with a rather sceptical frame of mind. In the group they read out some paragraphs from the book, and then those in attendance discussed them. I thought that what I heard was quite logical, I felt very comfortable and I started to go every Tuesday.
The next step was to buy my own copy of the book; unconsciously I felt it wasn’t something to share, I wanted to have my own copy. I remember I took the book with me on a short trip to Quito, where I just devoured it. Except for some work meetings I hardly came out of the hotel room. I couldn’t stop, and I didn’t want to stop reading; I impatiently wanted to finish the book. Each page was bringing me a new surprise, and even though I was barely able to internalize it, I wanted to go on. In that first reading of the book, I underlined many words and wrote many notes in its margins.
I don’t remember crying with emotion, or feeling a punch in my heart, but the seed was planted.
Since that time, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has been an important part of my life. It was the trigger that made me go to Játiva for a week-end, to participate in my first meditation course. I met the people at the Rigpa centre there, and they seemed very normal, even quite funny. After that I went to Barcelona and to Valencia, I took part in other courses and read the book a few more times again, and every time I read it, it seemed like a new and different book for me. I discovered new things, which had been there before already, but I was perceiving them differently.
Eventually I attended a teaching given personally by Rinpoche; I was thrilled when I heard him talking with so much love and respect about his masters. I realized that a new phase had started in my life, and that the one thing that had opened my eyes and helped me take my first steps had been a smallish-looking book with an orange cover, but with a huge heart within it.
Thank you Rinpoche for this gift that you have given me. Thanks also to all your masters who guided you, and to those who were with you from the beginning, who helped you and made it possible for The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying to see the light.”
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