Crossing To The Other Shore

Even attachment to Nirvana
and aversion to Samsara
obstructs ultimate Nirvana.


One day, two Tibetan monks who were on a pilgrimage came to a rushing river. There on the bank sat an ugly old leper, begging for alms. When the monks approached, she asked the priestly pair to assist her in crossing the river. One monk felt an instinctive revulsion. Haughtily, he gathered his flowing monastic robes about himself and waded into the water on his own. Once on the other side, he wondered if he should even wait for his tardy friend. Would the latter abandon the leper or bring her along?

The second monk felt sorry for the helpless hag; his compassion blossomed spontaneously in his heart. He picked up the leprous creature and gently hoisted her onto his back. Then he struggled down the riverbank into the swirling current. It was then that an amazing thing happened. Midstream, where the going seemed to be the most difficult, with muddy water boiling about his thighs and his water-logged woolen robes billowing out like a tent, the kindly monk suddenly and miraculously felt his burden being lifted off his back. Looking up, he beheld the wisdom deity Vajya Yogini soaring gracefully overhead, reaching down to draw him up to the dakini paradise where she reigned.

The first monk, greatly chastened – having been directly instructed in the nature of both compassion and illusory form – had to continue on his pedestrian pilgrimage alone. [Dakinis are enlightened female energies, which are personified as deities. Appearing in any number of forms, they are sometimes called “sky dancers” because they represent the uninhibited dance of awakened awareness within the radiant, skylike expanse of emptiness. Vajra Yogini is the queen of the dakinis.]

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