I was in India some years back. One night I was resting and doing my meditations when I felt the earth move. I instantly remembered I was, of course, back in Kalimpong and we do get temblors from time to time. We just ride them out. No problem- these buildings have been through many earthquakes. I went back to meditation and then I sat up quickly because I here in Deki Lodge in the new section and this is quite new construction. I did a quick logical analysis and realized that where I was lying may not have experienced any earthquake before. In the Orient, the only way you really know if a building is strong enough to tolerate an earthquake is by letting it go through an earthquake. If it fall down it not safe. I got out of bed and went outside to the balcony.
A friend told me one time to be alert if you see a little, teeny tiny scorpion, like the size of a fly. You might think, “That’s nothing.” Except little teeny tiny scorpions always ride on the back of their mama. Like that, mama is around somewhere and the little teeny tiny temblor could be accompanied by the mama earthquake. I do not mind the little ones, but I do not want to experience the mama! So I went out onto the balcony and called, “Ngawang Jugney, come!” very strongly. He was there instantly because the earthquake also awakened him.
We marched ourselves down the steps. I was wrapped in a blanket, towel style like somebody just out of the shower. At night I put my hair into two braids at the side because now it is getting longer and I cannot wear it flowing. So there I am, wrapped like a funny lady out of the shower, two little braids flapping as I stomp down the steps, grumbling, “I am not going to tolerate being in this building with new construction. I am going to the courtyard,” toom toom toom toom. At the very same time I felt so grateful to interior protection that cares for me and walks me down the steps.
We got down to the courtyard, it is dark, the middle of the night. I did not alert those students or other people in the old building because it was not necessary – that had already been through many shakings. Jugney said to me, “You know, Rinpoche, I thought something auspicious was going on.” I looked at him thinking, “What? How could an earthquake be auspicious?” Then suddenly, I remembered that I taught from one of the scriptures or commentaries about authentically arises the wish to be free. That thought is like a flash of lightning. When this authentic awakening of the wish to be free occurs, is held and stabilized, that being is definitively removed from the clutches of samsara.
In that way, the samsaric energies have a loss. These delusional samsaric energies are angered by the loss of that one who is becoming free. That samsaric energy is associated with earth energies, the lower energies of anger, etc.; that energy shakes uhhhhhhhhhhn dada dada dada dada da. So some say when earthquakes occur it is because someone has attained bodhicitta. Even though we can look at it from another point of view, I enjoy seeing it from that point of view.
This is how the minds of practitioners work: “This is just wonderful. Someone has attained bodhicitta. How marvelous for them.” But how marvelous that Jugney could glory in the attainment of bodhicitta that someone, somewhere has attained. We collectively thumb our noses at samsara and glory in the attainment of another. Jugney had no fear or concern, but was filled with appreciation of the auspiciousness of the moment. I like the way he is thinking. Whatever comes, it comes as Dharma.
So, I stood out in the courtyard in the open night air in my blanket. From my point of view, having experienced many earthquakes, I was profoundly grateful for the protection. When I felt comfortable that the coast was clear, I made my way back to my room, said goodnight to Ngawang Jugney, and went back to my meditations. There were no further temblors.
Edited excerpt from teaching Initiations Explained 3-2003