The Lama of Crystal Mountain

June 10, 2014

From the Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

The Lama of Crystal Mountain appears to be a very happy man, and yet I wonder how he feels about his isolation in the silences of Tsaking, which he has left for eight years now and, because of his legs, may never leave again.  Since Jang-bu seems uncomfortable with the Lama or with himself or perhaps with us, I tell him not to inquire on this point if it seems to him impertinent, but after a moment Jang-bu does so.  And this holy man of great directness and simplicity, big white teeth shining, laughs out loud in an infectious way at Jang-bu’s question.  Indicating his twisted legs without a trace of self-pity or bitterness, as if they belonged to all of us, he casts his arms wide to the sky and snow mountains, the high sun and dancing sheep, and cries,  “Of course I am happy here! It’s wonderful! Especially when I have no choice”

Additional stories:

This is a link to a Collection of Zen Stories at

“Especially when I have no choice”  

i) Life is as it is.  We can accept it fully and just live it with full awareness.

ii) There can always be opinions arising about what is—like/don’t like; fair/unfair; right wrong. If we not recognize them as opinions, or delude ourselves by considering them to be the reality— then there is attachment and the moment of the ceaseless flow of life is missed.

iii)A teacher replied on the subject of aging:  “Savor the deterioration and decline of your body.” Pretty direct.  Yes, certainly you can take responsible actions to take care of yourself, but decline is inevitable.  What else is there to do but appreciate the moment of life, fully and without attachments.