thumb flowers and bones(From the Chapter: Me and The Mahasiddha)
Pages 214-216, A Path Strewn With Flowers & Bones

It is impossible, however, to sustain such skepticism around Kusum Lingpa. It is not my wish to try to convince you that, on so many occasions as to make it appear commonplace, he has demonstrated the ability to see how world and personal events will unfold in advance, to extract information directly from people’s minds, to intuit directly the histories of places he visits, or to communicate with the consciousnesses of recently deceased persons, among other, seemingly impossible feats. Even if I could convince you, I would have succeeded only in misdirecting you from what is most remarkable about Kusum Lingpa, which, for lack of a better term, I will call his state of being....


To spend time in his company, one must be prepared to be shocked or delighted to one’s core at any moment, without notice; to be rebuked or praised beyond measure, often alternately within a few moments; and to have seemingly impossible demands placed upon one, and then even more outlandish and unyielding demands placed on top of those, until one is too overextended, exhausted and pliable even to take one’s supposed limits into further consideration (which is the point).

One’s worst habits will be provoked, and strongest points of resistance cunningly exposed. The payoff is blessing beyond measure. And by blessing, I mean greater gentleness, openness, warmth and clarity, as one’s fundamental and unconditioned, luminous awareness begins to emerge from the dark soil of confused slumber, and unfurls its first, fragile tendrils towards the radiant and nurturing energies that awakened it.

I have never known anyone (or that anyone could be) so absolutely committed to the welfare of all those with whom he comes into contact. Kusum Lingpa exhibits a type and degree of love and dedication that has absolutely nothing to do with evanescent feelings per se.

Rather, he is committed to doing whatever is necessary to rouse and rile people for their own good, and to set them on a course toward continual awakening and well-being. Instead of coddling or playing to people’s egos, that is, to whatever they hold most rigidly to be true and right, or to their tendency to inhabit and defend a static world constructed of debilitating concepts, he pierces right through to the very core.

And by core, I mean that place within each of us where co-emergent ignorance struggles to sustain itself in the domain of co-emergent wisdom, and where, in any moment, the mind either clings and remains opaque, or lets go and becomes clear and spacious.

This intervention in our mind streams may involve the use of humor, including humor so ribald and explicit as to make us gasp, blanche, and grow dizzy; or the expression of a temper so spontaneous and piercing that our concepts are paralysed, as fear surges through our synapses like a bolt of lightning.

It is his overpowering, wakeful quality that somehow makes this work. All of his unpredictable and outlandish expressions are like adornments of this vital, wakeful quality—its art work, its dance.

The method to Kusum Lingpa’s madness is not something that can be faked or formulated. He is not everyone’s model tour guide across the ocean of existence. If one is firmly wedded to one’s current position, orientation and course, he is literally unfathomable, if not unbearable. Some people, frankly, would rather sail slowly and smoothly than be lifted on a tidal wave and dropped a thousand miles away on the proverbial peak of Mt. Ararat. Having a Mahasiddha for a teacher makes it impossible to get stuck for very long. He simply won’t tolerate it. It is his mission to shake one up every time the sediment settles back down. If he were not perspicacious enough to perceive exactly how one’s habitual tendencies operate, and how one can be freed, he would be just another sociopathic cult figure scrambling people’s brains like eggs.

Fortunately, there is an unbroken, authentic lineage of awakened practitioners who have treated their students like this for over a thousand years. There is no room for error, and what appears wild and unpredictable on the outside, follows its own strict logic and progression on the inside.