• Marc Moss

Setting a Foundation for the Day

Updated: Mar 11

During my first trip to Dharamsala, India, I developed a wonderful friendship with a little Tibetan nun named Ani Drolma. We went on many trips together throughout Himachal Pradesh—including Tso Pema, the Kangra Fort, and the Stone Temples. For each trip, she brought along so much food that it was comical—and downright aggravating—that a woman with such a tiny frame could eat so much and never gain a pound. “Ani-la,” I said shaking my head after she pulled out a sealed container of food she had prepared that morning—it was the fourth time she pulled food from her bag in the taxi within the span of an hour and a half. “Where does all that food go that you eat? Not your thighs! It must go straight to a Pureland!”


Her home was just down the hill from the Tsuglhakhang, the Dalai Lama’s main temple complex. Ani-la was full of life and laughter—so much joy in such a little body. At least once a

week, she looked at me with a smile that stretched from ear to ear—flashing a gold filling—and asked, “You come my home for lunch? I cook ten-thuk!” Pulled noodle soup—ten-thuk—is my favorite Tibetan dish and, aside from Geshe Jinpa Sonam’s recipe, Ani Drolma’s was supreme.



Sitting in her little apartment and eating her carefully prepared bowl full of broth, onions, garlic, spinach, Japanese radish, and homemade pulled noodles, she was more than just a short hostess with a limp for which she always used a metallic gold cane; She was a teacher. Her joyful persona disarmed every passerby whenever I walked through McLeod Ganj with her. Sitting in her apartment, laughing until we were in tears, I had the thought to ask her how she was able to find so much happiness knowing that the pain of exile from her homeland was not only in her memory, but continuous reminders were ubiquitously manifest in Free Tibet posters on the side of nearly every building, in weekly marches in protest for the release of Tibetans from Chinese prisons, and by a never ending stream of tourists looking for enlightenment and a chance to see Tibetan’s Wish-fulfilling Jewel—the Dalai Lama.


She handed me a little pecha—a short, thin text printed in the traditional style of all Tibetan scripture— and said, “You memorize! This help make mind fresh each morning.” It is a simple prayer ritual to be done upon awaking first thing in the morning and doesn’t require an empowerment or any kind of permission to practice. Recite this as motivation to get up, then make your offerings and do your regular daily practice. I’m excited to share this with you here:

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When you first wake in the morning, visualize in the sky in front of you your most gracious Root Lama surrounded by all the Dakas and Dakinis (Buddhist male and female angels). All are playing bells and damarus and, with great compassion, are entreating you to arise and do your practice. The sky is filled with rainbow lights in all directions; beautiful flowers are raining down; and all space is permeated with the sweet smell of incense. With this clearly in mind, listen to t your Root lama and the Dakas and Dakinis reminding you why you must practice and entreating you to get up now.


You, fortunate noble ones, don’t be lazy, put forth joyful effort and get up! From beginningless time until now, you have slept in ignorance. Don’t sleep now but use your body, speech, and mind virtuously. Don’t you know the sorrows of birth, old age, illness, and death?


You are impermanent, today is the time for you to put forth effort. This is the only time to attain the perfect happiness. This is not the time to be idle. Think of death and complete your meditation.


Your life is impermanent and filled with obstacles. When your time to die comes, and you feel recalcitrant— What is the benefit of leaving your body?


All Dharmas are empty and uncreated— Like a magic show, a mirage, and a dream; Like the aroma-eaters’ village and an echo from the rocks; Like the moon reflected in water; bubbles in water; illusions; and bodily changes.


All manifestations are like these examples; All of Samsara you should understand to be this way. The nature of all Dharmas is unborn. They do not reside, the do not cease, the do not come and go. They are beyond all speech, beyond thoughts, beyond all seeing, beyond all definition.


Now is the time for you to understand this. Namo Guru Ja, Namo Deva Ja, Namo Daki Ja. All Dharmas of Samsara are impermanent.


Long have you remained in the ocean of non-liberation. For you who suffer from negative karma, I have great compassion. May the oceans of samsara be dried! Through ignorance you create your own suffering, Even though you all want happiness.


For you who are ignorant (of the way), I have compassion. May all your defilements be purified!


You are bound in the prisons of your desires, Like a wild animal who, again and again, gets caught. For you who are suffering in this prison (of ignorance), I have compassion.


May the suffering of Samsara be cleared. The karma of the Six Realms of Samsara Is like the ripples in water going from one to another. For you who are suffering in Samsara, I feel compassion.


May the door to birth in the Six Lower realms be closed. You ignore the sorrows of birth, old age, sickness, and death no matter how much you see. You waste your life in idleness. May you please realize impermanence and death.


All is impermanent; there is nothing to depend on, Yet you still have attachment to Samsara. In grasping after happiness, you waste your life— Please turn away from Samsara.


The world is impermanent and will be destroyed by fire and water; Sentient beings are impermanent and will be separated from mind and body. Summer, winter, spring, and fall are all impermanent. May you be blessed to realize the suffering of impermanence.


Last year, this year, the beginning and ending of months are all impermanent. Night, day, and this very moment are impermanent. Understand that your death is imminent. May all your efforts to meditate be blessed!


It is very difficult to attain this life of leisure and endowments. For you who are caught by death, empty-handed, Without having practiced the Dharma, I feel great compassion.


You must realize there is nothing to enjoy because all is impermanent, and death is inevitable. You, the Triple Gem of great compassion, the Victorious Ones of love and compassion, Bless all sentient beings in the Six Realms of Samsara To be liberated in this very moment.

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After reciting this, I make my offering on my altar and then have my morning coffee before practicing. While drinking my coffee, I go through a list of things for which I have appreciation to set my motivation firmly in love, compassion, and gratitude. I would like to dedicate the merit created from sharing this practice, the love and compassion from which its offering was inspired, to the consciousness of my dear friend Ani Drolma. She passed away in December of 2016.


May you find great blessings in this practice.

Love eternal,

Marc (Sonam Tsering)

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