Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Presentation of ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ as Part of the Tibetan Cultural Week, October 14–23, 2011 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Guru Padmasambhava – The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Vajrayana
Good day to everybody and everywhere. Here we are at the University Hall in Laguna in Tenerife. I would like to give a little information about ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ because it has become very famous in the Western world.
That book is based on a teaching that was originally given by Guru Padmasambhava, who was also the first to introduce Vajrayana in Tibet. The Buddhist tradition in Tibet actually started earlier than Guru Padmasambhava, but not Vajrayana in particular. The ancient Tibetan king Trisong Detsen first invited a famous Indian pandit called Shantarakshita to Tibet. He was a well-known teacher of the Mahayana tradition, but when he arrived in Tibet and started to teach, he could did not succeed in spreading Buddhism in Tibet because people were already following a tradition called Bön. Today we still have the Bön tradition in Tibet, though it is different from the ancient form. The Bön way of seeing the elements and many other aspects are different from the Buddhist approach. This is why people were not very interested when Shantarakshita started teaching Sutra. In that period there were many famous teachers of Bön and many powerful ministers following that tradition. So in the end Shantarakshita said he could not spread this teaching in Tibet and he went back to India. He advised the Tibetan king that if he was interested in spreading Buddhism, he should invite Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava was not only a teacher of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, but also a teacher of Vajarayana, which has far more emphasis on knowledge of the energy level. For that reason he thought that if Guru Padmasambhava were to transmit the Vajrayana teaching he may have been more successful in converting the Tibetans.
When Guru Padmasambhava arrived in Tibet there were many problems. But Guru Padmasambhava was not only a scholar, but a very powerful realized being. He subdued all the negativities of the Bön tradition and for that reason succeeded in teaching all over Tibet. To this day, the Buddhism in Tibet is based on the Vajrayana tradition, and even though different schools and traditions exist in Tibet, the source of all of them is Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava taught the practice of shitro (zhi khro), which is the source of the teaching contained in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Shitro teaching that is diffused in the Western world through this book is not the only Shitro. There are many kinds in Tibet, but of course the most important version is the one from Guru Padmasambhava.
What does Shitro mean? First you should understand the title of this teaching. ‘Shi’ means peaceful manifestation, ‘tro’ means wrathful manifestation. These wrathful and peaceful manifestations represent the condition of the individual. Everybody has that condition. When we say “peaceful” it means that it represents mainly the mental condition, and also the real nature of the mind. Wrathful manifestations represent the function of our five senses and the mind. For example, we have five senses, or organs of the senses, then objects of the senses and their functions. When we see different forms and colors, when we hear with our ears or smell with our nose, all these are functions. Functions are movement and movement manifests wrathful forms, while peaceful is something like the real nature or calm state. For that reason, the practice of Shitro is based on these two states, the calm state and wrathful manifestations.
How can we understand that we have that condition? For example, if I ask you what mind is, then you think, “What is mind?” This thinking is mind. We cannot find anything. We find emptiness, nothing, but there is some movement because we are judging and thinking, and this is called mind. When you observe and thoughts arise, I ask you, “Where is thought?” When you search for thought the thought disappears immediately and you cannot find it anywhere. This is emptiness, which represents the calm state. If you are in emptiness then you are in a calm state, but you are not in a calm state for long because another thought arises immediately. So you see, there is also movement, but when you search and try to find the thought, it disappears and there is emptiness. So we can understand that we have that kind of condition.
In order to realize and use that condition in the practice, we have the practice of Shitro. In all the various Shitro practices, there are two aspects of the visualization. One is to visualize the manifestations of the peaceful forms at the center of our body, The essence of our physical body is at the center of our physical body because the essence of any dimension is at its center. When we say “at our heart” it means the center of our physical body.
When we ask where our mind is, many people consider that it is in the head. But the mind is not in the head, it is in the center because it represents the potentiality of the individual. Mind is related to its real nature, the nature of mind, and that is what governs this dimension. People generally think that the mind is in the head because when we do the visualization of the wrathful manifestations, we imagine them to be in the head, not in the center of the body. So our potentiality, our real nature, is represented by two different aspects, although two different things do not exist.
Even if our real nature, which is called the nature of the mind or our potentiality, is in the center, all our sense functions or sense organs are on the head. Our two eyes are on the head, and if we close our eyes we cannot see anything; the mind cannot not see without them. The two ears are on the head, and without ears we cannot hear anything. The nose is also on the head. Just about everything that receives information from the objects of the senses is on our head.
In general, in the Vajrayana teaching, and also in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, we say that we have our consciousness, which is the mind that is judging and thinking. But we also have the five sense consciousnesses. However, even though we call them sense consciousnesses, it doesn’t mean that they have the capacity to judge and think. Their only function is to see and hear, and so on, and when they have received that information, they immediately communicate it to the mind. Then, in the head, we have what we could call the office of the mind, where the information is processed. Without the sense functions, the mind cannot do anything. The sense consciousnesses do not think and judge because they do not have that potentiality. But in the real sense, there is no difference between the consciousnesses and the mind although the way they manifest is different. This is how our real nature or potentiality, our primordial state, manifests as an enlightened being or form or figure. In Shitro, the wrathful forms manifest in the head because like the head, wrathful forms represent movement.
Three Kinds of Logic
Why do we use this book, ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, and why is this knowledge important for death? First of all, we must think about how we can understand what comes after death. We use logic for everything and establish things using logic, and in this way we can accept and believe. But how can we establish what happens after death when we do not know? Many scholars and practitioners studying different systems and traditions consider that things must be this way or that way after death. People who study philosophy try to understand things logically, although it is not so easy.
We have three kinds of logic when we study. The first is direct logic, which is very simple: I show you something and you see what it is; it is a box and we can all see that this is a box. If I say that this is a small box you do not ask why, because you can see it and that is logic. So everything we see and believe, we establish with our logic. In our country, for example, we have rules that are established when people in a group are in agreement. We have many politicians and parties in each country because people cannot agree with each other. Some people think they belong to this or that party, they establish something, believe it, and apply it in that way. So it is easy to understand what direct logic is.
However, we cannot establish everything with direct logic. We use indirect logic when we cannot see or touch something concrete and have to rely on some kind of reasoning to establish something. For example, if someone says there is a fire on the top of a mountain but they cannot see the fire, how can they understand that there is fire? They say that there is smoke and we already know that where there is smoke, there is fire. If we see seagulls flying, we can understand that water is nearby – the ocean or the sea – because we see this bird flying. This is indirect logic and we can establish many things with indirect logic.
In philosophy, Chandrakirti, a famous student of Nagarjuna, debated with some people who did not accept what happens after death. He tried to explain with indirect logic saying that everything has its continuation: if we observe our breathing, after we inhale we exhale and after we exhale we inhale. If we do not inhale or exhale there is no life. That is an example of how we continue everything – it is a consequence or continuation. But this is completely indirect logic, and we cannot establish anything with only this. So it is not easy to say what happens and what exists after death.
Many people follow teachers and teachings based on a belief in the existence of enlightened beings who are omniscient and know everything. That is the third kind of logic. I believe in Buddha, for example, and therefore I believe that what Buddha said is correct. That logic is useful for people following Buddhist teachings. If I discuss what the Buddha said with other people, such as Muslims, there is no value for them. If I want to discuss something with Islamic people, then I must find some words from the Koran because they believe that. If I say your book says this or that, then they accept it and that is logical.
So in ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ (which is the Western title for what historically was called “The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States”), Guru Padmasambhava gave explanations. We consider him to be an enlightened being, so that means Guru Padmasambahava did not invent what he taught. Guru Padmasambahava followed many ancient teachings and different kinds of tantras and in many tantras the state after death is explained. This is what we find in ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’.
What is most important here is what we call the intermediate state or the bardo. If we do not understand what the bardo is we cannot understand the function of ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’. According to the teaching of Buddha, every being transmigrates by cause and effect, and everything is produced by it. And this applies to our life. In general, bardo refers to a period between dimensions of time. Three or four kinds of bardo exist. Our life, for example, where we are now, is called kyechi bardo (skye ‘chi bar do), kye meaning birth and chi death: it is our life in our human dimension from birth to death. When we are human beings we have birth and death and all the different activities in a lifetime, studying, working, following teachings, doing practice, and so on. What we learn in ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ is that the kyechi bardo is very important because if we believe that some bardo, some continuation, exists after death, then we must understand and do our best during our lifetime.
Many of you may have read in ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ that when we are in the state of bardo we will encounter wrathful and peaceful manifestations. A lot of Westerners ask me how we can have these kinds of manifestations because we do not have an Eastern culture or this kind of knowledge. In ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ the form of these manifestations, such as sambhogakaya figures, Buddha Shakyamuni, the five dhyani buddhas, and so on, and also the wrathful manifestations, are described like princes and princesses from ancient times in India. In Western art and knowledge these forms do not exist, so people wonder how we can see these kinds of manifestations. But in the real sense, it is not like that because in our lifetime if we are interested in ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, a teaching of Guru Padmasambhava, we can receive the teaching and transmission. The teacher transmits and empowers the teaching and then we know how to do that visualization and use that method. In our lifetime we may do that practice sometimes, and even if we do not do it for a long time, at least we have had a little experience in our lifetime. Then when we are dying, at that moment, we have these kinds of visions because we have received that transmission, that empowerment, and now that represents our potentiality and our real nature.
Mother and Son Wisdom
During our lifetime we live in our physical body, so even if we have that potentiality and do that visualization, we cannot see that potentiality. When we are dying we have the obstacles of our physical body, then the physical body goes to the cemetery and our consciousness goes to the bardo. At that moment, our potentiality is naked because it no longer has the condition of the physical body or the sense organs. In this moment, according to the famous words of ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, we have the meeting of the mother and son wisdoms. We have wisdom in our real nature – everybody has that wisdom in his or her nature – but even if we have it, we do not know and are ignorant. But when we receive the teaching of ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, there is the introduction and when the teacher introduces you and empowers you with mantra, then you notice your condition and there is that potentiality. When we are dying, the experience we had in our lifetime is what is called son wisdom. Mother wisdom is beyond our physical body and our organs of senses; it is the potentiality of our real nature, which is naked in that moment. Of course, in that moment, the son wisdom recognizes the mother wisdom. That is the moment when we can have that realization and that is why it is so important that we have the experience of the teaching in our lifetime. Otherwise there is no reason why we should have visual manifestations of the peaceful and wrathful in the bardo. It is not related to culture.
Some people say, “We have no Eastern culture so how can we have those manifestations that are not from our culture. If this is not cultural, then why does Vajrasattva and all these dieties look like princes and princesses in ancient Indian style?” They look this way because this is how they manifest the transmission from emptiness to manifestation.
The real nature of the individual is called kadag in Tibetan and means pure emptiness since the beginning, not concrete or visible, with no color or form. We all have this state of emptiness as our real nature. But our real nature is not only emptiness, because even emptiness has infinite potentiality. Without this potentiality, emptiness has no value. How does that potentiality manifest? It can manifest when there is a secondary cause. All these kinds of manifestations from emptiness need a secondary cause. Secondary causes can just as much produce figures of princes and princesses as terrible, wrathful beings. We don’t know what all sentient beings in the universe are like. We know only human beings and some animals, and we imagine that other beings in the universe are just like that. For example, there is a nice film called Star Trek where they travel everywhere in the universe. Sometimes they meet someone whose face is a little different, but they always speak English. This is our limitation. We do not know how the universe is, even though people think there may be many beings in the universe that they do not know. But if they do not see them, how can they believe in them? Some people don’t believe because they have never seen.
When we study logic in Buddhist philosophy, we learn about a famous scholar called Sakya Pandita. In his teaching he says it is not logical to say that just because you do not see something it does not exist. Of course in time and space there are many things that we cannot see, for example, what is behind this wall. We cannot negate that it does not exist and in the same way we cannot negate what we cannot see in past and future time. It is not logical. When it is nice weather in the night time we can see, for example, how many stars exist in the universe. We know very well that like most stars, like solar systems, many sentient beings exist. How can we believe they are just like human beings? If you want to know a little about this you should learn about the Vajrayana teaching because the Vajrayana teachings are very open since many of them have been introduced into the human dimension from other dimensions.
We can see how many different forms of manifestations of deities exist, not only human forms. Some are just like human forms but have many arms and legs while others are similar to some animals. These kinds of sentient beings exist in the universe, and higher level beings also exist, not all are lower level or ignorant. Yamantaka is an example of an important manifestation in Vajrayana. Sometimes you can see pictures in Vajrayana style in which the head looks like the head of the bull. In the description it also says that the manifestation has the “head of a bull” as well as many arms and legs and so forth. However, it is not really the head of a bull; it is a sentient being from what is called the class of Yama. But since we do not know what a Yama is, if I describe this head as the “head of a Yama,” no one can understand what it is. The head of a Yama is similar to the head of a bull and that is why we say the “head of a bull.” But of course the body, the arms and legs are not those of a bull. There are some very high level Yamas among the sentient beings of the class of Yama who have had contact with the dimension of the state of real enlightened beings called dharmakaya, the real nature of all phenomena, which is emptiness and has no form, so the figure of Yama becomes the secondary cause for communicating.
When a Yama is in front of that enlightened being, the dharmakaya can manifest just like this Yama being. Now the dharamakaya has the possibility to transmit to that Yama, otherwise the Yama cannot see or hear and the dharmakaya can do nothing. So this manifestation called Yamantaka is like a reflection of that Yama being to whom it transmitted.
In the real sense Yamantaka is the manifestation of the enlightened being. It does not mean that enlightened beings transform in a different way every day just like actors in the theatre; that is not the way it works. Just like a mirror, the dharmakaya has infinite potentiality for manifesting reflections. When a being is in front of the mirror of the dharmakaya, the dharmakaya manifests like that being in front of the mirror. The reflection comes from the dharmakaya and transmits to that being in front.
All Vajrayana teachings developed that way from different dimensions and have been introduced into our human dimension by enlightened beings called mahasiddhas. This is very important to understand. In the bardo,according to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are many manifestations. Manifestations represent our consciousness and the different functions of our five senses, and everything manifests in personified forms. When ordinary people know this, they have a kind of realization. In our lifetime we have day and night and in the night time we fall asleep. Sleeping, dreaming, and waking up are very similar to dying, being in the state of bardo,and then being reborn in different kinds of dimensions. So we should become familiar with the experience or knowledge of the bardowhen we are sleeping.
Signs of Death
Another bardo is chi khai bardo (skye ‘chi kha’i bar do), which is the bardo at the moment of death. The moment of death means we already have the signs of death; there is no possibility that we can be saved or liberated from that. If you read ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ you will find many explanations, one of which is the explanation of the signs of death. Practitioners often check them. If you have signs of death and you check, your death may not be so far off. In this case then you should prepare for dying. But if there are only one or two signs that correspond, you should not think it is dangerous.
Some of the explanations of the signs are explained with dreams, for example. If you dream that you are in a place full of red flowers it says this can be a sign of death. For example, I always have this dream and I am not dying, so this does not always correspond to everything it says in the book, so you shouldn’t worry. Some people read this book and start to worry. They say, for example, if you dream of going down to lower parts or you are naked and going down, it is a sign of death. Sometimes you may have this kind of dream, but you should not completely consider that it is a sign of death. At least four or five signs should correspond for it to mean something. In this case you need to know how they are described and you should check.
For example, if you go out in the early morning when the sunshine is very clear and you look at your shadow, a kind of bubble should manifest in the head. If you do not have this it says it is a sign of death. Also there is a way to check in the full moon. In the night time when there is a very clear moon, you go outside to some comfortable place and look at your shadow. In the early evening you can see the shadow clearly, so you look at your shadow for five or ten minutes and then you look into space for a while. If your shadow manifests in empty space with no head, that is a sign of death. This sign is a little more important. Sometimes we are missing our arms or legs, for example, and sometimes the physical body is perfect and then there is no problem. This is called tsezug in Tibetan, meaning form of life. Tse means life and zug means form. There are many different kinds of signs like these.
You can check in this way and if you have these kinds of signs, you can do a ritual called chilu (’chi bslu) to prevent death, and there are many other things you can do as well, like doing practice, saving animals, and so on. Sometimes when you do these things you can overcome death. But if there are many signs combined together, it is not so easy to prevent it. Then there are signs that say that you can still live for three weeks, one month, two months, or three months, for example. In this case you should prepare well.
And then when you have an illness and are really near death, at that moment your elements slowly diminish their functions and dissolve inwardly. The function of the senses also slowly dissolves inwardly, and at this moment you can have a very strong feeling. It is not so very easy. Some people know the practice of Phowa. ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ also contains a Phowa practice. The word phowa means to transfer; in this case you transfer your consciousness to a pure dimension. When you learn this during your lifetime it is not so very difficult, and if you know the visualizations, receive the precise transmission and do practice, you can obtain signs in seven days. But if you do not do the visualizations in a perfect way, there is no guarantee that you will succeed in seven days.
I remember when I was in college, once we received these kinds of practices and teachings from our teacher, and all the students were given permission to train in Phowa for seven days. At that time I was eleven years old and did not know the visualization very precisely, only a little. I was very young, just a small boy, and I always enjoyed it when people shouted “hic” or “phat,” and I was always shouting and replying to them. In our college there were many rooms and everyone was shouting “phat,”, and I replied to everybody instead of doing the visualization. At the end of seven days when we checked, most people had signs. We had to do the visualization of the central channel, and there was a kind of very hard herb we put on the top of the head to see if it would remain, and most people succeeded in doing this this. I did not. My teacher was very angry with me at the time. He told me I must do this practice and that for me it was very important. The next time I succeeded, even before the end of seven days.
Bardo of Death and Bardo of Dharmata
When we are comfortable in our room doing visualization is not very difficult, but the objective is to transfer our consciousness when we are dying. When we are dying we are in the bardo of the moment of death and this is not easy at all. We can have strong experiences of each of the elements or senses dissolving inwardly. Of course people who have trained very well can succeed, but it is not easy. In any case this is called the bardo of the moment of death. It is just like in the evening when we gradually fall asleep. In that moment the function of all of our senses dissolves inwardly; when we fall asleep we cannot see or hear. This is called falling asleep in the ordinary way and in the bardo of death we are dying in that moment. Then it seems dark and there is no function of the mind or senses because all functions of the senses have dissolved inwardly and what is associated with consciousness and the mind has been transferred. The body is a dead body now and there is nothing. Then, just like falling asleep we can have dreams immediately, or sometimes it takes a long time to have a dream.
When we are dying, according to ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, we need to be in the state of the bardo of the dharmata, the nature of the mind, for three days. The mind is what judges and think, while the nature of mind is the source of this manifestation. But it is not the nature of mind that is judging and thinking. It is very important that you distinguish between what mind is and what nature of mind is. In this case, you should learn with the example of the mirror; it is a very good example. The mirror reflects good and bad and everything, the mirror does not need any program, any kinds of objects in front of mirror manifest immediately.
We say the mirror has infinite potentiality to manifest, but how can we understand this potentiality of the mirror? We cannot see or touch this potentiality, but we can understand that the mirror has it because we can see the reflections. The reflections are not the potentiality of the mirror, they are something manifesting from the potentiality of the mirror, just like in our minds. Mind is judging and thinking, just like reflections, but the nature of the mind is the source of this potentiality. So we need to distinguish that. Mind does not have this function, mind has died, or not really died but has dissolved into its origin.
If there is nothing in front of the mirror, nothing manifests in the mirror. But it does not mean that the mirror does not have that potentiality. In our real nature in that moment it remains that way. For that reason we say after someone has been dead for three days, there is no function of the mind. The nature of mind, on the other hand, has no function. Its nature is naked, and for that reason when we recognize the meeting of the son and mother wisdoms then we can have realization.
The Moment of Natural Light
In the Dzogchen Teaching, the teaching I am giving, that moment is called natural light; the moment of natural light. Just when we are falling asleep, before any dreams arise, we have this moment of natural light. It is difficult to specify exactly when it takes place. According to ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ or Shitro it takes more or less three days, similar to the way dreams start about a half an hour after falling asleep, for example. But we cannot say exactly when we have that dream. Sometimes a dream starts in a very short time.
I had this experience once when I was teaching at the University of Naples. When I was giving exams, I would feel very tired and when returning to Rome on the train, I would sometimes fall asleep. I would fall asleep and my head would fall forward and then wake up. But once I fell asleep for a short time, woke up, and realized I had had a long dream. I had fallen asleep for just a very short time. I immediately remembered what I dreamed, but considering everything that had happened in the dream it seemed like a long time had passed. That is the example of the bardo of the dharmata and it is difficult to say exactly when it arises. When we fall asleep after a little while we dream. In ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ this state is called the bardo of existence. The bardo of existence means we have already passed the bardo of the dharmata.
People who have no knowledge or understanding of the teachings, of course they do not notice anything about this bardo of the dharmata. Even if there are sounds and lights, they still lose that presence; that is all. Then we are in the state of existence and this means now our mind wakes up, you remember the mind has dissolved into nature of mind and now there are secondary causes and now it manifests. With secondary causes our sense functions wake up. But now these sense functions are no longer dependent on organs. In daily life we are completely dependent on our sense organs. If we close our eyes we cannot see anything. Even though we have the function of the sense consciousnesses, without the sense organs we could not have that function because we live in a physical body. In the dharmata we are no longer in the physical body. We are already free from that. For that reason in the bardo of existence when the mind wakes up, it wakes up with the associated sense functions. How can we understand that?
Karmic Dreams and Dreams of Clarity
We can learn with our dreams, when we dream in the nighttime. You have two kinds of dreams. One is called a karmic dream, dreams related with tensions; if we have tensions in our lifetime we always repeat this kind of dream. For example, when I was in Tibet, before I left, we had many problems in that period because there was a revolution and we were escaping, and also we were afraid of the Chinese soldiers day and night – if we were meeting with each other and they arrived we had so many problems. So it affected my condition profoundly. For that reason even today when I have a karmic dream, I still dream this kind of dream. I do not have problem with Chinese soldiers today. I went many times with Chinese soldiers and we had dealings with Chinese soldiers and their commanders, there was no problem. But in my dreams it is different and always I feel afraid. This kind of dream is called a karmic dream connected with our tensions. But then when we practice more and more and have more knowledge of dreams and so on,dreams of clarity develop more and more. What is it like to have such dreams of clarity? It means that our mind is then associated with function of senses and not dependent on the physical level. For that reason we have much greater capacity and clarity in that kind of dream.
For example, in our lifetime we might read some books explaining some interesting things. If we have a dream that we are reading this book or thinking of the subject of the book, in the dream we can understand easily.
Also in our lifetime if we have complicated situations, in a dream of clarity they become very clear and we can easily resolve them. This is called the dream of clarity and it is very important; it becomes important in the bardo of existence and then we can understand. We are in a bardo state, which is not about accumulating good or bad karma or experiencing the consequence of producing good or bad karma. It is called the intermediate state for everybody, for every sentient being, not only human beings. It is just like we are in a moment of the dream. In a dream, when we think that this is this and that is that, we believe it, but when we wake up we understand it is unreal. Even if it is unreal, it is somehow related to our karmic potentiality, and most people who are not practitioners follow their karma.
Bardo of Shitro
For that reason, ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ says we can have pure vision or impure vision. Of course we can have pure vision if we are practitioners and have received the transmission and so forth. Then we have access to that kind of method. There are visions, there are appearances, like specific kinds of visions and lights. Some people, some practitioners, when they are dying, we can give them instructions, what we call bardo ngotröd, the introduction to the bardo. We read this book telling them they will see this and they should see this kind of light, follow this light, and so on, and if they are not practitioners they mostly follow their potentiality of karma. This book also contains the instructions for which lights to follow and which light or path not to follow, we are introduce this to the dying person. But for people who have no experience of the teachings in that moment, it is very difficult that they can listen and believe that. This is why the teaching of the bardo of Shitro is so important. It is something to be applied, otherwise it is just something nice to read or to say this is what Tibetans believe, and then it does not help very much. Ok now we are finished. I hope you understood something!
First published in The Mirror issue 114, 2012.
Revised in 2018 by Susan Schwarz