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September 4

Dudjom Rinpoche used to tell the story of a powerful bandit in India, who, after countless successful raids, realized the terrible suffering he had been causing. He yearned for some way of atoning for what he had done, and visited a famous master. He asked him: “I am a sinner, I am in torment. What’s the way out? What can I do?”

The master looked the bandit up and down and then asked him what he was good at.

“Nothing,” replied the bandit.

“Nothing?” barked the master. “You must be good at something!”

The bandit was silent for a while, and eventually admitted: “Actually there is one thing I have a talent for, and that’s stealing.”

The master chuckled: “Good! That’s exactly the skill you’ll need now. Go to a quiet place and rob all your perceptions, and steal all the stars and planets in the sky, and dissolve them into the belly of emptiness, the all-encompassing space of the nature of mind.”

Within twenty-one days, the bandit had realized the nature of his mind, and eventually came to be regarded as one of the great saints of India.

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