Sorrow Mountain by Ani Pachen – Book Notes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sorrow Mountain is the story of China’s invasion into Tibet and how Ani Pachen took over after her father’s death and led her people in resistance. She was imprisoned and tortured for 21 years. Following are my notes from the book in no particular order.

Do your best to help others in need. When you give generously, you accumulate greater merit for your future life.

You need to put a limit to greed, otherwise whatever you do becomes worthless. Things of this world can’t follow you when you die.

Know that the world is impermanent, like clouds of the autumn. The speed of human lives, like lightning in the sky, passing swiftly as a stream down a mountain. Without this understanding, life is suffering. Only by clearing your mind of delusion can permanent happiness be found, only by following the path to freedom and liberation will you finally find peace.

Human life is a precious gift of freedom and blessing. It’s an opportunity we must be grateful of. We must make the most of the opportunity and practice well. We must be compassionate to all living things.

Stillness has its blessings. No one can disturb your mind. No one can see how you look or what you do. You are free.

Whomever is alive today will be dead in a hundred year. Like a hair pulled from butter you will leave all you’ve accumulated. What riches you’ve earned will all be left behind.

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Even with wealth the size of an ant hill, if you become selfish, it will bring suffering the size of a mountain. Keep your wishes small and be happy with what you are , then you cannot be controlled by ill fate.

Each day, avoid wrongful acts. Even a small misdeed will have an effect, and its consequences will come back one day to haunt you.

Nothing is permanent. You are like lightning in the sky, like bubbles on water, like dew on the leaves of the trees. But if you see death in everyday life, it will give you foundation to practice. Thus it is important to understand the nature of death and the transitoriness of all living things.
All beings are submerged in an ocean of suffering, caused by false beliefs, anger and greed. If you wish to free yourself of this suffering, like seeing a doctor to become free of an illness, you must seek the teachings of a lama.
First you should learn to observe your mind and simplify how you see things. Bring your mind into a state of calm. Whatever thoughts or feelings arise, allow them to rise and settle, without following their path. Like the wind that comes and goes without changing the sky, let them flow through your mind without affecting it. Rest your mind lightly on an object of beauty.

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You cannot change your life until you change your mind.

In separateness lies the world’s greatest misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength.

Make the world a better place. Practice compassion, tolerance and respect.

Togetherness is an illusion. Between the closest beings a boundless space continues to exist. No matter who we cling to, what we grasp, it is like fingers grasping the wind. Open them up and nothing is there. No thing. No I.

All joy in life comes from wishing happiness for others and all misery comes from wishing pleasures for oneself.

The grasping mind hides one’s true nature. When anger, ignorance and pride are removed, basic wisdom can be revealed.

When pride is removed, basic wisdom can be revealed.

See things as they are. The nature of the mind is the nature of everything, and that that nature is the absolute truth. Nature of mind is like a sky; empty, spacious and pure. Like the sun; luminous, clear and not obstructed. It is always present, it is everywhere.

Learning is not difficult. Putting your learning into practice is difficult.

It is easy to be inspired. It is not easy to act.

Rest in natural great peace, this exhausted mind. Beaten helpess by Karma and thought, like the relentless fury of the pounding waves, in the infinite ocean of samsara. Rest in natural peace.

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At the moment of death, the only protection is the force of one’s own goodness.

Never think of things that don’t matter. The most important thing is to have a clear state of mind. Think of the teachings, and practice them.

All worldly things are illusory in nature. They are impermanent. Our loved ones and our wealth last only a fleeting moment. They disappear like lightning in the sky, like dewdrops on grass. The only changeless and steadfast truths one can hold on to are the teachings of life.

If you stay with yourself, you will achieve supreme focus of mind. Your mind will become clearer and calmer. You will maintain a strong focus on what you are doing and the same state of calm will continue. You will not be dependent on anyone.

Fear is an illusion formed by thoughts in our mind. Once you see its illusory in nature, you will learn that there is nothing to be fearful.

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