The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:45 am

Chapter 1: Black Birth

WAR, WAR, WAR, UNENDING WAR, TEACHING ONLY MORE WAR.

The feet came out first. There was a question as to whose feet, since they were blue-black because of the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck. Also because, days before, the mother had picked up an exposed electrical cable and received an instant shock. She had felt the baby turn in her body from head down to feet down. And because there was the Indian woman next door in the semi-detached house who had committed suicide. Because the almost black child was put into hot water and then cold water to stimulate breath, there was some question as to its identity­ my identity.

Later, as a child, hearing the story of my birth made perfect sense to me. Since I was born dead the spirit of the Indian woman had entered my body. I was born male but I felt female. I would often dress in my mother's clothes, putting on her make-up and perfumes, her stockings and her underpants. I had a great fear of electricity and the idea of electrocution in the electric chair was supremely horrible. The blue-blackness of the body made Celtic sense, as a reminder of the pigments used by the island warriors of pre-Christian times. Later, a Chinese doctor took my pulse and clapped his hands over his mouth, exclaiming, "Birth, no breath!" Gasping was a common feature of my breathing.

Even before I began school I suspected there was something disturbingly different about me. I saw things differently from other children. Colors were all mixed up for me and I could not identify colors with the right names when asked. I would say the name of the first color that came into my head. Everyone would laugh because they thought I was joking. But in actual fact I really did not know. Or was it that the colors did not appear to me as they did to other children? Then there was the light that emanated from life forms. Dogs, cats, people, rabbits, birds, and bugs seemed to have lights coming from their bodies. My judgment of distances expanded and receded sometimes during the day. Almost always at night my bedroom would become very large. Then the room would shrink so small that the ceiling was just inches above my head, with the window becoming the size of a postage stamp. Then everything would expand, with the ceiling suddenly forty feet above me and the window now the size of a shopping mall window. I would close my eyes when this happened, but the blackness behind my eyelids would continue to alternate between small and vast. There was no escape and the world became very jelly-like, shimmering, and wobbly. Sometimes it was difficult for me to tell living beings from dead ghost beings. I was always scared and anxious, as there was no one to tell all this to and I was afraid of being sent away to a place for crazy kids.

As a young boy with an active imagination I fabricated fantastic story after story about myself. The most famous one was my insistence that my father was a sheriff in Texas. I had a tin pin-on star to prove it and I fought any boy who tried to dispute my myth. My real father was someone like Gene Autry or Roy Roger not the man who cried and shook and hid under the kitchen table when the bombs fell. Not the man who lay soaking in sweat, trembling from malaria that he had contracted in India during the First World War. Not the man who chain-smoked Players and Craven A cigarettes, his fingers stained brown, who washed his black hair in spinach juice, who looked at me from a great distance. Who, as my mother said, was not a real soldier but a bandsman stretcher-bearer picking up the dead and mutilated bodies from Gallipoli to Flanders. A mustard-gassed living ghost who never smiled or played. His only refuge was music, which he taught to homeless boys. Conducting in his black uniform, he became alive in the vibrating sounds of quavers and semiquavers, in notes that I was unable to decipher. One time he tried to teach me the cornet, but my lips broke out in raw cold sores and the hollowness returned between us.

He had lived in a World War I trench, cooking his breakfast of bacon and eggs in a tin pot, and then making his tea out of the bacon tasting water. Born in 1888, he was a living ghost by the time of my birth in 1934. Suffering and unable to die, he was terrified by the prospect of having to live through another war. The only story he told me of his childhood happened before he entered the Army at the age of fourteen. His father, who had worked at the Birmingham Firearms factory, had been very concerned that my father was too small for his age. He filled my father's boots with horse manure and made him put them on and stand in a closet to see if he would grow. Everyone said my father had green eyes like my mother's, but to me they looked brown. He hardly ever spoke to me and never hit me. His last and only gift to me was a set of lead toy soldiers in full military uniforms of the Coldstream Guard's Band, frozen with their instruments of silent sound.

My mother was a Wicca spiritual healer and practical nurse. My grandmother, who was a nurse physician, would take my mother along on her rounds. One of the stories my mother liked to tell of her childhood travels with my grandmother was about the death of Freedom. Freedom was the first name of an old woman of the village who lived in a cottage where the animals still lived in the bottom half of the house, providing winter heat for the humans who lived upstairs. Word had come that Freedom was dying and my grandmother and mother went to the house where the old woman now lived alone with a cow. They climbed the ladder and found Freedom lying on her straw-mattress bed, her breathing shallow and her consciousness coming and going. My grandmother told my mother to stay with Freedom and to lay her out after she died. This entailed plugging her anus and vagina with cotton and tying closed her mouth. Then my grandmother left to visit another patient.

It was night and although it was not my mother's first experience with death, it was her first time of being alone with a dying person. She was terrified. The wind blew out the kerosene lamp. My mother clung to Freedom's hand, asking and praying for her not to die before my grandmother returned. The cow below made sounds like demons ascending the ladder and with the labored breathing and twitching of Freedom, the screeching of owls, the yelling of night hawks, and the house moving in the night wind, my mother was near to fainting.

It was at least two hours before my grandmother returned to find my frightened mother still grasping Freedom's hand. Lighting the lamp and inspecting Freedom, my grandmother exclaimed in a sharp tone, "Dolly, Freedom is dead. Go and get the Vicar's dining room table leaf and we will lay her out." I can always see my mother as a fourteen-year-old girl terrified and beset by spirits, yet crossing the village alone at night to return with the table leaf under her arm to lay out the dead Freedom. It was this story and her act of bravery that always inspired me to go beyond my fears. Even at an early age I admired her willingness to tell me this story, not only of her bravery, but of her fears in handling the beings and spirits that surrounded her.

It was the autumn of 1939 and the rumors of war were in everybody's conversation. I was just beginning to attend classes at the local grammar school and my father would often pick me up in the afternoon. He would put me on the saddle of his bicycle and push it home, walking beside me. I remember asking him, "What's war?" He said, "It's like when two people get angry with each other and they start to fight." And I said, "Does that mean German people and English people will fight?" And, he said, "Yes."

On September the third at 11:15 in the morning I stood on the apple tree stump in our back garden in the town of Sidcup, County of Kent, some twenty miles south of London. My father had the wireless radio hooked up outside so we could all hear the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, speak. I remember him saying we were at war. The adults were very serious and many began to cry. Then the sirens sounded and the children, alarmed at the wailing sound, cried also. I was five and my childhood of war had started.

The announcement of war helped relieve the tension. The adults were now preoccupied with survival and the war effort. My father took action and dug a great pit in our back yard. In the yellow clay we piled up sod bags and he put corrugated tin on top to make a roof. It was a replica of his trench in France during World War I. He made bunks for us. It looked great and we played war, killing Germans. Then, about a week after construction, it rained very heavily and the fortification became a water hole with bunk beds floating in it. The very next night a soaked, mud-splattered policeman came knocking at the back door. Apparently, one of our window blinds had showed some light and he had crossed our garden, only to fall into the water-filled bunker. My mother dried him off by the kitchen stove while he drank the ritual cup of tea.

The next shelter we had was a steel table about the size of a king bed inside the house. We all slept on the mattress beneath it with our gas masks next to us. My parents' thought was that if the house fell on top of us during a bombing raid someone would be able to dig us out. At that time, unknown to me or my sisters, my mother had a stash of cyanide she planned to give us if we became trapped in rubble or suffered from gas exposure. We all expected the Nazis to invade and my parents made petrol bombs to throw at the Germans.

There was a Jewish man who lived across our road who cried in our kit hen. He used to play the violin with my father. He had a bald head and always wore velvet slippers. He was given tea. The home guard played war with an old Bren gun-carrier track tank. They threw chalk bags at each other. We picked them up and threw them too. We filled sandbags to pile in our front gate. We stuck tape over all the windows. My stepbrother, Charlie, came back from Dunkirk, his uniform torn and stained. He smelled of whiskey. He cried in our kitchen. He told us that Nappy, my father's music stu­dent and our lodger, had been killed in the sea off the coast of France. Charlie continued to cry, snapping the hammer on his empty service pistol over and over again. He was given tea. I began to associate drinking tea with times of crisis. Every time somebody sang "Polly put the kettle on," I would tremble with anxiety.

In one bombing raid the entire front of our house, all three stories, was destroyed. We had a large canvas draped over the house front while it was rebuilt. I had to be evacuated and was sent on my own to Cornwall. My mother took me to the train station with my gas mask and a luggage label tied to my collar. She said goodbye.

In Cornwall I was housed with three other evacuees. Two were teenage girls from London and then there was Freddy, a boy of seven like myself. He had fleas. One afternoon he and I were playing on a bridge, throwing sticks into the brook on one side and then running swiftly across to see them whirl out from under on the other side. I saw the lorry coming across the bridge, but Freddy did not and it ran him down. Some soldiers coming by took me home. This was the first time I had ever seen someone die. It was fast.

After Freddy died I slept in the same room with the girls. We would play Truth, Dare, and Promises. I would always choose Dare and lose. They would rub my penis to make it hard and then dare me to put it into their vaginas. I always did and was puzzled why they liked it so much. Although my penis got hard I had no orgasm or sperm.

Every night I walked to the post office with the hope of getting a letter from my mother, but they were few and far between. Although I was now school age, my early classroom encounters in Cornwall were a series of escapes or ejections. I was kicked out of one institution for breaking another boy's arm while playing King of the Castle. I ran away time and time again and got the cane time and time again. In yet another school I set fire to the wastepaper basket under the teacher's desk in which were all the class records. Their charred remains freed me to be sent back home to Sidcup.

I was then sent to my Aunt Lil's house near Portsmouth. One early morning we were picking mushrooms in the field when, with a loud roar, three German bombers came over not more than five hundred feet above the ground. They were so close I could see the men in the glass nosecones and the big black crosses on the wings of the planes. We ran as the ground around us spurted up clods of earth. At full gallop I jumped into a ditch of stinging nettles. The roar of the engines was so loud I couldn't even hear the noise of the machine guns. Moments later the planes were gone and no one was hurt.

There was a German prison camp near Aunt Lil's house and two of the prisoners, Kurt and Carl, would come over to the farm to help. Carl liked to kill things and he pleaded with my aunt to let him kill the unwanted kittens from the barn cat's litter. I watched, fascinated, as he strangled each one with his hands and threw the bodies on the manure pile. Kurt made me a wooden air­plane and gave me rides on his back. He cried when I came to the camp to say goodbye, taking my hand through the barbed wire fence and kissing it. I was returning home. I had no tea for him.

The war had scattered our family in all directions. My mother was still in Sidcup, driving a fire truck for the town. My sister was in the Land Army, stationed on a farm at some distance away. My father was in Devon, helping to care for the homeless boys he taught, all of whom had been evacuated there. We had a young woman in her early twenties as a lodger and occasionally a couple of billeted soldiers from Canada, Australia, and even Egypt.

Food and supplies were in short supply and my mother readily agreed that I become the family provider by stealing. I imagined myself as Dick Turpin, the highwayman. I raided, I stole. At night I took a sack and crept into a farmer's yard, outwitted the dog, and stuffed four chickens from the pen into my sack. I took them home to my approving mother. I stole coal from the train cars at the railway station. During the night air raids, when every­one was in the shelters, I entered the empty, unlocked houses. I stole odd things that would not be missed: knives, forks, food, soap, door mats, kettles, flower pots, jam, hair brushes, sugar tongs, napkins, towels-just one of each thing. It was the excitement of being a shadow, ghost-like. John the Phantom, moving unseen through their empty world. I could imagine them returning home, saying, "Where did I put that comb, that empty box of pins?" Then the objects would become forgotten, like the sock lost in the washing machine.

The Phantom hid in the clothes washer in the bathroom to watch the young woman lodger in our house undress for a bath. There was a small window in the top-filled washer from which I intended to peek out. I heard her come into the bathroom and run the water. I listened with held breath to the unfastening of clothes. I was just about to raise my eyes to the window when a thought struck me. What if she saw my eyes in the washer window? How could I explain why I was in the washing machine? I struggled with logical explanations. "Well, Miss, I was looking for a lost sock." Who would believe that? I couldn't think of anything plausible, so I just hid in the bottom, trapped in my own adventure, listening to the splashing of water, until she dressed and left. Then I lifted the lid and vanished.

During this time I began attending the Sidcup Elementary Modern School for Boys in my home county of Kent. The English schools had a form system where the first year you entered into either Form One-A, One-B, One-C, or One-D, depending on the assessment of intelligence. For those of questionable mental capacity there was Form One-X. Based on my behavior and general strangeness, this is where I was assigned. In part it was because of the big mistake I made of telling a teacher at school about my dreams and visions. On and off for years I had had these glimpses of other worlds that I considered to be as real as everyday existence. The school authorities wanted to send me to a doctor, but my mother would have none of it. Then they tried to beat it out of me, but I responded with either lies or silence until they gave up.

Form One-X was quite a relief for me, as we were expected to be crazy. There was Nutty Herman, who drank ink, Philip the Clubfoot, and Plug Fenton, who had holes in his shoes from riding a bike without pedals. We had William the No-Sight, whose glasses were as thick as bottle bottoms, and Michael the Butcher, who pulled the heads off of birds and flowers, mice and bugs. There was James, whose mouth was so full of saliva it overflowed his chin, covering his shirt with stains, and Charlie the Trembler, whose head twitched and hands shook. Filling out Form One-X was Smitty, who was fat, Hamish, who was from Scotland, Jimmy Big Cock, Paul, who was strapped into a wheelchair, Cassidy, from Ireland, and me, John the Silent, who had decided not to talk to adults.

Being in Form One-X was like finding my family. They were like me. We were an outcast clan of the other school forms. Mr. Jones from Wales was our main teacher, and we all knew some­thing was wrong with him because he was not in the war. Mr. Jones was exiled to Form One-X, and because it was assumed we could not learn the regular curriculum, he developed his own. He had that singsong Welsh voice and he read us lots of stories: Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, Harold: Last of the Saxon Kings, The White Company, Arthur, and Boudicca, Queen of the lceni. Time and again we would get Mr. Jones to tell us the tribal stories and myths.

All of us young boys in Form One-X became real Celts and Boudicca was our Goddess. We never worshipped God because he was a male and for us all the tribal gods were women. We built a shrine to Boudicca in the woods and would paint ourselves blue. Blue was the Celtic bond in our tribe, and we would always wear something blue -- blue tie, blue socks, blue shirt, whatever. Crazy Herman used to drink all our blue ink with the hope that it would turn his skin permanently blue. We were all surprised when it did not. But that did not stop us from experimenting.

Half the day we would have classes and the other half we would do something useful like work in the garden or polish floors. Mr. Jones trooped around the school with us on our after­noon jobs as we swept the school halls, mopped the bathrooms, and dug, weeded, and planted the school gardens. We took turns pushing Paul in his wheelchair, which became a chariot for us, the "One-X Celts." The other forms were the Romans, marching from class to class in double columns at the sound of the period bell. We were ragtag, skipping, hopping, slouching, and hobbling along with Paul in the chariot, with our mops and brooms as swords and spears. We shot spitballs at the Romans as they marched past and thumbed our noses at the administration.

We often made tea for the teachers as part of our duties. One day my pal, Plug, pissed into the tea water to see if the dumb Romans would notice. They didn't! They thought it tasted just fine, even special! After that discovery we all excitedly took turns until we came to Wally. Wally was part gypsy and I suspect he had really strong and exotic pee. When the administration began to investigate the school water supply, it was getting too dose to home, so we stopped. We knew they thought we were dumb, and it never occurred to them to wonder what we thought about them. In fact, all of us in Form One-X figured out very quickly that if the teachers thought we were crazy by the way we acted we would be free from their regimentation. Outside of our group we were viewed as crazy. Within the group we accepted each other with our individual oddities.

Once the Head Master, retired army officer, came to our class and was pleased that we were learning so much about history. He told us a story about how great the Roman army was because it brought law and order to Britain. We could not believe our ears. We sat frozen in silence. He must have thought we were enthralled, because he went on for hours about Roman accomplishments. And at the end he said, "Boys, you are doing so well that you will soon be out of here and into the regular forms."

That was it. We had an emergency meeting down at the end of the playing field.

"We have to go underground," said Cassidy, the Irish boy, "just like the IRA."

"No, no!" said Plug. "They're just a bunch of murderers." We all looked at each other in desperation.

"Why don't we just act more like ourselves?" suggested crazy Herman.

That was it! We all turned to look with new admiration at Herman. He saved the tribe that day with his brilliant idea. Later we lost him. This happened when the woodworking teacher, who bullied everyone, hit him about the head in a rage and Herman lashed back. Other teachers came running in and dragged Herman off to the Head Master's room.

We did not see him again until the next morning when the whole school assembled in the hall for the daily singing of school songs, hymns, and Roman anthems. The song we liked best was Blake's "And Did His Feet in Ancient Times." Most of the words were tribal until the God part. After hymns there would be announcements and then punishments, which could mean any­thing from having your name read out loud to being called up in front of the whole school. This day two teachers marched Herman into assembly. Between them a stool was set up on the stage. Herman faced the school while the charges were read out. We were in the front row. He looked at us. I remember the pain and anguish in his terrified eyes. Then an amazing thing happened. Seeing us, his heart-brothers, he winked.

It was the bravery of a true Celtic warrior that winked. After that they dragged him over to the stool, took down his trousers, and gave him twelve cuts of the cane -- one for each Fucking Apostle. Toward the end he sobbed uncontrollably. We flinched at each stroke. We never saw Herman again after the caning but we heard they sent him to a school for boys on a training ship. We imagined him chained to the oars in a Roman galley. But we had learned our lesson. Never hit a Roman on his turf and never let them know what is going on.

Form One-X graduated to Form Two-X, and the tales told by Mr. Jones of the historical figures Nelson, Wellington, and Drake subdued the Celtic wildness. The sun of the British Empire rose in my mind. There were Churchill's stories of his adventures in the Boer War. And here he was, still alive, nonchalantly smoking his cigar in the face of the hysterical and demonic Hitler. I was ready to fight on the beaches as we changed from wild Celts to the Thin Red Line. Paul in his wheelchair became the artillery. We patrolled with wooden rifles, our bare bayonets glinting before the enemy-the nose-picking, stupid, dirty, Nazi horde. It was just us, defending all that was good, all that was English, all that was fair play, all that was clean. As we marched along we would sing:

Goebels he only had one ball
Goering had two but very small
Himmler had something similar
But poor old Hitler had no balls at all!


For Christmas of 1944 my mother took us to London on Boxing Day to see the stage show Peter Pan and afterwards, as a special treat, we went to a Chinese restaurant. I clearly remember walking into the entrance of the restaurant with its unfamiliar smells and sounds and looking up at a large golden statue of the Buddha, who looked back at me smiling. There was something quite shocking about that encounter, and while eating I kept looking around to see if he was watching me.

A plague of measles and pneumonia struck many of the children at our school. From my bedroom window I looked across the street to the bedroom of Alice Green with whom I was distantly in love. She contracted pneumonia and within a week had died. The curtains were drawn and I visualized her lying waxen-like upon her deathbed. I too became ill with both measles and pneumonia. I heard the doctor talking to my mother in the hallway and he said, "If his breathing becomes labored, call me right away." I think they were expecting me to die. The curtains of my room were open and I remember looking into the sky at the sunrise and being somewhat delirious with fever. I imagined the golden Chinese Buddha appearing in the sky and coming down toward me and entering my heart. The fever broke and gradually I recovered. From then on I was always attracted to images of the Buddha.

Toward the end of the war I hardly ever went to school, but I read constantly. Even now I can hear my mother saying, "John, get your nose out of that book." I thought that escape was possible within books. Perhaps I could be like Allen Quartermain with my Lee-Enfield rifle, strolling unafraid through the snake­infested jungles where even the natives were afraid to go. Or perhaps like one of the endless array of Victorian writers who trekked, hiked, climbed, or hacked their way through impenetrable wilderness, bringing afternoon tea, cricket, morals, manners, arid stiff upper lips to unenlightened barbarous tribes. Or a white-skinned, blonde Tarzan, with only a knife, knowing more than even the black natives. Taking tea would never be a problem because he was an English lord. In turn I reveled in becoming Hornblower, Alfred, Mallory, Scott of the Antarctic, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, and Ulysses. Sometimes I was Hawkeye, with my rifle and my two trusted Indian servants, in the American wilderness.

My stealing stopped. I took a test at school in the last part of my second year. The masters were astounded by the results. I was Mr. Jones's success story. I was put into Form Three-B. Being English instead of a Celt had paid off. Relentlessly I set to work. I read all the required books by the end of the year. I was top in exams of Form Three-B. In my last year I was put into Form Four-A and never saw the boys in Form One-X again. I watched Lawrence Olivier in the film Henry V with the fullness of pride that I was English. A great Union Jack hung on one wall in my room. The cross of St. George the Dragon Slayer hung on the other. I carried it to London for the Victory Over Europe parade. Vera Lynn sang "We'll Meet Again."

At fourteen I left school, worked for a while at the K. B. Radio factory in Foots Cray, and then became a commie waiter at the Savoy Hotel. At fifteen I was a bar boy at the University Club in London and saw Churchill puffing on his signature cigar. I signed papers to join the Royal Navy but was rejected because of my color blindness. Somewhat disappointed, I applied to the Merchant Navy and the P & 0 Line, which would train me to be a steward.

By coincidence my mother wrote me at this time, offering to pay my way to the United States and also that of my older step­sister, Mickey. Some years earlier my mother had married an American sailor and had left for America with my two younger sisters. My father, at the age of sixty-four, ran away with a twenty-­ two-year-old woman to a cottage by the sea. I, alone as usual, filled out the emigration forms at the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square and decided that whichever papers came through first would decide whether I entered the Merchant Navy or journeyed to America.

The American papers came first, by post. We were to sail aboard the USS America from Southampton the first week of March, 1950. Our old house in Sidcup was sold and in the back garden I built a bonfire with a wooden toy ship on top. I lined up the lead soldiers of the Coldstream Guard's Band, formally saluted them, and lit the fire. The blue baby, the Indian woman, the mental retard, Form One-X, my father, the Celts, and the war all went up in flames. I left the ashes. From the tourist deck of the USS America, I took the acceptance papers from the Merchant Navy's P & O Training School and dropped them into the expanding gap between ship and dock. They fluttered into the oily waters. Within a week I would be sixteen, English, and in America.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:48 am

Chapter 2: Illusions of America

FICTIONAL REALITY, IMAGES FLOOD MY MIND ENDLESSLY LIKE OVERLAPPING SHINGLES ON A ROOF.

The crossing was rough. The ship plowed through a March storm of sixty-foot breaking waves. Most of the passengers were seasick and there were buckets in all the cabin-ways. The crew was constantly mopping up vomit. But me, I was in my realm, the open sea. I ate every meal and purchased a two-pound box of Whitman chocolates and ate all of that too. Food went through me like air. As thin as a rail, I was six feet and 135 pounds.

After the storm the ship crept past the Statue of Liberty into a gray, ice-filled New York harbor. Most of the passengers had come as emigrants or refugees. Me? I came as John, the English Adventurer, expecting to see John Wayne striding the wooden sidewalks of New York with horses and wagons rumbling by. Instead I was met with deep concrete canyons occupied by blowing garbage and yellow cabs.

In the 101st Street East Side apartment where we lived every­one spoke Italian. On Sundays, with me dressed in my English tweeds, we ate great feasts of pasta. I was introduced to Maria, also sixteen, who had a body that would put Venus to shame. Her uncle, Jimmy the Bandit, jealously guarded her, so I could only look at her from a distance, while stuffing my mouth with her mother's spaghetti. Her skin was so olive it almost made me faint.

It quickly dawned on me that if I wanted to have something like Maria I would need to be successful at some type of work. Within the period of a few years I became in rapid succession a Western Union messenger, a shipping clerk, a gas stove repairman, a telephone receptionist, a watch repair apprentice, a magazine salesman, a footman for Jock Whitney, and a waiter at the 21 Club. All of this was great experience but I was not impressing Maria and I was getting restless, so I thought I would head out West.

I purchased a 30-30 lever-action Winchester Saddle Ring carbine, a pair of Acme cowboy boots, and an outfit of roebuck jeans and jacket. I purchased a bus ticket to Las Vegas, Nevada, and practiced saying "Howdy" in my best western movie imitation. I burned my English tweeds and set off on a Greyhound, eating chili with beans at every bus stop we pulled up to. Along the way I actively imagined my new persona.

I decided to change my name to Chris Scott, who was surely a distant relative of Randolph Scott. I was born in Bitter Creek, Wyoming, and was sent to England for schooling because we were relatives of Scott of the Antarctic exploration. It all sounded quite airtight to me and surely would impress any Maria I met. Not leaving anything to chance, I purchased an authentic Indian beaded thunderbird necklace. I figured if I ran into any redskins they would most certainly recognize me as a long-lost brother and invite me to marry the chief's beautiful daughter, Maria.

Las Vegas was not impressed with me when I finally got off the Greyhound bus five days later. I spent the night at the Salvation Army shelter and headed out for a real cow town; Mesquite. Arriving, I slung my kit bag and carbine over my back and swaggered, John Wayne style, into the adobe cafe. With my last silver dollar I ordered chili and beans and in a loud voice, with my best Texas accent, put out the offer, "Does anyone around here need any horses broke?"

In a masterful stroke I flipped the Bull Durham tobacco tag so it hung out of the top of my denim jacket pocket and turned around on the swivel counter seat to face the breakfast-eating crowd. Nobody reacted except the waitress, who backed away from me and retreated into the kitchen. From behind the swinging door I heard laughter, which temporarily punched a hole in my act. I rallied, however, and picked up my gear and headed out the door.

I had not gone far up the sand street before the waitress came running after me, grabbed my sleeve, and said, "Sonny, try Harley at the gas station; he needs help." My first impulse was to keep going on to St. George, Utah. Sonny, indeed! A gas station attendant! Not for Chris Scott of Bitter Creek. At that time I was near the gas station, so I thought, Well, what the hell. I found Harley, a man in mechanics' overalls. He said, "Well, I need someone to feed my cattle in the feed lot, back of the garage. Can you ride a horse?" He looked at me with curiosity.

"You bet," I answered, with a confidence born of imagination.

"Well," he said, hesitantly, "You can sleep in the garage and I'll pay you three dollars a day. Okay?"

"You bet," I answered.

"There's a saddle and bridle on the fence over there. Saddle up the black in the corral and I'll take you over to the feed lot."

I walked over to the fence, slung the saddle across my back in Randolph Scott style, took the bridle in my left hand, opened the gate, and for the next hour chased the black horse all over the corral. Then I heard a loud whistle and the horse headed for Harley and the two men who had come to watch the display.

"Hey kid," said one, "bring that saddle over here." I did just that.

"You might need a blanket," said another.

I was just about to answer that I was not cold when he flung it across the horse's back. They put on the saddle and bridle. "Kind of rusty, ain't you, kid," chuckled one. "Here," said Harley, and he handed me the reins. What happened next should have worked, as I had seen it in the movies enough times. I put my left foot in the stirrup, my hand on the saddle horn, and was about to pull myself up into the saddle when the horse put his hoof on the toe of my right boot. I could not remove my left foot from the stirrup and the horse would not move his hoof from my foot. The three guys were rolling around with laughter. To make matters worse, I let go and fell backward on the ground, my foot still in the stirrup and the other still pinned under the horse's hoof. This produced more convulsive laughter.

Harley let me stay and paid me three dollars a day to entertain everyone. After that I got a job on a ranch in Nebraska where I lived in a real bunkhouse with three other hands and earned four dollars a day with food. But after six months I got fired for shooting the ears off one of a team of horses, which happened this way.

It was in the fall and flocks of ducks were migrating south over the Nebraska cornfields. Chuck, one of the hands, pulled up to me in a manure spreader with a team of horses. "Quick, Chris," he yelled at me, shoving a 10-gauge shotgun into my hands. "Get in the back; there's a flock of birds in the top field." I jumped into the empty manure spreader and Chuck whipped up the horses and headed for the field.

Unfortunately, he had the spreader wagon in gear, which meant the chain floor used to move the manure to the back of the wagon into the whirling arms of the spreader was running under my feet. I had to keep hopping up and down in the back to avoid getting caught up in the tracks. Chuck was so excited he didn't hear me yell to stop. The sky was thick with low flying ducks. "Shoot! Shoot!" yelled Chuck, as I fell back into the wagon. I tried to aim the gun into the air and pulled the trigger.

We both saw the left-side horse's ears disappear in smoke. Chuck managed to stop the horses about a mile down the road. After a chewing out by the boss I decided I'd had enough of Western life. I got a suit at the Salvation Army store in Omaha, burned my cowboy outfit, sold my Winchester, and headed back east to settle down.

Because of my farming and ranching experience out west I secured a job as a farming instructor in a state school for retarded young adults. I was back in Form One-X, except now I was the teacher or, as it turned out, the "Farming Gang Boss." It was more like a prison than school, even though it was called a state training school. The farming department had about 100 Holstein cows and extensive fields of market-garden vegetables, from tomatoes to spinach.

I was given a gang of about fifteen teenagers who would have fit very well into Form One-X, and I took them out into the fields to weed, pick, hoe, dig, rake, burn brush, or whatever was needed or invented to keep us occupied. It was my first decent job and I felt like finally I was someone. I was twenty and could look forward to all kinds of health plans, insurance, and a retirement package.

Now that I had a good job, a wife was needed to complete the picture. I successfully courted a young secretary by the name of Helen who worked at the local school. We planned to be married in June. With our combined wages we rented a small house near the training school and furnished it on the hire-purchase plan. I made no attempt to sleep with Helen because this was the woman I was going to marry and that meant purity beyond mere sexual lust.

It was a grand wedding. The church was filled with flowers, tuxedos, and white gowns. A singer sang I Love You Truly from the church balcony and I was in wedded, blissful heaven. There were champagne, toasts, and the wedding cake with the effigies of Helen and me on top of three tiers held up by three columns. The bride threw the flower bouquet and we were off on our honeymoon to New York City. That night we tried to make love, but when I came to touching her vagina she cried and ran from the room. Honeymoon jitters, I said to myself. Be patient, be calm, be kind. Remember, this is the pure love of your life.
After a year, wedded bliss had turned to wedded hell. We still had not consummated our wedding -- no sex. We went to counselors, psychiatrists, and fortune-tellers, all of no help. Finally, I sold the furniture, quit my job, and left forever. I went to New York and got a job as a summer camp counselor at University Settlement Camp in Beacon, New York. I had sworn off marriage for the rest of my life when I met Ruth, a young, intelligent, beautiful Jewish girl. I say girl because she was only seventeen at the time and I had just turned twenty-one. I fell deeply in love.

A court somewhere in Georgia annulled my marriage to Helen and I asked Ruth to marry me. She refused on the grounds that while she felt I was wildly romantic she did not think I would make a reliable or stable husband or future father. I was heartbroken-devastated. I went to New York City and got a job as a group worker at University Settlement House. Still devastated and depressed by the rejection of Ruth, I became very drunk one night and cut my wrists in desperation. But, being in the state of intoxication, I rolled over onto my wrists and woke up in the morning to find the pressure had stopped the bleeding. My recovery was slow, but in any case I was determined that one day I would marry Ruth.

I registered and took art classes at the Art Students League and Columbia University. One of the professors at Columbia said if I really wanted to learn to draw as well as Leonardo DaVinci, I should get a job at a mortuary and draw dissected bodies. Taking him upon his word, I got a job dissecting aortas from cadavers at St. Vincent's Hospital. One day a doctor came into the mortuary and asked me if I knew anything about pumps. I said I did and he asked if I would help them fix their pump. It happened to be one of the first heart­ lung machines, whereupon I was offered a position as a surgical technician with his team of doctors and nurses. It was there that I met and later married Sylvia, a young nurse from Britain. Ruth, I heard, married a Jewish doctor by the name of Joe.

Sylvia and I returned to England and settled in Devon. She had a nursing job at the Exeter General Hospital and I secured a position at St. Loyes College for the disabled, where I was the preliminary training instructor. In addition to work, I began to attend art school part time, which eventually became two years of full-time enrollment.

One fine spring day I received a telephone call from Ruth informing me that she had divorced Joe and that she was coming that early summer to stay in Paris. I quickly obtained a scholarship to study art in Paris that summer. Sylvia was not included in the plans.

Ruth and I met in Paris and began a torrid love affair. We were unable to let go of each other, even for a second, and knew we had to be together forever. In the midst of our passion Sylvia showed up at the hotel, having tracked me down. There was a tremendous row, with anger, accusation, and tears. Because I could hardly afford to eat in those days, I was quite faint from the buffeting of the emotional storm. Somehow, though, the whole turmoil only served to bring Ruth and me closer together.

Before Ruth returned to America to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois, we decided to live together. I was to follow her in two months after I had acquired a divorce from Sylvia. Ruth was four months pregnant with our first child when we were married in Greenwich, Connecticut. Ruth's parents were not at all happy about her daughter marrying outside of the Jewish faith-least of all to a ne'er-do-well like me without any prospects of a job. However, I was always one for grand ideas.

After a year of graduate school, Ruth and I decided to start our own school on the east coast of America. I borrowed some money and bought a car to take her and our newborn daughter to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The following summer we started a summer camp for exceptional children in Elizabethtown.

The camp was well attended and Ruth and I considered it a success. The second summer's program was winding down when we received an invitation to attend a cocktail party given by some educators in Lake Placid, New York. I was having a conversation with a gentleman from Rhode Island who worked in the correctional system there. It was the early 1960s, and a lot of teenagers were getting arrested for smoking marijuana. When I asked him what it cost the state to house these young people he replied that it was about eleven thousand dollars per year. I rashly said, "Okay, I could do it for six." Immediately he said, "If you can, I will send you five people next fall."

Ruth and I borrowed money from a rich friend and purchased a 600-acre farm in Paradox, New York. It was nestled in a picturesque valley with a barn and old farmhouse. We contracted with Connecticut and New York, in addition to Rhode Island, and that fall we started Highland Community Residential School. We had thirty students and ten teachers. Everybody worked on the farm in the morning and in the afternoon we had academic schoolwork. We trained the students specifically to pass the New York State Equivalency High School Exam. During this hectic turmoil of establishing a school, Ruth, who had been pregnant, gave birth to our second daughter.

While this outline seems somewhat conventional, my fantasies about reality continued to display eccentricities. Warfare in particular -- or wars -- were a continual fascination of mine. We played out this fascination under the guise of teaching history. This was something akin to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We divided the school and staff into two groups and over several days we acted out the Roman Celtic wars. In these wars the Celts always won. We also reenacted the Roman and Greek wars -­ again the Romans were soundly defeated.

One Saturday we bused the entire student body to Ticonderoga to see Charlton Heston in the movie Khartoum. Inspired, we spent the next day reconstructing an old cabin on the property with which to play out the story of the beleaguered Khartoum. The majority of the students acted as the fanatical Mahdi hoard, dressed in white sheets and bearing spears. I, as Gordon himself, was holed up in the derelict cabin with a few hardy students, a meager food supply, and two six-pounder muzzle-loading cannons. These cannons were loaded with gun powder and steel wool so that when they were fired at night a shower of hot metal sparks would shoot out about 50 yards all around.

Sure enough, that very night, sounds were heard in the large field that stretched before us. I ordered the gunners to stand by. When the sounds grew even louder I gave the order, "Open fire." The cannons roared out, sending flaming steel wool across the fields. Through the night air we could hear the Mahdi's fanatical hoard screaming as they ran off with burning sheets.

The next day the student "horde" was seen reforming itself under the command of two of the resident teaching staff. They had acquired new sheets during the night and had constructed a battering ram from a telegraph pole on a set of wagon wheels. The sheeted horde made their approach across the field and began to beat down the door of the cabin while we threw gunpowder­ loaded tennis ball bombs in amongst them. They finally withdrew, but we knew that we could not sustain another assault.

That night my soldiers and I snuck down to the barn and located several buckets into which we poured cow manure and a few dead rats. This was our last hope. The plan was to retreat to the rafters when the Mahdi hoards invaded the cabin, pour the offal on them, and then surrender.

Sure enough, they attacked that morning and managed to throw an explosive devise into our ammunition box-which sent rockets and fireworks exploding within the cabin. We rushed into the rafters and hauled up our buckets. The maddened yelling and screaming mob of Mahdis swarmed into the cabin, whereupon they were drenched in cow shit and dead rats. Screaming, they ran out and my lads and I nobly surrendered.

The wars escalated and our equipment and props improved dramatically. Two U.S. Naval whaleboats were donated to the school, which we immediately rigged with four-pounder bow guns and one-pounder swivel guns. Our seamstresses and tailors fabricated 18th-century Royal Navy uniforms for the students and teachers. We purchased cutlasses, pikes, and muskets and set forth to retake the colonies for King George. We took part in reenactment battles at Crown Point, Fort Ticonderoga, and Fort William Henry.

While this was a coed school, the boys were the main participants in the Royal Navy reenactments. The girls, feeling a bit left out, requested an all-girl trip on Lake Champlain in the whale­boats -- to which I agreed. It was a warm September day when we set off down the lake with the girls sweating at the oars, singing "Row, My Bully Girls, Row." They then stripped off their shirts and I stood at the tiller looking down at these bare-breasted Amazons pulling away as a cloud of red Monarch butterflies engulfed us. The boat was white on the outside and red on the inside. The autumn colors on the shore glided by. The sky was cloudless and there was the hum of an occasional dragonfly. The sound of the oars squeaked rhythmically in the oarlocks. The fantasy was complete and the environment cooperative. If realized in the moment, the mythology of the situation could have been seen as an omen of past, present, and future -- on the spot.

I COULD REINVENT MYSELF from one second to another without hesitation and could be completely immersed in whatever fantasy reality it was that was created -- whether it was a house, children, marriage, school, being an artist, a teacher, a cowboy, or a naval officer. Each could b accounted for without any real sense of reality.

But the interactive emotional reality of people surrounding me swelled and exploded. The fantasy of my living happily ever after with Ruth ended because of my infidelity. We had terrible fights and we decided that I should leave. As I left our dream house forever, Ruth in a fit of rage shouted, ''And take this with you!" She threw a statue of the Buddha at me and it hit the door­post next to my head. I picked it up and vanished. She found security in a seemingly more stable Joe and married him, and through the law courts, acquired custody of my daughters and ownership of the property. I was devastated. I wanted to kill myself. I was engulfed in depression for two years -- my fantasies having failed me, or me having failed my fantasies. Then I met Chogyam Trungpa [1] Rinpoche. [2]

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Notes:

1 During the 1974 Seminary, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche explained, "The word Trungpa is an honorific term, which literally means 'attendant.' Ideally when somebody serves their guru twenty-four hours a day. they begin to get some glimpse of the workings of his mind. They begin to get messages and reminders of awareness and things like that. So the best way to develop is to be the guru's servant. That's the tradition.''

2 Rinpoche means "greatly precious"; a title given to especially qualified masters.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:49 am

Chapters 1 and 2: Commentary

In my early life I learned to relate to everything in terms of war. World War II had made it clear to me that in order to defend myself I needed to have some type of a weapon close at hand. These were almost always guns. I lived out my fantasies of my wartime experiences in reading biographies and histories of different world conflicts.

I saw my relationships with others in terms of domination or submission. When challenged on any issue I would resort to outrage and anger. I had very little or no insight into my own behavioral patterns. In my world, I came first. Its not that I didn't try to please others in order to get what I wanted, but there was no real realization of other people or their suffering or their struggles. It was only me. My path was to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

I, like everyone else, had redeeming qualities. I could be kind and generous. And although I had built a fairly secure shield against pain around myself, there were times that this shield could be penetrated by the intense suffering of others. But rather than investigating this pain I would turn to depression with feelings of hopelessness and nihilism. I can remember from early on thinking that God didn't give a shit, so why should I.

At times I had altruistic feelings of wanting to change the world and the society. I wanted things to be better. But I was not inclined to start with myself, and all my attempts to change things brought more chaos and more confusion, and more bewilderment and more depression.

My reality consisted of being caught in the realm of ignorance and bewilderment which was essentially quite painful. In order to escape or to try to escape the pain I went from one situation to another, hoping that the next event or person or situation would somehow solve the basic problem and alleviate the pain.

I had the idea from very early on in my life that what was required of me was to have a good job, find a good wife, have a good house, and live happily ever after. This was reinforced by the society I was born into. My whole culture with its pop music about love and marriage perpetuated this type of living happily ever after. The problem was that the idea didn't match the reality. However, it did not occur to me to give up and it was a lot easier to blame others for my failures.

I wanted to be good, which in my mind meant true, pure, chaste, moral -- and above all I wanted to be loved. I felt that if I could attain these things, I could be loved. But these things were in direct conflict with my real desires and passions. And I had no idea of how to integrate these conflicts. I also had no idea of how to integrate my spiritual and temporal life. I lived by a list of things that were good and a list of things that were bad. There might have been gray areas but these remained virtually unexplored.

It's interesting perhaps to look at the mythology involved in one's life. There is a certain karma attached to any birth. In my case it was a traumatic birth; the colors black and blue; the Indian woman in the semi-detached house who committed suicide; the extremes of hot and cold water; color blindness; not being sure of one's gender; having visions; and being labeled as retarded. In a very strange way it made me, later on, a good candidate for Buddhist vajrayana [3] practices. From that point of view it's interesting to look at one's so-called negative personality traits as perhaps being pathways to further wisdom.

_______________

Notes:

3 Vajrayana, Sanskrit for "Diamond Vehicle"; a school of Buddhism which was practiced in Northern India during the middle of the first millennium. Enlightenment in Vajrayana is the realization of non-duality.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:52 am

Chapter 3: The First Seminary

THE IDIOT EGOTIST SEEKING POWER DISCOVERS A DIAMOND AND THINKS TEACHING IS A TRICK.

The first moment I ever saw Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I felt an overwhelming connection to him, which was both baffling and inexplicable. He had a Buddhist center in New England which was really just a farmhouse and barn. There was also a big army tent set up in which Rinpoche gave talks and the students did meditation practice. Rinpoche was going to give three talks over the weekend about a Tibetan Buddhist farmer called Marpa. A friend of mine, George, who looked and acted like Michael Caine, had told me that he had been out drinking with Rinpoche and thought he was a great guy. He mentioned that Rinpoche had been in a car accident and was a cripple as a result. People called Rinpoche "Rimp the Gimp," which he did not seem to mind.

I had driven up to the Buddhist farm and signed up for the weekend. Equipped with my sleeping bag, I planned to sleep out in the fields. The center had a meeting on that first morning, as it was the custom to assign jobs. I volunteered to wash dishes and repair the gravel driveway coming into the farm. As I was fixing the holes in a bend of the road an old battered car came along, and there, sitting in the backseat, was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He had on blue bib overalls and a plaid shirt. He was brown with long jet-black hair, a round face with beautiful brown eyes, and a smile like the Buddha himself. He gave me a wave of his hand. It was as if I had been struck by warm electrical energy. I was immediately attracted to his presence and was determined to speak to him.

I finished my chores and did my meditation, of which I was kind of proud because I had sat for a whole hour, entertaining myself with remembering all the movies I had seen. In the evening I went to Rinpoche's talk about Marpa. [4] Rinpoche came into the tent supported by one of the students as he limped toward the chair in which he was seated to give the talk. I could not understand a thing that he was saying about this chap Marpa. In fact, it seemed to me that Marpa was not a real farmer but a translator who was treating one of the farmhands, Milarepa, [5] very badly by having him build silos all over the farm.

On looking back, if I had tuned in a little, I would have found the spirits were rolling around in the grass laughing their heads off at what they saw in store for me. Rinpoche mesmerized me. After the talk, I approached him, looked straight into his eyes, and said, "I want an interview with you." I was looking at an open plain with a giant sun rising in it and thousands of birds flying in a blue sky. He said something like, "We will see," and as I walked away I asked myself, "Johnny, what the fuck was that?"

That night I drank a bottle of vodka with a chap named Tom Rich, [6] who was a baker, and his pal Ken. I got so drunk that I was seeing double, so I got up and started off for my car, a small white Opel two-seater. The wind was coming up and storm clouds were moving in from the west. I dragged out my sleeping bag and looked around for a place to sleep. Not twenty feet away I saw a tent with the door flaps blowing open and inside was a naked girl starting to get into her sleeping bag. I crawled into her tent and without a word kissed her and she kissed me back with passion and energy.

At this point I was not sure what world I was in, but I went ahead anyway. It was beginning to thunder and the lightning was flashing. Then it started to pour. I took off my clothes in a hurry and this spirit-woman helped me with them. I took her hand and led her out into the storm, and we lay down in the tall grass and started to make love. It was like making love to the earth itself. When lightning flashed I could see only parts of her body. Her nipples were hard and rigid and I drank the juice of her body, which was salty and mixed with rain. I had my tongue deep inside her, and between the rolling thunder I heard her moan. We went on until the storm passed.

She went back to her abandoned shelter and I struggled over to my car, crawled under it, and went to sleep. I woke at daylight and banged my head on the car exhaust pipe. Surprisingly, I did not have a hangover.

There on the ground were my clothes in a neat pile. "That was some dream," I thought, but then looked at myself and saw that I was nude. I never take my clothes off when I sleep outdoors! As I was dressing I also realized there was not a single bug bite on me: Then paranoia hit me. Was this girl real? There was no way I could recognize her except for an erect nipple.

Nobody was looking at me. and the Buddhists were getting ready to do their holy trip, so I joined in and went along. Intently I looked at every woman for a reaction but not a one even looked familiar.

George and I were sent over to Rinpoche's house to build a doorway from his bedroom to the outside balcony. While George and I worked on it I said o him, ''I'm going to be Rinpoche's butler. He needs a butler." I had never been a butler, although I was a footman in England when I was fourteen and I worked later as a bar boy at the University Club in London. George responded with an assessing look. "Why not," he said. "You will have to get an interview with Rinpoche. They know you were Head Master at a school for wayward kids and they think you have money." George was talking about Rinpoche's students who were the administrators. "Go and speak with Marv. He's Rinpoche's secretary."

After lunch everyone was sitting around on the lawn relaxing and talking about meditation and Buddhism and Marpa's farm. Marv strolled over toward me. "I'm going to talk this guy into get­ting me an interview with Rinpoche," I thought. He came over.

"Hi John. I hope it's alright to call you John?"

"Fine," I answered.

"Would you like to have an interview with Rinpoche?" It blew my mind.

"Sure, that would be great."

"Well, let's say this afternoon during meditation period."

"Great, I'll be there."

I stood at the bottom of the stairs leading up to Rinpoche's office. I had been there bout an hour trying to read a Buddhist book but I couldn't understand it at all. When people passed I read intently, pretending to be a good student. When I got bored even of pretending, I began to read the bulletin board. There was a list of students going to a seminary with Rinpoche. I'll be on that list, I said to myself. I'm going.

At that moment Marv appeared and took me up the creaking stairs to Rinpoche's room. Opening the door there he was, seated on a chair. There was a pillow on the floor. Marv motioned for me to sit on it and then he left and I was alone with Rinpoche. At last! Then there was silence. We looked at each other. I was slightly embarrassed and turned my eyes away. My heart was racing and I tried desperately to calm myself down. Then he said, "We have heard of you."

"I've heard of you," I laughingly replied.

He smiled, saying, "Welcome to the family." His warmth engulfed my body.

"Thank you, sir," I said somewhat feebly, but feeling more relaxed.

"What are you doing now?"

"Nothing."

I watched the dust specs dancing in the light of the sun. Then he said, "Would you like to go to Wyoming? We are having a small get-together there."

"Oh, the seminary."

"Yes."

"Well, I'd love to go, sir."

"Okay. Speak to Marv about the details."

I stood up and we shook hands. "Welcome, Johnny." As I left the room I noticed that someone had drawn a spider on the wall. In a bit of a daze, I walked down the stairs to the outside and a woman approached me. She had brown eyes and a harelip. She looked at me and said that it was wonderful last night and "Thank you so much." We kissed and she walked away.

At that time I was living on a boat in Camden, Maine. After my meeting with Rinpoche I drove back to Camden to get my gear for the trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the first seminary was to be held. There would be seventy students living in a rented hotel. for three months. Notably, among the students was Alan Ginsberg. George, my friend, was also going and we would be roommates. He had his doctorate in psychology and was teaching at a university in Montreal.

When I arrived in Jackson Hole three days later, I found George already there. We got ourselves set up in the ski cabin. I slept on the main floor and George slept in a loft above me. Rinpoche was in Sweden and would arrive in two weeks. The first part of the seminary was a sixteen-day meditation period. We were to meditate every day for ten hours. Since I had meditated only a couple of times, and then for only an hour or so, I wasn't thrilled about meditating for ten hours at a stretch. Ten hours a day for sixteen days seemed a bit daunting to me. But when I looked at the other students, most of whom had been students of Rinpoche's for at least a year and who had done some serious sitting meditation time, I figured I could do it too. The students ranged in ages from twenty to fifty and they were teachers, doctors, students, artists, poets, secretaries, and administrators from Rinpoche's Buddhist Centers in Vermont and Colorado.

I decided that my tactic for making it through the meditation periods would be to pretend I was "still hunting." This was a hunting technique that required you to sit for hours without the slightest movement. If you did move, you did it in ultra­slow motion. It might take several minutes to move your head to look in the direction of a sound. When I hunted deer in the Adirondacks, I figure it took me about forty hours of sitting still to bag a deer. Hunting in New Jersey or Pennsylvania wasn't nearly as tedious-about four or five hours of sitting per deer.

I went through the same routine every day. Eat, sleep, sit. Sit, eat, sleep. I mentally went through all the old movies I remembered and all my old romances. I made up new romances, sexual fantasies, food fantasies, and career fantasies-whatever I could to entertain myself. Slowly I ran out of material and got fits of what the meditation instructors called "hot boredom'' and "cool boredom." It was just plain old boredom to me. The walking meditation periods proved a little more interesting. There was a young Jewish girl who, to the delight of all the men, wiggled her ass as she walked. But soon I was bored even with her ass.

One day I discovered a case of escargot in the food closet. Each night, after the last sitting at 10:30, George and I would invite people over for escargot parties. What I really wanted was to find a woman to sleep with, but everyone seemed paired off or serious about the meditation practice. Everyone, except the administrators, sat for the first sixteen days. We used one of the hotel's cafeterias as the shrine room, and you could watch the cable car go to the top of the mountain. Occasionally, I could spot a moose on the hillside. Up down, up down, up down, up down, down up went the cable car. My mind was running on empty.

Then one afternoon there was a commotion by a window in the shrine room. We all looked and there was Rinpoche making faces through the window. Everyone laughed and I renewed my empty mind with the exciting expectation of spending time with my savior, father, best friend, ultimate mother, and teacher of my enlightenment. My Guru!

The last two days of sitting I spent planning for my eventual enlightenment. Hooray! It shouldn't take too long, I thought. I figured I could probably reach enlightenment in about two years and then I wouldn't have to spend all this time sitting around doing nothing. would be famous. People would say, "There goes John Perks. He's enlightened. And he did it so quickly!" I imagined this light coming from my head and wondered if it would radiate like a street lamp at night. Perhaps I'd have to wear a hood when I went out. I mused that this was the reason monks wore robes with hoods-in case they got enlightened.

Well, it seemed possible and exciting. The teaching session of the seminary was about to start. It was to be called the "Hinayana-Mahayana'' [7] section. The next section would be the Vajrayana. These were the three great vehicles of Buddhism-like Ford, Chevy, and Mazarati.

There were still sitting periods during the day. Then after supper, around eight or nine, Rinpoche would talk on a different subject. Everybody would get dressed up in their best clothes and go to the shrine room and wait for Rinpoche to show up. It was quite a fashion show. We all wanted Rinpoche to notice us, to acknowledge our potential for enlightenment. One look from Rinpoche was a treasure. He radiated a flash of gentleness, warmth, love, and joy in one look, one smile. All I had to do was plan to catch Rinpoche for myself and then I would have a constant supply of all that gentleness and love.

We always knew Rinpoche was coming when one of the administrators, his close students, came in to set up the incense and check the sound system. The administrators were close to Rinpoche, and I hated those fuckers. Whenever I saw them a gulf of hatred would well up in me. They were a pain in the ass now, but once I had stolen Rinpoche for myself their "generator of love" would be cut off from their circuits and plugged into mine.

I carefully kept these thoughts of hatred to myself, although I intuitively knew Rinpoche could read us all and I occasionally caught him watching me. Rinpoche not only read us but he had plans of his own for us. I had no idea how he read us and what he saw. But I had faith in that golden time when my complete and total enlightenment would occur and all would become clear in a flash of brilliant light.

Rinpoche's talks started with meditation instruction. I had already received instruction from one of the administrators, but Rinpoche's instruction was quite detailed and I found I had not been meditating all the time. No sweat, I thought. I can patch that up with a Band-Aid here and there. The talks progressed and I made notes in my loose-leaf folder. I studied the material on the eight stages of consciousness, mindfulness of body, livelihood, effort, mind, and then my favorite-"Art in Everyday Life". They were great talks.

Suddenly, while everything seemed to be going so well, a bombshell fell on my journey to enlightenment-the discovery of Tathagatagarbha. [8] I could hardly say it, let alone understand it. The conviction of my enlightenment began to dim and I was completely thrown just by the words: tagjor, dunpa, tsondru, migme-kyi-nyingje, and then some fellow called Sam Bhogakaya and the Bhumis. It sounded like an Indian rock group.

"Choje-Yangdag, tsondru, shunyata, Sosoyangdagpak-Rigpa. Any questions?" Rinpoche would ask and twenty hands would shoot up. I mean, these guys actually understood this gibberish.

I was in love with Rinpoche but I saw that I was never going to be able to understand this stuff. It just didn't make sense to me. These guys were talking about how the mind works. I mean, I already understood how the mind works-you eat, sleep, go to the movies, fuck, drive, get money, and do it all over again and everything's fine. I began to see Buddhism as an Asian way to brainwash us into ... into what? Something unimaginable, to my mind.

What could it be that Rinpoche wanted? Maybe he was just kind. The talks began to drag me down. Paramitas, madhyamika, soso tharpa, hayagriva, akyasangha, samantabhadra, sravakayana, shunyata, utpattikrama. I was going down fast. Even Sara, the young Jewish sexpot, was clicking along and asking questions like "Is that just the quality of greater transmutation in Maha and the Anu or is that way of working with the Bhindu somehow related to further transmutation or deeper transmutation?" I was sunk. I started to scribble in my notebook. The path to my enlightenment began to look like a damn long hike.

Rinpoche had inexhaustible energy. The talks lasted from ten at night to two or three in the morning. This was fast becoming worse than sitting meditation. We started having the talks before we had supper, and then we didn't eat until the wee hours of the morning. Then a miracle happened. One night Rinpoche was really into one particular talk. It got to be around eleven p.m. and people were getting tired. We had been sitting for ten hours that day and I was bone tired four hours ago. Then the guy behind me interrupted and asked, "Rinpoche. Could we take a break and have something to eat and talk later?"

"I second that," shouted someone else across the room.

"What!?" Rinpoche asked, astonished.

"We would like to take a break," they answered, and personally I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request. Suddenly, like a lightening strike, Rinpoche got up, slammed down the microphone, knocked over his chair, and stormed out of the room. We were all shocked. It happened so fast that everyone was astonished. You could hear a pin drop in the room, it was so quiet. Some people ran out after Trungpa, yelling for him to come back.

"What happened?" I asked George. "Is the seminary over?"

"I have no idea," George said.

We went down to Rinpoche's room. People were outside his door pleading for him to come back and he wasn't saying much. Rather than sit around, I decided to do something practical, so I went off to the kitchen and got some food to take to Rinpoche and the other people. I came back into the room with the food and Rinpoche looked at me and said, "Thank you." I melted at his appreciation. Suddenly I realized, Of course, this is what I can do. It was the vision I had back in Vermont of being his butler coming true. I could make myself useful. I could cook, clean, even wash dishes, which the others hated to do. But washing dishes seemed better than listening to Sam Bhogakaya and the Bhumis. I could serve. I could serve Rinpoche. The dummy that wanted to take a break saved me.

So I volunteered to do all the dirty work. The jobs nobody wanted, I did-sweep, mop, wash, scrub, iron, and cook. I was in hog heaven peeling a mountain of potatoes. And Rinpoche said, "Thank you. Thank you, Johnny." I settled into a routine. I worked at my chores in the morning. In the afternoon I some­times ventured out with one of the female students to enjoy a hot pool that I had found in the mountains and a bottle of wine. Everyone was studying and practicing for long hours and we all felt inclined to take breaks. I didn't mind meditating on my schedule but it was getting excessive. I thought, It's not a bad life, this part of dharma, [9] as long as you don't have to meditate for unreasonably long hours.

As for the studying, my mind still could not grasp the fundamental concepts. I could, however, feel holy or special. Looking at the statue of the Buddha and then looking at myself, I thought, Paint me gold and nobody would know the difference. I bet I would look good in robes and I bet I could attract more pussy wearing them. It was really great. I had found my niche in the Buddhist community, the sangha. I was the housekeeper, a job no one else wanted.

Loving the contemplative life was going to be my lifestyle: a small bowl of rice, a gallon of sake, some humble robes, and lots of pussy. Rinpoche did a refuge vow for me, since another chap and I were the only non-Buddhist students at the seminary. The refuge vow is where you take refuge in the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha and you become a Buddhist. Rinpoche gave me the name Yeshe Tungpa, which he tells me means "Trumpeter of Wisdom." Wow! I am the trumpeter of wisdom! I look in the mirror and say the name, "Trumpeter of Wisdom." This must mean I can play in Sam's band. I can see the billing at the Enlightenment Theater: Sam Bhogakaya and the Bhumis, starring john Perks, the Trumpeter of Wisdom.

Sound drums and trumpets, farewell sour annoy,
For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy ...
Tra Tra Pa Par du du da da tra boom.


If, at the time, I had made a list of my goals, they would have been the following:

1. There was no bullshit about helping other people. Fuck them! I loved Rinpoche. I wanted to be like him and I wanted his knowledge and power. In short, I wanted to become enlightened at any cost.

2. When I was enlightened I would obtain anything and any­one I wanted.

3. Do this in the shortest time possible-without hassles!

Rinpoche lived down the road from the Jackson Hole ski resort in a rented cabin with a young girl from South America. She had a great body, but I felt I should not make a move on her because she was Rinpoche's woman and it might ruin my chances of enlightenment. I was invited to dinner at the cabin. Tom Rich and Ken Green would be cooking with some of the other students, so I took my time with my dress-leather buckskin fringed shirt, navy blue pants, mountain climbing boots, and my Navaho concho belt. An Irishman who had gone native-Hindu, Baghavan Das, was invited as well. He had dreadlocks down to his waist, all yellow and matted like an old rug. Baghavan Das wore his Indian robe outfit, and I drove him down in my small white Opel sports car over the ice-covered road between the high banks of snow.

When we got to the cabin the main room had been cleared of furniture and now was set with a long row of six-foot folding tables and chairs in the manner of a banquet hall with tablecloths, dishes, glasses, and cutlery. I was seated in the middle of the table, opposite Rinpoche's dark-haired consort. The food was passed family style. Everything seemed quite normal for a while. Rinpoche began plying Baghavan Das with drinks. Baghavan Das was crying about the death of his teacher in India and Rinpoche kept giving him more sake. Totally inebriated, Baghavan Das fell backward from his chair, and like the Titanic going down, he hit the floor with a thump. I rushed over to pick him up.

"Put him in here," said Rinpoche, opening a door to a small room. Tom Rich and I dragged the unconscious Baghavan Das into the room.

"Get some scissors, Johnny," commanded Rinpoche.

I hunted about and came back with some scissors. Rinpoche took the scissors and tried to cut through Baghavan Das's dreadlocks. But the stuff was so thick the scissors wouldn't make a dent.

"A knife!" exclaimed Rinpoche.

I rushed to the kitchen and brought back a carving knife to Rinpoche's waiting hand. He bent over the unconscious head like a laborer, sawing through the heavy hair. I ran back to the kitchen with a whetstone to sharpen more knives that were picked up by eager hands to pass to Rinpoche. Finally, the Irish-American Hindu was shorn of the cordage, which was unceremoniously burned in the fireplace. I had a feeling he would look better with­out that mat on his head. We all returned to dinner, leaving the unsuspecting sleeping Baghavan Das in the closet.

Rinpoche picked up a large pomegranate in his right hand and spoke across the table to me. "Open your mouth." Half drunk, I did as I was asked.

"Wider," said Rinpoche.

I opened wide, expecting him to throw the pomegranate in. Instead, he squeezed it and a stream of juice arched four feet across the table and into my mouth and I gulped it down. That's quite a trick, I thought. Someone threw a spoonful of pumpkin pie at Bob Halpern sitting next to me. It hit him in the face and in no time the fight was on. Food was flying all over the room, tables were overturned to form barricades. The air was thick with edible missiles. We were all covered with food. It was on the walls and ceiling, dripping from the light fixtures. Somehow Rinpoche was sitting in the middle of the room quite untouched, just calmly drinking sake. That's quite a trick, I thought.

Later, I was quite surprised to find out that in the Hindu tradition, it is customary to cut one's hair off on the death of one's teacher. Baghavan Das showed up in the shrine room several days later wearing a gray suit with white shirt and tie. Everybody applauded.

_______________

Notes:

4 Marpa the translator, 1012-97; renowned Tibetan yogi; student of Naropa; devoted himself to bringing texts from India and translating them into Tibetan. He was a farmer and was the root guru of Milarepa.

5 Milarepa, 1025-1135, was the most famous Buddhist saint of Tiber. Milarepa became Marpa's student at the age of thirty-eight-seeking his root guru to purify his karma. He attended Marpa in the role of a servant. Marpa subjected Milarepa to extraordinarily harsh training such as having Milarepa build towers our of stone one after the other on Marpa's command only to have to rake them down and assemble them somewhere else. Marpa initially also refused to give Milarepa teachings. The work and treatment by Marpa caused Milarepa such despair he fled twice and was near suicidal. After many years, Marpa provided teachings, including transmitting the teachings of Naropa, and he prepared Milarepa for a life of solitude. Milarepa lived for many years in seclusion in mountain caves in the Himalayas. Milarepa became the root guru of Gampopa.

6 Tom Rich was later to become the Vajra Regent, Osel Tendzin, Chogyam Trungpa's dharma heir and Regent of the Trungpa lineage.

7 Hinayana, Sanskrit for "Small Vehicle" is one of the two general divisions of Buddhism. Practitioners of this school are motivated to become liberated from conditioned existence known as samsara.

Mahayana, Sanskrit for "Great Vehicle." While Hinayana practitioners seek personal liberation, Mahayana practitioners seek enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

8 Tathagatagarbha is buddha-nature. All beings possess buddha-nature, and therefore it is possible for everyone to attain enlightenment. A well-known saying is, "even a worm can become a Buddha."

9 Dharma-Buddhist teachings.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:53 am

Chapter 3: Commentary

Here I was again alone in the world -- my personal possessions being reduced to a pick-up truck and a 38-foot schooner moored in Camden, Maine. I felt everything in my life up to this point had been a total failure. My attempts at marriage and family life had ended in disaster.

This was the period in the late 60s and early 70s when people were reading the Carlos Castaneda books about Don Juan. And there was a resurgent interest in Native American shamanistic practices. I had the feeling that if I could obtain the kind of power that was being talked about in the Castaneda books I could somehow solve all of my problems.

I saw Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as being like Don Juan. So I literally threw myself into the center of Rinpoche's world and to my delight he accepted me. It is said that the chances of finding and being accepted by an enlightened teacher are equal to somebody. throwing into the ocean a life buoy and by some happenstance a tur­tle coming to the surface for air and putting his head through that drifting life buoy. That event would be one's chances of finding such a situation.

But in the beginning I was only attracted to the power that I thought Rinpoche would impart to me. I saw enlightenment as a trick of magic -- for the benefit of myself and maybe then for others of my choosing. My personal karmic mythology was still very much at work. I was attracted to Rinpoche but bewildered about what was really going on and constantly trying to put it in the framework of my logic and projections. Nevertheless, my fascination and attraction to the weirdness of the situations led me onward.

I spent a great deal of time alone with Rinpoche at the first Seminary, which was quite ordinary in some sense. We sat in a room together while he worked. He seemed to be able to work on several projects at the same time. I was touched when he made me a cup of tea. His movements were very deliberate and precise. I was impressed by that. He did not ask me a lot of questions about my personal life. Sometimes he would ask me if I had visited a certain place in England or Scotland. He asked me the year I had been born and, actually, that was about it. I felt a sense of relaxed anticipation in his presence. It seemed to be the courtship phase of a love affair.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:59 am

Chapter 4: Turnaround Retreat

SIDDHA VYADHALIPA IS CUTTING THE THROATS OF MODEL BIRDS; SAVARIPA SHOOTS AN ARROW; KUKKURIPA PATS THE BITCH'S HEAD. WHO IS TRUNGPA RINPOCHE?

The motorcar stood on the black tarmac road, its rubber feet fat with air bulging into the granite curbstones. The autumn leaves were thick upon the sidewalk, piled like overlapping, dry snake scales crunching under foot. The death of leaves-it was that time of year hated by my mother in her Celtic Wicca gloom for its feeling and smell of a muddy river bottom or the ring around a bathtub. The life had gone out of summer but I was alive, full of joy, expectant, smelling the air of adventure. A journey was commencing to what I understood as the undiscovered country of enlightenment. The car stood there waiting for me, its innards stuffed to the gills with supplies: food, clothing, Buddhist paraphernalia, alcohol, books, pens, paper dips, cooking pots, guns, swords, and pictures. In short, everything we would need -- I would need -- on my journey.

I was the Chosen One. I was going to become enlightened! Glorious sun. Son of sun. Magnificent. Stupendous. Pregnant with the hope of spring in the death of summer. I was in love with my teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and he had chosen me to be his attendant for a year of retreat in the western mountains of Massachusetts. Just me and him. Well, almost; there would also be Max; the cook. But everyone knew I was in charge. After all, I was English and Max was Chinese. Look at the facts. What more was there to say? He was a lickspit, the less perfectly formed twin of a double monster. I was already Rinpoche's butler and I had the black coat and pinstriped pants to prove it. Again the hope of enlightenment rose in me like the rising sun.. Oblivious to the sadness of the others around me, who were losing their teacher for a year, the Joseph coat fit me like a glove and I was blissful in its multicoloredness.

The plan was simple enough. One of Rinpoche's students, Jean-Claude Van Itallie, had a farmhouse in Charlemont, Massachusetts. I, Rinpoche, Max, and their respective dogs, Ganesh and Myson, would stay on retreat at the farm for about nine or ten months. I was to be Rinpoche's attendant, which meant his secretary, his dresser, his doctor, his nurse, his brother, his driver, his entertainment, his spiritual other, his bodyguard, and essentially his Enkidu or constant companion. Max would cook.

Enlightenment was certain.

I went ahead to organize the farmhouse before Rinpoche's arrival. For two weeks I worked hard cleaning and organizing the farmhouse. The last task was to put away Rinpoche's clothes, which had arrived from Karme Choling [10] that very afternoon. I took them up to his bedroom and opened the closet to hang them up. A shower of rice sprayed down upon me. I stood there stunned until it stopped. Then my startled mind grasped the answer. Mice! Mice had stashed rice up in the attic and it had fallen through the closet ceiling when I had opened the door. I turned on the closet light and checked the ceiling for cracks. It was seamless and without any cracks, so I checked the freshly painted walls. No cracks. I ran my hands over them and tapped them with my knuckle. Nothing. Not even a hairline crack in the plaster. "Someone is playing a trick on me," I thought. "Perhaps a plastic bag full of rice was taped to the ceiling so that when I opened the door rice fell out on me." I checked the door, the floor, the walls, the ceiling. I ran up to the attic. Nothing. No bag, no tape, no string, nothing. My mind began to panic. Better have a cup of tea.

I went down to the kitchen and asked myself if I was alone in the house. I made the tea, drank it, and then ran back up to the bedroom closet to double-check every theory I could think of. There was nothing. Nothing! There was just the rice on the floor. About two cupfuls. I listened. Maybe someone was hiding in the house. I checked every room. It was getting dark outside. I had only one more night alone. Rinpoche and Max would be driving down from Karme Choling the next day.

Calling up my Coldstream Guard's [11] mind, I had a glass of sake and marched bravely up to the bedroom, cleaned up the rice, and finally put away Rinpoche's clothes. I returned to the kitchen to make myself a bowl of soup and sat at the table eating it. The house started to move. It creaked and groaned in the wind. Then it whistled and moaned. I ran up to my room and took out my thirty-eight caliber revolver from the bedside table. Hurriedly I loaded it and stuck it in my belt. Since I had recently become a Buddhist I also picked up my mala beads from the small shrine table and hung them around my neck for good luck. I had more faith in my revolver at the time, however.

Going downstairs to the living room I put a record on the phonograph, a recording of the trooping of the colour from the Queen's Guard. The sergeant major shouted out orders. The troops stamped to attention. The massed bands burst into military marches. I drank sake and waited steadfast in line for the demons of the unknown to attack. I turned on every light in the house and burned incense. The music, smell, and light drowned out the moaning, moving house and its unseen world. I stood guard all night waiting for Rinpoche to come with the rising sun. When Rinpoche arrived with Max and the two dogs I could finally relax.

For the first few weeks Max and I organized our daily routine. We had breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon, and supper around 7 p.m. But gradually Rinpoche started to stay up later into the evening and then get up later during the day. At first Max and I took turns staying up with him, but he insisted that we both stay awake with him. We all sat around in the same small sitting room, sometimes listening to the recording of "The Trooping of the Colour" over and over again, other times in silence. Our bedtime got later and later -- 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3, 4, 5, 6 a.m. We were staying up all night and going to bed at dawn or later. The problem was that with this schedule neither Max nor I could do any shopping, as the stores would be closed be ore we got out of bed at 7 p.m. I explained this to Rinpoche, hoping he would allow me to go to bed early so I could shop in the morning. I was dearly hoping I would be sent to town for the shopping and then have an opportunity to find some other entertainment. Instead he said, "Okay, we'll send Max," condemning me to perpetual, timeless, inactive Colour Trooping.

During one of our long nights I brought up the mystery of the rice in the closet. He said, "Think of it as gap." What the hell was that supposed to mean? Gap? How could one think of something as gap? There was no thing in a gap. A gap was empty. I started to panic again and I asked Max about it.

"Oh," said Max, "It must have been a blessing."

"You know," he went on, "rice falling on your head is a blessing." I liked the explanation better than "gap." Nevertheless the idea of gap remained a small, glowing panic ember in my mind -- the fear of nothingness.

During one of my sleeping times, which had an equal chance of being night or day, I had a dream about the house being attacked by demons of all kinds. I told Rinpoche about this dream.

"Oh," he said. ''Why don't you sleep with your gun in your hand next time and you can shoot them."

I thought that this was a good idea. So the next afternoon when I went to bed, I loaded my .38-caliber pistol and lay down to sleep with it clenched in my fist. As I lay drifting off it suddenly occurred to me that I might wake up and accidentally shoot someone, so I took the bullets out and went to sleep with the unloaded gun in my hand. Needless to say, the demons showed up in my dream, and although I had the gun in my hand I could not find the bullets for it. In the dream the demons chased me all over the house while I desperately searched for the bullets. Rinpoche laughed for a long time after I recounted the dream to him.

The autumn days slipped by in our numbing routine, so it was some relief when Rinpoche announced that we would have some visitors. Three other students, Duncan, Jane, and Nick, would be visiting for a long weekend. Nick showed up with some LSD and we decided to take a "trip" with Rinpoche. I had never taken acid before, so I was both excited and nervous about the prospect. Max organized the food, as tripping could make you very hungry. He put a pot roast in a slow cooker that would be ready about six in the morning, although I had my doubts that I would be that hungry at daybreak. The six of us sat in the living room and Nick passed around the acid on a small piece of white cardboard. It looked like fish scales. We all took one hit. Rinpoche took what was left, about six fish scales. I drank some sake and we all chatted.

I was a bit disappointed as nothing much was happening and I went upstairs to the bathroom to sit on the toilet. Bending forward, I looked down at my feet. They melted into the floor like running jelly. Somewhat surprised, I looked at the walls. They were running with blood! I pulled up my pants and ran down the disappearing stairs and threw myself on the couch. My startled eyes were wide open and my teeth were grinding. ''Are you okay, Johnny?" Rinpoche asked gently.

I was pissed off and totally paranoid. Why the hell was he asking me that? Was he into some kind of Asian mind training? Perhaps he was an outer-space alien.

Looking across at him I hissed resentfully, "Yes, I'm fine."

"Let's play 'Trooping of the Colour Guard,'" he said.

What was the space alien saying now, I said to myself, 'Trooping of the Colour Guard. "What the fuck is that?

Somehow I went over to the phonograph and put on the record and sat back on the couch. Something shouted, "By the left, quick march,'' and a band struck up with British Grenadiers. I looked across the room at a big Chinese doll that occasionally melted into Max, who was smiling like an idiot. Duncan next to me had his head in his hands, so I went back to grinding my teeth and staring into nothingness. From a long way off I heard Rinpoche's voice. "Johnny, speak to Duncan."

What was a Duncan -- a dung can? I started to laugh. Duncan was full of shit.

There was Rinpoche again. "Johnny, speak to Duncan."

I turned my head and looked at Duncan. His head was still in his hands.

"You okay?" I grunted. Nothing. "Hey, how you doing?" I nudged him with my elbow. He moaned and sat back with his head on the couch, staring at the ceiling.

Rinpoche pushed a newspaper into my hands.

"Read to him," he said.

I managed to stop the letters from floating all over the page long enough to read to Duncan. There was a picture of an old sailing ship and I read out loud from the column about "Old Ironsides," the Constitution. During the upcoming 1976 Bicentennial celebration she was to be sailed into Boston Harbor where she would be turned around and sailed out again.

"That's it," shouted Rinpoche. "I want you to tell Duncan a story and the punch line will be 'the Great Turnaround."'

I started slowly, with the first story being about the Three Bears. Duncan listened, laughing at the story. Then I hit him with, "Then Goldilocks did the Great Turnaround."

"Oh shit," he moaned. Something clicked. I had a mission. I was relentless. I attached myself to Duncan's mind and punched out story after story with the finale "The Great Turnaround."

Duncan said, "Wow!" "Holy smoke!" "Fuck!" every time I hit him with the phrase that he had let himself be lured into. Cunningly I hunted him each time and led him into my trap of the Great Turnaround which I shouted out at the end of each presentation of images. We must have gone on for hours because the darkness outside began to turn into gray dawn.

Rinpoche motioned me to sit across the room by the window, opposite Duncan on the couch. Rinpoche started to ask people questions about their lives, prompting them on into an open display of their aspects. I was fascinated. It was like watching a group of actors putting on a self-stylized interactive play. Rinpoche, who had not asked me anything, looked across at me.

"Is it always like this?" I asked.

''Always," he answered, and he went back to playing with the play. Finally he said, "Let's eat."

I was famished. We dug into the pot roast with great relish. Duncan said to me, "Thanks for helping me. I was really stuck."

I laughed, because I thought I was the one who was stuck and Rinpoche had helped me out of it by having me interact with Duncan. As the sun rose in the blue emptiness I helped Rinpoche up the narrow stairs to the bedroom. We played the falling-down­-the-stairs game. The object of this game was for him to crush me beneath his weight by falling on top of me -- the greater the height of the fall, the better. As I rolled him into bed he was still giggling.

I had decided to make a sacred object out of Rinpoche. In order to do that I would be very formal in a British way. Now Max, who was more laid-back, California-style, would greet Rinpoche in the morning by saying, "Hi, Rinpoche, I suppose you want breakfast." Max would not even get up out of his chair, but would continue to read the newspaper. This pissed the hell out of me. The more formally British I got, the more relaxed Max seemed to get.

This got to the point where I really wanted to throttle Max for not behaving correctly as I thought he should, and I told Rinpoche I was ready to knock some sense into him.

"Well, we can't do that," he said. "Let's play some tricks on him."

Max was a speed freak whenever he got up, whether it was morning or evening. He would throw on his kimono and jump into his slippers, which he kept outside his bedroom door. He would just slide his feet into the slippers and take off down the hall. One night Rinpoche sent the grateful Max off to bed early.

"You look tired, Max; better go to bed," he said.

We waited about an hour or two and then we went upstairs and securely glued Max's slippers to the floor. Rinpoche was rolling around stifling his laughter. The next morning we were up before Max, sitting in the kitchen having tea. The kitchen was right under Max's room. We heard him get up, rush out his door, and then, bang! He hit hard on the upstairs floor. Down he came to the kitchen.

"Say, Rinpoche," he exclaimed, "someone glued my slippers to the floor." I burst out laughing.

Rinpoche looked at him and said, "Perhaps it was an illusion." Then he started to chuckle.

The following week was passing in an unusually quiet and peaceful manner when Rinpoche said to me, "Johnny, can you put something that will smell in Max's room."

"You mean like scent, Sir?" I asked, not really understanding his intent.

"No, no," he looked at me like I was crazy. "Something that will stink."

We were eating fish, so I said, "Well, Sir, I could nail a piece of fish up under his bed."

"Great," he said, nodding his head.

So I put a large piece of halibut into a net bag and nailed it to the underside of Max's bed. When I opened my bedroom door the next morning the entire hallway smelled like Fulton's fish market. Max said nothing and both Rinpoche and I were quite surprised. We thought that he must have twigged it but the next day the whole house smelled of rotten fish. Max came downstairs and said, "John, I think there is a dead mouse in the wall in my room. Could you take a look? I'm going to move to another room."

That same day, believe it or not, I found a dead mouse on the lawn. As Max was moving over to the new room I went upstairs and chipped away at part of the wall and pretended to find the dead mouse.

"Here it is, Max, you were right." I showed him the dead mouse.

After Max moved everything into his new room, I nailed the dead fish to the bottom of his new bed. When Max complained about the smell again, Rinpoche said, "Your smell must be following you around."

I HAD ALWAYS BEEN a hunter. It was part of my self-sufficient trip of taking care of myself in the wilderness -- not just of the forest but of the world. Now that I was a Buddhist I reacted in horror to killing, although playing with guns for purely self-defense was something I was sure that the Buddha would have agreed with. In any case, hunting seemed more humane than a slaughterhouse.

When I was a young farmhand I had never been to a state-­registered slaughterhouse. I had no more idea of the procedure than did the black-and-white cow we were taking there. The inside was stainless steel and white tile with a cement floor. An electric hoist with a hook on it ran down the center of the room. The place reeked of Pine-Sol. The smell made the atmosphere even more surrealistic. We had to coerce the cow into the room by twisting her tail. She was wide-eyed with terror. One of the fellows attached chain cuffs to her rear legs and ran the chain up the hook on the electric hoist. He pressed the red button on the wall and the hoist slowly gathered in the chain and lifted the animal. The cow's body hung in the air only inches above the floor. A pair of pliers attached to a rope was put into the cow's flaring nostrils. I was told to pull the rope so that the cow's neck was stretched tight. The other fellow took a large butcher's knife and with a swift swing he struck the cow's stretched neck. The cow's blood burst out across the room with great force. I was so shocked I let go of the rope. The head of the cow was only half severed. The cow, swinging slightly, convulsed while it hung suspended in the center of the room. Blood spewed out of her severed neck in all directions. Her mouth opened and closed in silent bellows as air rushed in and out of her exposed windpipe.

One of the fellows, enjoying my shock, took a cup and filled it with blood from the cow's streaming jugular vein. He offered the steaming cup to me. "Want some? It puts lead in your pencil." Now, thoroughly amused by my repulsion, he laughed loudly and drank the hot blood, leaving red stains on his lips. Within an hour the cow was skinned, disemboweled, cut into sections, and hung in the cooler. I decided I liked hunting-it was more romantic.

In order to be a successful hunter you had to first understand and appreciate the hunted animal. You had to know its lifestyle, its nature, its habitat. You had to actually enter its world. You had to realize that like yourself, an animal and its world are alive, and that life and death, being alive, have a quality of magic-a sacredness.

I had a holy concept of sacredness, regarding some things as holy and others as untouchable. My shrine in my Buddhist practice was like something out of House & Garden magazine -- flowers, candles and incense, and beautiful Tibetan pictures. I was on my way to becoming a real holy man.

Rinpoche could see my progress in practicing Buddhism and he started to bother me about hunting. He wanted me to take him hunting. "I want to kill something," he said. "I have never killed anything. I've just been a Buddhist monk all my life."

I would always refuse. "It would not be right for you to kill something, Sir."

Seeing Rinpoche in a slaughterhouse or even hunting didn't seem right to me. It didn't fit my concept of a holy man. The hunting queries continued for some time until one morning a flock of snowbirds gathered on the frozen lawn where I had thrown some old bread. Rinpoche picked up the .22 rifle from the kitchen corner. He walked toward the window and said, "Right, Johnny? We're going to shoot some birds."

I protested. "Sir, we've been through this a million times. Please hand me back the gun."

Rinpoche, always one to enjoy himself, began to leap around the room in his kimono singing, ''I'm going to kill. I'm going to kill." I didn't like the way it sounded at all. I took the gun from him and loaded it. But I also moved the rear sight out of line. I opened the kitchen window.

"Here you are, Sir," I said as I handed the gun to Rinpoche. "It's all ready to fire."

Rinpoche took aim at the birds and fired the single-shot rifle into the morning air. The birds flew off and not one was left dead. I threw more bread out and Rinpoche fired and again no birds were killed. We both laughed. I wasn't surprised, as he probably couldn't have hit the barn with those readjusted sights.

Rinpoche looked directly at me and said, "Oh, you're just an English gentleman, you couldn't kill a bird either." It was a challenge and I took the bait.

"Oh?" I said, accepting the wager.

So I took the gun and aimed, using only the front sights on the rifle and picturing the rear sights in my mind. I killed a bird, much to my own delight and Rinpoche's surprise. I walked out, picked up the bird's carcass, and waved it to Rinpoche and Max.

As I helped Rinpoche up the stairs to bed that night he said, "Johnny, do you know what killing that bird means?"

"No, Sir." I said.

"It means you will get married and your first child will be a boy who will be a tulku. [12] Also it will cause a slight interruption in our living situation."

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what relationship there was between the events of that morning and my having a son. Rinpoche didn't expand on it, so I let it go and silently put him to bed.

Two days later Rinpoche and Max were in town shopping and got stuck in a heavy snowstorm. They had to stay overnight at an inn. Rinpoche called and told me with a chuckle, "We've been held up by a snowbird." A slight interruption. Interestingly, I have not killed anything since. Later I did get married and our first child was a daughter whom we called Sophie. Rinpoche announced that she was a reincarnation of G. I. Gurdjieff.

"But Gurdjieff was a man," I said.

"Yes," said Rinpoche, "that's Gurdjieff's joke on us."

SOMEHOW DURING THIS WINTER of the retreat year my handle on what I thought of as reality was becoming a little insecure. Out of seemingly nowhere I started having panic attacks, rapid heart­beat, and hyperventilation. I was sure I was going to die on the spot and I was certain there was a ghost following me around the house. So I asked Rinpoche if he had seen any ghosts in the house.

"Only two," he replied.

I almost fainted.

One night I had a dream of talking to a woman in her late thirties. She was wearing a long dress and holding my out­stretched hand. She was talking about building the farmhouse where we were staying. "When were you born?" I asked.

"May, 1853," she said.

I did the math in my dreaming mind, pulled my hand away and sat up in the bed, awake, with my heart racing.

When I was physically with Rinpoche I did not have panic attacks but I was certain that he was somehow the cause of it all. It did not occur to me that Buddha's message, "Nothing whatsoever should be clung to," applied to me. My Britishness was part of "me." I had made my living by being British and if I gave that up what would I become? American, French, Italian? I mean, you can't just become nothing. But the fear was growing in me that Rinpoche was somehow nothing -- a gap. How could "I" act as nothing? Where do you start? After all, the Path of Accumulation was the Path of Accumulating, not the Path of Nothingness. The Path of Accumulation meant that I was going to get something. Here I was being invited to jump into empty nothingness. Not even invited, I was being pushed-caught between a rock and a hard place. My memories of war became a welcome and safe dis­traction. I felt that if I could keep these away from Rinpoche I could hang on to some semblance of sanity. Every time the world would start melting around him I would take refuge in the only thing left in my thinking mind, my memories.

Rinpoche said he would like to target shoot. I had my .38 revolver, which I had purchased to protect Rinpoche (some joke), and a .22-caliber single-shot rifle. Now I went out and purchased a Rugar .223-caliber semiautomatic with a thirty-round dip. I set up a target area in the garden that resembled World War II in miniature, with plastic soldiers, tanks, and trucks. Rinpoche, Max, and I would go out and blast them. Rinpoche called them the Mara Army. "You could be victorious over the troops of Mara, Johnny," he said. That sounded good but what the hell did it mean? I looked up Mara in the encyclopedia and it said "Mara is the Lord of the Sixth Heaven of the Desire Realm and is often depicted with a hundred arms and riding on an elephant."

Oh, I thought, mythology. I felt better. It's not real. But just in case, I started to look for an elephant rifle. Perhaps a Winchester .375 H and H Magnum might do the trick.

One evening Rinpoche and I were sitting in the kitchen. Max rushed in from shopping in town. Now, the closet and basement doors were next to each other and both doors looked the same. The basement stairs were very steep and ran down about twelve feet. Max was distractedly talking to us as he took off his coat, opened the wrong door, and, not looking, reached in to ha g it up. Rinpoche yelled, "Shunyata,"13 as Max and his coat fell into the basement. Unhurt except for a few scrapes, Max climbed out.

"Rinpoche," said Max, "You should have yelled to stop me."

"Why?" replied Rinpoche. "You could have gotten enlightened."

That night we went out to dinner at the local inn. Rinpoche had me purchase some cigars and secretly put some gunpowder in one of them for Max. The three of us sat in the inn casually smoking our stogies, two of us waiting in anticipation for the other one to explode. This went on for some time until Max, with the cigar still in his mouth, took a big puff and the cigar let out a big whoosh rather than an explosion. Flaming sparks and smoke shot out across the room from the cigar. Max remained pretty cool and said, "Your idea, I expect, Rinpoche." The three of us laughed.

However, the truth was that Max was a nervous wreck, and beneath my dignified British facade so was I. Finally, Max asked Rinpoche if he could go back to Boulder for a few weeks. Rinpoche gave his okay and Max departed, leaving Rinpoche and me alone in a house surrounded by deep snow. By necessity Max left his dog, Myson, with us. One night after supper Rinpoche said, "Get Myson and bring him in here." I dragged the shaking dog into the kitchen and following Rinpoche's instructions I sat him on the floor and covered his eyes with a blindfold. I set up stands with lighted candles by either side of his head. Myson couldn't move his head without being burned. Rinpoche took a potato and hit Myson on the head with it. When the dog moved, the fur on his ear would catch on fire. I put out the flames. Now and then Rinpoche would scrape is his chair across the tiled floor and whack him again on the head with a potato.

"Sir," I began hesitantly, trying to stop him.

"Shut up," snapped Rinpoche, "and hand me another potato."

I started to empathize with the dog. In fact, I became the dog. I was blindfolded and was banged on the head with a spud and if I turned my head my ears would burn and there was the squealing sound of the chair on the floor. Pissing in my pants I was that dog not being able to move, feeling terrified and at the same time excited. Finally, the scraping chair and the potato throwing stopped and we released the shaking dog, who ran upstairs to Max's empty room.


"That's how you train students," Rinpoche calmly stated to me.

"Jesus," I thought, "that's pretty barbaric."

In addition to all the other activities in the house, we sometimes had parties, some of which got pretty wild. I think that Rinpoche found it interesting to socialize with people in this way. During this period, Rinpoche was on a steep learning curve. It was often a wild ride for him and everyone else. He liked to get right out on the edge with people and see what would happen. It was a very creative space for him. I think he regarded it as a kind of research. Although the whole scene may sometimes have seemed merely chaotic and totally unplanned, Rinpoche was not just hanging out with people in a random fashion. As he said later,

On my arrival in the United States of America, I was met by lots of psychologists and students of psychology, ex-Hindus, ex-Christians and ex-Americans of all kinds .... At the beginning, when I first arrived in the U.S.A., I was trying to find students' so-called trips and trying to push a little bit of salt and pepper into their lives and see how they handled that. They handled that little dash of salt and pepper okay. They understood it, but they would still maintain their particular trips. So then I put more of a dash of salt and pepper into their lives and further spice ... experimenting with how to bring up so-called American students. It's quite interesting, almost scientific. You bring up your rat in your cage, and you feed it with corn or rice or oats and you give it a little bit of drugs and maybe occasionally you inject it and see how it reacts, how it works with it. I'm sorry, maybe this is not the best way of describing this -- but it was some kind of experimentation as to how those particular animals called Americans and this particular animal called a Tibetan Buddhist can actually work together. And it worked fine; it worked beautifully.


-- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo with Carolyn Rose Gimian


Rinpoche had me change the telephone number so that Max could not call us before he came back. He arrived, bags in hand, concerned that he had not been able to reach us. Before he could say much else Myson rushed in and jumped all over him in exuberant delight. Rinpoche deliberately scraped the kitchen chair across the tiled floor. The terrified dog shot out of the house and fled across the field. Max was shocked and pointedly asked, "Rinpoche, what did you do to my dog?"

"I don't see any dog," he replied, looking at me.

"I got it!" I said, with the realization of being blindfolded and having three things happen to you at once, knowing the scraping and the disappearance of the dog were both somehow illusion. In fact, it was all illusion. Everything was illusion, but real. Rinpoche smiled and warmly greeted Max.

Did I get it? Not then.


“It was summer of 1985. I "married" Rinpoche on June 12th of that year. I met him around May 31st at a wedding of Jackie Rushforth and Bakes Mitchell in the back yard of Marlow and Michael Root's home. That year, we had our wedding at RMDC a few days before Assembly, then we had Seminary and Encampment happened during Seminary.

That was the year he spoke of limited bloodshed and taking over the city of Halifax and the Provence of Nova Scotia. We were in the middle of the Mahayana portion of seminary teachings. For weeks, CTR (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche) had been asking everyone he saw if they had seen a cat. He asked the head cook, the shrine master, and all of his servants if they'd seen one. We returned to our cabin late one night after a talk and there was this beautiful tabby cat sitting on the porch. I said, "Here kitty, kitty" and it came right over to me, purring and rubbing against my legs. I picked it up and said: "Here, Sweetie. Here's the cat you've been wanting."

I can't remember exactly which guard was on duty, but I think it was Jim Gimian, and of course Mitchell Levy. Someone took the cat from me and Rinpoche ordered them to tie him to the table on the porch. He instructed them to make a tight noose out of a rope so the cat didn't get away. He stood over his guards to examine the knots and make sure they were secure. I was curious at this point, wondering what this enlightened master had in mind for the cat. I knew there were serious rodent problems on the land and I assumed he wanted to use the cat for this problem.

Then, he instructed the guard to bring him some logs from the fire pit that was in front of the porch, down a slight slope. We took our seats. Rinpoche was seated to my right and there was a table between us for his drinks. He ordered a sake. The logs were on his right side, so he could use his good arm. (His left side was paralyzed due to a car accident that happened in his late twenties.)

The cat was still tied by a noose to the table. Rinpoche picked up a log and hurled it at the cat, which jumped off the table and hung from the noose. It was making a terrible gurgling sound. He finally got some footing on the edge of the deck and made it back onto the porch. Rinpoche hurled another log, making contact and the cat let out a horrible scream as the air was knocked out of him.

I said: "Sweetie, stop! What are you doing? Why are you doing this?" He said something about hating cats because they played with their food and didn't cry at the Buddha’s funeral. He continued to torture the poor animal. I was crying and begging him to stop.

I said, "I gave you the cat. Please stop it!" I'll never forget his response. He looked at me and said: "You are responsible for this karma" and he giggled. I got up to try and stop him and he firmly told me to sit down. One of the guards stepped closer to me and stood in a threatening manner to keep me in my place.

The torture went on for what seemed like hours, until finally the poor cat made a run for his life with the patio table bouncing after him. It was clear he had a broken back leg. I'm sure that cat died. I looked for him or the table for the rest of Seminary and never found either. I imagined him fleeing up the mountain and the table catching on something and strangling him.

I was completely traumatized by the event, but it was never spoken of again. Rinpoche told me the "karma" from this event was good. I was dumbfounded. A common feeling I had when around Rinpoche was that there were things going on that I simply could not understand. It seemed like other people, with a knowing nod of their heads, understood things on a deeper level than I. I was in fear of exposing my ignorance, so i learned not to question and to go with the crowd around him. They didn't appear to have any problems with what he did. Such was the depth of their devotion. I just needed to generate more devotion to Rinpoche and one day I might understand.”

-- About the Time Chogyam Trungpa's Wife Gave Him a Kitty and He Tortured it to Death in Front of Her, by Leslie Hays [The Wife of Chogyam Trungpa]


It was during this retreat in Massachusetts that Rinpoche started envisioning and developing the Kingdom of Shambhala.14 The Kalapa Court would be Rinpoche's home and it was to be in my charge. Instead of being Rinpoche's butler I would soon be Master of the House. I would become a Dapon in charge of the Court Kusung, or servant guards -- in Buddhist terms, Bodhisattva Guardians. Molly, one of Rinpoche's students, came down from Karme Choling. She was an illustration artist and she and Rinpoche together designed the Shambhala flag -- a white ground with blue, red, white, and orange stripes on the; leading edge and the yellow sun in the white field. Rinpoche designed and drew the Shambhala arms of the tiger, lion, garuda, and dragon, which are seen on the cover of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (published by Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1984.)

I was excited about this creative time. This was going to be a real kingdom with its location in Nova Scotia, Canada. I would be safe within that reality, or so I thought. One day Rinpoche said to me, "Well, you know, Johnny, someone has to ask me."

''Ask you what?" I said.

''Ask me to become Earth Holder, the Monarch of Shambhala."

"Well, I'll ask you," I replied.

"Great!" said Rinpoche. We planned the event for the Tibetan New Year. I cut a tree for a flagpole and Max planned a dinner. Then at sunrise on the New Year the three of us got up and dressed in our best attire. As the sun rose in the eastern sky I asked Rinpoche formally if he would become Sakyong15. for the benefit of all beings.

He replied, "Yes."

I fired off a twenty-one shot salute from my pistol and Max ran the Shambhala flag up the pole. We saluted and shouted "Hip, hip, hurray!" then followed up by singing the Shambhala anthem. Max and went into the dining room and feasted with the new Sakyong. I was joyful and excited but underneath, my uneasiness continued to alternately swell and subside. Somehow the reality of the "gap" was still lurking below my world of this-­and-that. On an intellectual level that was still fairly primitive I had some understanding of Buddhism. I knew what it was sup­posed to look like-peaceful, calm, wise, compassionate. I knew enough to say, "Yes, I got it," but at the same time it was not in my gut on a visceral level. I thought perhaps I should do a retreat, since it would give me a chance to get away, relax, and get myself together before things went too far.

I could see myself robed, sitting under a pine tree in meditation posture with the sunlight playing on my shoulders and the wind in the pines. "Yes, that's it," I concluded, so I asked Rinpoche.

"Not a chance," he growled.

"But, Sir, I could finish my prostrations and do the other practices ... take the Vajrayogini abhisheka16 with David and the Regent and ... "

"No hope of that," he snapped.

Shit. I was trapped again, stuck in the life of a servant bursting with resentment. Then he gave me one of those smiles that light up the whole dark universe. It penetrated into my murk and dissolved it and I was better and worse simultaneously.

"One day you will be Sir John Perks," he said.

Wow, I thought. Sir John Perks of the Kingdom of Shambhala. I was full of hope again. Aloneness, when it hit, ruined my hopes and expectations. I was walking to the car in Greenfield, having done the shopping, when it struck. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of total aloneness and stopped dead in my tracks. There was no John Perks. There was nothing to be alone. Had "nothing" been a mental concept, it would have been something to hold onto. Then I panicked.

Only now, looking back, can I say that it was an overwhelming realization of nonexistence. The only way that I can convey what the experience was like is to ask the reader to imagine that all you think you are is totally fabricated. What you are is totally manipulated and conditioned by your own mind. Had I completely realized this at the time I would have died on the spot from a heart attack. For what was under assault was my thinking mind, its solid reality, what and who I thought I was. That which I thought was reality was, in fact, totally empty. This was the great "switcheroo," or turnaround.

Desperately trying to get back to what I still thought was my solidity I staggered to the car, trying not to hyperventilate. I managed to drive to the Howard Johnson's Motel bar. I ordered a double gin and tonic and drank it down like a glass of water.

"Are you okay?" asked the bartender. Where had I heard that phrase before?

"Fine, fine," I said and ordered another double. Sir John Perks had better get a suit of armor, I thought wryly.

But the attacks became more frequent. Then I had a realization. Sex! If I felt so alone why not have a partner? I asked Rinpoche if I could have a lady friend up on some weekends. To my surprise he said yes. So I invited a friend from Boston to visit. But it gave me no relief. In fact, it made the aloneness sharper and I felt as if I were going to die any second. One day at breakfast Rinpoche said to me, "Johnny, isn't it strange how orgasm and death feel the same?"

I blocked his words for the moment and panicked later.

Relief came several days later when he said, "Johnny, let's take a trip to London."

I pretended not to be excited, and to make sure, I asked, "To London, England, Sir?"

"Yes," he answered matter-of-factly. "We need to get some Shambhala medals made there and we could get some military uniforms." I brightened up. Trooping of the Colors meets Sir John Perks. I had a mission.

"Let's stay at the Winston Churchill Hotel," he suggested.

National pride swelled in my chest. Shambhala was going to be British after all. As a safety procedure I went to the local doctor and got prescriptions of Librium and Tagamet for my panic and stomach pain. Sam, the publisher of Shambhala Publications, was to meet us in London where he had an office. On the aircraft Rinpoche and I sat together. He was quite upbeat and talked about all the things we would do in London: restau­rants, nightclubs, theater, and clothing stores. The air stewardess asked what we would like to drink. Rinpoche ordered his usual. "Ginandtonicus," pronounced as the name of the Roman general from the Asterisk Comic Books.

"You could teach people etiquette, Johnny," said Rinpoche. He went on talking about military uniforms, tuxedos, evening dress, balls, dancing, and formal dinners. Excitedly I joined in with further ideas. Rinpoche said, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Let's do it. We will grow old together." Bliss and joy returned, drowning out the emptiness.

And so it came to pass. In London we stayed at the Winston Churchill. We took the designs of the Shambhala medals to the jewelers to be made. We ordered uniforms at Grieves and Hawks on Savile Row -- a general's uniform for Rinpoche, a major's uniform for me. Rinpoche used his family name on the order form, Mr. C. T. Mukpo. I used my original birth name, John Andrews. The clerk looked at Rinpoche's form in a quizzical way and asked, "Who is Mr. C. T. Mukpo?"

I hesitated, my mind searching for a realistic answer. Finally I said the first true thing I had ever said in my life.

"I have absolutely no idea."


_______________

Notes:

10 Formerly Tail of the Tiger, renamed Karme Choling; Rinpoche's Buddhist Center in Barnet, Vermont.

11 British military regiment

12 Tulku -- In Tibetan Buddhism, a person who is recognized as a reincarnation of a previously deceased teacher.

13 Shunyata -- Sanskrit meaning emptiness or void; the negation of believing in the false idea of how things exist. This cannot be explained verbally, but can be experienced.

14 Shambhala: Sanskrit; a mythical kingdom somewhat like Brigadoon or Camelot; considered by some to be located in northeast India. It is the place where Kalachakra teachings originated, and is the kingdom from which a savior is predicted to arise when the world is on the brink of destruction.

15 Sakyong -- Earth Holder, the monarch of Shambhala, head of the Shambhala lineage.

16 Vajrayogini -- the diamond yogini. A meditative practice deity; the nature of one's basic being, or state of mind. Abhisheka, Sanskrit for anointment; a ceremony in which the Vajra master empowers the student into the meditative practice of a particular deity. The energy of the deity is manifested during the ceremony, and there is a joining of the minds of the teacher and the student, which arises because of the student's intense devotion.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:01 am

Chapter 4: Commentary

I felt my luck was turning. I believed that because I was willing to do anything to be close to Rinpoche -- especially the things that other people didn't want to do, like washing dishes, cleaning house, and ironing clothes -- I had somehow tricked Rinpoche into taking me on the retreat so that he could instruct me in how to become an enlightened siddha.17 It did not occur to me until years later that he was the one who had tricked me by going along with my whole trip. This was also the beginning of seemingly unrelated events that began to undermine my habitual patterns of operating.

It's interesting that Rinpoche was willing to go through my whole gun attachment with me even to the extent of making me his bodyguard. It was the beginning of his helping me create my ultimate fantasy world, with occasional hints that there might be other realities. These other realities had the effect on me of creating extreme anxiety and panic.

My mind could not grasp even intellectually the idea of impermanence or the idea of groundlessness. That challenged the idea of "I" being a solid entity. I was afraid of things I couldn't see and did not understand. And I was terrified of ghosts. Having experienced them in my early childhood they brought terror and panic. Rinpoche had the ability to make seemingly unimportant comments at the exact moment that they became magnified in my mind. It was his timing that terrified me. He seemed to be able to read my mind before the thoughts had been formulated. I began to have the uneasy feeling that I did not know what kind of being he was. And that meant that all my manipulated power over him to whatever end was useless. This brought up the interesting dilemma of how I was going to get what I wanted.  

The acid trip where Rinpoche focused my mind by working with Duncan and the "great turnaround" was my first realization of looking at phenomena as they really are, without logical intellectual or other mental projections. Needless to say, that state didn't last very long -- a matter of hours; then I was thrown back to my ordinary mode of operation very quickly. My aggression in wanting to confront Max Rinpoche turned into playing tricks, so he introduced to my mind an alternative way of dealing with the situation which was more creative and playful. One might call it my early introduction to crazy wisdom, where one uses the energy as it arises then joins with it and presents reality. People say "Be here now. "But for someone lost in illusions this makes no sense unless it can be shown in actual, ordinary, on-the-spot situations. That's what the crazy wisdom teacher does continually. Sometimes the student gets it and sometimes he doesn't. Most of the time, I didn't. But much later there was some realization.

The episode with Myson, the dog, blindfolded sitting on the floor, reflected my basic state. The candles on either side of his head related to aspects of bad and good, or samsara and nirvana. The potato as a representation of the phenomenal world whacking one on the head was initiated by the guru. If one turns one's head one way or the other, one's ears catch on fire. At this point one is still blind. Reacting to the fear and pain by trying to escape, one is overpowered by even more emotional traumas. The conditioning aspect of scraping the chair across the floor formulates how one will react, thus perpetuating how we perceive the world. When the chair is scraped later on, in our confused state of mind we run because we are reminded of our basic pain. The sound of the chair is basic emptiness -- a state that we are most terrified of -- so we run.

The idea of my own death was extremely terrifying to me. It meant not only the termination of my bodily pleasures and delights but also the termination of what I had built up as the image of John Perks. The end of all of that created extreme anxiety, and somewhere within the deep recesses of my mind I panicked as my I-ness began sipping away. I would have run away, but I was in love with Rinpoche and he kept offering me new opportunities related to my fantasies to explore and feel safe in -- which of course he ultimately undermined. Although my devotion was somewhat primitive, it was there to stay forever.

Although I did not realize it at the time there seemed to be connections between the killing of the bird at the retreat and Siddha Vyadhalipa; between the hunting Mahasiddha Savaripa; and between the action with the dog and Mahasiddha Kukkuripa. Later, while practicing the Sadhana of Vajrayogini and meditating on the actions of my guru while in retreat, I found my connection to these three Siddhas to be one of remarkable coincidence, in that I was able to take instruction from other beings such as birds, fishes, and dogs. And as examples, the compassionate lives of these Siddhas are always of great inspiration to me.

The following are condensed outlines of stories of these Siddhas from Masters of Mahamudra by Keith Dowman:18

Siddha Vyadhalipa was a bird-catcher. "His remarkable sadhana consisted of first sharpening his concentration into samadhi19 by contemplating cutting the throats of model birds, and then traveling the villages killing birds in order to provoke compassion and ahimsa (non-violence) in his audience before restoring the creatures to life. Such action is called 'wise penitential activity' . . . and the paradoxical, apparently crazy skillful means of the yogin with mahamudra20-siddhi.

The Mahasiddha Savaripa was a hunter. As a hunter, "he kills to survive and survives to kill." He was a member of the Sahara tribe. "sabaras were a wild, aboriginal, outcast, hunting and gathering tribe from the Vindhya Hills. Sabaras were also 'corpse-workers' in Bengal" . . . and therefore considered as untouchables. On a hunting trip, Savaripa ran into Lokesvara, an emanation of Avalokitesvara, where he is shown the continual cycle of karma of his actions. Realizing his perpetual entrapment, "Lokesvara gave him a fulltime Sadhana to practice ... and for twelve years Savaripa meditated upon undirected and unstructured sublime compassion in a thought-free state and he attained the supreme realization of Mahamudra, whereupon he sang:

In the forest of unknowing there lurks a deer,
The deer called Alienation;
Drawing back the great bow of means and insight,
Letting fly the single arrow of ultimate truth,
The deer dies -- yes, thought dies!
Then the flesh is a feast of non-duality,
The flavor is a taste of pure pleasure,
And the goal, The Magnificent Stance, is accomplished."


The Mahasiddha Kukkuripa was a wandering yogin practicing and begging for his food. He discovered a starving dog. He took her to his cave and fed her. "After twelve years of continuous practice of mantra he attained magical powers -- prescience and divine insight -- and the gods of the Thirty-three Sensual Heavens invited him to their paradise. He accepted their invitation, and set out on a ceaseless round of self-indulgent feasting and pleasure provided by the gods.

Meanwhile, the dog fended for herself in the cave, rooting around for whatever she could find to sustain life. But she was not forgotten. Even while the yogin feasted on the gods' offerings, he told them of his dog, saying that he must return to guard her. "

The gods said, "'Don't be so foolish! Please remain with us here. 'This kind of divine remark persuaded the yogin to postpone his return, but eventually his love for the dog won, and he returned to her.

He found her in the cave where he had left her, and he pat­ted her on the head in greeting. At that moment the dog became a Dakini, and the Dakini spoke to him like this:

Well done! Well done! You have proved your worth.
You have overcome temptation,
Returning to receive supreme power.
The mundane power of the gods is delusory
For they retain a notion of self,
And fallible pleasure is not so great.
Now your Dakini will grant you supreme realization,
The immaculate pure pleasure that has no outflow.


Then she showed him the symbolic union of skillful means and perfect insight, and after an irreversible, infallible vision of immutability had arisen in his mind-stream, he attained supreme realization. "

_______________

Notes:

17 Siddha -- One who has attained success in his practice thereby gaining magical power.

18 Reprinted by permission from Masters of Mahamudra: Songs and Histories of the Eighty-Four Buddhist Siddhas by Keith Dowman, the State University of New York Press © 1985, State University of New York. All rights reserved.

19 Samadhi -- meditative state of total absorption; mind is experienced free from distraction.

20 Mahamudra -- "Great Seal" -the realization of emptiness which affects all experience.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:08 am

Chapter 5: Dreaming My Reinvention Away

WHO MADE UP YOUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE?

Spring came to the Massachusetts hill country with rain, mud, and peeping frogs. On one of our walks by the farm pond Rinpoche noticed the frog spawn jelly in the water. I explained how we could put it into an aquarium and watch them change into tadpoles. He seemed excited about that and helped me set up the aquarium next to his bed so we could watch the transformation every day. When Rinpoche awakened every morning we would peer into the aquarium and Rinpoche would exclaim, "Breaking out of the egg!" On the way to the bathroom he went, singing, "Breaking out, breaking out of the eggs."

Our bathroom routine was always the same. I would pre­arrange the two kinds of soap, the shampoo, the towels, the toothpaste, toothbrushes, and the hairbrushes. I would follow Rinpoche into the bathroom and help him take off his kimono, which I hung on the door. Then he would peer into the mirror making faces and .singing songs. This time it was the egg hatching song. I looked at my own image in the mirror and then over to his. I started to panic as I realized his image was not in the mirror. For a second I stopped. Then, there it was, smiling and making faces. I was puzzled but I did not say anything, as I thought it was my faulty perception. As this began to happen more often, I felt that somehow he was playing a trick on me, so I paid extreme attention in the morning to the mirror antics. Nothing happened for several weeks, everything was quite normal, and I concluded that it had all been my hallucination. Then, when I was not expect­ing anything, he disappeared from the mirror again.

"How do you do that?" I asked him on the spot.

He chuckled and said, "You just do it."

While he was in the shower I handed him the soap and continued, "Is the trick with the mirror or my mind?"

"Both," he said, washing soap out of his hair. I was struck dumb. My reality was being stretched thin.

"You have a good heart, Johnny." Rinpoche's face is right in my face. His eyes are big and luminous, like two planets in space. "You have a good heart, Johnny," he says again. He smiles and the warmth of the sun washes over me penetrating throughout my body. Somehow I know I am dreaming, but I can't wake up. "You have a good heart, Johnny."

"But, Sir," I protest, "my ancestors were thieves, murderers, rapists, plunderers, enslavers, liars, hedonists, deceivers, destroyers, and I'm just a ghost." The pain of looking is horrendous. It's like a golden spear thrust into my heart.

I fall into the Thames and I am unable to swim. I touch the black mud in the river bottom, the sound of rushing water is in my ears. I enter midnight blue, vast and empty. The next thing I remember, I am sitting on the bank in the sunlight, my clothes muddy and soaked with water. I look around for my savior. There is nobody in sight. I must be a ghost, I think. Will I ever be human again? A living ghost, asleep, unable to wake up.

My mother does abortions. One young girl leaves a baby on the doorstep. It is small and delicate like a white porcelain doll. It has been carefully washed and wrapped in a white lace table­cloth. Its eyes are closed. Mother heats up the coal stove in the kitchen until it glows red hot. Picking up the dead child by the head, she drops it into the open flame and quickly replaces the metal round lid. In a few seconds the baby's head shoots out of the stove with the iron ring as a hat. Looking like a demon it discharges flames out of its eyes and mouth before descending, disintegrating in the heat. It is unnamed. No hands mourn the ashes.

Winnie comes for an abortion in a fur coat. She is always drunk. She stumbles against me, her whiskey breath enters my lungs. She vomits on the floor and my mother cleans it up. I wash down her coat.

"You have to go over to Winnie's house and clean it up. While you are there, go up to the bedroom and under the bed you will find cooking pots filled with money. Take some."

She thrusts Winnie's house keys into my hand. I take the train to Winnie's house, a few stops on the loop line. I open the front door and proceed up the stairs to the bedroom, but there is no doorknob on the door. Someone has taken it away so it can't be opened. But the ghost is clever. With a kitchen knife I open the door and there under the bed are many sizes of saucepans, pots, and kettles. I take the lids off them, one by one. The first is filled with pound notes, another with fives, and another with tens -- all stuffed full. I fill my pockets and rush home. Winnie is still sleeping on the couch, snoring her whiskey breath. I hand my mother the keys and three hundred pounds.

My father stands in the street at night, the searchlights swinging in the sky. Bombs are thudding, whamp. He has his rifle. Someone yells "parachutes." He opens the bolt and pushes a round into the chamber. The streetlights reflect off a white parachute carrying a flare. It floats out of the blackness. My father is wearing my mother's slip in the darkness. He put it on thinking it was his undershirt. He has on his army boots, his khaki wool pants, his tin hat, and he's holding his .303 Enfield rifle. But with my mother's lace-topped slip on his chest, in the flare light he looks like a ghost.

Five of us are living on a hill overlooking a placid pond with ducks and geese swimming in the still water. We are armed with various weapons, shotguns, and rifles. I yell, "Open fire!" The sound is deafening. The pond erupts. Nothing can live beneath the hail of lead missiles. Cordite fills the air. I run up the ridge and bayonet a Zulu. His blood spurts out from the aorta, splash­ing across the operating room wall. My gown and mask are drenched. The patient is dead within seconds, blood oozing over the green tile floor. The ping of the monitor stops. Helen is tied to the bed. Jeff and I are licking her body. Grace is sucking her vagina. Kay pushes me up against the shower wall in Taos. She holds me there, jerking me off into the raining water. Sperm runs down the drain. A chicken burns in the dustbin. I ride my butcher's bike, the basket full of meat, on a Saturday delivery. The "Keep Left" sign disintegrates. I fly through the air before I even hear the explosion. Blood runs from my nose and ears. The V-2 rocket has hit the next street. I vomit. "You have a good heart, Johnny." The pain of suffering is so intense, we all decide to become ghosts, like my father, his father, and their fathers in the mud trenches and the mothers coughing up dead babies, stacking them upon the parapets, fighting, unable to distinguish the living and the dead. Watch the game show as a ghost. Pretend over tea nothing is happening. Let me drink myself into painless ghostliness. The Nazi officer wants to shake hands in the middle of the death camp. The corpses are piled high, waxy skin over wretched bones. He offers his hand to the Allied officer. It is not accepted, as a bulldozer is plowing up the bodies. Jill is leaving Jeff Henry is leaving Marcy and the kids. Chogyam is eating the leg of a dead baby in the charnel ground. The red sow-bitch is drinking pus out of a skull. Vajrasattva is in the mirror. I try to enter but I hit my face on the glass. It breaks my spectacles, cut­ting my face. Nancy is pretending none of this is happening by shopping at Bloomingdale's. William is bending down bare­bottomed waiting for the cane. Jenny is masturbating in the closet. Percy is dancing in Duluth.

Rinpoche says, "Johnny is hard to catch -- he's like a ghost."

Fuck you, I think. It's my right to run from suffering, to cry in the bottom of a hole for a million years, eating and screaming and fucking, trapped in a solid egg. It's my right, it's my ...

"You have a good heart, Johnny."

I cry out in my dream, looking around for my savior. There is no one in sight. Unable to swim I drown and become a ghost on the riverbank. Chogyam taps on the egg. I gasp and wake, dreaming into the day.

I listened to the sounds of the house. I could hear Rinpoche and his dog, Ganesh snoring down the hall. Max was still asleep. I wiped the sweat from my body, readjusted my thoughts, and went down the hall to the bathroom. As I showered I felt thankful it was only a dream. In time I could forget it. Ignoring the pain, I re-collected myself into the collection of images that maintained my self-illusion, dreaming I was awake.

Nevertheless, there remained in the recesses of my mind the paranoia that something was hidden. At unexpected times I was swept with the terror and uncertainty of my reality. My groundedness had begun to slip away and the terror of emptiness found me standing at the edge of an abyss.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:12 am

Chapter 5: Commentary

I am continually caught up in my past, present, and future. I still have the notion that what is in my mind is reality. When the anxiety of groundlessness becomes intense, I retreat to memories of the past, trying to find some way of dealing with my emotional dilemma. Rinpoche's care and love of me during this time of being tossed between illusion and delusion is my only inspiration to carry on. Aloneness is terrifying. But he keeps saying, "I love you, you have a good heart."

At times I have overwhelming feelings of sadness and feel impenetrably alone. I long for union which I cannot find or define. I take refuge in doing ordinary things -- cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and making beds. I'm afraid to leave the house, as my panic attacks follow me.

The first people that I blamed for my total dilemma were my mother and father. In fact, in our society we tend to blame our parents for almost anything. Here, I am beginning to relate to the pain of their lives and to see them, like myself, trapped in never-ending cycles of karmic action. The stark reality of the world of pain and suffering is difficult to look at and immensely terrifying. I do not have compassion, but react in fear and numbness.

Rinpoche creates a ground in which I can go through all of this turmoil by providing kindness, generosity, compassion, and love for whatever I do. In response I pay attention to my art of serving him. It is the only way I can say thank you. And this, I know, he understands as well.

The egg theme, which Rinpoche used here, he also used when he sang 'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again." It's also interesting to note that Garuda, the mythological bird, hatches out of the egg folly formed and is able to travel with a single movement of its wings from one end of the universe to the other.

The disappearing into the mirror is referred to in Rinpoche's poem Memorial in Verse21 lines 19 and 20.

_______________

Notes:

21 "Memorial in Verse" from the book First Thought, Best Thought-JOB Poems, Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1983, p. 152.
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Re: The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perk

Postby admin » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:45 am

Chapter 6: Promised Land

TILOPA AND HORATIO HORNBLOWER VISIT THE SITE OF THE MAGIC KINGDOM.

Standing on the wild highland moor, the moss soft underfoot, I look down the heather-covered slope. My gaze rests upon the dear blue lake with its perfect round island in the center. Upon this island stands a single giant tree. In the branches sit all the lineage holders: Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, and all the rest, with Trungpa Rinpoche in the center top. They are all drinking, laughing, and having a great time. I'm stuck on this hillside doing prostrations. My mother is on my left side, my father is on my right, and Max is behind me. They are all prostrating with me.

So here we go. I start to mutter:

"I take refuge in the Buddha,
I take refuge in the dharma,
I take refuge in the sangha."


I'm huffing and puffing away, up and down, down and up, moving the beads in my right hand one at a time, only eighty thousand five hundred to go. Sweat is running down my face and my back is as stiff as a board. I look to each side. My mum and dad are having a hard time as well, so I tell them to sit down and rest. They thank me for my kindness as they rest in the soft moss. But I keep that fucker Max popping up and down behind me. I slip, falling in my haste on my right side.

"Fuck! Fuck the guru. Fuck the Buddha, fuck the Dharma, fuck the Sangha.''

With my eyes still closed I rub my arm, flexing my throbbing wrist. I look over at the tree. Those fuckers are all laughing at me. "Fuck you, you lazy bunch of loafers. Why don't you go out and get a real job at help someone," I exclaim to my mind. "I'll show you. I'm going to finish these fucking prostrations, then I'll be sitting in that fucking tree and I'll have all you fuckers prostrating on this goddamn fucking sonofabitching hillside."

They start laughing so hard some of them are falling out of the tree. I'm getting really mad now, moving up and down as fast as I can. Max can't keep up. Be falls, sobbing, on the ground behind me. "Serves you right; you fucking chink." Up and down, up and down I fly, the beads moving in my hand. The guys in the tree are now looking worried. Their jobs are on the line. Perks is coming. Triumph shines in my mind. "When I get over to that island I'm going to get a chain saw and cut that fucking tree down. Then you'll have to find some other place to hang your lazy asses." At that Tilopa drops his fish, looking shocked. "Ha, Ha, I think I will. I will . . ." Snap. The bead string breaks in my hand. I hear the beads scatter across the floor. I open my eyes to see them running into the shrine room corners. "Shit! Shit!" I bellow.

Sitting in a sweating heap I start to pick them up, putting them carefully into the shrine table bowl. My sacred mala beads were given to me by Rinpoche. Frantically I count them. "Fucking hell, there's three missing." Searching all over I find only one. Now I feel sorry that I yelled at Tilopa. Sadness engulfs me. A tear starts in my eye, then stops. ''Perhaps Tilopa had planned this all along. Remember the stunts he pulled on that sucker Naropa?" Now I'm getting mad again. "Well, I'll be a sonofabitch, I have a realization! Those bastards in the tree had planned this all along to try to get me to stop my prostrations so that I would not get to Bliss Island and have a good time like them. I bet Max is in on this as well, and Rinpoche -- he's the ringleader."

I'm really pissed off at their deception. I feel betrayed. "How could they do this after I have given them all my devotion?" Now I'm sad again. "How could they do this?" Then I'm angry again. "Those sonofabitches, I'll show them. I pick up the bowl with the sacred beads and stomp toward the shrine room door. Turning, I yell at the shrine, "I'll be back, motherfuckers." I open the door and run smack into Rinpoche, who is standing there in his Mrs. Mop cleaning outfit with a broom in his hands. He says, ''Are you okay, Johnny?" Startled, I become very British and exclaim, "Oh fine, Sir, I'm fine. Just practicing, Sir."

I feel his eyes following me as I run up the stairs to change. I push open my bedroom door and put the sacred beads onto the bedside table with great care, then flop onto the bed. I look around the room feeling safe in its familiar order, the way I have set it up with the pictures of Vajradhara,22 His Holiness, and Rinpoche, with the flowers, my revolver under my pillow, the bullets n the drawer wrapped in my girlfriend's underpants, and the Jar of Vaseline for jerking off. I reach down to hold my penis. It gets hard as I think of Sara. "Wow," I think, "Rinpoche is really crazy."

"THE WAY TO GET MONEY from Rinpoche is to ask him as he wakes up," says Osel.23

Rinpoche's twelve-year-old son is visiting from Boulder. He wants to buy a model airplane and needs the money.

"He always says yes to anything as he wakes up," Osel explains to me.

Up we go to the bedroom. Osel stands over the sleeping body of his father.

"Rinpoche, Rinpoche," he calls softly. "Can I have some money to buy a toy airplane?"

"Yes," comes the drowsy answer from the blanket-covered pile in the bed. ''Ask Johnny to take some money from my wallet." Then the blanket goes back to its familiar snore. Osel looks at me with a knowing smile, proud at having outwitted his dad.

Pretty good trick, I think.

Years later, however, the trick worked in reverse. When Osel wanted money for a dirt bike Rinpoche said, ''Okay, I'll give you a hundred dollars for sitting in meditation for one hour." Easy money, thought Osel. He sat for three hours and made three hundred dollars. The next time he wanted something the price went down to fifty dollars an hour, then twenty-five an hour, then ten, then five. In the end he was sitting for a week to get a hundred bucks. Osel would always hide when his Holiness the Karmapa or Khyentse Rinpoche would visit.

"I don't want to be a tulku," he would say to me. "I don't want to be a tulku." To me, it sounded like Brer Rabbit not wanting to be thrown into the brier patch.

"I don't want to be a tulku," he pleaded to me.

"Okay, okay," I said. "Let's hide and go to the movies."

Osel brightened. "Great!" he said. "What's showing?"

I opened the paper. 'The Man Who Would Be King," I read aloud. We went, and on the way home he was Danny and I was Peachy.

"LET'S PLAY A TRICK on our guests tonight," said Rinpoche.

The guests had all gone into Greenfield to do some grocery shopping, which was nice of them. But I suspected they were also glad to escape from our madhouse. A trick on them would seem in perfect order. Rinpoche had my full attention.

"We will pretend that you and I are able to do ESP together." He continued, not waiting for my surprised look of puzzlement, "You will go out of the room and our guests will pick an object. When we call you in, I will say, 'Is it this? Is it this?"' he said, pointing to a candlestick and then an ashtray. "We will go on and I will point and say, 'Is it that?' The second 'Is it that?' will be the object they have chosen. Got it?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir," I said. "You will say, 'Is it this? Is it this?' and so on. When you say the second 'It is that?' I'll know that is the chosen object."

"You got it," he smiled, sipping his sake.

That evening, after supper, I brought in a tray of drinks for the guests and as I was passing them out Rinpoche said, "You know, Johnny and I have developed ESP together, because of his close connection to me."

There was silence, then someone asked, "Really, Rinpoche; how does that work?"

"Well," said Rinpoche, "let's see ... Johnny, shall we give them an example?"

I said, "Sure, we could do that."

"You go out of the room and don't come in until we call you," he directed. I went into the kitchen.

After a while, a voice called out from the sitting room, "Major Perks, you can come in now." Returning to the sitting room, I stood in the center facing Rinpoche, who said, "Johnny, cover your eyes so we can make contact.

I did as I was commanded, covering my eyes, seeing that Rinpoche was covering his eyes also.

"All right," he said, "let's proceed." He pointed to various items in the room and said, "Is it this?" I repeatedly said, "No." When he said, "Is it that?" for the second time, pointing to a picture on the wall, I replied, "Yes, that's it." Everyone was unmistakably impressed.

"Okay," said one of the guests, "how about if Rinpoche leaves the room and Major Perks stays here?"
Rinpoche agreed, going out to the kitchen. One of the guests pointed to the Dupont lighter on Rinpoche's side table. "Let's make it that."

It was agreed. Rinpoche was called in. "Close your eyes, Major," said Rinpoche. I closed my eyes tightly. I could see he had closed his eyes also. Then we went on to do the "Is it this?" and "Is it that?" act. On the second "Is it that?" I pointed to the lighter. Rinpoche said, "Yes, it's that!" The guests were fooled and amazed and I let them think what they would about our ESP capabilities.

The night passed into early morning and we all went off to bed. I went up with Rinpoche and his female friend and tucked them both into bed. They were reading Asterisk comic books with dual laughter as I retired to my room. I jumped into my own bed and soon passed into deep sleep.

A few hours later I sat up in a panic, sweating and with my heart racing. A thought had rushed into my mind. How did I know Rinpoche had closed his eyes during the second demonstration? I went over the sequence of events in my mind. First I had closed my eyes. Then I had seen that he had his eyes closed also. I was sure of this. But how was I able to see this if my eyes were closed? What kind of trick was this being played on me? Was he trying to take over my mind? Then it came to me -- Asian mind control! That must be it! I was in a panic. I ran around to the participants from the previous night asking them if Rinpoche had had his eyes closed. Some could not remember. Others said, "Yes, I think so." It didn't help my freaked-out mind. I decided to ask Rinpoche.

That morning as we were performing our bathroom ritual, trying to hide my agitated state behind British reserve I said, "Sir, did you close your eyes last night after I did?"

Rinpoche peered into the large bathroom mirror, opened his eyes wide, and said, "Two minds become one."

As my confused mind tried to sort that one out he started to brush his teeth with great vigor, his eyes growing larger. Our images reflected in the mirror and the unreality of the situation flooded my vacant mind. It became filled with a thought: Was I the reflection or was I me? I struggled to contain the rising panic.

Moving over to the shower spigots, I involved myself in get­ting the water temperature correct for Rinpoche to enter. It was a relief to feel the water on my hands. At least this was real! As the naked Rinpoche entered, I handed him the Pears soap and closed the glass door. Watching his shadow on the mot led glass and standing ready with the towel, I became myself again. It was some weeks before I could look into a mirror without some feeling of uneasiness returning. In order to escape I busied myself in the household work of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Rinpoche, whom, to protect myself, I had decided to label as crazy.

I was not alone in thinking Rinpoche was crazy. Other students would ask me if he was acting crazy. The problem seemed to be that we were not dealing with an ordinary type of mind. His mind did not have predictable characteristics. For instance, there were not habitual patterns. He did not get angry or irritable. He did not seem to have passion in the ordinary sense. He was not jealous. None of these things seemed to stick to him. He was very unpredictable, acting without a normal moral code and his energy seemed endless. He was also able to do otherworldly-type things, like change his size, disappear in a mirror, and move with incredible speed, even though he was paralyzed on one side of his body. He could read people and events very accurately. All of this together was very disconcerting and I had a healthy suspicion of it all.

I had it in my mind that he or someone was manipulating and playing tricks on me. It was as though my reality were constantly being shifted, which made my situation very, very uncertain -- almost shocking. Since he seemed to be the instigator of all of this he could only be crazy. But then there was that incredible warmth and love that he generated toward you that you felt throughout your mind and body.

All of this was in my mind as I came down the stairs into the sitting room. Rinpoche was seated in his chair by the field stone fireplace waiting for me to serve him a glass of sake. He looked up as I entered the room. I felt the penetrating warmth of his smile as he said, "Don't worry Johnny, I won't go crazy."

How could I not love him? He seemed to know what I was thinking, what I did, and why I did it without any judgment or criticism. He loved me and the others truly without conditions, which seemed crazy as well! I dropped the whole matter and poured the sake into the glass in his outstretched hand, content to feel the warmth of his energy.

"We will create an enlightened world together, Johnny," he said. "We will grow old together." That also seemed impossibly unrealistic. Days, nights, weeks, and months would go by with Rinpoche just sitting in that chair, steadily drinking sake and occasionally smoking Dunhill Reds.

I never knew beforehand when bedtime would be, at what time of day or night. It mostly depended on when the others would get tired of sitting around playing the Qualities Game. This was a game where one player would mentally pick a person and the others would try to pinpoint who it was by asking what kind of animal, tree, country, etc. he or she would be. The answers would be based on the qualities of the person, which hopefully would indicate to the other players the identity of the person. This game could go on endlessly.

Others would drop off to bed and I would be left with the chair-bound Rinpoche, waiting for my bedtime. Resentment would fill my mind that he did not seem concerned about me. Then he would get on the phone at 4 a.m. to speak with some student, saying, "Sweetheart, how are you?" The first time this happened the student would be delighted. In a year or two, when he might call ten early mornings in a row, the student would unplug the phone. Then we would get in the car and drive around to the house. He would bang on the door and a disheveled student would open it, surprised at the enlightened caller with his resentful attendant. We would then all have afternoon tea at 5 a.m. or breakfast at 11 p.m. This guy was ruining my life!

I was constantly pissed off about not having the life that everyone else seemed to enjoy, with wife, car, children, and money. I got $300 a month plus room and board and no days off. Rinpoche and I were joined at the hip. Every time he wanted to go to the bathroom I was there. Change his socks, tie his shoes, press his pants, cook his food, feed his dog . . . What about me, me, me? After all, I was the one training to "get enlightened." Here I was acting like a servant, sometimes loving it and sometimes hating it. Now I wanted my, my life, life! Even when I went shopping for food I had a beeper on my belt. He would call and I would run to the nearest phone to call back. He would say, "Oh Johnny, are you okay? I just wanted to know where you were."

Where am I, who am I? I had no idea.

"Johnny," said the smiling warmth-generating doll, "I was thinking we need to open up our service situation, have some other people come in and cook, serve, and drive."

Great! I think. After all the work and devotion I have done he wants to replace me.

"Perhaps," he continued, "perhaps, Major Perks, you should become Master of the Kalapa Court."

My stunned brain began to realize the glory of that opportunity, the power, the uniform, the medals, the limelight! Finally I was being lifted up from servitude and I was hooked.

Here I am, the searchlight of enlightenment shining on me in my Master of the Kalapa Court uniform of blue and crimson. The fanfare of bugles is heard and on my breast is a single shining gold medal inscribed "Wounded at the Battle of Ego, the Hero Returns Undefeated."

I turned to Rinpoche and in my very best British accent I said, "Yes, Sir." After all, I reasoned, I would not be any use to enlightened society unless I was myself.

At the end our retreat year in late May it was decided that we would visit the Promised Land, the site chosen for the enlightened society of either the near or far future, depending on whose story you listened to. The land that was chosen was Nova Scotia, Canada's Riviera. I was in favor of establishing enlightened society as soon as possible -- a year or two at the most. Others seemed to be dragging their feet.

Our Grieves and Hawks uniforms from London were ordered but would not be ready in time for the trip. So I contacted a military surplus company in New York which I had located through their advertisement in Shotgun News. I ordered one dark blue naval uniform for Rinpoche and an army khaki uniform for myself. Onto these uniforms I sewed two bars of medal ribbons that Rinpoche had designed. On my uniform I sewed my Rupon of the Red Division insignia. "Rupon'' was Tibetan for a company commander, which was the rank I then held. "Major" was pushing it a bit. Next to that ribbon I added the Iron Wheel medal and the Lion of Kalapa Court of Shambhala. This was jumping the gun somewhat because the Kalapa Court, which was to be located in Boulder, Colorado, had not yet been established. At most there were rumors of a house on Pine Street and an offer to purchase.

Sometime in the early light of morning Rinpoche, his consort, Jane, and I pored over the chart of the Province of Nova Scotia. It was to be a two-pronged attack. The Regent Osel Tendzin with his Group "B" would advance by air to Halifax Airport. The three of us in Group ''A" would go by sea, driving first to Portland and then taking the Nova Scotia Cruise Lines luxury ship up the coast. We would cross the Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth. The secrecy and stealth of our attack would surely take the natives by surprise. Finally, all of my training and reading of the Horatio Hornblower books would become useful information. Rinpoche would go as the Prince of Bhutan and I as his aide-de-camp, Major Perks, Lion of Kalapa. Jane would be Lady Jane, although I preferred to think of her as Lady Jane Gray. We were glad of our passports, which had our cover names of Chogyam Mukpo, John Perks, and Jane Condon.

The limousine that was rented for the ten-day operation was a silver Lincoln Continental. With great care I packed our evening dress tuxedos, as we planned to dine formally every night in the soon-to-be-enlightened province. We drove up to Portland, Maine, the next day to embark for the journey up the coast. Our limo was a bit oversized for the luxury liner, which looked more like a large ferry boat. After parking in the depths of its hull we found we could not open the rear doors more than six inches. Lady Jane could just squeeze through, but the Prince would never pass the gap. I pulled on his arms for a while until we realized the futility. Then the Horatio Hornblower in me became active. "The window!" I exclaimed. Lady Jane let down the rear electric window. The Prince put his arms around my neck and with Lady Jane holding up his pants we extricated him from the silver trap. On the ferry that morning, as the sun rose, the three of us stood on the upper deck and sang the Shambhala anthem. I threw an empty sake bottle overboard with a written copy of the anthem in it.

The Yarmouth dock smelled strongly of fish when we arrived and Rinpoche remarked that it reminded him of Tilopa. A good omen. We drove up to Halifax to meet the Regent's party and begin the expedition. (It had been named KOSFEF, short for Kingdom of Shambhala First Expeditionary Force. Later, there would be a medal ribbon for each member.) The Regent's force was already at the hotel I had chosen from the tourist brochure, the Horatio Nelson Hotel.

We had dressed in our uniforms earlier that morning on the boat, so we arrived at the hotel in style. Michael Root, the Regent's aide-de-camp, had arranged for the Shambhala flag we had hand sewn during retreat to be flown at the hotel entrance alongside the Canadian flag. Somehow I had it in my mind that there would be crowds attending our arrival. Instead, there was only the Regent's small party in their pinstriped suits and formal dresses. That evening we dined in our full evening dress at Fat Frank's, Halifax's only gourmet restaurant. There were speeches and toasts to the formation of enlightened society. We all sang the Shambhala anthem, with Fat Frank and his waiters joining in the end chorus, "Rejoice, the Great Eastern Sun arises."

I felt like the Kingdom had already happened, although Jerry, who was the Dapon, or Head of the Military, looked very glum. Michael and I talked to him on the way back to the hotel. "This is all crazy," he said. "Take over Nova Scotia? Make it Shambhala Kingdom? It's nuts!" This should have been my line, but somehow I had been overtaken by the fantasy. It all seemed real, quite easy, as I explained to Jerry in my enthusiasm. He was looking at me like I was crazy.

"You know," he complained, "you all come into the Nelson Hotel and salute Rinpoche who is pretending to be the Prince of Bhutan. You have that Shambhala flag flying next to the Canadian real flag in the front of the hotel. That's crazy! People will think we're all crazy!"

"Well," I argued, "Fat Frank and his waiters had a good time. Everyone seems quite friendly."

"You just can't come in here and take over," said Jerry.

"Why not?" asked Michael. "No one else seems to be in charge.

Jerry just shook his head. "I don't know. Taking over a Canadian province, making Rinpoche king and then calling it the Kingdom of Shambhala. Doesn't that seem a bit weird to you?"

"No," I replied. To cheer him up I pointed out the good omens: Tilopa at Yarmouth, letting us fly the flag at the hotel, and Fat Frank who wanted to be one of us and seemed to be convinced of our reality.

The next day Michael and I set off ahead of the rest on our tour of Shambhala province. We had the task of locating suitable lodging in each town for our evening stop. The first town we came to was Glasgow, a destination chosen by me. To my surprise there were no inns or hotels, just a place by the name of MacTavish's Tourist Stop. Half the letters on the neon sign were not flashing but Michael and I went in anyway. The worn carpet­ing was a bright red tartan. I began to have serious doubts. Michael asked to see a room and we went up the creaking stairs with MacTavish himself. He opened the door with a key chained to a piece of wood marked with a plastic six. Inside was a blue tartan carpet stained by years of spilled food and beer. In the center was an old iron bed that had once been white and a matching three-drawer bureau. A single bare light bulb hung by a cord from the tin ceiling.

"Where's the bathroom?" I asked. ''Au, down to the end of the 'all," said MacTavish. Michael started to giggle. I was not giving up. If I could arrange to get a bagpiper to greet the Prince at the motel as he drove up, that would at least be something.

"Do you have a piper?" I inquired of MacTavish. "Oh, yer," said he. "We gets all the pipers. The Halifax Herald, The Nova Scotian Week we gets them all." Michael let out a roar of laughter. I slapped my hand to my head and sternly hissed to him, "I am trying to put some pomp and circumstance into this." Michael was collapsing with hilarity. "Yes," he sputtered between gasps of laughter, "but we have too much circumstance and no pomp.

"Let's find a place to get a drink and have dinner," I suggested. We drove around the small bleak town in about ten minutes. There was a fish-and-chip type cafe and a Chinese restaurant. That was it. "No need to dine in tuxedos tonight," I thought.

The main party arrived several hours later and there was quite a bit of joking about the rooms. Rinpoche asked about the dining arrangements and I described what I had found. "Is the fish­ and-chip cafe very Nova Scotian?" asked Rinpoche.

"Yes," I replied. "They have something on the menu called Solom Gundy. Also, cod tongues and cheeks."

"That will be fine," he said.

"What shall we wear?" I asked. No one had brought any jeans.

"Tuxedos without the military ribbons," was the reply. I rolled my eyes up into my head and looked over at Lady Jane for help. None was forthcoming. The Regent made a mild but ineffectual protest. Michael just laughed and Jerry became even gloomier.

We all showed up at the cafe, with its plastic-draped tables an paper napkins, in our best evening dress. "This is crazy," whispered Jerry to me as we went in. I was inclined to agree. To my surprise the Nova Scotians were very hospitable, putting tables together and finding some cotton tablecloths and matching napkins. They were quite excited to have us there and the Prince was more than charming, explaining that we were touring the province. He also intimated that we might be interested in purchasing a large property so that we might spend more time in such a delightful country. The following day MacTavish's one phone in the lobby was ringing off the hook. The whole of Nova Scotia was, it seemed, for sale.

The next morning Michael and I set off again. We had looked at a map, where I had spotted a shortcut to the Annoplis Valley. All we had to do was cross the bridge at Bridgewater. We drove for miles over back roads, past abandoned farms and small towns with empty stores. The blacktop road became dirt. Michael, driving along at high speed, came to a screeching stop at the edge of a cliff. I looked at the map in puzzlement. Michael called out to a man chopping down trees by the cliff. "Where's the bridge to Bridgewater?" he yelled.

"Oh, they ain't going to build that bridge for another four years," came the reply.

"But it's on the map," I protested.

"Oh yes," said the woodsman. "Well, we has to be ready, don't we?" Michael pulled out the bottle of rum stashed behind the backseat. We sat in the car and drank it all, watching the flowing river with its inaccessible further shore.

We were late getting back to the others, who had found a fairly good Best Western. It was the annual Apple Blossom Festival and the selection of the Apple Blossom Beauty Queen was being held in the restaurant at the motel. Dozens of teenage girls at a high level of excitement were running about the motel in white gowns. For once, our tuxedos were the proper attire for the occasion.

Word was spreading that the Prince of Bhutan was staying at the motel. The organizer of the festival approached me and asked if the Prince would like to have the Beauty Queen "presented" to him. "Delighted" was the response from the Prince when I relayed the message. There is a picture in a local Nova Scotian newspaper showing a ring of Apple Blossom girls, and in their white-dressed center, with the Queen on his arm, is the smiling Prince. The caption reads "Prince of Bhutan meets Apple Blossom Queen. The Prince and his party are touring the Province."

Meanwhile, the phone at the Best Western motel was ringing nonstop with offers of property for sale. Jerry was freaking out about the FBI finding out that we were planning to take over Nova Scotia.

"Who else would want it?" asked the Regent.

At the beginning of the expedition I had been full of hope about creating a new society based on British Buddhist morality. Now, after being tossed about between the reality of Nova Scotia, the reality of the Prince, and the reality of the Apple Blossom Queen, I was unhinged again. Our last night was spent at the Pines Hotel in Digby, a town which at one time had been a resort. Jan, the Regent's attendant, came and spent the night with me. We were both too English to have any passion between us. We sat up in bed smoking cigarettes and sipping rum.

"What do you think of Nova Scotia?" she asked.

"I don't know," I answered. Then putting my doubts onto Jerry, I said, "Jerry is dropping out of the plan altogether. I hear he has resigned as Head of the Shambhala Military."

"Yes," murmured Jan. There was silence. I took another sip of the rum, feeling it burning in my mouth.

"Well, I think it's wonderful," she said, feeling my hesitation. "I plan to move up here as soon as possible and join the sangha in Halifax."

Her cheerfulness was infectious. I smiled and said, with all my doubts evaporating, "I am going back to Boulder. We are creating the Kalapa Court, a court for Rinpoche and the Kingdom of Shambhala."

"Yes," she added. "They need us, old chap. We are English. We are the only ones who can do it."

_______________

Notes:

22 Vajradhara, "Bearer of the Vajra." The iconography of this deity is represented as blue, one-­faced, two-armed, holding a vajra and bell. This deity is visualized by the student while doing prostrations.

23 Osel Mukpo was later to become Mipham Rinpoche and the Sakyong of Shambhala Buddhism.
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