Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mukpo

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: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:44 am

Part 2 of 2

When we got back to Boulder, we settled into a kind of routine, to the extent that our lives were ever routine, with me taking care of the three children in the household, and Rinpoche putting most of his time into teaching and the many other projects he had going. He lectured at the University of Colorado several times a week, and he traveled to both coasts to teach, as well as making side trips to many new places like Minneapolis and Topeka, Kansas. He also gave a number of seminars in Boulder over the next six months, and he had special meetings and led workshops for people involved in psychology, film, and theater. In the spring of 1973, he and his students in Boulder were going to host a seminar on the Milarepa film project, as well as two other week-long conferences, one on the Maitri approach to psychology (involving the Five Buddha Families and other concepts) and a ten-day conference sponsored by the Mudra theater group, which was working with exercises that Rinpoche was developing out of his own experiences with monastic dance in Tibet. The theater conference was being partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which Jean-Claude van Itallie had obtained. He invited a number of prominent theater people to the conference in Boulder, including Robert Wilson, the eminent American artist and playwright, and his group of actors, as well as many others. There was a tremendous amount of work to prepare for all of this. And these are just a few highlights of what Rinpoche was doing at this time, just the tip of the-iceberg.

Rinpoche was incorporating facets of the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition into his presentation of secular disciplines such as film, theater, and psychology; later he would expand into many other areas as well. This weaving together of the secular and the sacred was characteristic of how he taught. Even in Great Britain he had had this tendency. In the 1960s he had already recognized that he was going to work with both the secular and the spiritual as indivisible aspects of his teaching. In the diary that he kept at that time, he wrote:

There are many people who are more learned than I and more elevated in their wisdom. However, I have never made a separation between the spiritual and the worldly. If you understand the ultimate aspect of the dharma, this is the ultimate aspect of the world. And if you should cultivate the ultimate aspect of the world, this should be in harmony with the dharma. I am alone in presenting the tradition of thinking this way.3


In December 1972, Rinpoche spent ten days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, near Yellowstone National Park, teaching a seminar on crazy wisdom. Several of his students had bought a hotel there and were renovating it, planning to operate it as a tourist hotel called the Snow Lion Inn. In his seminar he presented an in-depth examination of the life of Padmasambhava and how his teachings and many manifestations were applicable to the present day as well as to the Tibetan medieval world of the eighth century. We all went to Tail of the Tiger for the Christmas holidays that year, where Rinpoche gave another crazy wisdom seminar. The teachings were magnificent, very much the heart's blood of his lineage. He had been waiting so long to present this material. After his death, these two seminars were edited into the book Crazy Wisdom.

Although I supported Rinpoche in whatever he felt he needed to do at this time, his lack of everyday involvement in our household was not ideal for our young family. When you have young children, I think almost everyone goes through a period that seems completely insane, and this was the era we were in during the early seventies, especially since we had so many children join our family so quickly. At this time, I was not even twenty years old. We didn't have much money for babysitters, and Rinpoche thought it was odd and somewhat degrading to hire people as domestic help. In Tibet, people served a teacher out of devotion rather than for money. It wasn't that Rinpoche was miserly, but he really felt that this kind of master-servant relationship was not healthy when it was purely a financial deal. He hoped that his students would help us out, and many of them did. I found, however, that by and large people didn't appreciate the difficulties of our domestic situation. Nevertheless, we made do as best we could.

Osel was trying to adjust to life in America and found school very challenging. Felicity was spaced out and often depressed and needing cheering up, and Taggie was becoming a real handful. I would get phone calls from the neighbors at five in the morning to tell me that Taggie was running around somewhere. While the rest of the household was still sleeping, Taggie would get out of his crib and go off for an adventure by himself in the neighborhood. One time, I found him playing on the roof of the garage of the Four Mile Canyon house. I remember trying to lure him away from the edge with jelly beans, holding them in my open palm and saying, "Candies, candies." Eventually I realized that I had to put an intercom in his room, and later I had to put a hook on the outside of the door. I felt terrible about locking him into his bedroom at night, but it seemed to be the only way to keep him safe. Once, when I was quite pregnant with Gesar, he slipped out of the house when I had taken my eyes off him for just a minute. I turned around and he was gone. He had on a little yellow, black, and red striped sweater, and I rushed frantically out of the house to see if I could spot him in the yard. Finally, I spied him in his bright-colored sweater across the highway halfway up a mountain. I had to climb the mountain in my pregnant state and carry him down. He was becoming difficult to care for.

Osel came into an already chaotic home situation, and in retrospect I feel that I was not a very good mother to him during these years. He was trying to adjust to America and to learn English, and on top of that, we found out later that he had a learning disability that exacerbated his problems. It took years to sort all of this out. When Osel was having trouble with math in school, for example, I would review his multiplication tables with him over and over. The next day, he would fail his math test, and I would become quite exasperated. He was incredibly shy, which made it more difficult for me to communicate with him. I was only nineteen at this point, and coping with three children -- each of whom had unique difficulties that needed attending to -- proved difficult. I was often frustrated.

Rinpoche was away a great deal of the time, and when he was in town he had so much going on that he was rarely home. There was still a lot of activity at the house, but in late 1971 we had acquired space for a meditation center in downtown Boulder, at 1111 Pearl Street, on what would later become the Boulder Mall. There was a meditation hall that could hold about a hundred people, several meeting rooms, and a suite of offices. Rinpoche gave the name Karma Dzong to the new center, which means "fortress of action," or it could also mean "fortress of the Karma Kagyu lineage." Rinpoche's students paid membership dues to cover the rent on this space. Although the hordes would still descend on the house from time to time, now much of the community activity was centered around Karma Dzong. So I was frequently home alone with the kids, even when Rinpoche was in town. Although this was a difficult adjustment, I also found that I enjoyed the space. I began to have more sense of my own life, apart from the scene that surrounded our life together.

However, I didn't have enough help with the children. Rinpoche and I talked about all this many times, and he tried to help find solutions. He continued to ask some of his students to provide assistance at the house. However, they were much more interested in being with him than in spending time with the children and me. Also, there weren't many people in our community at that time who had children. Rinpoche's students, many of them young people in their twenties, couldn't relate to what I was going through at all. There were a few mothers who were sympathetic, but they had their own families to care for. A few other people stepped forward and offered to help. However, sometimes, if I asked for someone's help, he or she would criticize me, saying that I should be doing a better job on my own. This didn't help the situation at all.

I wished that Rinpoche had more time for the family, and I think that he would have liked that too. He enjoyed those times that we were together as a family, on our vacations and such. But in general he was not that involved day to day. He had warned me this would be the case when we were first at Tail of the Tiger. Everything else came second to the dharma in his life. His mission, as I guess you might call it, was to bring the Buddhist teachings to America and to make sure that they flourished here, and he sacrificed much personal happiness for that. Unfortunately, his family suffered as well. On the other hand, he loved all of us tremendously, and he tried to be there for us as much as he could be. Whenever anyone in the family was having an acute problem, he would make time to attend to that. However, he couldn't do much to improve the overall quality of our family life during this era.

In the very early days, when we were still at Samye Ling, he once said to me, "I wish I were someone like Einstein." I asked him, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I wish I was one of those people who was so into something that I would get up in the morning and I would have a mission, something to do that was really driving me." Well, as they say, you should be careful what you wish for! He certainly became one of those people.

Luckily, with everything else that was going on, I had a very straightforward pregnancy with Gesar. I hardly had morning sickness or nausea throughout the pregnancy, which was good, because I didn't have time for it. By the time I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, I was ready for this pregnancy to end. I wanted to get on with it. Hoping to induce labor, I went riding when I was enormous. When that didn't jump-start my labor, I came home and drank a glass of castor oil mixed in orange juice. (Somehow I knew that castor oil can cause contractions of the uterus.) Undoubtedly, it was an irresponsible thing to do. My water broke soon after that. I was admitted to Community Hospital in Boulder, and my doctor, Dr. Brown, was quite upset when I told him what I had done.

Although my water had broken, my labor didn't progress. They held me in the hospital, and after twenty-four hours, they began to administer Pitocin to induce labor. Dr. Brown had to leave unexpectedly, and I was left with another doctor. After I had contractions for twelve hours, he told me that he had surgery at 7 A.M., which was a few hours away, and that in hadn't had the baby by 5 A.M., he was going to do a C-section.

Quite a large group of sangha members was hanging out in Community Hospital, camped out in the waiting room, waiting for the child to be born. They were calculating the baby's astrological aspects while I was having contractions. Different people kept coming into my labor room, saying, "If you hold off just another half hour, the moon will be in the tenth house" and things like that. When Gesar was finally born, he was a triple Taurus. Rinpoche was with me the whole time. I was in an enormous amount of pain, the kind of pain where you don't know where the center or the focus of the pain is. They tried to give me a spinal injection of anesthesia, but it didn't work. The pain just kept going and going and going. Rinpoche was a fabulous labor coach, it turned out. He seemed . to know exactly how I was experiencing the pain, and he advised me on how to get through each contraction.

Gesar was finally born early in the morning on April 26. He came out with a full head of black hair and long fingernails. When they opened his mouth to suction him, I said to the doctor, "He has teeth!" The doctor said, "No, he doesn't have teeth." The doctor was fed up with me at that point because the whole thing had gone on forever. He said, "He doesn't have teeth. I've delivered thousands of babies, and babies aren't born with teeth." I started to have a panic attack, because I thought that if he had teeth, he might have a deformity. So I insisted, "No, he has teeth!" He said, "Listen, you need a cup of tea. You're English, and that will help. I'm going to show you the baby now, and the baby doesn't have teeth." Then he exclaimed, "Wait a minute. He's got teeth!" He had two pointed teeth that looked like fangs.

Gesar emerged as a strong personality in all respects. We gave him the name Gesar Tsewang· Arthur Mukpo. According to Rinpoche, King Gesar of Tibet was the first Mukpo, and he is regarded as a great warrior-protector of the Tibetan people. Tsewang means "lord of life." We added Arthur for King Arthur, another regal warrior king. Gesar was a little dynamo from the beginning. They removed his teeth in the hospital, because they were loose. Two months later he was teething again. He grew several teeth on the bottom, and they were also an odd set of teeth, so he was in the dentist's chair at two months old. Then, he didn't have center teeth on the bottom until his permanent teeth came in. The dentist put in a spacer to hold his back teeth· in the proper position and prevent them from filling in the front. As a toddler, Gesar used to bite other kids sometimes, and you could always tell if it was Gesar because you could see the mark of the spacer.

When Gesar was an infant, we were still living at Four Mile Canyon. When he was just a few days old and we were just back from the hospital, I put him in his bassinette and went to take a hot bath. Taggie came into the bathroom while I was in the tub, and I asked him, "How is Gesar?" And Taggie said, "Gesar is good. He's eating candies." I jumped out of the bath and ran into the other room. Taggie had stuffed lots of candies into Gesar's mouth, which I had to fish out. Another time, Taggie fed Gesar a container of blue shoe polish with a spoon. I became a rather frequent visitor to the emergency room.

As a baby, Gesar slept in the room with us. Rinpoche said that Tibetans would never have a separate bed for the baby, but I always thought we should have the baby in a bassinette or a crib. When Gesar was just a few days old, I put him to bed in his crib with a windup mobile. Whenever the mobile stopped moving, Gesar would start screaming. This continued until around two A.M., when Rinpoche insisted that we put him in bed with us. He said that if Gesar were in the middle, between us, he would be content and fall asleep. I told Rinpoche that I was afraid one of us would roll over on him in our sleep. Rinpoche said, "A father's instinct would never allow this." I gave in. About two hours later, I awoke to small muffled cries. In his sleep, Rinpoche had rolled on top of Gesar and was basically suffocating him. I started screaming to wake Rinpoche up, "Get off him! Get off him!" After that, if I put Gesar in bed with us, he slept on my side of the bed.

Gesar took to solid food very early, around three or four months old. At one point, I told Rinpoche that I didn't know when to stop feeding him, because Gesar would take everything I gave him. He never closed his mouth to refuse food, like Taggie did. So Rinpoche suggested, "Let's stage an experiment. Let's feed him and see how much he'll eat." Gesar sat in his infant chair, and Rinpoche and I fed him two bananas, a bowl of yogurt, and two pots of meat. We kept feeding him, and he ate until he threw up!

Gesar walked when he was eight months old, and he was an extremely active little boy. I remember thinking of him as a mindless body that destroyed my house. At age three and a half, Taggie began having seizures, but before that point, Taggie was actually much more in touch with the things around him than he was later, and he did talk a little bit. He was very fond of his brother and liked to take care of him. When Gesar was one and Taggie was three, they accidentally walked in on us making love. They stood at the door for a while staring at us, hand in hand. At a certain point, Taggie said, "Gesar, you can't be here. Go back to bed."

Two weeks after Gesar was born, Rinpoche and I took the two youngest boys with us to California. We stayed in the Bay Area for several weeks while Rinpoche taught a seminar on "The Nine Yanas of Tibetan Buddhism," which was the basis for a book entitled the Lion's Roar, published in 1992. Rinpoche was preparing to teach the first Vajradhatu Seminary in the fall of 1973, a three-month intensive program, during which he was going to make a formal transmission of the Vajrayana teachings to his most senior students. He saw this as a crucial step in the full transmission of Buddhism to the West, and he was thinking a great deal about the proper way to introduce this material. It was not just going to be an intellectual presentation, but he wanted to enter his students into the full practice and study of Vajrayana, which brings with it a heavy burden of responsibility for both the students and the teacher. He was acutely aware that if this were not properly done, if he failed to plant the true heart of Vajrayana in his students, it would be catastrophic for the future of his work altogether.

In preparation for the presentation at the seminary in the fall, he had decided to teach a more in-depth public seminar on the different stages of the Buddhist path. This was the "Nine Yanas" lecture series given in May 1973 in San Francisco. Rinpoche's students rented a small bungalow for us in a modest neighborhood in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco. I tried to attend most of the talks, but much of my time was consumed with caring for Taggie and the baby.

In early 1973, Krishna and his family had made the move to Boulder at Rinpoche's request. At that time, Rinpoche established Vajradhatu, which means "indestructible space," as the umbrella organization for all of his meditation centers and his work in the United States. He appointed a board of directors that included Marvin Casper, Fran Lewis, Krishna (also known as Ken Green), and several. others. Rinpoche wanted to overcome territorial struggles between the two power centers of his work: Tail of the Tiger in Vermont and Karma Dzong in Boulder. Not long after this, Narayana (who was now going by his given name, Thomas Rich) also moved to Boulder and joined the board. Rinpoche wanted to make Boulder the national headquarters of what he envisioned would become a large organization made up of many centers around the country. Vajradhatu and its board were set up to oversee the activities of all of the centers and the expansion of the spiritual empire, of sorts, that Rinpoche was creating. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism was published in 1973, and sales of the book were taking off. It came onto the spiritual scene in America at just the right time to spark tremendous interest. It sold more than a hundred thousand copies in the first two years, which was a lot of books for that time. It spoke to the counterculture of that era in a direct, intimate way. More and more people came to hear Rinpoche speak. When Rinpoche gave a public talk in San Francisco during our visit in 1973, more than five hundred people attended. Within a year, there would be more like fifteen hundred in the audience.

Once again, all of these developments brought energy and chaos into our domestic life. Rinpoche had invited several members of the board to come to California with him, including Marvin, Tom, and Ken. A quorum of the board of directors was having spontaneous meetings in our dining room in Berkeley every other day and night, and the house was filled with a kind of backroom, smoky, corporate power-politics energy. The scene during this era was a bit like our version of scenes from the reality show The Apprentice. All of these guys -- and it was definitely a huge preponderance of male energy -- were learning how to be spiritual corporate types under Rinpoche's tutelage.

Starting around this time, Rinpoche began to experiment with the corporate model to see if it could be adapted as the framework for organizing the Buddhist world in America. This energy was certainly an antidote to the energy of hippiedom. Rinpoche had already put forward the idea to his students that they should view themselves as yogi householders rather than as monks and nuns. He definitely felt that a secular model was the way to go in America. Beyond that, he needed a structure for what was emerging as a large and complex spiritual organism with many arms and legs. As he brought new people onto the board, each one was given areas of responsibility. The growing staff at Karma Dzong was organized into departments, with each employee reporting to a department head who reported to a member of the board. Some of the plans for this structure were hatched in our little house in Berkeley. The group literally met around the dining room table a lot of the time. I found that I didn't want or need a seat at that table, and I watched this emerging organization with interest and some bemusement. Energy was really high during this visit.

Before going back to Boulder, we passed through Los Angeles, where Rinpoche gave a weekend seminar, and then we headed down to Acapulco for a few weeks of vacation. Gesar was only about six weeks old at this time, so it was quite adventurous of us. My sister, Tessa, was now living in Boulder, and she came along on the trip. We were invited to Mexico by Marty Franco, a student from Mexico, who paid all the expenses. She had a mariachi band meet us at the airport, and she arranged for us to stay in a diplomat's apartment, which came with maids. The maids cooked three meals a day for us. The first night they served us a cold beetroot soup, which no one liked except Rinpoche. He drank everybody's soup, and the next day his bowel movement was absolutely red and he was afraid that he had blood in his stool. I don't think he'd ever eaten beets before. The maids decided we really liked the soup, so they started making it every other night for dinner, and every time it was served, Rinpoche would drink all the soup. After a few of these meals, he finally said, "I can't drink this stuff anymore." There was a potted palm tree in the hall, planted in a hollowed-out elephant's foot, and we decided to pour the soup in the soil. Rinpoche didn't want to hurt the maids' feelings. However, they came in to clear the soup bowls just as we were pouring it out; we were never given that soup again.

There was a swimming pool in the apartment complex, and I gave Rinpoche swimming lessons while we were there. He was absolutely terrified of water. (Tibetans have no tradition of swimming at all. However, it distressed him that he couldn't swim, and he wanted to overcome his fear.) So every day we'd go into the pool together. I would hold his neck while trying to teach him to float on his back. I would tell him to relax, because he would completely tense up in the water. If I let go of his neck, suddenly he would sink. Finally, we got him a huge inner tube, so that he could enjoy being in the water and maneuver around the pool.

Our apartment had a balcony with a narrow railing that looked out over the pool. At night, Rinpoche liked to sit on the balcony and try to hit the swimming pool with melons from the fruit bowl. He usually missed, so in the morning there would be squashed melons around the sides of the pool as well as floating in the water. Eventually, the superintendent figured out who was doing this. They didn't kick us out; they just told us that we couldn't throw melons anymore.

Rinpoche also went parasailing in Acapulco.You are taken out on the ocean in a speedboat, with a parachute strapped to your body, and as the boat speeds up you're lifted into the air. I was so frightened for him that I couldn't watch. With his paralysis, I thought this was an absolutely insane thing to do. A week before a tourist had been killed parasailing. I went into the bedroom and closed all the curtains so I wouldn't catch sight of him. Apparently, when the sail brought him down in the water, he started to sink, so all these people had to swim out and save him from drowning.

While we were in Acapulco, Rinpoche wanted to take me to a tailor to have a suit made. The dress code was beginning to change in that era, and my hippie clothes no longer fit the visualization. Rinpoche thought that we should get a pale blue suit made for me, like the one that the Pan Am stewardesses wore. He thought that would be the perfect outfit for me.

Some days, we would sit and watch the cliff divers at the beach. We spent a lot of time at the beach, and Rinpoche got a dark tan. One day, when we were walking around town, an American woman came up and started talking to him in broken Spanish. He let her go on for a while, but eventually he said, "Madam, you can speak English if you want." I think she was taken aback by his proper English accent. Rinpoche also liked to go to the local market where you could bargain over the price of things. While we were in Acapulco, we took a side trip up to Tasco, where all the Mexican silver was made. It was quite a nice trip for all of us.

That summer there were further seminars at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (RMDC). He gave another seminar on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which was attended by about four hundred students. His second seminar there that summer was entitled "The Energy of Discipline," again perhaps in preparation for the seminary. At RMDC, they had purchased a small used trailer for Rinpoche to live in. They put it on a hillside that overlooked the tent where he gave his talks. It was a tiny place with a cramped living room and kitchen combined and a small bedroom in the back, barely big enough to fit our bed. It got quite hot in there in the summer, but Rinpoche loved it. They built a deck out the front door where he could sit and look at the mountains in the distance , and he also liked to sit out back behind the trailer, under some small pine trees. He was still waking up in the middle of the night and asking for a snack, and during this era he became fond of cold Spam and tomatoes on French bread. He called this "food-o," a pun on the Japanese bodhisattva, Fudo.

That year a house was purchased for us in Vermont, about ten minutes from Tail, and we went out to stay there for two weeks at the end of the summer. Rinpoche gave it the name Bhumipali Bhavan, which means the "place of the female earth protector." Rinpoche told me that it was named for me and was to be my house, and I have always thought of it that way. It was an old Vermont farmhouse with a spacious kitchen, dining room, and large living room on the main floor and four bedrooms upstairs. There was plenty of room for the whole family there. Rinpoche taught a seminar on "The True Nature of Devotion," and a second one entitled "The Question of Reality," in which he compared the Buddhist teachings to the teachings of Don Juan, which were popularized by Carlos Castaneda in that era. Some of his students were interested in the Don Juan books, and Rinpoche indicated that there was some sanity in them, along with a lot of confused ideas.

"What is death, don Juan?"

"I don't know," he said, smiling.

"I mean, how would you describe death? I want your opinions. I think everybody has definite opinions about death."

I don't know what you're talking about.

I had the Tibetan Book of the Dead in the trunk of my car. It occurred to me to use it as a topic of conversation, since it dealt with death. I said I was going to read it to him and began to get up. He made me sit down and went out and got the book himself.

"The morning is a bad time for sorcerers," he said as an explanation for my having to stay put.

"You're too weak to leave my room. Inside here you are protected. If you were to wander off now, chances are that you would find a terrible disaster. An ally could kill you on the road or in the bush, and later on when they found your body they would say that you had either died mysteriously or had an accident."

I was in no position or mood to question his decisions, so I stayed put nearly all morning reading and explaining some parts of the book to him. He listened attentively and did not interrupt me at all. Twice I had to stop for short periods of time while he brought some water and food, but as soon as he was free again he urged me to continue reading. He seemed to be very interested.  

When I finished he looked at me.

"I don't understand why those people talk about death as if death were like life," he said softly.

"Maybe that's the way they understand it. Do you think the Tibetans see?"

"Hardly. When a man learns to see, not a single thing he knows prevails. Not a single one. If the Tibetans could see they could tell right away that not a single thing is any longer the same. Once we see, nothing is known; nothing remains as we used to know it when we didn't see."

"Perhaps, don Juan, seeing is not the same for everyone."

"True. It's not the same. Still, that does not mean that the meanings of life prevail. When one learns to see, not a single thing is the same."

"Tibetans obviously think that death is like life. What do you think death is like, yourself?" I asked.

"I don't think death is like anything and I think the Tibetans must be talking about something else. At any rate, what they're talking about is not death."

"What do you think they're talking about?"

"Maybe you can tell me that. You're the one who reads."

I tried to say something else but he began to laugh.

"Perhaps the Tibetans really see," don Juan went on, "in which case they must have realized that what they see makes no sense at all and they wrote that bunch of crap because it doesn't make any difference to them; in which case what they wrote is not crap at all."

"I really don't care about what the Tibetans have to say," I said, "but I certainly care about what you have to say. I would like to hear what you think about death."

He stared at me for an instant and then giggled. He opened his eyes and raised his eyebrows in a comical gesture of surprise.

"Death is a whorl," he said. "Death is the face of the ally; death is a shiny cloud over the horizon; death is the whisper of Mescalito in your ears; death is the toothless mouth of the guardian; death is Genaro sitting on his head; death is me talking; death is you and your writing pad; death is nothing. Nothing! It is here yet it isn't here at all."

Don Juan laughed with great delight. His laughter was like a song, it had a sort of dancing rhythm.

"I make no sense, huh?" don Juan said. "I cannot tell you what death is like."

-- A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda


Ram Dass attended this seminar, having connected with Rinpoche in Boulder earlier that year. Rinpoche teased him a lot during the talks. At one point during a talk, he had Ram Dass sit at his feet, and he dropped the ashes from his cigarette onto his head. Ram Dass was quite into the outer purity approach: wearing white, eating special food, and doing purifications of the body. So perhaps Rinpoche was making a statement to him about innate purity. In any case, their interactions were quite playful and fun to observe. Ram Dass was taken with Rinpoche in that era, and they were making plans to teach together. His long-haired Hindu persona was a contrast to the approach now developing within the community. We were starting to wear more conservative dress at that time, not yet suits and ties, but the bare-chested men were putting on shirts, and the madras and paisley were disappearing.

Then in the summer of 1974 I was at Naropa Institute teaching a course in the Bhagavad Gita, a course for which I felt Maharaj-ji was giving his blessings. There at Naropa I was part of a whole other scene, because Trungpa Rinpoche represents a different lineage. I found myself floundering a little bit because my own tradition was so amorphous compared to the tightness of the Tibetan tradition. Trungpa and I did a few television shows together. We did one about lineages and I felt bankrupt. I had Maharaj-ji's transmission of love and service but I knew nothing about his history. I didn't know how to talk about what came through me in terms of a formal lineage. I was also getting caught in more worldly play, and I felt more and more depressed and hypocritical. So by the end of the summer I decided to return to India. I didn't know what I'd find, but I'd go anyway. I knew I was different than I was ten years before, but I was still not cooked, and what we owe each other is to get cooked.

-- Grist for the Mill, by Ram Dass


At the end of September, Rinpoche went off to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the first seminary was being held at the Snow Lion Inn. There were less than one hundred students accepted for the seminary, because Rinpoche wanted to be sure that he had a small group to whom he could impart these teachings very intimately the first time. There were many qualified people, but he took less than half of those who applied. It was important to him to have the right group and the right chemistry among the students and with him. Everybody lived in the lodge, and there was a schedule for everybody to help with cooking, cleaning, and other chores. The program was divided into three sections: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Each section was further subdivided into a practice period and a period of study, during which the students attended discussion groups and took courses from student-instructors during the day and attended Rinpoche's talks in the late afternoon or evening.

The seminary began with a week of sitting meditation. Everyone was expected to sit from seven A.M. until eight or nine o'clock at night, with breaks for meals and chores. Rinpoche gave one orientation talk, and then left for the week while people meditated. He went right back out on the road and gave talks in Boston while people were practicing at the seminary. He wanted them to really clear the decks, so to speak, by sitting for a week before study commenced.

When the seminary started, I was left back in Boulder with Osel, Taggie, and Gesar. Felicity had gone to live with her grandmother by this time. I was going for the Vajrayana portion of the program at the end of November, but I just couldn't take the children there for the whole three months. I celebrated my twentieth birthday on October 8, and I felt so lonely. This was the first time Rinpoche had been away for my birthday since we were married. He had celebrated my birthday each year with a special dinner, a gift, or a small party, which was really important to me, especially after the way my mother often ignored these events during my childhood. Some friends organized a small party, but I was still missing him. I went to my birthday party telling myself that I would have a good time. After everyone arrived, the host said that Rinpoche had sent a present for me and that it was in the closet. With much urging, I opened the closet door, and out he came. He had come back for my birthday.

He stayed a night or two and then went back to the seminary. I joined him there with the two youngest boys about a month later, just before he began presenting the Vajrayana teachings. This was such a significant event for Rinpoche. There were many reasons why he might not have gone ahead with this. For one thing, although there was a great deal of interest in Eastern religion at this time, there was also tremendous naivete and spiritual materialism in the United States. Many people saw Tibetan Buddhism as a set of magical and esoteric teachings and as a way to gain instant -- or at least quick -- enlightenment. There was much misunderstanding about what genuine spirituality is in the Buddhist tradition. Teachers like Suzuki Roshi had laid the ground for a true understanding of Mahayana Buddhism and had begun to teach the importance of practicing the teachings through meditation and applying them through the discipline of everyday life. However, there were still huge areas of misunderstanding.

Rinpoche had been working extremely hard to plow what he saw as fertile but confused ground, planting the genuine seeds of dharma in the American soil. During the three years that he had been in the country -- and it had only been three years -- his students had transformed themselves in many ways. He always attracted an incredibly intelligent bunch, and he nurtured that intelligence and encouraged a degree of cynicism and doubt to cut through the fascination with spirituality as a gadget or a toy. However, he also had to work with the ingrained individualism of the culture, which was both a strength and an obstacle to understanding the nature of a real devotional relationship between teacher and student. There has to be a degree of giving in or surrendering one's hard edge of egotism; otherwise, the Vajrayana teachings in particular can be perverted into egomania or misconstrued as purely an intellectual, or mind, game.

When people see photographs or videos from the very early days, what they are shocked· by is how disheveled, underdressed, and hairy everybody was. In fact, that was a relatively small obstacle. The real question was whether Rinpoche could actually penetrate past the shell, the veneer, that people were presenting. Could he get to the heart of the matter with them? It was still an open question for him after all this time.

He gave twenty talks in the first part of the seminary, in which he presented the Hinayana and the Mahayana aspects of the Buddhist path. People weren't sitting as much as he would have liked; they were partying a bit too much, but generally he was pleased with people's attitude and openness. He felt that people were ready and receptive for him to launch into the presentation of Vajrayana. This was a detailed but also very deep presentation of the path of tantra. He was pouring information into people, but much more than that, he was pouring his heart and the heart of his tradition into the minds and hearts of the students. Once he started, he was so inspired that his talks grew longer and longer. He himself was studying the teachings of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, his root teacher's predecessor, as the basis for his presentation, and he was so animated and excited to be able to share this material with people.

About halfway through the Vajrayana section of the seminary, just as he was reaching a crescendo in the presentation of the material, as he began to describe the parts of the path that were central to the practices that his students would soon begin to practice -- just at that point, there was a disastrous incident. One afternoon, Rinpoche was so inspired that he talked for several hours without giving us any kind of a break. He seemed ready to continue lecturing on into the night. People began to get restless and fidgety. Usually the talks took place before dinner, and people were getting hungry. Their appetite for Rinpoche and the teachings, which had seemed insatiable for so long, was now overridden by their appetite for dinner. People were, I think, a bit overwhelmed by what Rinpoche was presenting, so their restlessness in part reflected their inability to take it all in. He went beyond anyone's idea of what was acceptable, conventional, in terms of how long he talked. Finally, someone suggested taking a break and continuing the next day. Then one of Rinpoche's closest students, who was a member of the board and someone we were very close to, suggested to Rinpoche that they vote on whether to continue or to stop for the night.

He could not have made a worse suggestion. The idea that the timing of the inaugural presentation in America of the essence of Rinpoche's lineage was going to be decided by a vote, by democratic process, was antithetical to the understanding of devotion that Rinpoche had been trying to foster in his students. It suggested to him that perhaps they hadn't heard a word he had said. When the students applied and were accepted to the seminary, it was like becoming engaged, in a spiritual sense. It wasn't a casual invitation. Presenting the Vajrayana teachings was, for Rinpoche, like getting married to these students. They were mutually about to embark on a relationship that would last throughout the rest of their lives and hopefully one that would be transformative for everyone involved. Essentially, he and the students were at the altar, in the middle of a wedding ceremony. When they decided to take a vote, he was about to present the ring, kiss the bride, and say, "I do." They were asking him to stop the ceremony in midstream.

He asked them to repeat what had been said. Someone else said, "Let's vote." He threw down the microphone and walked out of the hall. As he strode out, someone said, "Rinpoche, come back. He doesn't speak for all of us." It was too late. The air was black. He was never coming back. People sensed that immediately.

Rinpoche had been waiting ever since he came to the West to make this presentation. America had been waiting centuries for these teachings. But the students couldn't wait to have their dinner. It was over.

It seemed that way for several days. I have never seen him angrier. People were devastated. A huge black space hung over the seminary. Slowly, there was an outpouring of people's love and dedication to what was happening there. The students supplicated Rinpoche to continue. In the end, he saw, I guess, that there was ground to go forward, without compromise. Four days later he started to teach again, and this time, people were ready to hear what he was presenting, with no strings attached, no boundaries. He went forward and completed the presentation, and it was beyond magnificent. These were really unspeakably brilliant teachings.

What was so interesting was that when he got over his anger, he was completely over it. There was no hangover. Of course, people never forgot that lesson, and news of what had happened spread throughout the sangha. In a way, it completely changed the tenor of the space in which he taught from then· on. It wasn't a game. It wasn't a party. This was real.

During the last days of the seminary, we received the sad news that Alan Watts had died suddenly of a heart attack in California. The next day Rinpoche and I were alone, sitting together in our room. We both turned to each other at the same time and said, "Alan Watts." We felt him go through the room at the same instant. I'm sure his consciousness passed through.

At the end of the seminary, just a day or so before we were preparing to return to Boulder, Rinpoche said to me, "You know, I might die soon." I said to him, "What do you mean?" He responded, "Well, now that I've finished the seminary, I've taught everything I have to teach. There's nothing left for me to present. So I might die soon." He'd been in the United States for just three years. Now, he was saying that he'd done all he could. I told him, "That can't possibly be true. There must be something more." He paused for a minute, and then he said, "Yes, well, I have been having dreams about being a general. I had one last night. I was a general and I was leading the troops in battle. That was fantastic." Then he said, "I'd love to be a general." Finally, he said, "I guess if I could become a king and rule a nation, then I would have something to live for!"

This was one of those times when I realized that I did not know at all what to expect from Rinpoche. Ultimately, I don't think anybody did. You could never apply the same logic to Rinpoche that you could to other human beings. When you're very close to somebody, you presume that when a situation comes up, you can predict how this person is going to react. With Rinpoche, you never really knew, because he was operating in such a vast space compared to ordinary people. I wondered what to expect from him in the future. Clearly, it would be something out of the ordinary.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:59 pm

Part 1 of 3

NINE

Early in 1974, we moved into a two-story raised-ranch-style home in Boulder Heights, an area in the foothills north of Boulder. It was on the outskirts of town, much closer to Karma Dzong. There was a stable on the property where we kept a pony for Osel to ride, and the house had a comfortable feeling. Although some people thought it was too casual for Rinpoche, I felt it was a good family home, which accommodated more warmth and relaxation in our lives. It had a sunken living room and a big stone fireplace that I liked.

Even though Felicity had gone back to her grandmother, I still had my hands full with the three boys. During this era, Marty Franco sent Mexican maids to live with us and help out on the domestic front. Rinpoche was upset that we had live-in hired help, which he didn't approve of, but I was relieved, frankly, to have assistance with the children and the house. Rinpoche tried to get one of his students to marry the first maid so she could stay in the United States, but it never worked out. As an infant, Gesar started speaking Spanish because the second maid, Ensanada, spoke to him in Spanish all the time. At times, I had to speak to him in my broken Spanish so that he would understand me.

Rinpoche did a lot of traveling at the beginning of that year. In part due to the huge success of Cutting Through, he now drew audiences of more than a thousand people almost anywhere he gave a public talk. In January he taught at Tail; in San Antonio and Houston, Texas; and in Boulder. In February, he lectured in Chicago, New York, and Boston, flew back to teach in Boulder, and went on to San Francisco. So I was left on my own with the kids more and more.

I weaned Gesar when he was about eight months old, and soon after that I got my first period since he'd been born. I bled so heavily that I was almost hemorrhaging. We still had very little money in those days, and on this occasion our bank account was overdrawn. I had no money to buy groceries, there was nothing to eat in the house, and I needed to see a doctor about my bleeding. Rinpoche was on the road teaching. I phoned him to tell him all these developments, and he said that he was going to wire money to Western Union. I was losing a lot of blood, but I decided that I was going to pick up the cash on my way to the hospital. While I was standing in line at Western Union, I was bleeding on the floor. After I finally got the money, I drove myself straight to the hospital where I was admitted to have a D & C (dilation and curettage, a procedure that involves scraping the uterus). Those were challenging times.

My sister had settled in Boulder, and she lived with us in the house at Boulder Heights for a while. That spring, my mother decided to make a visit to Boulder to see both of her daughters. I hadn't seen her in four years. She timed her trip so that Rinpoche was out of town, and she stayed with me at the house. At that time, Osel was in boarding school in Ojai, California. We thought that an intense residential situation might help overcome his difficulties learning to read and write in English.

This was the first time that my mother met her grandchildren. I found her incredibly judgmental, going out of her way to tell me all the things I was doing wrong. She criticized everything about the way I fed and dressed my children. When I cooked baby food for Gesar, for example, she criticized me if I fed him the same meal twice. One day I left her at the house to do errands in town. When I came. back, she had rearranged the furniture.

Most of my life, I had felt intimidated by my mother, so I had never confronted her directly, although obviously I hadn't gone along with her ideas about how I should live my life. This visit was a pivotal one, because I finally stood up to her. After she'd been at the house for several days, we decided to put the boys in the car and go for a drive. The two boys were in the backseat, and Mother and I were in the front. She asked me, "Are you planning to have any more children?" She had obviously been waiting to ask this question. I replied, "Yes, we're thinking about it." She became completely unraveled, and she started ranting, "You know, that man wants to keep you barefoot and pregnant. That's all he wants." Then she got more and more hysterical. Taggie leaned over and touched her from the backseat, as though he were trying to comfort her. She slapped his hand away and screamed at him, "Don't touch me. You're black."

I didn't say anything. I turned the car around, and I drove back up to the house. I asked her to get out in the garage. I backed out, closed the garage door, drove back down to Boulder, and went to a friend's house. I phoned my mother from there and told her, "I'm not coming back to my house until you've left. You can find a way to get yourself to the airport and back to England. I don't care what you do, but I want you out of my house." I think that this completely shocked her, because I'd never said anything like that to her before. I thought that I might never see my mother again.

That spring, the graduates of the first Vajradhatu Seminary were beginning their ngondro, the preliminary meditation practices that prepare you for more advanced Vajrayana practice. Rinpoche did these practices in Tibet at the age of nine. As I described earlier, they include a hundred thousand full prostrations that are made while visualizing the Buddhist lineage in front of you and reciting the refuge vow. Then one completes the recitation of a hundred thousand mantras connected with purifying one's neurotic upheavals, followed by a hundred thousand offerings of a mandala that one represents symbolically by arranging heaps of rice. These offerings signify the surrender of ego, offering up one's neurosis as a gift to the Buddhist lineage. Finally, the student completes a million recitations of a short chant calling on the teachers of the lineage, which is connected with further surrender and the development of authentic devotion. This is not hero worship but invoking the indestructible qualities of sanity over and over, as represented in the teacher.

In Rinpoche's relationship with his students, if the seminary had been like the wedding, then ngondro was like the first year of marriage. Before beginning their prostrations, the students received a formal mind transmission from Rinpoche, which communicates the very heart of Vajrayana, stripped bare. In this transmission, the mind of the teacher meets the mind of the student, and it might be described as. the spiritual equivalent of a honeymoon. In contrast, practicing the Vajrayana preliminaries is quite difficult and demanding, nothing like you might have expected when you said, "I do." About fifty students in Boulder had completed the seminary and were now tantra students, or tantrikas. The tantra group met with Rinpoche almost every month, sometimes several times a month. Many of these gatherings took place at our house. We talked about the teachings we had received, how these were affecting people's experience, and the practice we were doing. Many people experienced intense ups and downs and a great deal of emotionality when they started prostrations -- as well as excitement and a feeling of being energized. Rinpoche felt committed to being there for people and seeing that they didn't go off the rails, so to speak.

Rinpoche understood that this was a critical time in the introduction of Vajrayana Buddhism in America. Altogether, he saw this as a dramatic era in Western history, when the pith of Buddhism was being introduced to Westerners for the first time ever. Since Western society is quite distinct from the world he grew up in, he also was constantly evaluating how best to present Vajrayana to us. Nevertheless, he felt that people had the desire and the capacity to absorb the teachings, and ultimately the fact that we were Westerners was not a barrier. Although Rinpoche had to overcome the obstacles I described earlier before presenting Vajrayana at the seminary, he trusted his students roo percent. Why should Tibetans be able to practice and to understand better than Western students? To some extent, Rinpoche felt that corruption had occurred in certain quarters in Tibet, which had weakened the way the dharma was practiced and taught there. So he welcomed America as new ground to be able to teach the essence of dharma without preconceptions. "Buddhadharma without credentials" was a phrase he often used in this era.

Although I received Vajrayana transmission after the seminary, I wasn't trying to do my ngondro practice. When I would ask Rinpoche about going on practice retreats, he never encouraged me. I felt that my practice at this time was being with him and with the children. I also saw horseback riding as a contemplative practice for me because it demanded mindfulness and tremendous discipline. For the first time since marrying Rinpoche, I had resumed riding regularly a few months after Gesar was born. For me, it was a bright spot in my demanding life.

During this period, Rinpoche was quite consumed with preparations for the inaugural summer of the Naropa Institute. Rinpoche's vision for Naropa, which he had been refining for a number of years, was to create a university that would revitalize the connection to spiritual and intellectual traditions, whether of the East or the West. He felt that a contemplative approach to education, combining rigorous intellectual studies with the direct investigation of mind through meditation and other disciplines, would be a great addition to higher education in America. He had experienced the best of Western education in his opinion, at Oxford, and while he had tremendous appreciation for the approach there, he felt that it lacked a connection to direct experience. He wanted to create a learning environment that would encourage both students and faculty to join together intellect and intuition.

As the months progressed, there were constant phone calls and innumerable planning meetings. Before the summer got underway, Rinpoche and I decided that we should take the children on another family holiday. Since Osel was away at school, it was just going to be the four of us.

During this era, Marvin and John no longer lived with us. They were both involved in preparations for opening the institute, and they were working on editing a sequel to Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism which was to be called the Myth of Freedom. Two other people had largely replaced the role that John and Marvin had played earlier. One was David Rome, who played a pivotal role in my husband's work for many years. The other was Landon Mallery, who was also a dedicated student. They drove Rinpoche to and from the office, helped schedule his appointments, and assisted him in many other ways. They didn't live with us, but they were around the house almost every day. Landy's parents owned a house in Eleuthera in the Bahamas, and he offered us the use of the house for our holiday, which sounded great.

Unfortunately, when we got there, we didn't enjoy ourselves at all. We were bitten by sand fleas on the beach, and it was alternately rainy and cold or hot and humid. No one wanted to go swimming in the ocean or he on the beach, and there was really nothing else to do. The kids were bored and not having a good time, which made it more difficult for everyone. On top of that, Rinpoche was constantly getting calls from people in Boulder, phoning about this or that issue related to Naropa starting up. It was hardly a vacation.

We finally decided to leave the Bahamas early, and the two of us would go somewhere else to have time by ourselves. I don't know how long it had been since we had spent time alone like that. Rinpoche suggested we go to the south of France. We arranged for someone to fly down and pick up the kids, and we went to Nice. Nobody could reach us there, so we actually had uninterrupted time to ourselves, which was delightful. We spent about ten days staying in a tiny bed and breakfast. Rinpoche loved the brioche and the croissants and the care au lait they served us for breakfast.

While we were there, I wanted to gamble, so we went to a casino. i played roulette while Rinpoche sat by himself at the bar, grumbling about what a waste of time and money this was. Finally, I took a break and joined him at the bar, which was on the second floor looking down on the gaming tables. Rinpoche was in a foul mood, feeling moralistic about how degraded it was to gamble. Then, he noticed some Japanese businessmen in silk suits approach a roulette table and start playing. He was intrigued by them, and his attitude changed completely. He said, "Okay! Let's gamble." So we went downstairs and sat at the roulette table together. He put one hundred dollars on red and one hundred dollars on black. Rinpoche kept playing red and black, red and black. The groupier was rolling his eyes. Eventually zero came up, and Rinpoche lost his two hundred dollars, much to his shock. He was beside himself, "I want my money back. I'm going to stay and gamble till it comes back!" I said, "No you're not. We're going home." That was the end of our gambling experience in Nice.

We enjoyed wandering through the Moroccan district in Nice, shopping and looking for places to eat. Rinpoche had a theory that the smallest restaurants would definitely have the best food. He found a tiny restaurant that had a beaded curtain across the front entrance. You went down a long corridor into the restaurant. There was no menu. You sat down, and they put food in front of you. They served us each a plate of ravioli. I bit into mine and found it rather disgusting. I asked the waiter to come over, and I asked, "What is this?" He said, "Madame, c' est ravioli sang de cheval," which means ravioli filled with horse's blood. I didn't finish my food, but of course Rinpoche finished his and ate mine, too. There was a mirror on the wall of the restaurant that Rinpoche liked, and he convinced them to sell it to him. We bought a few other things at antique shops while we were there. I still have a gold clock that we bought on the trip to Nice, which I keep on my mantel.

In the last weeks before Naropa started, Rinpoche was extremely busy getting ready for the institute's inaugural summer session. When everything finally came together, it was an unbelievable success. We had been hoping that maybe four or five hundred students would enroll for the summer. The opening ceremonies were held in a large auditorium in Boulder on June 10, 1974, and as the president of the Naropa Institute, Rinpoche made welcoming remarks to an audience of more than twenty-five hundred-which included the faculty, interested members of the public, and many of the two thousand students who attended the institute that summer.

Originally, Rinpoche thought about naming this new university Nalanda, which was the name of a renowned university in India. It was the greatest ancient center of Buddhist learning. Founded in the fifth century by the Gupta emperors, it remained an important institution until it was destroyed in the twelfth century by Muslim invaders. Some of Rinpoche's students thought that this name was too bold or perhaps too arrogant for a little institute in Boulder, Colorado, so Rinpoche decided. on the name Naropa Institute. Naropa was a great Buddhist scholar who taught at Nalanda in the eleventh century. He left the university to find his teacher when he realized that he understood the words of the teachings but not the real sense or meaning behind them. He is one of the forefathers in Rinpoche's lineage, so this was a particularly appropriate name.

Rinpoche wanted Naropa to be known as the premier place for Buddhist studies in North America, but he also wanted to encourage other religious and spiritual traditions to find a home there. Thus, a few years later, he inaugurated a Christian-Buddhist contemplative conference that has sponsored an interfaith dialogue for many years now. Rinpoche also envisioned the visual arts, music, theater, writing, and poetry being part of the curriculum at Naropa. It was a home for many avant-garde artists in the seventies and has become quite well known for the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which was founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman.

That first summer the faculty included a diverse and rather stellar lineup. Ram Dass drew about eight hundred devotees to the first session, many of whom had never met him but had read Be Here Now. He taught an evening course, which alternated with Rinpoche's evening lectures. The eminent anthropologist Gregory Bateson came and taught for one session. Jack Kornfield, who was not well known at that time, came for half the summer. He and other founding members of the Insight Meditation movement, including Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, were also there. Allen Ginsberg was teaching poetry, as were Anne Waldman and many other American poets. The composer John Cage came for a weekend. You could study thangka painting or Japanese tea ceremony. Rinpoche taught two evening courses the first session, and one the second. One of his plays, Prajna, was performed at Naropa by members of Mudra Theater during the summer. There was a great deal of theater, art, and music going on. Naropa was very much the happening thing.

Some nights I would go to Rinpoche's talk and if it went on too late, I'd send Taggie up to the stage in his pajamas to get a good-night kiss from his daddy before taking him home and putting him to bed. There were dinners and cocktail parties that we hosted and attended. I wasn't able to attend as many events as I would have liked since I was busy with the children. Rinpoche had meetings at all hours throughout the summer. He was thrilled to see the situation take shape and to have the opportunity to work with all of these people.

A group of Rinpoche's students had been working tirelessly, and largely without pay, for the past year to organize and prepare for the opening of the institute. Marty Janowitz, who is still a member of the Naropa board, was appointed the first director of Naropa and played a key role that summer. Rinpoche's students constituted the core of the administration. John Baker was very involved. He introduced Rinpoche at the opening of the institute, along with Jeremy Hayward, an English physicist who worked closely with Naropa in the early years and later joined the board of directors of Vajradhatu. The mayor of Boulder was also onstage for the opening of the institute. Rinpoche's students were there at Naropa in force as managers, conference organizers, teachers, and jacks-of-all-trades. Without the intense involvement of many of Rinpoche's senior students, Naropa could never have come into being. At the same time, this was a training ground for them, and they emerged from the experience with confidence and skills to apply in many other areas of their lives.

As the summer progressed, Rinpoche began to focus on the next big event. He had invited the head of his lineage, His Holiness the Karmapa, to come to America in the fall to visit Rinpoche, to see his students, and to make his first teaching tour in America. His Holiness was due to arrive in September. They had not seen each other since 1968, when Rinpoche briefly visited His Holiness's monastery in Sikkim. Rinpoche was nervous about the visit because he knew that His Holiness had heard stories about what Rinpoche was up to, and the version he had been told had been heavy on the outrageous, wild side and light on the "working for the dharma" side. Rinpoche did not know whether His Holiness would fully appreciate what he was trying to do in America.

Lecturing to more than a thousand scantily garbed hippies at Naropa that summer gave him pause as to how to present his students to His Holiness. Rinpoche might be able to see past the long beards, cutoff jeans, and tank tops, but this was not the image he wanted to present to his lineage. He wanted His Holiness to be able to appreciate the mind and heart connection he had made with all these Westerners. He feared that His Holiness would think that Rinpoche was consorting with barbarians, somewhat like having moved into the zoo with a bunch of jungle animals. Sometimes, if you looked around the room when Rinpoche was lecturing that first summer at Naropa, especially with the influx of Ramdassians at the beginning, you would see a menagerie of topless men with matted hair and long beards and long-haired girls sporting white robes or showing lots of cleavage. What to do?

In addition to concerns about their appearance, Rinpoche was faced with the challenge of introducing decorum to his students, in terms of how they would behave around the Karmapa. When Rinpoche first came to America, he was careful not to create a barrier between himself and others. He wanted to experience fully the world he was entering and meet people at eye level. He gave up his robes because he did not want to create an exotic impression where people would indulge their fantasies about him. He wanted them to see him not as a mystery man from Tibet but as a human being.

Rinpoche had grown up with attendants who treated him as a spiritual prince, but when he came to the West, he let all of that go. He didn't demand or expect special treatment. For one thing, there was no cultural reference point for the Western students to provide service to him. However, what he accepted for himself was not what he wanted to present to His Holiness. In preparation for His Holiness's visit, Rinpoche made it clear to his students how he himself wanted to receive the Karmapa and how he expected them to treat His Holiness as well. He described this later as follows:

In 1974, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Buddhism to which I belong, was to arrive for his first visit to North America. A group of us had a meeting, and we talked about protocol and other arrangements. Quite a number of people said, "Couldn't we just take His Holiness to a disco and feed him a steak? Do we really have to vacuum the floor? Maybe he should sleep on a waterbed. Couldn't he just come along and see what America is like?" In the end, that wasn't the approach we decided to take! ... That approach is bloated with arrogance.1


The previous year, Karma Dzong had moved into a much larger shrine room in the back of the building at 1111 Pearl Street in Boulder. The new meditation hall was a large room with a balcony above the main floor and could hold up to three hundred people. For His Holiness's visit, the room was completely redone. At Rinpoche's direction, walls were painted, floors were sanded, windows scrubbed spotless. Around the edges of the room, Rinpoche had the students paint the mantra from the Heart Sutra (one of the essential teachings of the Buddha) in gold letters. Rinpoche insisted that they build traditional Tibetan thrones, covered in brocade, for His Holiness to use when he presented teachings or held audiences, whether in the main shrine hall or at his residence. At the house rented for His Holiness in Boulder, Rinpoche had the walls draped in satin and brocade. For weeks before His Holiness arrived, he stayed up all night. He actually didn't sleep for days at a time because he wouldn't stop working on the preparations. Everyone was going full-out, turning themselves into seamstresses, carpenters, secretaries, housekeepers, cooks, administrators-he pushed people as far as they could possibly go. He asked Tom Rich and Ken Green (aka Narayana and Krishna) to take charge of the visit preparations along with Karl Springer, another student from the early days at Tail, and they worked around the clock as he did, both in Boulder and also traveling as the advance parties to both the East and the West coasts, wherever His Holiness would be traveling. Rinpoche asked all of his male students to wear a suit jacket and a tie during the visit, and women wore conservative skirts and blouses or suits.

Rinpoche also emphasized the style in which His Holiness should be served, explaining that the Karmapa was truly a spiritual monarch and that by treating him as such, the students would be able to appreciate the depth of the wisdom he embodied. People learned how to serve in both the Western and the Tibetan style. It was a crash course in table manners and etiquette for all of us. For some, it was reminding us of what we knew from our upbringing. For others, it was a completely new experience.

Rinpoche asked another group of his students to accompany His Holiness wherever he traveled, providing security and logistical support for the visit. The Karmapa arrived first in New York. He was given diplomatic status by the State Department in the United States. Therefore, he received police escorts in major cities and was accorded official recognition in other ways. Rinpoche's students organized a motorcade in every major city His Holiness visited, which included advance cars, a limousine for His Holiness, and vans following behind for the other members of his party, including the translator and the monks. The students who trained to be the drivers for His Holiness and his party also worked with local law enforcement wherever he went. They provided security for the high-profile parts of the visit.

At the household, a group of senior male students was trained to be personal attendants to His Holiness, in somewhat traditional Tibetan style. Because His Holiness was very strict about his monastic vows, he would not allow women attendants in his personal quarters.

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Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, seated, with Freda Bedi at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, 1971


However, women were involved in many other aspects of the tour and the household.

While His Holiness was in Boulder, Rinpoche invited him to have tea at our home in Pine Brook Hills. While he was at the house, I noticed that the Karmapa wouldn't make eye contact with me. I felt badly about this, and later I asked Rinpoche why His Holiness wouldn't look at me. Rinpoche said, "He's very uncomfortable around you." And I said, "Why on earth would that be?" He said, "Because if you had the power to seduce me, you must be a very dangerous woman." After the first time he came to the house, Rinpoche talked with him about our marriage, and explained that I was not a seductress. Then, His Holiness seemed more comfortable around me, and in fact we had a very close, wonderful relationship. But that first encounter was very disconcerting.

If Nehru provided the political clout for her school, the spiritual blessing was to come from the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Freda's guru. She duly invited him to Delhi to perform the necessary rituals, and took advantage of his presence by requesting him to grant her Refuge, the formal ceremony marking one's official entrance onto the Buddhist path.....

To Freda this was a hugely sacred and profound milestone in her spiritual journey. "When you take Refuge, you go on with your life, but in the cave of your heart you feel you have found the oasis, the place where you can take refuge in the sea of suffering, and where you can develop the enlightened mind."....



"We need a living guru, and we train to see the Buddha in him. That gives us the water to make the seed of enlightenment grow."....

Single-handedly Freda had already set the scene for Buddhism to make the historic leap from East to West when she had the foresight to establish the Young Lamas Home School. In 1972, the year of her full ordination as a bikshuni nun, she took another momentous step in that direction by personally agreeing to take the Buddha's message to South Africa, the first of several overseas "missions" she undertook. Her journey there was significant not least because it revealed the full extent of the spiritual authority invested in her by the Karmapa, as well as the scope of the knowledge and personal realizations that she had attained in her relatively new religious path.

The invitation had come from Rosemary Vosse, a theosophist descended from Italian nobility, who had met Freda in India. She had literally begged Freda, now known as Sister Palmo, to come to South Africa, which was being brutally ripped apart by the bloody internal war of apartheid, as blacks fought for equal rights and the end to racial segregation.....

She addressed audiences, large and small, who had come as a result of publicity generated by her Tibetan Friendship Group. She was warmly welcomed, and the press was polite. She spoke from university podiums and temple high seats, telling people about her experience of Gandhi and her own time as the first Englishwoman to offer Satyagraha. And then, when the audience was warmed up, she moved on to even more unconventional themes -- reincarnation and the Tibetan tulku system -- showing them slides of the young rinpoches she had taught and of her own teacher, the Sixteenth karmapa.

"I tried to convey to them something of the wonder of the Tibetan masters, the Dalai Lama, and in particular my own guru," she said. The university students were especially rapt, she reported....

More impressively, Freda also revealed that she conferred initiations. This was nothing short of extraordinary. Only the most qualified lamas gave initiations, ceremonies that bestowed on the recipient the power, knowledge, and blessings of the particular buddha invoked. It was exceptional for a newcomer to Buddhism to be conducting this rite, and it was unheard of for a Western woman to do so. This was proof that the Karmapa held her in high spiritual regard.

"On Easter Sunday I was able to give the Forest Dolma (Tara) initiation, which His Holiness Karmapa had allowed me to confer. It was in a perfect setting, in a forest glade with pine needles all around, and the shrine at the foot of a tress," enthused the nature-loving Freda. She continued to give the Tara initiation throughout her tour. And then she ventured into the highly esoteric and advanced reaches of Tibetan Buddhism -- the Vajrayana or Diamond Path -- by conferring the initiation of the buddha of purification, Vajrasattva.

"I explained how to meditate on Vajrasattva, and say his hundred-syllable mantra," she explained. "It was a most interesting experience to be giving these teachings, and I do think that if the group carries on with the practice, there will be a quick and wonderful development, because the Vajrayana path is more rapid than the Mahayana path. But all the time I am weaving in the Mahayana. The Vajrayana is the meditation side, the Mahayana, the philosophy," she went on, indicating the highly arcane and intricate system of Tibetan Buddhism that Thomas Merton, the Jesuit, described as the most complex religion on earth. "It is complex and detailed because it is profound," said Freda.

Following her plan to sow permanent seeds of Buddhism in South Africa, Freda established small centers, often in people's homes, where people could gather to meditate, say prayers together, and study the Buddha's teachings. She fervently hoped the centers would grow....

When she flew out of South Africa, Freda left behind the Karma Rigdol centers she had established in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth, all under the auspices of H.H. Karmapa, and a small but enthusiastic group of people committed to following the Buddhist path. Many, like Sheila Fugard, had taken Refuge with Freda, and had been given Tibetan names. Others, like Andre de Wet, became ordained taking a monk's name -- in his case, Karma Samten....

She accompanied the Karmapa on his first visit to the West in 1974, a five-month tour across North American and Europe. She was a Tibetan–English translator.

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HH 16th Karmapa and Sister Palmo [and Diana Mukpo], Shambhala archives

-- Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia


Illustrating her point about the readiness of America to accept Buddhism, she gave a White Tara initiation (the female Buddha of Compassion in Action) in New York, which was simultaneously broadcast on local radio. It was an unprecedented break with tradition and a real entry of Buddhism into modern Western life.

Through the airwaves Freda's voice rang out: "Visualize enlightenment in the form of the Holy Mother, in order to receive all the blessings," she said. "The mind is a tremendous thing. If we can remove the veils, the obscurations, we can see the mirror-like quality of its pure state," she continued. "The Divine Mother helps us calm our minds and brings us the blessing of transcendental knowledge. She also increases life and gives us more energy."

She went on to explain further the esoteric meaning behind Tara: "Tara comes in twenty-one basic forms, whose primary functions are to remove all fears. There is a multiplicity of forms, but in fact there is just one. All is Buddha, all is Divine Mother. It's like fragmentation of light into prismatic colors."

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IF I'M NOT ATTACHED TO THIS PARTICULAR
TIME-SPACE LOCUS THEN I CAN FREE MY
AWARENESS FROM MY BODY AND I CAN BECOME
ONE WITH IT ALL
I CAN MERGE WITH
THE DIVINE MOTHER

-- Be Here Now, by "Ram Dass," aka The Lama Foundation


-- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie


Rinpoche also asked me to take a drive around Boulder with His Holiness and show him various local landmarks. Rinpoche instructed me that whenever His Holiness admired a building or noted that it was impressive or anything like that, I was to tell the Karmapa that the building belonged to us. I thought this was ridiculous, but Rinpoche insisted. I suppose it was some sort of macho Tibetan thing. His Holiness and I drove all over town, with me telling him that every large building in town, including the Harvest House Hotel and the entire University of Colorado, belonged to Rinpoche and his students. I'm sure His Holiness checked later and learned that we had considerably fewer real estate holdings than I had suggested.



While he was in Boulder, the Karmapa especially wanted to spend time with Taggie, who was the reincarnation of one of His Holiness's own teachers in Tibet. He brought a number of gifts for Taggie, precious items that had belonged to the former Tenga Rinpoche. It was now obvious to everyone who spent time around Taggie that he was not developing normally. His Holiness felt that this was because Taggie needed to be raised in a monastic situation. He suggested that we send Taggie to Sikkim as soon as possible to study and receive training from His Holiness and to have a formal enthronement ceremony there. We took this under advisement, but Rinpoche still did not want to give in to this traditional approach. He felt that we should work with Taggie at home and also begin to investigate what Western doctors would say about his condition.

Traditionally, the veneration or respect that one shows a teacher is considered part of making an offering in order to receive the teachings. In medieval Tibetan times, students would travel to India to study with the great Buddhist teachers there. It was a long and truly perilous journey, not unlike the one my husband made when he escaped from Tibet in 1959. Practitioners traveling to India would amass a quantity of gold, which they used to cover their expenses, with the remainder being offered to the teachers they studied with. On the one hand, this was simply tuition. On another level, the point of the teaching gift was to give or surrender something in appreciation of the value of the teaching. It wasn't that the teachers wanted to get rich.

There is a well-known story about one figure in my husband's lineage, Marpa, who gathered together a great deal of gold dust to finance his three trips to India. Marpa later became Milarepa's root guru, or main teacher. When Marpa made his second trip to India, he returned there to study with Naropa, the great Indian teacher who was one of his main gurus, his root guru in fact. Marpa offered Naropa a portion of his gold but held some back for the trip home. Naropa demanded that Marpa give him all the gold. Marpa hesitated but Naropa insisted, saying, "Do you think you can buy my teaching with your deception?" When Marpa finally gave in, Naropa threw the gold dust into the air, scattering it everywhere, crying, "Gold, gold. What is gold to me? All the world is gold to me."

Henry Schaeffer: So, I'll tell him about the talk. Yeah, that was something, that was something. So there was already a set date that Rinpoche was going to come [May 27, 1971]. There was already a lot of controversy at Zen Center: Rinpoche was a charlatan, Rinpoche was just a pandita (scholar), not a yogi/practitioner. So this talk had been arranged and a lot of people came. You know, his books were out, Born in Tibet, Meditation in Action, and the first Garuda ... I drove Diana and Rinpoche, and Rinpoche had been drinking pretty good. So we walked in there, and they had the traditional ... the priest's dressing room ... a room shortly after you came into the building, and we went in there before the talk. People were all gathering and they're mostly there already, because we always got there a little late. So we're in there, and Rinpoche was sitting on a regular chair, and he had these high boots, remember the high shoes with a lot of laces? So I was kneeling on the floor.

Sam Bercholz: He had that leg brace thing.

Henry Schaeffer: Leg braces, yeah. Even after the operation, he still wore the braces. So I had to take all that off, and I was kneeling, and there was a knock on the door, and I think Diana opened the door, and it was Roshi. So Rinpoche says to Roshi, "Hi, Roshi, I'm drunk." So they talked while I was doing this, and then Rinpoche said to Roshi, "Well, Roshi, you can go now." So Roshi [says], "Okay," and he walks out and he's looking concerned. So Diana walks out with him, and closes the door, and they're standing in the hallway, and then Diana comes back in and says to Rinpoche, "Roshi thinks you're angry or upset with him."

Sam Bercholz: Do you remember what the talk was he gave? You were going to say that. I think Dick Baker was there, right?

Henry Schaeffer: Yeah, everybody was there. It was totally jammed, people on the floor. I mean ... have you ever been to Zen Center? [DC - Dick Baker was in Japan]

Walter Fordham: No.

Henry Schaeffer: It's got a big dining room and they had, you know, they moved all the tables out.

Sam Bercholz: Yeah.

Henry Schaeffer: There were people sitting in the aisles. There were people sitting everywhere, all around. Roshi is up there, Katagiri [Roshi] is up there, and Rinpoche still keeps them waiting a bit. So finally, Rinpoche says, "Well, time to go out." He wasn't staggering at that point, but when he got out in the hallway ... I am holding on to him and he's going all over the place. We're walking down, and they had these like French doors right there and we start walking in and all these people are sitting in the aisles and everything, and [I'm] barely holding him and he's going all over the place, like you're in a ship at sea, a stormy sea. I finally get him up to his seat. Katagiri is there. Roshi is there. And then I sat on the floor, and Yvonne Rand was sitting in a seat. I was right next to her. The place is jam-packed and they're all looking at him [Rinpoche]. He barely gets on the seat. He used to be able to cross his legs and he could always ... you remember this? When he sat, his right leg could go totally parallel to the floor even though ... Do you remember that?

Walter Fordham: Yeah. Right.

Henry Schaeffer: So he would ... and he would miss....[his leg] and he was doing all this stuff.

Sam Bercholz: What a joker.


Henry Schaeffer: And Katagiri went to help him, but Rinpoche went like that [demonstrates] to him. Because I saw it, you know, and Katagiri sat right back down.

Sam Bercholz: Sensitive guy.

Henry Schaeffer: Huh?

Sam Bercholz: He [Katagiri] was a sensitive guy. He knew.

Henry Schaeffer: He knew.

Sam Bercholz: It was just a little ... it was the tiniest little gesture.

Henry Schaeffer: Yvonne Rand said to me, "You're his attendant, you ought to be helping him," and I said, "No way." So there he is. He finally gets the leg up there, and I guess Diana brought the drink in. Whatever it was, but it was alcohol, and they had a glass of water there for him. But she brought him a glass too.

Sam Bercholz: Those were Johnny Walker days, so it was obvious.


Henry Schaeffer: So he's there ... Was it the Open Way?

Sam Bercholz: Something like that. That's right. I remember it was a Mahayana talk.

Henry Schaeffer: Yeah, yeah. At first it's very hard even for us to understand him, but pretty soon ... Oh .... He took a long time, like he used to, before he even spoke, he just [exhales], you know. He felt the whole room, and got the sense of it, and everybody is there with all their thoughts and thinking. I think he must have lit a cigarette and that really ... The drink and the cigarette ...

Sam Bercholz: It was driving them insane. Not like they didn't all smoke or drink, but still ... driving them insane.


Henry Schaeffer: Finally though, he does begin to speak, and as he's talking it gets clearer and clearer, and pretty soon he's just totally right there, and the room changed. It was really something, and then in the question and answer period, it was amazing. So many people, a lot of people fell in ... a lot of Roshi's students.

Sam Bercholz: They were so magnetized, it was unbelievable.

Henry Schaeffer: Yeah, a lot of them immediately planned to leave and go to Boulder, so that was the other thing. It made a tremendous uproar at Zen Center. It was so powerful, and like Sam said the other day, it was like a stroke, a samurai stroke. But it was so gentle, it was so gentle.

-- Henry Schaeffer with Sam Bercholz and Walter Fordham, by cuke.com


For example, in the Shobogenzo-zuimonki Dogen Zenji tells a story, which was told to him, about an influential person, Ichijo Motoie. One day Motoie discovered that his sword was missing, and since no one else could have broken into his house, one of his own men must have stolen it. The sword was found and brought back to him, but Motoie said, “This is not my sword, so give it back to the one who owns it.” People knew that the man who had the sword was the one who had stolen it, but because Motoie didn’t accuse him of it, no one could say anything, so nothing happened. This is the calmness of mind we should have, according to Dogen.

If we have generous, big mind, and if we have a strong spirit of practice, then there is no need to worry. Dogen emphasized a sparse, simple life. Without expecting anything, we just practice our way. Many students asked how it would be possible to support the temple or group without any plan, and he said, “If it becomes difficult to support our temple, we will think about it.” So before something happens, it is not our way to think about it too much. In that way we have complete calmness of our mind. Because you have something, you worry about losing it, but if you don’t have anything, there is no need to worry.


-- Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen, by Shunryu Suzuki


The visit of the Karmapa awakened Rinpoche's students to the traditional approach to devotion, which is exemplified by this story of Marpa. The teacher doesn't want your wealth for his personal gain. Rather, one has to surrender one's comfortable world. Rinpoche's students began to understand this through Rinpoche's own example of devotion to His Holiness.

The preparations and formality surrounding the visit of the Karmapa allowed hundreds of students in different parts of the country to be an intimate part of the visit. People lined up to serve in his household. It was hardly possible to accommodate them all, so more and more positions were added. Kitchen assistants, gardeners, housekeepers, shrine keepers, tea makers, and all sorts of positions were created or multiplied so that everyone could be included. This became an important way for people to spend time with His Holiness, because the Karmapa rarely gave lectures or invited dialogue in the way that Rinpoche did.

Instead, His Holiness conducted traditional ceremonies, which are considered to convey what is called adhishthana, or a blessing, to people. Mostly, these empowerments were conducted in Tibetan, so although a summary of the ceremony and the text was given to people in English, the audience often had very little idea what was going on. It was not so much what His Holiness said but rather his way of being that struck people and communicated to them. Being in his presence was quite an overwhelming experience. He radiated loving kindness and compassion and a warmth that was almost palpable.

During this visit, His Holiness performed the Vajra Crown ceremony in locations across the country. It is said that during this event His Holiness fully manifests as the buddha of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, and that anyone who sees this ceremony will be freed from rebirth in the lower realms (the realms of hell, hungry ghosts, or animals). When the Fifth Karmapa, Teshin Shekpa, visited the-court of the emperor of China in the fifteenth century, the emperor had a vision in which he saw a black vajra crown hovering over the head of the Karmapa. The emperor became a deeply devoted disciple of the Karmapa, and he had a replica of this crown made and presented to Teshin Shekpa. From this time forward, all of the Karmapas have conducted a ceremony in which His Holiness places this crown on his head and radiates a state of compassion and enlightenment. More than three thousand people came to the Vajra Crown ceremony in San Francisco, and there was similar attendance at ceremonies held in Boulder, Boston, New York, and other North American cities.

While in Boulder, His Holiness also performed a special ceremony in the newly renovated shrine hall at Karma Dzong, officially acknowledging Rinpoche's work to plant the Buddhist teachings in America and encouraging him as a vajra master to go further, especially in presenting the Vajrayana tradition. From this time forward, Rinpoche was known by the titles Vajracharya, or "holder of the Vajrayana teachings," and later as Vidyadhara, or "holder of wisdom." The Karmapa thus made a public statement of his appreciation for Rinpoche's efforts and achievements, and he wrote a special proclamation to this effect. I think everyone in His Holiness's party was amazed by what Rinpoche had accomplished, especially in light of how little time had passed since Rinpoche had arrived in America.

His Holiness also visited the land centers, the rural retreat centers Rinpoche had established: Rocky Mountain Dharma Center in Colorado, Tail of the Tiger in Vermont, and the newly acquired Padma Jong in northern California. (This center was to focus on presenting programs combining meditation and the arts; after several years, it was sold.) Rinpoche asked His Holiness to rename Tail, and the Karmapa gave the center the name Karme Choling, the "place of the teachings of the Karma Kagyu lineage." It is still known by that name today. His Holiness also traveled to the second seminary, which was being held in Snowmass, Colorado, and performed the Vajra Crown ceremony for the participants there.

The images and sounds that make up this film were all recorded during the Seminary, primarily during days off. His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa visited Seminary and performed the Black Crown Ceremony, during his first visit to North America. The nun at the end, touching foreheads with Rinpoche, is Sister Palmo, Freda Bedi, an Englishwoman who gave Trungpa Rinpoche English language lessons in India, and facilitated his entrance into Oxford University.

Image

Image

-- 1974 Seminary: Visit the 1974 Vajradhatu Seminary in Snowmass, Colorado, by Vicki Alexis Genson


His Holiness's visit reinvigorated Rinpoche and gave him a sense of further direction in his work. Reestablishing his direct connection with the head of the lineage inspired him. He was so pleased to actually be able to bring together the old and new worlds. After His Holiness left, in late November, Rinpoche gave a seminar on his own teacher, Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, in which he talked about his upbringing and his relationship with his teacher in a very personal manner, beyond anything he had transmitted before. It was as though the visit of the Karmapa had forged a link to the lineage in a way that allowed Rinpoche to go deeper into the wisdom of that tradition and to share that with his students. In the past, he had given seminars on early teachers of the lineage, but now he was talking more about his own, intimate, direct heritage.

The Jamgon Kongtrul seminar coincided with the first Dharmadhatu Conference, which brought representatives from every major meditation center, or dharmadhatu (which means "space of dharma") to Boulder to meet with one another and to confer with the members of the Vajradhatu board of directors and with Rinpoche himself. This was a further step in creating the institutions that Rinpoche hoped would carry the teachings forward into the future. Tables were arranged in a huge rectangle in the large meeting room at Karma Dzong so the representatives from each dharmadhatu could sit together at the table, sharing information and making their reports. Rinpoche and the board of directors were seated at the head of the room, which was equipped with flip charts, markers, and pointers. Dharmadhatu members reported to the entire group on their activities, and key Vajradhatu staff people and members of the board of Vajradhatu made presentations to the assembled group. As Rinpoche began to understand more fully the energy of America, he began to create more of these situations that could harness the power of the corporate world -- which generally is a vehicle for materialism. However, he also saw the potential to adopt this model to promote the energy of enlightenment in America. Later, he perceived its limitations and the toll the corporate approach can take on people. For now, however, this was a skillful framework to employ. It encouraged Rinpoche's students to engage a bigger world and to feel that they were part of an exciting and expansive project. It also gave them familiar reference points from within their own culture for this expansion. At this time, you might say that Vajradhatu and the scene in Boulder were manifesting like the Wall Street of Buddhism in America (a phrase that a columnist in the Village Voice used around this time to describe Vajradhatu).

During this era, Rinpoche was also beginning to hand over more responsibility to his students for teaching meditation to others. In December, at Karme Choling, he conducted the first formal training for about fifty meditation instructors, and he held another training in Boulder in April 1975. Previously, he had authorized a few individuals as instructors, but this was the first time he gave this training to a group of his students. The sitting practice of meditation was always the bedrock of practice in our community. Starting in 1973, Rinpoche had instituted month-long periods of meditation, called dathuns, which all students were encouraged to complete, and attending a dathun became a requirement for being accepted to the seminary starting in 1975.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:59 pm

Part 2 of 3

At the end of April 1975, Rinpoche and I went on a trip to Europe with the two older boys, Taggie and Osel, leaving Gesar in the care of friends. This was partially to be our vacation, but we were also traveling to Samye Ling to retrieve the official seals of office of the Trungpas, which were still in Akong's possession. With the recent recognition of Rinpoche's achievements by His Holiness the Karmapa, Akong could hardly justify keeping them any longer.

Rinpoche wrote ahead, informing Akong that we would be coming. Rinpoche asked Karl Springer, who had been instrumental in all of the arrangements for His Holiness the Karmapa's visit, to accompany us on this trip. Karl was becoming very adept at dealing with Tibetan politics. Later, as a member of the board of directors, he became the head of the department of external affairs, which handled all of the visits of Tibetan teachers to our community.

For the meeting with Akong, we all dressed in our best business suits, even the children. Akong was very polite; there was no outward sign of conflict. After a long preamble, in which Rinpoche talked about his work in America and his family and inquired about Akong's work and his family, he told Akong that he had come to get his seals back, as well as other treasures that belonged to him from Tibet. Rinpoche was no longer somebody that Akong could mistreat. Within a few short years in America, Rinpoche was already much more influential than Akong would ever be. Rinpoche manifested that confidence and power, yet without any bravado. He demanded what was rightfully his.

Without hesitation, Akong returned everything, and we brought the seals back with us to the United States. From this time forward, wherever Rinpoche traveled, he kept his seals with him. They traveled in a special briefcase designed to hold them, and they came in the car or on the plane with him whenever he went somewhere to teach. In Boulder, or anywhere else where he resided for a period of time, the seals were always kept with him at his residence. Rinpoche barely let them out of his sight.

After we got home, Rinpoche wrote to Akong and thanked him for the return of the seals and told him how good it had been to see him again. However, he also said in this letter that he felt that the rupture in their connection was one that would not be repaired for many lifetimes.

From Samye Ling, we went down to London. To celebrate our victory, Rinpoche wanted to stay at one of the most posh, old-fashioned hotels in London, the Ritz in Piccadilly. Our room was beautifully appointed, with exquisite pink silk linens and bedspreads. Taggie proceeded to have diarrhea all over the bedspread, which I found beyond embarrassing. Later, when we went down to the Palm Court to have tea, Taggie was completely out of control, racing down the corridors. We had dressed him in a beautiful outfit, but this little child was a whirling dervish flying around the tearoom. He was becoming more and more hyperactive, which was especially apparent in this situation.

While we were in London, Rinpoche enjoyed shopping for clothes. He wanted to get a Jaeger suit for each of us, and he also bought himself a nice suit at Harrods. In later years, when we had more income, Rinpoche would get his clothes hand-tailored on Savile Row. Rinpoche had always enjoyed shopping for ties. During this era, he liked striped ties a lot. Later he had quite a collection of Japanese brocade ties. In general, he was rather conservative in his clothing tastes. He often wore pinstriped suits, and he also built up a collection of sports jackets. He especially liked French cuffs on his shirts, and he bought a number of pairs of cufflinks while we were in London.

We had so much extra clothing that it wouldn't fit in our luggage. Instead of buying another suitcase, I simply took a garbage bag and put our dirty laundry and casual clothing in it. When we checked out, the uniformed doorman at the Ritz pushed the trolley containing our luggage out to the street, where we were going to hail a cab to the airport. The garbage bag was sitting on top of the luggage. As we approached the curb, the bag was jostled and a pair of my underwear fell out onto the street. I was mortified. The doorman, however, didn't skip a beat. He leaned over, picked up my underwear with his white-gloved hands, and put it back in the bag. That was our departure from the Ritz.

From London we flew to Nice for several days of holiday. Having had such a lovely time the year before, we both wanted to return. While we were in France, I convinced Rinpoche that we should go to Vienna so that I could visit the Spanish Riding School. Now that I was riding regularly again, I had started to develop a great interest in the discipline of dressage, a classic form of horsemanship whose pinnacle was achieved at the school.

We visited a number of places in Vienna, including Schonbrunn Palace. Rinpoche liked to spend long hours in the restaurants in Vienna, and Taggie was very difficult to manage throughout all of this.

Luckily, we were able to obtain tickets for one of the dressage performances at the Spanish Riding School, known as "the Spanish." The day of the performance, we stood outside the Winter Palace in Vienna, where the Spanish is located. We waited in line a long time to get m to see the performance. When they finally opened the doors, people started pushing and shoving all around us. We finally made our way through the crowd and into the building. To get to our seats, we had to walk up a narrow flight of wooden stairs to the balcony overlooking the arena. The hall is magnificent, with enormous crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The arena can hold several thousand spectators. It's an extraordinary environment.

We settled ourselves in our seats, and then classical music began to play over the speakers, signaling the beginning of the performance. In rode the most majestic white horses in formation, their bridles inlaid with gold and the saddle pads trimmed in gold braid. The riders rode impeccably in their brown uniforms and become hats. It was like watching a completely synchronized ballet performed by horses and riders. Five or ten minutes into the performance, Rinpoche started sobbing. I couldn't imagine why, and I said to him, "What's the matter with you? Is something wrong?" He answered, "There's nothing wrong. It's so beautiful. It's a magnificent expression of windhorse." (Windhorse is the uplifted expression of dignity that is described in the Shambhala teachings.) Rinpoche wept throughout the performance. I also was moved by this display of horse and rider so nobly joined in the art of dressage.


The Spanish Riding School of Vienna 08
SSE Arena, Wembley London
11.11.2016


Afterward, when we discussed our experience, I told Rinpoche that the fulfillment of my dreams as a rider would be to study the classical approach to dressage with one of the teachers from the Spanish Riding School. Although I was still very new to this discipline, Rinpoche took me quite seriously. He said to me, "You know, it's too soon right now, but I would imagine that within a couple of years you're going to find a way to come here and study."

With time came changes. As Trungpa grew more and more powerful and recognizable, the crazy-wisdom guru began to dress in expensive business suits, to ride around in the back of a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, attended at all times by a personal "vajra guard" composed of young, muscular Buddhist students in blue blazers. He guzzled sake and Rainier Ale ("green death," they call it), and chain-smoked American cigarettes. His wife, Diana, who had given birth to three sons between 1969 and 1973, had lately renewed an early interest in riding, and was becoming one of Boulder's premier female equestrians. (She was later to become the first woman from America to attend the famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna.)

-- The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, With a Copious Collection of Germane Documents Assembled by the Author, by Tom Clark


When we came home, Osel went back to school, Rinpoche went back on the road to teach, and I was left alone in the house with Taggie and Gesar. They slept in a bedroom together, and they were a handful. Although Gesar was two, he still had a crib. Taggie slept in the four-poster bed that had been mine when I was a child. The two of them together could be absolutely dreadful. After I put them to bed for the night, they sometimes would get up and play and totally destroy any order in the room.

When His Holiness had been in Boulder the year before, one of his gifts to Taggie was a small but exquisite rupa, or statue of the Buddha. His Holiness told me that in the Karma Kagyii lineage there were seven very special Buddha rupas made from the body relics of important teachers, and that he was presenting one of these to Taggie. We were proud that Taggie had been given one of these statues, and we put Taggie's Buddha on a special shrine in his bedroom. One morning when I went into their bedroom to get the boys up, my eyes turned to the shrine. The Buddha had been decapitated. I called out, "Oh, my god, oh my god. What happened to the Buddha?" Taggie said, "Gesar was hungry." Gesar ate the head of the Buddha. You could see the telltale teeth marks.

Although Gesar was active and often quite naughty, he was a normal, exuberant two-year-old. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Taggie. There were now many signs of his developmental problems. Earlier that year, we had put Taggie in preschool several mornings a week. One morning after we returned from Europe, his teacher called me from school and said that Taggie had collapsed and been taken to Boulder Community Hospital. By the time I got to the hospital, he seemed fine, and he was released without any recommendations for follow-up. Later, we realized that this was the first of many epileptic seizures.

Shortly thereafter, I was awakened by a wild noise at about 5:30 in the morning. When I came downstairs, I saw that Taggie had turned the blender onto high speed. In his right hand he had a bag of rice; in his left hand, he had a container of small silver balls that are used as decorations for cookies. He was pouring the rice and the balls into the blender and watching the whole mixture fly all over the kitchen. Lots of small children might do something like this if they had the opportunity. But Taggie seemed completely unaware that I was in the room with him, and he couldn't comprehend that he had done anything naughty. The quality of Taggie's behavior was abnormally distant and detached. What speech he had developed was deteriorating, and he was becoming more and more out of touch with ordinary life.

Taggie also became more agitated and out of control at this point. After a number of incidents, I called Rinpoche -- who was out of town at the time -- completely freaking out. I felt that I needed help. Rinpoche phoned one of his students, someone who worked closely with him, to see if we could get more help taking care of Taggie. I received a phone call from this man, whom I considered a close personal friend, and he said to me, "I don't know why you can't take care of Taggie. He's your child." It was, I guess, the typical male reaction, especially in those days, from someone who doesn't have any children. He was absolutely clueless what was happening and did nothing to help.

When Taggie's condition seemed to deteriorate, Rinpoche and I decided to take Taggie to a neurologist in Boulder. We explained to the doctor that our child had been more normal earlier on but that he was now getting both more out of touch and more hyperactive. After the doctor examined him, he said that we had to consider the possibility that Taggie might have a brain tumor. We were shocked and very distressed. The doctor recommended that we do a whole battery of tests, including pneumoencephalogram, in which they put air between the brain and the skull so that they can obtain an image of the brain. This procedure is supposed to be unbelievably painful. Now they have less invasive and less painful methods, but this was what they used in that era. Taggie had the test, but he never reacted as though he had any pain at all. He was supposed to have splitting headaches afterward, but he was up bouncing around on his bed shortly after the test was done. The results did not show a problem but. a subsequent electroencephalogram, or EEG, showed that Taggie's brain waves were abnormal. This set off another round of doctors' appointments and tests.

We took Taggie to a whole slew of specialists, none of whom could tell us exactly what was wrong with him. There was some dysfunction in his cortex, the doctors said, but we were told that he didn't fit the classical diagnosis of autism, so his condition was somewhat of a mystery.

I began to think that I had done something terribly wrong in the past. I felt responsible. I thought back to every accident Taggie had as a young child. I remembered the time he fell off of his changing table as an infant. He seemed fine, but I wondered: Did something happen then? Once as a young boy he fell and hit his head in a sausage shop in Boulder. I thought to myself, "That time he fell on his head, I took him to the doctor immediately and he was completely fine afterward." It seemed to me that if an accident had caused these problems when he was little there should have been ramifications soon after the event. I remembered that Taggie had a bad reaction to a pertussis vaccination when he was quite young, including a prolonged, high fever. Could this be the cause of his behavioral problems?

In fact, I don't think we will never know what caused Taggie's problems. That was the most frustrating thing for us at that time: being unable to find out what was the matter with him and what was the cause. The doctors could point to certain things, but they never gave us a label for what was wrong with Taggie, no definite answers, diagnosis, prognosis, or indication of what we should do. Clearly, he had autistic-like behavior, but no one called it autism at that time. Things might be quite different today.

Even to this day, to a certain extent, I keep trying to find the cause of Taggie's problems. I say to myself, "Did he have an accident? Did something happen to him?" But I can't put my finger on anything specific. Sometimes I wonder if the problems date back to his birth, when it took so long for him to be born and he came out all gray and oxygen-deprived. Sometimes I think there was a genetic problem. I wonder sometimes if there was a genetic mutation due to Rinpoche's heavy drinking. I was so young when Taggie was conceived: could this have made a genetic problem more likely? In my more rational moments, I realize that none of these theories are that relevant. I don't think I'm ever going to know what happened to Taggie.

The last time the doctor met with me, he said that they could describe what was wrong, but there was no name for it. He couldn't recommend treatment because there was really no diagnosis. I felt that I had to accept that we would never have a diagnosis for what was wrong with our child.

I began to feel that Rinpoche and I couldn't provide the proper care for our son and that we needed to do more to help him. It was terrible to feel so inadequate. Around this time, Taggie developed fears that he hadn't had before. We had several Tibetan paintings of wrathful deities, called mahakalas, at the house. Now, every time Taggie saw one of these pictures, he would go crazy, screaming and sobbing and running away. He had always been a happy child, so this change seemed strange and out of character.

In Tibetan monasteries, the main mahakala images traditionally are kept in a separate building, where practitioners conduct particular practices related to working with this wrathful energy. There are special rules about how certain mahakala paintings and sculptures are to be handled, when they are to be viewed, and other things like that. One of the earlier Tenga Rinpoches, one of Taggie's predecessors, is said to have made a fatal error in relating to the mahakala shrines at his monastery. Against the advice of senior monks, he ignored the regulations and decided to uncover the painting of a particular deity at a time that was forbidden. After that, he apparently went mad. Taggie's fears and our knowledge of this history in Taggie's spiritual background tended to reinforce the theory that his problems were spiritual rather than physical or genetic. In any case, Taggie became extremely afraid of the wrathful deities, and we thought perhaps it was related to the tulku disease that His Holiness was telling us was a product of not allowing him to be brought up in the monastery.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:20 pm

Part 3 of 3

That fall while Rinpoche was away, after one particularly difficult week, I phoned him to ask again for his help. He was at the 1975 seminary in Snowmass, Colorado, a program that lasted three months, and wouldn't be back for at least another month. The seminary that year in Snowmass ended up being quite difficult in certain respects. Against his better judgment, Rinpoche had allowed the American poet W S. Merwin, who had spent the summer at Naropa, and his girlfriend, Dana, to attend the seminary, although they were extremely new to our community. As the Vajrayana section of the seminary approached, Bill (Merwin) and Dana remained isolated from the rest of the participants, and Rinpoche felt they weren't connecting with him or with what he was trying to teach.

On Halloween things turned ugly. There was a costume party that night, which Bill and Dana tried to duck out of. From what I heard, the situation got quite extreme. Rinpoche had suggested that rather than using costumes to disguise themselves, people should unmask and expose themselves. He told people that they should literally unmask by taking their clothes off. Everybody got naked. Rinpoche noticed that Bill and Dana weren't there. He insisted that they should come to the party too and sent students to rouse them from their room at the hotel. When they didn't answer the door, the messengers broke in through the balcony. Bill became alarmed and fearful, and he cut one of them with a jagged piece of broken glass. He and Dana were eventually brought down to the ballroom, where they were stripped of their clothing. It was pretty shocking.


The third and final harvest festival on the Wheel of the Year is Samhain, observed on October 31. This Sabbat marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of Winter, which must be prepared for now in earnest. Herbs are dried for winter storage, fruits and vegetables are canned and preserved, and root vegetables are dug up and stored so they may nourish us through the cold months. The word “Samhain” comes from the old Irish and is thought by many to translate as “Summer’s end.”

While the cycles of life and death are implicitly recognized at every Sabbat, Samhain is when the necessary role of death is formally honored. The nights grow noticeably longer with each day. The God retreats now into the shadows of the dark season, symbolically dying back to the Earth before being reborn again at Yule. Many Wiccans and other Pagans consider this to be the most important day on the Wheel, a time when the veil between the spirit world and the mundane world is at its thinnest. Our ancestors and loved ones on the Other Side are said to be more easily able to visit with us and make their presence known at this time.

-- The Wiccan Calendar: Samhain, by Wicca Living


"It came out that the end of this sitting period we were going to have Vajrayana (they had gone through Hinayana and Mahayana). So ... Rinpoche ... not only did he command to have a Halloween party, but he also commanded that every one attend and wear a costume. It was very definitely set up as a kind of pre-Vajrayana feast, because the idea of Halloween, with all these bizarre costumes, and putting on masks -- it's kind of like admitting your neurosis -- like, who you come as, Halloween, on our scene, has been ... adopted as our Tantric holiday: because there's so many contradictions in it: the idea of unmasking and putting on masks, and dressing up: it's kind of getting totally samsaric, in other words.

"Vajrayana has a good deal to do with totally connecting with Samsara
. So, the word was out, and everyone was quite shocked that we were going to have a party, that Rinpoche announced he was going to attend, that there was going to be very formal -- that Rinpoche had something in mind: that he wanted to have kind of a 'courtlike' atmosphere, and that every(one) had to wear a costume.

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77, Behind the Veil of Boulder Buddhism: Ed Sanders, The Party, by Ed Sanders


A day or two later, Rinpoche told Merwin and Dana, as well as all the other participants, that they could leave the seminary or they could stay. They remained, but after the program ended, they left for good. The story filtered out of the seminary -- in fact, nobody was trying to hide what had happened. Investigating the incident actually became a class project in the poetics department at Naropa Institute a year or two later, and the story made its way into an article in Harper's magazine in 1979.

L' affaire Merwin quickly became a hot gossip item on the coast-to-coast literary scene.

Its first effect was to create a wave of poetry-politics backlash against the Kerouac School. Robert Bly, who'd already been quietly criticizing Ginsberg for inviting only his friends to teach poetry at Naropa, now opened fire, discussing the "Merwin episode" (whose facts he had a very fuzzy idea of) in public at every opportunity.

Ginsberg, fearing the loss of a $4000 grant to the Kerouac School from the National Endowment for the Arts, responded by initiating the "Merwin cover-up" (later known as "Buddha-gate"). He contacted both Bly and Merwin and asked them to inform the NEA that there was no connection between Trungpa's alleged misbehavior and Naropa or the Kerouac School.

David Rome, Trungpa's private secretary, now wrote a letter to the Karma Dzong community of Boulder from the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center, where Trungpa was on retreat. According to one source, the letter warned the community against "enemies of the dharma" -- like, by inference, Robert Bly.


Bly returned to Boulder in May, 1977, and in the guise of a poetry reading presented his audience with a long harangue about the Merwin matter.

"I told Allen Ginsberg he is sacrificing the community of poets for his teacher," Bly is reported to have said on this occasion. "This Kerouac School is doomed."

At the intermission of Bly's "reading," a woman student of Trungpa rose and called the poet" not a warrior -- a coward."

Bly left town mumbling about "Buddhist fascism" -- the term, he claimed, which W.S. Merwin was now using to apply to the activities of Chogyam Trungpa.

The Ginsberg/Kerouac School grant application was turned down by the NEA.

Naropa and the Kerouac School had other grants to protect, like a $35,000 bundle from the Rockefeller foundation, and further applications on the fire. In order to seal these important projects off from the corrosive effects of gossip about the Merwin episode, Ginsberg, as principal media spokesman and cultural proselytiser of the Institute, sought to prevent further "leakage" of the story.

This was to prove impossible.
In the summer of 1977, detective-poet Ed (The Family) Sanders was asked by Ginsberg to teach at the Kerouac School. Sanders brought in his doctrine of "Investigative Poetics" (with its motto that "poetry should again assume responsibility for the description of history") and offered his students total freedom in selecting a subject to which to apply it. They selected the Merwin affair. The ensuing class report exhumed the entire matter, sending an odor of raw anxiety through the halls of Naropa.

In the class report, the whole episode was spelled out in cold black-and-white testimony taken from principals and participants -- from everyone, in fact, except the star of the show. The eleventh Trungpa refused to cooperate in any way with the class project. Questions put to him went unanswered.

The class report was quietly circulated in xerox between September, 1977 and August, 1978, principally by the poet Ed Dorn, who distributed about 50 copies in and from Boulder. A copy that had somehow survived for six months in the Naropa Institute Library disappeared mysteriously in the summer of 1978.

There was by now considerable national interest in publishing the class report. Lawrence Ferlinghetti asked Allen Ginsberg for a copy so that he could consider it for publication by City Lights Books. Ginsberg turned down his old friend and publisher's request.


Other publishers and publications were appealing to Sanders for permission to publish. Sanders, who had carefully copyrighted the report (which was titled The Party), had begun to poll the members of his class by mail for their views on the issue of publication.

One of the first serious proposals came in August, 1978, from Boulder Monthly, a Boulder city magazine. As senior writer of the magazine, I made the proposal myself....

At the summer, 1978 session of the Kerouac School, the Merwin episode was constantly under discussion. Few, if any, of the poets on the summer faculty had seen the class report, but all had an opinion. Robert Duncan, for instance, compared the stripped lovers, Merwin and Dana, with Adam and Eve, expelled from the Garden. (Which made Trungpa into -- God?)

Toward the end of that summer there appeared in the Rocky Mountain News a very interesting story about Naropa. Tibetan Brings Buddhism to Boulder, the headline announced. Inside the story, a scene at a Trungpa lecture was described. A student asked a question about why classes already paid for are constantly being interrupted by requests from the administration for more money. Trungpa dismissed the question by telling the student to be patient, then, snapping his fingers for a glass of water, continued to speak, telling his listeners they were "nothings," that their lives were like "flat Coca-Cola -- full of yukiness, and yukiness has no personality."

At the end of the News story, the Naropa/Vajradhatu finance officer was asked some dollar questions.

"It's not so important where we get our money or what we do with it," the finance officer replied. "The important thing is what we are trying to do."

What, I wondered, is that?

I showed the Sanders class report to the publisher and editor of the magazine I worked for. They agreed to publish it. Then I wrote to Ed Sanders.

"The Investigative Poetry class at Naropa, that is, those who wrote The Party," Sanders replied on August 17, "voted by mail earlier this year on whether or not to publish the investigation. There was a majority not to publish."

Ed Sanders bumped into Anne Waldman in New York and mentioned to her that I had written to him. I soon received a phone call from a Naropa faculty poet. Was Boulder Monthly publishing The Party? No, I said. Relieved, the poet -- an old friend, by the way -- then advised me that both Anne and Allen felt any further circulation, distribution, or even mention of the Sanders class report would be "bad for everybody."


"I'm still shooting my mouth off all the time," Allen Ginsberg told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter on August 31.

On September 2, Ed Sanders reported to Ed Dorn that the latest result of the ongoing poll of the group was a 50-50 split on whether or not to print.

That same week, Anne Waldman and another faculty poet, Michael Brownstein, approached Ed Dorn with inquiries about how many xerox copies of The Party he had distributed. Brownstein then "weighed in with a piss-off notice" by way of a letter to Sanders protesting Dorn's circulation of the document.
(Sanders had given Dorn express permission to distribute copies as he saw fit.)....

In early January, I attended a showing of the rushes of an Italian TV movie that had been filmed at Naropa in the summer of 1978, the summer after Ed Sanders' class had prepared its report. There was nothing about the Sanders Class report in this picture, however; it was a "friendly" documentary. Now it was being edited by the Trungpa braintrust. The viewing room, at a pod-controlled movie company's office contained some 40 well-scrubbed important Pods. In the front row sat Anne Waldman, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Their comments -- particularly those of Ginsberg and Waldman -- seemed to be dictating the actual editing of the film.

All went happily for an hour or so, with many in-house Jokes and much bantering over tea and sake. Then Leroi Jones -- Amiri Baraka -- was on the screen, explaining that he was only visiting Naropa because Allen Ginsberg had asked him to come, Allen was his old friend, but really, he didn't agree with Buddhist philosophy at all, because Buddhist philosophy said the world wasn't real, which he -- Baraka -- disagreed with, being, he said, a materialist, especially when it came to politics ...

"Cut that," Ginsberg the producer was saying. He'd been fussing impatiently during the whole Baraka rap. Now he jumped up, proposing heavy editing of this section of the film....

Baraka's speech was appropriately mutilated. The moment of tension had passed. Onto the screen danced the playful, porky little face of the eleventh Trungpa, smiling, replying indulgently in his Oxford accent to a question about terrorists in Italy -- "Yes, politics, it's all part of the material we work with ... "

In January I overheard Allen talking to some innocent-looking young Naropa students at a party. He was telling them that, yes, it was true that this Merwin thing had taken place, but that individual rights don't apply on a seminary situation, so that Merwin only got what he had coming, and besides, yes, Trungpa was challenging the foundations of American democracy -- but that democracy was anyway a failed experiment, the atom bomb proved that, and now what Trungpa was up to was a whole new . . . a whole new "experiment in monarchy!" The students nodded numbly. What was wrong with an experiment in monarchy? I ground my teeth all the way home.

Two weeks before Boulder distribution, xerox copies of the February Issue of Harper's were making the rounds. That magazine had printed the Naropa diary of Peter Marin, a post-Jonestown conscience-victim who now reported his visit to Trungpa's school a year and a half earlier. "Spiritual Obedience" was Marin's general subject. He paraphrased parts of the Sanders report, for the first time bringing the Merwin affair to public attention on a national scale.

The Boulder Camera went to Vajradhatu for comments on the Marin article. Trungpa could not be reached, but his "Vajra Regent" or dharma heir, Osel Tendzin (aka Robert Rich, son of an Italian golf pro from New Jersey) told the paper that there was no disputing the words in the Sanders class report. "They saw what they saw" said Tendzin.

Will Trungpa change, the paper asked?

"Nothing will change," said Tendzin. "The practice will be carried out in the same way it has been for a thousand years." ....

Ed Dorn and I caught up with Allen one cold night -- January 12 -- when he was coming out of his Naropa class on the prophetic books of Blake. We went with several of Allen's students to the house on Mapleton which Ginsberg was sharing at the time with two of the Orlovsky brothers, Peter and Julius. While Julius roamed the house, Peter sang and washed dishes, and Allen spoke his mind -- with careful orchestration of the tape recorder, which he instructed me to turn off or on every few minutes.

Allen talked softly and at length about the Merwin affair and its ramifications. "With a guru," he said, "you make a contract to give up your privacy ... " Two hours later, when the tapes were filled, it was with a surprisingly dark and apocalyptic tale.


"I accuse myself all the time," Allen immediately admitted, "of seducing the entire poetry scene and Merwin into this impossible submission to some spiritual dictatorship which they'll never get out of again and which will ruin American culture forever. Anything might happen. We might get taken over and eaten by the Tibetan monsters ... All the horrific hallucinations of the Tibetan Book of the Dead are going to come true right now. Right here in Boulder ... The Pandora's Box of the Bardo Thodol has been opened by the arrival in America of one of the masters of the secrets of the Tibetan Book of the Dead."

Allen explained succinctly that the end product of the whole Merwin affair and its aftermath had been "universal paranoia" in the Boulder Buddhist community. But sometimes, he had to admit, such paranoia is justified. "And in the real world, as we know from Guyana, it could be completely justified. Some big guru makes a mistake, and turns out to have been mad all along."

Still, Allen hesitated to criticize his guru, Trungpa. "You know," he said, "you're talking about my love life. My extremely delicate love life, my relations with my teacher ... "....

No sooner had the tapes been turned off than Allen began to fret over certain remarks he'd made about Merwin, about Trungpa, about Burroughs, about Corso, about Ed Sanders
; Allen acts the role of a very worried and weary warrior, these days. I took the tapes home and began to transcribe them.

Allen left on a trip to New York, to receive an award for his poetry. Before leaving, he nervously instructed me to hand over the transcription of our interview to Anne Waldman, for her inspection, before anything was published. I told him I'd see about that; I had a deadline to meet. Distracted by other affairs, Allen settled for this half-agreement, and after another feeble suggestion that we reconsider and send the interview to Playboy, he left town at the end of January.....

Why was the publication of The Party kept a secret until the last minute?

There was the consideration of possible sabotage. Some of the pods we at the magazine had encountered had been very intense people, when it came to defending the dharma. Rumor had it that one follower of Trungpa, a man we knew, had recently performed a scalping. Such characters might be capable of anything.

Further, we feared that Allen Ginsberg would find some way to interfere with or prevent the publication. "Watch out for Allen," Ed Sanders had warned us from the beginning. "He'll do anything he can to keep this thing from coming out."....

On March 2, Allen and Peter Orlovsky appeared at Boulder Monthly with Allen's "revised version" of our interview. In our office, they discovered boxes of fresh copies of the March issue, awaiting distribution. Trungpa was on the cover, and The Party, plus Allen's interview -- "When The Party's Over", we'd called it -- were inside.

Allen got very excited -- "I was wrathful," he later apologized -- and spent several hours interrogating me about our foul plot. Who had known? Who were the guilty ones? In Buddhism, It's necessary to isolate the threat, he said, so that the blame can be focused. I guess I'm the one you ought to blame, I said.

During our conference, Ed Dorn came and went, so did Sam Maddox; still Allen fretted and raved, for four or five hours. By now copies of the magazine were on the streets. Midway through the afternoon, in sailed Anne Waldman, mad as a wet hen, waving a copy of the magazine, the red fox tail on her hat swinging in my face as she demanded to know exactly who had been "in on" the guilty action.

"What do you think you are," the author of the only authentic anglo-American shaman-poem, Fast Talking Woman, yelled in my face "some kind of white knight riding in to save us from ourselves?

Anne's righteous anger was even more impressive than Allen's. She seemed almost inspired in her rage, and I thought for a moment she might be going to burst into shamanic prophecy -- but no. There were no Maria Sabina texts laying around for her to crib from, alas.

Both Allen and Anne told me that what made them particularly furious was that they had mistaken me for a poet friend, when in fact I had turned out to be acting with the motives and style of a mere journalist!

At twilight Ginsberg and Waldman repaired to Naropa for an emergency meeting of concerned pods. Pages of a magazine could be heard turning all through the meeting, all over the room, our spies later reported.

Two days after the magazine came out, Ed Sanders flew in from California. His arrival and one-night stay were kept a close secret. At least one physical threat against Sanders had been received, and this came from a male pod with an unstable history and a record of violence. Sanders was understandably apprehensive about being in Boulder at all, and slipped out of town in the morning, clutching a brown paper shopping bag full of Boulder Monthlys and looking both ways as he climbed into his ride to the airport.

At my house, the phone kept ringing. We'd pick it up, and no one was at the other end. Made us nervous, yes, but nothing ever happened.

Sam Maddox got a call from the girl who'd brought him to Trungpa's birthday party. Her pod friends were planning to turn on the sprinkler systems in our warehouse, she said, to destroy our whole edition.


It never happened.

What did happen is that the magazine sold like hotcakes all over Boulder. One tobacco shop owner sold 45 copies in one hour, and got the impression that most of them had been bought up by Buddhists in bundles of four and five....

Allen Ginsberg continued to follow me around with calls and messages, urging me to "sit" with him, to revise the interview, to publish his revised version, to give him the original tapes, to recant -- anything. When I rewarded him with a total cold shoulder, he did not give up, but continued to call, inviting me to meditation sessions, to tea parties, to famous-people dinners and poetry readings at Naropa.


Allen wrote a long letter to W.S. Merwin, apologizing for the Boulder Monthly interview (in which he'd said he didn't like Merwin's poetry) and even inviting Merwin to return to Naropa to teach. (For some reason, Allen sent me a copy.)....

"An Open Letter to American Artists," Callahan called his effort. It solicited participation of artists and writers in a boycott of Naropa, and asked for their signatures.

"I sent out a bunch of copies, and got 40-45 signatures," Callahan later told me. "Among poets I sent it to in the Bay Area, there was about a 50-50 split. But around that time I went on a trip to Seattle and Alaska and all the Native Americans I talked to -- Jim Pepper, Leslie Silko, Simon Ortiz -- all signed it. And other Third World people, like Ishmael Reed, Victor Hernandez Cruz, David Henderson, they all Immediately signed it too. But there was a clear party line split. Any poet with any Buddhist associations refused to sign it. They agreed with it privately, but they didn't sign -- and they gave me a whole bushel of reasons. 'Merwin deserved it -- Fuck Merwin,' things like that. I couldn't believe it. I went around with my mouth open for two weeks.

"Michael McClure called me up screaming at one o'clock in the morning. 'Those wimps at Naropa are no threat to you,' he said. 'I've told Allen for years, privately, to get out of that scene. Still, Allen believes in it, it's his family. You can't attack him for It. You re trying to ruin Allen Ginsberg. You can't do that!'

"Michael then organized a counter-campaign, calling up people to talk them out of signing. He did actually talk several people out of it. He called Gary Snyder, who called me and told me, 'Your response isn't generous enough.' I had talked to Gary two weeks earlier, and he had told me then that he had 'grave doubts' about Trungpa's behavior in this Merwin incident. I had asked him if he thought Trungpa's action was out of line, as Buddhism, and he said, 'That's right.' But now, two weeks later, he says, 'Take off my clothes? Sure, I'd do it. It's a big joke to me. Just don't criticize Allen in public.'

"No one defended Trungpa, let me emphasize that. They just won't attack Allen. His friends have very strong feelings about that."....

Callahan replied. "It was a case of party lines, party loyalty, of not losing gigs or giving up a station. Here were poets showing the kind of block mind militancy you'd never expect from them. It disappointed the hell out of me.

"It became a poets' war -- poets at war with one another. That seemed to me wrong. Can't you just say something's wrong, whatever side you're on?"

Callahan's petition evoked an immediate, nasty "letter of correction" (spank-note) from Anne Waldman, who admonished him to "look a little closer before you leap."

"This may be life and death for Naropa Institute," Waldman advised Callahan angrily....

At Boulder Monthly, we started to lose ad accounts from local Buddhist businesses, like the Boulder Bookstore, biggest in town. One Naropa faculty member wrote in to accuse us of a "blatant smear."....

On March 19, the Naropa poets held a big reading at the University. "Where are Tom Clark and Ed Dorn?" somebody in the audience called out. "Home watching television," sneered Michael Brownstein.

I was asked by the Berkeley Barb to report on the recent Buddhist/poetry doings in Boulder. To my subsequent piece of reportage on the "Buddha-Gate" affair I attached the signature "Robert Woods," which became my byline in the Barb.

Over the next two months, I was interrogated severally by angry pods concerning my role in the writing of this article.

"Who is Robert Woods?" my literary pod acquaintances demanded whenever they saw me. "We know it's you. It is, isn't it? Confess!"

I again began to receive lots of hang-up phone calls.....

Allen, in New York, wrote me a "Who is Robert Woods?" postcard, and sent it to Anne Waldman, asking her to send it on to me if she thought that proper. She passed it instead to another faculty poet. When I ran into that poet one day, he mentioned the card, and when I asked him for it, he gave it to me.

"Take it easy!" Allen wrote. "Whaddya want!? The Bardo Thodol ghosts I was talking about seem to be solidified in the anxieties you create for yourself and me & others by the secrecy you prolong by writing pseudonymous articles."...

Allen Ginsberg wrote to Ed Sanders to complain about our July issue. "Allen feels Boulder Monthly is being unnecessarily cruel," Sanders reported back to me.

In August, we at Boulder Monthly wrote Chogyam Trungpa a letter, requesting an interview. Our letter was returned by the officials at Karme Dzong, marked "not known at this address."

Pursuing a lead on another story (on "Powerful People"), a reporter from our magazine tried to reach Trungpa through his wife and mother-in-law. Several tea parties down the line, the reporter gave up, badly discouraged. The eleventh Trungpa is a very hard man to get an interview with. Maybe that's the source of his very great power, our reporter concluded.

Later in the month, I published a little story called "Buddha With His Hand Out" in Westward, a Denver tabloid. The story presented a few simple facts about Naropa's fundraising methods, such as the practice of asking students to turn over their housing deposit checks and to solicit contributions from their parents. A few days after the story came out, Naropa began bombarding me with all kinds of face-saving financial statements in the mail. My phone was ringing off the hook again with hang-up calls. Then I bumped into Anne Waldman on the Mall one day. She immediately brought up my little Westward piece, stamping her foot and accusing me of "yellow journalism."

"How could you do that?" she demanded, somehow managing to sound shocked.

I've been tempted to ask her the same thing for years.....


"I am sending the enclosed to Richard G. & Terry N. and this will be the extent of my west coast efforts. In that spirit, Grosinnger and the like shld have access to it where otherwise who knows what might happen. I neednt tell you there is a lot of ground heat ... the heat is considerable from time to time seems real, as in being tailed, & people beating on your door demanding every scrap of paper you've got. Anne [Waldman] anounced threateningly and dwarf grandly that she expected to have the Sanders-Dorn correspondance (as it was called) made available to her Right Away. She wants to know the minute hour & day the printer got the copy, she wants to be presented with all the pieces which will put this conspiracy together. Tom C. laughed in her face, I behind the back of me hand. Ed S. doesnt at all want to meet AM because Ed says that AM is the most violencia prone specimen around....This is like a sealed town, it's the original podsville They are 1500-2000 and they bought probably 75 percent of the edition. They organized in battalians and went around buying them up. So, they've read it. Unless we can extend this someway quick they're gonna move to crush. As Allen told Tom at a meeting I witnessed, the Buddhists have got to Isolate the threat, it has to come down for them to one entity, to which Tom replied If that's your only problem, I'm it."


"Just to clear up one thing: The day in the Boulder Monthly office when I demanded "dwarf grandly" to see the correspondence between Tom, Ed Sanders etc. it was to point up the facts of everybody's lying to me, personally, about the "status" and imminent publication of excerpts of "The Party" & Al's interview. I'm not interested in any of this from the point of a Buddhist or defender of the faith or some such nonsense -- it's long been my view the sooner the story in some semi-accurate form were out publically the better since I was sick of telling my own hearsay version. So my words that day, tongue in cheek I might add although I was pissed at having been LIED to and consequently "YOUR" dupe and fool etc. (I mean can you dig it??), were referring to the events of those days immediately preceding publication when Tom, Angelica and Jenny gave me the runaround concerning Al's interview which I'd been asked to "oversee" in his absence. I was told no one knew what was happening with the magazine, that it was almost definitely about to fold and that Tom would be out of a job (sob) and that there was no plan at present for The Party & so on. I resent this personally, as if I would try to stop publication, as if I'm the "enemy" -- I'm amazed you didn't get my point that day when I attacked Tom for "lying" to me and I think it's mighty irresponsible of you to give another impression of my "stance" in all of this since you & I have never sat down and discussed any of this one to one at all.

The only other sore point, as I see it, is the survival & continuation of the Kerouac School which I'm still in favor of. Perhaps if I heard from Bill Merwin a stronger indictment of the whole tamale I'd think different. I understand Tom'd like to see Trungpa deported don't know if you care that much, but since there's current petition discouraging poets & artists from taking part in any Kerouac School activities maybe best to get cards on the table?

My paranoia says you just don't want anything to do with me on friendship level and that my overtures to you to visit here, whatever are just plain embarrassing. Makes me sad though maybe I'm slowly outgrowing sentimentally. But all this makes me curious just how you tick. If you're still laughing at me behind the back of your hand guess there's no point. What I always dug about you was poet to poet not some macho bullshit. I'm wondering you think the Merwin Trungpa thing is bigger than both of us?"


I feel impelled to write you, not to offer any "explanation", but only to correct the somewhat glaring errors in the version that reached you.

First, the stripping (there was no beating, that seems to be an embellishment courtesy of Robert Bly, which he publicly recanted at a reading he gave in Boulder...

Next, a very open and thorough investigation was made of the incident by Ed Sanders and his Investigative Poetics class (Naropa Institute -- summer of 1977). In his introduction to the exerpt of The Party published in March 1979 Boulder Monthly, he says: "It would be proper to say that Naropa was less than eager for the report to be written, but on the other hand at no time, then or now, did anyone try to suppress the investigation, or to harass anyone who was preparing it." I don't know what you're refering to in point #2, but perhaps you should check your sources a bit more closely, and if there's really something to this, then state the facts!

There is no "Naropa in-house police force". The 'Vajra' guard is a function of Dharmadhatu, the Buddhist community in Boulder under Trungpa's direction. They have nothing directly to do with Naropa Institute, and Naropa students and teachers need have nothing to do with Dharmadhatu.

It would require little effort to verify any of these corrections to the points you've made in your "Open Letter". Reactions are raw and emotional enough to the "real story". No one needs a misleading and erroneous All Points Bulletin at this stage. I'm amazed you would act so surely on information that could only have come to you as hearsay. Anyway, this may be life and death for the Naropa Institute, so I would appreciate you looking a little closer before you leap.


It brings up to the surface a lot of thoughts that people have had anyway and discussed among themselves, but just didn't discuss publicly: fear of Buddhist fascism, paranoia about submission to a guru, the apparent incomprehensibility of the Merwin thing....It's like reading your marriage troubles in the newspaper...it goes back for centuries and millenia, as far as the structure of Vajrayana goes, and how it works out, and what's the relation between student and teacher....You can interpret it as another kind of metaphor, a marriage metaphor. Or you can interpret it as a metaphor for social paranoia in the barbarous Western mind....the whole question of individual rights -- which [I've] said before really didn't apply in that seminary situation....It doesn't apply on that occasion, as in a sense it doesn't apply in a marriage. Individual rights don't apply there, in the sense that in a marriage you give up some privacy. In some marriages you do. Or in the sense that with a psychiatrist you give up some privacy. Or in the sense that with a guru, very definitely, you make a compact to give up your privacy. That's the purpose of making that relationship, to get rid of privacy. If privacy is defined as egocentricity, selfishness or psychological secrecy. It's really complicated....That idea of privacy, and that idea of relationship between the pupil and the guru, is introduced in a formal way. The way it's done is an old historical technique which is well known, when seen from a distance, but when actually practiced seems monstrously strange theater, to an American mind. Particularly to an American individualistic mind....I hate to discuss it in public, is the problem. Because it's really a private shot....But the very nature of it is personal relations. So if it's discussed, it's got to be done really delicately. And here, I feel too defensive. Like a fairy being asked if he's a fairy. It's right on that level, almost. You know, you're talking about my love life. My extremely delicate love life, my relations with my teacher. It's really complicated. And as all love lives, it's shot through with strange emotions, and self questionings, and paranoias, and impulses. So to reduce it to discussion with reference to cultural artifacts like the Bill of Rights ...Whether his vanity was appealed to, to have them there --- or their vanity was appealed to, to go there. I don't know whose vanity it was....I feel culpable. It's my paranoia that I'm expressing....I accuse myself all the time, of seducing the entire poetry scene and Merwin into this impossible submission to some spiritual dictatorship which they'll never get out of again and which will ruin American culture forever. Anything might happen. We might get taken over and eaten by the Tibetan monsters. All the monsters of the Tibetan Book of the Dead might come out and get everybody to take L.S.D.! Actually that's what's happening. All the horrific hallucinations of the Tibetan Book of the Dead are going to come true now. Right in Boulder! And the face of one of them is Merwin -- you see the face and it goes, graahr! That's one level on which you see what's happening, and I think it's actually true....The Pandora's Box of the Bardo Thodol has been opened by the arrival in America of one of the masters of the secrets of the Tibetan Book of the Dead....Trungpa's putting himself out to the extreme, here, and taking enormous risks: and throwing himself out on the line, throwing his body down for Merwin to walk over....Yeah. For Merwin to walk over him....Most people had gone through it before. They'd gone through the same psychological violence, but within themselves....What we have is, a composite account from gossip....You see, at the seminary there are certain ritual poems that are recited en masse, some of which relate to horrific protective deities just like in the Book of the Dead. Which are very un-American, to say the least. From the point of view of anybody who hasn't been a poet, or something, they're really off the wall....I mean they're poems to these blood-drinking deities!....It bugs everybody. Bugs everybody! It's supposed to; that's what it's there for. To bug you, and make you examine exactly that fear. Precisely. To make you examine that paranoia, which is universal....It might have been a big mistake by Trungpa, to have him there at all....In fact the difficulty with the situation, the Buddhists say, is that anybody can interpret it any way they want. ...You think Trungpa hasn't got enough girls to lay? He just likes to lay people who don't want to lay him? Pretty Oriental girls who don't want to lay him?...I don't want to find out what happened. Partly straight out of fear -- I don't want to open up some horrible yaargh -- I don't want to know about Trungpa. That's one reason. You know, just like you don't want to ask your father about the night he fucked your mother and made you....But I don't actually know, precisely, what happened. But the other day I got so paranoid that I went in to see Trungpa and asked him specifically about the thing that stuck in most people's minds. It didn't bother me too much, but apparently it bugged a lot of other people. Because it sounded like Burroughs talking, actually. "You Oriental slick cunt, 'why are you hanging around with this honky?"....You're not supposed to say things like that. Even if you're supposed to be posing as a Vajrayana teacher, breaking down all privacy and breaking every possible icon in every mental form, and acting like a poet, no less. I mean, you're supposed to out-Gregory Corso Gregory Corso and out-Burroughs Burroughs, if you're a Vajrayana teacher.....And you look real close and it turns out to be a rope! In fact this entire thing is somewhat like that. As the entire world is, the entire world of illusion.....The situation was Halloween, the beginning of Vajrayana teachings. Everybody's supposed to blow their top and get rid of all constraints. There's traditionally a wild party where everybody gets totally bombed. But at the same time, everybody gets totally bombed in a tradition that's conscious-making....See, there's a certain kind of immunity to drinking you can develop. I mean, when you realize -- you've done a lot of sitting for years, so you're conscious of your fullness. At the point where you begin to realize you're getting too drunk to drink more, you stop drinking heavily and you sip very, very slowly. At the Vajrayana banquets and feasts this is what's done. It's very similar to what you read in the books about the Kama Sutra. Not coming, things like that. So now all the training you've had is applied to banqueting. A symposium, a Platonic symposium -- the banquet is supposed to be something like that. It's not just a big dumb slob banquet as such. It's got several thousand years of tradition behind it, and it's got rules and regulations.....If you notice in Trungpa's autobiography, Born in Tibet, he says there that he had to do that with his teacher, take off all his clothes. So he told her about that, how in Tibet it's much more shocking and scandalous to take off all your clothes. Here in America you have naked beaches, and so on. In Tibet, if you take off your clothes, you're violating all sorts of taboos. Here, it's just playful. So he tried to explain that to her, and to explain to her that she should respect her roots by taking part in a classical experience of the Orient, which she does come from....Just as I have begun to appreciate my own roots, as a Jew, or just as an American Indian respects his....His view of what he was saying was something dignified....According to him it had nothing to do with sex. And I doubt if it did have very much to do with sex. Actually I think probably very little. I think that was a paranoiac interpretation put on it later. As far as I can gather, what Trungpa was trying to do was give her a very reasonable common-sense explanation that what was going on here was a traditional Buddhist practice applied in America in as gentle a way as possible. And as funny a way as possible, without even the horrific shock that it might have been in Tibet. An enormous cultural heritage is being brought here, and laid out before them, and opened up....In the middle of that scene, to yell "call the police" -- do you realize how vulgar that was? The Wisdom of the East was being unveiled, and she's going, "call the police!" I mean, shit! Fuck that shit! Strip 'em naked, break down the door! Anything-symbolically. I mentioned privacy before -- the entrance into Vajrayana is the abandonment of all privacy. And the entry onto the Bodhisattva path is totally -- you're saying, "I no longer have any privacy ever again."....he said, I wanted to deal with him by opening myself up to him completely, by putting aside all barriers. "It was a gamble," he said....And Trungpa said, "Well, don't be amazed to find that actually the whole teaching is simply emptiness and meekness."....That's what he said. So you see, it's really complicated....It's very complicated, very complicated. In order to do what Trungpa did, he had to have the approval and backing of his boss, Karmapa Lama, the head of the Karmapa order, the 16th Karmapa in the succession, who lives in Sinkiang. The power of any guru is conferred on him by other lamas -- you have to understand the lineage. Chogyam Trungpa was taught by the fourth Tenzing Rinpoche, who is a descendant of this lineage....Trungpa's image is crazy wisdom. Traditional crazy wisdom -- outrageous behavior, outrageous activity. Total iconoclasm. And there has to be a consensus of lamas to decide the other lamas aren't abusing their scene. With one bad lama, or one fuck-up -- particularly from someone like Trungpa, who's so open -- it could really fuck up their whole scene. Just like, you know, Guyana.... Al Santoli, being one of the most active persons in the preparing of the Sanders report. Al's basic view now is that Vajrayana is so horrible, and so un-American that it should never be taught in America, and that Trungpa is the example of how bad it is, and how totalitarian and undemocratic and creepy it is. And that it is a big cosmic important thing that it be stopped.....I think Trungpa's ten times more interesting than Merwin.....So he didn't like "drink the hot blood of the ego."...You might take it literally. Who knows. If I were Burroughs I would say, "of course it's literal."....I think it's understood by democratic liberal radical minds that in order to take part in shamanistic ceremonies, the new breed of anthropologist takes part, rather than just appearing....I said, "What happens if you ask me to kill Merwin?" That was my idea....It was in my head, so why shouldn't I? I mean, the whole point is that that's precisely what you should consider....When I went to see him I asked him exactly that question. You see, the nature of the teaching and the teaching methods is such that it's very hard. How do you talk about Vajrayana teachings in public? It's very hard to do.....my consideration of it is not so much that Trungpa was wrong, but that he was indiscreet.....As if I haven't had enough with L.S.D. and enough with fag liberation, now I've got to go through Vajrayana, and pretty soon they're going to have articles in Harpers by idiotic poets that I never hired to begin with! About Merwin whose poetry I don't care about anyway!....Ed has a large quotient of paranoia too. Anything that reminds him of secrecy -- he's been all his life studying black magic and Aleister Crowley and playing around with all that on the sidelines. I mean, getting into the Manson thing, and then getting into Vajrayana and Trungpa and Merwin, is just sort of made for Ed Sanders....half the time I think, "maybe Trungpa's the C.I.A., and he's taking over my mind."....The poets have a right to shit on anybody they want to. You know, the poets have got the divine right of poetry. They go around, you know, commit suicide. Burroughs commits murder, Gregory Corso borrows money from everybody and shoots up drugs for twenty years, but he's "divine Gregory." But poor old Trungpa, who's been suffering since he was two years old to teach the dharma, isn't allowed to wave his frankfurter!....And American culture! "How dare you criticize American culture!"...."democracy, shit! What we need is a new Hitler." Democracy, nothing! They exploded the atom bomb without asking us. Everybody's defending American democracy. American democracy's this thing, this Oothoon....everyone wants to go back and say, "Oh, no, we've got it comfortable. Here are these people invading us with their mind control."....So, yes, it is true that Trungpa is questioning the very foundations of American democracy. Absolutely.....Trungpa is asking if there's any deeper axiomatic basis than some creator coming along and guaranteeing his rights....the Bill of Rights. The whole foundation of American democracy is built on that, and it's as full of holes as Swiss cheese.....And one of the things the Buddhists would feel would be an imperfection would be the need to justify....They're not being very equivocal about the absolutism of the Vajra teacher.....However, at the point of ultimate marriage of mind, or transmission of mind between Vajra master and pupil, if anybody makes a mistake, the pupil could kill the Vajra master. Or the Vajra master could go nuts. Or, you know, it could be fatal to both.....As indicated by this very low level beginner's situation with Merwin.....The last defense would be paranoia, and a fear of invasion from alien forces taking over your mind, like the horrors you sometimes sink into when you get on an acid trip. Sometimes it's justified. And in the real world, as we know from Guyana, it could be completely justified. Some big guru makes a big mistake, and turns out to have been mad all along.


-- The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, With a Copious Collection of German Documents Assembled by the Author, by Tom Clark


Although I wasn't there when these events transpired, I was with Rinpoche in situations that were probably as extreme as that. If he felt that the elements of a situation were ripe to puncture delusion or self-deception, he never held back -- though I don't expect people to understand or accept this at face value.

"Trungpa is like a doctor," Anne Waldman said in 1977. "The situation in this country is so sick, so neurotic-materialistic, spiritually materialistic, general insanity -- things are so out of hand that he is coming into a situation that needs doctoring."

Trungpa's crazy-wisdom doctor is at least a spiritual cousin of Dr. Benway, the apocalyptic junkie surgeon of William S. Burroughs. Dr. Benway enters the operating room raving and flings his scalpel into the patient from 15 paces....

With a few drinks of sake under his belt, the gentle, playful "Rinpoche" became Dr. Benway.

"When in the mood to crack the whip," an ex-disciple later recalled, "the prince does so with heavy-lidded wrath, taking a minimum of shit, his retainers looking on with sneering awe. I remember a night in Vermont. It got ugly."

-- The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, With a Copious Collection of German Documents Assembled by the Author, by Tom Clark


In some way, this incident was tied in for me to what was happening with Taggie. This was such a difficult time in our lives. In a certain sense, Rinpoche was dealing with extreme and seemingly unworkable energy at the seminary, while I was driving into a high wall of insanity (his phrase) in terms of Taggie and our family life. In fact, in a scenario that is unrelated yet strangely in keeping with the dark energies I've described, a child died at the very end of the 1975 seminary from complications of asthma while sleeping in the room at the hotel that Merwin and Dana had stayed in. (Although they stayed for the final talk of the seminary, they had left a bit earlier than others.)

Before this tragic event, I phoned Rinpoche at the seminary. I was just beside myself about Taggie. After listening to me describe the situation at home, finally, he said, "We should send Taggie to Karme Choling. It's a more monastic environment there, and there are people there who I can ask to help take care of him. He can stay there for a few years, and then we may have to send him to His Holiness. I don't see an alternative. I don't think we should wait any longer." Rinpoche said that he would talk to one of his close students, David Nudell, about becoming Taggie's main attendant at Karme Choling.

Some part of me was relieved. I remember Rinpoche saying, "There are a lot of people with a lot of sanity at Karme Choling. They are going to be able to look after him. You have to begin to let go."

I felt that Rinpoche was making the right decision for Taggie, based on what we knew at the time. We couldn't continue to care for him. He was not getting what he needed. That was very clear. Although I felt that we were making the right decision, it was an unbelievably painful prospect. Taggie was just four years old. I was losing my firstborn son.

We all have hopes and dreams for our children. In our case, we expected our first son to grow up and become a great Tibetan teacher. At the very least, we expected him to grow up and lead a healthy life. It wasn't like he was born with an obvious condition, such as Down syndrome, where we'd been told from the beginning that he would never be "normal." That must also be incredibly difficult for a parent, but sometimes it seemed that it would have been easier for me to accept Taggie's disabilities if I had known about them from the beginning. Perhaps we could have adjusted our expectations much earlier, understanding that he was going to have many mental challenges. Ours was the difficulty of not knowing. We had the excruciatingly slow realization that Taggie was not all right. Coming to this realization was heartwrenching.

Rinpoche also found the whole process very painful, although he didn't talk about it much. A few months earlier, in July 1975, he wrote a poem which began with a reference to the situation with Taggie:

Wounded son --
How sad.
Never expected this.
Oily seagulls

Crippled jackal
Complaining flower --
Very sad.
Is it?2


Beyond the need to let go of the hopes that I had for my child's future, now I also had to figure out how to physically let him go out of my life. That was the most difficult part of all for me. In the years after he went to Karme Choling, I was able to process some of this. But at this particular time, I found the prospect inconceivably painful.

While Rinpoche was still away at the seminary, I received a phone call from someone at Karme Choling saying that a member of the sangha, Tom Ryken, was on his way from Boulder to Karme Choling in a few days and could take Taggie with him. At that point, I phoned Rinpoche, pretty much in hysterics. Rinpoche said firmly, "Drop him off at Tom's house. He'll take Taggie to Karme Choling. Let him go." I was devastated. I felt absolutely alone. I couldn't even call anyone to help me because I couldn't stand to verbalize what was happening. Although I accepted that this was the right thing to do, it was unbearable.

I packed up Taggie's things, and on the appointed day I drove him over to Tom's house. I deposited him on the porch with his suitcase, rang the doorbell, and left. I didn't want to see anyone, and I just couldn't bear to say good-bye. It was awful. Clearly I didn't handle this well: but I couldn't do any better at that point. I felt that I had to let my child go, and this was the only way I could do it.

I suffered over this decision for a long time after that. For years, I had dreams where I was searching for Taggie.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:33 am

TEN

During most of my childhood and early adolescence in England, I had been a rider. From the first moment I got on a pony as a small child, I felt deeply connected to horses and to horsemanship. My early training was in jumping and cross-country riding. When . I was in boarding school, we were also allowed to go out on fox hunts. I never went to the kill, but I would go out in the early part of the hunt with my pony, Blaze. Later on I did "eventing," which involves competitions or events in three phases, consisting of a simple dressage test, a cross-country test, and a jumping competition. As a teenager, I always hated the dressage component. I found it boring. In England in those years there was very little interest in dressage, so I had little exposure and no real feeling for it.

After my first two years at Benenden, I sold my pony. I didn't ride at all at Kirby Lodge. In fact, I didn't take up riding again until Rinpoche and I moved to Colorado. When Taggie was a baby, I would sometimes go riding at a local stable for an hour or so. I broached the subject with Rinpoche of whether I could buy my own horse. At that time he said that he didn't think it would be a good idea. It might make us look wealthy, which we certainly were not, and people might think that we were throwing money around. He was afraid that people would disapprove of him as a spiritual teacher if they thought that we were living a wealthy, aristocratic sort of life. He asked me to wait. I let the idea go for the time being, although I continued to ride occasionally.

During my pregnancy with Gesar, as I've mentioned, I rode from time to time. When Gesar was a few months old, Rinpoche told me that it would be all right for me to buy a horse. At that time, I had started taking riding lessons with Haze Kennedy, an Australian woman who taught at a stable north of Boulder called Hidden Valley Ranch. From our house in Boulder Heights it was a short drive to the stables. There was a young thoroughbred mare available for purchase and I found her particularly appealing. She was a light bay by the name of Fleur. Rinpoche renamed her Mirage.

I did some jumping competitions with Mirage, and I rode her in some hunter classes. After a few months, my riding instructor approached me with a proposal. She had a slightly older horse that was a more experienced jumper and had some training in dressage, and she herself wanted a young prospect. She asked me if I would be interested in a trade. Her horse was a saddle-bred-thoroughbred cross by the name of Mr. Chips. I agreed to make the trade because I thought it would be helpful for my education as a rider. I felt that I could learn from a horse that knew more than I did.

Mr. Chips was large, a sixteen three hand liver chestnut, a big horse with a wonderful temperament.1 He was sensitive and responsive and willing to work. Rinpoche began calling me Mrs. Chips because I started spending so much time at the barn. I competed Chips in some jumper competitions, and I did quite well in the lower jumper classes with him. Then I decided to ride him. in a three-phase novice event in Colorado. I scored well on the cross-country and the stadium jumping, but I did poorly in dressage.

In order to improve as an all-around rider, I decided to take time off from jumping and concentrate on learning more about dressage. In fact, I decided to devote a year to it. At the end of that year, I fully intended to go back to jumping as my main riding discipline. I began by taking dressage lessons from Haze Kennedy on a regular basis, three times a week. She had some elementary dressage training and was a good instructor. I found that I looked forward to my time at the barn as a break from the hectic, chaotic life that I had with Rinpoche and the children.

At that time, a Hungarian rider by the name of Charles de Kunffy was coming to Colorado on a regular basis to teach dressage clinics. He had been a member of the Hungarian three-event team. I took several of his clinics and then started to show my horse in lower-level dressage events. In a short time, I discovered that I was becoming absolutely fascinated by the art of dressage.

Dressage itself is a French word that simply means "training." The origin of classical horsemanship goes back more than two thousand years. Greek warriors trained their horses so that they would be supple and maneuverable in battle. The earliest surviving treatises on dressage were written by Xenophon, a great Greek general who employed what we would now call dressage training techniques to improve the performance of his horses in battle.

There is no exact equivalent for the word dressage in the English language. Dressage is the deliberate, gymnastic training of the horse over a long period of time, making use of the horse's natural movements and gaits, so that the horse becomes highly trained, agile, and extremely strong while still maintaining the beauty and flexibility that one sees in the natural movements of animals loose in the field. Dressage is a joining together of horse and rider. It is not just that horse and rider work together physically, but a meeting of minds must take place if the training is to be successful. Part of the attraction of dressage is that it produces and depends on such intimate and thorough communication between horse and rider.

The Romans did not have much use for this approach to horsemanship, and during the Dark Ages, the art of dressage was almost completely lost. The armor worn by knights was so heavy that it was impossible for the horses to maneuver with agility. What was needed for medieval battles were sturdy horses that could move in a straight line carrying their knights into combat. The subtlety of dressage was useless in these situations.

During the Renaissance, beginning in the fifteenth century, dressage flourished once again. It was rediscovered in Italy, where the first riding academy in Europe dedicated to the classical art of horsemanship was opened in 1532 in Naples. Noblemen came from all over the continent to learn the discipline of riding, and it soon spread to France, Spain, Germany, and England. It became the fashion to have a small dressage arena attached to all the major courts and noble households of Europe. The Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which Rinpoche and I had visited together in 1975, is the premier example of the classical approach to dressage that developed during the Renaissance. It was built in 1735 as the manege, or arena, attached to the Hapsburg Palace in Vienna, but the school itself predates the building by almost two hundred years, making it the oldest school of dressage still functioning today. Archduke Maximilian, son of emperor Ferdinand I, introduced Spanish horses in Austria in the sixteenth century. The first Spanish horses were given to the Hapsburg family as part of a dowry. They were interbred with local horses at Lippiza, producing the distinct Lippizan breed. It is the stallions from this breed that are used exclusively in the Spanish Riding School.

As I pursued my novice training and learned more about the history of dressage, I felt that I was making a link to a noble discipline, which I wanted to thoroughly explore and master. At a time in my life that was difficult, with the painful realization of the situation with Taggie, it was extremely helpful to have this growing connection to something so uplifted and profound.

Around this time, I purchased a thoroughbred stallion, which we named Vajra Dance. He was from the bloodlines of a famous racehorse named Native Dancer. Vajra Dance had apparently been purchased by a syndicate for a large amount of money. He was competed on the racetrack circuit, but he turned out to be very slow. Then he fractured his sesamoid bone in his left front leg and had to be retired from racing. He was sold for very little to a gentleman living in Sonoma County, California, who gave the horse some training, and the horse had shown an aptitude for dressage. I purchased him to upgrade to a better mount, one that would be more appropriate for dressage competition. I brought the horse back to Colorado, and working with Haze and in clinics with Charles, I learned to ride many dressage movements on him.

When Rinpoche and I visited the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, it spurred me on to involve myself more deeply in my training. Around this time, Charles de Kunffy told me that he felt that I had natural talent and feel for the horse, and I began to sense that this might be the case. I became increasingly committed to fully pursuing the discipline of dressage.

After Taggie left for Karme Choling, I looked into spending an extended period of time studying with Charles. He was headquartered in northern California, where he had been teaching riding at a school for gifted children, and he invited me to come out and work with him. At that point I felt it was impossible for my riding to progress beyond a certain point with the limited resources in Colorado. I discussed this with Rinpoche, telling him that I felt that I was not going to be able to get fully trained riding three times a week at Hidden Valley Ranch. Rinpoche was quite encouraging. He was traveling a great deal and understood that I needed to pursue my own discipline. He supported my need to develop myself in this way.

Dressage was just starting to be appreciated and practiced in the United States at this time, so it was difficult to find a qualified teacher. I went out for two months to train with Charles. Initially, I brought Gesar with me, but the child-care arrangements were very complicated there, so after a few weeks, I sent him back to Boulder. We arranged for a nanny to help care for him in Boulder while I was gone.

I dove into the riding situation in California, and it was a very healing time for me. I spent all day at the barn, and with Charles giving me instruction, I was able to make quite good progress in my riding.

At the end of the two months, I returned home and continued riding on my own. In late February 1976, Rinpoche and I went to Mexico on holiday, accompanied by John and Karen Roper. John was a lawyer and a member of the Vajradhatu board of directors. This time, we went to the village of Patzcuaro, a charming town on the edge of Lake Patzcuaro, several hours south of Guadalajara. Louise and Roger Randolph, students of Rinpoche's from Oklahoma, owned a small vacation house there, with a beautiful walled garden and several other cottages on the property. They were very generous to Rinpoche and me -- and to the Buddhist community as a whole. Earlier, Roger had donated a large parcel of land in southern Colorado to be used as a retreat center. Rinpoche named it Dorje Khyung Dzong, after the retreat center at his monastery in Tibet where he had spent so much time as a young man.

Roger and Louise gave us the use of their house in Mexico many times. On this, our first trip there, we had a delightful holiday. Rinpoche liked to go to the open market in Patzcuaro to buy food for dinner. You also could bargain for beautiful copper plates and bowls there, which were locally made. We sometimes went to a hotel on the main square for dinner. They served a soup there that Rinpoche loved, called Sopa Tarasca, named I believe after the Tarascan Indians whose capital was located on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro. Apparently the recipe was created originally around 1960 by one of the chefs in the area. The tomato broth has a dark chili added to it that gives it a smoky flavor, and pieces of tortilla are broken up and put into the broth.

I brought along my saddle from home, thinking that I would be able to go riding in the village. John Roper thought this was ludicrous and that it was a complete waste of energy to haul the saddle around with us. However, I found a stable near the house and was indeed able to ride almost every day.

When we returned from Mexico, Rinpoche jumped back into teaching and traveling. He was also busy making preparations for the arrival later that spring of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, with whom he had a heart connection from their time together in Tibet and later in India.2

Back in Boulder, I found myself unsatisfied with my riding regimen. I wanted to devote myself to dressage and training myself as a rider during this period of my life, in addition to being a mother and wife. I told Rinpoche that I was interested in moving to California to study with Charles for a year or two. I could take Gesar with me, and we could come home for extended visits as often as possible. Initially, Rinpoche was a bit shocked, and he seemed conflicted about whether it was a good idea, as was I in some respects. It was not common for a woman with young children to do something like this in this era. Perhaps it would not seem so extreme today. However, I felt it was the right thing for me to do. Rinpoche said, "I'm going to lose my wife if you do this." I replied, "No, it's not a question of you losing your wife. I just want to get proper training. You're traveling so much these days that I don't need to stay here all the time. I need an opportunity to realize my discipline to the fullest potential." I told him that if I wasn't able to pursue the discipline 100 percent; I was going to give it up. I wasn't going to do this unless I could do it properly and completely. After we discussed the situation for a while, he said, "Sweetheart, if this is what you need to do, it's fine. Go ahead." From that time onward, he was completely supportive.

Within quite a short period of time, I had rented a house in Lafayette, California, near Walnut Creek, and Gesar and I moved there. He went to preschool in the neighborhood, and I found a stable near the house where I could keep Vajra Dance. Charles came several times a week to give me riding lessons, and I was able to work with the horse myself on the other days.

Somewhat to my surprise, although I missed Rinpoche, I felt very satisfied having my own life and my own household in California. In a certain way, it felt as though a cloud had been lifted in my life. I didn't feel that there was a problem in my marriage or my relationship with Rinpoche, but I did feel that it was almost impossible for me to have any kind of sewed life in Boulder. It was so difficult to raise a family in the midst of everything that was happening there, and it was even more difficult when nobody outside of the family seemed to appreciate how hard it was.

In that era in Boulder I did have some close friends as well as my relationship with Rinpoche to sustain me, but that was not always enough. There was another side to my relationship with people in the Buddhist community. At times, there was an element of jealousy toward me on the part of some of Rinpoche's students. I was married to him, and in some ways, as his wife, I was the closest person to him. People were extremely hungry for the teachings, and sometimes I appeared to stand in the way. of their unfettered access to my husband. I was often complacent about this because I felt content in my life with Rinpoche, so I was able to relax, have my family, and ignore a lot of things. The early seventies was my time to have my family and my children with him. At the same time, there was a growing dichotomy between Rinpoche's role as a teacher and his role as my husband and the father of our children. This became most apparent at the time that Taggie left our household. I wanted something, a commitment of time, from Rinpoche in the domestic realm, and I could have almost nothing. This was frustrating.

But, at the same time, I didn't develop my riding career out of a conscious desire to get away. I simply became fascinated by dressage and I loved horses. But studying dressage did allow me to develop my own space and my own life. I think, to tell you the truth, that pursuing my own profession was the only way that our marriage was able to survive. On the one hand, there was the unconditional nature of our love and our relationship. On the other hand, to a very great extent; Rinpoche belonged to his students. He belonged to the dharma. There was never a question about that. I had to make peace with it.

Once Rinpoche understood the genuine nature of my commitment to riding, he encouraged my independence and helped me to grow with my own discipline. He was incredibly supportive, and he never complained again about my being away because of my riding career. He didn't seem threatened by it or concerned. His encouragement helped me to find the sense of freedom and enjoyment at this time in my life. I was still so, so sad about Taggie. I dreamed about him a great deal. But I began to move forward and to put my life back together.

I was barely settled in the house in Lafayette when Khyentse Rinpoche arrived at the end of April for a two-week visit to the Bay Area. He had already been in New York and was going on to Boulder after he left California. Rinpoche had told me stories about him for many years, and I was aware that he held him in the highest esteem. I would say that Rinpoche had a bit of a spiritual love affair with Khyentse Rinpoche. When you saw the two of them together, they seemed extremely close.

Interestingly, His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche and his party arrived in Berkeley before Rinpoche did. He had already greeted His Holiness in New York and spent time with him there, and he was committed to teaching a seminar at Karme Choling before coming out to Berkeley. I think it was very telling that he let other people do the advance work for His Holiness's visit. Rinpoche felt that his students could greet Khyentse Rinpoche and host him properly until he arrived. This was a measure of how much trust he put in his students and how far he felt they had come in just a few years.

After the Karmapa's visit in 1974, Rinpoche kept certain organizational features of that visit intact. For one thing, he felt that the students who had provided security for the Karmapa's visit and had been his drivers were both benefiting from this discipline and also creating a strong container in which the teachings of the Buddha could be presented with proper respect for and recognition of their power. Rinpoche originally gave the name Dorje Kusung, or "vajra body protectors," to this group. Later, they became known as the Dorje Kasung, which means the "protectors or guardians of the command or the sacred word" -- which refers to the Buddhist teachings. He asked several people to assume leadership roles within this new organization in Boulder, and he charged them with protecting the physical space at Dorje Dzong (the name he gave our national headquarters in Boulder) and with protecting and serving himself and his family, as well as visiting teachers. He also began to develop local chapters of the Dorje Kasung in other centers. Wherever Rinpoche taught, after His Holiness Karmapa's visit, members of the Dorje Kasung were present as his personal guards, or guardians, and they also created a sense of boundary when he taught, positioning themselves in various parts of the shrine room where he was speaking. Some people found the presence of the Dorje Kasung threatening, and they mistakenly thought that either these people were armed, which was ridiculous, or that they were trained to be aggressors. In fact, their function was much more as peacekeepers. There would be more developments in this realm as time went along.

This year of building the kingdom:
Dealing with the four seasons,
Studying how millet grows
And how the birds form their eggs;
Interested in studying how Tampax are made,
And how furniture can be gold-leafed;
Studying the construction of my home,
How the whitewash of the plain wood can be dignified,
How we could develop terry cloth on our floor,
How my dapons can shoot accurately

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-- First Thought Best Thought, 108 Poems, by Chogyam Trungpa


The Boulder guru keeps a household protection squad, known as the Vajra Guard. They are the Beefeaters of Buddhism. When the guru goes out in public, so do they. (In between times, they meditate.) The rumor is, they're armed with M-16's. Others say it's submachine guns.

-- The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, With a Copious Collection of German Documents Assembled by the Author, by Tom Clark




It was a flowering such as had never been seen before. Naropa University opened its doors. Every major city in the United States and Europe had a Vajradhatu meditation center and ambassadors were sent out from the Court of Shambhala. When the Prince gripped my arm for support he guided me through the halls, streets, and airports. His step was sure and firm. It was as if I were the crippled one instead of him. The Court was filled with activity.

In one week I had a schedule of over 150 volunteer servants: guards, drivers, cooks, cleaners, nannies, gardeners, servers, secretaries, shoppers, and waiters. All were wanting to participate in the flowering energy that filled the Court, which made it indeed seem to stretch over several miles with a park in the center on the top of a great circular mountain. What had been created was an openness where everything could be explored. We were encouraged to practice, study, and investigate our inner and outer worlds and examine any resulting pain or pleasure.

In the midst of this creative turmoil the Prince challenged me on my military propensities with a casual remark made into the bathroom mirror one morning.

"When we take over Nova Scotia, Johnny, you will need to attack some of the small military bases there."

''Attack military bases!" I said with surprise. "Me?"

"Well, not alone," smiled the Prince, still looking into the mirror examining his freshly brushed teeth. "You could have a commando unit of Jeeps and halftracks." He was looking at me in the mirror as he continued, "You had a halftrack once, didn't you?"

"Yes," I replied, remembering the olive drab army vehicle I owned at the farming school I once ran, seemingly a hundred years ago.

"Well?" the Prince's voice sounded.

My mind activated like a World War II movie as our intrepid band in Jeeps and halftracks raced along the curved snake-like back roads of Nova Scotia toward the unsuspecting enemy. My khaki wool uniform blended with the green countryside, I gripped the metal frame of the Thompson machine gun in my capable hands. On my head was the red beret bearing the Trident badge and the motto "Victory Over War." I smelled the engine oil fumes mixing with the flower perfumes of the country lane as we whipped along on our desperate mission. The sun glinted on our bayonets, or wait, perhaps it was night ...

"Well?" asked the Prince again.

"Oh, oh," was the reply, as I returned from the battle to the bathroom. "Yes, yes, Sir," I said. "We could do that."

"Good," continued the Prince. "You might have to kill one or two.

Kill one or two? What's that mean-kill one or two? was my silent response.

"But I thought we are not supposed to kill," I said, somewhat alarmed.

"Just a few resisters," said the Prince.

Resister, what the fuck is a resister? ran through my mind. Out loud I asked, "Resister? What kind of a resister?"

"Someone may resist enlightenment," stated the Prince.

"Oh, those. Well, yes, we could take care of them," I reassured him.

"Good, good," said the Prince, turning to leave the bath­room. As he opened the door he concluded with, "Well, Major Perks, perhaps you could put all of that together."


I spent the next several hours studying Army surplus catalogs and The Shotgun News. At the local gun store I picked up copies of Commando and SAS Training Manuals. I made a list of equipment and concluded that this "invasion" was going to be costly. I went to the Prince.

"Where will we get the money to organize this armed com­mando force, Sir?" I said, almost saluting.

"Perhaps we could steal the equipment," he suggested.

"Wow," I exclaimed. "You mean like a covert operation." The words and idea thrilled me.

"Exactly," said the Prince. ''And we need a code name for it." He contemplated for a moment and then said, "How about Operation Deep Cut?" As I turned the words over in my mind he continued, "Yes, what is needed here is a surgical strike."

I excitedly repeated the code name, "Operation Deep Cut, covert operation Surgical Strike." This was going to be worth killing just one or two!

"Yes," said the Prince with delight. "Buy some books on tactics and strategy. We should all study them. And you, Major Perks, will be in command." I could hardly wait to take my leave and get started on the campaign. I put on my military hat, saluted the Prince, and ran out of the room, tripping and falling down half the stairs in my haste. The Prince's head popped out of his sitting room doorway. ''Are you okay, Major?" he called down to me.

"Yes, Sir, fine, Sir. I just missed a step," I replied, pulling my uniform straight.

"Good," he said. "Jolly good, jolly, jolly good. Carry on, Major." I saluted again and rushed down the remaining stairs.

I could not wait to tell the other officers in the military about my secret mission. They were all amazed. "Have you told David yet?" was Jim's response. "Not yet," I replied. David was the Head of the Military, now that Jerry had dropped out. I could not fathom why the Prince had chosen David for this position. David was a very unmilitary, slight of build, a Jewish intellectual. He looked more like Mr. Peepers in a uniform -- nothing like Montgomery or Patton.

"I bet his balls shrivel up like raisins when I tell him about this," I scoffed. Indeed, David was quite alarmed at my description of "killing one or two resisters."

"Let me talk to Rinpoche before you do anything," he said anxiously, falling back in his chair.

"Okay," I said, adding with a tone of command, "go ahead, but it's all set. The Prince said so."

Later the Prince called me into his sitting room. I explained that David seemed hesitant about killing a few resisters.

"Oh, he's such a Jewish intellectual," said the Prince.

"Why, that's exactly what I think," I agreed.

"Really?" said the Prince, looking at me with curiosity. "Good, jolly good. You carry on, Major. I'll take care of David and tell him you have a free hand." I left hurriedly to tell the other officers the latest news on my secret commando operation....

Lady Diana, the Prince's wife, had confiscated his Scottish Eliot Clan kilt some months back because she felt he did not look good in Scottish regalia. It was rumored that the missing kilt was hidden at the mother-in-law's house.

"What we need is a practice run," said the Prince to me one morning. "Major, here's a job for your new commando group. We will invite Diana and my in-laws to the Court for dinner and while everyone is here your group will retrieve my kilt."

I saluted with a very big "Yes, Sir" and ran off to inform my comrades-in-arms.

The mother-in-law's house was situated in a small field near the edge of town. On the night in question we waited in our darkened limousine on a side road by the Court. There were four of us, dressed in black. We watched in nervous excitement as the mother-in-law's car pulled up to the Court. and the occupants entered the building. "Let's go," I commanded in a hushed military tone, and the driver sped toward our goal. Near the house he shut off the headlights and silently rolled to a stop in the shadows. We rolled out into the grass ditch and crawled on our bellies across the lawn. I pushed at one of the dining room windows. It opened and I was halfway through when Walter hissed, "The front door is open."

It was too late, however, as I was already pinned in the open window frame by the top window which had slid down on my back. My legs were dangling outside and my arms and head were inside the dining room. The others entered the dark house in a more upright fashion and hauled me through by yanking on my arms....

Triumphantly we returned to the Court. Dinner was finished and dessert was about to be served. I placed the kilt on a silver tray and presented it to the Prince and the seated guests. Lady Diana cried out laughingly "Oh no, Darling" to the Prince, who beamed and gave me the thumbs up sign. The other guests were delightedly amused.

In the following weeks we undertook other commando operations with odd code names: Operation Awake, Operation Blue Pancake, Operation Secret Mind, and Operation Snow White. "Why Snow White?" I asked the Prince. "Because she has to be woken up," was the reply. That made no sense to me. Why did you need to wake up a military operation when we were already totally awake and combat ready? I labeled the answer as crazy and added it to the collection.

During this time I started to have flashbacks to my childhood during the war. I had dreams of the bombing, the bodies in the yellow shrouds, the news footage of concentration camps. I began to feel confused about which was real, my remembrances of things past, the present military operations and the Court, or the future takeover of Nova Scotia. My uneasy feelings returned as did the panic attacks.

I did the same old stuff to avoid confronting any of it. I immersed myself in work, sex, entertainment, alcohol, and food. I knew I was okay, if only I could get myself together. I poured out my woes to the Prince, who was no help. In fact, he did not seem to understand at all and was quite unsympathetic. The more I freaked out the more demands he made on me....

"How are things going for the military encampment?" he asked....

-- The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks


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One of the most notable religious leaders of India about 1500 A.D. was Kabir. In his system Hinduism and Islam mingle. Nanak, who founded the religion of the Sikhs, is only one of a number of teachers who drew their inspiration from him. Kabir vigorously condemned both idolatory and caste; and he had great influence all over North India. In the Bijak, a volume of his religious verse, there is a poem which pictures the fighting yogi and his irregularities very vividly:-- [23]

1. O brother, never have I seen yogi like this: puffed up with pride he walks, caring for nothing.

2. He teaches the religion of Mahadeva (i.e. Siva) and therefore is called a Mahant.

3. In market and street he sits in the posture of a yogi; he is an imperfect Siddha (saint) a lover of Maya (the illusion of the world).

4. When did Dattatreya [24] attack his enemies? when did Sukadeva [24] lay a cannon?

5. When did Narada [24] fire a gun, or Vyasadeva [24] sound a horn?

6. They who fight are of little wisdom; shall I call such men ascetics or bandits?


-- The Fighting Ascetics of India, by J.N. Farquhar, M.A., D. Litt. (Oxon.)


In 1976, when Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche arrived, members of the Dorje Kasung provided service to him and his party and also to Rinpoche and our family. Once again, they put together the motorcades for the visit, as they had done for the Karmapa, and they were on duty in His Holiness's household as well as at Rinpoche's house. When His Holiness was scheduled to be at the center in Berkeley or San Francisco, the Dorje Kasung would drive him there, greet him at the door, and provide an unobtrusive presence in the hall where he spoke or conducted a ceremony.

To prepare for Khyentse Rinpoche's visit, Rinpoche sent out several students as an advance team, including Michael Root and Tom Rich. At this time, Rinpoche had made an announcement to the Vajradhatu staff in Boulder that Tom Rich would be empowered in the summer of 1976 as his regent. This was still supposed to be a secret, but gossip has always traveled fast in our community, and most people were aware that Tom Rich was going to playa very important role in the future of Rinpoche's teaching.

My house was about a thirty-minute drive from the Berkeley dharmadhatu, where Khyentse Rinpoche would be teaching. It was not feasible for Rinpoche to stay with me throughout the whole visit since he had many events to attend or conduct in Berkeley and San Francisco. The members of the dharmadhatu rented a nice house for him in the Berkeley Hills. I sometimes stayed with him there, and he spent time at my house in Lafayette.

Part of the preparations centered on transforming the home of Sam and Hazel Bercholz into a residence for Khyentse Rinpoche. They had generously offered the use of their house for 'this purpose. Once again, as had been done for His Holiness the Karmapa, walls were covered In satin, brocades put on chairs and made into bedspreads, shrines constructed and installed. People were now becoming a little more familiar with this approach to hosting a Tibetan teacher, and although it was a huge undertaking, it went fairly smoothly. Once Khyentse Rinpoche arrived, Ani Pema Chodron (now the resident teacher at Gampo Abbey and the best-selling author of many books on Buddhism) was among a group of students who often served at His Holiness's residence in Berkeley Hills. She had taken her ordination as a novice nun in 1974 and was one of very few Western monastics in our community at this time. She was very cheerful and always willing to help with things around the house. This is the first time I that I can remember meeting Pema.

There were also many preparations at the Berkeley dharmadhatu. More shocking to people was that Michael and Tom also wanted Rinpoche's rented house to be dolled up a great deal.

It was one thing to make all this fuss for His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, but why did my husband need such fancy accommodations? No one suggested satin, but Michael and Tom made it clear that the house's weary couches and slightly broken down overstuffed chairs wouldn't do, nor would it work to use its Indian bedspreads on either the bed or the walls. Furniture was borrowed and rented, floors scrubbed, art borrowed and hung on the walls, and the house was transformed from a middle-class intellectual's frumpy home to something of another order.

The idea was also introduced that Rinpoche would be dining more formally, and that good china, silver, and crystal were needed for his household. Jacquie Giorgi, a woman in the dharmadhatu, had been given Lenox china and silver as wedding gifts, and she agreed to loan everything. Inexpensive crystal glasses were purchased, along with a set of Oriental dishes for Japanese and Chinese food service. People were invited to sign up to serve meals at Rinpoche's residence and to help out around the house in other ways.

I myself was a bit surprised by all this, watching it at a distance, since Rinpoche and I had never lived this way in Boulder. Apparently this experiment had gotten under way in New York the previous month when Rinpoche was there to teach several seminars and host His Holiness. Rinpoche stayed in an elegant apartment in Manhattan, and his household had been much more elaborate than anyone remembered from the past. Rinpoche seemed to be taking another leap or embarking on yet another path, putting together the beginnings of what would soon become the Kalapa Court, as our home was known from the summer of 1976 on.

As the date for Khyentse Rinpoche's arrival loomed, it was clear that His Holiness's household would not be ready in time. I volunteered to have him stay at my house for several days while the transformation of his residence was completed. On the day of Khyentse Rinpoche's arrival, Gesar and I drove with people from the dharmadhatu to the airport. Sam and Hazel were in the welcoming party from the dharmadhatu, along with Tom Rich, David Rome, Michael Root, and others representing Vajradhatu. We all greeted His Holiness as he stepped off the plane at the San Francisco airport. A tall, stately gentleman with penetrating eyes and a huge smile, Khyentse Rinpoche traveled in robes, but they were layman's robes since he was a married lama. His wife had stayed behind in Bhutan. He was accompanied by his daughter, Chime Wangmo, his grandson Rapjam Rinpoche, and several other attendants. His bearing and presence were noble. He beamed, and people melted around him. I felt immediately drawn to him.

After a welcoming ceremony at the Berkeley dharmadhatu, His Holiness was driven to my house in Lafayette. I gave him Gesar's bedroom, and Gesar and I slept together in my bedroom across the hall. His daughter and grandson were put up somewhere else, as my house was simply too small for all of them. With Khyentse Rinpoche came an entourage of drivers, attendants, cooks, and other dharmadhatu members. I made mamas for His Holiness, which are Tibetan dumplings that Rinpoche had taught me how to prepare. They are a great· favorite with Tibetans and quite delicious. The newly trained servers brought the food out to us with shaking hands. His Holiness took it all in stride. I think he would have been happy with a simple family-style meal, but he graciously accepted the awkward pomp and circumstance that was offered.

For the remainder of the time that he stayed with me, the hordes were banished. His Holiness had his. translator, Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, stay with him so that he could communicate with me. We provided a single Dorje Kasung member and driver to help. out at the house. Everyone else cleared out, so it was a quiet and delightful time for me being in the presence of this greatly accomplished teacher.

The day after Khyentse Rinpoche arrived, I invited him to come to the stables with me, and he spent several hours watching me ride. He loved the horses, and seemed to enjoy himself. He came out to the stables several times. When I think about it now, realizing what a truly great man His Holiness was, I marvel how I took the whole situation for granted.

One morning while he was staying in the house, I came out of my bedroom, and His Holiness and his attendant were sitting cross-legged on the floor in the narrow corridor between the two bedrooms. He motioned me to sit down across from him. I came and sat down on the floor near him. He was sitting in front of a little heating grate. I sat on the other side of the grate. After a little while, through his translator he said to me, "I'm sorry. I have to give you some difficult news." I inquired, "What is it?" He said, "I had a dream last night. Your son Gesar is the incarnation of Sechen Kongtru." Then he said, "I know this may be very difficult for you, but this is my dream, and we should enthrone him right away."

I have to say I was somewhat shocked. He was telling me that Gesar was the reincarnation of my husband's own teacher, Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, who had died in prison in Tibet around 1960. Somehow, being in Khyentse Rinpoche's presence, I was able to accept what he was saying and to take it in stride. Like Rinpoche, he commanded the space in such a way that you felt completely at ease and able to set aside normal, habitual patterns and reactions to things, at least for a while. So I just took this in, and we. proceeded to talk about the plans for how to accomplish the enthronement ceremony in Berkeley.

As soon as I could, I excused myself and phoned Rinpoche with this news. He also seemed to take it as somewhat matter-of-fact, and he seemed quite pleased and excited. We talked about having the enthronement ceremony as soon as possible, within the next few days, as soon as possible after Rinpoche's arrival from the East Coast.

Then, of course, I had to break the news to Gesar. He also seemed to think it was a fine idea, although I wasn't sure if he understood what I was telling him. He was barely three at the time. Much later, he told me that as a child he had many memories of life in Tibet, so I think he had always sensed something and now it was making sense to him why he had these sorts of flashbacks.

One thing that was curious was that Rinpoche had scheduled a public seminar to be held in Berkeley on the weekend right after His Holiness left for Boulder. It had been entitled -- months in advance -- Empowerment." This seemed remarkably synchronistic.

A date for Gesar's enthronement was set, and the next day His Holiness moved to his own residence in Berkeley, where he was joined by his daughter Chime and his grandson Rapjam Rinpoche. His Holiness was already scheduled to conduct several public ceremonies for the members of the dharmadhatu. It was decided that a few days following those ceremonies, he would enthrone Gesar as Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen.

About a year earlier, the dharmadhatu had moved into the second floor of an office building in downtown Berkeley that was owned by the Odd Fellows of Berkeley, a group somewhat like the Freemasons. In fact, it was their headquarters. They still kept one or two offices and a large hall for their own ceremonies, but they leased us a smaller hall, which held, about 150 people. The Berkeley center is still in that space today.

Throughout Khyentse Rinpoche's visit, I was trying to juggle my commitments in the riding world with the events in the Buddhist world. One day I drove up to Santa Rosa, which was about two hours north, to look at a horse that I was interested in buying. I had to speed back to get to the dharmadhatu in time for a ceremony that afternoon. I have always been an absolutely wild driver. I was driving my truck, a silver Dodge Ram Charger, and going at least ninety miles per hour. Suddenly I saw lights flashing in my rearview mirror, and I realized that I was about to get pulled over by the police. I was afraid that I would get a big ticket and certainly be very late for the events in Berkeley. So I started braking and putting my other foot on the gas at the same time, to make the truck's movements look very erratic. Then I leaned down and pulled off the gas pedal.

In that truck there were two buttons that attached the pedal to the base; It had come loose before, so I knew about this. Then I pulled over and stopped, obtrusively holding the pedal in one hand. When the state trooper approached the car, he looked quite stern. I pretended to be completely hysterical. I told him the gas pedal had jammed, so that the only way I could stop the truck was to pull it off. I kept saying, "I thought I was going to die! I thought I was going to die!" I threw myself on the steering wheel. The trooper was quite concerned, and he was incredibly nice to me. He said, "Please calm down. Everything's going to be okay. Don't worry. I'm going to help you." Then he asked me if I thought I could drive, and I told him I thought I'd be okay. I didn't want him to see how easy it would be to reconnect the gas pedal, so we tried controlling the gas pedal by pushing on the little metal thing on the end, and it seemed to work okay. He said, "Okay, I'll lead you to the nearest gas station, and they can help you there." When we got to a gas station, I waited for him to leave, and then I put the gas pedal back on and took off. I arrived just in' time for the beginning of the event.

To prepare for Gesar's enthronement ceremony, some women in the dharmadhatu who had experience sewing had made him a tiny set of Tibetan monastic robes to wear. A small throne was hastily constructed for the ceremony, from plywood covered in cotton batting, topped with satin and brocades.

Gesar had to have his hair cut short for the ceremony. Rinpoche told me that I didn't have to shave his head, but I made such a mess of his hair when I tried to cut it that we ended up shaving it anyway. When he returned to preschool after this event, some of the children teased him about his bald head, hut he didn't take much notice.

I might have worried that something terrible would happen to Gesar, based on the experience with Taggie, but I didn't really believe that tulku disease was the source of Taggie's problems. I knew that Gesar was a strong individual who could handle whatever came along. Rinpoche and I both felt that he would be fine. When Rinpoche got to town, he stayed out at the house in Lafayette with us for several nights so that we could all be together and adjust to His Holiness's recognition of our second son as a tulku. While Rinpoche was there, he Came to the stables, where he met Charles de Kunffy for the first time. He had wanted to meet the man for whom I had moved to California. Charles was completely taken with Rinpoche and wanted to visit him in Berkeley at the first opportunity.

The day of his enthronement, Gesar and I were driven by members of the Dorje Kasung to the dharmadhatu in Berkeley. He was dressed in his little monks' robes, and he looked adorable, I must say. He was beaming the entire time. When we got there, His Holiness was on a throne in the shrine hall, already making preparations. Rinpoche had also arrived ahead of us, having come from his house in Berkeley. There were several hundred members of the dharmadhatu assembled in the shrine room. When we got to the entrance of the meditation hall, everyone stood up and Gesar walked in, very much a little gentleman, with me right behind him. He sat on his little throne and I sat in a chair next to him for most of the ceremony. At one point when he became restless, I had to sit up on the throne and he sat on my lap. Rinpoche was seated on a chair next to the thrones for His Holiness and Gesar. Rinpoche looked incredibly happy throughout the whole thing. Osel was also there to witness the enthronement. He was in boarding school at the Ojai Valley School near Santa Barbara at this time, a school founded on, the teachings of Krishnamurti and Rudolf Steiner. He was maturing into a much more confident and outgoing young man.

The enthronement of a reincarnate teacher is a traditional ceremony. His Holiness performed the liturgy in Tibetan, with a translator explaining to all of us what Khyentse Rinpoche was doing and saying. He presented Gesar with certain ritual objects, and he gave ,him a series of blessings and empowerments. To keep him quiet during the whole thing, His Holiness would lean over and feed Gesar candies. He had quite a supply with him to dole out! I also had a stash of sweets in case more were needed. His Holiness also gave a talk about the relationship between the Kongtruls and the Trungpa tulkus and how they had been close during each generation, with one being the teacher to the next, and vice versa, as new generations were born. At the end of the ceremony, everyone was invited to come up and present a white scarf to His Holiness and another to Gesar as an offering, and Gesar blessed everyone by putting his hand on their heads, which is also traditional. Rinpoche and I were the first ones to offer scarves and receive our son's blessing. Then everyone else filed up. Gesar behaved magnificently during all of these proceedings, and he seemed to take to the whole situation quite naturally. Of course, children love attention" and he was definitely the center of attention that day!

The day after the enthronement, Khyentse Rinpoche departed from the San Francisco airport. Everyone had been deeply affected by his visit and by his extraordinary presence, so it was a touchingly sad good-bye for us all. We felt that in meeting him we were meeting the heart of the Tibetan tradition in which Rinpoche had been raised, and to have that coming so personally into our lives was very moving.

For the next several weeks, Rinpoche was teaching a lecture series at the Berkeley dharmadhatu. One night I went out to a club in San Francisco with Charles and Rod, a good friend of his. Around eleven o'clock I suggested that we drop in on Rinpoche. Charles was worried that Rinpoche would have already gone to sleep, but I assured him this was extremely unlikely. So we dropped by, without any notice. When we got there, Rinpoche was sitting in the living room, impeccably dressed in a suit, surrounded by a group of about a dozen students who were also very well dressed. They were having drinks before sitting down to a formal dinner. Rinpoche was delighted to see us and insisted that we stay for dinner.

We sat down to a lavish meal in the dining room. There was an exquisite linen tablecloth and beautiful linen napkins, and the food was served on the very nice Lenox china that was on loan. In the middle of the table was a large ornate silver candelabra. There were five or six servers, who served each course, kept the wine flowing, and cleared our plates from one course to the next. Charles couldn't believe that Rinpoche ate like this every night. I couldn't believe it either, but I didn't let on that this was any different than a typical night in our household had ever been.

Charles was enchanted. As the evening progressed, I could see that Rinpoche had a few designs on Charles. He wanted to know everything about Charles's riding background. Rinpoche also started to intimate that Charles might make a very successful career iu Colorado by starting a school there with me. I realized that he had my interests at heart -- wanting to see my career go forward and wanting me to connect with powerful people in the dressage world -- and also that he might have an idea about how to bring his wife back to Colorado at some time in the future!

Throughout the month, Rinpoche continued to court Charles, and Charles remained absolutely enamored of Rinpoche. At the very end of the month, just before Rinpoche went to Santa Cruz, he invited Charles, Rod, and me for a banquet at the house. During this month, Rinpoche had Max King, one of his students who was an excellent Chinese cook, preparing all of his meals. Rinpoche arranged for Max to make a roast suckling pig for the banquet. Max had never cooked a whole animal like this before, but he consulted a number of chefs and was able to make a delicious meal that was also magnificently presented at the dinner table. Charles was absolutely beside himself. He was a pretty sybaritic individual, and Rinpoche really got to him with the roast suckling pig. It was beyond the beyond of what he could imagine someone doing in their own home. I must say it was quite a tour de force on Rinpoche's part.

At the end of the month Rinpoche returned to Boulder, and I stayed on in Lafayette. Around this time, Pat Cate joined our household as Gesar's nanny. She was the mother of Kelsey, the child who had tragically died at the 1975 seminary. Kelsey had been her only child, and she was still very much in mourning for him. I saw her at one of the events at the dharmadhatu in Berkeley, and I could feel her pain. My heart went out to her. I particularly sympathized with her because of my feelings for Taggie. Rinpoche and I talked about it, and he thought it would be a good thing for her to be part of a family and to have some positive contact with a young child. I invited her to live with me and help with Gesar. She stayed with us on and off for a number of years. When she remarried, her husband, Tom Adducci, also joined the household.

Pat became quite involved in our life day to day. I remember that once she had to break up a terrible fight between Gesar and me. I put him to bed at the end of a particularly trying day, but he absolutely would not stay down. He kept getting up while Pat and I were trying to have dinner. Finally, I said, "If you get up one more time, I'm going to spank you." He got up again, and I swatted him. Gesar being Gesar, he hit me back. He was absolutely indomitable, even at that age. He was just three years old, and I couldn't control him at all, even with physical force. We really started going at it, and Pat had to separate us. She put Gesar to bed, and I stayed out of it.

Gesar was strong willed from day one, and becoming a tulku didn't put a dent in that. He could be quite naughty at times. Gesar was terribly cute, but he was a wild man at that age. At the house in Lafayette, I received a new checkbook in the mail one day. Gesar woke up in the wee hours of the morning and ripped all the checks out and laid them on the living room floor. He then took paints from his room and proceeded to paint not only the checks but the whole carpet in the living room of our rental house. Perhaps this was the first sign that he had inherited some of his father's artistic talent, but I didn't appreciate what he had done at all. During the summer, I took Gesar to Boulder with me to see Rinpoche for a few weeks. While I was home, Rinpoche invited Charles to come for a visit as well. Rinpoche definitely was still courting Charles and pushing the idea that he should start a dressage academy in Boulder. Charles, however, resisted. He wanted to remain in California and wasn't ready to make such a big move. He had just invested in property in southern California, where he hoped to have a successful training school. I also think he was a little intimidated by Rinpoche and the scene around him, and not sure what he would be getting into if he moved to Colorado.

At the end of the summer, when I went back to California to continue my dressage training, Gesar and I moved down to Charles's property in Hesperia, which was in the high desert in southern California. Charles had recently opened his school there, where he felt he could do. more intensive training of both horses and riders. I only stayed for a short period of time, a matter of months, because I was becoming increasingly. frustrated with my riding. I was training intensely, but I wasn't getting the scores that I wanted in competition. I began to feel that there were major holes in my training. I was already competing Vajra Dance at the upper or international levels of dressage, having worked very hard on his training. Still, although the horse was showing at these levels, I didn't feel that my own training was anywhere near complete. Charles would tell me that I shouldn't be so fixated on my scores. However, I felt that they were reflective of my ability and knowledge.

I knew that something was missing. On an ongoing basis I was not scoring nearly as high as I should, based on the time and effort I was putting in and the feedback I was getting from Charles. When I didn't do well in an event and was upset, Charles would just say to me, "Well, a lady would come back after not doing well at a show, have a glass of sherry, and forget about it."

Over time, considerable tension developed between Charles and me about my training. Nevertheless, I enjoyed spending time with him, and I valued his help. I also felt obligated to help him build up his school. He became concerned about being able to make the mortgage payments on the property because it turned out that not enough people were willing to study with him in that remote desert location. He became very stressed out and developed high blood pressure. We continued to have serious disagreements. Finally, I reached a decision that I couldn't get the training that I needed m this situation. I decided to return home to Boulder for a while until I could sort out what the next step for my dressage career might be.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:58 am

ELEVEN

In the Summer of 1976, Gesar and I returned to Boulder to visit Rinpoche, who had just moved into town from Pine Brook Hills. Later that year, we would move into our new home on Mapleton Hill. While the new house was being renovated, Rinpoche was living in a rental at the corner of Seventh Street and Aurora, in an area of Boulder called "the Hill." The house had been owned by Scott Carpenter, who made the second manned spaceflight orbiting the earth in 1962. He named his spacecraft Aurora 7 -- based on the address of his house in Boulder. Rinpoche referred to the house as Aurora 7 in several poems that he wrote that summer.

Rinpoche had asked one of his students, John Perks, to help him put together a household at Aurora 7 modeled, somewhat loosely, on an English court or perhaps the house of an English lord. John himself was English, and he had been a footman and a bar boy in England, so he had a background in English service. More than that, however, he had a great flair for the theatrical and for large, somewhat ostentatious undertakings. He had also worked in several alternative schools in America and taught experiential education at Naropa Institute in 1974 and 1975. John was a colorful character and the perfect person to help Rinpoche create the Kalapa Court. For the next five years, John was intimately involved in Rinpoche's life and in the life of our family. He, was immensely helpful and loyal. However, in the 1980s, around the time that His Holiness the Karmapa passed away, John found it difficult to continue working with Rinpoche at the Court. Problems developed, and finally Rinpoche had to ask John to stop teaching and doing certain other things, which had gotten out of hand, and Johnnie moved away from Boulder and psychologically distanced himself from us.

In this era, however, he was very much in tune with what Rinpoche wanted to do. Together they were creating an Uplifted household atmosphere where many of Rinpoche's students could have direct contact with him by being involved in various areas of our domestic life. John became Rinpoche's butler and the head of his household. Now that I was not planning to live in Boulder year-round, Rinpoche had the freedom to expand the household and to invite more and more people in. He didn't have to worry as much about my reaction to ill of that, and frankly, for short periods of time, I found it quite bearable, enjoyable, and often entertaining. It was theater and pageantry, and I could also see that it was good training in mindfulness and devotion for Rinpoche's students.

The Court approach was certainly influenced by the success of the households that were organized for His Holiness the Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and other major Tibetan teachers. Rinpoche's students loved having this kind of intimate contact with a teacher's everyday life, and it was quite natural to begin to extend that model to Rinpoche. He still was working with somewhat of a corporate model in terms of his office and office staff, but on the home front, the nearest Western model on which to base a Shambhala household seemed to be the courts of European monarchs, with a touch of Asia thrown in the mix; I suppose that if he wanted a more homegrown approach, Rinpoche could have suggested organizing his life around the model of the American White House, which is really another take on a European court, but he was not attracted to this bastion of democracy as a role model for himself or his students.

Most people think of Charles II as the ‘merry monarch’, with his perky Cockney mistress, Nell Gwyn (perhaps the Barbara Windsor of her day), at the centre of a court remarkable for its gaiety, extravagance, and amorous entanglements. The poet John Dryden, always agreeable to the ruling classes, described it as a “laughing, quaffing and unthinking time”, but it is clear that there was widespread disapproval of this ‘brave new world’, as is suggested by the title of poet Samuel Butler’s Satire upon the Licentious Age of Charles the Second.

For those who heretofore sought private holes,
Securely in the dark to damn their souls,
Wore vizards of hypocrisy, to steal
And slink away in masquerade to hell,
Now bring their crimes into the open sun,
For all mankind to gaze their worst upon,
As eagles try their young against his rays,
To prove if they're of gen'rous breed or base;
Call heav'n and earth to witness how they've aim'd,
With all their utmost vigour, to be damn'd,
And by their own examples, in the view
Of all the world, striv'd to damn others too.

-- Satire Upon the Licentious Age of Charles II, by Samuel Butler


Samuel Pepys recorded the king dancing to a popular tune of the time, ‘Cuckolds All A-Row’, which well suggests the cheery, heartless, amoral world of the royal court....

A series of courtiers’ young wives loyally laid themselves down for their (prospective) king, with a view to present or future rewards; Charles was always generous to those who did him service, even when he could not really afford it. These young women, like most of the women in Charles’s life, would have been generally dismissed as ‘buttered buns’ – that is, as women who had been recently possessed by other men, and not to be taken seriously....

Charles had many mistresses in both France and England. One of his servants, Thomas Chiffinch, used to bring them up to him via the back stairs to his room. Charles also had liaisons with many actresses: Mistress Knight, Mistress Weaver; and one, Moll Davis, was given a house; a pension of £1,000 a year; and an expensive ring....

By the end of Charles’s reign, there was an increasing sense of weariness and disgust at what was seen as a degenerate court. In 1683, even one of the previously most debauched libertine courtiers, Charles Sackville, wrote a lengthy satire, or diatribe – beginning:

Go on, my muse, and with bold voice proclaim
The vicious lives and long detested fame
Of scoundrel lords, and their lewd wives’ amours,
Pimp statesmen, canting priests, Court bawds and whores…
...

Certainly the court had devoted itself to pleasure and selfishness, superficial gaiety covering corruption. A good time was had, but it was not really a good time. The intrigues and liaisons were often regarded even then as scandalous.

-- Sex, scandals and betrayals: Charles II and his court: It is said to have been one of the most hedonistic courts in English history – a sexual merry-go-round of flirtation, seductions and infidelities, by History Extra: The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine


The situation at the Aurora 7 house was a bit toned down from the more elaborate scenes that would develop at the Court on Mapleton Avenue in the fill. Rinpoche and John were still experimenting with how to set the whole thing up. Rinpoche had asked Max King to come out from California and be his cook. I think Max was the first full-time cook we had. During the month he spent in California, Rinpoche had been very impressed with Max's talent as a chef and had started calling him "Cookie Divine." Cookie Divine was also a graduate student getting his Ph.D. in psychology, but he put that aspect of his life aside to move to Boulder to cook for Rinpoche.

With Max able to cook almost any meal from the Oriental or Western repertoire that Rinpoche might desire, it was a small step to organizing many dinner parties and setting up a rota for kitchen assistants, servers, and dishwashers. People signed up for these jobs because they got to hang out at the house and witness what unfolded, and on many occasions, Rinpoche would draw them into the action in some way or other. When he met somebody, he instantly connected with them, and he never forgot a face. This I think was because he wasn't just superficially getting to know people, but instantaneously he could see into the deepest parts of a person. A server at the house might have just a small exchange with him while putting a potato on his plate, but it meant a tremendous amount to him or her. The scene was often playful and magical, I must say.

On our way back to Tail [July, 1970] we stopped off in New York for the weekend. Rinpoche gave several public talks, one entitled “Meditation in Action” and another called “Tibetan Alchemy.” It was now early July, and his seminars at Tail of the Tiger were due to start in another week. Even now, a mere two months after arriving in the United States, everywhere Rinpoche went he attracted new students. When we came back through New York, there were many more people around all the time. An important and absolutely chance meeting was running into the poet Allen Ginsberg. Allen was with his father, who was quite old and in poor health, and they were trying to hail a taxicab, the same cab we thought we were hailing. We were with someone, perhaps Richard Arthure, who introduced us to Allen. When he learned who Rinpoche was, Allen held his hands in anjali (hands at the heart in a gesture of respect or reverence), bowed, and said “OM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM,” which is the mantra of Padmasambhava, the syllables that invoke the essence of his energy. We all decided to share the cab. After dropping of Allen’s father, we went to Allen’s place, where he and Rinpoche talked for hours about poetry, Buddhism, politics, sex – everything. They wrote poetry together that night, and it was the beginning of a deep dharmic and poetic friendship. Later, when they knew each other better, Allen asked Rinpoche what he thought of being greeted by Padmasambhava’s mantra. Rinpoche told him that at the time he had wondered whether Allen understood what he was saying. Rinpoche had started writing poetry in English while he was in England. He had studied English poetry at Oxford, and his early poems tended to be more formal, with allusions to Christian themes and Greek mythology as well as to Buddhist deities. He also had encountered Japanese haiku in India, which had given him a different idea, a sense of how one might compose poetry that was a more direct reflection of the mind. This was similar to the training he had received from his guru in Tibet in composing dohas, or spontaneous songs of spiritual realization. Allen introduced Rinpoche to the possibility of even greater freedom of expression and a kind of poetry that was as fresh, wild, and evocative as our experience of America. It was the first chapter in a long and important association with American poets and poetics, which had its intense ups and downs. Interestingly enough, this was not the first time that Rinpoche and Allen had met. After Rinpoche’s death, while going through photographs from a visit to India in the early sixties, Allen saw a picture of himself taken at the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie. A young monk was showing him around. He looked closely at the photograph and realized that it was Rinpoche who had taken him on that tour, ten years before they met in New York. Neither one of them realized this when they ran across each other in America.

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


There were dinners in the backyard served by candlelight. John Perks would direct people to move the dining room table and chairs, plus candelabras and good china, and set a beautiful table on the back patio. Sometimes, Rinpoche would have a bed made up in the backyard and he would sleep out there. Osel was home for the summer, and he remembers sleeping under the stars in the backyard with his father.

Earlier in the summer, Rinpoche had invited David Rome, who was now his secretary, to move into the house. David had at first resisted the idea. In response, Rinpoche asked some people to go over to David's house while he was out and turn all the furniture in the whole house upside down. When David came home, he could only think of one person who would pull this practical joke, and he took it as a message that he should agree to live in Rinpoche's house.

Starting in New York earlier in the year, Rinpoche had developed some spontaneous theater, shall we say, in connection with taking his evening pill to control his blood pressure. (He had developed high blood pressure in the early 1970s.) This ritual reached new heights that summer. At the end of an evening at Aurora 7, whoever was there when Rinpoche was getting ready to retire, which often included the servers, would be invited into the living room to witness a spontaneous play. The drama always revolved around Rinpoche taking his medicine. He would speak in what sounded like Japanese, although he didn't know Japanese, and David would tell the audience what he was supposedly saying. The point of the play was that, when Rinpoche would swallow the pill, it was supposed to be committing seppuku, or ritual suicide, as in the Japanese samurai films. Instead of using a sword, Rinpoche would die by the pill. When he actually swallowed the pill, he would fall down on the floor, writhing in what seemed like genuine agony, and sometimes a little saliva would leak out of the corner of his mouth. Then he would fall silent, his eyes would roll up in his head, and frankly, he looked like he was dead. Then he would revive himself and laugh heartily about the whole thing. The first time I witnessed this, I thought we should call an ambulance.



My beloved daughter had no chance against this wicked person, who I believe is a Nazi sympathizer as per his Facebook profile post (see video). As a result of Katsura Kan’s manipulations my daughter is dead, and he is promoting Hitler.

Amazingly, but not surprisingly, he was considered good enough to be hired by Naropa University in Boulder, CO, which is an accredited higher learning institution, where we believe he taught his students without any proper teachings credentials, the destructive dance of Butoh and its philosophy in the classroom which promoted pain, suffering, and death. We will look into what I believe is the undeserved accreditation of this university.

Thank you for watching,

Tibor Stern
On Behalf of the Sharoni Stern Estate
President of F.A.C.T., Inc.



This was the kind of thing that went on at the house, and the excitement around such everyday events was why many people wanted to serve at the house. It is a bit like people signing up to usher at the theater so that they can see the show.

I had witnessed early on in our married life that Rinpoche did not like having paid servants, which he considered demeaning to both them and him. He was never comfortable with the hired help that Marty Franco provided to us. The situation at the emerging Court was quite different. Being around Rinpoche in this intimate, everyday environment was really part of what I would cial the love affair that so many of his students had with him. It was mutual: Rinpoche loved his students tremendously, each one of them, and he wanted to spend time with so many people up close. Being at the Court was a learning experience for people and a way to express their devotion.

That summer, after Osel came home from school in Ojai, we decided that he should stay in Boulder permanently with his father and me, when I was there. He had really gotten all that he needed out of the boarding school situation, and Rinpoche· wanted to spend time with him and also let him spend more time with friends in Boulder. A few years later, some of Rinpoche's students started a private day school called Vidya School in Boulder, which aimed to provide both a good Western education and an education in Buddhism and meditation for the students. Osel went to Vidya for several years while he also was pursuing meditation and Buddhist studies directly with his father.

I don't think I realized at this time how far Rinpoche would go with the whole Court idea. In some ways, it was more organized and less chaotic at the Aurora 7 house than our family life had been before. John was extremely sweet and helpful during this era, and there was a measure of privacy for us at this time. David Rome had almost been a member of our family for years anyway, since he had been helping at the house at Boulder Heights and driving Rinpoche to the office and doing all manner of things for him since late 1973. I suppose I also wasn't so heavily invested in the household being a certain way, because I was just visiting with Gesar that summer. At the end of the summer, I was going to be on my way back to California to continue working with Charles.

Naropa Institute was into its third summer, and Rinpoche taught two major seminars there that year. In June, at the first session, Rinpoche taught a seminar on "Viewing and Working With the Phenomenal World," which was an overview of the Buddhist path, and during the second session he taught a seminar on the "Yogic Songs of Milarepa." There were plans to have Naropa expand from a summer institute into a year-round program, offering degree programs in psychology, Buddhist studies, poetry, and other disciplines. Several times a week, Rinpoche taught in the evenings there, and throughout the summer, he was involved in meetings to discuss the expansion of the institute.

One of the reasons that I came back to spend time in Boulder that summer was that my sister Tessa was getting married at the end of July. She was marrying Douglas Penick, who was a delightful man whom Rinpoche and I were both very fond of. She had had a few difficult and unsuccessful relationships, so we were both very happy about her marriage to Douglas.That summer Rinpoche presided over the weddings of many of his oldest and closest students. There must have been a wedding a week. The ceremonies were held in the shrine room at 1111 Pearl Street, and then most of the receptions were in someone's backyard. This was an era in which many people were settling down into long-term relationships and thinking about starting families. Over the next few years, many children. were born into the Buddhist community, which is one reason that Vidya School got started. There was also a lot of interest in starting a preschool, and in 1976 Alaya Preschool, started by community members, opened in north Boulder.

A major event that summer was the empowerment of Thomas Rich as the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin. The ceremony took place at the end of August in the main shrine room at 1111 Pearl Street, and the hall was packed beyond capacity. More than six hundred people attended. It was a landmark event in the community. Rinpoche decided to hold the Regent's empowerment at the end of a gathering of Vajrayana students, which he called a Vajra Assembly. Students came from all over North America to practice together and to hear Rinpoche lecture on the principles of lineage. The last night, the Regent's empowerment was held. As I mentioned earlier, it was very important to Rinpoche to be able to fully transmit the teachings of his lineage to Westerners. Having a Western regent and dharma heir to preserve his teachings was crucial in his mind. He wanted as many people as possible to witness this event. Everyone had great hopes for the Regent. As part of the ceremony, the Regent took an oath to uphold the Kagyu lineage and the teachings of Buddhism, and he drank what is called oath water, or samaya water, to mark taking this oath. This is a common feature of taking on commitments in the Vajrayana path of Buddhism. According to the tradition, if you uphold your oath, the water you drink will be an aid and act almost like a magic potion to enhance your accomplishment. If you break the oath, it is said that the water will turn to molten lead in your veins and destroy you. It is a heavy-handed commitment, to say the least.

Rinpoche was well aware that the Regent needed training and mentoring over a long period of time if he was going to fully step into the role for which he was being groomed. Rinpoche had already been working with the Regent for a number of years, but they both knew that much more was needed. So while Rinpoche expressed his appreciation for what the Regent had already accomplished, Rinpoche also put a great deal of thought into how to work further with his educational process. Rinpoche told me that he wanted Osel Tendzin and his family to move into the house with us on Mapleton Avenue, the future home of the Kalapa Court. He wanted to have intimate, day-to-day contact with the Regent as part of their work together.

The Regent and Lila had their second son, Anthony, earlier that summer. Rinpoche and I were both at the hospital the night he was born. We were in the waiting room when the Regent came out to say that they had another son and that it had been a difficult birth. The four Riches -- the Regent, Lila, Vajra, and Anthony -- would be joining Rinpoche, Osel, Gesar, and me at the Kalapa Court on Mapleton. I didn't see this as a problem at that time. Again, I was planning to be away a fair amount of time each year until my dressage training was completed. I realized that making the decision to pursue my own career was good not only for my discipline, but for my greater sanity, given the expansion of our personal life into a bigger and bigger scene.

Rinpoche also let people know that summer that he was planning to take almost the entire next year, 1977, as a year of retreat. He was going to spend the year in a house near Charlemont, Massachusetts, where he had done other short retreats in the early seventies. Jean-Claude van Itallie, the playwright, had offered Rinpoche the use of the house. Rinpoche was going to take John Perks and Max King into retreat as his staff, and various people would visit throughout the year. However, he would not be teaching at Naropa the following summer, and he was going to turn over the running of the administration to Osel Tendzin. Rinpoche said, among other things, that by leaving for a year both he and his students would get a much better idea of what had actually been transmitted and where further work was needed. While he was away from Boulder, I didn't expect to spend that much time in town, so for that reason also I was not worried about having other people living in our home. In fact, I thought it would be a good idea if the house were not left empty with both of us away.

At the end of the summer, Rinpoche went to Rocky Mountain Dharma Center and I headed to Charles's new location in southern California. The fourth Vajradhatu Seminary took place that fall in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin, at the King's Gate Hotel. This year there were close to two hundred students attending the seminary. Rinpoche had a suite of rooms in the hotel that he lived in toward the end of the seminary, but which he initially used mainly to hold meetings and to prepare his talks. His actual residence was a tiny little trailer on a lake about a half-hour's drive from the hotel. Max went to the seminary as Rinpoche's cook and lived in the second bedroom in the trailer. Various people from the seminary would come over to help with the cooking, cleaning, and driving, but Rinpoche had a very modest domestic situation, almost retreatlike in its simplicity.

This seminary was notable in that Rinpoche began to present the Shambhala teachings on warriorship and enlightened society while he was there. During the Vajrayana section of that seminary, he gave a number of teachings about the meaning of Shambhala and its importance for the modern age. Since he had left Tibet in 1959, the only terma teaching that he had received was the Sadhana if Mahamudra, which he discovered when he did his retreat in Bhutan in 1969. He had found a number of terma in Tibet as a young man, but he hadn't received anything else since the experience in Bhutan. At Land O' Lakes, he received the first Shambhala terma that he discovered in the West, and this was really a turning point in both the content and the style of his teaching in America.

While he was at Land O' Lakes, Rinpoche first received a symbol of the Shambhala teachings as terma, rather than a written teaching. While he was staying in that tiny cabin on the lake, one night he stayed up all night after giving a talk, and sometime before dawn, he started doing calligraphy with large Japanese brushes, using sumi ink on white paper. He kept doing the same calligraphy stroke over and over. It didn't have a name, but Rinpoche felt that it meant something important. He shared it with David Rome, who was teaching a course at the seminary, and with a few other students, but he didn't want it generally distributed to anyone. A few days later, a Shambhala text, called the Golden Sun of the Great East, arose in his mind. It described the stroke and its significance and gave it a name: the stroke of Ashe, The text talked about how to overcome the spiritual, psychological, and political obstacles and the degeneration of the current era by connecting with human dignity and manifesting the confidence and strength embodied in the Ashe symbol.

About a week later, Rinpoche left the seminary to teach a course at Karme Choling, and while he was there, he wrote a long commentary on the text he had received. Together, these writings constitute what I would call almost a manual of political and psychological strategy for working with conflict and aggression. This text is often referred to as the "root text," because it is the root of so many Shambhala teachings that Rinpoche transmitted. He felt that only a few of his students were ready to receive these teachings directly at that point, and he and David worked together to decide how to share this material. A few days after Rinpoche received the stroke of Ashe and the root text, the Vajra Regent visited the seminary, and Rinpoche gave him and a few other people transmission in doing this calligraphy stroke as a practice.

A program of study eventually was developed, called Shambhala Education, to present the groundwork to people so they could understand and apply the teachings in the text. Further Shambhala texts unfolded over the next two years, a whole cycle of Shambhala terma, which Rinpoche said came not directly from Padmasambhava, but from Padmasambhava as he manifested in the form of King Gesar of Ling and from the mind of the Rigden kings, the rulers of the Shambhala kingdom. These discoveries would have a huge and intimate effect on our lives, perhaps not so much immediately, but more and more as time went on. The Shambhala teachings became the driving force for Rinpoche in the last ten years of his life.

One of the correlations between the teachings and our personal lives was that this text and all the subsequent texts used the language and the symbolism of monarchy and a royal existence. This is also very much the language that is often used in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. Rinpoche talked a great deal about ruling your life as part of the Shambhala teachings. In Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom if Shambhala, he said:

Royalty in the Shambhala world is not based on creating a Shambhala elite or a class system. In that case, I wouldn't share the Shambhala vision with everybody. I wouldn't be telling you about this at all. I would probably have selected ten or twenty people to hear about the universal monarch who joins heaven and earth rather than discussing this openly. Why should I tell you these things? One of our topics, gentleness and opening up, has something to do with it. Every one of you can join heaven and earth. You could be a king or queen-every one of you. That's the switcheroo, the great switcheroo. That's why the entire vision is shared with everyone. That is a very important point.1


He was not referring here to some system of building up confidence in yourself in, say, the fashion of self-improvement or the human potential movement, which he really detested because he felt these approaches make false promises and do not address the fundamental, underlying issues. He was talking about a much more complete process of transformation, by seeing your life as a whole and realizing that you can conquer the obstacles you encounter, not through aggression or bravado but through the application of gentleness, intelligence, and fearlessness-the fundamental qualities of the Shambhala warrior. He truly believed that every human being could do this.

He also felt that the teacher in this situation has to set the example for the students, as is true throughout the Buddhist teachings. In presenting the Shambhala teachings of enlightened society, he felt that his own life should be an example, his life should be an open book, or an open court, I guess. In some way, this had always been true, but clearly this was moving to another level.

As mentioned earlier, in Tibet Rinpoche's teacher Jamgon Kongtrul talked to him about how a monk might have to become a king for the teachings of the Buddha to survive in the modern world. At first, Rinpoche seemed to think that this mainly meant that the presentation of Buddhism in the West would need to be more secular, less monastic. Beginning in this era, however, he began to see this as more literal advice. I think he felt that he was to be a messenger for the Rigden kings as well as their servant; he felt that he had to embody the enlightened energy of Shambhala as best as he could. And the model for that, in terms of everyday life, was the court of the king and queen. Voila the Kalapa Court. Voila its occupants: Rinpoche and me.

Previously I mentioned that, around 1974, the people at Karme Choling had purchased an old farmhouse about a ten-minute drive from the main building for Rinpoche and our family. The name he gave it, Bhumipali Bhavan, means "the dwelling place of the female earth protector." The Sanskrit word Bhumipali in Tibetan is Sakyong Uilngmo. At the 1976 seminary, Rinpoche gave a talk about Bhumipala, the male earth protector, as the guardian of the dharma. He assumed the tide of Sakyong, the Tibetan for Bhumipala, within the year. In Tibetan mythology, the Sakyong is the messenger or the representative of the Rigden kings on earth, since they are now supposed to be in a celestial realm. A few years later, Rinpoche and I would both take a formal empowerment as Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo, or Bhumipala and Bhumipali, depending on whether you use the Tibetan or the Sanskrit. His Holiness· Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche conferred this empowerment on us. But back in 1974, when we were just at the end of living a semi-hippie life, Rinpoche already was employing the term Bhumipali to refer to me.

He also referred to me as the Sakyong Wangmo in a poem he wrote while I was home in the summer of 1976. He wrote: "She is the only Sakyong Wangmo / ... She deserves to be coronated in the midst of Shambhala kingdom as the only monarch who exists as Vajra queen." At the time, I didn't pay much attention to these references. Little did I know what was in store for me.

I returned to Boulder in early December 1976, somewhat uncertain about the future of my riding career now that things had fallen apart with Charles. I came home to move into our new home with Rinpoche et al, to spend the holidays together as a family and to give Gesar and myself some time with Rinpoche before he left for his long retreat.

I knew that our new home was to be called the Kalapa Court and I knew that Rinpoche was moving in the direction of a much grander lifestyle that would include many more people being and working in our home, but I wasn't prepared for what I encountered. While Rinpoche was concluding the seminary that fall, John had been busy creating a rather over-the-top courtlike situation to receive him. The house had been furnished in the style of an upper-class English manor house, not unlike what the Ham Manor of my childhood had been like, but with the addition of a lot more brocade. Additionally, there was the influence of an Oriental and often specifically Japanese aesthetic, at this point more in the little touches than in the furniture or layout as a whole. In consultation with Rinpoche, John had arranged for a young couple to join the household staff: Bob Vogler and his fiancee Shari. They had been living at Karme Choling but moved to Boulder to live and work at the Court. Bob was to be the butler working under John, and Shari was in charge of housekeeping and worked in the kitchen under Max. While Rinpoche was away in 1977, they would be the main staff for the Regent and his family. John also had assembled a cadre of volunteers to serve at the house, and he had created uniforms for them. The women who worked in the kitchen wore red aprons; those serving in the rest of the house wore white aprons with very ostentatious white shoulders over a black dress. We began referring to them as "the penguins." There were people arranging flowers, polishing brass doorknobs, greeting you at the door, taking your coat, bringing you something to drink, setting the table, and performing all manner of household functions.

John, Shari, and Bob all lived in rooms in the basement. On the main floor, there was a library off the large entry hall as well as a living room with a large mantle and fireplace, behind which was the formal dining room. There was a lot of dark wood paneling in this house. The kitchen was also on the main floor. Rinpoche and I had a bedroom with a sitting room upstairs, and Osel's room was on the second floor. Gesar lived on the top floor with Pat Adducci. It was very good for him that he had the continuity of his relationship with Pat throughout all the changes in our life at this time. The Regent, Lila, and their children had their rooms on the second floor as well. The so-called servants could be found on all floors at all hours of the day and night performing all manner of tasks.

When Rinpoche arrived, he was delighted by the Court, and he immediately began to have receptions, dinners, and other social gatherings at the house, inviting as many members of the sangha as he could into our home. You might be invited as a guest one night and return as a servant the next. People were anxious to be around the house as much as possible since this was where people felt it was all "happening" at this time. The word spread that casual dress was out. Men came to dinner in suits and ties; women in cocktail dresses and high heels. The dress code had been changing for some time, but many still looked uncomfortable in their new apparel, with the men's hair shortened, the ladies' carefully coiffed. People also began to practice their table manners before going to dinner at the Court. There were, infact, classes on both serving and proper guest etiquette offered to members of the sangha.

During this period, I had to buy a lot of clothes. I was trying to find a happy medium between frumpy and fashionable, and I bought a black jacket that I thought was attractive. Rinpoche told me, "It's not tailored that well for you." It was the first time that Rinpoche had been critical of my dress. So then I said to John Perks, "Well, don't you think that this looks good?" John replied, "Well, madam, although anything you wear looks wonderful on you, I think that you could have a more tailored jacket." I believe I dumped the jacket and bought something else.

The evening gatherings at the Mapleton Court often led to sessions of calligraphy practice late at night, usually held in the entryway, where Rinpoche would demonstrate the new Shambhala practice and initiate students on the spot. These proceedings usually were accompanied by readings from the new Shambhala text. There were rumors about all this flying throughout the community, and there was tremendous curiosity about the Shambhala teachings that Rinpoche had received and was now beginning to present. In fact, people's curiosity and desire to be included were whetted by the fact that the whole thing was supposed to be a big secret, but everyone had heard something about it.

Rinpoche was, at this stage, introducing people to this new material in small informal gatherings. Within a few months, classes and study groups were organized at Karma Dzong, but for now, most of the transmissions took place at our home. Many nights that December and January, if you drove down Mapleton Avenue, you would see lights blazing at number 550. From the street, you might see a throng of people at three A.M. congregated in the front hallway. I'm sure our neighbors wondered what we Were up to. The guests were usually either practicing calligraphy or watching others. As part of this practice, at one point, the person performing the stroke touches the brush to the tip of the tongue. Frequently, especially in the early days, people overdid this part of the practice and ended up with a quantity of black sumi ink on their tongue and teeth. Later, if someone smiled at you, he or she often revealed a distinct black stain on the inside of the mouth. It could be a bit ghoulish.

A week before Christmas, the community held the official opening of Dorje Dzong, which means "indestructible fortress." This event marked the community's move into a new building at 1345 Spruce Street, which remains the headquarters in Boulder today. The new location was a three-story stone office building. It was acquired early in 1976, and throughout most of the year, renovations had been going on. The top floor was turned into a beautiful shrine room, with twenty-foot ceilings. The room could hold many more people than the old location, which we had completely outgrown at this point. The thangka of the Buddha, which the queen of Bhutan had given to Rinpoche so many years ago, was installed as the centerpiece of the new shrine. On either side of it were banners designed by Rinpoche bearing the logos for Vajradhatu that he had created. A few years later, Rinpoche would invite Sherab Palden Beru to come over from Scotland to paint a huge new thangka of the Buddha Vajradhara especially for the shrine room. During his last visit to America, His Holiness the Karmapa placed his handprint in ink on the back of this thangka to consecrate this beautiful and powerful image.

On the second floor of the new building, Rinpoche had a suite of offices, called "A Suite," and the Regent was given a suite on the other end of the floor, called "B Suite." Classrooms and other offices were located mainly in the basement and on the main floor. Almost the entire Boulder community attended the opening of the building, which was held in the shrine room. The room was packed. The ceremony was very similar to one held in 1972 to mark the opening of 1111 Pearl Street: Rinpoche lit the candles on the main shrine and then, from one of those candles, he lit another candle which he passed to the Regent, who lit his candle, and then the light was passed from one person to another. Each person was holding a candle, so that by the end, there were close to a thousand lights glimmering in the room.

In late December, at our house, we were preparing to celebrate Christmas. I had always enjoyed this holiday: I loved to have a tree and exchange gifts. Rinpoche was not so keen on Christmas because of its obvious Christian connotations. (Two years later he inaugurated the celebration of Children's Day on the winter solstice as an alternative festival.) However, this year he didn't object to my decorating the house and buying gifts for the children, and we planned to have a nice family Christmas dinner together in our new home.

I had not seen my mother since the day she. had recoiled from touching her grandchildren; I had heard stories from my sister that Mother was spending what was left of her funds on private detectives to keep tabs on me. At one point, earlier this year, a story had spread that my mother had taken out a contract on Rinpoche's life. This probably wasn't true, but the danger seemed very real at the time. At one point, the vajra guards, the Dorje Kasung, were told to be on alert against this possibility. Frankly, I think Rinpoche probably enjoyed having a threat like this to heighten the awareness of the Dorje Kasung.

In any case, I thought that I might never see my mother again. I certainly had no plans to reconcile with her, especially now that she seemed to be trying to get my husband killed! She had somewhat made peace with Tessa, and to my great surprise, she decided to come to Boulder to have Christmas with Tessa and Douglas. We knew that she was in town, but I planned to ignore her completely.

Then, seemingly out of the blue and certainly not to my liking, Rinpoche announced on Christmas Day that he would like to invite my mother to dinner with Douglas and Tessa. I was astounded. I thought that there was not a chance that she would accept. So I said, "Go ahead."

Rinpoche asked his kasung to drive the Mercedes over to Tessa's house, which was only about a five-minute drive from our home. He asked the kasung to deliver an invitation to Mrs. Pybus, my mother, to come for Christmas dinner. The kasung dutifully went with the invitation, but returned empty-handed. Mrs. Pybus had replied that she would only accept the invitation if Rinpoche would come himself and beg her forgiveness on bended knee for having stolen her daughter away.

Rinpoche was so excited. He was already dressed to the nines for dinner, and he immediately asked for his coat and hat and went off with the driver. He went to Tessa's house, where he went down on his knees and apologized to Mrs. Pybus for taking he; daughter and invited her back to Christmas dinner. She was, I think, completely disarmed by his willingness to humble himself in this manner. She accepted the invitation.

They arrived back at the house together, with Tessa and Douglas in tow as well. I was somewhat in shock. Rinpoche, however, was beaming. As you can imagine, my mother was thoroughly impressed with the house, the dinner, the service -- the whole thing. It was quite different from our lifestyle a few years earlier. In addition to our family, the Regent and Lila and their family joined us for dinner, and I believe there were several other guests, nicely dressed and on their very best behavior. My mother made charming chitchat with people, and she herself was clearly charmed. She and Rinpoche had a long conversation about the history of European architecture over drinks. By the end of the evening, she was completely won over. Rinpoche sent his car to take her home, the perfect crowning touch.

We saw her almost every day during the rest of her visit in Boulder. She couldn't get enough of Rinpoche or the Court. A few days later, Rinpoche arranged to have a formal reception for her at the fanciest hotel in Boulder, which at this time was the Harvest House. He rented the largest ballroom there, and told all his students to wear formal attire. Women came in long dresses and white gloves; men rented tuxedos. Handel's Water Music, which Rinpoche loved, was playing over the sound system as people arrived and were introduced. There was a receiving line where each person was formally presented to Mrs. Pybus, who was clearly being showcased as something equivalent to the Queen Mother in our world. If there was a contract out on Rinpoche, my mother certainly cancelled it at that point. She was utterly enthralled at this point with her son-in-law and the world in which he was living, as well as her potential position in that world.

Rinpoche was enormously pleased with himself for having won her over. That first evening, after she went home from Christmas dinner, we sat up for awhile in the living room talking about what had happened. At one point, he turned to me with a huge smile on his face and said, "If I can conquer your mother, I can conquer the whole world!" At that moment, I had to agree with him. The next day he wrote a poem to celebrate his victory:

The Kalapa Court: Conquering the Pybuses

Big mountains don't apologize to other mountains
All oceans are big oceans
Big mind sweeps away the little chitchat
Genuine surprise disperses dark corners
Proclamation of the lion's roar is different from the mouse's squeak
Seeing through, conquering, accomplishing beyond two nervous daughters and their neurosis
Eat big meal.
Drink large sake
And solve enormous problem
In the name of the tiger lion garuda dragon dignity
My love and gratitude to David Humphrey Pybus

(BOULDER, COLORADO, DECEMBER 26, 1976)2
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:44 am

TWELVE

My mother never again complained about my marriage to Rinpoche. He very quickly gave her a sense of position and belonging within the Shambhala world that he was creating. In some sense, it fulfilled her long-held desire to be an important person in society, although not in the society in which she had tried for so long to be accepted. She became very fond of her grandchildren, and seemingly forgot that they were less than lily white. Within a year, she closed up her household in England and moved to Boulder. She remained there until a few years after Rinpoche's death, when she returned to England to receive health care during her final years. Although she and I remained somewhat cool to one another, outwardly we had a fairly good mother-daughter relationship. It was amazing what a complete transformation she underwent. She became a beloved adviser and mentor to many people in the Buddhist community, who looked to her for advice on everything from etiquette to conducting their romantic relationships.

While she was still in Boulder, following her conversion experience over Christmas, Rinpoche invited her to attend the first Shambhala empowerment ceremony that he conducted. This took place at the Kalapa Court on January 1, 1977. Rinpoche wanted to create a complete court situation, or mandala, and to place his most trusted students in positions of authority within the Shambhala world, not just to hold the seat of the ruler himself. His first court appointment was installing David Rome as the Dorje Kasung, the "indestructible command protector" of Shainbhala. I believe that, in making this and other Shambhala appointments, Rinpoche was trying to formulate and put into effect the principles that are important in governing one's life and a society as a whole. The principle of command protector has to do with maintaining order. David used to joke that he was the Sakyong's "top cop." (David used this phrase quite humorously, in a way that made it sound like something from Gilbert and Sullivan.) In his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, Rinpoche said that law and order have to do with the natural hierarchy that exists in the world. He used the four seasons as a good example of this nonvertical sense of order and predictability in life. Rinpoche felt that society should have a similar sense of orderly flow. David's real role was, I think, to point out how to live one's life in accordance with that fundamental order, rather than to police our Shambhala society.

The ceremony was held in the dining room of the Court, which had been completely emptied of its usual furniture. A shrine was set up along one wall of the room and there were meditation cushions on the floor to accommodate the fifty or so guests who were invited to witness the ceremony. Rinpoche and I sat in chairs on either side of the shrine, while David kneeled on a cushion facing us and the shrine. David was asked questions about his understanding of the teachings contained in the Golden Sun of the Great East text. Then, as part of the ceremony, he was asked to perform the stroke of Ashe on the spot. As he made the calligraphy stroke, all of those assembled loudly chanted the warrior's victory cry: KI KI SO SO ASHE LHA GYAL LO TAK SENG KHYUNG DRUK DI YAR KYE. This chant invokes the energy of Shambhala and the supreme confidence of the warrior. As part of the ceremony, Rinpoche appointed David to the Order of the Dragon of Shambhala, which Rinpoche created on the spot. The Shambhala text that he was teaching from at this time talks a great deal about the enlightened qualities of the warrior in terms of the tiger, the lion, the garuda (a mythical bird like the phoenix), and the dragon. Later, Rinpoche also wrote about these aspects of the Shambhala teachings in Shambhala:The Sacred Path of the Warrior. The dragon is associated with inscrutability, which in the Shambhala teachings refers to mind beyond mind, mind that is completely fearless, open, and fathomless rather than the normal connotation of some kind of reticence or sneakiness. Around David's neck, during the ceremony Rinpoche placed a medal he himself was given many years previously, when he received the Order of Bhutan from the Bhutanese royal family. It was not a permanent gift to David. Rinpoche used it during the ceremony in place of the real Order of the Dragon medal that did not yet exist. Rinpoche expected to design and have many Shambhala medals executed in the future. (In fact, some were designed during his retreat in the coming year, and a few were manufactured in England. He designed others that were never actually crafted, including the Order of the Dragon.)

Around this time, Rinpoche had also asked David Rome to assume the leadership of the vajra guards. I believe that he chose David for this role in part because he was such a thoroughly gentle person. David abhorred pretense and violence, so I think that Rinpoche felt that David would safeguard the Dorje Kasung situation and ensure that it did not become some sort of paramilitary joke. On the contrary,. Rinpoche wanted it to be a vehicle to conquer aggression. I think David was quite challenged by being asked to take on a leadership role in this aspect of Rinpoche's world. But he really did have the strength of mind to be a great general, and he was well respected for his integrity and honesty. In one of several poems that Rinpoche composed to mark this occasion, he wrote:

Dorje Kasung is genuine general
He respects the grand lady and her husband
In brief, Dorje Kasung is the razor knife
With rubber handle
Because he is tough and soft at once
May such Dorje Kasungship expand in our kingdom ....
Long live the Order of the Dragon,
Inscrutability1


On January 3, 1977, we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. It seemed that so much had happened in such a short span of years! That day, Rinpoche conducted another ceremony, this one from the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. The first group of about forty. students had completed all of the ngondro, the preliminary practices first introduced following the 1973 seminary. This represented about one-third of the students who had attended the first seminary. It was quite impressive that such a high percentage of the students finished in this period of time. Following the completion of these preliminaries, a student may request that the teacher enter him or her into the practice and the mandala, or the world, of a Vajrayana deity, or yidam. In this case, a yidam represents binding one's mind to the Vajrayana practice and understanding of wakefulness. It has nothing to do with an outside entity. If the teacher accepts the student, he or she receives abhisheka, a Sanskrit word that translates as "initiation" or "empowerment." The word in Tibetan, wangkur, literally means a "field of power." On this day, Rinpoche gave the Vajrayogini abhisheka to these students plus a few other senior students, including David Rome and the Vajra Regent, who hadn't finished the preliminaries but whom he decided to include anyway. (I did not receive this empowerment until 1984.)

The principle of Vajrayogini is depicted as a sixteen-year-old, very beautiful, and somewhat threatening, maiden. She is red in color and represents, among other things, the wisdom of complete non-thought, or wisdom that cuts through all conceptions. She is often the first yidam that is given to students, and I think that Rinpoche felt that the simplicity and power of the practice would be particularly appropriate for Western students. The abhisheka is quite a long and involved ceremony, taking most of a day to complete. Rinpoche had been working for several years on the translation of the text, or the sadhana, that students would practice after receiving this empowerment. He felt that it was absolutely necessary that students practice this liturgy in English so they would know what they were chanting, what they were visualizing, and why. The group that worked with him on this translation, the Nalanda Translation Committee, has continued on -- having completed many important translation projects. Rinpoche always enjoyed his meetings with the translators, and he put a great deal of time into working with them.

Altogether, it felt like a great achievement to reach this stage in the presentation of Vajrayana in America. During Rinpoche's lifetime, he conducted this abhisheka ten times, and more than one thousand students received this initiation from him. From small gestures in Rinpoche's life, big things would often come!

Shortly after he finished the abhisheka program, which included not only the ceremony itself but also a number of training sessions, Rinpoche jumped right back into furthering the Shambhala world. This time, he held a joint ceremony for the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin and myself. He appointed Osel Tendzin as the Katham Sikyong or the "keeper of the command seal of Shambhala," which was equivalent, according to Rinpoche, to being the Lord Chancellor of Shambhala. His role was to take the visionary aspect of the Shambhala teachings, as presented by Rinpoche, and to communicate it and execute its vision in terms of practicality. It was also to be his role to understand the needs and wishes of community members and communicate those to Rinpoche, so that there would be a sense of heaven -- the Sakyong's vision -- and earth -- the needs of the people -- being joined.

I was formally appointed as the Sakyong Wangmo during this ceremony. In some ways, my role as described by Rinpoche was similar to the Regent's, in that he saw it as my responsibility to encourage communication in all forms within the Shambhala world. He also talked about the Sakyong Wangmo principle in terms of creating harmony and a sense of elegance.

The Regent received the Order of the Great Eastern Sun, and I was given the Order of the Rigden. Again, these awards were created on the spot.

Johnny-on-the-spot
a person who is at hand whenever needed.
"he appears to have become the financial Johnny-on-the-spot for Mr. Meese"


-- Oxford English Dictionary


Rinpoche did not say a great deal about the meaning of our awards, but I believe that the Order of the Great Eastern Sun has to do with connecting with the overall brilliance and wakefulness of Shambhala, while the Order of the Rigden was given to me to signify my connection to the principle of rulers hip within Shambhala. The setting was similar to the ceremony for David Rome: the guests assembled in the dining room on cushions; the Regent and I were seated facing Rinpoche and the shrine. We were questioned on our understanding of Shambhala principles, and we performed the stroke of Ashe. To seal our appointments, we took an oath, which David had also taken, in which we offered our eyes, tongue, and heart -- symbolically -- to furthering the sanity of the kingdom of Shambhala. This is very similar to the Vajrayana oaths that students take. Essentially, because the energies are so powerful and somewhat dangerous, the commitment that is required is also very heavy. It is not so much that someone is going to come and throw you in jail if you violate your oath or your position; the idea is more that you will destroy yourself if you become an egomaniac rather than becoming more gentle and exposed. Of course, there is a lot of middle ground -- but the idea is that one should not take on this kind of commitment casually. In fact, it felt as though we were assuming quite a serious responsibility to assist in safeguarding and furthering the sanity and wakefulness of the Shambhala world.

When I look back, I think that Rinpoche's decision to give the two of us this Shambhala empowerment together was quite a deliberate, strategic move. In part, I think that Rinpoche saw our roles as complementary, and he always hoped that we would see that commonality of purpose and find ways to work together. But I also think that Rinpoche was trying to address the interpersonal tension between Osel Tendzin and me by putting us together for this empowerment.

You see, from the time the Regent moved into the Court, he and I did. not get along too well. From this time onward, although I tried to connect with the Regent, the chemistry between us was not very compatible. In the beginning, the very early years, I was quite fond of him. Later, when he lived with us, I had a harder time with him. I felt that he ignored other people's feelings to a certain extent and that there was a certain lack of identification with others. Rinpoche was raised almost from birth in a position of responsibility and rulership. His teachers in Tibet had hammered into him the need to behave properly, with gentleness, and not to mistake his position as an opportunity to lord it over others. But for the Regent, and all of us in the West, we were entering into uncharted territory and assuming leadership positions with no prior experience and few sane reference points. We were walking into a minefield where our lack of training and our insecurities were liable to explode into arrogance.

None of us were angels at that point. We all had our own neuroses, which were quite full blown in that era. Nevertheless, I perceived a lack of empathy in the Regent that used to trouble me. I always could connect with Lila a lot more. I felt that she had more sympathy for other people. It used to scare me sometimes how the Regent treated people because it was so different from how Rinpoche treated people. I had a basic mistrust of the Regent for a long time. I know this bothered Rinpoche, and he periodically tried to push me together with the Regent. He wanted the communication to be more workable between us. In the end, though, the Regent had very little respect for me, and I had not very much for him. I objected to his ostentatious, slightly Americanized style. I also questioned his personal discipline. He seemed self-indulgent, and he could get really carried away with himself. On the other hand, I'm sure he was struggling with who and what he was supposed to be as the Regent. I was young and quite unreasonable at times too. We just didn't hit it off.

After our joint Shambhala empowerment, Rinpoche wrote poems about each of us, in which he talked about our neurotic and our enlightened qualities. He also said in each poem something to the effect that Diana was the Regent and the Regent was Diana. I think that he was hoping that we would find a mutual working basis, a meeting of minds, and that we would come to appreciate one another. I'm afraid that in the long run it didn't do much to affect our relationship. We both tried over the years, but we were never overly fond of one another.

These poems, which appear at the end of this chapter, reveal how Rinpoche saw his students' potential. The working basis that he had with all of us was rooted in acknowledging the diversity and complexity of our basic being. He always saw both the potentially enlightened aspect of someone as well as the confused, neurotic side. Given the problems that developed later with Osel Tendzin, people have often asked both why Rinpoche chose Osel Tendzin to be his Regent and whether Rinpoche made a fundamental mistake in doing so. I don't think so. I believe that he perceived genuine brilliance in his dharma heir, which all of us could see, as well as the Regent's potential for compassion and for greatly benefiting others.

Rinpoche also saw the other side: all the issues that could become problematic in the future. However, he did not believe that some people are good and others bad. He thought that everyone was workable and that the raw material of ego could be hammered into the gold of genuine spiritual realization. So here, in these poems, Rinpoche is pointing out all the qualities in the Regent and in myself that could lead to problems, and at the same time, he was saying: you are actually Tiger; you are actually Lion; you are actually Garuda; you are actually Dragon -- you are actually the embodiment of the sanity or the potential achievements of the Shambhala world. Click into that. Be that. Rinpoche was astute. He knew, with both of us and with all of his students, that there was the potential to miss the point completely. I think we -- the Regent, myself, and Rinpoche's students in general -- understood that the greater the responsibility that we accepted in his world, the greater the potential for failure -- as well as for success -- and the greater the penalties for failing.

Rinpoche's approach was always twofold: first, seeing and believing in the inseparability of neurosis and sanity, samsara and nirvana, and second, applying the skillful means to bring that potential to fruition and thus to produce realization in one lifetime for a human being. That is the unique insight of the Vajrayana teachings altogether and a hallmark of Rinpoche's teaching in the West. I think this is something that distinguishes him from other teachers and has made his teaching the basis of genuine dharma taking root in the West. He actually applied this insight in his work with his students. It wasn't just theoretical. He trusted that realization was possible, intensification of one's path was required, and he put people into situations that would cause that to happen.

Toward the end of January, His Holiness the Karmapa arrived for his second visit in North America. There were thousands of people in North America who wanted to meet His Holiness and receive his blessings. In Boulder a large white mansion on Mapleton Hill, about six blocks from our house, was rented for him. We nicknamed it the Wedding Cake House because it had so many columns and the exterior was so ornate. Once again, there were armies of attendants, drivers, cooks, and members of the Dorje Kasung to help with the visit. Rinpoche was to depart for Charlemont to begin his retreat in late February, but before his departure, he took time to travel to San Francisco with the Karmapa as well as to receive him in Boulder.

In San Francisco, His Holiness performed the Vajra Crown ceremony for several thousand followers of EST, or Erhard Seminar Training, which was popular in this era. EST was started by Werner Erhard, who was quite enamored of His Holiness and asked him to do the Vajra Crown ceremony for his students. Rinpoche thought that Erhard was something of a charlatan, although he also seemed to find him interesting, or perhaps amusing would be a better word. Before the Vajra Crown ceremony itself, His Holiness asked Rinpoche to make remarks to the assembled students explaining what would happen. Rinpoche told the crowd to keep their shirts on -- metaphorically speaking. It was a bit cryptic, but it seemed to be addressing their tendency to bliss out, or indulge in the energy.

While he was in San Francisco, Rinpoche also celebrated the Shambhala New Year with His Holiness. (The celebration of the new year in Tibet is based on the lunar calendar and usually occurs in late January or February.) Rinpoche arranged for these celebrations to take place at the Karmapa's mansion in San Francisco. The day included three banquets: an Indian breakfast, a Tibetan lunch, and a Chinese dinner. Rinpoche had invited my mother to go along on this trip. She was completely overwhelmed by the Karmapa. Apparently, when my mother had an audience with him, she proposed marriage to him. She said to him, "This would be very convenient. It would be all in the family. My daughter is married to Trungpa Rinpoche so maybe you should marry me." His Holiness was very kind to her. He said that, if he were the marrying sort of person, he would definitely consider marrying her. Since he was the Karmapa, however, he had to remain a monk and unfortunately couldn't accept her proposal.

So our family journey and the larger journey continued. At the end of February, Rinpoche was off to Charlemont for what I hoped would be a much-needed rest for him. Little did I know that Rinpoche's idea of "retreat" was what most people would consider formulating a campaign. I was soon to be off to Europe to continue my training in dressage. From rebellious English teenager, to young mother, to Queen of Shambhala -- the transformations were somewhat overwhelming. Essentially, I felt that I was just a young woman embarking on my life, with so much to learn. I still did not fully understand what it meant to be the guru's wife, let alone to be a king's consort! And really it was only beginning.

Katham Sikyong: Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Command Seal, Prodigy of the Sakyong

He is called after my son's name
He is a funny man because he is almost lady dragon
He is obviously inscrutable; he possesses many faces
He was a Hindu rat; he was a stapling machine; he was a sandal
Before I met him he was a creep; when I met him he was decent
When I told him he cried
He is a very intriguing young gentleman
He is nobody, somebody
I was shocked when he shaved his beard because he looked too ingratiating
Then he was a director administrator fighter commander
For the first time he was a tiger cub: He learned to lick himself and clean up just like a cat
Then he was a jaguar: He began to eat raw meat
When he began to suck my own milk from my tit, the Vajra Master amrita potion, he began to become dangerously dangerous: he wouldn't smile
He still didn't have good posture, however
He was willing to fight the heretics with claw and teeth
He met his grandfather, he learned how to behave, then he began to see the Great Eastern Sun: he became chic
He was being molded by the Kingdom; finally he became civilized
My Lord Chancellor, today you have assumed the second-generation project
Now you are vajra and ghanta with Ashe on it
O Lord Chancellor, please sit on Shambhala rug
However, the Lord Chancellor's tree had a tractor, telephone, machine gun, central heating in the oriental sneak
You are protection cord, you are band-aid, you are aspirin, you are Dettol, you are Marmite
You are Mercedes, you are Rolls Royce
You are actually Diana Judith
You are actually Tiger, you are actually Lion, you are actually Garuda, you are actually Dragon
You are what you are in the name of the Great Eastern Sun
In brief: you are the genuine Kiku Masamune of the Discoverer's Selection
Glory be to the Holder of the Order of the Great Eastern Sun.2


Sakyong Wangmo: The Grand Lady of the Realm, the Lady of the Razor Knife

She she she she: She is the she
She is the first lady of she, the youngest oldest lady of she
When she is she, she is ideal Ashe: Tough lady good lady gentle lady but nevertheless she is she
When she begins to become her we have problems
However, when her becomes she, she is majestically the Grand Lady of the Realm
She is thread, she is threat, she is beautiful, she is confusing, she is genuine, she is red, she is purple
She is Vajrayogini
She deceives us sometimes: She pretends to be the occidental sun
She is a brook, she is a river, she is a confidante, she is the ocean
When she is her: Hers is very expensive, hers spends a lot of money, hers is impulsive, hers is not so good
Hers is a bad cook, hers is a bad driver, hers is a bad society lady
However, hers is she
When she realizes she is the lady, she is no longer her
She loves me, she loves her world, she loves a horse
She loves the Chancellor, she loves she, she loves the Grand Duchess
She is inscrutable, she is meek, she is perky, she is outrageous
When she is not her, she is glorious
When her is her, wretched
When she is she: such power and dignity in her
She is truly what she is
She certainly does make love to the first dot of Ashe when she is she
She is black lady of black and gold
She is tiger lady, manifestations of all facets in her
She is garuda lady, she flies high and low
She is lion lady, she dives in the ocean of snow
She is dragon lady, she proclaims the dragon's roar
She is sometimes also the Chancellor, she shares her vision, she is Thomas Rich
She joins family affair: She is all.3
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:44 am

Photographs

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The Pybus family, Thorney Court, London, circa 1962. (Diana is seated on the rug.) Photographer unknown.

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Chogyam Trungpa (center front) at Samye Ling Meditation Center in Scotland, circa 1967. Shown here with Akong Rinpoche (right), Sherab Palden Beru (lift), and a number of early Western students. Photographer unknown.

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News clipping from the Sunday Mirror, January 4, 1970.

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Rinpoche and Diana, soon after their arrival in the United States. Photographer unknown.

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Rinpoche meditating with students in the living room at Four Mile Canyon, 1971. Photographer unknown.

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Rinpoche and Diana with Taggie as a newborn, 1971. Photographer unknown.

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Diana, Gesar, and Khyentse Rinpoche during Gesar's enthronement as Jamgon Kongtrul. Berkeley, California, 1976. Photo by George Holmes. Private collection.

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Khyentse Rinpoche and Trungpa Rinpoche, 1976. Photograph by Ray Ellis.

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Left to right: The Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin; the Vidyadhara the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche; His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa; and His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Japan Center, San Francisco, January 1977. Photograph by Tharpa Chotron.

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Reception at the first Kalapa Court, Boulder, circa 1978. Elizabeth Pybus with Rinpoche and Diana. The family dog, Ganesh, is at their feet. Photographer unknown.

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Diana at the Spanish Riding School, 1979. Reprinted by permission of the Spanish Riding School.

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Rinpoche on his horse, Drala, at the Magyel Pomra Encampment, 1980. Photo by Andrea Roth.

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Rinpoche and Diana lead the procession on horseback at a Midsummer's Day Celebration outside of Boulder, 1981. Photo by Andrea Roth.

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The Mukpo Family at the Kalapa Court, Boulder, 1982. Front row: Rinpoche, Diana, and baby Ashoka (on Diana's lap). Back row, left to right: Osel, Taggie, and Gesar. An enlarged reproduction of the Order of Ashe hangs on the wall behind them. Photo by Blair Hansen and George Holmes.

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[i] The funeral procession at the cremation ceremony for Rinpoche, May 1987, at Karme Choling. Photo by Andrea Roth.


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Mukpo family portrait, Tibet, Summer 2002. Standing, left to right: Rolpe Dorje Rinpoche, Tulku A, Karma Senge Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsering, Gesar Mukpo, Diana Mukpo, Ashoka Mukpo, Surmang Garwang Rinpoche, Mitchell Levy. Kneeling: Chandali Mukpo and David Mukpo. Photo by Jane Carpenter.

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Diana Mukpo, Khamnyon Rinpoche (Ashoka), and Sechen Kongtrul Rinpoche (Gesar) giving blessings at Sechen Monastery, Tibet, 2002. Photo by Jane Carpenter.

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Diana and Mitchell, New York, 2002. Photo by Gracie Atherton.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:38 am

THIRTEEN

In the months before Rinpoche left for retreat, I was making my own plans for the coming year. I began to turn my mind to going to Europe to further my dressage training. Since Rinpoche and I had been deeply impressed with the Spanish Riding School when we visited Vienna in 1975, it was natural to think about studying with someone from the Spanish as the next step in my education. At that time, I did not think it would actually be possible for me to study in the school itself; it was an all-male institution, and, as far as I knew, they only accepted Austrian nationals as riders in the school.

When we watched the performance there, one rider in particular had impressed me, Ernst Bachinger. I wrote a letter to him in early 1977 telling him that I would like to come and study with him. He replied that he had just left the school and was in a time of personal transition, so he was not accepting new students. He recommended that I train with Arthur Kottas, who had his own training facility near Vienna. I wrote to Kottas and asked him if he would accept me as a student.

Within a month, he wrote back saying that I could come that summer. Rinpoche was tremendously supportive of my going to Vienna, much more so than he had been about California. He felt that the classical tradition practiced in Austria was the real McCoy, so to speak. When I received the letter of acceptance from Kottas, we were both overjoyed.

Mter Rinpoche left for Charlemont, I stayed on in Boulder for several months, preparing for my trip. I took German lessons from the Berlitz Institute in Denver so I would be able to communicate a little bit in German with my teachers and fellow riders. I also sold Vajra Dance before leaving. I knew that I would need a better horse in Vienna.

Rinpoche had been thinking for some time about establishing Vajradhatu in Europe. There was already a meditation group in England, but he felt it was time to start something on the continent. He also wanted me to have support, being a bit worried about me going over to Vienna alone. He asked one of his close students, Michael Kohn, if he and his family would move to Vienna to start the Vienna dharmadhatu, to get things rolling in Europe. Michael was to be the Vajradhatu ambassador to Europe. Michael was a very literate person who had worked on a number of Rinpoche's early books and other editorial projects, and he had a facility with foreign languages. He was very devoted to Rinpoche and had been trained by him as a meditation instructor and teacher, and for all these reasons Rinpoche thought he would be an excellent person for the job. The plan was that Michael would be based in Vienna and would travel and teach in a number of locations throughout western Europe. Michael, his wife Judy, and their daughter (a second child was born in Europe ) relocated to Vienna around the same time that I did. The Vienna dharmadhatu has continued to this day, although after I left, Michael and his family relocated to Amsterdam and then finally established the headquarters of Vajradhatu Europe in Marburg, Germany.

Rinpoche also wanted me to have someone to help out at the house, and this was the beginning, really, of my having personal attendants. Rinpoche asked Jeanine Wieder, a French woman in the sangha, if she would accompany me. During this era, Rinpoche was trying to include the family and me much more as part of the environment of the teachings that should be respected. I think that he may have realized that there was a problem with the large discrepancy in how students treated him -- almost like a god -- and how we were treated -- often like unwelcome interlopers in his life. With the emphasis on a Court mandala in his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, it made sense that the entire household had to be included and regarded as part of the sacredness of his world. As well, the message he Was trying to communicate to all of his students was that every part of one's life is part of one's practice. You don't just meditate in the midst of your dirty pots and pans, ignoring your spouse and children. Given the hippie roots of many of his students, there was sometimes this tendency to ignore the basic details and fabric of everyday life. In fact, this was one reason that some of Rinpoche's students were resistant to his presentation of the Shambhala teachings. They didn't want to have to clean up their act. They liked the smelly nest, which Rinpoche referred to in his Shambhala presentations as "the cocoon."

My mother wrote an amusing letter to Rinpoche during the first month of his retreat, March 1977, about her view of hippie society in Boulder and why Rinpoche would want to get away from it for awhile. She wrote, "I can understand that you might want to escape the trivia that populate Boulder with its various cares and stores. Most of these people appear to lack all idea of personal grooming and one cannot begin to imagine whether anything exists within the cerebral cranium. It is a horrifying aspect of an ignorance bordering on barbarity."1 Rinpoche I think shared her view that people looked worse than unkempt on the outside, but he saw the intelligence behind the "barbarous" exterior.

At this time, Rinpoche was beginning to work much more with promoting feminine energy, not just in the abstract -- which is certainly an important part of the Vajrayana Buddhist teachings -- but the energy of women in the community. I think it's interesting that this coincided with his presentation of the Vajrayogini abhisheka. Vajrayogini is the personification of wisdom and represents the feminine principle. But interestingly, at the same time that he started giving this practice to people, he also began to appoint many more women to important leadership roles, and he suggested that I should also have such a role within the Shambhala world. Rinpoche's contact with and understanding of Western women had been growing exponentially since he came to North America and since we married. I think he got to know "woman" on an intimate, day-to-day basis in part through our marriage, as well as through other relationships with Western women students. Just as he broke through so many other cultural divides, his chauvinism began to wear out in a fundamental way, and he started to feel that women could play very important roles. Here again, we take these things for granted now, but in that era, leadership was not as open for women as it is now.

In any case, during this period, one of the changes that he instituted involved elevating my status, which was often uncomfortable for me. I don't think I always handled it well, especially in the beginning. At the seminary the previous fall, Rinpoche had floated his idea with some senior students that perhaps I should now be addressed as Her Highness Lady Diana Mukpo. He said that he wanted me to have a tide that was commensurate with him being referred to as the Vajracharya or the Sakyong. David Rome, among others, tried to talk him out of this, as did I initially, but he would not be dissuaded, no matter how ridiculous people told him it was. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that, if we were going to live in a Shambhala Court, it would not be completely inappropriate for me to be a lady. Within a few months, I became used to people calling me "Your Highness" within the Buddhist community. I still found it awkward when this tide was used in the larger world by well-intentioned but -- from my point of view -- naive community members.

I think that one reason that students were willing to "attend" me was because of all this energy that Rinpoche was putting into expanding the Shambhala world and extending that into our home. Jeanine referred to me at home as "Lady Diana." Unfortunately, she also called me that frequently when I was riding at Kottas's barn, no matter how many times I asked her to just call me Diana when we were there. On some level, I didn't find it that bizarre, but I was trying to keep these two worlds separate. When Jeanine called me Lady. Diana at the barn, I cringed. I wanted to be ordinary in that situation, get my work done, and focus purely on my riding.

For my first day at Kottas's school, I drove through the Vienna Woods and turned off onto a small driveway that led to his barn. The barn was in a large clearing, and there were about twenty-five horses stabled there. There was a well-appointed indoor arena, as well as paths on the property where you could ride your horse through the forest.

I was dressed in my best riding clothes, and I was quite excited. I thought I was pretty hot stuff, and I imagined that I would impress Herr Kottas. He greeted me and told me that he had a nice horse for me to ride. He said, "Let me see what you can do." The horse was the current Austrian champion. I realized almost immediately that I was in trouble. I couldn't make the horse do anything. Obviously, the way I had been trained to ride in the. United States was completely different from what they expected in Vienna. I felt humiliated. Afterward, I went out for coffee with Kottas, and he said to me, "If you don't improve greatly within the next three months, you'll have to leave. I'm represented by my students. If you don't get better, you'll go. That's that."

He told me that if! wanted to stay and train with him, first I would have to go to his barn every morning while he was away riding at the Spanish. I would report to his assistant, and she would longe me. Longeing is a means to teach the rider to sit correctly on the horse. The instructor has the horse on a long line called a longe line. You sit on the horse without reins or stirrups,. and you learn how to balance and keep your body in exactly the correct position. Kottas wanted me to return to this absolutely basic training before going any further.

I agreed to his terms, and starting the next day, I reported every morning to his assistant, a German woman named Jutta. Every morning, I was given the same horse to be longed on, a seventeen-hand Bavarian warmblood by the name of Donald. Donald had a terrible habit of bucking, and he bucked me off almost every day. It was a good day if I hadn't fallen off him. I spent my first three months sitting on this horse and ending up in the dirt on an ongoing basis. Fortunately, I was never seriously hurt, hut it wasn't a pleasant experience. When I fell off, Jutta would say to me, "Get up. Get back on." She never said, "Are you okay?" The custom at the barn was that you were expected to buy a liter of wine for people every time you fell off a horse. At one point, I bought eighteen liters of wine. I invited everyone; I put the wine out for them and said "Drink up!" It was a miserable time.

After about a month of this, I became discouraged and convinced that I was never going to make any progress. I felt ready to pack up and go back to the United States. I missed everyone terribly, especially Gesar, and I thought that at the end of the year I would go home. I called Rinpoche a number of times to discuss all this. I was looking for understanding and sympathy somewhere in my life. Altogether, I felt discouraged and inadequate.

In mid-September Rinpoche wrote me a letter. To me, it exemplifies how he worked with all of his students. He was immensely kind and loving, but he expected a lot from everyone -- especially his wife, as I realized when I read what he had written. It was somewhat shocking, because he was so honest and unguarded and offered such direct advice. He wrote:

My darling,

Isn't it magnificent that I am writing a letter to you? We have never communicated with each other in this way before. Usually we use a telephone or mutual mind contact. But I hope that what I have to say in this letter won't shock you too much.

I have never met a human being like you. You are so extraordinary, outrageous, and intrinsically good. I miss you a lot, but sometimes I feel for your future. I want you to be the world's most outstanding dressage rider. This is not just because I am going along with your schemes or your plans, but I want you really to become a truly good equestrian. Therefore I would like to push you in your discipline.

Thank you, by the way, for your letter and your phone calls. I understand how you feel about all of this, the riding and your disappointment in the Spanish Court Riding School. But I would like to encourage you as your husband and your good friend. I do not want you to chicken out. I want you to know that my pride is not purely invested in you as my famous wife. But I certainly do feel that it is my role and my delightful duty to push you to become the top rider in the dressage world. Therefore I would like you to stay longer with Kottas and study with him. Any financial or moral support, whatever is needed, I obviously volunteer. Of course, it is my duty.

Sometimes you feel disappointed because of your impatience. Sometimes you feel disappointed because of what you expected' from the best system of dressage in the world. If you could stay beyond Christmas and at least spend next year with Kottas, I would feel more proud of you. You might find it strange that my urge to push you becomes greater. As far as I am concerned, it is my pride in you and in me. I hope you will never give up all this. Please consider: patience is great .... I want you to stay with the discipline of the Spanish Court Riding School. If this seems unreasonable, let us talk about it when we are together -- but I want you to stay in this school.

You said the European championship was so materialistic. Sometimes it is necessary to give in to people's trips; otherwise there is no working basis. As long as you are not hypocritical to yourself, that is the key to remaining genuine.

There is something to the Spanish Court Riding School. It is internationally acceptable, and moreover it has a great lineage which has been handed down from generation to generation. You can't find that kind of inspiration from individual practice alone. I know that; I have done it myself. If you try to do your own trip and practice riding by yourself independent of any tradition, you are going to become the Ram Dass of the dressage tradition.

You might want to do it on your own terms, but self-styled disciplines are dubious. Only the Americans do things that way because they don't like the discipline of the forefathers of whatever lineage they might have belonged to. Instead, they prefer to give up any pain they feel and try to insert their own pleasure by manufacturing their own discipline. Darling, I don't want you to become Americanized. It is silly and ridiculous.

Sweetheart, I don't want to push you, but I feel if you trust me, my judgment is right. I know it is painful and uncomfortable not being with our people, but our people will appreciate you more if you come back victorious and good. I really insist on this, you know. Please think it over. We can discuss it when we are together.

The main point is that you realize that no discipline will come along with hospitality. Exertion and diligence beyond physical discomfort are the key.

Your most loving Sakyong and husband writes this letter remembering you with tremendous love and longing. Sweetheart, I remain your most obedient husband, the Sakyong ....

I love you CT2


I couldn't ignore a message like this. It was really the heart advice that I would have given myself, had I been able to transcend my own doubt and see things from a bigger perspective. Rinpoche told me things that at some level I already knew and believed. I had to admit that he was right. From that point on, my attitude changed. I gave up any thought of leaving, and I started to work really hard. Between that and my change of attitude, I made quite a lot of progress.

In his letter, when Rinpoche told me that he didn't want me to become "Americanized" in my approach to riding, he was appealing to my English chauvinism. From the time we arrived in the United States, although we both appreciated the fresh, unbridled quality of the American spirit, we were also both aware of what we perceived as a lack of discipline and a rejection of tradition. As much as I rebelled against my upbringing, there was much that I appreciated about the British mentality. It was part of me. There was a stuffiness and close-mindedness that I reacted against, but I also learned about genuine discipline from growing up in England. I also appreciated that Rinpoche had this connection to discipline from his own education and upbringing, so I knew that he spoke from firsthand experience.

In terms of my education as a rider, before coming over to Europe, I had realized that there was something missing in my training in America. I had seemed to make extremely rapid progress there, but the foundation of the discipline was not well established, and a certain attention to the basics was missing. Having to start over from the ground up was not just helpful but essential to my progress as a rider.

In dressage, the first objective for the rider should be to learn to follow the horse's movements and to be able to stay in balance with the horse, without hanging onto the reins or squeezing with your legs. First, you have to learn to harmonize with the horse's movement, and this process can take a long time. If riders don't have correct training on the seat position early on, it's going to show up later in their riding because there will be always be some degree of inability to harmonize with the horse. And if the rider can't harmonize with the horse, then the horse's movements can't be graceful or beautiful.

When dressage is performed at the highest levels, with a skilled rider and a well-trained horse, the communication between the horse and the rider should be almost indiscernible. This certainly doesn't mean that the rider is not doing anything. The rider may be doing quite a bit, giving the horse various aids or instructions. This is done through leg movements, how you hold the reins, and how you sit in the saddle, but all of this should be so extremely well-timed and subtle that the casual observer may notice nothing but the unity of horse and rider. It takes a minimum of five years to train a dressage horse to the highest level. Throughout that process you refine the aids. When you see a completely finished horse, when you watch him going through all the highest movements of dressage, the rider's influence should be almost imperceptible. Horse and rider should look as if they're moving as one.

It was this basic connection to the horse that I was gaining through my work on the longe line. Rinpoche was absolutely correct about the training in Europe. Especially in Vienna, where they follow this classical approach, training is not based on immediate gratification. New riders always spend a long time on the longe line. When you longe a horse, it is controlled by the instructor on the ground, and the horse walks, trots, and canters on command, in a circle around the instructor. The student's only objective is to learn how to sit, and how to synchronize and to follow along with the horse's movements. I was told that in the Spanish Riding School, the young apprentices would often longe for six months before they're ever given the stirrups or the reins. In the end, I was grateful to have had a similar experience.

Several weeks after he sent me the letter, Rinpoche came over to Vienna. I guess you could say that he took a kind of vacation from his retreat! He traveled with a group of his students to see me and to check in on how Michael Kohn was doing setting up the European branch of Vajradhatu. I was delighted to see him.

Kottas's training facility was near a small village called Tulbingerkogel. There was a very nice hotel in the village, the Berghotel Tulbingerkogel, a few minutes up the road, owned by the Blauel family. Rinpoche and his party stayed there. (Interestingly enough, one of the sons in the Blauel family later became a member of the Buddhist community.) John Perks accompanied Rinpoche, as did Sam Bercholz. The party also included Jim Gimian, who Rinpoche was about to appoint to an important post within the vajra guards. Jim's rank was to be just below David Rome. Rinpoche had decided to create two divisions within the guards. Jim was to be the dapon, or chief, of the kasung division providing the outer protection for Rinpoche and his world, while John Perks was being appointed as the dapon of the kusung division, which included the personal attendants, or the inner service, to Rinpoche, myself, the Regent, and a few others. Jim, a very warm man with a great sense of humor, was also the associate publisher at Shambhala Publications.

Rinpoche had also invited Sara Kapp to accompany him, a runway model well known in both New York and Europe. Sara was famous for having pioneered a certain look on the runway, and she became the model for mannequins at Saks Fifth Avenue in the eighties. Later, she was the first "Princess Borghese," the face of the Borghese line of cosmetics.

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In short, she was a very elegant woman, and she was one of Rinpoche's close friends, girlfriends, at the time. Several famous Italian and French designers had loaned Sara evening gowns to wear on this tour of Europe. Every evening, she would appear for dinner in yet another extraordinary outfit. I was by this time in our married life quite accustomed to Rinpoche having relationships with other women. In general, for whatever reasons, I did not find them threatening or degrading. Many of these women were my friends. We shared the appreciation of Rinpoche as an extraordinary human being, someone who no one person could possess in the traditional sense. I did find it difficult if a woman spending time with Rinpoche did not have some respect for my position as his wife. This was rare, luckily. In Sara's case, we were old friends, and I was happy to see her.

Rinpoche, as I mentioned earlier, had always made an effort to celebrate my birthday with me, and this year was no exception. I turned twenty-four while he was in Vienna. Throughout the visit, John Perks shaved his moustache to look "Hitlerian," and Rinpoche kept saying "Fetus" to people instead of ''AufWiedersehen,'' which means good-bye in German. No one seemed to notice. I'm sure they just thought he couldn't speak the language. Rinpoche and John were often making fun of Austria's Nazi past in the most tasteless fashion. (Rinpoche could make fun of almost anything.)

For my birthday, Rinpoche reserved a private room at the hotel and ordered a whole wild boar to be roasted and served at the table. It cheered me up a lot to have him and his crazy, loving world there for a few days. During his visit, we ate a lot of Sacher torte for dessert, which Rinpoche was very fond of.

While he was there, Rinpoche and I talked further about my riding. I told him that I was going to stick it out and also that I had heard that the Spanish Riding School was now accepting a few foreign students. It was my extraordinary good fortune to be there during this era. I told Rinpoche that it was my greatest desire to work hard and progress so that I would be able to apply. I understood at this point that it was only by following the approach he was suggesting that I would ever master the discipline to the point that I might be accepted.

Rinpoche came out to Kottas's barn to meet him and to see me ride, and he really loved it there. He had ridden in Tibet, and from that he had a great appreciation for riding, as well as an intuitive feeling for it. I also took him and his party to the Spanish Riding School. Since I was now studying under one of the riders at the school, I was able to arrange for Rinpoche and his party to watch the morning lessons and to have a private tour of the facilities, rather than having to attend a performance with a huge crowd of people. I was so sad to see him leave, but altogether, his visit gave me the further encouragement I needed.

For the next year, I continued my training with Arthur Kottas. At the end of Rinpoche's retreat, December 1977, I traveled back to Boulder to spend time with him. Throughout 1978, I made several visits to the United States to participate in various activities in the Buddhist community, but for most of this time I was based in Vienna.

A few months after I settled in Vienna, Taggie came through on his way to His Holiness's monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim, chaperoned by Karl Springer. When His Holiness had made his second visit to America, he saw Taggie at Karme Choling. He strongly suggested to Rinpoche and me that we allow Taggie to go to Rumtek, where he would be formally enthroned as Tenga Rinpoche. His Holiness thought this might help Taggie. I had visited my son at Karme Choling several times, and during that period I continued to hold out hope that he was going to somehow become a more normal child. When I saw him in Vienna, however, it was absolutely clear that he was not normal, and I began to give up any expectation. At this point, although he was my child and always will be, I became more disconnected from him. I didn't know what else to do. His life was out of my control now. Rinpoche had agreed with His Holiness and made the decision to send Taggie to Rumtek. I couldn't care for him. When he came through, it was very difficult for me because I felt our connection dissolving. I felt the hopelessness of it all. I remained skeptical that Taggie's condition was tulku disease.

Perhaps in part in reaction to the pain of seeing Taggie, I threw myself even more into my riding after his visit. At a certain point, when I began to feel that I was making adequate progress, and taking to heart Rinpoche's offer of financial support, I decided to purchase a horse for myself.

I wanted a horse that was already trained to the medium level in Europe. (This is roughly the equivalent of the fourth, or highest, national level in the United States. After that there are four international levels, which are the same throughout the world.) Kottas was kind enough to accompany me to Munich to look at a Hungarian horse that was owned by a woman by the name of Katrina Hilger Henkel (of the Henkel family who produces a popular sparkling wine in Germany). Her stable was near Munich, where she had competed him through the medium level of dressage. When I rode the horse, I instantly felt a connection and felt he suited me well. He was a chestnut horse, maybe sixteen one hands, not very big, but very pleasant to ride.

There are certain guidelines one uses in picking a horse for dressage. When you evaluate a young untrained horse as a dressage prospect, you are looking for a very sensitive horse. When he's young, he might misbehave sometimes, but you want that sort of hot temperament, because that shows you that he's sensitive and energetic. If a dressage horse were a person, he would not be a couch potato. Dressage becomes very taxing physiologically as the training goes on, so you need a horse that is a natural athlete. That's one thing to look for: the athletic ability of the horses, as well as their desire to do the work. You want a horse with plenty of energy when it's young.

Male horses are generally better for dressage. There are very few mares in competition, although there are some very good ones at the top of our sport. At the Spanish Riding School, only stallions are used. However, the vast majority of dressage horses in competition are geldings, castrated males. The problem with the stallions is that they often have other things on their mind than dressage and therefore need a very experienced rider.

When I was at the Henkel barn, I saw another horse that absolutely wowed me. He was my ideal of a dressage horse at the time, a sixteen two hand liver chestnut Hanoverian who exhibited tremendous energy and supple movements. I asked Katrina Hilger Henkel if that horse was for sale, but she was not willing to sell him. We ended up buying the Hungarian. I brought him back to Vienna and named him Shambhala. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from Katrina, telling me that the other horse was now available. Without much hesitation, I agreed to buy him as well, much to the understandable consternation of the financial people in Vajradhatu to whom Rinpoche turned to finance the purchase. In Vienna, I was surrounded by wealthy people, many of whom had a number of expensive horses, and I think I lost my perspective a bit.

There was one person within Vajradhatu in charge of our family finances, Chuck Lief, a student of Rinpoche's since 1970. Chuck was quite upset, and I don't really blame him; I had just gone ahead without thinking, saying, "Fine, we'll have the second horse as well" -- and they certainly were not inexpensive. Over the years, Chuck had a lot of handwringing to do in connection with my dressage horses.

Nevertheless, both purchases went ahead, and within a few weeks, I ended up with two very interesting horses to ride and compete. I named the second horse Warrior. In 1978, I began competing Shambhala in Austria. The first year, I didn't do dismally, but I was not tremendously successful. However, by the second year, I did very well with Shambhala, winning a number of tests at the medium level. Toward the end of my time in Vienna, I started competing both horses in the first international level, the Prix St. Georges.

Studying with Arthur Kottas, I was learning how to be a good rider. Kottas's approach was very demanding; it was very tough training for me, but it was necessary to go through this process. I was also beginning to learn how to train my horses. I began to realize that, as a rider, you are like the personal trainer of the horse. It's very much a mutual relationship; the rider also has to learn to listen to the horse. If you're a really good rider, you're going to discover how your horse wants to be ridden. You have to learn to adjust to the needs of each horse. Every horse is different, and the hallmark of a good rider is that he can get on many different horses and quickly figure out where the problems are. To begin with, the horse always has to be obedient to the rider and has to follow the direction of the rider. On the other hand, the rider has to be able to communicate to the horse in a precise manner what he wants the horse to do. So dressage involves two-way communication.

If you look at dressage training in terms of the alphabet, when you ride a very young horse, you only teach him the letters A and B. A is that he must go forward, and B is that he has to stop. Ultimately, when your horse is at the Grand Prix level, he should know all twenty-six letters, so to speak, and you should be able to make words with them. How does the communication take place? It has to be accomplished through subtle movements, by closing your leg, by bracing your back, by putting pressure on your seat bones or closing your fist on the reins. As a result of training, all those little things mean something to the horse, and eventually the different combinations of those aids will also mean something to him.

Dressage is a bit like ballet. In the early training, you concentrate on basic movements. The basic elements eventually are put together into complex movements that look somewhat like dance. On the other hand , it's quite different than becoming a dancer in that you are trying to train not just your own mind and body, but also the mind and body of another being, a huge, twelve-hundred-pound animal. You are trying to harness and direct the energy of this being, and beyond that, you are trying to connect with the animal in the most fundamental way, so that at times, there is no division between you and the horse. You feel that you are completely in sync, physically, mentally, and one might almost say spiritually, or at least energetically.

In the Shambhala teachings that Rinpoche began presenting in this era, there is extensive discussion of the principle of windhorse, or lungta in Tibetan. This term refers to raising or harnessing your energy. Rinpoche described lungta as follows:

When we pay attention to every thing around us, the overall effect is upliftedness. The Shambhalian term for that is windhorse. The wind principle is very airy and powerful. Horse means that the energy is ridable. That particular airy and sophisticated energy, so clean and full of decency, can be ridden. You don't just have a bird flying by itself in the sky, but you have something to ride on. Such energy is fresh and exuberant but, at the same time, ridable. Therefore, it is known as windhorse.3


This is parallel to what you are doing in dressage. I found that the Shambhala teachings altogether were often applicable to my experience as a dressage rider. In the Shambhala teachings, one of the factors in raising windhorse is that the uplifted quality of lungta arises from applying mindfulness and awareness in everyday life. This lofty quality rests on the foundation of paying attention to every aspect of your life. That is exactly the same as in dressage, and that is what I was learning in such great detail during that early phase in Vienna. I already had some intuitive sense of the possible grandeur and magnificence and power of dressage, but I needed to concentrate on the essentials.

To find the path back to truth, the Germans must simply become mindful of themselves: “This I call a German look, strong, well-bred, and refined,” Rahel said. God and humans, poets and prophets, man and woman call out to the German: be German! The Germans, as a people, are now strong; but “well-bred” only in part, and “refined” even less. – For their education is false, and the false is never refined. He who gives up the invaluable good of his individuality for the cheap finery of a false education is not wiser than the Negro who sells his land and his freedom for a bottle of fake rum and a few beads of glass. Strong, well-bred, and refined – is the character of Bach’s music; with it and towards it the Germans should form themselves; strong, well-bred, and refined – is the content of Rembrandt’s painting; in it the Germans should immerse themselves.

-- Rembrandt as Educator (1890), by Julius Langbehn


It's beyond the scope of this book to go into detail about every aspect of dressage, but I would like to explain some basic principles, which are relevant to training in other disciplines as well. All the movements in dressage are natural movements of the horse. You just harness them. Everything that you see someone do on a dressage horse, with perhaps one exception, the horse will naturally do in the field. For example, horses in a field outdoors will canter a lot and change which leg they are leading with. When you train a horse, you are putting the natural movement in a context, while building up the horse's strength and his ability to understand and move in unity with the rider. If you train your horse incorrectly, which means using undue force, the horse may cease to enjoy his work. He has to be a willing partner. As soon as the horse stops enjoying what he's doing, it becomes very evident: the movement is no longer beautiful. So there's a real psychological aspect to this work. You work with your horse so that his body's fit for what he's doing and also so that he feels good in his mind about it. When those things work together, then you can have a beautiful and harmonious picture. This is, in fact, similar to the principles that one applies in meditation. Meditation works with the natural qualities and habits of mind, gradually building on the student's natural capacity for wakefulness.

In dressage, one of the key principles that you work on developing is collection. Collection is when the horse's energy is gradually controlled without being reduced. A young horse will trot and canter forward with very long strides, and his balance will be a little bit on his forelegs. When you train the horse, you teach him to take more weight on the hindquarters, and the center of gravity will gradually shift backward. Over years, this allows him to have what we call lightness of the forehand. You gradually teach the horse to channel the energy upward and his movement becomes more elevated.

Midway through my training with Kottas, His Holiness the Karmapa visited Vienna. He came to the dharmadhatu to perform the Vajra Crown ceremony while he was in Europe. It was a big to-do. I had a white Mercedes at the time, which I loaned to the dharmadhatu for His Holiness's use during the visit. While His Holiness was visiting, I arranged for him to attend a performance at the Spanish Riding School. I was able to get seats for his party in the Royal Box, which is reserved for special guests. Located underneath the portrait of the Austrian emperor, the Royal Box has upholstered chairs and is the only heated part of the arena. Among all of us in the dharmadhatu, we only had one decent car, the Mercedes, so His Holiness and I both rode in it. Generally, he never rode in a car with a woman because of his monastic vows. However, because I was Rinpoche's wife, he made an exception. (I had already ridden with him in Boulder once before, as he may have remembered.)

I had a mink stole that I was very proud of, and I wore it to the Spanish with an evening gown. We sat together in the Royal Box and watched the performance, which never failed to move me. At one point, His Holiness pointed at my stole and, through his translator, said to me, "So many rabbits died to make that!" I turned to the translator and I said, "Please tell His Holiness, actually it was so many minks." Then His Holiness wanted to know how much it would cost to buy one of the Lipizzaners, the rare breed of horse ridden at the Spanish. I told him it would be about $100,000, and he was somewhat shocked by that.

He enjoyed watching the performance for awhile, but then toward the end, he realized it was time to do his evening meditation, which included a number of chants. It was cold in the box, even with the heat, so he decided that he would also do a meditation practice called tummo, which among other things generates warmth in your body. I was paralyzed with embarrassment as he started to· do his evening practice right there during the performance. Everyone in the arena could hear him chanting. Later, Rinpoche told me I could have told the Karmapa that the program would be over soon and that he could go home and do his practice there. Instead I just sat there, quietly freaking out. At one point, when he was doing his tummo practice, he held my hand for a moment, and his body really was hot, which was kind of amazing. Once again, it was strange to see these worlds of mine coming together, but I survived and in the end, I was delighted that His Holiness had come to the Spanish.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:53 am

FOURTEEN

While I was riding with Arthur Kottas, I learned more about the program for foreign students at the Spanish Riding School. Based on passing an entrance examination, both men and women could be accepted at the school for a three-month period. They were taking one or two foreign students at a time. I aspired to become one of those students.

I talked to Kottas about this after I had been training with him for some months. At that time, he told me that I would need at least another year before he would feel comfortable allowing me to take the entrance examination. I continued training with him throughout 1978.The training program was demanding. As a student, you were rarely praised. The feedback was almost always negative, and the constant criticism served as the encouragement to improve.

In addition to taking lessons at Kottas's barn, his students were allowed to watch the morning classes at the Spanish Riding School. At least three or four days a week, I would go to the school in the early morning. I never tired of watching the riders.

When I first arrived in Vienna, I had left Gesar in Boulder. He stayed at the Court with Pat because I didn't know if my living situation in Europe was going to be stable enough for him. It was difficult for him to be separated from me. He used to ask Pat to call me so that we could talk on the phone. He was quite concerned about when he could join me. After about six months, I found a nice house to rent, with a garden with plum trees and a beautiful lawn.

When I moved into my little house in Vienna, on Roterdestrasse, I arranged for Pat to bring Gesar over to live with me. (By this time Jeanine had returned to the United States.) Pat and her new husband, Tom Adducci, both lived in the house with us. Soon after Gesar arrived, I took him to a performance at the Spanish Riding School, which he loved. It gave him some idea of what his mother was doing all this time in Vienna.

When he was four-and-a-half, Gesar enrolled in kindergarten at the British Diplomatic School in Grinzing, a very nice area of Vienna. Although his school was conducted in English, he also learned German during his time in Vienna. I think this was a positive time in Gesar's life. He found it exciting to live in Europe. However, the other children sometimes teased Gesar on the bus to school. They called him Quasar, and then they called him Gay-sar. For the winter, I bought him a Russian-style fur hat, and he looked very cute in it. The kids would steal his hat and throw it around the bus.

As the end of 1978 approached, Kottas and I agreed that I was ready to take the entrance examination to become a foreign student at the Spanish Riding School. I was both terrified and excited by the prospect that I might actually be riding there in the new year. I wrote a letter to the director of the Spanish Riding School, Colonel Albrecht, requesting that I be allowed to take the entrance examination. My test was scheduled for the middle of December.

The day of the examination arrived. Afterward, I wrote to Rinpoche, describing my experience:

The whole thing was quite fantastic. It should have been a time to be most paranoid, because I was being judged by the best school in the world. Strangely, I felt very at home. I arrived at the Spanish Riding School twenty minutes before the test and was very nervous. I roused my sense of confidence.

As I set foot into the sand of the arena, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that it was sacred ground. Siglavy Beja, the riding master's star horse, was led out. He was wearing a bridle inlaid with gold. The groom held him as I mounted and then I put all four reins in one hand (left) and dropped my right hand and as I walked past the portrait of Emperor Karl, I saluted. I then proceeded to ride. The reins are held in the traditional manner with three in the left and one only in the right to leave room for the sword.

The commands were called and as I started to ride, I realized that I felt completely at home. The horse was the most wonderful one I have ever ridden. He is a Lipizzaner stallion, like the old sculptures with a baroque neck. He felt so strong and energetic. There was never speed, but only rhythm and power.

At some point I was told to stop. I dismounted and saluted. The director came and shook my hand and told me that I had passed. I am very grateful to my teacher for his support throughout the test.

Riding in such a beautiful environment on such a magnificent horse, I was totally carried away. The environment had its own magical wholesomeness, and I lost all awareness of myself. Only afterward did I realize that it had been like a dream with only impressions of color and energy. It was very brilliant. I hope I don't sound overdramatic, because I feel very grounded. It was the most intense experience of my life. I now understand what you mean when you talk about 100 percent lack of doubt.

You know, without your teaching, I never could have appreciated the experience. Thank you.


Even now, when I look back on the entrance examination, I remember how awe-inspiring it was to ride in that hall for the first time. The manege, or the arena, itself is huge: fifty-five meters long, eighteen meters wide, and seventeen meters high. Forty-six columns support the gallery. The interior is entirely painted in white and bathed in light, which comes both from the windows in the hall as well as the magnificent chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. It felt like such a gift to be able to ride in these circumstances. During the test I remember thinking, "Even if I don't pass this examination, at least I've ridden in this hall."

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Spanish Riding School


As Christmas 1978 approached, I felt a quality of joy and celebration in my life. It had been a long and difficult journey with many ups and downs, but I felt now a sense of satisfaction that I had accomplished a cherished goal: to be accepted as a student in the Spanish Riding School. I looked forward to beginning my studies there in the new year.

On December 24, 1978, I rode in a Christmas quadrille at Kottas's barn. A quadrille is when a number of riders execute all of the same dressage movements in formation together. It is quite beautiful and requires a great deal of harmony and communication among all of the riders and their horses. After the quadrille, we had a party where a hot alcoholic punch was served. I had invited Gesar, Pat, and Tom to come and watch the quadrille and stay for the party. Pat had driven her car to the barn, and she took Gesar home early in the evening. Tom and I stayed later, and we both got a bit intoxicated. I had just purchased a used powder-blue Mercedes. Tom volunteered to drive my car home, and I accepted. On the road from the barn going through the Vienna Woods, there were steep hairpin turns. The road was quite icy. At a certain point, as we were driving around one of these hairpin turns, Tom said to me, "Hang on." Up to that point, I hadn't realized that anything was the matter. However, the car was skidding out of control on the ice, and the road was about to go into an even sharper turn. Tom tried to drive the car off of the road between two trees so that we could come to rest in a field. However, the passenger side of the car, just behind my seat, impacted with the tree. The tree crushed my seat forward against the dashboard, and I knew immediately that I was seriously hurt. I wasn't wearing a seat belt. I think if I had been, I would have died, actually, because of the way the tree came through the back seat. The only thankful part was that Gesar had gone home earlier with Pat. If Gesar had been in the back seat, he would have been killed.

I remember knowing that I must have broken some bones, but I still wanted to get out of the car, which I probably shouldn't have. People from the barn pulled me out of the car, and I remember lying on the road. Tom was fine, but he was hysterical. He nearly got run over because he was completely panicking. A doctor who had been at the quadrille stopped to help us, but without medical equipment, he couldn't do much.

They called an ambulance, and I was taken to the hospital. I didn't have any say about where the ambulance took me. They drove me to what they call in Germany a Gastarbeiter Krankenhaus, which is a sort of immigrant workers' hospital. Most of the patients were Turkish workers who didn't speak German. At the hospital, I told the staff that they absolutely were not allowed to cut off my riding boots. It's funny the things you fixate on in a situation like this. It turned out that I had fractured four ribs and that I had a fair amount of bleeding into my lungs and chest cavity.


The facilities at the hospital were primitive. The beds didn't even crank up and down. There was a metal bar that hung from the ceiling, and if you wanted to sit up, you had to grab hold of it and pull yourself up. It was Christmas Eve, so they had to get the doctor on call to come into the hospital from a party he was attending. A rotund, white-haired Austrian doctor arrived. As he leaned over me and was asking me how I was feeling, he exhaled what seemed to be pure Schnapps. I became terrified about what might happen to me at that point. Altogether, the hospital stay was frightening and uncomfortable. The only good thing was the food. However, I couldn't appreciate it that much because I was in a considerable amount of pain and they were stingy with the pain medication. My ribs weren't just cracked; they were actually severed. I had a liter of blood in my left lung.

When word of the accident got back to Colorado, the rumor went around that I'd been driving the car and that I shouldn't be allowed to drive myself anywhere ever again. Actually, of course, I hadn't been driving. But we hadn't gotten insurance on the car yet, and the car was destroyed. It was a total disaster.

I remember feeling somewhat devastated while I was in the hospital. My teacher Kottas didn't visit me once. My mother didn't call me either. I had been fighting with my mother over the phone for a few weeks prior to that, over petty things. But she couldn't let things go enough to just pick up the phone and ask if I was okay. I felt abandoned by her once again.


I talked to Rinpoche frequently by phone from the hospital. After a few days, I told him that I wanted to come home to the United States to recuperate, but he was concerned about my traveling when I was badly injured and said that I would have to stay in Austria and weather it out: In fact, I don't think they would have let me get on a plane at that point. Mitchell Levy, Rinpoche's doctor and my very good friend, stayed in communication with me. He explained to me that the doctors in Vienna didn't feel I was stable enough to travel. I was quite miserable. After a week in the hospital, I was allowed to return to my house in Vienna, but then I had to return to the doctor because I hadn't reabsorbed some of the blood from my chest cavity and I continued to be in a great deal of pain. The doctor decided to insert a needle in my chest to try to drain off some of the blood. Something went wrong, I became very ill again, and I had to go back into the hospital for another week. When I was finally sent home, I had to stay in bed for over a month. I was laid up altogether for seven weeks. I wasn't allowed to ride at all for several months. This was depressing to me because it delayed my entrance into the Spanish Riding School.

In May of 1979, I was finally well enough to start riding at the Spanish.
I would go to the school in the morning, and then I would go back to Kottas's barn and ride there in the afternoon. It was a busy schedule.

There was a strict dress code at the school. Every day I would ride in white breeches and immaculately clean boots, and I polished my spurs every day with silver polish. I wore a white shirt with what we call a white stock tie, a blackjacket, and a black derby, which is a hat somewhat like a bowler hat.

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The horses live across the road from the manege in stables built for the Spanish Riding School. In the morning, they are led by the grooms under the big arches across the road, right through the traffic, and all the traffic stops for the horses. The horses are born black, and as they grow older they become first gray and then white. However, to this day, they still try to have a dark horse in the school, just one horse of a different color. Lipizzaners are not very big horses, but they're very powerful. They have short backs and strong necks, and often a baroque look to their head, somewhat like the Michelangelo paintings of horses. Some of them have a bit of a Roman nose.

I would arrive at the school at 6:30 to 6:45 every morning and pick up my plan, which would tell me which horses I would be riding and who my instructors would be. Every day began with a longe lesson, followed by two other lessons. Sometimes the head rider would be kind enough to let me ride his horse, in which case I would have a longe lesson and then be allowed to ride three other horses.

The format of the lessons was extremely formal and traditional. The rider comes into the arena at exactly the prescribed time for the lesson. You would salute the portrait of King Karl, the founder of the Spanish RIding School, and then you would track to the right. You would perform the exercises and make corrections as dictated by the instructor. At the end of the lesson, you would line your horse up parallel to the short side of the arena. Then, you would dismount, salute your instructor, and then, if you. wished, you could ask him a question. At this point, periodically the director would come out and you would face him and salute him also.

Dressage has been practiced in an unchanged form at the Spanish Riding School for the last four hundred years. The transmission of this equestrian art form is mainly an oral tradition, handed down from one rider to the next. The form that is practiced at the school is a little different than the form of dressage that's practised in competition today. Although the Lipizzaners are not used for competition, the Spanish Riding School is still to this day the holder of the classical ancient tradition of dressage, as it was practiced in the sixteenth century.

I remember my first day there vividly. My initial lesson was a longe lesson, which seemed to go fairly well. For the second lesson, they brought in a horse with a snaffle bridle (a single set of reins with one bit), and I started to ride him around the arena. The instructor said "Oh you think you're so good, but you're terrible. You can't even put this horse on the bit. [This refers to the horse having the correct head positions.] You're a dreadful rider. What's more, your posture is terrible. You don't sit up straight at all. We're going to ask you to ride with a whip behind your elbows to make you sit up straight. Don't lean on it; don't apply any pressure, because this is the property of the Spanish Riding School, and we'd prefer that you don't break it."

I was in physical pain that day as I rode because my broken ribs were still healing. At a certain point, I started to sweat, and my hat started to slip. The instructor said, "Look at you. You look like you came out of the heurigan," which is a wine bar in Vienna. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I had come out of the heurigan. This would be more pleasant if I were drunk." Then the instructor said again, "Oh look at you. You think you're so good, but you still can't put the horse on the bit." It was a dreadfully demeaning experience.

Later on, I learned that none of the riders at the school could put this horse on the bit in a snaffle bridle. They only rode it in the double bridle, which is much more refined and powerful. The instructor was just being nasty because it was my first day and this was how they treated all the new riders. As well, I think there was definitely a stigma about women and foreigners riding in this venerable Austrian institution. But fundamentally, this is just their way of teaching.

After I finished for the day, I was upset and also noticeably disoriented. Driving back to the barn to ride my horses in the afternoon, I took a wrong turn and ended up heading in the direction of Czechoslovakia. I was preoccupied by my disastrous ride that morning. When I finally got turned around and made it to the barn, I said to Kottas, "So, are they going to kick me out?" He laughed at me and said, "No, no, this is normal."

I had been waiting for so long to study at the Spanish Riding School, and after just one day, I was feeling deeply discouraged and humiliated. However, I was determined to go forward. I remember thinking, "If I want to get the training and I want to learn this properly, I am going to have to take my personal feelings out of the situation. I'm going to have to take nothing personally and try to take only the good out of this. I have to use my time to learn. I must try my best and not become upset with anything that anybody says." Amazingly, I stuck to this, and this attitude held me in good stead the entire time that I rode in the school. Rinpoche had given me the basic advice that I needed when I started riding with Kottas, and now I found that I could give myself the advice to persevere at the Spanish, knowing that this was a precious opportunity that would not come again.

There's definitely value in the approach they follow at the school. Putting intense pressure on people creates such a sharp edge that people have to push themselves very hard to absolutely do their best. On the other hand, sometimes this approach can have a demeaning and degrading aspect to it. When you are trying your best and the teacher is still relentlessly criticizing you, ultimately you may begin to loathe your instructor. In fact, I think this method encourages that. I definitely went through periods of that when I was training in the school. The mentality is that you will get good in spite of your instructor. You feel that, because they're so demeaning, you're going to show them.

When I'm working with my own students, I try not to rob them of their self-esteem. When people are learning a discipline, it's essential at times to put pressure on them. I had witnessed Rinpoche using this approach with people, including myself, many times. You have to inspire people to perform at their best. However, if you make people feel worthless, you create aggression between teacher and student. I feel that 99 percent of what I learned in the Spanish Riding School was fantastic, but I percent was, for me, about learning what not to do as a teacher. This is just my opinion. I don't feel qualified to pass judgment on the methods they use at the school because they've produced brilliant riders and brilliant horses. It is my personal feeling, however, that we should always work with students in an uplifted manner.

As time went on, my experience in the school became more and more enriching. I think I earned respect by sticking with the program and not being overly reactive. I was given exceptional horses to ride, and I had exceptional instructors. I also had the opportunity to broaden my knowledge about dressage and horsemanship in general by reading books in the wonderful library at the school.

At the Spanish, I also began to understand dressage in another way, as a true Shambhala discipline. The discipline of dressage is a very direct way of harnessing windhorse. At times when I was training there, my riding would completely "click." When everything clicks into place, the experience is unbelievable. You feel that nothing whatsoever is happening, in a very positive sense. How do you verbalize that? Your mind and your horse's body become as one. You experience a regal, uplifted feeling that Rinpoche would describe as the experience of the universal monarch. At times it goes beyond even that. You can have an experience of non-thought, mind beyond mind. The horse also shares some of this experience, I believe. The horses get absolutely hooked on the energy and the discipline if the rider is good.

Recently, I was listening to one of the top coaches in the United States talk to his students before they went around the ring at a horse show. He said: "Pull yourself up. Let them know that you're there. Radiate confidence when you go around the ring. Make the judges say, 'look at me.'" From my perspective, he was basically explaining in his own way how to raise windhorse. He had obviously had this experience himself, and he was trying to communicate it. I believe that the best riders all understand this.

So much of riding is working with your own state of mind. If you let your mind get in the way, you can't work with your horse. I see that in terms of my own development, and I see that in watching other riders and working with students. To be a good rider, you have to go beyond your conceptual ideas about it. You've got to constantly question yourself, to question your state of mind, to push yourself, to constantly be looking at yourself. Otherwise, you don't get any better. There's never a feeling of having mastered the discipline. You can never master dressage. Anybody who's any good is constantly learning. There's never a sense of having arrived at an ultimate destination.

Dressage also teaches you the ability to focus. If you're riding well, even at the most basic level, you don't think about anything except what you're doing. You are completely focused. You have to have control over your mind. If you can't control your mind, you definitely can't control your horse's mind. I learned this over and over again while I was training at the Spanish Riding School.

The head rider, Ignaz Lauscha, was extremely generous to me during my time at the school. He was in his sixties at that point and close to retirement. He took me under his wing, and he would sometimes let me ride his best horse, which led the quadrille at the school on a regular basis. Lauscha was a wonderful instructor, and the horse was also an amazing teacher because he was fantastically trained. With this horse, you could go from the extended trot into passage and back into the extended trot with the most delicate of aids. The extended trot is when the horse is able to trot with the farthest possible reach of the legs. Passage is a very slow, floating trot. (It covers ground, unlike the piaffe, which is trotting in place.) In passage the horse is able, as he trots forward, to hold a very high degree of suspension. He's able to hold himself in the air for longer periods of time, giving a very noble gait. It requires a great deal of strength. One might say it's sort of like equine push-ups. Lauscha's horse was gifted in both the passage and the extended trot, and he could move from one to the other flawlessly.

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Ignaz Lauscha had the most beautiful tack on his horse, the most beautiful bridle inlaid with gold. Once when he let me ride his horse, he asked me to ride a half halt before I performed the next movement. A half halt is a rebalancing of the horse. You brace your back, you close your leg, and you push the horse more up to the bridle, so that you are encouraging the horse to shift the center of gravity more to the hind legs. It's sort of punctuation in your riding. He asked me to rebalance the horse, and he wasn't satisfied with the way I did it, so he said to me, "Come on. Half halt!" Then, I made a much bigger one, at which point his gold bridle broke into all these little pieces. I remember them falling to the ground. He said, "Well, you did what I told you, but you broke the bridle!" He was really nice about it. I'm sure it must have been already weak.

Another time I had some difficulty when the director gave me his horse for a lesson. He was well known as an international judge, but he wasn't a fantastic rider. He thought he was an excellent rider, but he had some problems. He had a stallion that he used to ride all the time, and everybody used to laugh at him when he was riding because he used to ride around the arena in a peculiar gait, which he thought was passage. He looked very snotty, with his nose and his chin held up as he rode. We would all sort of snicker at him because his horse was doing the strangest thing with only his front legs whilst the hind legs shuffled along. Then the terrible day came when he said to me, "Because you've been studying so hard, I'm going to allow you to ride my stallion." I thought, "Oh no," because I knew I could never produce passage on that horse. It was a dreadful lesson because he kept saying to me, "Ride passage, ride passage." Probably the horse was doing exactly the same thing with me that it did with him. He obviously had no idea that this was what the gait looked like when he was riding, so he could only be critical of me. Everybody was laughing while I rode.

Another movement that I worked with quite a lot at the Spanish was the flying changes of lead, when the horse changes from one leading leg at the canter to the other leading leg at the canter, without any trot or intermittent walk steps. He just reverses which leg he's leading with in midair. At Grand Prix, the highest level of dressage, a horse learns to do that on every single stride. It's a very difficult movement, because the horse is really no longer cantering at that point. According to the classical view, which is that dressage uses only the natural movements of the horse in the field, the flying change at every stride is a controversial movement because you actually have lost the gait of the horse at that point. So you're taking the training beyond what the horse would naturally do.

One day when I was riding Siglavy Dubovina, the horse of the head rider, he said to me, "All right, just canter down the center line, through the pillars, making flying changes every stride." I had no clue how to do this. (The pillars, by the way, are two posts that are two-and-a-half meters high, with one-and-a-half meters of space between them. As part of their training, the most advanced horses often stand between the pillars and do piaffe, the trot in place, for a long time.) Flying changes at every stride was one movement I hadn't yet ridden. As I rode past Kottas, I said to him under my breath, "How do I do this?" And he said to me, "In the Spanish Riding School we don't ask questions." So I just turned down the center line, and I gave the horse the aids that I thought would be correct for flying changes every stride. The horse was so beautifully trained that he just did it for me. I was thrilled.

There are many classical movements, classical figures, in dressage, just as there are positions in ballet. In dressage, however, many of the figures have their roots in battle movements. For example, canter pirouette was used in battle when you came with a sword toward your enemy. Then, to leave, you'd continue in the full pirouette. The canter half-pass and the trot half-pass, when you go both forward and sideward, were supposed to confuse your opponent, because he couldn't know on which line you were traveling. The flying changes of lead in the air made it possible to turn and escape quickly.

The military origins of dressage are reflected in many customs at the Spanish. For example, when you ride with a double bridle with four reins in the Spanish Riding School, you ride with three reins in the left hand and one in the right. (I mentioned this in the letter I wrote after my examination.) This tradition came about so that your right hand wouldn't be too encumbered to use a sword in battle
. Normally, outside of the Spanish, we ride with two reins in each hand. Some military traditions are ubiquitous, however. For example, the main reason that one always mounted the horse from the left side was because the sword used to be on the left hip, so you didn't want the sword to hit the horse as you went over the top. That is now the universal convention. Also, in the Spanish Riding School the mane has to be on the right of the horse's neck. This was so that if you drew your sword, you wouldn't have the mane caught up with your sword.

There are also classical dressage movements that are only practiced at the Spanish. These make up what is called the "haute school," or the airs above the ground. They are not practiced in modern-day competition. However the Lipizzaners are especially talented at these movements. I had the opportunity to experience many of them while I was riding at the Spanish. When I had photos taken at the end of my time there, I did some of these movements for the photographs. I didn't do them on a daily basis, however. One, called the levade, is an amazing expression of collection and shifting of the center of gravity to the hindquarters. The horse actually sits down and brings the forehand completely off the ground. You see many statues in Europe in that pose. Unlike when a horse rears up, in the levade the horse's legs are bent. In the pesade, the horse also has his weight completely on the hind legs, but he is raised up even a little bit higher, but is still on flexed hind leg. This is completely different from when horses rear, which is disobedient.

Then you have the capriole, which is a battle movement in which the horse jumps off the ground and kicks out violently with both hind legs. You could unseat your opponent in that way. There is another movement called the courbette in which the horse comes up on his hind legs, and he jumps forward four to six strides on his hind legs. In battle, you could use that move to advance on your opponent. All in all, it must have been a beautiful war!

I remember the rich feeling of being immersed in the training at the school. Periodically my mind would just stop, and I would think, "How incredibly fortunate I am to be in such a wonderful situation as this." It was so brilliant riding on those horses in that hall, which itself was exquisite and uplifting. There is nothing I've done either before or after that matches that experience. I feel extremely fortunate to have ridden in the Spanish Riding School, and I had that sense of appreciation and almost awe during the whole time I was there.

At the end of my three-month session, I talked to the director, Colonel Albrecht. I said to him, "I know I've almost completed the session. However, I want to understand this tradition more fully, because I want to become a well-trained instructor in the future. I'd like to request that you let me stay for a further few months. In that way, I can learn even more, so that I can take some of this tradition home with me." When the director told me that it was all right and I could stay longer, I was so happy that I gave him a huge hug. He was appalled, I think, but he said I could return.

After I received the acceptance to stay on, I went home to Colorado for a few weeks of the summer, knowing that I would be allowed to return in the fall. I began to ponder what I was going to do in terms of future training after the Spanish. I had a wonderful situation training at Kottas's barn, but after riding in the Spanish itself, I felt that my time in Vienna was drawing to an end. When I was home, Rinpoche and I discussed my future direction. At one point, he suggested to me, "The training at the Spanish Riding School is excellent classical training for you. However, from what you've told me, the competitive tradition is centered in Germany at this point, and I think you will want to understand both schools and both traditions. To complete your training properly, perhaps you should ride in Germany for a few years."

Rinpoche's instincts about my riding career were amazingly accurate. As I said earlier, he had a connection to horsemanship that went back to Tibet. Rinpoche had a white Chinese thoroughbred in Tibet which he rode from earliest childhood on. His horse could do passage, the slow, floating trot in which a horse hovers above the ground a little bit, in moments of suspension. It looks very elegant and lofty. He said that when he would travel to a new monastery, he would do passage as he entered.

Horses were part of his culture. People there still traveled everywhere on horseback; in fact, in parts of Tibet they still do. He always loved horses. But how he knew what was good for me in the Western riding world is a bit of a mystery. His advice to me at this time was instrumental in my decision to leave Austria and go to Germany. I don't think I would have gone there without his influence.

In the latter part of 1979, I wrote to Herbert Rehbein, who was the current German professional champion and legendary in terms of his ability to produce Grand Prix horses. In my letter, I asked if I could bring my horses up in late 1979 and study with him when I had finished in the Spanish. I was happy to receive a letter of acceptance, and I took my horses up to northern Germany just before Christmas in 1979.

Herr Rehbein worked for a man by the name of Otto Schulte Frohlinde, an elderly gentleman who was a patron of dressage. He had built a facility north of Hamburg, which had a stunning indoor arena, as well as beautiful stalls for the horses. It was a first-class, state-of-the-art riding facility. The floors in the barn were mosaics in brick, and everything was Immaculate and magnificent. After my horses were transported up there, I had a chance to settle in over Christmas.

After the Christmas holidays, I met Herr Rehbein. I was struck by his persona from the start. He had the real air of a master. He was very genuine, a man who had a thorough mastery of his riding yet was always gentle and kind. He was someone whom Rinpoche would have said had authentic presence. He was a wonderful instructor. I remember thinking during the first few weeks that I rode with Rehbein how accurate Rinpoche had been in recommending that I go there. I had experienced some difficulties with my big Hanoverian horse, Warrior. Herr Rehbein was brilliant in helping me to sort out these problems.

When I was at Gronwohldhof, Rehbein's barn, I was also given the opportunity to ride other horses apart from my own. I had many opportunities to feel Grand Prix movements on different horses. Rinpoche termed the place a factory for producing great horses, and it was quite a marvelous environment in which people could learn. Rehbein provided a very open ground, and when you saw the people working around you, they didn't make many mistakes as riders. You found yourself going along with the program, and it worked. It was very different from Vienna. There wasn't a lot of external pressure. The approach was quite positive for everybody. Things went well for people, and so you went along.

I'd heard about Herbert Rehbein for a number of years before I began studying with him. He was known at that time to be one of the greatest dressage teachers and riders. He was quite selective about whom he would teach. He also had a reputation for ignoring people who had come to study with him. Sometimes he would say, "Good morning," and that was it. He wouldn't teach them directly at all. He was thought of as a moderately outrageous character, in his own way. This was familiar to me, so it didn't really bother me. I found that he was very helpful with my riding. Herr Rehbein taught that if you're rash and aggressive with your horse on a regular basis, this reflects a lack of knowledge. There are many different ways to communicate something to your horse, and you have to be flexible. If you try to teach your horse something, and he doesn't understand right away or doesn't respond, you don't become aggressive. You have to think, "Can I explain this a different way? Do I need to break it down? What in the communication isn't working? What do I need to establish again in terms of the basic rules?" He stressed that trainers who frequently beat their horses and are abusive to them are never going to produce a good end product.

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.


-- The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks


I've seen horses that shake before their saddles are put on, and I've seen horses that, when they're taken to learn piaffe, will actually lie down because they're so afraid. I witnessed this during my time in Vienna -- not at the Spanish, but at other barns. You need to be firm, but you never need to be abusive. Of course, if the horse is really out of control, sometimes you have to use very strong methods, but that should be rare.

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Herr Rehbein had an enormous amount of experience and seemingly endless psychological resources. He was able to help me train my horses in a very kind way. I learned a great deal from him in a short time.

In this training environment, I felt a sense of genuine relaxation for the first time. In my heart, I'd always known the way that I wanted to ride my horses. When I came to Rehbein, I felt that I was given the freedom to experiment. Everything started to come together. It was a magical time; the riding became very cohesive. In terms of learning how to train horses, it was the first time I was able to trust my basic instincts thoroughly and take possession of the knowledge that I'd accumulated. I felt that he empowered me to do that. I always felt that the hallmark of Rinpoche's teaching was his ability to appreciate people's strength and then to give them the freedom to express this and to develop their own intelligence. Herbert Rehbein was that type of teacher too. Studying with him, I started to come into my own.

I remember watching Herr Rehbein doing a canter pirouette on his horse. He had a feeling of complete, total relaxation. I was watching him ride in front of the mirror, and he was looking at himself in the mirror. His horse was executing an absolutely perfect canter pirouette. I looked up and realized that Rehbein had the reins in one hand and was fumbling in his breast pocket with the other. I finally realized that he was looking for his cigarettes. He managed to pull out a Marlboro and light it, while the entire time, his horse stayed in a double or triple pirouette that was absolutely perfect, right in front of the mirror. Rehbein was really a riding genius, the likes of which the century did not see again.

After spending a few months at his facility in the beginning of 1980, I took my horses over to England for a few months. Gesar had been enrolled in school there the previous fall. Tom and Pat had taken him over. I didn't want to keep putting him in and out of school, and I knew that -- at this point in time -- I could only stay at Rehbein's for a few months. We had rented a small house in England that was called the Deerkeeper's Lodge, on a large estate. You went down a long driveway to this ancient house, built in the sixteenth century.

I came over to England to have the opportunity to compete my horses there.
At that time, all foreign horses in England had to go through a test at the National Riding Centre, and then you were told at which level you had to compete. But I felt that I was forced to compete at a level that was too difficult for my horses, especially for Warrior. I think the English didn't want foreigners to bring their horses into the country and then start winning in all the shows. There was a bit of a prejudice toward me, I felt, because I had trained my horses on the continent. However, all in all, I enjoyed the time I spent in England reconnecting with my English roots.

When the Tao is present in the universe,
The horses haul manure.
When the Tao is absent from the universe,
War horses are bred outside the city.

-- Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu, by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English


This was the end of a long period when I had quite a bit of independence in my marriage. Although I felt very committed to Rinpoche, at the same time, I was living my own life. There was an interesting tension there. I had realized years ago that I couldn't spend my life having doors slammed in my face, and there was definitely an element of that when I was around him. Everybody wanted to get to Rinpoche, and I was sort of superfluous, on some level. Once when we were on vacation in Mexico, the person helping Rinpoche opened a swinging door for Rinpoche to go in, and then just let it go in my face. At times, it was like I was invisible. I felt that I needed to pursue something for myself or I was going to get depressed. As a creative person, I couldn't play the role of his passive wife all the time. People didn't feel they could be judgmental about Rinpoche, but it was easy for people to be judgmental about me. I didn't want to get caught up in that. Instead, I concentrated on developing myself, through engaging in a discipline that I had a great passion for.

During the years that I was in Vienna, I tried to spend seven months in Europe and seven weeks back home. I had that formula in my mind, seven months and seven weeks. I made a point of coming back for things that were important to Rinpoche. I also started the Shambhala School of Dressage in Boulder, and it continued during my absence. A student of mine and fellow rider, Mary Louise Barrett, would run the school when I was away. I would teach when I came home.


Marie Louise Barrett on Aragorn. HITs/Centerline Dressage, MFS, 8/21/2010


During the summer of 1981, after spending several months in England with Gesar, I decided to leave England and return to Colorado for an extended period of time. I wanted to concentrate on developing the Shambhala School of Dressage, where I was trying to introduce classical dressage training. I decided to bring one of my horses, Shambhala, home with me.
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