Ark ii … me and Trungpa …
Catherine wasn’t the only one on the Ark who knew of this Lama. I had seen him teaching during my years (1969-1982) attending the magic school that was the San Francisco – Berkeley – Marin County – Bay Area.
Two of the people that taught me some eclectic psychology (we called it “reparenting”, and this name was used by others in different ways) were students of Trungpa. I saw him in action twice, and read three or four of his books, such as “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”.
My favorite is “Meditation in Action”, which later served as a kind of model and inspiration for my booklet of two essays: “Living Thinking in Action” (1).
Personally I was very oriented toward the “practice” of the teachings in the Gospels (2), and would feel confused when these two teachers/friends would talk about “sitting meditation practice”, which Trungpa encouraged them to do for eight hours each Saturday.
To my romantic sense of being “spiritual”, you didn’t “practice”, except in moral deeds as regards how we treat each other. Later I was to appreciate that their “practice” was about the mind in a Way not really suited for me (3).
My Franz Bardon studies were … more attractive … in which I read in one of Bardon’s books that Tibetan teachers knew how to hypnotize an audience. Then I saw Trungpa do it. I don’t think this is bad, or good, although it does represent rather interesting ways of thinking about the doing of teaching.
There was a large modern Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, the main worship area easily held over a thousand people. I attended, and at least had a seat. The place was filled with standing room only folk.
He was carried out onto the “stage” were there was a large high back chair, and helped to sit in it. Students of his moved about the stage, doing this and that, such as moving in a small table, and finding a potted flower for it, and then that was “settled”, and some water was also brought out.
As to “settled”, table and flower had to be moved around a bit, before Trungpa was satisfied. This took five or ten minutes.
Periodically that movement on the dais would stop, “helpers” would leave the stage, and there would be this breathless moment when the audience would anticipate him beginning to speak. And then he’d make a gesture and out would come some folk to do more this or that.
With action on the stage, the audience would whisper a bit, yet when he appeared to begin to speak, the noise disappeared. As this mystery went on, it became clear, to my ears and eyes, that we were being helped to breathe as one.
When he had our undivided attention, he spoke, or better yet, let the teaching through. I worked out later that his experience would include the light reflection off of the curvature of our collective eyeballs, a sight which if looked at meditatively, as a whole, would appear as a brightening.
When we were breathing in unison, and all attentively looking, that is when “transmission” happened.
He reminded me, in his gestures and demeanor, as a child almost, 9 to 11. Alert, amazed, happy.
On another occasion, in a much smaller venue at UC Berkeley, with maybe a hundred folks overflowing a classroom, he again was placed on a chair, on a raised platform, and around the platform several of his students, sat or knelled, ready to act if and when needed.
As he spoke, he occasionally would move his feet, pushing the chair back toward the edge of the platform. If he pushed it too far, he would tip over, and so each time he moved an inch, the whole group immediately around him tensed expectantly. He never pushed it “too” far, they … ? learned something?
At this “transmission”, he took questions, and one fellow was worried about how he was changing, due to his studies of Trungpa, because he could see his life companions reacting, often negatively.
Trungpa said: “Be like a rock in the waterfall”.
Another student, and this will be the last Trungpa story, from before the Ark, was worried about stuff that was appearing in the press, and did he (Trungpa) mind the personal commentary.
He said, after a small pause, “The Moon does not call itself Moon”.
This week’s Harvey/Rufolf quote: (read aloud for best effect)
(7/12/2002) love/freedom concept
Wer sich an der Einsamkeit ergebt, bald is er allein
(Who surrendering gives himself over himself to Loneliness, soon finds himself alone)
– This ties to XXXX’s idea of how one discovers Love, which Abdul’baha (Baha’i teacher) calls “The force which binds the planets together”, arises to mentor, to stitch together those who have fallen prey, who have become de-threaded from the fabric of the Macrocosm, those who, by as tales of Eden and all its sturdy woe that surrounds the wake of Paradise Lost, potently remind, teaching us the meaning of the word ‘Alas’, and weeping, whisper: The Race of Man, fallen exile, descended into the sold-separately of material existence, fallen out of connectivity and lost rapport with the Divine Hierarchies, for You infants in a manger have I Christ, have brought one invisible gift from the East, love.
So lonliness, desolation, abandonment, which interiorizes us, corrals us in mortal exile, so also all this orphanage, is topsoil which fructifies the emergence of Love, Who (if Christ authors it anew within hearts, love is a process, not an ownable “What!”) navigates the Human Midnight, and finds us, and kindles our hearth, just as October wind in upstate New York slaps the green apples, and makes them outrageously sweet. Perhaps Red Delicious is also a term for Humans who learn to embrace the streams of love which washes up on the dry shore of apartness.
(Another octave of echo: As Isaac Bashevis Singer says “One should not expect to get through life unscathed” Not a bad approximation, a 20th century Jewish storyteller’s “foreshadowing” (pause for irony!) of the Crown of Thorns, eh!)
Finally, Some ‘cross-talk’ from another, a Russian Sixth Root-Race mystery school, Agni Yoga, from “Leaves of Morya’s Garden”, the one that Prokofieff imagines false, manipulative and dangerous:
“Lonely stands the mountain top
Never does the feeling of solitude forsake it.
Blessed art thou if this feeling is known to thee.
Thou art on the road to Us………….”
“And it is easy to walk beside the precipice when thou knowest of the Flying Carpet”
And for dessert:
Leonard Cohen, the Song Suzanne:
“And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
He spent a long time watching from His lonely wooden tower
‘Till he knew for certain, Only drowning men could see Him
Said ‘All men shall be sailors then, until the sea shall free them’ “
So innocently dare think this, just as virginity is unconditional Trust: Perhaps Prokofieff, like myself, is afraid to walk on water…
Love is what enables us to embrace abandonment. Therefore, make haste to welcome exile.”