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Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 32 rely too heavily on our intellect to sort things out, we ignore our emotions. And if we give full throttle to our emotions, we lose our insight. What the tantric view and training can teach us to do, he said, is to “bring together emotion and insight. Insight becomes more emotional and emotion becomes more insightful.” We can exercise control and relaxation simultaneously, he said. Such a vision would find appeal among young spiritual seekers in the West, who had become disillusioned with what society and traditional forms of religious practice offered. To be told you’re both completely wretched and glorious rang true. It meant you weren’t crazy for feeling bad and good at the same time. He pro- claimed to his students that it was not only okay but wonderful to be in a place of simultaneous birth and death, celebration and mourning, and that in fact buddhahood was not some faraway place. It existed in the middle of the charnel ground, where the places we usually run from could be fertile ground for discovery, where, as it says in the Sadhana of Mahamudra: Whatever you see partakes of the nature of that wisdom which transcends past, present, and future. From here came the buddhas of the past; here live the buddhas of the present; this is the primeval ground from which the buddhas of the future will come. 3. Just Sit...Then Sit More Within two years of his revelatory retreat in Bhutan, Trungpa Rinpoche found himself in America. A farmhouse, barn, and sur- rounding acreage in northern Vermont that was soon dotted with retreat cabins became the first home for his teaching and com- munity. He had taken off his robes, married, and settled in among a growing body of students inspired by his honest assessment of the way things were: both the wretchedness and the glory. One seminar after another took place in a tent set up on the front lawn. It was a festival atmosphere befitting the hippie era. In addition to the dangers of spiritual materialism, one theme predominated: the centrality of “the sitting practice of medi- tation.” He was uncompromising. The only way to realize the tantric possibilities described in the Sadhana of Mahamudra— wherein “pain and pleasure alike become ornaments which it is pleasant to wear”—is to sit and to sit and to sit more. When I attended my first seminar as an eager teenage seeker, after a few days we decamped to the town hall/gymnasium for an entire day of sitting meditation. I couldn’t believe it. Soooo boring and NAROPA INSTITUTE, 1974. PHOTO BY HUDSON SHOTWELL