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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 80 At least, it kept me safe and the people who were around me. After I met Chögyam Trungpa, for the rioting after the bomb- ing of Hanoi Harbor and the increased bombing under Nixon about 1972, he suggested using the mantra AH instead of OM, because OM was much too foreign sounding, while AH was just a good old American Fourth of July sound, like “Ah, fireworks.” Also, it goes out as purification of speech and a measure of the breath. I did try that. By 1970 I met Swami Muktananda Paramahansa at an inter- esting meeting with Ram Dass, Muktananda, and Satchidananda, all of them sitting up on the altar at Universalist Church, Central Park. Swami M. invited me to come down to Dallas. I had noth- ing better to do, so I went down to Dallas, registered in the hotel where he was staying, and then he had the sense to say, “What kind of practice do you know, or do you have practice?” I said, “No, I don’t.” He said, “Why don’t you go to your room and sit and meditate using a mantra GURU OM at your heart level, us- ing that on your breath.” I was relieved. I had thought he was going to exploit me or parade me in front of his Dallas disciples as an asset of some sort, but instead he suggested that I go to my room and stay by myself and sit. That was a tremendous relief; I suddenly realized that I had a practice finally. I did that, and he would come in and check me out every once in a while. I think he comes from the same related lineage as the Vajrayana practitioners. I remember once he invited me into his room where he was having a darshan with some students and giving them chocolate cookies. Donald Duck was on the televi- sion, and suddenly he turned and offered a cookie to Donald Duck. Somehow, I got the idea of emptiness out of that. I RAN INTO THE Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa in 1970 on the street, coming from a poetry book-signing party on 47th Street. I had brought my poet father Louis to meet Snyder for the first time. This was a big meeting, since it was already many years since my father had read Snyder’s work and knew his influence on me. My father was over seventy years old and couldn’t move very well. It was a New York summer, really hot, and as we went out on the street toward the Port Authority to get him back to New Jersey, I realized that he was going to faint. We got to 43rd and 6th and I saw this Asian gent hailing a taxicab with a bearded friend. I stepped in front of them and said, “May I borrow your vehicle?” which was an odd word to use—you know, the three vehicles of Buddhism—but it was a word. The friend, named Kunga Dawa, said, “Are you Allen Gins- berg?” and I said, “Yes.” And he said, “This is Chögyam Trungpa Poetry is unhesitating and doubtless proclamation. Proclamation of what? Proclamation of the actual mind, manifesting your mind, writing the mind, which goes back to Kerouac but also goes back to Milarepa. I was interested in what he thought of LSD. He asked me if with LSD I could see what was inside of a briefcase. And I said yes, be- cause it is empty. And Gary said, “Oh, stop quibbling, Ginsberg. Give him an answer.” I went to Sikkim, just sightseeing, and wound up in Rumtek Monastery. I met the Karmapa and saw the Black Hat ceremony, which came to mean a great deal to me much later on. We also visited the Lamas’ Home School at Dalhousie, where my later teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was the director. Although I didn’t have much conversation with him, Gary Snyder took a picture showing Peter Orlovsky leaning over, me looking on, and Trungpa Rinpoche showing us a text that was on the altar. I went on to Kalimpong to visit Dudjom Rincpoche, the head of the Nyingma school, and I brought him my problems with LSD, because I had had a lot of bum trips. Every time I took acid or psy- chedelia, I would come back to “The Sick Rose,” like some kind of monster coming to eat me from an outside space. He did give me a very good pith instruction, which I never forgot. It turned my mind around and made the world safe for my democratic thoughts: “If you see something horrible, don’t cling to it, and if you see something beautiful, don’t cling to it.” That cut the Gordian knot that I’d inher- ited from too rash and untutored experiments with psychedelics. On my way home I went to Japan and visited Gary. I sat at Temple Daitoku-ji, and actually did a short sesshin, but didn’t learn anything because I didn’t get any real instructions. The problem I had in India was that I didn’t know what to ask for. I went there looking for a teacher and I saw many swamis, but I didn’t know enough to ask them for a meditation practice. Which was the simplest way in? What kind of meditation do you do, and can you suggest a practice? I was too dumb to ask that. I remember asking Dudjom Rinpoche for initiations, wang, as if I were trained enough or prepared for it, but I didn’t ask him what kind of meditation should I practice meanwhile. Ever since then, I have perhaps been overeager to teach medi- tation to people who are too dumb, like myself, to ask for it. It seems to me that in America it might be useful for people to be more forward. Usually, I understand, the proper etiquette is to wait until someone asks you three times. But you can always sug- gest to them that they might ask you three times. IN 1968 I TRIED using mantra chanting, which I had been doing all the years from 1964 on, when I came back, usually “Hare Krishna” or OM SHRI MAITREYA, a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, which I liked, without any instruction in how to do it. By 1968 I applied mantra chanting to situations of vio- lence in Chicago, and I found that it worked on a limited scale.