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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 84 or five-hour ride. He kept laughing all the way at Kerouac’s humor. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s a very good book of freestyle poetry, and when we got to New York, he got out of the car and said, “It’s a perfect manifestation of mind.” I was really amazed because Ker- ouac had been attacked for that book by Kenneth Rexroth—somewhat an ac- complished scholar and Buddhist-ori- ented—as a book that “separates the men from the boys,” and Kerouac was just “an amateur boy that didn’t know what he was doing”—that he was making a slap- dash pastiche. All the San Francisco poets loved that book for its spontaneity and quick mind and quick notation of mind, but it was widely attacked and considered as a beatnik jerk-off. Now here was a very accomplished lama saying “perfect mani- festation of mind,” and his understanding and appreciation was amazing to me. The next day he said he couldn’t forget that voice, mine or Kerouac’s or Anne’s, or the style, and that it had changed his style of poetry from more formal Tibetan five-sev- en-nine syllable verse form to more interna- tional freestyle spontaneous dictated Eng- lish. He asked me to be his poetry teacher and I asked him to be my meditation teach- er, and so we made a kind of exchange, of which I think I got the better in the bargain. A year later, he invited me to attend and teach some poetry at his first semi- nary, which is a three-month retreat, and at that point I heard a detailed exposition of Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana styles and practices—a detailed map, not the actual practices, but a map with all the different stages of Vajrayana yoga. A little while thereafter I began doing the foun- dation practices for the Kagyu lineage. While I was sitting, I had an idea for a poem but I didn’t want to interrupt my sit- ting. We were doing shamatha/vipashyana on the breath, and I had this fantasy that my breath was going out the window and over the mountain into Idaho and across the desert to San Francisco, and then the zephyr was going under the Bay Bridge, and then maybe a little tornado out in the Pacific and breeze in Guam and a ty- phoon in the China sea and an airplane flying through the clouds over Cambodia Angor Wat all the way through to papers scattered by the wind by the Wailing Wall, and the Sunday Times lifting and settling in the breeze at Trafalgar Square or Pica- dilly, and then a breeze across the Atlantic across Labrador a cold wind and finally at the end, the breath coming back around the world where we were in Teton Village in Wyoming, the last line being “a calm breath, a slow breath breathes outward from the nostril.” “Mind Breaths” was the title of the poem, and I asked, is it legitimate to write poetry about meditation? He said, well, most poetry about meditation is shit, because people are just repeating their neuroses in a sense, or writing out their complications, rather than some objec- tive description of the mind. So this is all right because it actually describes the process of meditation—it comes back like returning to the breath. He gave me a sort of encouragement to consider poetics and meditation as related activities of scan- ning the mind in a sense. Related activities of observing mind and observing breath, observing space and observing the mind. AS I WAS STILL in those days dungareed and black-shirted, Trungpa suggested also that I try a white shirt on, and I said why? He said, well, see how people treat you, see if they treat you any differently. I was not sure because I thought, well, it takes a lot of mon- ey to get shirts cleaned, and so he said, well, wash them yourself. So I went to the Salva- tion Army and bought about a dozen white shirts (for twenty-five cents each in those days in the early seventies in Boulder) and tried them on, and I found that people treat- ed me slightly differently, more trusting. I began noticing the three-piece-suit sartorial manners of his Vajra Guards, his dharmapalas, and I decided, well, I’ll try some more elegant clothes. I went to the Salvation Army and bought all sorts of Brooks Brothers suits and pretty soon was all dressed up like a professor. And people treated me nicely befitting my age. In ’74 Trungpa invited myself, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima, John Cage, Gregory Bateson, Ram Dass, and others to Spiritual practice on the job Shambhala Publications To order call (888) 424-2329 or visit www.shambhala.com Visit our website to receive a 20% discount on this and many other books on spirituality and conscious living. Awake at Work 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos Michael Carroll A meditation teacher and cor- porate executive shares Buddhist wisdom on how to transform the common hassles and anxieties of the workplace into valuable opportunities for personal growth, heightened wisdom, and enhanced effectiveness. “Awake at Work is one of the best books ever written about practicing spirituality on the job.”—Spirituality & Health $14.00 paperback