using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2005 85 THERE ARE A FEW BOOKS that I’m always buying up in used bookstores and giving out to friends. Gift from the Sea. Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Anything by Pema Chödrön. But if I were ever marooned on that proverbial desert island— as a Coloradoan, an eventuality I’m always planning for—there’s one book I’d bring: Chögyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. And, oh, I’d sneak in one of those pocketbook ver- sions of his seminal Meditation in Action, and tuck away Trungpa’s Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. And I’d have to grab Training the Mind, Trungpa’s teachings on, well, training the mind. Then, just to cover my bases—there’s not much to do on an island, you know—I’d bring the recent Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa—eight handsome volumes that alone weigh six pounds more than a marooned islander is normally allowed to bring along. So I guess I’d have to leave ’em all behind, and bring just one, and that would be Fabrice Midal’s new biography of Chögyam Trungpa, titled, aptly, Chögyam Trungpa. Midal is a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris who, though a student in Trungpa’s Shambhala community, never met the man. So, while his book may not be filled with typical personal reminiscences (“Trungpa did this amazing thing that just blew my mind!”), it has just enough distance between subject and author to really see the breadth of Trungpa’s world. Chögyam Trungpa was a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and king, of sorts, who fled his homeland in 1959. Leading 350 of his peo- ple across the snowy Himalayas, Trungpa found himself square- ly, suddenly, in the twentieth century. It was a rude awakening— but one which the young Buddhist teacher embraced. After meetings with the Dalai Lama and Thomas Merton in India, Trungpa journeyed to Oxford University on a scholarship. After struggling for some time to communicate the teachings of Buddhism—his Western students seemed mostly interested in his exotic cachet—the young Trungpa left behind his monk’s robes and vows and eloped with a young English woman. Journeying to America, he would over the next seventeen years write a dozen bestselling Buddhist books, teach thousands of seminars, found scores of Buddhist centers, and establish the West’s first Buddhist-inspired university. He would pioneer the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism to the Western world, dressed to the nines (his hippie students soon followed suit) and commu- nicating in the idiom of his students. Here’s where Midal excels. While his biographical study is an official one, blessed by Trungpa’s widow, Lady Diana Mukpo, it is both frank and inspiring. Midal covers every facet of this renaissance man—a man trained from birth in government, poetry, calligraphy, theater, dance, the buddhadharma—a man whose death at the premature age of forty- seven may have been due, in part, to an ever-present glass of sake, a man who took many lovers, was chauffeured in a gray Mercedes, and, though partially paralyzed, rode a white Lipizzaner stallion. But the man was not the myth. I grew up in Trungpa’s world, my young parents having met at a seminar of his (entitled “Crazy Wisdom”) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1972. I was born on the day’s break between the two sessions of Naropa University’s first summer, in 1974. I took the bodhisattva vow, in which one ded- icates one’s life to the welfare of others, with Trungpa. I attended his Shambhala Sun Summer Camps, in which we marched around singing, played capture the flag, and learned how to work with our own minds. By the age of ten I had been exposed to poetry, horsemanship, calligraphy, Zen archery, Japanese flower- arranging, and Zen dining. But for all its strange, magical wonder, the world in which I grew up has remained largely unreported. Trungpa’s own books, while profound and poignant, revolve around timeless Buddhist teachings on life, mind, art, poetry. And so it was that, from the first page—lit- erally, Midal’s table of contents—I found this fast-fading world rise up again before my eyes. I felt like crying and smiling simultaneous- ly—what Trungpa referred to as the best of human emotions. Chögyam Trungpa is largely remembered, these days, as a wild, extraordinary Buddhist teacher, a sort of spiritual rock star. But the man I knew was no Crazy Wisdom guru. He was boring, frankly. As a child I loved his regent, Ösel Tendzin. I loved the Karmapa. I loved just about everybody. But Trungpa? I loved him, sure, in the way you love your grandfather. He was sweet, and mild, and talked excruciatingly slowly in that strange, high British accent of his, and he frequently put me to sleep, curled up on my mother’s lap and a meditation cushion. Nothing ever seemed to happen around him. I saw him all the time—he was in a very real sense part of my family, or I part of his—he was the center of the wonderful world in which I found myself—but he was nothing special. And that’s what makes his legacy so extraordinary. Extra-ordi- nary. For the teachings of Buddhism are, as he termed it, nonthe- istic. There is no God. Buddha was himself a human being. When it comes down to it, you have to help yourself. It’s not a cynical teaching—it, like Trungpa, is achingly sweet, sad, cheer- ful. And I miss him, and I’ll never forgive him for dying so young. But while I may not forgive, I won’t forget—thanks to Midal’s work—a biography that, like its subject, walks a razor’s edge between East and West, spiritual and temporal, Crazy Wisdom, and ordinary mind. © WAYLON H. LEWIS is the editor and founder of elephant, a Rocky Mountain magazine covering yoga, organics, independent business, green living, buddhadharma, and the arts. CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA: His Life and Vision By Fabrice Midal Shambhala Publications, 2004; 480 pp., $26.95 (cloth) REVIEWED BY WAYLON H. LEWIS The World of Chögyam Trungpa