Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos (Dharma Ocean Series)
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Trungpa Rinpoche had just recently returned from Bhutan , where he had received the sadhana. It was before the accident.
To me he seemed to be a very pure being: so kind, so pure, so sharp. During the interview, I had the sense that he was touching my mind with his. There was absolutely no barrier in our communication. Whomever he worked with, he was in love with the other person's mind. I felt that he had no personal agenda except to be kind and helpful.
The next time she saw him was in the fall of , when she hitch-hiked to Samye Ling, Rinpoche's meditation center in Scotland. She writes:. I saw him outside getting ready to depart. He was no longer wearing monk's robes, but instead he had on a layman's chuba, or robe, and he was walking slowly in a laboured way with the aid of a walker.
I realized that he was quite crippled from the accident. I managed to get close to him. Although I only saw Rinpoche that evening for a few minutes, in that short period of time, I realized that he was a completely different person than he had been before his accident. But that wasn't it.
It wasn't just his physical being that had changed. He had a very different manifestation now, which I found fascinating.
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Now he was much more heavy and solid, and there was a sort of old dog or well-processed feeling about him. He seemed much older, and he had an unfathomable quality that I hadn't experienced before. He was transformed. That purity M and lightness, which others who knew Trungpa Rinpoche during this time have also noted, are reflected in the quality and style of Born in Tibet , as well as in the articles published in The Middle Way. While not abandoned later, these qualities became colored by a deeper range of emotions and a different vocabulary in America.
However, it has been included in Volume One because the core writings in Mudra are poems composed in England in the s. There are several poems from , in a section called "Songs"; the remaining verses are all from , several from before the author's accident, the remainder following it. Together they give us another picture of this period: the voice of the poet, which for Trungpa Rinpoche was always a highly personal voice, much more so than the tone of his lectures.
Up to this point, the discussion has been of how one can read these early works for signs of the author's personal growth and development. In many schools of Buddhism, the teacher's life is taken as an important object of study and contemplation. For it is assumed that the life of a great teacher is a life that contains many lessons.
However, the teachings from this early period can primarily be enjoyed as good reading and for the good dharma that they expound. When Born in Tibet was published in , it was among the very earliest Tibetan autobiographies and accounts of life in Tibet told by a Tibetan in English. There are few works, even today, from which one can learn as much about the traditional upbringing and training of an incarnate teacher in Tibet. It owes its genesis very much to its English editor, Esme Cramer Roberts.
Roberts were introduced through mutual acquaintances at the Buddhist Society in Oxford. In his foreword to the book, Marco Pallis thanks Mrs. Roberts for "her encouragement in the first place," without which, he notes, "the work might never have been begun. Roberts and Trungpa Rinpoche worked on the book together for more than two years. Understandably, the language and the style employed in the book were heavily influenced by Mrs.
Roberts's own skills with the English language. It is fortunate for the reader that she was such a sensitive editor; much of the charm of the phraseology of Born in Tibet , as well as its literacy, were undoubtedly her contributions.
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Marco Pallis also notes that Mrs. Roberts tried very hard to preserve the flavor of the author's thoughts. As he puts it, "she wisely did not try and tamper with a characteristically Tibetan mode of expression. Roberts was the first of many book editors he worked with. And while all of these made their imprint on his printed words, none of them—starting with this first venture—overrode the strength of his vision and his ability to communicate that.
There is some evidence that Mrs. Roberts sometimes did not under-stand all the details of the stories Trungpa Rinpoche told her. A number of years later, when he gave several seminars on the lineage of the Trungpa tulkus incarnate lamas and on his teacher Jamgon Kongtrul, there were small but notable discrepancies in his description of various events.
That said, Born in Tibet is a book that he was proud of, and he was immensely grateful to Esme Cramer Roberts for having helped him to write it.
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It is now known that he composed over a thousand pages of writings while in Tibet and that, as a young tulku, he had already found several important termas. According to one story, he left it hidden near a high pass in the Himalayas.
Until recently, all of these materials were believed to have been lost, destroyed during the communist Chinese invasion of the country. Although he received occasional letters and news from Tibet , Trungpa Rinpoche was never able to return there. One of Trungpa Rinpoche's students, Lee Weingrad, traveled to the monastery in September , five months after Rinpoche's death, and has led many groups of Westerners there in subsequent years.
Rinpoche's eldest son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, then led an official delegation to Surmang in the summer of During his visit, the Sakyong was given nearly four hundred pages of texts that Trungpa Rinpoche composed before leaving Tibet. In time, much of this material will be translated and made available to English-language readers.
The material in the book dates from talks given at Samye Ling Meditation Center in Eskdalemuir , Scotland , by Rinpoche in and , before his transformative vision at Taktsang. There is a simplicity and a purity of thought that have made this little book an enduring classic on meditation and the path of the bodhisattva. The great majority of his subsequent publications have been based on transcripts of lectures, his poetry being of course the major exception.
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That he—and other important Buddhist lineage holders—came to the West at a time when the technology existed to easily record the human voice was an accident, but an extremely fortuitous coincidence. The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha were remembered and written down by his major disciples, and that tradition of students passing on the words of their teachers from memory was a main vehicle for the transmission of the Buddhist teachings for many centuries.
At the time that the historical Buddha lived, the culture was much more attuned to that kind of oral transmission. So we can be grateful that the arrival in the West of so many great Buddhist masters coincided with a technology uniquely suited to preserve their words. For the transcription and editing of Meditation in Action, thanks are due to its editor Richard Arthure and other English students of Rinpoche's who worked on the manuscript. Richard was with Rinpoche when he composed The Sadhana of Mahamudra at Takstang in Bhutan and worked closely with Rinpoche on the translation of that text.
The idea of putting together a book, based on talks given by Rinpoche mostly in , arose in conversation between the Vidyadhara and myself, probably early in I thought it would help in making more people aware of what an extraordinary teacher Rinpoche was and, in particular, that it would draw more people to the Dharma and to Samye-Ling.
Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos (Dharma Ocean Series)
I selected the material and set about transcribing and editing the talks that I thought would hang together to make up a book. It was solitary and labor-intensive work. For transcribing, I had an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and the first draft was written out by hand and then typed double-spaced on a Hermes typewriter. The challenge was to transform Rinpoche's spoken words into clear and elegant English prose.
Even then, he had a fairly extensive and ever-growing vocabulary in English, but his sentence construction and grammar were rather sketchy and unorthodox I worked on the book for about four months in the Spring of in between bouts of intensive ngondro practice. I had no idea what the title of the book would be until after the manuscript was finished. I remember there was some discussion as to whether it should be Meditation and Action or Meditation in Action.
In retrospect, it seems self-evident that Meditation in Action is a much better title, but it wasn't quite so obvious then as it is now with hindsight. Robert Bly happened to be visiting Samye-Ling at the time that I was putting together the final type-script. He very kindly reviewed it and suggested a handful of minor changes, mostly in the matter of punctuation. The corrected proofs were sent to Stuart and Watkins only days before [Rinpoche and I departed] This is not to say that I am more skilled, more learned, and more experienced in the dharma.