Every April 4 my mind turns to recollecting the life and death of two important influences in my youth--Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987) and poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) who both died on or about this date. I remain deeply grateful for their artistic inspiration and generous contact which has imparted so much meaning to my life. The notion of "basic goodness" (synonymous with rigpa or primordial awareness) became a living reality for me through their example. They were my first dharma teachers.
One example I like to tell about Ginsberg's sense of basic goodness was the time he was invited to deliver the keynote address to the Colorado Library Association or some such organization. As it was to be held in Denver while he was in residence in Boulder, he asked me to drive him. So we went. Now Denver is one of the most confusing cities to drive in without any kind of organizational structure to the street or sections of town--something about it being originally a cattle station. I can't remember if it was before or after the talk but we drove throguh all his old haunts in Denver as he pointed out places and neighborhoods he had lived with Neal Cassady & company. This was one of the few moments in our history I wished I had a tape recorder. It was on this drive, he first recited the "Green Automobile" which mentions founding a college in the Rocky Mountains.
What I do remember was Ginsberg's reading to several hundred librarians which began with his graphic poem "Sphincter"* bassically a eulogy to his asshole and not a great poem by any means.. But they loved him. Who else could get away with this? Something about his candor was so unthreatening.
In many ways both Trungpa and Ginsberg represent the father principle of my early years as a young woman and a much appreciated antidote to conventional patriarchal gloom and disapproval. Ginsberg as a poet still deeply influences my aesthetic and allegiance to hold the details of one's life in detail without neurotic embarassment or self-consciousness as a kind of truth sayer. His kindness was authentic and an inspiration to regard others in such a light. Reading the poem Kaddish for the first time at the age of 15 infused me with the possibility of courage to embrace the discarded and disdained aspects of one's life. Language in itself could be a vehicle of lumen no mattter how troubling or painful our lives. In real life he proved this over and over. Ginsberg's candor inspired a lot of women and the stories are yet to be told. I adored the man and even after nearly twelve years of contact with him, never lost respect for him. Like so many of his friends, form lovers & employees, we miss him dearly. He held a wide mandala of associates interconnected to his poetrymind.
Trungpa remains forever a breath of fresh air, a nobility of presence in the moment as the basis for my meditation practice, which is all there really is. Together they hold a wisdom mindset I try to access in my writing, art, and in life when I take the time to slow down. Yes, they were naughty to the point of bad taste at times and many things would not be 'politically correct' for these times, but they were free. When the chips are down, it is not uncommon for me to dream of Trungpa extending a helping hand nearly thirty years later. He kept his word and like a crocodial never lets go. Other teachers have disappointed me but not Trungpa.
Much is written about both these men. In hindsight, it is no accident "CTR" aligned himself with the poets, especially alpha poet of the times, Ginsberg. In his earliest of talks circa early 1970's, Trungpa preesented seminars on Tibetan poet Milarepa. IN Tibetan culture Milarepa represents exceptional diligence on the path to realization--the point being, I guess, that if Milarepa could do it, so can we.
* from Cosmopolitan Greetings: Poems, 1986-1992
I hope my good old asshole holds out60 years it's been mostly OK
Tho in Bolivia a fissure operation
survived the altiplano hospital--
a little blood, no polyps, occasionally
a small hemorrhoid
active, eager, receptive to phallus
coke bottle, candle, carrot
banana & fingers--
Now AIDS makes it shy, but still
eager to serve--
out with the dumps, in with the condom'd
still rubbery muscular,
unashamed wide open for joy
But another 20 years who knows,
old folks got troubles everywhere--
necks, prostates, stomachs, joints--
Hope the old hole stays young
till death, relax
March 15, 1986, 1:00 PM