It is early May. It is sunny in Halifax, but a little cold, and we are wishing for warm spring days. The Profound Treasury tour rolls into town from Boston. Where have we been? Where are we now? If it’s Friday, it must be Halifax!
The weather dralas gave us beautiful days for the panels in New York and Boston. Thousands of blooming trees, tulips, and daffodils filled the parks in Manhattan, and the streets were mobbed with people out for the sun. Sunday evening, April 28, the auditorium at the Rubin Museum was quite full as Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Acharya Emeritus Judith Lief and Shastri Ethan Nichtern took to the stage with moderator Melvin McLeod, Editor in Chief of the Shambhala Sun.
Ponlop Rinpoche talked about the development of genuine dharma in the West as a kind of courting ritual between East and West, teacher and student: dating leading to marriage. He spoke of the leap that student and teacher must make together, and of Chögyam Trungpa’s profound contribution to how dharma in the West has unfolded, allowing for authentic communication and the foundation for a good marriage. Acharya Lief spoke of the model of householder yogis in the West, espoused by Chögyam Trungpa, and she spoke of his view of taking refuge as becoming a genuine refugee from samsara. Shastri Nichtern spoke of using this metaphor of dating and marriage to encourage practitioners to reach out to others, rather than waiting to be asked for the next dance.
After this feast of dharma, we had a more literal feast at ABC Kitchen for the panelists and their guests. It was an opportunity to thank some of the many donors to the project, the sponsors of the tour, and also to thank one of the editors who worked with Judy Lief, Derek Kolleeny, for his great contribution to the books.
Then Judy was on the train to Boston with Nikko Odiseos, President of Shambhala Publications and the moderator of the panel at Harvard. Harvard was our mishap panel. Both Elizabeth Matthis Namgyal and Mirabai Bush were unable to be there, due to personal issues that came up at the last minute. So Charles Lief, President of Naropa, and me, Carolyn Gimian, Director of the Legacy Project, were commandeered to join in as panelists.
We were in the Sperry Room in Andover Hall at the Harvard Divinity School, with close to a hundred people in the audience. Someone pointed out that this is the room where William James taught in the early 1900s. The charismatic Buddhist spokesman Dharmapala attended one of James’ lectures in this room and James, it is said, invited Dharmapala to take his chair, saying of Buddhism that: “This is the psychology that everybody will be studying twenty five years from now.”
The Harvard panel was entitled “Scholars, Saints, and Provocateurs: Chögyam Trungpa and Buddhism in the 21st Century.” Judy Lief talked about how The Profound Treasury was conceived and edited, while the other three panelists each spoke about one of the three roles in the title of the panel. I opened as the saint; David Rome continued as the scholar; and Charles Lief ended as provocateur. We each chose a passage from The Profound Treasury to emphasize how Chögyam Trungpa embodied each of these three roles.
Then we were on the plane to Halifax. And here we are, ready for the final panel. I’ll send that report in the next few days.
All of the panels are being filmed, by the way, and we’ll announce the location of the recordings—as soon as we know!
From the road, your correspondent,