Just seeing things as they are isn’t crazy enough for us as Buddhists…

Picture of someone in Paris having a cup of coffee the old man instagramed to illustrate this episode of Pulp Buddhism in which the Naropa Prairie Dog Players do a dramatic reading from volume five of Chogyam Trungpa’s collected works in which they discuss how just seeing things as they are isn’t crazy enough for us as Buddhists…

Jonathan begins.

“If we look at grasping in a matter-of-fact way, it’s actually very spacious.”

Jonathan continues.

“But we regard grasping as an insult to ourselves.”

Allen replies.

“That’s why it becomes an insult.”

Jonathan replies.

“But grasping as it is, is actually very spacious.”

Allen replies.

“Very spacious.”

Jonathan replies.

“That’s the dharmakaya itself.”

Virginia replies.

“There is an experience, a movement towards something, something seems to be happening, which in turn, naturally gains momentum .”

Sally replies.

“I regard what I am experiencing as something experienceable.”

Virginia replies.

“This energy is the dharmakaya we have been discussing here.”

Sally replies.

“All three kayas connect with this energy, the energy of manifestion.”

Jonathan replies.

“The three kayas are all included in this energy.”

Allen replies.

“That’s why they are called kayas.”

Caroline replies.

“The whole point when we talk about crazy wisdom is that crazy wisdom is the three kayas, a combination of both samsara and nirvana at the same time.”

Karl replies.

“At this point, as far as what I am experiencing is concerned, samsara and nirvana are one in the same within what we experience.”

Jonathan replies.

“What we are concerned with here is this energy.”

Allen replies.

“It’s neither conditioned nor unconditioned, but rather its own existence is absolute in its own way.”

Virginia replies.

“It is samsaric, no doubt, but without this samsaric element, we would have nothing to be crazy about.”

Sally replies.

“This is what crazy wisdom is all about.”

Virginia replies.

“Take for example this cup of coffee, the sense of relating with it as an external object, which is like cutting the umbilical cord, as we previously discussed, the Nirmanakaya.”

Sally replies.

“My relating with my coffee as something out there is the nirmanakaya.”

Karl replies.

“You need not do anything about your coffee for this to be so.”

Caroline replies.

“Rather, there are three types of solidification of experience related with our coffee, the threefold states of being of the mind.”

Karl replies.

“Its coffee-ness is the nirmanakaya.”

Jonathan replies.

“The sambhogakaya is the sense of slight separateness, as opposed to the abstract idea of our having coffee, or not.”

Allen replies.

“The journey, as such.”

Virginia replies.

“Once you are pregnant, it is already a statement of separation, and it is a further expression of separation when you give birth; then the final statement is when you cut the umbilical cord; that is the final state of separateness.”

Karl replies.

“All of which brings us back to our discussion of hopelessness.”

Karl continues.

“There is no comfort to be found in our coffee, its manifestation as a process.”

Caroline replies.

“The dharmakaya exists, sambhogakaya exists, nirmanakaya exists, and each has its own function, relatively speaking.”

Caroline continues.

“There’s no recipe for how to make yourself happy in any of this.”

Karl replies.

“At this point, it has nothing to do with bringing happiness into our lives, or goodness or comfort or anything else like that.”

Sally replies.

“It’s hopeless.”

Jonathan replies.

“Even if you know the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya from back to front, what does that mean to you?”

Allen replies.

“Even if you understand the energy principle, the independence and potency of your energy, apart from that, it’s still hopeless.”

Virginia replies.

“Just seeing things as they are is not quite crazy enough though”

Jonathan replies.

“There is an old saying that the path is the goal and the goal is the path.”

Sally replies.

“You make your journey, you get to your destination, and arriving at that destination brings on another question: how to proceed from there?”

Sally continues.

“As such, each goal itself becomes the path.”

Caroline replies.

“From the tantric point of view, we don’t achieve anything except this, the discovery of our path.”

Sally replies.
“Suddenly, you see it, how your path and goal are one in the same, or not.”

Caroline replies.

“It’s always sudden, regardless.”

Karl replies.

“At least until we give up the path—and the goal our sudden enlightenment is available to us.”

Jonathan replies.

“The gradual path regards the goal as the goal and the path as the doctrine.”

Jonathan continues.

“And the sudden path regards the path as the goal as well as the goal as the path.”

Allen replies.

“There’s no room for doctrine.”

Allen continues.

“It is just a matter of personal experience all the time.”

Caroline replies.

“If you had to give a definition of the difference between gradual and sudden enlightenment, there you have it.”

Caroline continues.

“Naturally, the whole existence of the three kayas is a kind of projection in which you manufacture the projections.”

Sally replies.

“So in other words, the very existence of the dharma itself is a projection.”

Karl replies.

“Insanity or sanity, both are projections.”

Karl continues.

“And since everything is done that way, the whole thing becomes a projection and something solid to us, both at the same time.”

Virginia replies.

“We only value time after we waste it.”

Virginia continues.

“It’s all up to you.”

Jonathan replies.

“Each time you develop a manifestation, you create your own stuff—right at the beginning.”

Allen replies.

“Dharmakaya creates its own existence and its environment as well.”

Jonathan replies.

“Our lives are a charnel ground—a place to dissolve, a place to manifest.”

Virginia replies.

“The sambhogakaya acknowledges the energy of the dharmakaya, you could say, and the nirmanakaya puts it into practice.”

Virginia continues.

“Apart from that, there’s no difference as such.”

Karl replies.

“The sambhogakaya is acknowledging the energy in the sense of its receptiveness to the reality of the dharmakaya.”

Allen replies.

“Sambogakaya acknowledges the luminosity of dharmakaya’s projections, that our projections appear to be something separate; and then what you do with this separateness, your projections, is handled by the nirmanakaya.”

Allen continues.

“The nirmanakaya could be described as the domestic matter of how to handle your kitchen-sink problem, whereas the sambhogakaya is like getting married to begin with to create our kitchen-sink problem in the first place; the dharmakaya is like courting, something fraught with all kinds of possibilities.”

End scene. Fini.

Another episode of Pulp Buddhism brought to you by the Naropa Prairie Dog Players and by viewers like you, thank you for your support.

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49 Comments

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49 responses to “Just seeing things as they are isn’t crazy enough for us as Buddhists…

  1. I remember there was a time that I loved the whole intellectual pursuit of Dharma but somewhere it just gave way. The grasping for understanding, as well as the whole idea of becoming enlightened so that I could save myself and others from suffering – of being a darn right, proper, modern day kind of working class hero, – it gave way. It gave way to a love of Samsara, in a retrospective kind of way because without it there is no humor. And, laughing is probably one of the best things in life.

    • Wendy,

      In terms of crazy wisdom your approach is spot on.

      Are not samsara and nirvana coemergent?

      I think so.

      To think otherwise, that nirvana and samsara are two, is not a path which benefits anyone whom wishes to benefit others, realistically speaking.

      Bill

      • Lemony

        But you need to study the sutras first. Master tonglen and make sure that your intentions are pure.
        Only then can crazy wisdom be approached.

        This is dangerous stuff bill.

        We need to make sure that we are qualified for such high teachings.

        • Lemony,

          That isn’t how the practice in fact works.

          Take for example the grandfather of the crazy wisdom tradition of America as established here by readers of Chogyam Trungpa’s writings on the subject, our inspiration here as Karma Kagyu, despite having taken refuge with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.

          There are no prerequisites to speak of.

          Ngondro, ngondro, ngondro, from Khenpo Karthar.

          We can’t get enough of this practice, but with a twist.

          We actually enjoy our practice of ngöndro, though.

          We are crazy like that, no to the dharma of KTD’s lamas.

          Karmapa Chenno!

          Bill

          • Chervil

            What does no to the KTD lamas mean?

            Do you mean the white ones?

            Or the Asian ones?

            • Say no to any lama that says yes to KTD’s spiritual materialism.

              Simple enough?

              I think so.

              We’ve been doing this since 1993 when this nonsense began with the first three retreat at Karme Ling.

              If as with the people in
              question you can’t do ngondro as we all have done it ourselves, without having to be in retreat, forget them.

              I think so.

              Karmapa Chenno!

  2. Judith

    I totally agree!

    Bill, you make a very strong point.

    What about the Kagyu Monlam though? It’s like a karma Kagyu awards show?

    Empowerments on a Jumbotron? Streaming transmission so one can sit on the toilet with their iPhone and receive the dharma at the same time?

    What’s become of our tradition?

    • Judith

      The traditions of those of us who took refuge with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche whom cut our teeth as Karma Kagyu reading Trungpa’s criticism of the spiritual materialism of Tibetans before taking refuge are only now just emerging as such.

      We always knew this day would come, that it would take us doing our thing on the down low as a generation while we developed traditions of our own, and now that time has come to those of us that stuck it out as students of Khenpo Karthar and there is nothing Rinpoche’s KTD lamas, and its Tibetan dominated status quo can do to prevent this from being so at this point.

      That said status quo has become everything and so much more what Trungpa deconstructed in his critique of its spiritual materialism, that the Karma Kagyu sect of Ogyen Trinley Dorje has become such an obscene example of spiritual materialism may not have been anticipated by Trungpa but our reading of his works on the subject has prepared us for this day and there is no question as to who will prevail over whom when it comes to the hearts and minds of our generation and our legacy as Karma Kagyu in America.

      Bill

  3. Gyamtso

    Yes, but Wendy when the Coke wears off and you find yourself in the bed of a gelong, then was the rocking out all worth it?

    I’m not attached to the celebrity frenzy of Monlam. It’s all just the arising of equanimity. We owe it to ourselves to not get so distracted.

    • Gyamtso,

      Stop embarrassing yourself.

      I know the person whom you have addressed your comment to.

      Your bad.

      So, you want to complete ngondro but you get distracted in the process?

      Great news.

      You may have a future as a KTD lama.

      For the cost of a year at Harvard you can spend three and a half years in retreat at Karme ling sitting at the feet of Khenpo Karthar’s nephew and without distraction finally compete ngöndro without distraction.

      As a founding member of KTC Chicago I know all too well where you are coming from as a dharma practitioner.

      You can’t get your mind around doing ngondro.

      Add that to the list to all the other things you can’t do.

      No wonder you are so frustrated.

      No wonder you have chosen to act out so here.

      Not to worry though, you have come to the right place to act out.

      Knock yourself out.

      I’ve got your number.

      Bill

      .

      • Gyamtso

        Bill,

        That you were a founding member of the Chicago KTC and are now persona non grata is not my concern. It’s just a blip in the experience of mind really.

        I’m curious about your claim that I can’t do ngondro. Whatever do you mean, Bill? For all you know I have done three different types of ngondro, but I’m not going to waste my time in explaining that to you.

        You are quick to flex your muscles, but there isn’t much there. It’s absolutely bizarre that my taking issue with a comment here seems to unhinge you.

        All this piss and vinegar from a mahamudra yogi. How queer!

        G

        • Gyamtso,

          You lashed out at Wendy for some reason.

          That wasn’t me.

          What’s the deal with that?

          This isn’t about me.

          I don’t know you.

          From my experience as a founding member of Chicago KTC though I know your type well enough.

          Ngondro.

          It always comes back to ngondro for us.

          So, distraction is an issue for you.

          I’ve seen this issue with people I know that felt they had to be in retreat to complete ngondro.

          They just couldn’t get their head around the practice otherwise.

          So this isn’t you?

          Fine.

          My bad.

          All of which brings us back to your comment.

          If it isn’t your ngondro, what is your problem?

          Bill

    • Gyamtso,

      Well said, but here’s the rub, the comment you so object to was not posted by Wendy, the person you in fact addressed your comment to.

      As I previously noted, I know Wendy.

      Thus my problem with you calling Wendy out in your previous comment as you did.

      It goes without saying that I appreciate why you take exception to the obscene spectacle of spiritual materialism that was Kagyu Monlam 2016 was, but this doesn’t justify your lashing out here as you did at someone appearing to think other than we both do on this subject.

      I saw the very same comment that so upset you.

      Unlike you though, I assumed the person in question was simplybtrolling the thread to illicit a response such as the one they elicited from you.

      Said person stated as much in their comment, that they wanted to be entertained.

      And, sadly, they weren’t disappointed.

      Is your comment an example of the arising of equanimity you spoke of?

      I don’t think so.

      As I stated in my response to your comment, you obviously have a problem.

      Everybody has problems, myself included.

      This why Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche harshed our mellow back in the day when he chose to introduce us to the practice of ngondro at a time when most of us were quite content with our practice of sitting on our cushions and following our breath—as if we thought we could somehow chill out our problems—so that we won’t be played by appearances as you were so played here.

      I don’t know you.

      That being said, as I have previously said, as a founding member of KTD Chicago I’ve seen people such as yourself make a spectacle of themselves as you have done so here more times than I care to remember over my 35 years with Khenpo Karthar, this isn’t my first rodeo, the first time I’ve seen people get frustrated with each other in the name of the dharma, so when I suggest to you that you cinsider revisiting your ngondro I am only telling you what I have learned from Rinpoche himself as his disciple.

      It all comes down to our ngondro for us.

      Unless you are a KTD lama of course, someone whom when introduced to the practice of ngondro decided the only way to practice ngondro was as Tibetans do it, which is in retreat, and ended becoming creatures of the very same spiritual materialism that we both so take exception to as dharma practitioners.

      When you respond as you did here to a comment you disagree with you are no better than these very same people whom when they were introduced to ngondro by Khenpo Karthar decided that they couldn’t do the practice and that they had to be in retreat to practice ngondro, which was not the point of Rinpoche introducing the practice to us in the first place.

      If you want to be like a KTD lama and attack people in the name of the dharma as they do, good luck with that.

      It is nothing if not entertaining for those whom read this blog in the hopes of seeing people such as yourself make a spectacle of themselves as you have made of yourself here.

      Bill

  4. Gyamtso

    Problem?

    I merely find the Hollywood production values of the Kagyu Monlam a little much, and highly problematic when held in a village that is extremely poor. For example, in 2011 the per capita gdp was roughly US$400.

    For an environmental Karmapa, when you consider all of the international flying, cooking for the sangha using wood (yes they still do that in India) and have wealthy foreigners floor a tiny village, there are a lot of inconsistencies.

    When this criticism is expressed, being told that Monlam “rocks” seems, well, unexamined frankly.

    I find it strange that our lineage holders can extoll environmental causes without setting an example themselves in curbing international air travel and the blowing of US$1,000,000 on the Monlam where there is still shocking poverty.

    Where in the Dorjechang Tungma is this “activity” explained?

  5. Jackie

    The Rinpoches have a lot of money. It’s nice they put on a show for us all. What do you want them to do with their moolah?

    • Oh my.

      So much for the argument put forth by OTD’s Karma Kagyu sect that its decision in 1991 to collaborate with China’s occupation of Tibet would benefit Tibetans.

      The only party that appears to have benefitted from collaborating with China’s occupation of Tibet is said Karma Kagyu sect.

  6. Emma

    So our faithful leader, the 17th Gyalwang Kamapa’s teaching schedule for Paris (June 4th and 5th) is set base price is 150 euros.
    Better seats for 250 euros and VIP seats for 1000 euros.

    He’ll be discussing climate change. Indeed, his entire entourage will be flying there by plane to discuss the harmful effects of carbon emissions.

    Karmapa Chenno!

  7. Gyamtso

    They ain’t gonna spend it at The Art of Pizza on Ashland, that’s for sure.

    One thing is certain, it’s really beginning to look as if the soft-core topics of HHGK programs reflect our collective lack of merit. We can talk as much as we like about mahamudra but it’s all a bunch of hot air.

    Karmapa brings it back to the basics BECAUSE we keep trying to wiggle into the esoterica of vajrayana. Monlam appears like an awards ceremony because the only thing that holds our attention these days IS awards ceremonies.

    Bill, you are right! We need to return to ngondro- but not because it is deep, no, because we are all a bunch of blithering idiots.

    I pray the proceeds from this European tour are used to pay for s tour to Taiwan when the dharma is really alive.

    • Gyamtso,

      In the late 1980’s, before your time, a small group of Tibetan exiles, among those known to us in the West, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches,
      along with others unknown to us, fellow Tibetan exiles, chose to collaborate with China in the late 1980’s to enthrone a child of their choosing at Tsurphu Monastery as the 17th Karmapa.

      This was done in exchange for the opportunity to return to that which they were forced to flee in 1959, their home, in the case of Thrangu Rinpoche, Thrangu Monastery.

      As a result of this quid pro quo we have OTD and his Karma Kagyu sect, China’s attempt at manufacturing and exporting to us in the West, what China does best, a commodity for us to consume as such, a Karmapa in name only made rich by China in the process whom has nothing to teach us of the lineage introduced to us in the 1970’s by Rangjung Rikpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, the last of his line, the last Karmapa of a free Tibet.

      This is not on us.

      Bill

      • Gyamtso

        William,

        You really mean to suggest that OTD is merely a placeholder based upon Thrangu Rinpoche’s political machinations?

        Gyamtso

        • Gyamtso,

          It was not Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches alone whom conspired to collaborate with China to recognize OTD as 17th Karmapa.

          They are but the parties in what happened are known to us as such.

          I must add that they did what they did not only with the best of intentions but also with the blessings of HHDL himself whom at the time thought it represented a new day in Sino-Tibetan relations as it was represented at the time to us by Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches.

          When questions were raised about the wisdom of collaborating with the Chinese in the West it was Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches that insisted most strenuously that not only that OTD was without question the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, a “living Buddha” as such, as his Chinese followers consider him to be, but went even further by condemning anyone who questioned what they had done to Vajra Hell.

          There is no denying that this happened.

          How is it that Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures have been free to travel freely as China’s guests since the 1980’s?

          Khenpo Karthar was able to arrange for not only his mother, but at least one of his brothers and, let us not forget, his nephew, lama Karma of KTD, to “escape” to live in the West.

          This is not something that just happened.

          And then there is the money ponied up by Thrangu Rinpoche’s pro-Mainland China Taiwanese benefactors which has underwritten the dharma activities of not only Thrangu Rinpoche but his creatures Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches since the 1980’s.

          The OTD of 2016 is the result of a quid pro quo of which we were not a party of and of no concern to us as dharma practitioners.

          All these years while Thrangu Rinpoche and his creatures Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches were collaborating with the Chinese we have been putting what they have taught us of the dharma, in particular, ngondro, and have become Karma Kagyu in our own right, in a uniquely American tradition that dates back to 1974 and the arrival of the last Karmapa of a free Tibet, Rangjung Rikpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa himself.

          Karmapa Chenno!

          Bill

  8. Gyamtso

    Bill,

    You sound very stressed out about this.

    You still seem to imply that OTD is a political expediacy more than a genuine reincarnation of HHGK16. Can you actually admit that OTD is in fact the reincarnation of HHGK16? We can even remove the bullshit thing about vajra-hell from the equation.

    Gyamtso

    • Gyamtso,

      The facts of the matter as I outlined above are available to anyone who wishes to examine them for themselves.

      OTD is China’s choice to succeed the 16th Karmapa.

      HHDL signed off on it.

      OTD is therefore the 17th Karmapa if you subscribe to the belief that His Holiness is a “living Buddha” as you apparently do based on my reading of your comment.

      If you believe that after Rangjung Rikpe Dorje died on November 5, 1981 he was reborn on June 26, 1985 as the child today known as OTD, I have nothing to say for you that could possibly change your mind in this regard.

      When the 16th Karmapa died it was the end of an era which began in 1974 when His Holiness was first introduced to us.

      We got it.

      On the other hand, in 2016, there is no disputing the fact that OTD is the product of a quid pro quo, a commodity, made in China, and exported to the West as a globally recognizable brand of franchise Buddhism for our consumption as such.

      This isn’t what being a Karma Kagyu is about for us as dharma practitioners.

      So be it.

      It is you, not I, based on my reading of your complaints here regarding what OTD has made of the Kagyu Monlam and I surmise, your disappointment with the teachings His Holiness will be teaching in Paris this summer, that apparently has some issue with His Holiness.

      Frankly, I suspect your hating on His Holiness here is for your own amusement.

      That being said, you got me on a good day.

      Bill

      • Gyamtso

        Lol. I suppose that last line was meant to be a warning?

        Seriously, you need to go out and fly a kite or something.

        Perhaps the new generation of KTD lamas who graduate this weekend from Karma Ling will change that cold heart of yours👍👍👍👍💋💋💋

        • Gyamtso,

          I know what you are about here, but not to worry, it is no skin off my nose.

          Another 75 creatures of Khenpo Karthar’s nephew are set to graduate from his Three year retreat Karme Ling.

          I suspect they will fare no better post retreat than the hundreds of others that have preceded them.

          They have my sympathy.

          Bill

  9. Gyamtso

    75 sounds like too many, I’m not sure you know of what you talk.

    You, not that deftly, avoided sharing with us your thoughts on whether OTD is the authentic reincarnation of HHGK16. You seem to imply that he isn’t, and your lack of a straight response is very revealing.

    Doesn’t your position represent a break in samaya with your KKR? Sure looks that way.

    • Gyatso,

      That was the number who went into retreat according to the KTD blog posted when they went in so if that number is incorrect I gladly stand corrected.

      Obviously, if you believe that OTD is a living Buddha I am in no position to argue that you are mistaken.

      How does one determine one way or the other that the 16th Karmapa came back as the child known today as OTD?

      In the case of OTD he is the child chosen by the Chinese government to be enthroned at Tsurphu as the 17th Karmapa.

      I am not my guru’s creature.

      Does this violate my samaya with him as my vajra master?

      Not as far as Rinpoche is concerned.

      I remain his disciple, he remains my guru.

      What Khenpo Karthar did he did with the best of intentions.

      Ours is called the mishap lineage for a reason.

      Mistakes are not outside the scope of our practice.

      Karmapa chenno!

      Bill

      • Gyamtso

        Really? That’s the best you got?

        Good luck with the magical thinking, Bill.

        You don’t get to decide whether you are KKR’s disciple . He does. It’s a two way street my friend, this isn’t just about the American great self-centered me me me. It’s not a choose-your-own-adventure. One always need to account for oneself, especially when it comes to violating the basic view that one’s guru has of his own guru.

        Now I understand your returning to ngondro; it is a necessary penance. I think that’s the way it reads to most people here.

        • Gyamtso,

          I am actually one of a handful of Americans that had the opportunity to become a disciple of Khenpo Karthar before the possibility of returning to Tibet became a thing for him as Thrangu Rinpoche’s creature.

          I didn’t choose Rinpoche, he chose me.

          If it was up to me I would have preferred a teacher in the Soto tradition of Zen Buddhism.

          At the time I had wanted to follow in the foot steps of the poet Gary Snyder, my role model of what an American Buddhist should be, but Rinpoche had different plans.

          Before returning to Tibet was an option for Rinpoche it was his practice to have his translator, Ngodrup Tsering Burkhar identify people who might be a good fit for him as a teacher.

          Colleen Martinez, already a disciple of Khenpo Karthar vetted me for Ngodrup, and the rest is history.

          Colleen, Bob, and their son, Sean lived in Rogers Park in a three flat on Bosworth Avenue just north of Devon avenue at the time.

          I had just moved to Chicago from Carbondale where I was working on a Masters degree in Sociology.

          My faculty adviser and mentor, Charles Lemert, had recommended that I pursue my interest in the dharma before completing my Masters degree.

          Being from Quebec, where what Americans call High school only goes to 11th grade, and completing my B degree ahead of schedule I wasn’t as mature as my peers in graduate school which had become an issue for me in terms of the politics of grad school, so this seemed like good advise to me, I wasn’t happy being the departments child prodigy, and I did what he suggested.

          I was only 20 years old at the time.

          I had began meditating in the summer of 1977.

          I had always been interested in Buddhism, my father had lived in Japan as a young man as part of the occupation.

          He was in the Air Force.

          While in Japan he fell in love with the culture.

          He even learned Japanese.

          As a child I was fascinated by his photographs of Japan and being a boy, his collection of samurai swords, which became a thing for me growing up.

          Thus my interest in Japanese Buddhism.

          Anyway, Bob Martinez had placed a personal ad in the Reader offering meditation instruction in the Tibetan tradition.

          I answered the ad.

          This was in early 1981 and Rinpoche wasn’t due to be back in Chicago until that September which suited me fine.

          I didn’t think much of Tibetan Buddhism frankly.

          I had read Trungpa.

          I liked his books.

          I didn’t like his scene though here in Chicago in 1981.

          I didn’t even own a suit and a tie.

          Colleen assured me that Khenpo Karthar was different and that she thought I would be a good fit with Rinpoche and encouraged me to sit with her which I did.

          She had a handful with Sean so it was usually just me sitting while she tried to get him into bed, which worked perfectly for me.

          Bob would join me on occasion but it was usually just me in the living room following my breath as I had been doing on my own while living in Carbondale where I had been routinely putting six hours a day on the cushion before I decided to take a leave of absence from graduate school.

          It had become my thing.

          Colleen was a big fan of mine and when Rinpoche came to visit that September she put us together.

          She was right.

          We were a good fit.

          I asked Rinpoche how to die.

          My father had died of a heart attack when I was thirteen.

          He was just forty years old at the time so dying young was very much a thing ever since.

          Since his death I had become preoccupied with what it must have been like dying like he did.

          I shared this with Rinpoche.

          He was moved by this, grabbed both my hands and pulled me in, placed his forehead to mine and whispered to me that he and I would never again be apart as guru and disciple.

          He was right.

          Even after Colleen and Bob divorced, she cheated on him with Marvin Moser, someone who had recently joined our living room Sangha, bringing this chapter in our lives together to an abrupt close, Rinpoche and I continued on as guru and disciple.

          Before Bob and Colleen separated though Rinpoche gave me permission to make Mahamudra my practice.

          This wasn’t something I had asked of Rinpoche.

          It just happened.

          Rinpoche was in his room.

          I was sitting in the living room with Bob Martinez, Hank Hirsh, and Lisa Olson when Ngodrup told us Rinpoche had something he wanted to give us.

          Rinpoche came into the living room with a text which he then proceeded to do a speed reading of and placed the text on each of our heads.

          He then returned to his room without further explanation, leaving it to Ngodrup to explain what happened.

          I can’t speak for Bob, he is a man of few words.

          Hank and Lisa were still waiting for Rinpoche to give them some dharma swag when he returned to his room leaving them empty handed.

          Ngodrup was speechless, very unlike him.

          To his knowledge Rinpoche had never before done what he had just done and he was momentarily at a loss for words.

          What he translated for us at the time, I later discovered, were the pith instructions for Mahamudra.

          I had heard them already in the form of Rinpoche’s instructions to me during our time together.

          At the time None of us were privy to the fact that Colleen was cheating on Bob with Marvin and that this would be Rinpoche’s last visit to our living room sangha on Bosworth avenue.

          Rinpoche knew though.

          He’s known for having the ability to see things before they happen and he wanted us to have this practice.

          As Ngodrup put it Rinpoche thought it appropriate that he give his permission to those of us whom he had instructed in Mahamudra to make it their practice in the manner he did.

          It was either for us or it wasn’t, you got it, or you didn’t, and I got it.

          I know I got it because Rinpoche told me so after my heart attack in 2009.

          After bringing him up to speed on what happened, what I’ve spent my entire life preparing myself for, my heart attack, he folded his hands and bowed his head.

          I had nailed.

          I was a dead man, for a moment.

          I had a 100% blockage of my left coronary artery.

          I was walking to the CVS at Sheridan and Arthur when I was stricken.

          I dropped like a sack of potatoes but somehow managed to sit myself up on the sidewalk in meditation posture and proceeded to recite Chenrezig’s mantra when a corollary artery opened, bypassing the blockage, and I was able to breathe again.

          If this is magical thinking to your thinking I am in no position to convince you otherwise.

          I have always been, and will forever be, as Rinpoche told me I would always be, his disciple as far as he is concerned regardless of what you may think of our relationship.

          I never became his creature, this is true.

          Colleen did.

          Marvin Moser did, at least until Colleen divorced him.

          His three year retreat put him off Khenpo Karther, which was the end of their marriage.

          Bob Martinez, I’ve known him like forever, but Bob being how he is, self disclosure isn’t a thing for him, so I can’t say for sure what his deal is in regards to his relationship with Rinpoche is concerned.

          Anyway, if you are so inclined to drill down into this subject further you are welcome to reach out to either Colleen or Marvin in this regard.

          I’ll leave it at that.

          Bill

  10. Gyamtso

    Bob Martinez mush have had a wicked cock to seduce Colleen like that. Funny how your picture paints her as the aggressor. A wicked cock is a hard thing to just pass on by…

    Was her son, Sean, the celebrated Lama Sean?

    • Gyamtso,

      So you don’t know as much about Khenpo Karthar as I thought you did.

      After Colleen and Bob Martinez separated she married Marvin Moser.

      Marvin Moser and Bob Bryant, a recent addition to our Sangha bought a two flat together at Arthur and Lakewood and Bob Bryant’s living room became our shrine room.

      Colleen, Marvin and Sean lived in the flat upstairs.

      Bob Bryant later, after Marvin and Colleen completed their three year retreat at Karme Ling, which proved disastrous for all involved in retrospect upon their return to Chicago, went into retreat himself at Karme Ling where he has happily remained ever since.

      Sadly the same cannot be said of Colleen’s son, Sean, who was a teenager when his mother and stepfather went into retreat and left him to live with natural father which turned out to be a mistake given what followed.

      Bob Martinez is a good man and a loving father.

      Sean was an accident though.

      Being a stand up guy he married Colleen and would have continued on as such if she had not asked him for a divorce so she could marry Marvin who had become a project of hers.

      Marvin was brilliant, and made a ton of money working at Bell Labs in Naperville, quite the catch for Colleen.

      Unfortunately, it turned out that Marvin has Aspergers disease, a mild case, which over time proved debilitating for him, his inability to read social situations, which is how he ended up sleeping with Colleen in the first place, which he later came to regret while in retreat and had the opportunity to reflect upon what they had done, an open and shut case of sexual misconduct.

      He left retreat convinced he was going to hell.

      So Marvin and Colleen returned to Chicago, alienated from each other, to an angry teenager, Sean, and the expectation here that they had actually accomplished something after spending three years in retreat.

      It was a train wreck of course.

      We were a small sangha which never quite got past what Colleen had done.

      It never did sit well with anyone that knew what she did.

      If you had joined our sangha since all you knew was that something nobody wanted to talk about had happened.

      I knew, Bob Bryant knew, but that was as far as it went.

      Well, after Colleen divorced Marvin, he was a basket case.

      I took him under my wing as best I could.

      He ended up moving to Silicon Valley where he knocked up a woman he met at a party for swingers, how California, where he lives to this day on the hook for child support for the rest of his life.

      He will be 68 when the child turns 18.

      That isn’t the worst of it.

      Sean went from being an angry teenager to becoming an angry young man with a drinking problem.

      One day he flipped out and beat the crap out of his natural father, Bob Martinez, and threatened to kill his mother, Colleen.

      He totally lost it.

      Marvin bought Sean a one way ticket to Thailand to chill, which was so Marvin.

      He is nothing if not generous.

      It probably wasn’t for the best, but Sean had to go away, and he made it happen.

      For the rest of her life Colleen will live in fear that Sean will track her down and kill her.

      Whatever.

      Sean Jones is nobody to any of us, some kid that showed up on our doorstep on Arthur avenue one day fascinated by Tibetan culture but with no interest in meditation to speak of, who much to our surprise had an uncle who picked up the tab for his three year retreat, where he was in heaven as a fan boy of all things Tibetan.

      His thing was the shrine and the rituals associated with which is all he appears to have gotten out of retreat as a dharma practitioner as far as I can tell.

      He’s a nice enough kid but I don’t think of him as being anything more than a creature of Khenpo Karthar, one of Rinpoche’s pets.

      He literally takes everything Rinpoche says to be scripture, his word, which tells you where he is coming from as a dharma practitioner.

      After Rinpoche dies he is unlikely to continue as KTD Chicago’s lama.

      After retreat he married a woman that wants nothing to do with Chicago KTC.

      She’s Roman Catholic via the Philippines.

      He and her are regular churchgoers, very active in their parish, which is where his path post-retreat has taken him.

      KTD will find some sad sack to replace him if only to keep up the property in Cicero Bob Bryant bought for Chicago KTC when Marvin was forced to go into debt to buy him out of his share of the property they owned on Arthur, to settle his divorce with Colleen, she really took him to the cleaners, which is how Chicago KTC ended up in Cicero, IL.

      I really was of the impression that you knew more about us for some reason.

      I hope that this helps fill in some blanks in your knowledge of Khenpo Karthar and his disciples here in Chicago.

      Bill

      • Gyamtso

        Sounds like good times mishap style!

        Thanks for the schooling. Please know I am not being facetious.

        Gyamtso

        Columbus must have a story of its own that’s just as messed up…

  11. Greg

    Ryder, your account of your heart attack story brought me to tears. It’s very beautiful that you were able to have had the opportunities that you have had. I sincerely hope that your heart stays in good health. And please, if you have a chance read the book, How to Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He was a heart Surgeon at the Cleveland Heart Clinic, and has helped reverse cases of heart disease with food, and in some cases food and statins. I know the body is a funny thing to get caught up on, but if your doctors are still telling you it’s okay to eat meat and dairy, and any kind of cooking oils, they could be hurting you further. Just food for thought. You are of great benefit to all of us American Karma Kagyu. And I wish for your long life.

    PS may you always be on the right end of the stick.

    Karmapa Chenno!

  12. woot. best use of my time all day!

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