Chapter One: What it means for me to be a senior disciple of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche

Dear Readers,

On the twelfth day of the month of May this year 2016 over the course of two and a half minutes my defibrillator, Sparky, who had hitherto served me so well over the years providing critical telemetry to my electrocardiologist since he implanted said device in my chest in 2010, shocked me six times.

Words cannot describe how this felt for me.

This is how Naropa must have felt when Tilopa was putting him through his paces.

It was like that.

In the local parlance of a Chicagoan, Chicago has been my home the past 35 years, it was like being tasered by a cop after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation just because he doesn’t like your attitude.

Needless to say I will not soon forget the day.

I wasn’t having a heart attack when Sparky went off on me, I was moving furniture, nothing I have not done since surviving the widow maker, a 100% blockage of my left coronary artery in 2009, but my heart was taking such a beating that day that if I had not been able to lower my heart rate through my practice of guru yoga, the invocation and dissolution of Vajradhara into the four bodies which I then visualized being absorbed into me while my wife called 911, that I have no doubt in my mind that I would have otherwise died of one before the paramedics arrived at are apartment in Edgewater.

When the paramedics arrived I was having premature ventricular contractions and was rushed by ambulance to the nearest trauma center with what appeared to be a heart attack, which if you are not having a heart attack is far worse than having a heart attack in the first place from my perspective.

At this point the false presumption that Sparky had shocked me because I was having a heart attack was driving the process.

When the technician from the device maker interrogated their device, standard procedure in such circumstances, nobody in the ER questioned the technician’s conclusion that his employer’s device had done exactly what it had been implanted in me to do.

If I had not insisted on being transferred to my hospital of choice to be treated by my cardiologist and electrocardiologist I would have right then and there been rushed into the Cath Lab to determine the cause of a heart attack I had not suffered, which is enough of an ordeal to suffer through even when medically necessary as anyone who has had a catheter inserted in their heart via their groin can attest to.

It is as unpleasant as it sounds.

Needless to say I wasn’t going to take no as an answer as to my being transferred.

It was decided that I wasn’t stable enough to transfer.

I didn’t care.

I was in full don’t poke the bear mode.

Fortunately my wife had reached out to my cardiologist and electrocardiologist, two young men that know well what a stubborn old bastard of a man I can be when it comes to my medical care, I would have discharged myself against medical advice if need be, made my transfer happen.

When it comes to your medical care you really have to own the decisions to be made when you find yourself under the care of medical professionals whom presume as a profession that they know what is best for you as such.

It has almost been seven years to the day since I survived the widow maker.

It has been quite the adventure for me as a dharma practitioner, my charnel ground.

Has the time come for me to put pen to paper and share my thoughts here with you my readers, those of you who have been reading me online over the years, some of you have been reading me since 2006 on MySpace when my Reluctant Lama message board there went viral and I first made a name for myself in what we today call social media, to share with you my thoughts on what it means to be a senior disciple of my guru, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, and the role his blessings and that of his Karma Kagyu lineage have played in my life as a dharma practitioner, what I want you my readers to know of my practice and that which I want to be remembered for as such, my life as a dharma practitioner?
I think so.

I’m ready to go there at this point in my life.

I want it to be known that it is my most closely held belief that I would not be alive today if not for the blessings of my guru, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and his Karma Kagyu lineage which was first brought to our country by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, long before I became the dharma practitioner I am today.

I’m old but so old to be able to say that the Chogyam Trungpa that introduced the Karma Kagyu lineage to us was ever a thing for me.

In 1970 I was an eleven year old boy living in Yorktown Heights, New York, a small bedroom community in the farthest northern reaches of Westchester County, an hours commute to New York City.

To be continued.

Karmapa Chenno!


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