Monday, July 21, 2008

Looking in the Eyes of Love

The day was much cooler yesterday. Rain threatened, wind came up, sun came and went. We gathered in the shrine tent at SMC, more than 118 of us. Perhaps around 150. Some senior students of the Vidyadhara drove up for the afternoon; some already there. Gold wrapped boxes containing his voice were handed out to any who gathered in the tent to take one. We made an effort to give a box to any student of the Vidyadhara's -- those who had actually known him. Some of their childen, including my duaghter, also joined the procession. And many who had never met him but were touched by him in some way. Gold box covered with kata held on left shoulder. The procession lined up outside the tent. Led by a kasung on horseback, then an honor guard, then the marchers two by two. The Sakyong and his party were to join us at the bridge.

I think people started weeping a few minutes after the procesion began. Not everyone, but a lot of us. There was tremendous power, joy and sadness in making this journey up the hill with the speech relics of our teacher. The closer we got, the more intense the energy, the sense of carrying something very precious, feeling connected to something very precious. The strange joy and sadness of knowing that the words of this great man, which we had heard him utter, were now on gold CDs. In a way, so strange to place his voice in this way in the stupa. We placed our boxes on a shrine in front of the main buddha in the central hall of the stupa.

Lining the path were hundreds of other students, including many old and new.

After everyone was seated on the West Gate, we did a lhasang chant. The Sakyong then gave an address, speaking of the tremendous influence the Vidyadhara had on bringing the dharma to the West and how important his words, use of words, choice of words, were in this.

Other remarks were made by Khandro Tseyang, who also offered a Gesar song with her uncle. The Sakyong also offered a blessing with the original manuscript of the Gesar text that he had just been given, a gift from Nhamka Drime Rinpoche.

We chanted the Sadhana of Mahamudra together and then shared a feast. Thanks were offered to the Archives staff, especially Gordon Kidd, Sandra Kipis and Chris Levy. Then, following the departure of the Sakyong, the party turned to dancing, long into the night I'm told.

Today we unwrapped all the gold boxes to place the CDs in archival cabinets in the depths of the Stupa.

Soon we should have photos and maybe some film footage of the event. 25 years to do this. It was a good day.

I spent parts of it driving around the land and back and forth from the house where I"m staying playing an Allison Kraus song: Looking in the Eyes of Love. We were.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Day Arrives

Sunday, July 20, it is around 9 a.m. and I am blogging from paradise. That is to say, the home of Carl and Cassell Gross, about 25 minutes from Shambhala Mountain Center. They have kindly given me a room here. My daughter Jenny and I are sleeping in the shrine room. The house faces the continental divide with a view that is so compelling, you cannot turn away from it. Anytime you are in this house, you are aware of MOUNTAIN.

I'm late already to go to SMC for the morning work meeting at the Stupa, to put the final touches on the Speech Empowerment ceremony. In part I"m late because I stayed up well past midnight talking with everyone who is staying at the house. Reminiscing and also looking forward to plans for the Chogyam Trungpa Legacy Project. But now to the point: the empowerment.

When I arrived on Friday, almost everyone on the land was attending Sakyong Mipham's first vajrayana talk. The place was empty. It was dusk. Jenny and I drove up to the Stupa and encountered Vajra Deutsch, a "stupa worker" who has been very helpful to getting the CD project rolling here. She showed us the room where the CDs will live. Four black archival cabinets were snugly fitted into the small room, a perfect fit. I learned later that Gordon Kidd, Chris Levy, Sandra Kipis and Lindy King had spent the afternoon in what Gordon described as a "Keystone Cops" escapade chasing down the delivery truck with the cabinets on it and finally putting a car across the road so that he couldn't leave without unloading the cabinets.

Jenny and I went up to the top of the stupa and meditated there for a little while. So powerful to be in the mind if the Vidyadhara.

Then down to the dining tent, where we encountered the Archives crew, who had done all the heavy lifting before I arrived. Many thanks to them! When the shrineroom emptied from the talk, I walked down to see 118 boxes wrapped in gold paper on the main shrine in the tent. I learned later that the Sakyong had done prostrations to this amazing mountain of dharma when he entered the tent. See the Vidyadhara's dharma teachings assembled on the shrine is quite moving, I found. And so much of it to be moved by!

Now fast forwarding as time is short: yesterday afternoon I worked on the list of the 118 plus people to carry the boxes, with input from Seminary staff, and archives crew and miscellaneous persons walking through the office we were working in. Elizabeth Hefflefinger is here helping us and she and I worked on finding a refrigerator for wine we hoped to share with people last night. Had to cancel our cocktail party due to how late the events went in the shrine tent .So raise your own glass for us.

Last night: slideshow on life and teachings of Vidyadhara which I had put together and narrated. For an hour before it started, by little laptop was crashing power point right and left and the only word coming out of my mouth started with f or Mother f. However, with help from techie friends, succeeded in loading and showing the slides. I think people liked the "show."

Today, at the end of the big SMC fundraiser in the main tent, from there we load 118 people with their boxes and process up to the stupa where we will lhasang the boxes and place them on a shrine in the main buddha hall in the stupa. Then sadhana of mahamudra, remarks by SMR and others, feasting, singing , dancing. Etc.

Oh yes, Gordon Kidd had made a wonderful edit of the installation of the Kanjur shrine in Boulder, 1983, which should be on the Chronicles for you all to watch and which we showed last night also.

well, today's a day to march, cry, and laugh. Again, raise a toast. Tomorrow I will blog again but now I had promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. OK. kind of hackneyed. Anyway, onward. and i'm not proofing this or rereading. Here goes the gonzo blog of the speech empowerment....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Heading Up the Mountain

It's Friday early morning, July 18, in Boulder, Colorado, and I'm loading up the car to head to Shambhala Mountain Center. Travel went smoothly yesterday for me, if you call getting up at 3:45 a.m "smooth."

I had arranged for a rental car away from the airport -- saves a lot of money if you pick up in town. I had asked for a sub sub conpact to save money and gas. Boulder Airporter dropped me at the Budget truck depot outside of Boulder and I wondered what kind of car I would possibly be getting. To my surprise, a free upgrade to a really nice look white Sonata. It reminded me of the cars in the Memoirs of Sir Nyima Sangpo that the Vidyadhara wrote. I began to relax, thinking this might just work out ok.

The next mission: to obtain katas -- went smoothly and I now have 50 at a bargain price from the Tibet Gallery.

Not much chance I'll be able to blog from SMC, but who knows? Looks like a beautiful day in the mountains and I'm planning to blast Handel's Water Music on my stereo system in the car, one of Chogyam Trungpa's favorite pieces of music.

And up we go!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On the Road to Empowerment

It's Wednesday, July 16th, just four days before the Speech Empowerment at Shambhala Mountain Center. It's amazing that we've reached this point.

Audio Recovery, the digitization of the audio recordings of Chogyam Trungpa's dharma talks, was conceived by Chogyam Trungpa himself. Around 1983, he told his Board of Directors: "Please save the tapes of my teachings." Now, in 2008, twenty-five years later, we will be able to say, "Mission accomplished, Sir."

The project actually began almost thirty years ago when Vajradhatu Editorial -- there was no Shambhala Archive then -- began putting digital audio information on VHS video tapes. The first donor to this project gave Editorial $1,000 and we thought that was all we'd need! Now, several systems later, having burned out several generations of equipment and technicians, and having raised more than a quarter of a million dollars, we are just about to complete digitizing 3,000 "events" and placing the digital data on a number of carriers, including gold CDs destined for the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

We have also sent digital libraries containing 1,500 CDs each to more than 25 dharma centers who are contributing to the Audio Recovery Project. And within five years, we hope to have a digital library online that will provide worldwide access to the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, as well as other teachers.

But not to get ahead of ourselves....

In the next four days, four of us from the Shambhala Archives will make our way by plane, bus and car to Shambhala Mountain Center. The CDs already are there, having travelled with sangha trucker and yogi Steve Ellenberg from Halifax to SMC. Archival cabinets to house the CDs in the special Stupa room are lost in transit, sort of, and my assignment today when I finish this blog is to get on the phone to freight companies in Colorado to be sure our cabinets arrive by Friday.

At SMC Lindy and Bob King, guardians of the Stupa, without whom we would have no Great Stupa, are already working with a crew to ready the space for the CDs. They have also been working on the details on the ceremony on Sunday. Without them, we would have no Empowerment.

Gordon Kidd, Technical Director of the Shambhala Archives, and Chris Levy, the Audio Technician who has transferred those 3,000 tapes, are this moment on a plane, I hope, en route to Colorado. In their luggage they have Tibetan horns requested for the ceremonies on
Sunday, along with 50 packages of gold paper in which the boxes of CDs will be wrapped. They are also undoubtedly carrying various pieces of audio wiring needed at the last minute...They arrive at SMC tonight.

Tomorrow morning, I leave at 6 am. Sandra Kipis, Archival Assistant who has also worked diligently on ARP (the Audio Recovery Project) leaves later in the day. In my luggage, there will be red brocades to cover the tops of the cabinets in the Stupa space. Also travelling with me, a Power Point slide show on the life and teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, to show at SMC. I'm negotiating the purchase of 100 white Tibetan scarves, or katas, from a kata dealer in Boulder,
Colorado. I'll pick up the scarves along with a case of wine for celebrating on the weekend, and put them in my extra-compact rental car, heading up to SMC on Friday morning the 18th. (Anybody wondering who the kata dealer in Boulder is should contact Peter Volz.)

By the time I arrive at SMC, the gold boxes of gold Cds will be on a gold? shrine in the main shrine tent at Shambhala Mountain Center. There are a number of programs for advanced, or vajrayana students, going on at SMC right now, and people will be practicing in the shrineroom with the CDs for the next few days.

Sunday, after a marathon run to benefit the rebuilding of Chogyam Trungpa's monastery in Tibet, in which the Sakyong will be running, there will be a fundraising presentation for SMC, and then the Empowerment. We don't have the details of the ceremony confirmed yet, but we know it will include a procession from the shrine tent up the mountain to the Stupa.

The blog that cometh next will provide more on that. Right now, I have to find the truckers with the cabinets. On Sunday, July 20th, for those unable to attend the Empowerment, the Chronicles --working together with the Shambhala Archives -- will release a video from 1983 of the installation of the Kangur shrine in Boulder. All of the teachings of the Buddha were installed in a large cabinet, with sangha members carrying the texts, blessed by Chogyam Trungpa. His remarks are included. We'll play this at the slide show on Saturday night at SMC; you can watch it on Sunday via Chronicles TV!