Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trungpa Visits Allen's Class - 6 (Q & A - 5) (Conclusion)

                                                [Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987)]

Student:: I was wondering.. if...(most of the poets…) (have a readership)?

AG: Someone take the microphone over please..

David Rome: Yes, in Tibet, most of the poetry is accessible to everybody, or if it’s written by upper class people for upper class people, or if it’s all of the above, is it written for the common man?  Can everybody understand the poetry there?

Chogyam Trungpa: Well, anybody who can read, who can read, yes  - Well, we have problems with the peasant people who have never been taught reading or writing at all, so, sometimes, they have these proverbs that have been handed down, which they use in their speech, like if the peasant person comes to (a) court case,  and you have to learn a special language, which is successive quotations (maybe every other sentence) , you have images put together (which is an art in itself), but the written poetry, well, it’s just written for anybody who could read. There’s no classroom literature particularly. Once you have a literature developed it is just for anybody who can read.

Student: Hello. Do you complete your poetry in your mind before you write it or paint it or do you paint spontaneously?

CT: Well, usually what happens is (there’s also a tradition (of it) as well – that you have a very vivid sound, ringing in your ear almost, ringing in your mind, of the first lines, very vivid – that’s the opener. And once you write down that, then everything becomes unfolding from that, and I usually work that way.

AG: That’s pretty common in American poetry too. One line arrives..

CT… One.. the first line. It’s very vivid. So that carries the whole thing, although the topic may change (about) half way through, but still, some kind of energy is carried out. 

AG: (Behind you)

Student: It occurred to me that the sadhana that you wrote and is recited at Karma Dzong  is a very good example of what we’ve been discussing of the form and I wondered if that was accurate?

CT: I think so, We don’t call it poetry because this is a different class of literature altogether, but it could be regarded as that style. And when I wrote, it took about two days to finish the whole thing. And I wrote extremely fast, and  I didn’t get a chance to think about it very much – and it’s very spontaneous.

Student: Yes.. I noticed that..This.. You wrote it in the Himalayas?
CT:  In Bhutan Yes
Student: It wasn’t in English? 
CT: Tibetan

Student: I’m still kind of unclear as to the distinction you’re making between Vajrayana and Mahayana poetry. Could you elaborate a little further please?

CT: Well, Mahayana poetry is generally more connected with the performance, the performance of the deed, according to the ways, bodhisattva paths, and the vow, and the commitment of that kind, inspired by the notion of compassion and development of loving-kindness to oneself, and that kind of approach. In the Vajrayana, it is much more immediate. A lot of the poetry in Vajrayana poetry is written, dedicated to their Vajra master and a longing for the Vajra master, (a) devotion to the Vajra master, and also beyond that, personal experience of how that  particular person had actually been able to see the glimpse of enlightenment, clearly, vividly, so.. poetry is that style. It’s much more  (the) expressing the sense of magic (that) exists in it, rather than just general conduct level, which is the Mahayana approach

Student: Mahayana (is more (an expression of) passion)?

CT  Yes. It’s almost similar to Christiam hymns in a sense, some sense, you know, that kind of approach.

AG: And the proclamation part is a... what is that? 

CT: Realization

AG: Realization.. Examples of realization

CT: Yes

AG: There’s a hand (up) there so will somebody pick up the microphone, please..pass it on..

Student: In this class Allen has been trying to make a connection with different  styles of American and Western poetry in different stages on the Buddhist path –Hinayana, Vajrayana,Mahayana – in different… We’ve been dealing with different poets, American poets from one of those points of view. Now I’d like to ask you if you think there is a Vajrayana American poetry, and if so, who might be doing it?

CT: Well, it’s very hard to say. Maybe Allen himself. He’s the closest one, I suppose.

AG: Yeah, to the extent that I’ve, occasionally, tried to express some experience of change,  or opening of mind, in a poem, and tried to find a form which is clear enough for other people to understand (that would fit into the description given - not that I was aware of it)

Student: Okay, what about the people.. what about the people that are using your teaching , they’re using your teaching as examples of Vajrayana poetry, how do they fit into that?

AG: Well at the seminary where I taught there were a lot of experienced sitters, as examples of Vajrayana, there was some  (William) Blake, I used some of Rinpoche’s poetry and I also used Gregory Corso’s “Bomb”, from the point of view that in Vajrayana I understood it, there was a sort of alchemical transformation or transformation of poison to nectar, of anxiety and fear to liberation and humor, so I..

Student: Do you know the poem..

AG: Wait a minute, let me finish. So I used the poem “Bomb” – you know that? by Gregory (Corso), the poem “Bomb” which says,  Let me in bomb rise from the pregnant-rat corner of the world/O Bomb I love you/I want to kiss your your boom/You are an acme of scream/a lyric hat of Mr Thunder”.
And I thought those lines were at least Vajrayana style.  Does that make sense?

CT: - style.  

AG: Actually, to the extent that it took the impacted anxiety and moralistic psychology prevalent at the time and switched it around and opened it up. I thought, actually, if that’s what Vajrayana is, it did that job. It  penetrated right through
He..  Gregory and I went to Oxford and he read the poem, and Bertrand Russell’s group [CND], who were very moralistic about the bomb, threw a shoe at him, thinking that he was..

GC: (I blame) the shoe!  

GC: What comes after Vajrayana?

[CT  is perplexed and AG repeats the question]

CT: Nothing.

AG: Shall we pass the mic - [to Chogyam Rinpoche] ... My class was over over half an hour ago. The time?...formal time? –   Last question then.

Student:  Rinpoche - could you explain the connection between poetry and Right Speech? since Right Speech is one of the Paths on the Noble Eightfold Path?

CT: Well I'm sure there are a lot of connections. In fact, as we hear the stories of Buddha, when he gives a sermon to people, he.. (it) was presented in such a way that even though people had psychological blockages (but) they cannot help listening to him. And once they begin to listening to him, it begins to make sense to them, and (then) when it made sense to them…(more), having liberated them.  So, I think this is our goal, in some sense, in poetics, is to develop that kind of larger version of… there has to be some kind of motivation as to how we’re going create order in the universe by means of speech, poetry. That's (our vow and) our objectives, actually, altogether.

AG: The American interpretation of that was precision (of speech) being accuracy and precision, being if you’re accurate treatment of the object and accurate to your own frank mind, natural mind,  then that would lead to some opening and awareness – (and  precision and accuracy are words you use in relation to perception).  

[to Chogyam Trungpa] -  Well, thank you for coming
CT: Well, Thank you very much
AG:  (It was) nice and calm
CT:Well, I hope you can work, write – better write good ones! 
AG: Thank you
CT: Thank you

[Audio for the above may be hear here, beginning at approximately fourteen minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in, at the end of the tape]

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