Chogyam Trungpa’s Parinirvana

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Allen Ginsberg, from Costanzo Allione’s film “Fried Shoes and Cooked Diamonds” (1978)

Today, April the 4th, marks the 24th anniversary of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s, parinirvana. Allen’s own comes, curiously, just one day later. For those who are interested, The Chronicle(s) Project has a wealth of information about the Rinpoche, including on line audio and visual presentations of a number of his lectures and seminars, as well as links to Grant MacLean’s recreation/documentary about his “epic journey” from Tibet, Touch and Go, and Crazy Wisdom, Johanna Demetrakas’ recently-completed Trungpa documentary. For more about Crazy Wisdom see here.

A remarkable collection of photos of the May 26 cremation ceremony at Karme Choling, Vermont (taken by photographer Ray Ellis) , including a shot of the magical rainbow that appeared on that occasion, can be viewed here. This is the setting and the occasion of Allen’s poem, “On Cremation of Chögyam Trungpa, Vidyadhara”. (beautifully rendered in this video by Patti Smith and Philip Glass (from Steven Sebring’s movie A Dream of Life))

On Cremation of Chögyam Trungpa, Vidyadhara

I noticed the grass, I noticed the hills, I noticed the highways
I noticed the ticket takers, noticed the cash and the checks and credit cards,
I noticed the buses, noticed mourners, I noticed their children in red dresses,
I noticed the entrance sign, noticed retreat houses, noticed blue and yellow flags
Noticed the devotees, their trucks and buses, guards in khaki uniforms,
I noticed the crowds, noticed misty skies, noticed the all –pervading smiles and empty eyes
I noticed the pillows, coloured red and yellow, square pillows round and round –
I noticed the Tori gate, passers-through bowing, a parade of men & women in formal dress
Noticed the procession, noticed the bagpipe, drums, horns, noticed high silk head crowns and saffron robes, noticed the three piece suits,
I noticed the palanquin, an umbrella, the stupa painted with jewels the Colours of the four directions
Amber for generosity, green for karmic works,I noticed the white for Buddha, red for the heart
Thirteen worlds on the stupa hat, noticed the bell handle and umbrella, the empty head of the white cement bell Noticed the corpse to be set in the head of the bell –
Noticed the monks chanting, horn plaint in our ears, smoke rising from astep the firebrick empty bells
Noticed the crowds quiet, noticed the Chilean poet, noticed a rainbow,
I noticed the guru was dead,
I noticed his teacher bare breasted watching the corpse burn in the stupa,
Noticed morning students sad cross legged before their books, chanting devotional mantra’s
Gesturing mysterious fingers, bells and brass thunderbolts in their hands,
I noticed flames rising above flags and wires and umbrellas and painted orange poles,
I noticed, I noticed the sky, noticed the sun, a rainbow around the sun, light misty clouds drifting over the sun
I noticed my own heart beating, breath passing through my nostrils
My feet walking, eyes seeing,
I noticed smoke above the corpse, I noticed fired monuments
I noticed the path downhill, I’ve noticed the crowd moving toward the buses
I noticed food, lettuce salad, I noticed the teacher was absent,
I noticed my friends, I noticed our car, I noticed the blue Volvo,
I noticed a young boy hold my hand
Our key in the motel door, I noticed a dark room, I noticed a dream
And forgot, noticed oranges lemons and caviar at breakfast,
I noticed the highway, sleepiness, homework thoughts, the boy’s nippled chest in the breeze
As the car rolled down hillsides past green woods to the water.
I noticed the sea, I noticed the music – I wanted to dance.”

Allen Ginsberg; “On the Cremation of Chogyam Trungpa Vidyadhara” (1987)

And we’ll end with Gesar Mukpo’s tribute to his father:

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