Chögyam Trungpa – Tribute 2011

April 4, 2011 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Chewyguru’s (Gesar Mukpo’s) slide/music collage tribute to his perfect teacher and dad, on the anniversary of the death of Chögyam Trungap, Rinpoche.




35 Responses to “Chögyam Trungpa – Tribute 2011”

  1. Mark Szpakowski on April 4th, 2011 2:12 pm

    Yes, that typo… too good to fix!


  2. John Castlebury on April 4th, 2011 4:57 pm

    [excerpt from DJKR’s commentary on Parting from the Four Attachments, Nepal 2009, from Talk 10:]

    We tend to forget that from the time we got out of bed this morning until the time we go to bed this evening, whatever we will have experienced today, including all the faces, breakfast, our friends and family, the traffic, messages in our inbox, phone calls we made and the conversations we had, all are the stuff of illusion. Tonight, all of our experiences will be seen in hindsight to have amounted to nothing more than an incessant stream of confusion and that’s all.

    We shouldn’t regard dualism as just some vague abstract idea. Dualism is the figurative junk food that our minds are ingesting on a daily basis. And this steady diet of dualism has made our confusion so fat and so large and so real, so to speak. Out of our confusion we evolve a skin of chronic attachment, and from this chronic clinging to self, we evolve a second skin of insecurity that is always present.

    Of course, self has good reason to be insecure since, as Chandrakirti points out, the self is a baseless thing. After all, “self” is just a label that we give to a transitory collection of the five unstable aggregates or skandhas that compose a self: form, feeling, perception, karmic formation and consciousness. That’s all self is, a never-ending process of mutating and evolving aspects of this fragile and volatile self. And it is on this shaky basis that we confer the honorific title of “I”. So, naturally, self is defensive and insecure, because so-called self is only a constantly changing and re-arranging set of mental factors.

    We always try to escape from this worried and nervous state of mind by diverting our attention and amusing ourselves with endless, mind-numbing distractions. This constant nervousness and worry and insecurity are so unbearably intense that we resort to sedatives and painkillers of mindless entertainment.

    We take many many pills of distraction to keep our insecurities out of sight and out of mind…

    [Dawa Choga offers this poignant gem from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the parinirvana of our beloved Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.]

  3. John Morecock on April 5th, 2011 6:33 am

    Absolutely beautiful. So much heart. Thank you.

  4. John Tischer on April 5th, 2011 1:08 pm

    Thanks, John, that was a great quote.

  5. Annie T. on April 8th, 2011 1:01 pm

    Thank you for the great quote…..

  6. Suzanne Duarte on April 13th, 2011 9:32 am

    Good quote from Dzongsar Khyentse, but I’m afraid I really do not get what Gesar is trying to say with that UTube video. The photos I get. The song with the photos I don’t get. Anybody want to explain?

  7. Rob Graffis on April 13th, 2011 11:01 pm

    Beautiful slide show. No doubt.
    What does Gesar do for a living these days, or in general?

  8. damchö on April 14th, 2011 11:12 pm

    Hi Suzanne, I don’t know if you’ve heard it before but in case not it’s a Johnny Cash cover of “One,” a U2 song. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

    Bono described the song’s theme as such: “It is a song about coming together, but it’s not the old hippie idea of ‘Let’s all live together.’ It is, in fact, the opposite. It’s saying, We are one, but we’re not the same. It’s not saying we even want to get along, but that we have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. It’s a reminder that we have no choice”. The Edge described it on one level as a “bitter, twisted, vitriolic conversation between two people who’ve been through some nasty, heavy stuff”. On another level, he suggested that the line “we get to carry each other” introduces “grace” to the song and that the wording “get to” (instead of “got to”) is essential, as it suggests that it is a privilege to help one another, not an obligation. The band have been told by many fans that they played the song at their weddings, prompting Bono to respond, “Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!” Many have interpreted the song’s lyrics as describing a conversation between a father and his HIV-positive gay son.

    So maybe Gesar is alluding to the split within the community?

  9. Suzanne Duarte on April 15th, 2011 6:30 am

    Damchö, thank you very much for your research into the song. It seems like that song is fundamentally ambiguous if so many people actually misinterpret it. I wonder what Gesar himself actually had in mind when he chose that song to commemorate the Vidyadhara’s Parinirvana. If many have interpreted the song as describing a “conversation between a father and his HIV-positive gay son,” well, gosh, that adds more layers of ambiguity to Gesar’s intentions.

    In any case, if I were going to make a slide show of photos and music as a public tribute to my beloved father guru, I can think of a number of pieces of music that would express my feelings clearly and unambiguously. Maybe the real message of Gesar’s video is that he still has some stuff to work out, which is completely understandable. However, I’m not sure this video is going to help Gesar or anybody else.

  10. Mark Szpakowski on April 15th, 2011 9:47 am

    RE ‘The band have been told by many fans that they played the song at their weddings, prompting Bono to respond, “Are you mad? It’s about splitting up!”’, I can just see CTR saying, “Yes, let’s play that at weddings!”

    Deep ambiguity, with truth at the extremes: reality is not an average. It’s not the words: it’s the soft and gritty core. To me that comes through the pictures and the music together, which channel CTR’s lifetime and its ongoing welling up in ours.

  11. Suzanne Duarte on April 15th, 2011 10:42 am

    Maybe it’s a matter of taste or sensibility. VCTR manifested differently to, and was perceived differently by, different people. Maybe you resonate with Gesar’s version. I don’t. It’s probably true that nobody will ever be able to present a full enough representation of the Vidyadhara that will satisfy everybody who knew him.

  12. Tsetan on April 15th, 2011 5:14 pm

    I loved the video, very touching. Having lost a parent last year, all the more I can relate.
    It would be extremely interesting to see what other songs people would like to put to these photos, and actually do it so we can watch the different expressions people create. Then to watch without judging or psychoanalyzing eachother’s choices.

  13. John Castlebury on April 24th, 2011 6:32 pm

    VCTR, on chain reaction of skandhas

    [excerpt from Glimpses of Abhidharma by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Prajna Press, 1975:]

    The process that takes place here takes place in a fraction of a second of consciousness, that lasts something like a five hundredth of a second. First you have an impression of something. It is blank, nothing definite. Then you try to relate to it as something and all the names that you have been taught come back to you and you put a label on that thing. You brand it with that label and then you know your relationship to it. You like it or you dislike it, depending on your association of it with the past.

    Now the very, very first blank, which may last a millionth of a second, is the meditation experience of the primordial ground. Then the next instant there is a question—you do not know who and what and where you are. The next moment is a faint idea of finding some relationship. Then you immediately send your message back to memory, to the associations you have been taught. You find the particular category or the particular label you have been taught and you stamp it on. Then at once you have your strategy of how to relate with that in terms of liking it or disliking it. This whole process happens very quickly. It just flashes into place.

  14. John Castlebury on April 30th, 2011 11:11 am

    DJKR, on self as 3-step process

    [From the commentary on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara, or The Way of the Bodhisattva: Wisdom [Chapter Nine] by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Vancouver, B.C., June 1-9, 2001, opening lines of Talk 5]

    “There may be some misunderstanding with the definition of what I mean by self. It’s not what you mean…What is self? For instance, when you say “I myself”, what do you mean by self? Although you might not refer to them as aggregates, you are actually referring to the aggregates, isn’t that so?

    Just as a very ordinary human being, when you refer to self, you are usually referring to aggregates. When ordinary people say self, they mean a group of phenomena, aggregates that they look at and that they then call a self…Basically you can say that the five aggregates are inclusive of all so-called phenomena. We need to really come to this conclusion…

    The aggregates are the first of the three tiers of so-called self. At moments in the teachings such as the eighth chapter on meditation, for instance, we know the Buddhists are somehow against or are trying to purify this clinging to the self.

    Isn’t that what they say, clinging to the self? But this expression may be very misleading, since most of the time when we hear that clinging to the self should be purified, we immediately automatically exclude the aggregates, the first tier.

    You see, clinging to the self is actually not really the same as clinging to the aggregates. Clinging to the aggregates comes in a different path where you cling to the form or the name, the karmic formation, the consciousness, all that – so purifying our clinging to the baseless notion of a self alone won’t purify our clinging to the aggregates, the first tier.

    According to Chandrakirti, the second tier of so-called self is looking at the aggregates and imputing a completely baseless notion of self…

    And the third tier of self is the clinging to that baseless notion of so-called self.

    Now can you understand? During the meditative stage when we contemplate abandoning the clinging to the self, we are forgetting. Many many of us are forgetting. We not only forget the five aggregates of the first tier, but we also forget the imputed self of the second tier. So this is why for many of us selflessness meditation is a method which works as if there were a self…


  15. John Castlebury on April 30th, 2011 11:20 am

    It’s very important to know the nature of the second tier. The second tier is the cause that makes the third tier possible. You know, you can’t meditate on the selflessness of a person or phenomena if there is no second tier which is the notion of a self that is imputed and completely baseless. I mean, there is no such thing as putting together a little bit of form, little bit of feeling, little bit of consciousness, little bit of karmic formation, and then it becomes a new entity called “self”. There is no such thing.

    Hindus and Samkhyas try to abandon only the third tier of self, but they cling to the second tier. But obviously the Buddhists including the Theravadin are in general trying to get rid of the second tier. Of course, the third tier of clinging to so-called self is definitely pathetic. As it is, the second tier is already quite baseless. So the third tier is like looking at a mirage and thinking that it is water and really insisting that it is water – that is totally pathetic, of course…

  16. mfritter on May 1st, 2011 7:52 pm

    To be clear, this is what the song says (in part):

    Have you come here for forgiveness
    Have you come to raise the dead
    Have you come here to play Jesus
    To the lepers in your head

    Did I ask too much
    More than a lot
    You gave me nothing
    Now it’s all I got
    We’re one
    But we’re not the same
    Well we
    Hurt each other
    Then we do it again
    You say
    Love is a temple
    Love a higher law
    Love is a temple
    Love the higher law
    You ask me to enter
    But then you make me crawl
    And I can’t be holding on
    To what you got
    When all you got is hurt

    Perhaps Gesar actually listened to the lyrics. If so, perhaps he means “tribute” ironically. Perhaps the irony is Socratic and for our benefit. He does love Christmas.

  17. Mark Szpakowski on May 1st, 2011 8:14 pm

    Hmm… I tend to think that once a work of art is out there, it ceases to be the exclusive property or interpretation of its author: it takes on its own resonance. Put another way, the muse is more than the author, and the work may be beyond the ken of the author at its inception. The lyrics of this song are sufficiently ambiguous that I think it could be taken as a commentary on love and transparency and samsara: at least it and the video images affected those kinds of ripples in my heart/mind (“citta”).

    Perhaps we need a new word to denote something like semantic mondegreen.

  18. mfritter on May 1st, 2011 10:13 pm

    What a wonderful term “mondegreen.” Dylan comes to mind. You may be right about all of this: there may be more to the song than it’s apparent surface, which seems to be to be pretty much betrayal and abandonment.

    There’s a wonderful discussion of Blood on the Tracks to be found here:

    I think Bono’s song bears a certain resemblance to to Idiot Wind. its sentiments, could apply to Gesar’s relationship to his father, but would not then constitute a tribute, at least in the conventional sense of the term.

    I of course remember that CTR despised rock music. (He also disliked Chopin, interestingly enough.)

  19. rita ashworth on May 2nd, 2011 5:51 am

    Dear All

    Just reading description of the song ‘One’ on wiki which does a great exposition of the song coming into being. People might want to check it out.

    Yes Bono is critical of hippie Oneness but he does leave the door open to people freely meeting and sharing ideas and thoughts about how to proceed in the world.

    As to relating this feeling of criticism of Oneness to CTR’s teachings, and the furtherance of them in the world I dont see what he gave us as being set in stone but more as a ‘guide’ as we go along. Of course some will want to do specific practices I have no doubt about that and thats well and good but others might ‘somehow’ use the teachings to go off in different directions than we can even think of now. Myself I just dont know whats going to happen -but it seems from what CTR said that often is good place to be. Yes no guarantees about anything

    Hmmmmmm so it seems what is happening at the present is a mixture of tradition and experimentation and yes who is the arbiter of all that experimentation?

    This it seems to me has always been the western predicament of being an individual in a society that does not confirm wholly to tradition.

    So yes there are many ways to connect with what is and doing ones duty is a debateable point if we consider our own consciences in regard to experiences in this world. So I think Bonos song exemplifies the above dilemnas that are happening in peoples mind about practice and about further ‘political’ engagement with the world.


    Rita Ashworth

  20. Stuart on May 2nd, 2011 7:58 pm

    Perhaps it is better to not purport the croonings of songsters as high and holy scripture.

  21. Rob Graffis on May 4th, 2011 2:37 am

    Re watching the Crazy Wisdom DVD at Crestone last week with a couple of friends, nothing was mentioned about the Regent. Whether it guod have been good or bad, something should have been mentioned about the Vidyadhara’s intentions for the role the Regents duties were after the Skayong’s death, out side of being an intermediary. .
    After all, the movie was about how controversial he was.
    Secondly, I noticed on Sangha Announce I believe, the Sakyong wants a new house to accommodate his expanding family, and sell his existing Boulder home.
    Wan’t it the Vidydhara’s vision the Sakyong (s) be in Nova Scotia?
    This is all very confusing for me who wanders what the current Sakyong’s view is of his future, as well as the further Sakyongs.
    This is what gets us (some of us) who get so frustrated at the past and present hierarchy of saying nothing.

  22. Stuart on May 4th, 2011 10:01 am

    Rob Graffis on May 4th, 2011 2:37 am

    “This is all very confusing for me who wanders what the current Sakyong’s view is of his future, as well as the further Sakyongs.”

    The Shambhala Times
    Community Articles, Mandala Projects
    A Path of Unified Fundraising
    February 7, 2011 – 7:00 am

    “…millions of dollars had to be raised… as new needs arose… Appeal after appeal came out… retreat sponsorship opportunities, dinners, sit-a-thons, online auctions, and more… additional unscheduled appeals, and near impossible goals, millions of dollars has indeed been raised…”

  23. Rob Graffis on May 4th, 2011 11:57 am

    and there fore……

    Also, what were the retreat sponsorship opportunities? Scholarships for students in need that would like to do a retreat?
    That would be great, but I haven’t heard it announced yet. It should be.

  24. John on May 4th, 2011 1:28 pm

    Meet a lovely friend of my partner’s who lives in Halifax.

    She has been a member of Shambhala for over 5 years and has passed many levels of their training course.

    When I told her that CTR had reincarnated she stated “When, Where?”.

    No one at Shambhala Halifax had told her that the 12th CTR was back in the saddle again.

    Things that really make you go HMMMM????

  25. John on May 5th, 2011 6:44 pm

    Sorry to but a damper on you 30 year anniversary but

    CTR is alive and kicking in Tibet.

    Hello CTR the 12th, are any of your former students out there and do they care about you at all?

    Time to stop CLINGING to the past and move on or is life in the rear view mirror sweeter?

  26. Ash on May 6th, 2011 10:30 am

    well, I find it very nice indeed. So many pictures I had never seen. Liked the way it was just a movie of a scrapbook.

    As to the music, I wouldn’t have noticed it all that much without all the commentary above. Fitted nicely, I found.

    Nostalgic bittersweet mood, but also hip.

    The lines:
    ‘well it’s too late tonight,
    to drag the past out into the light’

    seem especially apropos. But mainly it’s just a mood thing of course, like any piece of background music.

    (Certainly better than something by Haydn or Handel, as much as I like both!)

    Thanks, Gesar.

  27. Frans Schuring on May 6th, 2011 4:58 pm

    For me, this (background) music has much more to do with Johnny Cash, his voice and mood, then with U2 or splitting hairs about words.
    This kind of singing could take you to the fourth moment by listening + hearing… This seasoned voice… What can I say further? If you’re not capable of just listening and looking at the pictures without thinking so much, because it’s not your style or something, that’s too bad.
    Perfect choice is what I feel about this song. This old man has the lump in throat or watery eyes quality of country music in such a way that it makes him completely rise beyond country music or any other musical style.
    I believe when he learned he was probably dying soon he, J.C. that is, recorded a number of covers of songs that he felt fitting or good about. And that this is one of them. He was accomplished, had nothing to prove, just to offer, it seems.
    I can’t know what Gesar’s ideas were but think it’s a good guess he wouldn’t have picked this for the lyrics that could be taken as uniting or splitting or both. Also not if it was the U-2 version.
    If you want the above qualities plus added goose-flesh as well try listening and looking to the song “hurt”. It’s on u-tube in various ways.
    The tough man in black is completely tarnished, defiled if you will, yet keeps strong dignity.
    Thanks to Gesar’s tribute, I became a late fan of J.C. the 2nd. The first didn’t kick it for me.
    Greetings, see you in Shambhala.

  28. rita ashworth on May 8th, 2011 6:43 am

    Dear All

    Interesting discussion re Gesars video.

    Re the artistic merit of him placing the song with Johnnie Cash’s lyrics I dont think it was an arbitrary choice based on the whole sense of it feeling groovy and fitting.

    No I think rather about how you do Art with image/lyrics it comes from a kind of vision of togetherness or communality. So I think Bono and Gesar like all artists are probing that realm. So I dont think you can dismiss the croonings of Bono so superficially as he does make the impossible possible….ho-hum………zzzzzzz…..unlike much marketing that is going on in the world and in organisations.

    So the question with Art is not whether to see you in Shambhala but to actually ‘be’ in Shambhala. And furthermore how the ‘process’ of Art based somewhat on ‘seeing’ in a ‘visionary’ sense allows Art to come forth in a shared and loving manner. How could the practice be otherwise? Yes so Art philosophically is definitely entwined with Other in an existentialist way.


    Rita Ashworth

  29. Frans Schuring on May 8th, 2011 8:15 am

    Sure, Rita, etc. etc.
    Just meant, if Bono’s version was the most important, that would be used. If the singer wasn’t fitting, but just the words, he wouldn’t have used that singer, but maybe have the song read, obviously. The word groovy come from you, I didn’t use that.
    Sorry, but I, my hopeless irrational self and me are to blame for simply being caught by that part of the atmosphere that came from Johhny Cash and found that fitting. And zoomed in on that. Being an artist myself, it was my feeling that it coming out like it did had a lot to do with the mood of this voice that was chosen. I didn’t say that to initiate an art theory discussion.
    See you in Shambhala just came up in my mind as a nice ending. Who says I didn’t mean right now?
    ‘We are the other people, we are the other people,
    You’re the other people too.’
    (Frank Zappa)

  30. Stuart on May 8th, 2011 10:38 am

    Frans Schuring on May 8th, 2011 8:15 am

    “…just came up in my mind…”

    Chasing thoughts.

    About 11,600,000 results (0.14 seconds)

  31. windy sky on May 8th, 2011 2:17 pm

    Hi Stuart,
    I didn’t get the impression that Frans was “chasing thoughts”. I think he was just sharing a thought (thoughts) that arose. I found it enjoyable. 🙂

  32. Stuart on May 8th, 2011 3:14 pm

    So the thoughts of Frans chase the thoughts of windy sky.

  33. rita ashworth on May 10th, 2011 2:23 am

    Dear Frans

    Just a brief reply to your feedback on my post.

    To some degree wish that I were just talking Art theory but I dont think Gesar, Bono and both us in some small way are doing that. Rather I think that composition is inevitably entwined with the meditative experience now since we have come into contact with CTR – so we are all struggling somewhat with pursuing artistic disciplines.

    Re your comment about the mood of Johnnie Cash’s voice etc etc –not wanting to start a long debate on that for sure but even this aspect of Art now is tied up with what we have learned from CTR. 5 Buddha families somewhat springs to mind with this aspect for example.

    Going further about this – this is why I think many more forms of artistic practice and image-making will have to be uncovered to ‘appeal’ to the western mind. So maybe Gesars videos/films are a means of starting this whole ballgame off again. And as such I think we have to critique them with a serious manner.


    Rita Ashworth

  34. Frans Schuring on May 14th, 2011 9:35 am

    So I didn’t sound serious enough for you, Rita? Maybe that’s good. It tells me something. I also think serious can be taken in various ways, as grave-and-heavily-no-smile-allowed or as properly-motivated-yet-with-a-sense-of-space-or-humour. I rather go for the last.

    And Stuart: whatever you think you are doing or not, that you think may be different than, for instance me, by the time it gets to this site, it’s nothing but chased thoughts, as such paralysed in black and white, however you like to look at it. The point is more, if you do think this chasing is happening or even that it can be done at all, are the thoughts chasing you or are you chasing them?
    Seen from where I stood, I wasn’t chasing anything, my ten fingers type without me having to look, what came up clear enough, got written down. MS Word takes out the typo’s.

    It went like that, that’s the way it went.
    And it’s like that, that’s the way it is.

    Nice name, Windy Sky. If the name fits the person a bit, there won’t be much chasing thoughts happening there, one way or another, it would clearly be futile .

    If thoughts and music have been mixed, and/or with visions, and are experienced as such, you can’t separate them anymore. Trying that might very well be called chasing thoughts.
    But I’m not sure. I didn’t coin the concept. I won’t chase it anyway, I’d rather let it go.

    Nice discussion, fun while it lasted.

    In Shambhala, free at last

  35. Richard Weiner on September 20th, 2011 10:39 pm

    “One,” in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful love songs ever, and U2’s greatest contribution to the love song genre. I have constructed entire Level I’s around that song, and I cry almost every time I hear the original. It is just pure heart– nothing else, and is a perfect song to sing for your guru and father.

    Sorry you don’t get it, or you think there is some hidden meaning. It is just a great, great love song.


    Richard Weiner