In Appreciation

December 11, 2010

In Appreciation for the Warriors of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

CTR said that our path is that of the refugee
For his students, everythings seems to be going according to plan

“What if you were enlightened tomorrow?” CTR asked one time?
We might do well to ask: What if we got everything we wanted right now?
Would we become tyrants?
Or might we crawl back into our cocoons, comforted?
Maybe we’re finally beginning to wake up

Forms are art
And therefore are perfect, unlimited and impermanent
They can’t be copyrighted, branded, or marketed into greater perfection

The best things in life are free
One might think that such things could be held as stocks or bonds
But one would find that dividends did not arrive

Build a bridge, draft legislation, make a great cup of coffee or teach dharma
They are all transmissions
Every realm could use another Buddha

So good morning sleepy refugees
There is no way to abandon or choose one’s path
But one could definitely waste it

Dudley Jackson
Columbia, SC

What happened?

March 31, 2010

What happened ?

Many of us are aging
nearing 60 , or past
and more past…

What happened to all our aged
Dharma friends?

What is their place?
in any Sangha!

Many walked, some painfully so
Some bought into existing ‘systems’
for the good or for the worse.

What happened to all the valuable
collective experiences — that walked away?

How can there be true growth
when the older students are no longer
in the system ?

As many things in this culture
it is easy to discard….

Look at the Dharma landfill !!

Oh you young Dharma student ,
be inquisitive !
You may find some treasures ….

He Ho !
All my relations……

– Paul Kloppenburg, August, 2007

No Deception

June 19, 2009

Poem by Madeline Schreiber

CAUTION: This poem is not about birds and bunnies; reader discretion is advised. Also, it is not timed to any current events in Shambhala, America or anywhere. It took a long time to write and I only just finished it and gladly hit *send*.


No Deception

It begins with me, a look in the mirror
Do I know her or do I not
No I don’t, and I hope
I do not think I do
Her expression is reassuringly neutral
She’ll treat me fairly if I just don’t lie

It’s a shock to notice that I am naked
Do I look nude to everyone else
Or do I only feel this way
Nothing but crazy life a’dancin’
To beats of its own defenseless pulse

Why do we even bother to lie
Why does naked truth give us a fright
No need to fear; the truth won’t bite
Or maybe it will, but only a love bite

Shifting sands and stories of the past
Good intentions, desires and projections
Imaginary futures and hungry hopes
So painfully shy and full of fear
Making excuses about then and now
While imitating the hard earned skill
To sculpt what is in a formless realm

Rewrites of the past
Delusions of the future
No patience for the eternal now
No wonder words come out all crooked
20th century values on 21st century skids

Singing false tunes with tinny sounds
Slippery words whose meanings slide
To meet with all and any occasions
Never seeming to have lied
Always fitting yet so soon gone

Words of truth are light and sweet
Swift moving rainbows, sometimes clear
By faith we follow an empty path
Clear and empty, not heavy with lies
Where bogus voices raise no warnings
Of pot holes and boulders strewn about
Which make the empty path a common road

Casual deceivers are always around
We can sense their presence
They hold their breath, pressed flat to the walls
Wrapped in their invisibility cloaks
Half formed fragments of unhappy thoughts
Camouflaged in shadow and light
Just out of range, swift and silent
They give us all a chilly fright

But if we stay and simply breathe
We may hear meanings under the lies
And may find ways to sever the bonds that hold them
How plain we are without our lies, without the kinks and curly cues
That make us all feel that we are so special
We can’t pretend that we don’t see fools fooling fools

All our secret little tricks to help us self deceive
That when we reach the bottom line it won’t add up to zero
How much softer our little life feels, ensconced among its cushions
Stuffed with cheap deceptions that buffer our soft bottoms

How sad we feel alone in the dark
Even within our lover’s dream
When all the thoughts that we have collected
Are all just lies about ourselves


Halifax June 2009

Madeline has been a Zen student in the Rinzai tradition since 1966.  When she met formally with VCTR in 1975 and requested to be accepted as one of his students he suggested that it would be good if she stayed with her Zen practice as well as study and practice Vajrayana.  She has done this and still goes to sit Zen Sesshin whenever possible as well as ongoing practice in the mainstream of the Vidyadhara’s Kagyu Nyingma Shambhala teachings.  She has also received the Rigden Abhisheka and will attend Scorpion Seal this Summer.  She accepted the Vidyahara’s invitation to move to Nova Scotia in 1982 and now lives part time in Halifax and part time on Cape Breton Island.

On Poetry

April 13, 2009

Initiative and Poem by John Tischer

My critics are those that want me to learn to write poetry their way, and I say there are as many ways to make art as there are to make love… someone gets off on Van Gogh, someone else on Norman Rockwell… It’s not so much that some art is intrinsically better…. it’s the art’s ability to communicate that measures its worth. Poetry uses language as its palette, but it is an art of communication, not of language, just as music is not an art of sounds and painting is not an art of paints.

I could be a “better” poet, and I am from years back, but my goal is not to be a better poet. It’s to write poetry. For many years I rarely shared my writing, but now that I’ve achieved a certain level of mediocrity,  I’ve found that some people like some of my poems, so, my ambition has found its natural limit. If I become a better writer, it’s merely a side effect.

Allen Ginsberg was a brave man, and one attitude he had towards poetry that I loved, was that everyone should write poems to each other, that it was amenable to community and sharing and fun and why not? There’s always the effete faction that considers whatever art there is to be subject to their sublime judgment, but that’s a lot of horse manure.

I think Ginsberg’s Howl and either The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock or else The Wasteland, by Eliot, are at least two of the greatest English language poems of the Twentieth century. Their subjects are exactly the same, and they each are eloquent in their own style.  The effect they each had was vastly different. The intelligentsia ga-gaed over Eliot in part because of the intricate weaving of classical references in his poems. You didn’t have to know Greek and Latin and a dozen other languages to appreciate his poems, but it didn’t hurt. Meanwhile, he was addressing a world societal upheaval and change that would be echoed down the line by Aldous Huxley, Orwell and others…the death of the soul in modern society.  Eliot was one of the documentarians of this zeitgeist.

Howl was not the logical death knell one would expect would be the pronouncement on what had been happening historically over the previous forty years.  It was a call to life, a battle cry of the sacred tender heart that would not die, and it arose precisely at a time when there were a multitude of ears ready to hear just that. Howl was a bombshell that helped waken the children of the fifties from the engineered stupor that was the legacy of the process that Eliot saw.

And what does this have to do with the subject?  Ginsberg and the Beats were vilified by a writing establishment that worshipped the style of Eliot, but not the substance. Truman Capote called On the Road “typing,” not writing.  As the world changes, art changes, because art is “now.” Ginsberg and Burroughs were given establishment honors in later years, Mother Columbia clinging the world renowned successful artists to her ample and fetid bosom.

I only had one professor in college that said anything that made a lick of sense. He was one of my English professors, and he said: “If you want to be a writer, write!”

I suggest a stream here on Radio Free Shambhala were each post is in the form of a poem.  Why not?  It would certainly tend to make one consider one’s words.

Here’s how:

  • a Post starts off a poetry / doha thread / mala
  • each person responding continues the poem, adding to it through comments
  • one (1) comment only per person!
  • pay attention to the content and style suggested by the initial post
  • the person who started the poem ends it with a final comment: after that further comments are disabled

Here’s the startoff stanza:


Swimming towards the other shore
worried about drowning…sometimes floating
in the current



John Tischer has been a student of Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche since 1972. Now Living in Tepoztlan, Mexico, John divides his time between meditation practice, writing, and doing nothing.