Venerable Chögyam Mukpo,
The Trungpa Tulku was born in Ge-je,
near the celebrated mountain of Pa-go Punsum, in eastern Tibet, in 1939.
He was born in a cattle manger. Soon after his birth a Lama from Tashi
Lhaphug Monastery came to Ge-je to give some public lectures. He saw the
child amongst the crowd and recognized him as a special incarnation. This
was the first indication that the boy was in some way unique.
A little while later His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa was
visiting Pepung Monastery in Kham, when at the insistence of Jamgon
Khontrul Rimpoche of Sechen he had a meditative vision showing him the
rebirth of the Trungpa Tulku. He said that the child had been born in a
village five miles north of Surmang Monastery. The name of the village was
composed of two syllables 'Ge' and 'Je,' and that if Khontrul Rimpoche
went there he would find a family with two children, of whom the son was
the reincarnation. "The door of the dwelling," announced His Holiness,
"faces to the south. The family owns a big red dog. The father is called
Yeshe and the mother Chyung and Tso." Hearing this, a party of monks set
off from Surmang immediately.
In a peasant's tent, in the village of Geje, they did indeed find a family
which matched the Karmapa's vision. The entrance of the tent in which they
lived faced to the south. They had a big red dog. There was a boy and a
sister, as predicted. But there was one problem — although the mother's
name was Po-Chyung Tung-tso, the father's name was altogether different
from that described by the Karmapa. This delayed the recognition, until it
was discovered that the boy was the natural son of another man, named
Yeshe Darjay. When this hidden fact was exposed, it became clear that the
boy was exactly the child described by the Karmapa Lama, and he was
accepted as the true Trungpa reincarnation.
Chögyam Trungpa was the spiritual head of Surmang Monastery. He was
purportedly the eleventh 'reincarnation in a line of great masters and
monks, beginning with a famous siddha ('adept') named Trungpa Kunga
In the latter portion of the fourteenth century there was a very famous
yogi-disciple of the Karmapa Lama who was known as Trung-ma-ze Rimpoche.
Trung-ma-ze was the son of a king of Menyak, in eastern Tibet, who
deserted his father's palace to become a homeless religious ascetic. He
studied under the Vth Karmapa at Tsurphu and entered retreat
for ten years, after which he acquired considerable fame as an enlightened
master. Disciples, one of whom was Trungpa Kunga Gyaltsen, flocked to him,
prepared to practice utmost austerity and voluntary hardship in the hope
of receiving his precious guidance.
Trungpa Kunga Gyaltsen rapidly advanced on the spiritual path and soon
began to spontaneously display miraculous powers for the benefit of
others. He was therefore recognized as a great incarnation — the Tulku or
'emanation' of a previously Enlightened-being. Through clairvoyance and
meditation, his teacher Trung-ma-ze Rimpoche came to the conclusion that
Trungpa Kunga Gyaltsen was the reincarnation of an Indian yogi-saint known
by the name Mahasiddha Dombi-Heruka, whose fame was well known to
the yogis of the East.
Sri Dombi-Heruka was originally an Indian King who,
according to legend, deserted his throne so as to live with an outcaste
washerman's (Dombi) daughter. Historical research has shown that
this king was the tenth-century king Cakravarman, who ruled in Kashmir. In
the year 936 A D. King Cakravarman came to power due to the military
support of a group of feudal barons called the Damari, but was to hold the
throne no longer than a year. His fall came when -as in the legend of
'Dombi-Heruka'— a 'Dom' entertainer named Ranga and his two dancing
daughters, Hamsi and Nagalata, appeared at court and began to win his
favour. Enchanted by the Dom-girl's feminine charms, he elevated them to
the status of royal consorts, while their 'outcaste' relatives rose to
high positions in the government. The result was a revolt by his earlier
supporters, the Damari, and an attempt upon his life. He fled the court
with his wives, entered the forest, and then with time became a spiritual
seeker — a Yogi.
Dombi-Heruka is remembered in Buddhist literature as a miracle-working
Mahasiddha, a Great Adept who rode about mounted on the back of a wild
Bengal tigress, with cobras wrapped round his body. The tigress was said,
by the village folk, to have been Nagalata. Hamsi, the older sister, is
portrayed in legend as seated beside him, on the tigress' back.
Whatever the legend, the fact is that Sri Dombi-Heruka was a very great
Yogi; a man who lived in Kashmir and the Himalayan regions during the
tenth century AD. He was a noted exponent of the Sri Hevajratantra,
the root tantra of the Vajrakapalika spiritual tradition.
Once that the Trungpa child, the 'incarnation of Dombi-Heruka,' was
recognized, preparations were made for his 'enthronement' at the
Monastery. The full story of his early life and education is well
recounted in his autobiographical account Born In Tibet, now
published by Shambhala (Boston & London 1995).
In brief, the Trungpa Tulku was groomed to become the head of the whole
Surmang complex of monasteries and meditative retreat centers, firmly
rooted in the great Kargyu Lineage of the yogis Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa,
Milarepa, and the succeeding monks Gampopa and Karmapa. Surprisingly,
although the Trungpa Tulku was a Kargyu Lineage representative throughout
his life, his father-like guru, Jamyang Khontrul Rimpoche of Sechen
Monastery, was in fact a member of the Nyingma school. It was through
Jamyang Khontrul Rimpoche that Trungpa received all the great teachings of
the Mahasamdhi-yogacara tradition, which in later life continued to
have an exceptional impact on his spiritual development.1
Thus Trungpa Rimpoche became an expert in both the Mahamudra and
the Mahasamdhi meditative traditions.
Trungpa Rimpoche would have remained molded in the established feudal and
ritualistic framework of Tibetan Buddhism, but for the total disruption of
his formal education at the age of 19 due to the Chinese Communist
invasion of his homeland. Like so many other young Lamas he had to flee
south into India, where he came under the care of a 'young lama's
orphanage' run by a Mrs. Bedi, now deceased.
For Trungpa Tulku the loss of Tibet also meant the loss of his root guru,
Khontrul Rimpoche of Sechen. Chogyam Trungpa's love for his guru
held an absolutely central position in his life.
It was Trungpa Tulku's love for his guru that
carried him through all the years of extreme hardship and loneliness which
were to follow him for the rest of his life. Years later, in a time of
inconceivable loneliness as a monk in England, Trungpa Rimpoche would
write of his longing for his father-guru, in a poem some lines of which
ran on as follows:
Who is lost?
And who has lost?
In any case, never discovered;
But there remains complete devotion......
Completely intoxicated by you,
This longing for Padma Tri-me.
There is nothing to conceal,
Yet hardly anything to expose
For my faith and devotion is beyond word or melody.
A kind that no one would be able to hear or
The Trungpa Tulku was selected along with a number of other young
refugee-lamas to receive an English diplomatic training at Oxford. At that
time various agencies were closely concerned with assisting certain
Tibetans to become future leaders for the Tibetan people in exile, and
funds were made available for their education.
It was while receiving his education at Oxford that Chogyam Trungpa
dictated his autobiography, Born in Tibet, to Esme Cramer Roberts.
While this book was in production, Venerable George Dawson the Namgyal
Rimpoche took the young Trungpa Tulku and certain other refugee Tibetans
under his wing, offering to assist them in founding the first (outside of
Russia) Tibetan Monastery in the Western world. This they did by
converting the Namgyal Rimpoche's establishment, Johnstone House
Contemplative Community, into a Tibetan centre. Chogyam Trungpa named
the new establishment 'Samye-Ling' in commemoration of the first
Buddhist Temple constructed in Tibet, which bore the same name. This new
establishment, formerly an old hunting lodge on the moors of Scotland, has
since expanded into a full scale Tibetan-style monastic building and is
now quite famous under the name of Kargyu Samye Ling. The present
head of the establishment is a boyhood friend of the Trungpa Tulku, Cho-je
Impeccably dressed in his formal robes, Trungpa Tulku was a very
traditional Buddhist monk at that time, and played the part of 'abbot' of
the new monastery with considerable care and decorum. Yet he was being
forced by circumstance to live a life that was incredibly isolated, lonely
and foreign. He was a stranger in an utterly strange land, a 'displaced
person' without friends or familiar surroundings. His English following,
largely imbued with Theosophy, in those first years of the 'Tibetan
Diaspora,' really expected him to be a fully 'all-wise' Master and to
completely live up to their image of an occult 'sage' from the East. The
expectations placed on him were far more than that of being a simple
Tibetan 'abbot.' People thought he could read their minds. They placed the
entire responsibility for their lives into his hands.
At Samye Ling he was put under immense pressure to be far more than
simply a Buddhist monk or even an abbot — he was literally viewed as
something like an all-knowing 'god.' This was far more than a human being
is meant to live up to, and it was very hard for Trungpa to fulfill the
expectation of his Western followers.
Lama Kunzang recalls how, one day, an elderly woman with obvious neurotic
tendencies, began reading to Trungpa Tulku from a theosophical
pamphlet. In effect, she was preaching to him, although he was supposed to
be her teacher! In a moment of cool rage, Trungpa took the pamphlet
from her hands, and tore it up in front of her. Her poor face was frozen
in shock, and I think she quickly fled from Samye Ling,
never to return. But no one could blame Trungpa for his actions, which
were absolutely appropriate to the situation.
The Trungpa Tulku also came under the considerable influence of other
Buddhist meditation masters, to whom he was never adverse to look to for
advice and guidance. Not only was his first 'great protector' the
indomitable Namgyal Rimpoche, but at Samye Ling he was soon to meet
Japanese Zen roshis, Thai acharns, Burmese sayadaws,
and even Christian 'meditators' such as Thomas Merton. Isolation amidst a
foreign people, high expectations on the part of his naive Western
students, and the considerable influence of Buddhist traditions which
until then had been unknown to him, all contributed to push Chogyam
Trungpa towards awakening. To live up to the expected role placed on him,
he needed to be enlightened. A great striving to fulfill this role
was born in him.
Rimpoche says, "It is difficult when one is said to be the reincarnation
of a great lama, a Tulku. People believe that you automatically know all
things, that you are reborn with all the great insights and realizations
of the former man. Actually this is not at all so. Such a person, myself
for example, needs to learn all over anew in every lifetime."
So it was with Trungpa. His aim was to re-acquire full Awakening, and to
do so, he set himself the shortest, most difficult path possible. In this
regard, he launched himself on the course that would make him one of the
greatest heroes of the spiritual life.
The Trungpa Tulku's struggle for realization culminated in an overwhelming
visionary experience which he received while practicing devotion to his
guru, His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa, on a trip back to
India in the early 70s. He was meditating in a famous cave known as the
Tiger's Nest in Bhutan, when he saw his guru in the visionary
form of the magnificent, powerful Dorje Drollo, ablaze with light
and glory, riding on the back of a fierce tigress.4
This vision burst the bubble of Chögyam's ego. He was never to be
quite the same again.
In the West it is little appreciated to what degree a religious "vision"
may approximate to self-realization. It is thought that the path of
visionary experience is quite different, and possibly even adverse, to the
way of awakening. Indeed, many visions about which we hear, may well fall
into the category of induced hallucination or extreme imagination. But
there are certain religious 'pure visions' of an entirely different
character, which act as vehicles of personal insight and wisdom. There is
no doubt that the vision which burst with intense brilliance on the
matured consciousness of the Trunpa Tulku was illuminative and intensely
When he returned to Samye-Ling in Scotland there was a noticeable
change in Trungpa Rimpoche's personality. He systematically began to shed
all the formal rules and ritual of his abbotship and of his Tibetan
culture. Where previously he had always come down for the regular sessions
of morning and evening 'prayers' that made up part of the daily routine of
the monastery, now he remained conspicuously absent. In fact, henceforth
he entirely put aside the 'chanting of prayers' that nominally occupies
most of a Tibetan's 'spiritual practice.' In its place he started to teach
silent 'mindfulness' meditation. Instead of encouraging Tibetan ritual
practice, he began to focus on Mahamudra, the view of absolute
Presence, to the exclusion of all else. He even scorned many traditional
religious articles with which he had previously been strongly attached,
like the rosary used for counting mantras, or the elaborate shrines
which he had previously encouraged his 'novices' to erect in honour of
Tibetan deities. He started to refer to his Buddhism as 'non-theistic.' He
spoke of his earlier role in Tibetan Buddhism as a form of 'spiritual
materialism,' which he had to renounce.
Lama Kunzang recalls well how previously everything seemed very magical
when students chanted in Tibetan. Chanting was converted to English, and
it suddenly seemed to those attending that much of the exotic element was
lost. Now, what was chanted differed little from Christian prayer, full of
devout sentiments to do with mutual love, compassion and devotion. Most
students being at that time rather immature, there were those at
Samye-Ling at that time who entered into Tibetan Buddhism in part because
of its exotic, occult and seemingly mysterious nature. So many were quite
disappointed. But this was exactly what Trungpa Rimpoche wanted. Knowing
too well how "Buddhism" had become an oriental fantasy and a retreat from
the real, he dashed the illusions and deliberately did all in his power to
bring students down to earth.
Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche cast off all the externals of his religious
upbringing in favour of a naked confrontation with reality. Trungpa
decided to stop teaching the way he had been, because he found that people
used the teachings of egolessness to, ironically, solidify their egos.
Initially, as he moved away from the strictures of his previous monkhood
towards a more open view of life, these transitions and departures from
his earlier mode of life remained virtually imperceptible, both to himself
and to those who knew him. But as the disparity between 'wearing the
robes' and what he was actually exploring became impossible to ignore, he
started to realize that he would have to also shed any last vestiges of
his old role. He may well have been hesitating on this very point, when a
serious accident occurred which radically changed his life for ever.
While driving in Scotland with a young Welsh girl he had a stroke and
crashed. It is uncertain to this day whether the crash resulted in him
having the stroke, or whether it was the stroke which resulted in the
crash. Chogyam Trungpa said that all he could remember was that he blanked
out. He was removed to hospital and the doctors gave dire warnings about
the possibility of brain damage or permanent paralysis. Fortunately after
the recovery there was no sign of brain damage. Unfortunately, when he
came out of hospital, he was definitely paralyzed and unable to walk.
Reduced to being
wheeled about in a chair, Trungpa Rimpoche began to work on himself to
overcome his paralysis. He visibly began to heal. Little by little he
resurrected the lifeless nerves of his shattered body. Entirely on his
own, without any form of physio-therapy, he learned to walk again, first
on crutches, then with a cane, and eventually freely. He likewise learned
to free the left side of his face so that he could again talk and give
teachings. But he never once put on his abbot's robes again.
Chogyam Trungpa said that when he awoke in
hospital he found himself, not (as some might imagine) in a state of
depression, but in a state of overwhelming love. He experienced this
intense love as a veritable divine ambrosia coursing through every fibre
of his being. It soon became evident that he had undergone a wonderful
change, like that of a butterfly emerging out of its chrysalis. He began
to talk about love, and the central importance of love, as the very
essence of the Buddhist way. He uplifted our lives with a new, splendorous
view of 'love' as the very energy of creation itself.
However Trungpa Tulku's transformation from that of a formal 'traditional
abbot' to a loving 'crazy yogi' caused considerable consternation amongst
the board of directors of Samye Ling. Trungpa had emerged a
full-blown Siddha. He was too controversial and everyone dropped
him like a hot potato. He was forced out of Samye Ling and found
himself without means of support.
Once more it was Namgyal Rimpoche who stepped in and gave assistance. The
Canadian diplomat Mr. George also helped, receiving Trungpa Rimpoche at
his house in Canada. From Canada the Trungpa Tulku migrated to the United
States, where he gradually acquired a large following and immense
The venerable Trungpa Tulku has been one of the most significant figures
in the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism to the West. He has had — and will
continue to have — the greatest impact, because he more than any other
Tibetan was aware of the need to mold the Dharma into Western
culture, rather than try to turn Westerners into Tibetans.
Unfortunately from the time of his accident in Scotland his health was
never quite the same again. He died in 1987 at the age of 47, but he left
behind a lasting legacy in the form of some wonderful teachings, and a
nation-wide organization to continue his work.
Prior to his death, he stated that his one wish was to be reborn in Japan;
that he would like to grow up, and become a Japanese scientist in his next
life. It has been reported that Kyabje Dilgo Kyentse predicted that the
Trungpa Tulku would take five incarnations. His incarnation has been found
in Tibet and is installed in Surmang Monastery.
"Birth and death are expressions of life," Trungpa Tulku wrote in a
statement unsealed after his death. "I have fulfilled my work and
conducted my duties as much as the situation allowed, and now I have
passed away quite happily.... On the whole, discipline and meditation
practice are essential, whether I am there or not."
in general, throughout his life, lived fully, without hesitation or
inhibition, in the style of an enlightened yogi and Mahasiddha. His
accomplishments in planting Vajrayana and Shambhala Dharma in the West
were enormous. These include not only complete teachings on these lineages
in English, but also founding of organizations (Vajradhatu/Shambhala
International), retreat centers (Karme Choling in Vermont; Rocky Mountain
Dharma Center - now Shambhala Mountain Center - in Colorado; Gampo Abbey
in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; etc.), a Buddhist-inspired university (Naropa
Institute in Boulder, Colorado), and bringing many thousands of American,
European and other students to the Dharma.
A number of Trungpa's personal books encapsulating the Mahasamdhi
teachings which he received from Jamyang Khontrul Rimpoche was graciously
given to Lama Kunzang for safe-keeping. Trungpa Rimpoche continued his
studies in the Mahasamdhi-yogacara tradition under the guidance of
Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche. Rimpoche possessed a phenomenal understanding of
the Mahasamdhi ("Absolute Totality") View.
2 The full poem may be found in Mudra, by Chogyam
Trungpa, published by Shambhala 1987. Padma Tri-me is the personal name of
Jamyang Khontrul Rimpoche of Sechen.
3 Quoted from The Yogis of Ladakh, page 250, by James Low and
John Cook (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1997).
4 Dorje Drollo is an aspect of Saint Padmasambhava embodying
the form of Sri Vajrakilaya. This image is closely related to that of
Dombi-Heruka riding on the back of the tigress. The three iconographical
images, Dorje Drollo, Vajrakilaya and Dombipa, came together for Trungpa
in a single vision of the Karmapa Lama, which he integrated within himself
and which became a transformative vision for him; a unitive vision out of
the Kagyu & Nyingma lineages - Mahamudra and Maha Ati. This realization
coalesces the manifestations of the Karmapa (e.g. Karme Pakshi & Mikyo
Dorje), and of Padmasambhava (e.g. Dorje Drollo).
A Spiritual Leader's Farewell
by Gregory Jaynes, Time, 6/22/87
"The night of my conception," wrote Chogyam Trungpa,
who would be cremated in a Vermont mountain meadow before a sizable
audience in the spring of this year, "my mother had a very significant
dream that a being had entered her body with a flash of light; that year
flowers bloomed in the neighborhood although it was still winter."
autobiography, Born in Tibet, Trungpa went on to say he was
delivered in a cattle byre in February 1939, and that on that day a
rainbow was seen and a water pail was found unaccountably full of milk.
When he died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, last April 4, leaving eleven
published books, five sons and a widow, Trungpa, who was called Rinpoche
(a Tibetan honorific meaning precious one) by thousands of his Buddhist
students, a remarkable odyssey came to a close — at least in this life.
The journey actually began months before Rinpoche's birth, when a holy man
died. "The monks of Surmang were feeling lost without their abbot."
Rinpoche wrote, "And were eager that his reincarnation should be found
without delay." After a vision and a sign or two, the Rinpoche baby was
found and rather swiftly proclaimed the chosen one. The peasant infant
became the spiritual boy king.
It was a quiet life
until 1959, when Rinpoche, like the Dalai Lama, fled the country in the
face of Chinese takeover. Rinpoche spent two years in India, then four in
England at Oxford University, then moved on to Scotland to found a
meditation center. In 1969, he relinquished his monastic vows. The next
year he married a 16-year-old English woman, Diana Judith Pybus. The
nuptial move drew criticism from lama quarters.
Now it came to pass
that in America in 1970 there was a generation of young people who were in
the habit of attending loosely programmed outdoor chapel meetings known
here and there as love-ins, be-ins or demonstrations and punctuated, more
or less, with the admonition, "Peace and love, pass it on." That was the
year that Rinpoche came to these shores, taking off like a Roman candle
lit at both ends. He traveled and taught indefatigably, setting up scores
of urban meditation and study centers, the two most prominent in Boulder
and in Barnet, VT. He had tapped a vein. A section of what used to be
called the counterculture desired a guru, and here he was in the flesh. Bu
1975, after the establishment in Boulder of the Naropa Institute, a
liberal arts college, his imprimatur was everywhere. One could stick pins
in a map, connect the dots and, with apologies to Amtrak, call it the
Angst Express. The confused came to be made sound.
Some of these people
would have fallen for a shaman, any fool who claimed, say, he could bend
spoons with his mind. But Rinpoche was not a charlatan. By all accounts,
he was brilliant, he was the real thing. The easiest conclusion to draw,
looking from the outside in, is that he was an astute businessman. His
devotees ran to the upper middle class, white, with impressive academic
credentials. They dressed like Dharma bums in the beginning, but soon the
teacher had them shaved, suited and cravated. If they did not exactly turn
their pockets inside out for their teacher — and some did — they made good
fund raisers. Moreover, he encouraged them to be all they could be, in
their professions as well as their heads. Successful executives, lawyers,
doctors, dentists, shrinks, anthropologists, poets (Allen Ginsberg),
novelists (William Burroughs) and composers (John Cage) dog-eared his card
in their Rolodexes. Even the selection of Boulder as a center was a
commercial brainstorm; it is a mecca for vagabond children with trust
funds. He lived as ostentatiously as a televangelist —though not as
His teachings are
harder to get a bead on, from the outside looking in. Cerebral, for one
thing, which explains the attraction to an educated crowd. Pressed for
specifics, his students tend to develop a moist eye, a bemused grin, an
air of higher enlightenment and a condescending kiss-off; "Really too
complicated to go into in depth." Certain words get great play:
compassion, creativity, generosity, grace, humor, kindness, love, sanity,
scholarship. It is, say religious scholars, more of a method than a
religion. The relationship between teacher and student is similar to that
between psychiatrist and patient, goes one definition. There has to be
full trust, otherwise nothing is accomplished. "It's a particular type of
religious devotion," says a former student of Rinpoche's, "Where you
surrender all your critical faculties to a guru." Whatever it is,
initiates have a tendency to tell uninitiates, it is inexplicable unless
one is an initiate. This is when Frank Sinatra used to come in with a line
like "Hey, whatever gets you through the night."
In any event, years
passed, the Rinpoche influence spread, and a new headquarters was
established in Nova Scotia. Now and then there was bad press. A party in
in Colorado got rough. Rinpoche forced a coupe to disrobe. Everyone later
disrobed. No charges were brought. No one denied the published reports.
One of the Buddhist there said it was a a preparation for giving up
privacy, learning to cut through ego clinging and fixation. Rinpoche said
essentially it was no big deal. He drank a prodigious amount of alcohol,
bedded many women, never denied either. It was "enlightened drinking,"
"enlightened sex." There was never a PTL-style scandal. It was simply The
Way. In the end, the official Buddhist-reported cause of death was cardiac
arrest and respiratory failure; the unofficial version was cirrhosis.
There was no autopsy. Some, nay, many, said he drank a gallon of sake a
day. They placed the body in the meditative position, packed it in salt
and flew it to Vermont in a chartered Canadian Pacific Boeing 737. Until
May 26, students meditated with the corpse.
"He was one of the
most important Buddhist teachers of our generation," said David I. Rome,
president of Schocken Books Inc., a New York City publishing company, and
for many years secretary to Rinpoche, "because of the transitional role he
played in transplanting this 2,600-year-old religion to the West—without
compromising the religion, the depth of the religion." And yes, said Rome,
"we definitely expect him to come back and beseech him to come back, but
just as in his life he did things in unexpected ways, we cannot expect him
to mind a timetable."
There was ground fog
the morning they carried the body up the mountain, following a bagpiper in
Erskine tartan and Tibetans blowing horns as long as young pines and
scarlet-berobed monks, to a meadow quilted with dandelions and buttercups
and 3,000 or so of the American middle class, their babies in Kreeger &
Son slings on their backs. Behind the corpse, which was borne in a
wood-frame box wrapped in silk, came visiting lamas, borne in big cars, or
lamasines, as one wag had it. "Our understanding," one after another in
the crowd said, and happily so, "is that though the body of the teacher
has died and will be consumed by the flames, his mind still exists and
will pervade all of space."
They placed the body
in an ornate 25-ft.-high kiln, so to speak, made of firebrick. The body
was wrapped with gauze and covered with ghee, or clarified butter. All
around the people were not exactly somber—"It is primarily a sad event," a
spokesman had said, "But it is also a celebration for our teacher"—but
there was no undue hilarity, no dope, no booze, no Woodstock feel, though
everybody said the vibes were good. The weather was spectacular, warm and
caressing. Children gamboled in the wildflowers.
They touched off a
cannon about noon and fired the crematorium, sending dark smoke into the
clean blue sky, "He would have loved this," said one of the directors from
Halfax. When the flames burned low, there were rainbows round the sun, and
the clouds the smoke had formed were multicolored. A student said she
wouldn't be surprised if they had put chemicals on the fire.
"For a holy man, he was utterly
unpredictable," said Rome. "If he were here, he would do something
unexpected. He was that spontaneous."
Update : 01-04-2003