Friday, October 28, 2011


Learning about Satyagraha, the opera by Philip Glass, in preparation for attending it at the Met soon. I'm listening to it now.

Here's from Wikipedia:

"The title of the opera refers to Gandhi's concept of non-violent resistance to injustice, Satyagraha, and the text, from the Bhagavad Gita, is sung in the original Sanskrit."

Satyagraha means insistance on truth, a cool concept.

I can't believe it came out it premiered in '80. Feels very fresh to me.

From Glass' site, I learned:

The first two acts each contain three scenes; the last is one continuous scene. Each act is dominated by a single historic figure (non-singing role) overlooking the action from above: the Indian poet Ravindranath Tagore in Act I the Russian author Leo Tolstoy in Act II, the American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr in Act III.

And that there's apparently a DVD, though a search on Amazon and it's currently unavailable. You can buy a used non USA format one. Of course Netflix doesn't have it, but they have 2 documentaries on Glass.

I'm psyched to see it.

going to the opera!

I fell in love with opera this summer when I saw La Boheme in Santa Fe.

I've always liked Philip Glass. He always plays at the Free Tibet concerts. I particularly enjoyed his collaboration with Allen Ginsberg, Hydrogen Jukebox.

So I'm very psyched to see Satyagraha at the Met in NYC.

Here's some info about it:

Philip Glass


NOV 4, 8, 12, 15, 19 mat, 26 mat, DEC 1

Don't miss Philip Glass's Satyagraha, the sold-out sensation of 2008.This extraordinarily moving work tells the story of Gandhi's development of his powerful philosophy of non-violent resistance -- one that continues to resonate today. The Met's breathtaking production, which the LA Times calls "a work of genius," returns for seven performances only.

"A profound and beautiful work of theater." - The Washington Post

"Hypnotic visual and musical magic." -The Wall Street Journal

"Breakthrough...a work of nobility, seriousness, even purity." - The New York Times

"A transcendent evening of theater." - Variety

Limited time offer

Buy one ticket, get one 50% off! Use Promotion Code SATYA11

when you order your tickets through, at the Metropolitan Opera Box Office, or by calling 212-262-6000.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MLK Quote

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King

Which I got here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guest Blog about movie Crazy Wisdom

As someone learning about Chogyam Trungpa for the first time I found Crazy Wisdom to be a very interesting moving. There were times during the movie where I felt a little put off by him and other times during the movie where I felt inspired and intrigued by him. I don't know if this was part of the intent, but it certainly kept me paying attention and wanting more.

I'm not sure if I really picked up on the Crazy Wisdom thing though. From what I understand Crazy Wisdom is the behavior and way of teaching that can occur in someone who is very spiritually mature. Behavior that is seen to be 'unconventional, outrageous, or unexpected'. To me this means employing such behavior in order to spread the Dharma. Thinking outside of the box, albeit very far outside of the box, in order to get the message across. Other than his habit of drinking, smoking and sleeping with many of his disciples, I didn't see much outrageous behavior and I certainly didn't recognize any of this behavior in his actual teachings. Maybe I missed it though.

There were beautiful scenes in the movie and it was really fascinating to see images of the monastery where Padmasambhava meditated as well as the burial/cremation ceremony of Chogyam Trungpa.

I think the thing that struck me most in this movie was the level of attachment that his disciples seemed to have towards him. Breaking the cycle of craving and attachment is the key element in Buddhism and yet, Chogyam Trungpa's disciples seemed so attached to him. So much so, that it was cultish. Maybe it was the time in which he was around. And though he was a great man, I believe it is important to recognize and acknowledge this because it does affect one's view of Buddhism and there are too many people out there who still believe that Buddhism is a 'cult' society. And we are to grow the movement and change that view, we have to acknowledge it.

Another key element for me, which was a purposeful part of the story line, was his realness. His pure comfort with who he was and the ease with which he existed. He was himself, he was laid-back, but passionate and serious about his beliefs and teachings and I think this is a large part of why he was so revered. He was accessible. Many of the people who were interviewed about him said that had a certain light and lightness about him, that there was just something about him that was enchanting and glorious. I saw it too. Regardless of whether or not I was put off at times.

It is said that in wanting to bring Buddhism to the west, he decided that he needed to immerse himself in the ways and customs of the westerners in order to determine the most appropriate way to teach them. And though I understand the intent, many times he seemed as though he was behaving recklessly, showing a lack of thought or concern for his disciples. Almost as if he just wanted to go and see how the other half lived, so to speak. Perhaps this is what Crazy Wisdom refers to. As I said before, there were times when I felt put off, this was one of those times. But at the same time, I really wasn't sure because there were always teachings and quite frankly, he made a lot of people happy and helped to grow the movement and so, he was successful. That's not to say that reckless behavior is okay, but sometimes things are hard to decipher and many positive things came out of it and for now, for me, that's okay. I'm going to read more about him and his contributions and perhaps refine my thoughts a bit more.

All in all, he is just too interesting to not learn more about. The conflicting actions and behaviors between Chogyam Trungpa's life and the traditional Buddhist teachings are almost a perfect lesson in Buddhism and therefore deserve nothing less than further contemplation.

by Cori Viles

Crazy Wisdom

Crazy Wisdom: This excellent movie is coming out soon. It's about the life of Chogyam Trumpa. For New York: "We're playing for one week at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City! The film premieres on Friday, Nov. 25 at 6:30pm." For all the screenings click this line.

Chogyam Trungpa founded the first Tibetan Buddhist Center in the west, founded Shambhala, Naropa University. He's a powerful spiritual leader from the Tibetan tradition, who lived from 1939 to 1987

He's one of 13 survivors of the 300 who left his monastery in Tibet after the Chinese invasion. He went to Oxford and then founded a monastery in Scotland. He got married and then came to the US, founded a center in Vermont and then went to Boulder, where he spent the rest of his life.

He's a controversial figure in a way because he slept with his female disciples, while he was married and had children. I didn't know that he created a kind of Buddhist military. Thus the "crazy wisdom", which is part of the tradition.

I can't help but compare his life with my guy, Sangharakshita, who life is not uncontroversial. In a way I think when you're charismatic enough to start a movement, then you're bound to have some excesses.

Sangharakshita admitted though that his sexual experiments yielded nothing in his spirituality. Trungpa drank and smoked. Sangharakshita had wine with meals, until he drove through Europe and realized how much energy is put into wine, and felt he just didn't want to support all that energy into alcohol.

Chogyam Trungpa is a world religious figure, so in that way he's a basic element of our culture, and thus this movie is perhaps required viewing. Anyone with an interest in Buddhism or the spiritual life will also find this movie interesting. I find Buddhism's journey to the west an interesting subject. I wonder what took it so long. The teachings have only been here for a blink.

My one criticism of the movie, or maybe I would have liked to hear more about: what tradition Trungpa was trained in? Tibetan Buddhism isn't one monolithic thing, there are 6 main branches. He was trained in Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. I would find it interesting to hear a critic put his teaching in a context, not just people gushing about how wonderful he was. I think there's a place for a devotional appreciation. But as the first major feature about him, it could perhaps put him more into context.

It was a visually beautiful movie, and he seemed to touch on many people. Reading the press notes, there was a lot of work put into this by a lot of important people. I'm going to watch it again and report any follow up thoughts.

The best testament to the power of the movie was that when it was over my girlfriend said, "You have any books by him?" She was spurred and interested in it. I have Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and lent it to her. Here are some excerpts of that book.

So I would highly recommend seeing this worthy and important movie!

I asked them

The boys have been young, and then there was divorce to cope with, so I wasn't taxing them. But the divorce is winding down, it's going to be 2 years in Feb. since the separation. So my boys are 6 and 7. They're born 18 months apart, so half the year they appear 2 years apart and half the year they appear to be one year apart.

Anyway, today I said, "Can you guys handle me meditating for 20 minutes. They said yes. So I meditated! Now there is no reason why I don't meditate every day. I can't really blame my kids. Of course time and energy is still in limited qualities. And there will be mornings where it's hard, if I go to bed late, or we have to go somewhere.

But the story that I have children and they are too young and I can't meditate because I am alone with the, is no longer a story I can tell.

When they were young, I thought it would take forever. But in the blink of the eye, they grow up.

You can look at death to help turn up the heat in your spiritual motivation. Or you could just look at how quickly children change. Life is short, children grow up quickly. Sometimes it feels like forever, and sometimes it goes too fast. But overall it feels too fast. And that just shows you how precious life is. We must make use of it.

ps. next is a review of the excellent movie coming out Crazy Wisdom.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

quotes from Living With Awareness

This quote is about imagining enlightenment:

"...imagine a day of unfettered inspiration and free-flowing energy, a day in which you were able to be completely true and clear in your communication, a day in which you felt so real a connection with others that your own concerns ceased to loom so balefully over your life, a day in which you never felt as though you were banging your head against a brick wall or getting stuck in a rut. Imagine such a day of creative freedom and then imagine that freedom doubled or trebled, and continuing to expand, and you will start to get an idea of the nature of enlightenment." p. 153 of Living With Awareness by Sangharakshita.

Also, p. 153:

"Literal-mindedness is a great handicap in the spiritual life and we have to remember that we are prone to it."

Also p. 155:

"...You might notice that when you are experiencing craving, it always comes with a feeling of distress, and that if you stop feeding the craving, that distress will give way to a sense of freedom."

Monday, October 03, 2011

Kindle edition!

Somehow I missed that there is a kindle edition of Sailing The Worldly Winds! Been waiting for that. Supposedly Amazon squeezes the publishers and Windhorse is a right livelihood, and give workers 6 weeks off for retreats and sometimes subsidizes retreats. So the books prices are a bit steep sometimes. It's all for a good cause. I like to read the books generated, for the most part, from my order. And now it just got easier! Yay.