Saturday, October 15, 2011

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!

No comments: