Monday, December 26, 2011

fixing to die blues

Well I woke up this morning; looked out on rainy New York window glittering with—same—self-perfect rain
That’s fallen from the sky for a hundred thousand million years: fresh first moment—plip—clear lake of Mind.
Fall leaves, flickering choir of empty canopy colour mist—sitting empty—as if nothing were going to happen.
Echoes remain in their own space. Chögyam—laughing softly—remains in his own space, elated by damp
Elated by Fall colours. Chögyam—laughing softly—says: “I may well die this year, or sometime next year.”
Now students don’t really like to hear—that—kind of thing. Students have careful plans for Chögyam to be:
Solid, permanent, separate, continuous, and defined – so that they can be immortal and eternally extenuated
In the time they take to make their decisions – so students ask anxiously after Chögyam’s health – but he grins:
Tells them: “I’m fine.” So why this talk of death? Maybe something terrible is lurking just around the corner.

Chögyam consults 1898 pocket watch: “Well it might happen. Death happens you know.” But students say:
“Your just talking about impermanence – we’re going to die too.” Chögyam laughs like pastrami hero sandwich
And says: “No—that’s highly unlikely—you’re all going to live forever! It’s just Chögyam who might die.”
Chögyam works out for an hour a day—he’s on a tight schedule—he’s actually in quite good shape for his age
In spite of gossip and global warming, he survives. They call him the ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Dharma’
And the dakinis sing: “Just call me—Arnie—of the Dharma’—Ange-el; just kiss my cheek before you leave me.”
Chögyam almost glows with health and vitality – like a glowing advertisement for Pizza Ill Dottore and Barolo –
But Chögyam-the-invincible might not inhabit late 20th century bardo, much longer. He has inside information:
Armageddon accounting office in Amarillo is rampant with amaretto armadillos, who know all about the future.

But seriously—there’s no particular sense to trivial assertions such as these—just Chögyam whittering away.
Maybe these unattractive allusions to death are merely vajra-whimsy born of an astrologically inauspicious year;
A luridly limitless lamentation—born of the shine on the passing moment—in which everyone is immortal,
Laughing and crying beyond space and time. It can’t be denied however. It could happen. People die all the time.
Chögyam has been told that it’s quite a common occurrence. He may of course be wrong. That also happens.
It may be, that he’s been badly misinformed. He’s made no plans to enter into any other kind of dimension
He could easily live to be unusually old—which may or may not be pleasant—but teachings make it plain:
Time of death is uncertain. Every breath could be last breath. Every breath is last breath. Every breath . . . is.
And the dakinis sing so sweetly: “Hello I must be going.” Chögyam has no particular desire, this way or that.

Appearing and disappearing are occupational hazards of being. So—death—is the very least of Chögyam’s worries,
He’ll either get re-cycled or not. True—he’s made certain plans: books; poety; empowerments; and teachings . . .
These things will either happen or not. Chögyam can’t tell what the next minutes or months are going to bring.
Christmas is coming soon—like a spectacular ticking clock loaded with improbable birds—and then, who knows.
Students approach Chögyam with their concern – with their kindly conceptualisation about his ‘taking a holiday’.
So, he considered holidays in Scotland and sampling wines in Tuscany – but circumstances never seem conducive,
And anyhow—unless people receive teachings—what is there in dangling tootsies in unpronounceable oceans?
Somehow New York scenery is gorgeous just as it is. West 15th teeters on the brink of supreme graciousness;
Greenwich Village on the verge of consummate crispness – and Chögyam, is singing his ‘Fixing to Die Blues’.

Chögyam strolls down Bleeker, takes a right down onto Christopher; to go buy dangerous extra-espresso beans.
Yet Bleeker sneaks invitations in all directions from Grampa’s to Hudson glowing dim in evening luminosity
Displaying: tree-spaces dripping rain; 7th Avenue busy with being-spaces; shops full of transparent item-spaces.
Someone gives Chögyam suede-shirt, deer-skin waistcoat, and leather duster re-assurances that everything –
Despite resilient catalogue entourage of rampant reified riot—and dramatic improbability factors—will be fine.
His students wish him to persist in some kind of recognisable embodied form. They all worry about him;
Say he works too hard, sleeps too little, and travels too much. They’d like him to eat a thoroughly good breakfast;
They’d like to take him out for meals. They’d like him to look after himself. They’d like to feed him chicken soup.
They send him copious supplies of alphabet vitamins and minerals - Chinese herbal medicine for his ankles.

Their kindness makes him cry. Their practice keeps him alive. They give him lox and bagels with cream cheese
They’d like to brew him pints of coffee and take him shopping: 501s and riding boots with Spanish curves,
Irish riding coats and tailor made moleskin britches; 1850s elk hide dusters with wonderfully crafted pockets;
And, neat six pocket waistcoats. They like to hear him holding forth as rabid English Lama in unlikely social settings
Or as Doc Holiday in highly polished Western boots and black silk Hassidic jacket, nd Prussian blue polka-dot cravat.
They like to ask him formal questions about nature of Mind and non-duality and regale them with insane thousand watt
Roller coaster peddle-to-the-floor turbo-drive vajra paradox – but they’d rather he didn’t mention death too often;
Or ask problematic questions: “What would your choice be if you knew without doubt that you only had a year to live?”
Or “How—given your exact situational circumstances—do you intend employ the remaining time at your disposal?”

Chögyam is spontaneously happiness, irritation, and bewilderment for everyone participating in Chögyam event.
He is unlikely form and emptiness for you all in his inconsequential eccentricity and audacious ordinariness.
He would like to be searingly and matter-of-factly useful to you all. So . . . let him be: conflagration of panache.
Let him be: moment-by-moment immaculacy pure-panic making it impossible to pay mortgage scheme banality.
Let him be: fire of lineage which melts frozen veins of ‘being sensible’ or being either ordinary or extraordinary.
Let him be: vajra voltage Hollywood movie vajra explosion exposition of non-duality which undermines normality
And inhibits all desire to blend with the woeful world-weary wallpaper of the clinically careful unconsciousness.
Let him be: philanthropic phantom jet fuselage, gassed to the gunnels with final reserves of world’s fossil fuel
In order that no one makes do with warm ice-cream enema of diluted rationalisation and calculated nervousness.

Let him be: clear conundrum of contradiction coruscations in the symposium of exacerbated sartorial selectivity
So that no one will be lured into devious digressions into dilapidated diurnal duration and diminished debacles.
Let him be: marrow, lymphatic fluid, and mucus of practice, so that no one can invest in appalling melodrama
Of time spent writhing in tepidarium torture of tedious on-going experiments in dolorous domestic dreariness.
Let him be: fingernails, toenails, hair, unsightly undercarriage follicles, and nasal septum of rapturous commitment
So that no one will have to relegate sexuality of vivacious perception to boarding kennels of self contraction;
Let him be: blood, bone, cartilage, and gristle of indestructible mantrayana precepts, which makes it impossible
To bathe in obfuscatory offal - and interminable dismal low-threshold-pain therapy excuses for refusal to be alive,
Or to plumb the depths of moronic dependence on externalist factory-finished mechanisms of understanding.

Let him be: self-lubricating multi-grinder waste disposal until, garbage truck, and sanitary ware of the outer tantras
So that no one will need to cramp ecstatic meteorology of being in righteous rigour mortis of atrophied anorexia;
Let him be: the high pressure acid hose, flame thrower, heat seeking missile, and nuclear warhead of Mahayoga
So that no one will need to quantify sensual romance of presence through vain arthritic measure of mediocrity.
Let him be: sedition soirée consultant, emotional enchantment architect, and revelation entrepreneur of Anuyoga,
So that no one will take refuge in anal retentive eternalism – and embalm pristine awareness in valetudinarianism.
Let him be: self-liberating jubilatory space memorandum, triumphant multifaceted clear lake mirror of Atiyoga
So that no one has to endure the half-baked hell of stultified sanctity which encrusts wonder in warrandice.
And the Dakinis sing: “Let him be, let him be, let him be let him be, whisper words of wisdom – let him be.”

Let him be: vajra crazy badinage – sound of empty words, in empty ears, in empty concepts in non-dual space.
Chögyam knows that he doesn’t really need to be here, just to say things; or, let delirious chatter spill into airwaves
Of audience fascination with vajra verbiage. He’d like to help everyone with their various intriguing situations.
He’d like to render some sort of assistance, enabling pleasure and pain to self-manifest as ornaments of rigpa.
Chögyam says: “Maybe I won’t die so soon – but it doesn’t matter if I do.” Chögyam says: “Ya’ll will just fine.”
Chögyam says: “There’ll be more than plenty enough joy and grief to go round -no one will have to go short.”
Chögyam says: “You could get on without me – you don’t need me to confuse you with my emptiness and form.
I love you all. I love your neuroses – just as they are. I’ll be around as long as you want me to be - if I can.”
Chögyam says: “When the little red rooster crows in the mist - the weather will either change, or it’ll stay as it is.’


Greenwich Village 31st of October 1992

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About Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam)

As the caption on the author-designed cover of Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) upcoming collection of poetry ravings of a mild mannered maniac reads:

Tantra is Art - and a tantrika explores the sense-fields through the Arts. This work paints with the cadences of language - because the poet is both a painter and musician. He marvels at existence whilst lampooning the prevalent sociopathy of spirituality. As semantic Jazz - linguistic density jives with space, taking readers into realms where linear logic is only one possible vector amongst many. Comedy and tragedy dance, provoking a cascade of surreal impressions that change with each reading. Rock & Roll lyrics sung by dakinis erupt in counterpoint to the paradoxical hymns of a 'vicar or vajrayana' - a trans-Atlantic Englishman who raves, tongue-in-cheek, on the nature of reality. This is the first volume to be published in the contemporary genre of 'Critical Mass Poetics' as defined by the author and his students.

On the phenomenon of having two names, he writes:

"I appeared on FaceBook as Doc Togden because I wanted a fresh start in terms of the Arts. I have often found a dual prejudice to exist. If one presents as a musician / artist one is not taken seriously by Buddhists. If one presents as a Buddhist one is not taken seriously by musicians / artists. This is obviously a generalisation – and as such, probably meaningless for anyone apart from myself. It is true however, that Captain Beefheart had to give up his Rock musician persona to be taken seriously as a painter. A few Tibetan Lamas—such a Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—have managed to evade the censorious radar of common opinion – but the same largesse of view would not seem available to the inconsequential eccentric yogi and yogini. Doc Togden is as much my name as Ngakpa Chögyam because the name on my passport—and other legal documents—is Dr Chögyam Togden. The Tibetan designation ‘ngakpa’ is hard to pronounce for most people and so, as I have a doctorate in Vajrayana Psychology I use that in everyday association outside my rôle as Lama. The title doctor releases me from having to designate myself by gender and appeals to my sense of humour vis-à-vis my fondness for Doc Holliday and a variety of musicians who have ‘Doc’ as their first name. I have five FaceBook friends called Doc and they are all musicians.

The time has now arrived to merge Doc Togden and Ngakpa Chögyam – and to allow them to be as they have always been. Hopefully those who may have looked askance at either will feel reconciled to the fact that they can talk with me as an artist and Buddhist teacher without feeling wary on the one hand or fearful of potential religious polemic on the other. I have no desire to convert anyone to Buddhism – but I do have a desire to offer aspects of Buddhism to the world of Art and Art to those who practise Buddhism. I believe there to be a common language – an essential language that speaks of the timeless efflorescence of the elements. The Arts arise from vision—from the empty space of primal creativity—and that space is the space everyone can access. Buddhists say that everyone is essentially a Buddha. I take from that that everyone is essentially an Artist. Now . . . did Ngakpa Chögyam say that, or did Doc Togden say that? Who ever said it, he’d also like to say that there is essentially no difference."

On Facebook, Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) describes himself as a "Teacher / Artist: painter; poet; author; life-style choreographer, and musician (vocalist, harp, rhythm bass, and 12 string / resophonic guitars)."

In reference to the roles of "Teacher" and "life-style choreographer", the informed reader will notice the uncanny resemblance of Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) to Ngak'chang Rinpoche, whom together with Khandro Déchen are the lineage holders of the Aro gTér. The Aro gTér is a stream of Vajrayana Buddhism in which ordination is congruous with romance, marriage, and family life that focuses on the teaching and practice of the Inner Tantras from the point of view of Dzogchen, an essential non-dual teaching.

As a writer, Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) most recent books include an odd boy and wisdom eccentrics.