Monday, December 26, 2011

The Hundred Thousand Songs

Now Milarépa had some catchy numbers – used to hit the air with a stick and sing: ‘Knock on wood!’
Sing inside out, and outside in—sat humming on a drum-skin—and flew through nine noetic dimensions
Took the escalator-of-emptiness to the peak of Kailash – where snows swirl inside a spectrum of ice.
Milarépa sat in a hollow yak-horn—to shelter from the hail—without deviating from his usual dimensions,
Amazed the hell outta Réchungpa. Sang the devil to the demons in his cave, sure taught’em the quick-step!
Glory Be! Lawdy Mamma! Tell me: Where have all the eccentrics gone? Where have all the flowers gone?
Are they still crazy after all these years? Is any one at home? Is anyone up there on the æthereal ridge?
Chögyam—infant master of vajra-whimsy—looks ’round – staring wild eyed into the mirror of sky
Where vultures glide—glass on infinite invisible tons of stainless air—resilient in orchestral updraughts.

Chögyam hears many things: Delta Blues through chiming the lower bout of a 12 string National Tricone
Sparkling in ambidextrous ambience – the amnesia of amorphous rhythms and inapposite impromptus;
Sadly Rambo of Rubato cannot hit air with anything more than irregular tempos – chaotic syncopations.
Chögyam hears rare resonance of ballistics through electronic-decibel-reduction which leaves movie-trails
Behind each .500 Linebaugh and .357 Magnum that wings its way through lyrical turbulence of cordite –
But although the escalator of emptiness shines like white heat in the coiled permafrost stifling of his aim,
The trajectory is never as spacious as the wide eyes of that ancient hero of desirelessly desirable desolation.
Chögyam sees voluptuous counterpane of coloured light shimmering through the fabric of fervid form
But salaciously sparkling snows of Kailash remain impenetrable to a poor yogi who fails to remain in rigpa.

Chögyam sees ‘ordinary world’ with its appalling mutilated melodramas and unresolved co-incidences.
Hears poignant poetry of nirmanakaya expressed through the pulsating plea of each passing dream -
But also hears rigor mortis intellectualism with its abysmal misuse of oxygen in everyday circumstances.
Sees silent scenery of passion and precision – sees salient sexual sonority of precision and passion -
But also sees contacted greed of degraded demands for continuous depraved self-selected adoration.
Sees glorious fragmentary kindness performing somersaults in everyday human inconsequentiality -
But sees low budget situation-comedy script rhetoric in academic cripple-circus in email imperatives.
He sees nickel antimonide – hexagonal copper-red mineral occurring in massive veins of sentient joy -
But sees also the bellicose buffoonery of inbred addiction to emaciated sanction of spiritual-correctness.

What to do? Chögyam does what he can—writes a bit of nonsense now and then—sings truculent songs
About: landscape of perennial pain – eclectic explosion of sumptuous glissandos of mellifluous meaning;
Cacophonies of interpersonal agony shuddering in shadows – glittering fabric of sheer inchoate brilliance;
Dull sandwich-spread of complicate sadness – expansion of every molecule of time into endless delicacy;
‘Nonsense-vegetable’ artichoke of slow anguish – panoply self perfected puissance pirouetting with clouds;
Lexicon of ungainly ape-acronyms spelling self-pity – riotous glee and piercing bells of spacious pleasure;
Moribund moratorium of maudlin mandates – cornucopia of cami-knickered collusion with kindness;
Drivelling dialogue with denizens of derangement – deluge of dream delectation and diaphanous delight.
Chögyam—in odd moments of calm—is aware that these are not songs that everybody wants to hear.


14th of June 1994

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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.