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Chogyam Trungpa

While meditating one evening, the Tibetan-born monk, Chogyam Trungpa, came across the following discussion on the astral plane. It was not the first time that such an experience had presented itself to the monk.

15 Sep 2000

Dramatis Personae

Bahaudin Fateh Ali Khan - a Sufi sage

Rigoberta Menchu - a Mayan exile from Guatemala

Marilyn Frenchie - a righteous woman author

Dr. Yang Chuang Tzu - an inscrutable Tai Chi Instructor

Colonel X - an Argentine 'Patriot'

Adolf Lebensraum - an Austrian interior decorator

Ed Rex - a student of International Relations from New Zealand

Noam Gramsci - a New York semiotician

Sigmund Floyd - an office cleaner for the UNSC

Samuel Humperdink - a xenophobic statistician

Viliami Burroughs - advocate of Tangata Pasifika Libertine Assoc.

Gnostikos Theocrates - an erudite gymnast with a habit of interruption

... While meditating one evening, the Tibetan-born monk, Chogyam Trungpa, came across the following discussion on the astral plane.

It was not the first time that such an experience had presented itself to the monk, and he was unalarmed by the fact that he could understand perfectly the languages, and knew the names of the speakers, and that the interlocutors could also understand one another.

The pleasant thing about such conversations, thought Chogyam Trungpa, was that the dead could speak with the living, although those still living on the mundane material plane would usually only become aware of the content of the conversation in dreams.

Chogyam Trungpa thought of the first lesson of his first teacher, who had taught him that dreams, and the messages received in meditation, contained 'Big Truths' which were lost to most people in the sensory delusion of mundane life.

His attention shifted as there was a noticeable increase in the clarity of the conversation; and it was as if the aerial of an untuned radio had been touched by a human hand, and he himself was the radio...

General hubbub, the voices of a crowd in animated discussion, one voice rises above the others...

Adolf Lebensraum (to Col. X, snickering) - "Three Zionists walk into a bar..."

Ed Rex - "Wait a minute Adolph, I thought Religious Jews didn't drink"

Colonel X (ignoring him) - "thunk, thunk, thunk" (he and Adolf laugh)

Noam Gramsci - "look, Ed - ignore them, Adolph is just manipulating your conditioned response to a formulaic statement and homophone in order to induce cognitive dissonance, as a means of making a politico-ethnic slur into a joke"

Ed Rex - "oh... ok... "

Bahaudin - (sighs) "Noam, if you continue to be so cerebral, you will harm both yourself and those who aspire to a cerebral countenance."

Noam Gramsci - "Damn you mystics, if you had ever read a book I might listen to you occasionally, but who can trust a man who claims to find insight through singing and dancing in circles"

Col. X - "Noam, we had a saying in Argentina... "First we kill the communists, then we kill the liberals, then we kill those with any reservations, then we kill those with any sympathy, and of those left, we kill the ones with any regrets... "

Noam Gramsci - "And..."

Col. X - "and nothing senor... I was just reminiscing"

At this point Chogyam Trungpa sensed VB and SF enter, holding hands... BK rises from his position of prayer and goes to the pair to hug them in turn...

Sigmund Floyd - "Ah... Bahaudin, Viliami and I have just been discussing something which you may care to comment on..."

Viliami Burroughs - "Yes, Sigmund has the greatest job, he gets to see all sorts of interesting documents, and to hear the funniest stories from the translators at the UNSC"

Bahaudin - "What was it, Brother Floyd, and why did you think of me when you were speaking of it?"

Sigmund Floyd - "Well, I know that you are fascinated by the way in which the human mind operates when it is devoid of spirit..."

Bahaudin - "Not devoid, my friend, just desensitised... or perhaps pathologically conditioned to require jargon in order to function, and even then, the minds of such people can only work in straight lines - like our friend Noam, who can read through the words of others but cannot transcend his own reliance on labelling and categorisation"

Viliami - " And if ever there were such minds, the men who Sigmund works for are the worst. They are enslaved by the documents which they themselves have prepared, and their organisation is a complete mess - they are either completely unaware of their own psychocybernetic processes or they are a bunch of cognitive sado-masochists"

Gnostikos Theocrates - (while limbering up with a javelin) "There are many who mistake the moral requirement of living to 'the Letter of the Law' for the amoral 'Law of the Letter'... and relinquish self-rule for a ruled self"

Viliami - "...Gnostikos, you bourgeoise pantheist, when will you accept that your elite triumphalism just sounds pompous, despite the pleasing order and symmetry of your statements"

Bahaudin - "Dear Viliami, do not think that 'fighting fire with fire' will prevent the forest from burning, did you not tell me that you had convened the Tangata Pasifika Libertine Association for the purpose of ridding your peaceful ocean from the alien social conservatism of Judaeo-Christian governance?"

Viliami - "In part Bahaudin, but conservatism is not just a Judaeo-Christian, Hellenic, or Confucian phenomenon. If you scrape a parliamentarian in the pacific, you will find a Bigman, if you scrape a democracy you will find a patron-client social system - conservativism can be justified through reference to either retrograde ethnic nationalism or moralistic reactionary theology."

Sigmund Floyd - "My goddess, Viliami, did those three years at LSE turn you into an indoctrinated socialist? I thought you called yourself a libertine?"

Marilyn Frenchie (overhearing the conversation, sidles up to the trio) - "Excuse me boys, I think I can explain to Sigmund what he missed... please, stop me if i'm wrong here Vili... What Viliami was getting at was that people of a conservative disposition will use any tool available to them to maintain their position in a given society. Conservatism is not inherent in any polity or ethnie, but occurs when those who are disadvantaged by a particular system begin to question or actively resist it. Viliami was getting at the point that 'conservatism' is by definition, resistance to change... whatever the system may be which the conservatives are trying to preserve, is that fair enough Vili?

Viliami - "Sure Marilyn, and that conservative force can use any doctrine at hand to overrule the rights of others. Now, don't get me wrong, theology can be a force for liberation as much as for conservatism, but call it politics or call it religion it is still the same struggle - that much is obvious when Spanish Catholic priests take up arms to fight alongside the Quechua-speaking Indians of Peru and Bolivia."

Bahaudin - "Yes, I see your point, and it is one we can agree on. There are two types of people - and I will use the Latin terms, as you are so fond of that rigorous language - Homo-neophile and Homo-neophobe, those who seek change, who love the new, and those who fear it. Those of the genus neophobe are often the ones who are most dependant on linear thinking, and on the use of nouns to give order to experience"

Marilyn Frenchie - "Now boys, I like your line of thought, but your language is typically masculinist... even Noam would have noticed that. Shall we use the terms, 'neophobic' and 'neophilic', or for that matter; does 'matron-client social system' sound as absurd to you as 'patron-client' sounds oppressive to me?"

NG has now joined the group, accompanied by SH and RM

Noam Gramsci - "Excuse me people, if we are going to discuss etymology, perhaps we had better include the semiotician...?

Samuel Humperdink - "yes, Noam was just telling us about some problems with the application of terminology to complex social processes, so you may be interested in his contribution"

Marilyn Frenchie - "Sure Noam, psychoanalytic feminism and socio-linguistics have a wealth of common interests... don't you think?"

Noam Gramsci - "Actually, I was just speaking with Rigoberta about something the Colonel said earlier about the categories of people targeted by his death- squads"

Rigoberta Menchu - " Yes, it was like Vili was saying earlier about being slaves to the mind, that once these young men had been conditioned to see things in a certain way, they were unable to respond to a situation with any flexibility. The American trainers had done such a job on these boys that when the saw a Quechua, or Quiche, where they had once thought "Indian", now they thought "Sendero Luminoso" or "Tupamaru" and tortured them until they confirmed the expectation. So with a list like that of the Colonel, there could be no end, as anyone could be 'communist' or 'liberal' or 'sympathetic' in the hands of those men"

Noam Gramsci - "In semiotic terms, the were misattributing the sign 'communist' to a particular referent. Like Gnostikos said earlier, these guys were caught in the 'law of the letter', their behavior was dictated by an internal logic, even though their actions seem absurd and inhuman to us. Once they had a typological 'train of thought' established, they couldn't get off the neurological tracks, so to speak"

Gnostikos Theocrates - (executing a handstand) " In the words of the immortal Plato... 'things like that pay, if you aren't found out... injustice is common sense' - and so was our noble democracy founded"

Rigoberta Menchu - "Fit words to presage the foundation of the Roman Empire... and can any of you tell me why the US dollar bill has on it the image of an eagle, symbol of empire? And the pyramid, with ascendant all-seeing eye and inert component bricks? Are these the models of society we aspire to?

Adolf - "Fraulein, the Eagle is more than a Roman standard, the Akkadians - inventors of the cuneiform alphabet, the earliest known script - also had the eagle as their symbol of empire, and theirs was a theocracy. Combined with the sun and the phallus, these are the prime symbols of potency, shared by Indo-Aryan peoples everywhere. The Garuda of the Hindu pantheon, passed down to the Frankish Kings, the Hapsburgs, Indonesian New Order, Thai Monarchy, and adopted by the emperor of the Central African Republic Republic - so you see, the American example is only one of innumerable cases"

Marilyn Frenchie - "Potency, as you say, is a virtue in many cultures. But those among us who value 'both sides of the coin', appreciate the role of female fertility as much as male potency. It is the patriarchal authoritarianism born of fear and womb-envy which gives us such symbols as the Christian trinity - a nuclear family in which the 'mother' is a made into 'holy ghost'. This fits fine with a supposed heritage of caste-based societies such as the Hindu. Their ideal woman is a either a wizened hag and eater of corpses, a voluptuous dancer who signifies seduction and death, or a dutiful consort who massages the feet of the phallic god Shiva. These societies offer us the pleasures of 'wedlock' and symbolic chains of gold on our fingers"

Ed Rex - "Excuse me people, but this is all rather obscure. I think what you are getting at is that men think the sun shines out of their third eye, but I fail to see what this has to do with God. I mean, I went to church a couple of times and all they did was sing about how Christ died for us, so that we may be free... what's so authoritarian about that?"

Rigoberta Menchu- "Ed, thanks for mentioning that point, because the way the conquistadors justified their enslavement of my people was by saying that we were cannibals who practiced human sacrifice. In the affairs of nations, people commonly charge others with their own unacknowledged tendencies.

And that is the point I want to make, the Catholic mass is a celebration of a human sacrifice, with Jesus taking the place of the Hebrew scapegoat. He takes on our sins and dies to redeem us. By taking part in the mass, we eat his flesh, the bread, and drink his blood, the wine - and take on the guilt for his death, and the responsibility to atone through service"

Col. X - "And that is what I have been trying to tell you bunch of deviants, Civilisation is built on human sacrifice. That is why we have the pyramid on the dollar bill"

Gnostikos Theocrates - (wrestling with a wild boar) "And we recall the lament of Michaelangelo 'what the artist gains in freedom he loses in order' - and the conclusion which drove Nietzsche mad 'the Lamb of God can never lay down with the Eagle of empire, for it would surely eat him' - they knew this in Sparta long ago."

Adolf - "Not only is the symbolism of empire justified and ancient, but also the chthonic urge which reacts to it. My beloved fraulein Leni Riefenstahl captured this in 'Triumph of the Will', which shows how the spiritual urge of man is a ripe ground for applications of subtle thought control. The 'triumph' is when one convinces the masses that ones' own will is actually theirs - and it is not hard to make oneself a messiah when the formula has existed for three thousand years"

Dr. Yang - "And so you westerners see now what we have known explicitly for millennia - there is no good or evil, only change... Yin and Yang are endlessly in circuit, giving strength to one another through perpetual motion. Those people who depend on the mind can be fed on any combination of words and impressive symbolism, but the few who realise the truth may act without doubt or hesitation"

Samuel Humperdink - " See, I told you that a study of the numerological elements of the US dollar bill would just get you all confused, and so what if the pyramid has 52 bricks. Any fool could guess that the star of David which is above the eagle is composed of thirteen stars because that is the number of the twelve disciples plus Jesus"

Marilyn Frenchie - "Or is it because thirteen is the requisite number for a witches coven?"

Dr. Yang - "As I said, there is white in black, motion in stillness. First there was the one - indivisible and complete. Nothing which disturbs the breath is worth the effort"

Noam Gramsci - "More mystical twaddle - show me a religious metaphor and I will show you device for brainwashing the gullible - haven't you heard of MKULTRA?"

Viliami - "Look, Noam, I've been keeping quiet because I am interested in what you all have to say, but the Doctor has a point. In Samoa we have stories about the people before the palangi came. The ones who can remember those days tell about how we used to swim between the islands, and be able to speak without words. My great grandfather could recite genealogies which covered more generations than one thousand years could hold. But after only a few generations of contact with the small white people, we became convinced by their words that these abilities were not 'possible', and so we stopped. Tell me Noam, if 'civilisation' and rationality bring knowledge and capability, then why are there always a disproportionate number of colonised people in the psychiatric hospitals built by the colonisers, and why are the first to be imprisoned the carriers of the old ways"

Rigoberta Menchu - "Vili, before a horse can be ridden it's spirit must be broken, and the ..."

Gnostikos Theocrates - "My colleague Dr. Yang recently made a fine point which you have all overlooked, except Viliami. He and I share an understanding of the human condition which most of you have been trained to overlook, and no understanding of the self-in-the-world, of any kind, can be reached without it. What Doctor Yang would call 'Chi', and Bahaudin 'no-mind', I call 'Pneuma' - these words refer to spirit-breath-energy-essence. You may find my perpetual exercises strange, and my succinct statements reductive and provocative but the best lesson is demonstration - the spirit is, as Dr. Yang says, amoral and unceasing, it's restless energy is the tiger which we must ride or be consumed..."

Rigoberta Menchu - "As I was saying, before you interrupted me, Gnostikos, the horse must be broken, or the tiger tamed - but these are metaphors for the self or the spirit. Some choose, or are convinced to give over the spirit to others to train, as the task seems too fearful, and these people end in service to pyramid builders. Others see the self burning and try to extinguish the flame with attachment to complex thoughts or stimulants and depressants of the mind..."

Bahaudin - "Dear sister, you are sounding a little like a Sufi - has some great Sage showed you the Path"

Rigoberta Menchu - "Yes, Bahaudin, I thank the men who tortured and killed my mother, and put my father in a hidden grave, they gave me the choice of dying of grief and anger, or of living fully. The Maya have a longer understanding of time than the conquistadors, our calendars have years eleven million times the length of the Christian solar year, so I am comfortable that others will follow me as I follow Tupac Amaru and Cuauhtemoc in resisting our genocide"

Ed Rex - "You people all sound rather intelligent, and maybe that is why I can't grasp half of what you are saying, but perhaps you could answer a question for me... When Sigmund and Viliami arrived, they were discussing something about his job, but he never got to say what it was. Can you tell me what it was Sigmund?"

Sigmund Floyd - "Sure Ed, the UN general assembly has just declared that observation of the day of the enlightenment of the Buddha be made official in the UN, provided that it costs them nothing and doesn't take up any of their time"

...At this, Chogyam Trungpa smiled to himself, and the conversation drifted away from his conscious mind. These were interesting ideas, thought Chogyam Trungpa, and not like those which usually came from the chattering spirits of the human unconscious. Either things would soon get better in this world, he thought, or much worse...