Ocean of Dharma Quotes of the Week began six years ago, somewhat as a whim. I've spent most of my professional life—over the last thirty years—editing, archiving, and presenting the dharma teachings of Chögyam Trungpa in various formats. When e-mail and the Internet emerged as popular and pervasive forms of communication in our culture, it struck me that there should be a means to disseminate Trungpa Rinpoche's teachings on a regular basis online, but I wasn't really sure what that would mean. I poked around to see if anyone had an idea about how to do this.
The way the quotes finally arose was quite sudden. It's really the way I work with things in a lot of areas. Things percolate below the surface, and when they emerge in my conscious mind, they often do so pretty full blown. I had been a subscriber to Wordsmith for a few years, which sends out a word a day with information about its origin, usage, and so forth. I thought that was an interesting model.
Then one morning, the morning of April 8, 2003, I thought to myself, "Today is the day to figure out how to start sending quotes to people." I checked with Shambhala Publications and Diana Mukpo and they were both OK with me using material from any of their publications. I wrote an e-mail to a listserv that I subscribe to and invited people to sign up to receive quotes. Then I set up a group online. One hundred and eight people signed up the first day, which was kind of cute, since 108 is an auspicious number in the Buddhist tradition. It's the number of beads on a mala used for counting recitations of chants, mantras, prostrations, and so forth. I sent out the first actual Quote of the Week on April 9, 2003. Within a few weeks, Shambhala Publications contacted me about hosting the quotes, which was terrific. We launched the quotes with Shambhala in early May. By April 2004, a year later, we had almost 2,000 subscribers.
Since then, the list has grown slowly but steadily, and there are now close to 7,000 subscribers. This year, 2009, we are launching a new feature of Ocean of Dharma Quotes of the Week. Now, each new quote will be available on Shambhala Publications' Ocean of Dharma website at www.OceanofDharma.com. I'll be posting each new quote to the website the same day that I send it out as an e-mail. So you can read the quote on-line or receive it as an e-mail. Or both. As well, I'll be blogging about the quotes and about all things Chögyam Trungpa on the site, just as I am now.
I wanted to tell you one last thing about the original launch of Ocean of Dharma. A few days after the launch of Ocean of Dharma on April 9, I received an e-mail from an old dharma friend of mind, Mark Szpakowski, who was involved in the development of the Internet and the web. He reminded me that ChögyamTrungpa had used the Internet just once, only once, to send a message from his retreat house to his main headquarters. On April 9, 1984, Chögyam Trungpa sent the following message:
PAIN AND PLEASURE ARE ONE
From: Kalapa Manor
To: VDH [an abbreviation for Vajradhatu, the name of his international
group of meditation centers]
Pain and pleasure are one
Peacock and goose are delicious
Listening to our hearts we found prediction
In the form of crocodilian tears
Aren't we lucky to be in retreat!
C. T. Mukpo
9 April 1984
When I was reminded of this, I felt that Ocean of Dharma Quotes of the Week was really not my doing. I still feel that way. I find the quotes, but really, they find me.