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Spending Time with Work, Sex, and Money

November 17, 2009

I am writing this morning from my retreat house near Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, where I do most of the editing on books by Chögyam Trungpa. This week, I have been working on the manuscript of Work, Sex, and Money: Seeing Ordinary Things with Extraordinary Insight. The initial editing of the material, most of it from talks given in 1970, ’71 and ’72, was done by Sherab Chödzin (editor of Crazy Wisdom, Orderly Chaos and many other titles). I’m taking this book across the finish line, so to speak, and hope to complete it by the end of December. It’s challenging and rewarding material, amazingly applicable to the challenges we are facing now—almost forty years later!

Two weeks ago I was in Rhinebeck, New York, presenting the meditation instruction at a seminar given by Ani Pema Chödrön at the Omega Institute. Pema was presenting material from the latest book by Chögyam Trungpa, Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, to an audience of more than 500. These teachings from the Shambhala tradition speak directly to the fears we face every day as well as pointing to how fearlessness arises in the midst of fear.

This has been a busy time for me, working with a number of projects related to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings. In early October, I was in Boulder, Colorado, attending a seminar given by the Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche in which he presented a doha, or song of realization, that Trungpa Rinpoche wrote during his escape from Tibet in 1959. This is a wonderful teaching on Mahamudra, which shows Rinpoche’s traditional training in Tibet, yet points to his ability to put things in contemporary terms that speak to Western practitioners. I am now working with members of the Nalanda Translation Committee to put together a seminar in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this winter using DVDs from the Boulder program.

I have also been working with Johanna Demetrakas on a full-length documentary film about Chögyam Trungpa’s life and teaching, entitled Crazy Wisdom. Johanna is currently putting the final touches on the final edit of this film, which will premiere sometime in the coming year. She has spent many years collecting interviews with senior students of Chögyam Trungpa, as well as other Buddhist teachers and his family. I have been helping her to find archival footage, photographs, and audio clips that appear in the film. I find the movie honest, moving, and very heartfelt.

A six-week class using material from The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology began last week in Halifax. We had an audience of about 70, the majority of them practicing psychotherapists and health professionals. The course is being taught by a group of about a dozen Buddhist therapists and health professionals, many of them trained directly by Chögyam Trungpa. A syllabus based on the class will be available—that’s the main contribution I am making—so that the book can be used by groups around North America with an interest in this area.

Well, I must return to Work, Sex, and Money now. Here’s a little tidbit from the manuscript of the last chapter I edited. This is from what may become chapter 12 on “The Question of Money:”

You should try to create a space of loneliness as much as possible in your lifestyle, whether you are rich or poor. When everything is crammed into you, when all the undesirable things in life seem crowded into you, you are putting yourself through all sorts of unnecessary pain, simply because you are not able to see the space and the open situations that exist.

Here’s to space!

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