The Boy without a Name or The Boy Who Lives by Himself | An Unfinished Story by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The Boy without a Name or The Boy Who Lives by Himself is an unfinished story written by Chögyam Trungpa at an unknown date.

We would like to invite you to read what Chögyam Trungpa wrote and write your own ending to the story. You can post your writing in the comments below.

I am the boy who lives by himself. I don’t do anything in particular, I just live—that’s the way I am. I spend my life playing and I make up my own toys. I have no one to play with. The sort of things that interest me are stones and rivers and trees and clouds. Since long ago I have had no parents or brothers and sisters, so I just live alone. Sometimes I want to do like the grown-ups, but then I realize there’s no point in that. I have my own world to live in, and I’m known as “the boy who lives by himself.”

When I was born, no one gave me a name. Perhaps my parents did give me a name, but somehow it never entered my mind. So I remain nameless. Grown-ups like giving each other names. And they like inventing names for objects as well, without stopping to consider whether the name really fits the thing or not. They learn these names by heart and write them down.

Once a friend of mine was given a name by his father and a different name by his mother. His father’s friends called him by one name and his mother’s friends called him by the other, and this rather confused him. As a result, he wasn’t quite sure which was his real self. This bothered him for a long time, until one day I suggested to him that he should be nameless like me. At first he didn’t like the idea. He said, “If I didn’t have a name, how would I know who I am?”

I found it difficult to explain to him in words, so I just said, “Well, why don’t you give it a try and see what it’s like?” So he did. But this upset his parents very much, because he no longer answered to the names they had given him.

Now he was able to see what his nameless self was really like, and he became like a tiger who had broken his chain.

I don’t really have a home, and I never spend more than ten days in one place. Originally, I came from East Tibet, then I traveled westward to the lands of Lho and Mon. Grown-ups tend to stay in the same place for a long time, and when they do travel, they’re so busy they never have time to look at the valleys and mountains around them. They don’t even notice the interesting stones on the road, or the flowers, but just trample over them. Of course they never have time to play and all they talk about is how many silver coins they’ve got and how many yaks their neighbour has. If you ask them to tell you about Lhasa, they only know about the big shops in the Barko Market and things like that. They don’t seem to know about the birds’ nests under the edge of the roofs and the millions of insects that live in the city—beside themselves. So the only way I can see them is by going there myself.

Tibet is such a beautiful country and each part of it has its own particular quality. There are lots of mountains and lakes and trees and things. There are so many things to see that my journey may take me a hundred years. The grown-ups race and fight against time, but for me time is a friend, and I have no need to hurry.

Today is the first day of my journey, so here I am, playing in the road. I’ve only traveled fifty yards or so, but it would take the grown-ups ten years to learn what I’ve learned in this one day. When I looked up and saw the snow-mountain on the other side of the river, I composed the following song:

O pillar of the sky, you high-peaked mountain of Tibet,
You’re surrounded by hills with flowering shrubs and many kinds of herbs,
But your all-aloneness and your stillness still show through
As you wrap your peaceful cloud around your neck.

The peak of this mountain pierces the sky, and his snowcap glitters in the sun. The clouds move slowly across his shoulders, and when you see him, it’s as though you see the whole of Tibet in one glance. I spent the whole morning looking at the mountain, but it’s impossible to understand it all. Sometimes he seems to be smiling in the brilliant sunlight, and sometimes he stands solemn and aloof while snowstorms rage around him. Occasionally, he shows himself in all simplicity, without adornments, and at times like those one sees him directly and feels very close to him. His stillness and dignity are always there and remain untouched by the changing seasons. The days and months of the year don’t really affect him. This mountain seems to have a kind and compassionate nature, as he allows all kinds of birds and animals to live on him and to feed off his body. But I felt I should know more about him, so I stopped to ask a magpie who was perching on a rock.

“Tashi delly,” I said. (That’s how we greet people in Tibet.)
“Tashi delly,” said the magpie in a rather suspicious tone of voice.
“I wonder if you’d be very kind,” said I, “and answer some questions for me.”
“I haven’t time to waste on chattering with you,” said the magpie, I’m busy looking for food. And in any case you humans are usually full of trickery and you might be planning to kill me.”

[The story ended here, clearly unfinished.]

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17 thoughts on “The Boy without a Name or The Boy Who Lives by Himself | An Unfinished Story by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche”

  • Maria

    Thanks , so beautiful, I am wondering when I see the mountains here, who was seeing those in the story ? I feel very light and the exquisite flavor of something is manifesting and around us.

  • Jeannie

    Is it possible Trungpa intended this story to be complete, finished, just as it is?

  • Janka

    Probably he left the story unfinished by purpose: so that anyone could continue the journey in their own way

  • Kirk Cornwell

    I see the influence of Taoism here - a strong suggestion that problems begin when we start naming things and end with the realization of oneness.

  • Victoria Schafer
    Victoria Schafer January 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    My ending:

    So the boy lived happily ever after.

  • Joanna

    ‘’Mmmm... it is true what you say, we humans are nor very wise, especially the bigger ones. But I want to ask you about the mountain over there. Have you been to the top ? What can you see ?’ The magpie looked at me very strangely with only one eye. ‘ it’s cold up there and the wind blows you sideways.” He finally replied. " you can’t see much because of the misty clouds. Why do you want to know?” He hopped on to a closer rock and looked at me evenly with both his piercing little black eyes.. I said “ the mountain never changes, he knows how it is here in the world, and also high in the sky. I thought you might have learned his secrets if you went to the top and saw what he sees.” The magpie laughed a loud rude laugh and flew away. Some minutes later I heard a voice from above me “ Go there yourself” So I left the road and looked up at the mountain. I had a long way to go but I knew I would meet many friends along the way and that my life would be a journey of magic and wonderment.

  • n

    “But I am no human. They call me ‘a boy who lives by himself,” I said.
    “You certainly look like one to me. But I guess it’s ok if you ask me exactly two questions, as I am one busy bird.” muttered the magpie.
    “Does the mountain ever talk?”
    “What mountain!?” the magpie was surprised.
    “Why, the one you are living on!”
    “I do not know what you are talking about! I live on a tree with no any mountain under or over it,” said she a bit annoyed at my silliness, “so please ask some meaningful questions.”
    “What do you see from the sky when you fly?”
    “You are quite a strange fellow, indeed. I see what I have to see. Many insects, sometimes water droplets and currents of hot air raising up, but nothing so special. Nothing of interest. And I do what I have to do. I catch the insects and bring them down to feed my chicks.”
    I have never thought that birds could have such a short temper. But what do I know? As it turned out, those who remind you of freedom, may know nothing about it themselves. What a joke! I decided to let her be and ask someone else.

    I started climbing the mountain. The road was spiraling around the mountain clockwise. With an open chasm of space on the left and comforting steep wall on the right. “Clockwise. What a strange word!” I thought. “Does it make me a hand of the clock of this mountain? Nah, what a silly idea! I could stop whenever I want and for as long as I want,” I thought while walking. Right behind a corner there opened a picture of a lively mastiff running around in circles. Could he tell me anything about the mountain?
    “Tashi delly!”
    There were no answer just growling sounds. The mastiff was running in circles after its tail.
    “Would you be so kind and answer some of my questions?”
    Still, there were no answer.
    “Perhaps, he could not hear me well,” I thought. “Hey! What are you doing?”
    But the mastiff simply could not stop completely absorbed with his chase. No matter how I tried I could not stop him. Going closer to him was dangerous as he started growling louder and acting more aggressive. So I decided to let him be.
    “What a strange dog,” I thought to myself. “What fun could it be in constantly chasing your own tail?”

    So I was back on track going higher and higher. There were almost no plants anymore. The mountain was not so different from me after all. There it was for what it is. Yet, nobody knew it or payed any attention in any way, even though living on its slopes. Everything was happening around it. Yet, it did not budge.
    “How are you doing, my old friend…” I suddenly thought.
    I did not feel any toil of the climb as the grown-ups were warning each other at the bottom. So no one from them was ever climbing. To the contrary, I felt joyful and peaceful. Every step felt right. Even every slip felt right. In its own place. There were no mistakes. My good old friend caught my fall every time I slipped and warned me every time I felt careless. He was comforting me with its slopes being always on the right side from me. His solidity was all-pervading, unshakeable. Suddenly, I noticed a yak lazily chewing the grass in the clearing to the right.
    “Perhaps, he can be of help?” I thought. “Tashi delly!”
    “Om-nom-nom,” the yak went on chewing.
    “Would you be so kind and answer some questions for me?”
    “Why bother?” said the yak.
    “Aren’t you interested in things which surround you?”
    “Why?” again asked the yak.
    “Hm-m. I never thought about it. I guess just out of curiosity would be enough for me. But maybe when we turn our attention to someone, he feels cared for and it makes his life brighter? Perhaps, you can even feel a connection with that special someone?” I was musing over it.
    “Yeah… But still, why bother?” the yak was immovable in his dullness.
    “Would not you like to find out how does it feel to be a bird or a rock? Or whom does the mountain have to speak to in its aloneness? And what language does it use?” I started feeling rather annoyed with him.
    But there were no more answers. The yak looked sleepy and sluggishly went to lie down for some rest.

    As I continue my journey I started pondering how are they all different from the full scale grown-ups. They did not have any names as humans do, but their routine functioning made the name to show up on its own. Snow started showing up here and there. The road become colder and crispier. Aloofness and stillness pervaded freezing chilly air. My old friend was more silent and peaceful as altitude was growing. I did not hope to meet anyone anymore nor did I want to talk that much. It seemed that all who lived here were limited to communication about their immediate occupation. Nobody seemed to be interested in the mountain itself, nor even notice it. All of a sudden, I saw a huge white swan preening its feathers among white snow.
    “Excuse me,” I asked without much hope, “but what are you doing here at such high altitude? There is nothing to eat here and it could feel lonely.”
    “I fly here all the time. They call me a wondering swan. What would you like to know?” asked the swan.
    “I-I… I would like to know about that mountain. Does it speak? In what language?” I hurriedly asked.
    “But what do you know of yourself before that? Apart from the way they call you?” the bird wisely retorted.
    “Now… when you ask. I always played by myself. I was never thinking of that. As nobody asked me any such thing or payed any attention.” I pondered surprised with myself.
    “Go on on your journey. You are expected to arrive. As the question is truly yours! I wish you good luck.” gently smiled the great bird.
    It took off and flew away before I was able to ask anything else. What a strange and magnificent bird. Why was it so kind to me? Why was it so wise? Were was it going? Where from? How did it appear so suddenly? Somehow, I was sure of her looking from the sky in exactly the way a bird should, reminding of freedom to those stitched to earth. But it was too white to notice behind the clouds.

    I went on. There was only snow now. Great silence fell. No toys and no playing. Even being alone has different depths. And it was all new level. There left no one who could ever retort. I went through the layers of clouds. Now there was white sea of the clouds on the left. And white snow peak on the right. Then I finally reached the peak. No more safety wall to the right. It felt wide open. No more road to walk. Only white sea of clouds covered it all. Snow peak hid the rest. The light was reflected all around. There I was. There I sat. Somewhere between heaven and earth. But what did I know? I wanted to hear the voice of my friend. To learn more about him.
    “Please, talk to me!” I shouted. But there was silence.
    “Why do not you speak?” I shouted. But there was silence.
    “What language do you speak?” There was silence.
    “How do you play?” There was silence.
    “How can you be so kind solid and firm?” There was silence.
    “Please, show yourself!” Only silence.
    Nobody answered. Tears flowed down my cheeks. Why would they? There was no more reason to stay as I am. No reason to play as I am. Why to go on if my old friend is silent? What could anyone possibly bring? What could anyone possibly offer? Without its answer nothing is. A function denies its own purpose, the same way as any name does. But why am I so intricately linked here? Where am I before the I am…
    Lo! The gate of the silence is broken. The light takes its own and stays as the light. Neither white neither dark, as it is it exists.
    So, weary wanderer, listen! There never was boy with a toy. Just play which appeared. There never was mountain. There never was path. The language is silence. The method is hark!

  • Keiko Wong

    Chögyam Trungpa wrote so beautifully, am truely touched, with simple words yet very vivid and alive.

  • Jason

    The boy who lived by himself said to the magpie,” You are wise to be wary of us humans, but I assure you I am not here to kill you , and furthermore, I am myself Learning how to be less a thinking human, and more a human being.”

    “A human being what?”, asked the magpie.
    “Just being, here and now.”
    “Well, I am hungry” said the magpie, “and therefore now I need to eat. If you will help me find food then I will answer a couple questions as we find food together, but just a couple, I am a bit tired as well as hungry and don’t wish to talk too long.”

    The boy agreed and they set off to find food to satiate the magpie.

  • sylvia

    This boy soon walked with a clarity that he had never felt before and a love for himself. Being nameless seem to be a very powerless idea but walking in this energy allowed him to be come powerful in ways he never felt. This boy forgot about the importance of the word Name and started listening to his internal voice and guidance, tuning into this amazing energy allowed him a freedom that made him lay beneath a tree and observe the flow of the branches with the wind, the increbible beams of light comes down from the expansive sky, the respect each branch had for one another with movement and growth. He sat by the river and was in a feeling place the word estacy may not even touch....hearing the water move the rocks and noticing the crystal clear grains of sand on the bottom of the river. This now nameless boy wondered how he got to this magical place just by releasing his name, he pondered how free he felt not being tied to what other people were thinking. He begun walking in this world with his own name a name he felt worked. He made a mission to touch people in the world the way this nameless boy touch his. Understanding we are powerless if we allow others to direct us we are powerless is we go or move one day without seeing and feeling the gifts and beauty around us. This boy went into schools and sat at lunch tables said nothing observed only. Before leaving one school and moving to another after 3 days of observing, shared what he observed during a school assembly. He shared his experience and offered a knew alternate to children. He reminded all children to tap into POWER that is filled with a feeling of love and magic. When children are taught this and move in there life with this wisdom LOVE prevail and the world becomes a place of magic and wonder. A great teacher taught me we must serve to deserve, inspire all to serve themselves first so they can lift all. These two boys became companions on a mission to teach children they have power within and no name or name, words can take this away from them it is our duty to live in this power and be good, do good and share only GOOD. My projection for this world and most of all for all children as they are our future. Become powerful tune into the gifts given the voice inside the trees, sky, rocks, wind, water, mother nature it is a magical force that needs and require attention.
    In loving kindness Sylvia

  • Sutanwi

    The story is incomplete, but after reading it, it gave me the feel that the story is complete. To me, the story has completed in its unique way, leaving many questions for the readers to think on the minor issues that we often don't pay attention.

    Those questions are: Do we really feel to secure our nature and environment? I think we have forgot to respect and secure nature and it's creation , for the sake of fulfilling our materialistic desires.
    That's why the magpie doesn't trust the visitor and refuses chatting with him because the magpie doubts visitors intentions of harming him.

    Second question is, does one really need a name to prove his worth? Is not good work and good thoughts for society and nature worth living for?

    Thirdly, it's not a question but it's my point that I want to put forward is , it's really sad that people have no time to see the mighty beautiful mountains and natural creation of our mother earth. We have taken the gifts of mother nature for granted. Hence, the nature stands alone, and people are racing in their life's path , not knowing the real value of natural things that one gets from nature.

  • Kenneth F. Thornton JJ
    Kenneth F. Thornton JJ January 3, 2018 at 10:10 am

    I love this story and metaphor. this is a thought provoking that encourages a person to look deep and find the answers for themselves. Ive included a link to a video poem I made which is very similar to the Boy with no name. the video is called that man with no idea.

  • Robin M Hall

    "I would never kill anything" I responded, a little indignantly "I am a Buddhist and, to me, all life is sacred".
    "So, your question?" asked the bird,still a little suspicious.
    "What is the nature and intention of the mountain over there?" I asked.
    The magpie responded "Its nature is magnanimity and its intention is calm abiding."

  • Linda V. Lewis

    "Why would I want to kill you?" I responded. "I like your shiny blue feathers and sharp eye. Perhaps because you are full of trickery you think I am a trickster."
    The magpie turned on the branch to look me in the eye with his other eye. "Ah ha! You are clever and perhaps wise. I do have a fondness for shiny things and like to steal them, lining my nest with glitter."
    "Well, perhaps you are unaware that the most brilliant thing you have all the time, it cannot be stolen because you already have it."
    "What?" The magpie then looked under each wing and preened his feathers in search of this brilliant thing.
    Laughing I said, "Magpie, the most brilliant thing isn't really a thing. Words cannot describe it because it is your own awareness that is most brilliant."
    The Magpie fell silent. He looked inward and sat very still. He looked outward and up at the vast sky, and still very motionless, listened to the sound of the wind gently rustling the leaves of the tree branches all around him.
    And this was the beginning of a genuine friendship between the nameless boy and the Magpie. The Magpie realized he didn't need to steal anymore, because he had, as every being does, the most precious, brilliant awareness within.

  • Betsy McDowell

    The boy without a name reached into his pocket and removed a crust of bread which he offered to the magpie.

    "I think you are lovely,” said the boy without a name to the magpie. “I just want to ask you some questions.”

    The magpie took the crust of bread and began to eat it as the boy asked him some questions.

    “The color of your wing feathers is lovely,” said the boy. “The iridescent qualities of the feathers cause them to change color in the sunlight. Are you, then the color of your wings?

    The magpie shook his head as he pecked at the crust of bread, “No, I am not the color of my wings.”

    The Boy without a name tilted his head inquisitively and said, “The contrast between the white and black coloring on your body is striking and bold and really stands out. Are you the contrast of the black and white on your body?”

    The magpie shook his head again, and continued to work at finishing off the crust of bread, “No, I am not the black and white contrast of the coloring on my body.”

    The boy watch the magpie finish off the crust of bread as he asked, “If you are not your iridescent feathers, and you are not the black and white contrasting pattern on your body, then what are you?”

    The magpie answered. “I am,” and he flew off.

    The boy with no name watched the magpie get smaller and smaller as he flew away, until all that was left was empty sky. He smiled to himself as he kicked at a rock on the dusty road and thought to himself that, on this day, he had surely made a great journey.

  • rayleigh

    When I oгiginalⅼy cߋmmented I clіcked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and
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