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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 13 |fall 2005 to become conscientious objectors, as many have in the past, it behooves us not to complain about going to prison, becoming a fugitive, being exiled, or being executed as a result. These are the kar- mic consequences of being a conscientious objec- tor. not complaining maintains religious dignity. Always we must sit up straight in the presence of the buddhas and ancestors. it is easy to become angry at this point. Because of conditions which are not, it would seem, our fault, all our choices appear to end in suffering and pain for ourselves and others. We can best help self and other by not viewing ourselves as victims in spite of the cir- cumstances, by maintaining dignity, by accepting responsibility for our decisions, and by taking the karmic consequences for them with as much grace as we can muster. froM The Journal of The order of BuddhisT conTeMPlaTives, sPrinG, 2005. aPril fools! Through his great sense of humor, says Carolyn Rose Gimian, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche pro- voked students to experience empty heart. Trungpa Rinpoche started the tradition of celebrat- ing April Fools’ Day in our [Shambhala] sangha with practical jokes. i don’t know what the actual first joke was, but it was something along these lines: One year, he asked a student who worked closely with him to call a member of the board of directors to announce an outrageous demand − Rinpoche wanted to buy an expensive new car, right away! Thousands of dollars would be needed immediately. Board members started to freak out, some resenting this request, others panicking about finding the needed funds. Then, finally, the message came: “April Fools!” in subsequent years, many people got into the spirit of the day. it was dangerous to lose track of the date at that time of year, as you were likely to receive a call on the first of April, maybe just past midnight before you had time to think about what day it was, telling you to come to a nonexistent meeting in an odd place. Or you might be informed of a financial disaster that would cause you to pull out your hair – until you figured out that it was April 1. Rinpoche staged an elaborate April Fools’ joke in 1985. He had been on a year’s retreat in nova Scotia and was due to travel back to Boulder at the end of March. (He stretched the calendar a little for this joke.) Everyone was expectantly await- ing his return. He and his retreat staff departed from retreat a day early, leaving one staff person behind to man the phones, creating an illusion that he was still there. He and several traveling com- panions just disappeared. no one knew where he was. People searched high and low in nova Scotia, sent drivers to the airports in Boston, new york, Denver, and elsewhere – in case he should arrive there – and phoned other dharma centers to see if he had turned up. An elaborate welcome-home ceremony was planned in the Boulder shrine room, with close to a thousand people expected to attend. Should the ceremony be canceled? Should we go ahead? in the end, everyone assembled anyway, to see what would happen. We waited and waited. Finally, just late enough to keep people’s anxiety high, Rinpoche and his band of pranksters pulled up to the curb. As it turned out, they had flown into Denver a day earlier and had been staying in a hotel under an assumed name. People were amused, frightened, angry, and behind that there was a vast sense of empty heart. With this joke, he created a situation in which people realized they couldn’t take anything for granted. Given that Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche died two years later, almost to the day, it was good preparation for what was to come. Some of his students, myself included, feel that it was not pure coincidence that he died so close to April Fools’ Day: April 4, 1987. in some sense, it was the big- gest joke he ever pulled. adaPTed By PerMission of carolyn rose GiMian, froM “aPril fools: The huMor of chöGyaM TrunGPa,” inQuirinG Mind, vol. 21, no. 2, 2005 (WWW.inQuirinGMind.coM). © 2005 By inQuirinG Mind. the ProBlem of translation Tarthang Tulku, a Tibetan lama who has lived in the United States for more than thirty years, cau- tions Western translators of Tibetan texts and their readers. Whether they study with a traditional teacher or not, most Westerners must depend on translations to gain access to the teachings. yet Buddhist texts, with their experiential foundation and rich his- tory of interpretation, present translators with an almost impossible challenge. How can a transla- tion stay true to the meaning of the original while giving access to an audience trained in a differ- ent way of thinking? The problem operates at the most basic level, for even such established terms as “wisdom” (for prajna) or “enlightenment” or “transcendence” may not be able to hold the truth of the original. Enlightened masters like Padmasambhava, Tilopa, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo have a direct way of transforming the student’s under- standing without the need for words. The early Tibetan translators went though a rigorous train- ing, guided by such highly qualified masters, who worked with them intensively over a period of years. To assure the accuracy of their work, they R.PYXSUTHERlAND