Old ages, and new old ages
I have been critical of Chogyam Trungpa at this blog, with some protests, and it might help to explore the view some tried to post here in comments, defendng Trungpa’s behavior. This video demonstrates the way Trungpa interacted at the dawn of the movement in the US. I was, btw, present at the beginning.
It can help to yield a little to this perspective: Trungpa was trying to make a point and the ‘crazy wisdom’ legacy is one of its aspects.
I will persist in noting that a lineage can’t found itself with an alcoholic. It can’t work. The result is decadence and that is the message in may ways. A decadent movement in its last hurrah brings an ancient teaching to the West. Mission accomplished. What’s next? more decadence.
Tibetan buddhists more than most have tried to adapt to a modernist dramatics, but the result is never enough. Behind the scenes the same postmodern mood of historical nostalgia and antimodernism reaction plays itself out. The disk video gives it away: the Tibetans came to rescue a dark age of materialism. That’s the first mistep of so many postmodern reactionaries. It wouldn’t matter but it makes people miscalculate.
The new age effect is dangerous: even something as old and potent as buddhism is at risk. This movement has to get smart and be in motion to a true new age movement, and that requires some careful thought. But that is not likely to happen.
I have posted last week on the way thirty five years in the new age movement ended in nothing. That’s frustrating but it is also correct: I am free of the mechanical movement and have to try something new for the future.
We have discussed here the book Shadow of the Dalai Lama, and each time thought it unfair. It is a smear job in many ways, but it caught the point in one way that Tibetan buddhists feel empowered to overtake modernity in a kind of spiritual apotheosis. All the new age movements that plotted that course are doomed to run backwards, and collapse in dust.
Meanwhile the overdose of Hollywood celebrities shows the movement in its real decadence. Hollywood, like Bollywood, is the last garbage dump for fallen yogis, and now buddhist flameouts.
Stephen Segal looks, form various hints, as if the Tibetan group is trying to fight the war on Terror in their challenge to Islam as their rival in global domination. Bronx cheer.
There is a possible chance this form of buddhism can reinvent itself for a new era. But that requires some tricky thinking and daring new ideas. Spending a half century trying to graft medieval Tibetan politics onto modernity is a recipe for failure.
Meanwhile the book linked to needs to be re-researched. Much of its data and perspective is unfair. But the portrait of a movement that can’t accept the change of eras is direct.