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Mar 27
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Necessary Angel

A Video Interview with Henry Schaeffer
originally published on THE DRALA PRINCIPLE: A Vestigial Curriculum of the Western Mountain by Bill Scheffel

Henry Schaeffer studied with Suzuki-roshi before meeting Chogyam Trungpa and becoming the latter teacher’s student in 1970. In this video, Henry describes the first and second time he encountered Chogyam Trungpa.

Trungpa Rinpoche did not limit his teachings to Tibetan Buddhism or any spiritual idiom – even to “spirituality” itself. In a given talk, Trungpa Rinpoche might speak of farming, T.S. Eliot or the understanding of Christian monastics he conversed with in Great Britain. In this video, Henry describes how one of his own passions, the poetry of Wallace Stevens, coincidentally became a link to Chogyam Trungpa.

THE PLANET ON THE TABLE

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

– Wallace Stevens

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2 responses to “ Necessary Angel ”
  1. Mark Hazell
    Jun 7, 2012
    Reply

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

    Wallace Stevens

    I
    Among twenty snowy mountains,
    The only moving thing
    Was the eye of the blackbird.

    II
    I was of three minds,
    Like a tree
    In which there are three blackbirds.

    III
    The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
    It was a small part of the pantomime.

    IV
    A man and a woman
    Are one.
    A man and a woman and a blackbird
    Are one.

    V
    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.

    VI
    Icicles filled the long window
    With barbaric glass.
    The shadow of the blackbird
    Crossed it, to and fro.
    The mood
    Traced in the shadow
    An indecipherable cause.

    VII
    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    VIII
    I know noble accents
    And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
    But I know, too,
    That the blackbird is involved
    In what I know.

    IX
    When the blackbird flew out of sight,
    It marked the edge
    Of one of many circles.

    X
    At the sight of blackbirds
    Flying in a green light,
    Even the bawds of euphony
    Would cry out sharply.

    XI
    He rode over Connecticut
    In a glass coach.
    Once, a fear pierced him,
    In that he mistook
    The shadow of his equipage
    For blackbirds.

    XII
    The river is moving.
    The blackbird must be flying.

    XIII
    It was evening all afternoon.
    It was snowing
    And it was going to snow.
    The blackbird sat
    In the cedar-limbs.

  2. Gene Spieler
    Mar 31, 2012
    Reply

    In 1971 Henry gave me my very first meditation instruction in the old community room at the 1111 Pearl st. center. Afterward he asked me if I wanted to meet Rinpoche, which startled me. I remember asking him, “Do you think I should?” or even “I’m not sure.” He encouraged me that it would be a good idea, and a few minutes later I was sitting in front of Rinpoche feeling very tongue-tied. (I was 17.) Finally I think I blurted out, I’m not sure if I can meditate, because I don’t really feel like I’m suffering. And I believe in God. He smiled at me, and said nothing for a minute, and then just “That’s all right. Just wait.”

    Henry–thanks for the push. I am forever grateful.


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