Friday, January 24, 2020

Year of the Metal Rat

Behold the brazen strut 
From high-minded bigmouths
Amid sharp-shooters
And illusory masters of material gain
Smart know-it-alls before lesser peers

Beware that molten hook of unkindness
The sting of your indifference
Your bold lies
As visible as your ratty tail

Take a moment and mingle your mind
In the vast expanse of openness
Simply forget yourself and take
A leap into the greater good

Text by Jacqueline Gens
Illustration by Ingmar Pema Dechen

Sunday, January 05, 2020

In Praise of Mediocrity Dedicated to Reggie Ray

I wrote this poem dedicated to Reggie Ray, a senior Teacher in the Trungpa lineage with whom I studied in the Masters of Buddhist Studies program at Naropa Institute (now university) in the early 1980’s.

Reggie was a gifted and charismatic academic professor who later became a spiritual guru and founder of Dharma Ocean. While a student, I was initially the only female in an incoming class of 8 tudents. From the beginning, Reggie’s behavior made me uncomfortable. For instance on the first day of class, I was asked to recite a passage from an assigned reading while none of the others were put on the spot, as they say. He would often in a small seminar room address whole lectures just to me which was so uncomfortable that I had to look at the floor the entire time. At one point, he followed me down the street and said that I would never get more than a B- from him because I did not visit him alone in his office like the other students.

I eventually dropped this program and became friendly with the poets. I loved Naropa where I worked for many years. However, I was haunted by this man’s judgement of me as someone too mediocre to study the dharma. In 2011, having completed two other masters programs, I wrote the following poem with Reggie in mind. When allegations of his emotional abuse came to light recently, I fully understood where people were coming from based on my own experiences. All of us at some point, need to face our personal demons, what Carl Jung called, the Shadow. Mine was deep insecurity and shame.

In Praise of Mediocrity
     for Reggie

Didn’t it used to be part of the Golden Mean —that balance
Between heaven and earth
The phi of perfect harmony
It’s distance measurable to acquiring pentagrams
A magic lintel betwixt and between lacking in status
All perfections linked to the median
Between becoming and completion
That naked cipher of valuation
Among worldly configurations
No worries for me walking down streets
To the hoots of male orangutans
Or jealous vixens wishing me dead
Clinging sycophants wanting my money
Stabs in the back
The queen of mediocrity is hardly noticed
Her paucity a mantle of invisibility
To the ultimate zero
A sublime nothingness
The simple fact is
Genius prefers a C minus like Einstein
With freedom to ruminate unwashed
And unwatched in heavenly exploration
Playing every angle
Then stand bewitched before elemental fractals
If beautiful, everyone wants to own you, have a piece
Or circle in for the kill for standing out sublime
But ordinary is profound too
When lit from within
A brief glimmer
It’s luminescence  spreading

They will always love you for your mind
My mother said........

Thank You Reggie!

2011 with some revisions 01/5/2020

Friday, December 27, 2019

In Memoriam Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche 1939-1987

I found the following notation in my papers. The quote “Life without a Companion” comes from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche during the Mahayana teaching of 1986 seminary. For years I contemplated its meaning like a zen koan. I must have jotted this down during one of those moments but have no recollection when or where.

No is to Know what's best
left by the wayside
Gone the burden of self


Season's Greeting

The Light of the world is Love
Shinning forth
Outside time
With no other aim
Than creative display

The Light of the world is Love
Beyond boundaries
In the great expanse of Space
Incomprehensible Presence
Not a place

The Light of the world is Love
Heals all hurts


Best Wishes from Jacqueline
December 2019

Photo by Marit Cranmer, 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Robert Frank (1924-2019)

Photo  of Robert Frank talking with Juanita Lieberman
At memorial for Peter Orlovsky
By Jacqueline Gens

This morning the N.Y. Times gave Robert Frank’s obituary front page coverage along with an in depth retrospective of his life and work.