Sunday, May 29, 2022

Who made you Replicant Human



Who made you replicant human

Devoid of empathy or just plain

Sensibility that the world

Of your projections is an ephemeral

Event made of someone else's mind

 

Perhaps you are not even human

But a bundle of digital apparatus

With a programmed script of responses

Without critical reflections---

 

See how your inner torture of neediness

Wanting more, rejecting “different”

 Just plain stupidity

So destroys the fabric of relationships

 

But we are of the human realm

Not yet the manufactured robotics

Of --AI, secretly coded in conspiracy

 

We are the realm of hope and fear

Where dreaming creates myriad worlds

Of Heaven and Hell, our stories alive

With pleasure or pain, animating wild

 Momentary projections imagined

Actors on a screen reflecting back to us

Whether welcome or rejected

An endless round of confusion

Empty of substantiation

                 We can never trust

For their coming and going

 

 

Yet, we are seers of the divine

Called numerous names

Within and Without

Outside time –A La Ho

Saturday, May 28, 2022

I Can Not Help But Weep

 

I cannot help but weep

For those shattered

By the grief of their own

Destiny or karma

 

I embrace our terror

The stark hardship

Of aliveness

Which is all of us

Bountiful at times

 

Always sorrowful

With the forecast

Of coming and going

 

One day it’s starving manatees

Ancient Gentle creatures

Rooting in the sea grasses

Gorged with plastic

 

People of Yemen, Afganistan, Syria, Iran, iraq

Once the cradle of civilization

Now subdued by Tribal hatreds

 

I can not help but weep for the piles

Of violins and braids at Auschwich

Nameless remains of those incinerated --the

Horror of a final solution

 

Nor for dark War loads

Of America unleashing

Firebombs laced

With agent orange

Insidious masters

Of regime change

 

It’s always been so

Somewhere

Like yesterday’s numbing

Murders of children

 

I embrace you not for Grace

But the love of other

That melts the hatred

Of difference

Indifference

 

Come my dear ones

Let’s embrace the abject forlornness

Of our humanity, never letting go

Never giving up instead

Rest in what endures

Beyond the loneliness

Of all those places we fear to travel.

 

Language leaves me now

But cells remember locked

Festering at our humanity

Until we release our lack love

 

May 22-25 2022

 

Writ heart heavy at twilight

as storn clouds gather

Into the coming night on my porch

Amid pansies and chimes

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Fresh Look at the Spiritual Life of the Late Poet, Allen Ginsgerg, on the 25th Anniversay of his Death on April 5th, 1997

 A Work in Progress by Jacqueline Gens/Draft ONLY

The late bard, beloved friend and mentor Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) remains present even decades later for many of us whose lives he touched either directly or in his works.  Those of us who also studied with Tibetan master, Chogyam Trungpa, are bound together even further. Trungpa’s initial entre introducing Vajrayana Buddhism to the West in the mid 1970’s was to summon “the” poets to his new endeavor, the Naropa Institute and they came. The poets (and writers of the Beat generation), on the other hand, were already prescient investigators of consciousness thru drugs, meditation and mantra who heard his call. 

 

As history tells it, Trungpa met these open minded and wild denizens of the times head on their own terms-- smoking cigarettes, sexual promiscuity, drinking and drugging, and yet both magnetized a generation of literal and symbolical seekers of naked mind, the essence of Mahamudra free from delusion. Such was the willingness to regard new avenues of exploration.   Today, Naropa University is a leading accredited institution in Buddhist inspired and Contemplative education. Many things can be said about Chogyam Trungpa but one need only read his vast scholarly and teaching transcripts to experience his greatness as a teacher, if unconventional to Westerners.  For a man born in a Yak tent in a remote part of Tibet and dead by the age of 47, he accomplished much.

 

Early April when they both died (a decade apart) is a time, I often contemplate their profound impact on my life. In recent years I’ve taken a more objective look at the intersection of their lives historically and their mutual influence on the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. I’m no apologist but often find myself in the middle of a Rubik cube of misinformation trying to match up the details of my own first-hand knowledge with the shifting sands of time. But as we know, what was then no longer exists except in our wily memories. None the less, flashes of recollection spark my memory of the long working relationship I experienced with Allen within the mandala of Trungpa Rinpoche, especially Naropa Institute (now University),  then later in his NYC office.

 

In my personal assessment of Allen as a literary figure, he synthesized for me the Blakean visionary potential (Albion) of a new era married to the humanitarian expansiveness of poet Walt Whitman who foresaw his successors as concerned with the “Main Things” which Allen fulfilled.  Combine this with the clarity of his meditation practice and one can taste the fruits of his greatness as a person. While his personality may not have been perfect, his lifelong dedication for a deep empathy with others marked his early vow to benefit humanity. Recognizing himself as some kind of genius in early childhood, he fulfilled his destiny becoming an agent of change spontaneously at key historical moments transforming whole cultures and generations of writers who in turn would play significant roles in their own cultures. 

 

I found him a superb teacher especially his evolving Dharma Poetics and Mind Writing Slogans at the jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, a bold container for nurturing aspiring poets and writers. His archive attests to the thousands of global youth who wrote him, including myself. During every world crisis, I imagine his cognizant commentary. He was an avid reader of the New York time daily engaging with world events and often appearing on television or in interviews. Delivering his mail to him in the early years I worked for him in NYC, it was not unusual to meet him in his pajamas with laundry hanging inside his entrance hallway. I often got a summation of the day’s news along with a late breakfast while sorting through mail. Those moments remain treasured memories of ordinary intimacy without artifice or tension. 

 

As a gay man, Allen was an advocate of tender-hearted sacred fellowship iconized in his lengthy photographic record of friendships with lovers and kindred spirits. We know there were serious casualties in his charismatic love life with many a broken-hearted man and woman—especially in his earlier years and some later too.  He could be irascible, shrewd, needy of love (RD Laing once said of Allen to me when living in Boulder), enthusiastic, dismissive of those seeking approval, bluntly curious, generous, and loyal to a fault. Candor was his motto and he rarely suffered fools who thought highly of themselves. His ability to connect with people was characterized by the classic Vajrayana term Padma, the symbolic engaged and charismatic lover borne of the lotus arising from mud combined with the Vajra of mirror like wisdom—the roiling waters of anger stilled in reflective clarity. He adored young and brilliant mostly straight men but disdained to be caught in binary categories as he was wont to say, because he had his “male dignity.”

 

I honestly do not know why he took to me in our early encounters at Naropa Institute where I was a graduate student in Buddhist Studies. He often engaged me in chit-chat some evenings in the empty hallways after hours as I cleaned offices for work study while he picked up his mail. In the Summer of 1984, when I worked as a cook at Kappa Sigma for the annual summer writing program, he often brought his dishes into the kitchen along with more chit-chat and eventually questions about my background. By the following year I lived with him and company during the summer writing program along with Philip Whalen as a kind of house mother in a mansion owned by his old classmate at Columbia University, David Padawa.  By the time I met him, he was avuncular, professorial, and deeply kind. Likewise, I appreciated him dearly for his unexpected regard.  

 

Some characterized him as misogynist often forgetting women’s names or mixing them up which was true.  I never experienced that nor did some others. His generation was backwards. He called me doll in moments of affection--but in the end I was happy he had a female psychiatrist who helped him navigate unresolved issues about his mother and women. He had many professional women who admired him which he recorded in portraits rarely seen together as a collection—many of them iconic figures. This is yet to happen! Two of his first meditation instructors were women—Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown, an Acharya and Tsultrim Allione, an authorized Lama—both lifelong friendships. And, of course, he founded the Jack Kerouac School with Anne Waldman. One day arriving at his office late afternoon, generally the case, he reported that he had a remarkable experience as he crossed a street on the way to his Union Square office realizing that the anger he continually projected onto someone was really about his mother. In his journals, he recorded in minute details his hopes and fears and dreams over his complicated relationship with Peter Orlovsky with barely a mention of a female.  

 

From my perspective, we were fellow travelers on the path to self-discovery. Unbeknownst to many of his literary colleagues and friends who were often suspect of his devotion to his various Gurus, he was a dedicated practitioner who spent years studying the basics of Buddhism with a preference for formless Vipassana meditation and Lam Rim specializing in Madhyamika or the analytical investigation of the nature of mind. He wasn’t a great fan of ritual and all the bells and whistles of tantra except for mantra.  Towards the end of his life he fully entered into the path of Vajrayana world of the classic Gelugpa triad of Yamantaka, Vajrayogini and Cakrasamvara sadhanas with his second significant Tibetan teacher, Gelek Rinpoche.  

 

To this day not one biographer has integrated his life and work with the various phases of his progressive practice life other than the outward details of when and where he attended some retreat but never the view, practice, and integration of each practice.  Simply saying he attended a Hinayana retreat means nothing to the uninitiated. For someone younger person adept in similar practices there is a Ph.d awaiting to cross reference with his copious practice notes and journals and tapes which are considerable in number.  This is an important addition to his biography as some Academics not proficient in the depth of his training are now being quoted as authorities in a tangle of mistaken facts for lack of knowledge or drawing on a few essays about meditation for his classes or magazine articles early on. As a practitioner and authorized teacher of mind training, it was his goal to speak in an American idiom of common language rather than cultural overlays from other countries.

 

So, in April I salute Allen for bestowing his gifts of clarity and kindness in the service of language. And when I hear the early morning songs of the crows outside my window they remind me of the fragility of this life---that comes and goes but every moment, every breath an opportunity to realize the tendrils of our interconnection in the larger web of wisdom mind outside time.  EMAHO…(WONDORUS…)

Jacqueline Gens studied Tibetan Buddhism when she moved to Boulder, CO tin 1983 to attend Trungpa’s Naropa Institute. She was employed in a variety of administrative positions there until she moved to NYC From 1988/89-1994 to work in the NY office of Ginsberg and Associates. She co-founded and co-directed the New England College MFA Program in Poetry from 2001- 2012 until she retired. She is currently creating course platforms for the study of poetry in relationship to diverse Wisdom traditions at Language in the Sky.  She earned an MFA in Creative Writing and an MAT in Teaching in her 50’s  following studying Classics and Anthropology at Smith College. Her main practice is poetry.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Coming Soon Year of the Earth Dog

Some of you may have read what I call my annual Losar New Year poems over the past decade. To date I have completed about 15 of these based on real time you can link to below. I am currently working on completing all 60 animal/element combinations and revising what I've already done in collaboration with visionary artist, Ingmar Pema Dechen.  

So far I have completed the following combinations: 

2007 of the Fire Pig
2008 of the Earth Oxen
2009 Year of the Earth Rat
2010 Year of the Metal Tiger
2011 Year of the Metal Rabbit
2012 Year of the Water Dragon
2013 Year of the Water Snake
2014 Year of the Wood Horse
2015 Year of the Wood Sheep


2018 Year of the Earth Dog


Oh you Earth Dog come
Now happiness wagging
Your familial greeting
That cheers us up as I bend to you my lovely
In display of your canine Sagacity
Ever Loyal--
Ever Reliable
Follow your keen scent
For sniffing out what’s apparent
Bury the bone of your content
Within our breast
For Safe Keeping
Humanitarian sustenance of justice
With your nose to the grindstone
Bark at shadows wrecking havoc at our door
Growl baring teeth to terrify
Cowards who roust our peace
Lift a leg to leave your mark
While yet you enliven our joy lest we forget
The great companion you are
Forever by our side

Text by Jacqueline Gens
Illustration by Ingmar Pema Dechen


Here is Year of the Fire Bird for 2017

Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen, 2017


Year of the Fire Rooster/Bird

Ever awake among the slumbering
Lively harbinger of whatever awaits
Each day no task too daunting
For just as the sun rises
You’re always ready for any occasion
Reliable, precise, and to the point
No poison too toxic nor lethal
For that bright display which cheers us on
O great Fire Bird who arises from ashes
To transport us beyond our limits
In shining iridescence to meet our purpose
We welcome your daily summons
Into the fray at day’s break

Jacqueline Gens
Tsegyalgar East
Dakini Day, 2.21.17



Please credit Jacqueline and Ingmar if you you forward their image and poem. They are currently collaborating on rendering all sixty animal/element combinations into illustrated/poems. To read more about this project called "The Mansion of Elements" visit here.  There you will also find poems from 2007 to the present. 



Here is The Year of the Fire Monkey for 2016
  
                                               [Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen, 2016]


Ho you Fire Monkey
Adorable Familiar of blessed places
Resourceful, enchanting
Cunning when need be
Your chatter flattens the dolts of ignorance
When you take
Charge in a carpe diem kind of way
Your ballast of confidence
Lifts our spirits
Seer of the future
Interlocutor to lost opportunities
Let’s take to heart
the ease of your swing from here to there
Always awake in the fire


Needless to say these are not “great" poems but they are interesting. Over the years many people have expressed appreciation. My process is not any official astrological training or reference. Nor do I intend any disrespect to the Tibetan tradition of astrology closely aligned with training in Tibetan Medicine. 

Mainly, I meditate on the animal, then the element which I combine with a kind of intuitive sense of the year at hand. These particular poems seem to write themselves.  The results are strangely in harmony with the “official” forecasts.  They also reflect my own personal mind training at the time. I’d like to compile the complete version of all 60 animal/element combinations as an offering to future communities of practitioners in the Vajrayana and Dzogchen lineages.

They are meant to inspire and encourage people on the long and enduring path towards realization.

My main inspiration comes from my teachers and poetry mentors including Chogyam Trungpa, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu, Lama Tsultrim Allione, Anne Waldman and the late Allen Ginsberg. Many Thanks to  dharma and poet buddies sharing the path. Thanks everyone for all your support over the years.

I am currently focusing on birth poems for friends and personalized poems for hire (by donation.

Here is my most recent addition: Year of the Wood Rooster for 1945, birth year for many poet friends. This one in honor of my friends Anne Waldman, Vernadah Porche and Richard Wizansky.



[original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen]




Such iridescent display
Cockadoodiling us awake
Each day without fail
As reliable as the sun
you rise to summon forth
Bright scrys of portend
Acuity for the larger meanings in the scheme
Of so-called phenomena
Beneficent scribe to the downcast
Outsiders, end stop
You set the bar high
A million hands in the fire
No task too daunting

Harbinger of new, always fresh
Our number one




Jacqueline Gens
Shelburne Falls, MA
Last updated February 5, 2016



The newest composition is a private commission for Year of the Water Tiger with original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen





Behold the Water Tiger
Worldly navigator
Among all things adventurous
At home in the unknown
Buoyed by the ease of water
Even the heaviest notions
Lightly flow by twists and turns
Where no one else dares to go
You are the harbinger of mystery
A playful glint of luminosity
Amid roiling turbulence
Flash of certainty in the deep swell
Of aquifer forever brave
Our Sleek innovator
All accomplishing to the end

Jacqueline Gens
5/8/2016


Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen 


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

More Haiku Offering by Jacqueline Gens



While looking through old notebooks and teaching materials I came across some Haiku and American sentences jotted down that I did in 2012.

On Leaving my Dentist's Office on High Street, Brattleboro, VT

Taunted by impermanence three strangers stand
By the side of the road contemplating the sadness of animals
Cat run over

American Sentence Version

Taunted by impermanence three strangers huddle around cat road kill

Dream

Furry animals shiver together while Buddha comforts us

American Sentences


My Mother's sad face returns to me in the soft snow I didn't notice

BREATHE the monk Philip said to me when two phones rang at the same moment

Haiku

The old poet sat with me on the cement stoop
Early morning coffee in Boulder
Yelling caw caw back to the crows above

Snow plows scrape  ground
Harsh words uttered grate tender
Phantom enemies

The red haired young man
Hates me like so many others
Forgive me, son