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7/14/99--a message from Judith Smith

Dear David,

What a book! I'm completely in love with it. When I was going on a retreat last month, I borrowed a friend's copy of it. Read it on retreat, didn't want it to end, cried numerous times, and sobbed for the last 30 or 50 pages. Hadn't cried like that in many years. So, I came home and ordered the book via the Net (sorry--makes me feel guilty to buy books from big orgs instead of from friends who own bookstores) because I decided it needed to be in my library to loan out.

I first "met" Roshi in about 1970 or 1971 when I read Zen Mind Beginner's Mind, following which I had a very strong dream, and wanted to find Roshi. By the time I knew how to do that, he had died -- about 4-6 months before. I was heartbroken. However, sometime in late 1972, I came across a magazine called Garuda I, published by Karma Dzong in Boulder, and then the man I was living with gave me Meditation in Action for my birthday in 1973. I had another powerful dream! I finally met Trungpa Rinpoche in August of 1973 at Tail of the Tiger during the Don Juan seminar, and moved to Boulder (from New York) a month later.

As you undoubtedly know, Roshi's picture was part of our shrine set up from as early as I even knew. From the "beginning" for me. Early days in Boulder put me sitting across an open space (we sat around three sides of a square facing each other!!) facing Jack Elias, most of the time. The ex Suzuki Roshi students never forgot him, never forgot his influence, so that Roshi was really incorporated into our teachings from Rinpoche. Bob Halpern was of course omni-present.

I hope your magnificent and profound book is being distributed widely and is a great success. Having just read your interview with Kwong Roshi (whom I met briefly at RMDC in about 1980 or something at some 10-year celebration) hope that your aspirations for a Suzuki Roshi library come to fruition! Good luck with that -- it's a great idea.

Thank you, David! You needn't worry about the integrity of your book. It sure isn't a gob of spit in the face of "god." It's actually the perfect book (you didn't really hear that and can forget it) but it's empty and has no inherent existence. I know of three maybe four biographies of Trungpa Rinpoche that are in the works -- three in English and one in French. It will be very interesting to see if any of the authors have the guts to publish!!!

Warmest regards, Judith Smith

[I asked her about her email address which was at shambala.org and she answered the following:--DC]

Nice to hear from you. To answer your question about shambhala.org: Trungpa Rinpoche called the original organization "Vajradhatu." A few years after his death, his son the then-Sawang and now-Sakyong "took over" the running of this complex organization which has both a spiritual arm and a secular arm. In the interest of reorganization and bringing all of the energies together, (including both the Buddhist teachings and the Shambhala teachings that came to Trungpa Rinpoche beginning in 1979), the umbrella was named "Shambhala." The only connection we have with Shambhala Publications is Sam Bercholz, who was a very close student of the Vidyadhara's from very early (1970 in Berkeley) on, and who has published all of Trungpa Rinpoche's books. The Shambhala Sun magazine obviously has emanated from Trungpa Rinpoche's sangha. Originally it was an in-house newspaper (Vajradhatu Sun) but is now a full-fledged magazine with a very wide circulation. Shambhala.org is the Shambhala server, and I twisted some arms about 5 years ago and they let me have a mailbox. This wasn't entirely inappropriate, as I worked for the Shambhala Archives for 9 years, up until a month ago. (I worked in Rinpoche's household for 12 or 13 years before he died

 

[Oh--I see. Interesting. I'd love to go to RMDC. I've been close to it and visited Boulder a few times in the old days (staying with Halpern and Elias and seeing many old friends like Alan Marlowe. I just spent time with Paul Shippee. I remember your name from the archive work cause I communicated with that office some in the course of my archiving work (though Bill Redican, now the SFZC archivist, has been in touch more). I heard of some old tapes of Rinpoche's and they were sent to the Halifax archives too--by Scott Wren. It took a few tries but it finally happened.--DC]

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