“Unskilled farmers throw away their rubbish and buy manure from other farmers, but those who are skilled go on collecting their own rubbish, in spite of the bad smell and the unclean work, and when it is ready to be used they spread it on their land, and out of this they grow their crops. That is the skilled way.”

— (Meditation In Action, by Chogyam Trungpa, founder of Naropa University)

Pouring, pouring, tears of gratitude came sparkling down my cheeks, deep into heart and mind, when I read the chapter by Trungpa entitled The Manure of Experience, because it described so vividly what I and many others have been trying to learn, practice and teach in our own lives and in the lives of those who come to us for help.

How do meditative tears of gratitude sink so deep into the source of art and love, flowing outward into the joy of art, and the joyful struggle to make my relationships a giving and receiving of love? It seems to me that years of acknowledging and honoring my sorrow, my fear, my anger, my shame, my disgust, without letting those emotions determine my speech or actions, have made the dark and dishonored emotions springs of vitality, diamonds from darkness, raw gems of spirit, that bring with them sudden knowings.

Especially in making theatre, film, dance, sculpture, paintings, those sudden knowings seem to draw together in unexpected and thrilling ways our mind-born snapshots of experience into a seamless work of incomprehensible and exciting art. Whether or not others are able to feel that flow—and there are those who do—my body’s wisdom speaks, I embrace the not-knowing, the truth within every chaos, and through that come to understand a little better with the years the inner stillness, the fragile flower of pure awareness, surprising and generous, the freewheeling, playful, scary but inevitable ecstasy.

Though his life was hardly exemplary, Trungpa’s words will, I believe, inspire and guide the speech, thoughts and actions of anyone who longs for the happiness of all created beings. Instead of destroying ourselves and our planet through ill-will, greed and delusion, we will grow within ourselves and others loving kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, joy and peace.

Trungpa’s book came into my hands as a gift from my son, Michael, an ordained Buddhist practitioner, who’d been reading it for the fourth time. A glance into its pages captivated me, and Michael instantly released his copy to me.

For me, inside every feeling, the body’s wisdom speaks, catching my thoughts before they catch me.

Thoughts are like clouds hiding a beautiful, clear, unscarred sky. As I watch my thoughts, I begin to see spaces between the clouds, and I can celebrate the pure, blue sky of my Being, my pure Presence. Minding my own mind, anything can happen in the spaces between thoughts, when I am no longer bamboozled by the myth of myself.


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