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"we Will Miss You, Allen"

"we Will Miss You, Allen" image
Parent Issue
Month
May
Year
1997
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
OCR Text

MB elek Rinpoche M [spiritual director fcpK and founder of " Jewel Heart] received word, late Saturday, March 29, while out of the country, that Allen Ginsberg was try ing to reach him.They had been in constant touch since Allen had not been well. Now, recently hospitalized. Allen was going through many tests including a liver biopsy. Reaching Rinpoche on Sunday, he reponed in his typical manner: "Rinpoche, Allen Ginsberg here. I have been diagnosed with livercancer and the doctors teil me I have one to four months to live. Judging by the weakness of my condition, however, I do not think I will be here that long. I am surprised to see how calm I am." Later Rinpoche shared that it took him two day s to accept the news. Allen offered to read to Rinpoche what he said was his newly written funeral poem "Gone, Gone, Gone". Rinpoche asked Allen not to read him the poem. Philip Glass, who was visiting him at the time, later listened as Allen read in a weak and delicate voice. Allen could see his own loft bedroom from his hospital bed just two blocks away as he continued writing poems, conducting business, and phoning friends to inform them of the recent developments in his health, asking if they had any needs. Days later, Rinpoche wou ld be startled to hear Allen had made arrangements for the care of all his friends and obligations, including the request that in lieu of flowers, áll gifts in Allen's memory be sent to Jewel Heart. Allen continued giving office instructions to Bob Rosenthal and Peter Hale for work to be done, as he phoned friends around the world and slept frequently upon nis return home Thursday. Friday moming, Bob arrived at the loft earlier than usual, sensing a need to be there. He found Allen had apparently suffered a stroke and slipped into a coma sometime during the night after finishing nis calis around midnight. That moming, Rinpoche received a cali from Bob and immediatedly made plans to fly to New York along with Dakpa Gyaltsen, Loden Jigme, and Geshe Ngawang Sherab (who had just flown in to Detroit on Thursday afternoon from New York). He made calis to Chicago and St. Paul arranging for others to come to New York as soon as possible. He spoke with Philip, who was only blocks away, asking him to sit with Allen. Upon entering Allen's loft, Rinpoche walked directly to Allen, holding his hand and speaking softly to him. The loft was rich with Allen, home to an extensi ve library, photos of and prints by belo ved poets, and memorabilia from the many travels to the many lands and the many hearts whom he had touched. Family and friends sat with Allen or visited with each other while a nurse from the hospice care of Beth Israel sat near the end of his bed. At the other end of the loft, down a short hall covered with nude photos of Allen and friends from his earlier days, Bob Rosenthal, Peter Hale and Bill Morgan continued with Allen's personal and office affairs as the phone rang constantly. Rinpoche along with the monks and sangha friends, began reciting Lama Chopa continuing late into the night. Departing after midnight, Rinpoche was roused from his sleep at 2:45AM with a cali from Bob at the loft saying Allen wasgone. Patti Smith, who had been with Allen at the time, said that at 2:39AM, Allen had moved a couple of times as though having a Hule seizure, opened his eyes for the first time since entering the coma, closed them and then stopped breathïng. Rinpoche along with the monks arrived by 3:00AM and began Vajrayogini self-initiation seated in front of Allen' s altar upon which sat pictures of both Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Gelek Rinpoche, his two teachers. Rinpoche continued prayers through the night and into the early hours of the moming, when he gave Allen the Vajrayogini initiation. Throughout the day, they proceeded with the Chakrasamvara self-initiation prayers and practice. Rinpoche occassionally observed Allen for signs that the dissolving process of the inner elements had been completed. Rinpoche pointed out that the moment of apparent death is not truly the time of death, mentioning that Allen appeared to be in the "NBB" state, whereinone'sownconsciousnessjoins with the consciousness of the enlightened. At ll:30PM, Allen's consciousness left the body. Rinpoche explained that "at the time of Allen's death, there was no negativity. Allen had a very successful life and a very successful death." The funeral parlor then carne to collect and prepare Allen's body for the private funeral service to be held the next day , Sunday April 6th at 5PM at the Jewel Heart Center in New York. At the Center, Geshe Ngawang Sherab. carrying a white scarf and incensé, walked before the wooden casket which was draped in colorful brocade as it was rolled into the room by Phi lip Glass, Chuck Lief, John Cobb and Bob Thurman and placed before the altar. Jewel Heart sangha and friends chanted Namo Mahamudraya with the Mahamudra Lineage Prayer. The group then recited Lama Chopa, pausing after the Dakini Song for Bob Rosenth al toread Allen'sfuneralpoem, "Gone, Gone, Gone." Upon Rinpoche's request to present the poem, Bob shared that he had never heard it read by Allen and was unsure of its delivery. Philip remarked later that to his amazement, Bob had read the poem exactly as Allen had just one week earlier in his hospital room. The only difference was the strength of Bob's voice. At the close of the Lama Chopa, friends gathered to share their thoughts and feelings about Allen's passing. The next day, Monday, the 7th of April, a public funeral service was held at the Shambala Center, also in Manhattan. Once again the space was filled to capacity, with Allen's family as well as his friends from all walks of life being represented. Rinpoche continued with the self-initiations he had begun on Saturday, now doing the Yamantaka self-initiation. David Rome of Shambala invited various people represenfing Allen' s many circles of friends to speak in memory of Allen. The importance of openness and candor, gifts we have all received from Allen were remembered and appreciated as everyone laughed and occasionally became teary-eyed listening to the stories being shared about Allen. For the next seven weeks, Jewel Heart Centers will meet on Friday evenings at 7:3OPM to say the Lama Chopa and dedícate all positive merit gained towards the fulfillment of Allen' s wishes. As Rinpoche calculated the 49th day of Allen's passing (the maximum time for the close of the bardo) he discovered the day to be May 24th. This was the date that Allen had earlier selected forthe annual Jewel Heart Benefit held in Ann Arbor. At this time, the benefit tumed memorial has been expanded to include both Tibetan Buddhist and Jewish religious services previous to the performances of Patti Smith, Natalie Merchant, and others. Allen Ginsberg has touched and positi vely influenced the li ves of countless numbers of people. We feel very lucky for the times he has shared with all of us and will remember him with love. We will miss you, Allen. This anide was reprinted withpermission from Jewel Heart' s Spring 1997 issue oftheirnewsletter, "From the Heart. " Forsubscription information write: Jewel Heart, P. O. Box 7933, Ann Arbor, Ml 48107-7933. Jewel Heart Mission Statement: "Jewel Heart is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism and to the practiceof this richtraditionwithin the context of contemporary Ufe. "

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