Lion's Roar

THIS IS INTIMATE PRACTICE

ONE DAY IN 1977, in his “Literary History of the Beat Generation” class at Naropa Institute, Allen Ginsberg challenged his students with a question: “How many of you have signed up for meditation instruction yet?” Only about half of the scruffy aspiring poets in the room shyly lifted their hands. “Aw, you’re all amateurs in a professional universe,” he groaned.

As a scruffy nineteen-year-old poet myself, I’d come to Boulder that summer mainly to study literature with my Beat heroes, not to study Buddhism. But Ginsberg’s question embarrassed me into signing up to learn how to meditate. I didn’t want to be an “amateur” anything.

There were at least two paths for beginning meditators to take that summer at Naropa Institute (now University). Most chose to get instruction in basic mindfulness/awareness practice from a senior student of Naropa’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. They were

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