Johanna Demetrakas on her film, CRAZY WISDOM
From the first seminar,
called "The Battle of Ego" in Los Angeles, to filming his cremation on a
cloudless but rainbow-filled day in Vermont, Chogyam Trungpa literally blew my
mind. He always created a feeling of stark reality, compassion and biting
humor at the same time. Being in his presence was like being suddenly aware of
an oncoming truck: it put every cell in your brain SMACK! into the present
moment. And in that moment you could be outraged, moved to tears or
intellectually inspired... or all at once.
This brilliant energy was
difficult to resist but exhausting to experience. On top of that, he lived an
unapologetic life that challenged every one of us who crossed his path with
fixed ideas about how a "spiritual teacher" should behave. He wore suits,
spoke precise English and lived like a bon vivant westerner, so it took years
of practice and study to understand that in the rich history of Tibetan Buddhism,
his outrageous "crazy wisdom teaching style" was just another tradition.
In fact it was impossible to separate his life-style from his teachings.
He was living a life that was somehow utterly contemporary, western,
controversial and totally Tibetan as well.
He loved film so we worked
together on several projects. He taught me how to recognize the energy of
a situation both visually and emotionally, and, how to direct a scene to
express that energy. It was like unearthing ancient wisdom and somehow
capturing it through a contemporary medium, film. It is my obvious prejudice
that only film could come close to creating that kind of experience more than
22 years after Trungpa's untimely death.
Ultimately what inspired
this film, was far beyond the paradox of his controversial life style paired
with the authentic teachings. It was the message of his life's work:
people up from their blind
addiction to materialism, which he saw as degrading both human society and the
earth at an alarming rate.