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Director's Statement

 

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:  to wake
people up from their blind addiction to materialism, which he saw as degrading both human society and the earth at an alarming rate.