TLC's Column by Bird Trungma

Bird Trungma.jpg

TLC's Board of Directors is tickled to welcome Bird Trungma and you to her new column of spirit, wit, and wisdom.

Bird offers her comments, thoughts, and musings on TLC's programs with "A Bird's Eye View", for your pleasure...

Bird Trungma was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 21, 1946. She was raised by her parents and grandmother near the boardwalk, and loves the fresh, salty smell of ocean air and the sound of waves crashing. She graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and after working in Manhattan she packed up and moved to Greenwich Village, where she attended Hunter College and worked nights as a transcriber. Finally, in the late 1960’s, Bird flew to San Francisco, finished college there [BA,  Psychology], but later returned to New York for her MA in Journalism at NYU.

Bird first encountered Zen Buddhism-her professor began the semester with a talk on The Four Noble Truths. “The Buddha said, ‘Life is suffering.’” That was all she needed to hear; her heart recognized this immediately and her mind cried out, clear as a bell, “Here, finally, is a religion that tells the truth!” She took Refuge at Gold Mountain Monastery a few weeks later. Bird met her guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, taking a course in Comparative Mysticism. Bird tells us, “Taking Trungpa as my guru was not an intellectual decision…I knew I had to get to the San Francisco Dharmadhatu right away. I entered the House of Trungpa and now, more than 40 years later, I have never left it.” Bird adds, “My guru is omnipresent. I see him wherever I look. It is said that “the world is a cosmic mirror.” I see him in the mirror, in me. My guru’s mind has become so strong and clear since his death. This has caused me to understand that the extreme barrier separating life from death which we imagine exists is not ultimately real. It is only real to the extent that we believe it so."

Bird wants us to know, "I am so glad to have encountered TLC, an organization dedicated to working “hands-on” with a subject that most people shrink from. I think when there is more knowledge about death, there is less fear. Therefore, it is a wonderful bodhisattva project, and I am so grateful to have been welcomed to join in.”  

Musing on TLC's Lama John Ross Event - May 8, 2021

A Bird’s Eye View:

The Teachings of Lama John Ross


Of all the preparations we must make for death, forgiving those who have hurt us is our most important task. Unless we forgive them, not just in words, but thoroughly and properly in our hearts/minds, the process of moving forward within the bardo of death will be much more difficult, with anger and resentments weighing us down at each step. Lama John’s talk was so rich and full; it dealt with the ABCs of everything we need to get done from a material standpoint, as well as the spiritual work for getting ready to die. What he said about forgiveness, however, was like a perfectly aimed arrow piercing the center of my heart. I have work to do, and it isn’t all paperwork.

         Forgiving is, I would say, a subcategory under the main category of “Unfinished Business.” Unfinished Business is Hazardous Business. Just picture it: You are walking down a road which you have not walked down in many years; you do not know what lies even a single step ahead of you, but instead of looking at the road in front, your head is turned to look behind. Your mind is so preoccupied with the past that you ignore the present.

         Uh-oh! Now you have lost your footing and you are on your seat instead of on your feet, looking around bewildered at an unfamiliar environment. You may become so overwhelmed that you faint, and when you are revived, you will not be back in Kansas. You may long for some solidity, some ground from which to build a nest, a home where you can nurse your spiritual wounds or comfort yourself. However, now you will not have a body to provide you with such a buffer zone.

         The only solution is to jump in; you have little choice. Everything you see and hear and feel is much more intense now. If you have been fortunate enough to have had some dharma training in your past, you will understand that everything is an expression of your mind, and all of the grudges you have been carrying around with you are manifest here. If there is unfinished business, it does not simply disappear with the stopping of your heart or the flattening of your brain waves. Looking at the situation from a positive standpoint, you are embarked a new adventure and have another chance to finish all the unfinished business, to forgive everyone in the world for everything, even including yourself.

         Why wait? Learn now to look straight into the present, without all that garbage from yesteryear weighing you down. The truth is that we live only in the present. “The future” is merely a word; it is entirely conceptual. “The past” has escaped us completely; it is gone, just like sand falling through our fingertips.     

         So how do we learn to live in the present, to really be in the moment without looking back to confirm our identification, our existence, every minute? The only answer is to practice: practice, practice, and then practice some more. Besides that, get a good education in Buddha dharma, so you understand why you are practicing what you are practicing, and you understand why you are experiencing what you are experiencing, and you know the right way to work with all of this, both for yourself and for others.

         Lama John Ross has added an incredible amount of knowledge to my Buddhist education, and for that, I am extremely grateful...Bird