On Retreat in Charlemont: Silent Footage from 1972

A happy, quiet, soft, and tender time. Early Fall, early melting snow, early days with the guru


In the Fall of 1972, I visited Trungpa Rinpoche during his first retreat in Jean Claude Van Itallie’s house in Charlemont Massachusetts. Also visiting, on and off, were Kunga Dawa, Sherab Kohn, Karl Springer, the Regent, and Bill Indich.

Rinpoche was very at home in this comfortable, secluded, and quiet house…two floors with a big living room and kitchen. Around the kitchen table until wee hours of the morning, Rinpoche worked on writing a play. In the daytime, he experimented with photography using objects, the melting snow, branches against the autumn sky, and leafs as his subjects.

A happy, quiet, soft, and tender time. Early Fall, early melting snow, early days with the guru.

I was lucky to have my super 8 mm camera to catch some moments. One day we went into the town of Greenfield, as you can see Rinpoche walking in the quiet streets. It is still like that today there, small movie theater, etc. And Jean Claude still has his house, now larger and renovated, but still beautiful and peaceful, full of creativity. When Rinpoche left Charlemont after his second retreat there in 1977, he named the house Shantigar. Today Shantigar is a not-for-profit educational foundation dedicated to the practice and exciting cross-pollination of theater, meditation and healing.

This is unedited footage straight from the camera, sometimes too dark, out of focus, but filmed with love. Some parts of it were used in “Crazy Wisdom,” others have never been seen before. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed being there and now sharing it with you through the Chronicles.

-Vivian Kurz

Originally posted February 8, 2012


Vivian Kurz was born in New York and attended Brandies University. She first met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1970, and, subsequently, lived at Karme Choling and attended the 1973 Seminary. With Trungpa Rinpoche’s blessings, in 1975, Vivian went to India, with the same super-8mm camera in hand, to meet Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Some of that footage is included in later films for which she shot additional footage for and served as co-producer. (Jewel Mountain and The Spirit of Tibet.) In 1980 she participated in the first three-year Nyingma retreat in Dordogne, France. Over the years she has worked extensively with Matthieu Ricard and his humanitarian organization. She currently lives in New York and is the director of Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship/Shechen (www.shechen.org), a non-profit dedicated to continuing the lineage and vision of Khyentse Rinpoche.