Clarke Warren

I met Michael in Boulder around the time Trungpa Rinpoche first came to Boulder, maybe before, circa the fall of 1970. To tell the truth, I can’t remember when or where we first met, but after that Michael was always a part of my life in a prominent way. We instantly became friends, and began a lifetime of mutual exploits and adventures. Even when years and individual dispositions and karmic projectors meant we did not meet for extended periods, I always knew the world was a more interesting place because of his presence in it. I always knew we would connect directly now and then in a mutual nurturing and continuation. Sometimes a harmonious charged interfusion and sometimes a playful jousting, we always created delightful sparks. We always enjoyed the dance. Michael and I created the first fundraiser for Karma Dzong in Boulder, It was a poetry reading at Macky Auditorium, circa 1971. We were able to invite and feature Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, the Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki, who came with Snyder, and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. That reading marked a dramatic transition, one might say, from romantic hippie dispositions to grounded Buddhist practice. It was also a first volley is what became a sometimes contentious relationship between Trungpa Rinpoche and some poets. And cemented a deep bond with others, such as with Ginsberg, Burrows, and Ann Waldman. After a very charged evening of poetry, each poet reading from their works in turn, at some point Trungpa Rinpoche put the meditation gong from the stage helmet-like onto Allen Ginsberg;s head. At first Ginsberg deflected Rinpoche’s attempts, but quickly then let it happen, and took excellent meditation posture with the gong partially covering his face. A meditation gong with a beard! A short time later, Rinpoche interrupted a very serious recitation of a Yeats poem by Bly, and ended the evening by proclaiming, “Please don’t believe what we poets say. We don’t mean what we say. Please go back to your everyday depression,” Michael and I were not so sure what we had fomented, but that poetry reading forged the spiritual road of Trungpa Rinpoche’s unabashed warning message about spiritual materialism right into the thick of American counter-culture and culture. Michael and I were to have many more adventures together, as dharma brothers, in business (I worked for him at Metals Economics Group for several years), and as fellow explorers of the vajra world. In recent years, Michael, Jan Wilcox, and I conducted several classes together on the Ocean website,. We launched into what are some of the most non-conceptual teachings of the Vidyadhara, now in the form of books like Glimpses of Space (the Feminine Principle and E VAM), Glimpses of Sunyata, and Crazy Wisdom. We had a medium size but loyal following, and the sessions were vibrant…the teachings self-ignited into life in the interchanges. And Michael, Jan and I, having very different styles, nonetheless worked exquisitely together. I knew Michael was a true friend when, on the all too frequent occasions when I did something stupid, he would let me know exactly what it was and not let me off the hook for a second, while never judging me, condemning me, or getting angry. He was my life mentor in giving precise and unequivocally honest feedback balanced with a natural equanimity. In the first Garuda magazine, published in 1971, the earliest journal released by the Trungpa Rinpoche sangha, there is a photo of people meditating at Karma Dzong, which was then in Rinpoche’s living room up Four Mile Canyon. In the front row is Trungpa Rinpoche, the young Vidyadhara, sitting with good straight and relaxed posture and a slightly quizzical expression. To the right of Rinpoche, I am sitting, bearded and bespectacled, holding zazen posture from my then Zen affiliation. Behind Rinpoche is Michael, with a head of thick wavy hair and an intent yet amicable expression. How still we were, yet on the brink of the Vidyadhara’s adamantine explosion of spiritual energy and brilliance into the West. So many stories, so much of what has made life delectable. Michael, I can’t pinpoint the exact day we met as young scruffy students, and now I cannot imagine life without you around. But you and I, we always were mutual connoisseurs of the unimaginable. Michael, it is not only that so many people count you as a jewel of a human being, a mentor, a true spiritual friend, but also that the world really needed you. And needs you now, As the world needs the daily dawning of the sun. As the world needs the constant infusion of brilliant mischievousness. As brilliance and mischievousness actually give rise to the world. You were and are a brilliant and piercing ray of the Great Eastern Sun. A force of nature With a twinkle in your eye That reminds us again and again To take things dead serious But with great wit and humor. Having no brothers, your departure is exactly losing a brother. Having lost our mothers, we share the primordial mother of the unconditional cosmic cervix. Having no origin, we dance on the razor edge of co-emergent friendship. Having had to let go of our fathers, we proclaim the paternity of pure appreciation of our guru. Having innumerable children, you proclaim unconditional love. Having lost you, I proclaim the echo of unconditional missing you. Knowing I am next some time sooner or later, I proclaim the intention to track you down! With no exceptions to mutual arising of all beings and so-called things, Your departure is the gap we never wanted. May we all arise again and again, together, From that gap! Love always, Clarke