Tribute to Arthur Louis Borden

Wedding of "King" Arthur and Carol


Refuge name: Chime Chodzin – Eternal Holder of Dharma

Shambhala name: Milk Thunderstorm

Bodhisattva name: Jigme Lamchen – Highway of Fearlessness.


Jan 31, 1943 – Aug 27, 2009

Two poems

Arthur wrote this poem when he was in his early 20’s. He went on a walkabout in the Yosemite high backcountry for a month where he met barely a soul. When he came down to Yosemite Valley, he was inspired to write this. When we were living in Seattle in the late 60’s, we were invited to read it on the radio with a group of our friends, which was a lot of fun! – Carol Borden

Mulligan Stew

A mulligan stew of people
Crowding trees and rocks for land
A stew—a stew—a veritable vegetable stew

For land it cries
A hand it plies
So grand it tries

A stew
A blithering withering veritable vegetable mulligan stew
Of people
Of men—of women—of children
All of them crowding the land

The land that sings
The rocks that ring
The mountain spring

Are diced into little pieces
Might as well be feces

The peace that dies
The heart that dries
The soul that cries

All a-moaning in vain With pain
No more the land for peace
The land for rent or lease
The land I want for me
Is land that must be free

To be
In any way I see

The land—I must be there
The mountain air
My land needs must be there
Where roams the big black bear

Demand, I cry
The land, I cry

The wilderness mountainous land

For me, I cry
For free, I cry

To be, I cry
In any way I see
And mulligan stews of people
Of brawling, mauling people
In dull surprise
With death their eyes
Ravaged upon the land
Turning it into sand
Turned mountains forever Bland
Of majesties formerly grand
Nowhere for me
To go, I see
My land it must be free!

This must be more recent, as it was apparently printed from a computer, so it would have been written some time in the last 20 years. -CB

To You, To You

I the many-headed enthusiasms that richly mark my days
The multi-hued melodies that keep my heart ablaze,
Pouring ever-flowing from that ancient central spring
I drink, I bathe, so delighted that I can not help but sing.
To walk this way at all seems such a gift to me,
Whether darkly stained and somber or lightly flung and free.
There is a sense of beauty, of awesome choir chants
As I thread the beating path amidst the strange and haunted plants.
I come to rest upon a rock and there I sit and weep.
I had forgotten why I walk this way and the promises I must keep.
It was the central light at your request who commanded me to find
The treasure that is guarded fiercely by the warrior king enshrined.
So on the path I sprung, going forward to crash the royal bower
And enter the stately chambers to demand the precious jeweled power.
This ringing prize I sought to make me whole and bring it back to you
To help us all to greater joy which is the warrior’s due.
I didn’t realize at the time the challenges I faced
When entering the palace grounds, that awesome shadows traced.
As a warrior I journeyed to that crystal palace ground,
But arriving at the central court, it was a supplicant I found
Who instead of wresting the treasure chest I’d been sent to embrace
Instead begged piteously for a larger living space.

Arthur Borden’s 49th Day

The day Arthur died, the front page of the Times said
Edward Kennedy dead at 77
After Diagnosis Determined to Make a “Good Ending”
Push Grows for Fast Choice on Successor to Kennedy
Cyberwar: Defying Experts, Rogue Computer Code Still Lurks
Accused of Drug Ties, Afghan Official Still Worries US
Samsara is endless but Arthur was not.

Although people online have taken to calling him a king–and little did I know that he once wore a crown at his wedding (above just a Pier 1 paisley bedspread robe)–in our too short four year friendship I also fell into the habit of addressing him as royalty. Only at the start I once made the mistake of referring to him as Prince. To which he instantly retorted, “First of all, I am not a prince but a king.”

A flaming redhaired Brooklyn Jew rule-breaker self-educated rebel king

Who fused uncompromising Berkeley radical politics with the non-idiot compassion of the vajra buddhadharma

An argumentative down to the merest eye-mote “not even the middle way” big mind kind of guy

Who got messages from the Rigdens and at a late age joined up with the Kasung and drilled with them on frozen Lake Champlain

But who also smuggled an earbud personal radio into the 3 year retreat to stay up to the CBC minute on the fall of the American Empire

And the toxic spread of Orwellian oligarchical collectivism strangling the planet

A guy who could not carry even a Khenpo Rinpoche tune

But one of those guys who got THAT the first time

Never let go and now is gone

Eternal Holder of the Dharma

Highway of Fearlessness

Not farewell, but fare “Further”

-Denault Blouin, Halifax 10/14/09

Dear Sangha,

Arthur first discovered Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche when he saw the book Meditation in Action. I believe that was in 1971. There was something in the title, that meditation wasn’t a purely intellectual exercise, that appealed to him. We first experienced the Vidyadhara when we went to a talk by him in 1972 or 3 in San Francisco. His subject was the Eightfold Path. He walked to his chair holding a can of Colt 45, heavily supported by two young, strong guys. He made some comments about the white clothes and proper postures of the SF spiritual seekers who were in the main his audience. I don’t think I was the only one squirming in my attempts to take a “spiritual” pose. Then he proceeded to outline the Eightfold Path. Arthur had studied Buddhism since his teenage years and said he had never experienced such a lucid teaching on that subject. Later, Arthur went to the famous Crazy Wisdom seminar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When he came back, he told me he had finally found an enlightened teacher.

The path for Arthur, as it is for most of us, wasn’t straight. In the late 70’s, after years of being involved with the Berkeley Dharmadhatu, including serving as co-coordinator, he dropped out. We moved up to the country where he became active in the community of Covelo, making many close friends, but after a few years, the dharma’s pull on Arthur was strong. He went to a dathun at RMDC, returned to seminary in 1985, and then moved to Karme Choling to take a job managing Samadhi Cushions. To my knowledge, he never looked back. Although we never divorced, we continued on our paths separately. Arthur stayed in Vermont, taking a job with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, a good place for Arthur, since he was a bit of a teddy bear, himself. Arthur did one year of the three year retreat at Gampo Abbey in 2006-7. He was looking forward to going back last year when he was diagnosed with cancer.

I have been scanning pictures of Arthur and posting them on Photobucket.

-Carol Borden

From the Covelo community

Our dear friend Arthur who brought sunshine and enligtenment to our Covelo community will be very missed by us. We’ll be hearing you in the wind and seeing you in the blue skies of this place you called home once, Arthur. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ananda and Carol at this time. Peace, love, -Leslie Cardone

Arthur Borden

Geese fly north to winter in the Maritimes this year.

On the ground below, in empty cafes, no one drinks cappucinos.

Or does the New York Times crossword.

No pleasant conversation waiting for the light to turn green,

the streets are empty of cars.

An old black man sits by himself, on the bench waiting for the bus,

tapping his foot.

Still, bright, frozen, inert,

as if painted by Edward Hopper.

In the silence, the sound of one styrofoam cup dancing

across the road,

coming to rest on the opposite curb.

Il pleure dans mon coeur

Comme it pleut sur la ville;

Quelle est cette langueur

Cover the mirrors, sit on wooden boxes,

Don’t shave and don’t cook.

family visits often intoxicated in the morning,

Hilarious, sad and wakeful;

this is the time we tear our clothes in grief for you, Arthur.

-Lee Weingrad