As some of you may already know, Jose Arguelles died on Tuesday, March 22nd. He died peacefully after a short illness. He was with his wife, Stephanie, at their home in Australia. Jose was a student of the Vidyadhara for many years. He was the creator of the Harmonic Convergence in the summer of 1987. Following that event, Jose founded a number of organizations and a movement based upon his understanding of the vision and prophecies of the Mayan Calendar.
Jose is survived by his daughter, Tara Arguelles, and predeceased by his son, Joshua Arguelles. His is also survived by his twin brother Ivan Arguelles.
Dan, sincere thanks for comment on Jose’s influence in our lives. They were indeed heady days and I remember them fondly. Mostly, I remember how Jose and everyone in the class welcomed me and helped me readjust after coming home from Vietnam. The whole experience healed me. His lectures, personal conferences, guest lecturers, etc., opened my mind and helped me transcend the turmoil of being a fresh Vietnam vet. As you no doubt remember, Jose also introduced us to Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmond Jones and encouraged me, personally, to study astrology and write. He told me Naropa and Buddhism were not in my future, but that astrology was–to focus on that. Looking back, I realize he was my only professor for a year and a half of my undergrad education! …and I was a completely different person when I left there in ’75. I have always kept Jose and those college days close to the heart, because of the profound role he and the program, Impact of Buddhism, played in my life. I will miss his presence in the world.
Summer, Naropa, 1974, I attended a course Jose taught on Native American Literature; he was the first in our sangha to insist that it was important to acknowledge the gifts and wisdom of indigenous cultures. Jose was fearless in speaking his own truth and in the early 80s he helped found a group in Boulder called Buddhists Concerned with Nuclear War, a precursor to The Buddhist Peace Fellowship and what is now known as Engaged Buddhism. Political activism was not particularly encouraged in our scene back then but he forged ahead, against the grain, hoping to awaken people to the dangers and madness of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. During that time Jose also helped to found Sarpashana, a group for Buddhists struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and he translated the 12 Steps into a more Shambhalian, non-theistic language; Jose helped many people move into sanity and Right Relationship with substances and out of the depths of their personal hells. I also honor Jose for his role in creating Earth Day (40 years ago!) which is now celebrated all over the country if not the world. Jose was eccentric, passionate and committed and he had a deep love for Trungpa Rinpoche that inspired many others to practice.
In 1972, Jose offered a course at The Evergreen State College called “The Impact of Buddhism on the West”, and it certainly had an impact on those of us who took it. Not the least because this was my introduction, at age 19, to the teachings and world of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Jose’s lectures were a tour de force of a new cosmology that shook the world for a ragtag bunch of bright misfits weary of the usual leftist platitudes that dominated Evergreen. Jose had an amazing ability to weave together the Three Yanas of Tibetan buddhism, the evolution of perception, artistic expression and spirituality, modern physics, native American spirituality, the Mayan calendar and all the prophecies that point to this time as a period of planetary transformation. He brought Marvin Casper out from Boulder to teach us the “baby tantra” of maitri, our introduction to the buddha families. Many of us went on to Naropa when it burst forth like a supernova in the summer of 1974. Jose was the kind of brilliant and eccentric character that gravitated to Trungpa Rinpoche in those heady days.
Thank you, Jose, surfer of the Rainbow Way and carrier of the flame!
This man, this gentleman, was one of the most influential persons that i have ever met. He introduced me to Chögyam Trungpa and because of him i and many others would never have met Rinpoche at all. Perhaps the most Renaissance person that i had the pleasure of encountering…In the early sangha he did do quite a lot in the forming… Rinpoche wrote the forward for at least one of his books, maybe two. And on a personal level he introduced me to the shakuhachi and the elders of the Hopi nation. He had a major influence of the Buddhist version of AA. Even after he went another direction he continued to encourage people to meditate and to see the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche…Alas the world will miss him. I know that i will for certain…may he rest and continue on.
“For Jose” by Ivan Arguelles
here is where we part
yours is the section to the left numbered Zero
mine has been carefully removed
together we had searched
magnify not the dank spot tomorrow is a definite improbability
whiten this page over
who is the
deity of the step-ladder
pray we must to his numen
washed in grief
the human portion in its inch
look then to the Stars!
The following is just a snippet from an interview of Arguelles from New Dawn magazine.
Jose Arguelles: Trungpa Rinpoche was a truly interesting human being. As much as he was a teacher of the way of “crazy wisdom”, he was also an artist at heart.
His two greatest legacies were his emphasis of mindfulness training and his vision of dharma art — art as everyday life, but an everyday life in which the sacred is the normative experience. Here we can define the sacred as being the sense of awe that breaks your heart, that touches and moves you mysteriously and poignantly even though and maybe just because it is an ordinary experience of reality. But you cannot have dharma art without mindfulness training, meditation without an object. So art is how you organise your life moment-to-moment with an all-consuming awareness or sense of mindfulness. Take nothing for granted. Elegance and a simple sense of ceremony transform your everyday environment and place you in cosmic harmony.
— dharma art is the ceaseless expression of the universal norm of existence.
When I lived in the Bay Area, Jose and Miriam were part of the early core of our Vajra sangha. I spent a lot of time with them practicing and studying. It was a precious time for me, because of the inspired support that he and other sangha members gave in our wild and deeply devoted dharmic infancy. Although Jose went in another direction after the Vidyadhara’s parinirvana, I don’t believe I would have continued as I have done without his friendship that helped illuminate the way. I won’t forget him.
Jose Arguelles (January 24, 1939 — March 22, 2011) was an early student of Chögyam Trungpa and a well-known author. In 1972, he coauthored Mandala with then wife Miriam Tarcov. The book included an introduction by Chögyam Trungpa. Jose was the founder of Planet Art Network and the Foundation for the Law of Time. He held a Ph.D. in Art History and Aesthetics from the University of Chicago, and taught at numerous colleges, including Princeton University and the San Francisco Art Institute.
Jose Arguelles was known for helping to organize the Harmonic Convergence event of 1987, and his book The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, published the same year. Arguelles also produced Dreamspell: The Journey of Timeship Earth 2013 and a game/tool Telektonon: The Talking Stone of Prophecy.