I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Moderator: Tibetan Buddhism moderators

I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby GesarMukpo » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:07 am

Hello some of you may know me others may not.. I was recognized as a tulku when I was three years old in Berkley California, my father is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche so I was exposed to quite a few teachers and craziness as a child. I directed a documentary called Tulku which examines the phenomena of Western tulkus from an experiential point of view. It was a pleasure to make it and all you Tibety Pandity guys may be disappointed in the lack of hard information presented but I decided to make a film that pushed no agenda from an organizational or spiritual point of view. DVDs are available online (no links because I'm not trying to sell anything here.) and there don't appear to be any downloadable versions on the net. Yet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un2bk-ddtf8

I'm willing to answer any questions about the topic matter. I consider myself a Buddhist film maker and I have more films in the works so anything is fair game. I'm not into defending anyone's character so if you have anything insulting to say about my family don't expect a reply from me. I'm fascinated at the evolution of spirituality in the West, and have been pondering that [adaptation is task specific, without a master plan.] More like natural selection then genetic evolution. I think the tulku system isn't really useful anymore and isn't long for this world, but to condem the genius & beauty of the systems functionality is foolish. Im not saying it needs to be saved or something I'm "not necessarily" pro the system, but I think if you are steady with your mind and examine the form you can learn quite a bit about the process of how one learns (Not in the academic sense!!) the Dharma and principles of enlightened leadership.

I think it's a wonderfully rich conversation to have and not in any way dangerous because we can discus it without being for it or against it and examine a multi layered approach to moving forward as Buddhists in the Western world.

For you Tibetophiles and intellophiles please don't lets get into some technical back and forth, everything is divisible and everything can be proved wrong, try to open up your hearts find you SENSE OF HUMOR! and engage in something called undecidable conjecture! It won't kill you.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to doing my best to answer any questions about my film or my personal experience!
GesarMukpo
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:40 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Mr. G » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:32 pm

Thanks for taking the time to make this AMA (Ask Me Anything). I personally haven't yet seen your documentary, but plan on doing so very soon.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
User avatar
Mr. G
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
Location: Spaceship Earth

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby gnegirl » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:55 pm

Has being recognized as a tulku hurt or helped your practise?
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
User avatar
gnegirl
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:22 pm
Location: Waponi Woo

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby kirtu » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:44 pm

I'm not happy that the NFB won't sell DVD's to Yanks (or apparently non-Canadians) but I haven't checked the site out in a while. Has that been fixed?

Have any of the tulkus in the film done extensive retreat and then expressed the sort of post-modern existential boy angst that came across in some cases?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4371
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Chaz » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:03 pm

Gesar -

Did you make any effort to contact Osel Hita Torres for your film?

I must also confess that I haven't seen Tulku yet. It's a little embarrassing. I'm from Denver and belong to a Kagyu Sangha in Boulder. I have the honor of being acquainted with a number of people who were students of your father and, of course, a number of people who study with your half-brother. I really should get a copy. :emb: I find the subject facinating.
Chaz
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:23 am
Location: Denver, CO

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Clarence » Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:36 pm

Well, I did see your movie and enjoyed it. Thanks for making it. I thought it was an interesting glimpse into the life of western born Tulkus. Quite a few of them seemed pretty scarred from the experience.
I am curious though if there are any western Tulkus who did grow into their role and did do longterm retreats and are actively teaching? Maybe in part2?
Clarence
 
Posts: 584
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:19 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:10 pm

To the initiator of this thread..

I personally find this present time and Buddhism in general perhaps reflective of this flavor, to be corrupted.
In america for instance a media control by corporate interest as majority influence results in the daily killing and repression of very many peoples, with the agreement by action of its constituancy, the common peoples in varying degree.
In buddhism highly placed individuals of teaching status and leadership, have been found to be involved to high degrees, with organizations such as the CIA, a most heinous group with aims of national supremacy and extension of corporate influence.

So the corruption seems pervasive and not excepting the religious, using perhaps just these two examples of related nature to show a interconnection of corruption.

On a individual basis, it seems quite commonly the exception of buddhism, empty nature and such.... seems but additions to a mystique, that serves to enhance a sense of individuailty and seperateness. Reinforceing the one thing which must be found to be not so, sense of I to advance.

On a practical sense of context.... I have found teachings and teachers to be a function of the politic as much as anything else, money favor status enableing the closeness to what may be found as much as anything of any other nature.

It is a good I suppose, to teach and give some sense of happiness to others in their faiths of choseing such as a christian padre may perhaps give teaching in a christian faith to others in foreign land.
But permenant or real change as result to enable release seems quite impossible though temporary happiness may be acheived.

So that being stated.....the question then is....does it make sense to propogate the teachings in such a corrupted times amongst such a corrupted peoples?

Buddhism seems but a useful tool at this point of time to provide a basis guide as to direction, but individual guide by those that are at this present time the teachers seems a bit of a large large gamble.

Personally to emblish a bit.... I find the teaching of the real, what exists to our appearence with study and introspection the only viable trusted teacher in these times of corruption. All else assisting but being a scraps not meat nor bones of this thing. But I am quite strange unusal and inclined to make my own world, and thusly most would consider quite deluded.
Have you considered this position....would not one in this present environment be better spending their time in single solitary endeavor of advancement of the spiritual than in helping others a bit towards happiness?

Are not these the circumstantial facts as presented in this place and time, and the real question on how to conduct oneself?
I would like to think one may do both but this seems not to be possible.
The Buddha did in fact initially decide not to teach but was pushed a certain way by a particular circumstance by some recounts of his life story. LIfe story of real story told it seems the question remains.
If the Buddha was in this place and time, would that same question be not the same question, and be found differing the answer depending upon circumstance in which the question was framed?

Would he propogate the teaching right here and now, or remain in singular consideration of things as they are?
With that under consideration....then would each not he here and now left with this decision to make?

The final question being, and the only one requesting response upon(the rest leads to this).....has one considered this, and what is the basic rational for the decision if one has done so? If not, not...I am not intending to furthur this particular point of view, by debate or other means.
We may disagree, I can live with that, few would agree with any of this. I am just wondering where one is coming from and going to. A rare opportunity is this to speak to one such as this on this.

In any event, answer given or not..good luck to you and thank you for providing this thread. If you provide a answer I will not qualify or respond on such a answer, unless you request a response.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
User avatar
ronnewmexico
 
Posts: 1601
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby GesarMukpo » Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:52 pm

gnegirl wrote:Has being recognized as a tulku hurt or helped your practise?


That's a very subjective and opinion based question to answer.
From a positive perspective it's helped me immensely in giving me access to many great teachers and by forcing me to return to my dharmic roots constantly. Also the problems associated with dealing with the stigma of being a tulku socially and having to question myself so deeply has forced me to see the value of working with your mind from a Buddhist point of view. It's made a student out of me.

From a negative point of view, having investigated the tulku system and been scrutinized or worshipped has really jaded me and built a serious aversion to relating to many facets of practice and study namely sort of hating going to public events where I feel heavily judged when I just want to sit in a seat in the back and be discreet. None of the respect all of the scrutiny..... It's healthy though, still being an object of analytical parlor room talk and not seen as a person has in many cases built a rift between me and certain communities, students and teachers. My problems are pretty much first world problems though, oh poor me I feel bad! SO it has hurt my practice by making it very difficult to interact with other sanghas and teachers, especially when I am going through emotional or difficult times of my own.

Answer in short hurt in some ways helped in others.

Chaz wrote:Gesar -

Did you make any effort to contact Osel Hita Torres for your film?

I must also confess that I haven't seen Tulku yet. It's a little embarrassing. I'm from Denver and belong to a Kagyu Sangha in Boulder. I have the honor of being acquainted with a number of people who were students of your father and, of course, a number of people who study with your half-brother. I really should get a copy. :emb: I find the subject facinating.


I did get contact information for Ösel but decided against it, I felt going that route had a few pitfalls, first off he had been covered extensively and become the figure head of "Western Tulku" talk among a few media outlets and I thought my film needed a more diverse face, I didn't want to rehash the numerous newsy pieces that had been done on him already I felt I had something very different to present; In that regard I knew Ashoka and Dylan already and met Ruben and Wyatt through word of mouth when I was travelling. I felt that it being a movie about an aspect of karma I should follow a chain of karmic connection and everyone in the film had some connection to me. Ashoka my brother, Dylan a childhood friend and reincarnation of someone my reincarnation had known closely, Wyatt whom had seen me in "Words of My perfect Teacher" was possibly a reincarnation of someone close to me as well and Ruben was karmically ready to tell his story which he talked to no one else about. I was introduced to his father at a Buddhist charity event in Nepal when talking with someone about my film project they told me his son was a tulku who had given it up. His father called him I talked to him for 5 minutes told him what I was doing and he said "I want to talk to you, it could be good for me," and came down to talk to me immediatly, the two of us smoking a cigarette out back while teachings went on inside.....

Secondly, I wanted to give Ösel some peace and quiet as he was making a rather dramatic shift at the time and I felt like he needed some space and wouldn't react well to more cameras being shoved in his face.

Clarence wrote:Well, I did see your movie and enjoyed it. Thanks for making it. I thought it was an interesting glimpse into the life of western born Tulkus. Quite a few of them seemed pretty scarred from the experience.
I am curious though if there are any western Tulkus who did grow into their role and did do longterm retreats and are actively teaching? Maybe in part2?


There are very few, but they are out there. I don't think anyone is going to rush out and study with them. Dylan Wyatt & Ashoka practice fairly regularly. I don't.

ronnewmexico wrote:the question then is....does it make sense to propogate the teachings in such a corrupted times amongst such a corrupted peoples?

Would he propogate the teaching right here and now, or remain in singular consideration of things as they are?


Is it necessary to propagate the teachings in a time of complete enlightenment? I don't know in my personal experience theoretical conjecture is endless and individual situations will differ by circumstance. I'm not holding my breath waiting for the next great Western tulku. I think it's fine if tulkus do nothing about being tulkus and never become teachers as long as they keep on their own journey.

As my father says in my film when someone asksand I paraphrase "Rinpoche are there any Charlatans here at Naropa this summer?" to which he answers, "There had to be, otherwise things are too clean, and sometimes a Charlatan is someone trying to teach in the name of becoming a teacher, there had to be room for that, we had to grow up." (I'll pull the actual quote later.)

DVD's are available on Amazon.
GesarMukpo
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:40 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby pemachophel » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:14 pm

Gesar,

I saw your film this year in your company at the Boulder Theater. I enjoyed it very much. The reason I went is that, 20 years ago or so, one of my Teachers (not your father) said that my son was a tulku. At the time, we were told to keep him squeaky clean, no crawling on the floor, no playing with his friends on the block, no skiing, certainly no ice hockey, lots and lots of praying (in Tibetan). We were never told who that Teacher thought he had been. In any case, all the strictures were a deal-breaker both for my son personally and for my wife and I as a family. Eventually, we left that sangha and that Teacher in large part (at least for me) because of the way They were trying to force my son's life to be a certain way. It was also causing a real problem in our marriage. Up until that time, our Dharma center was in our home, with a group practice session seven night a week. So my son had very much grown up with all the trappings and practices of Tibetan Buddhism. After we left that Teacher, the center moved out of our home. I continued practicing Tibetan Buddhism with other Teachers; my wife and son did not. So, from 9-10 years old, my son grew up with a very "normal" American lifestyle. (My wife did eventually come back to the practice.)

Over the years, I would sometimes try to have a conversation with my son about the subject of his being a tulku. He never had much interest in these discussions, although he never rejected the idea. A few years ago, I asked Lama Dawa Chodrak to do a mirror divination. A) Was my son a tulku or not, B) if so, a tulku of whom, C) who is his karmically destined Guru in this life, and D) what, if anything, should I do about any of this? Answers: A) Yes, he is a tulku. B) Lama Dawa gave his previous life's name and location. He was a "new" Bonpo abbot from Nangchen, a student of Khyungtrul Rinpoche. When I checked out the history, such a Bonpo abbot did exist and his date of death was quite reasonable given my son's birthday -- although, I gotta say, the idea that he had been a Bonpo threw me personally a curve. C) His karmically destined Guru has/had Yungdrung as his middle name; and D), Lama Dawa said to try to help my son reconnect with the Bonpo lineage. When I ran all this by my son, he said that, even if this was all true, which he in no way denied or dismissed, that was then and this was now, that he has this life to live, not some previous life that was over and done.

So what, you might ask, has my son been doing with himself (he'll be 30 next month)? For the last several years he's been teaching English in various parts of Asia. Most recently, he's been a volunteer at a Cambodian NGO in Phnom Penh working with inner city, poverty-stricken kids -- the children of prostitutes, people with AIDS, junkies, alcoholics, and gang members. For me, this is evidence that he has compassion and a good heart. (Even as a very young child, he would never be cruel to an animal, insect, or another person, nor was he interested in guns, war, hunting, or fishing like many little boys are.) Do I wish he would practice the Dharma formally. I gotta say a part of me says yes. However, when I really think about it, in many ways, my son's practice of the Dharma is more real than my own (at four thun per day). On the other hand, I also get the feeling that he has yet to "find himself," that there's a part of him that's still not sure what he wants to do with his life. This seems to be one of the common denominators of the American tulkus in your film.

In any case, I hope you find this story interesting. Keep up the good work. :namaste:
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
pemachophel
 
Posts: 569
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:19 pm
Location: Lafayette, CO

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby username » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:11 am

Gesar how do you feel about the fact that a teen who has just finished his first year at NYU or UCLA will need at least a couple of years to train you to bring you up to his own current level?
Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes
username
 
Posts: 759
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:23 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Chaz » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:01 am

username wrote:Gesar how do you feel about the fact that a teen who has just finished his first year at NYU or UCLA will need at least a couple of years to train you to bring you up to his own current level?


Level of what?
Chaz
 
Posts: 452
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:23 am
Location: Denver, CO

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby GesarMukpo » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:17 am

username wrote:Gesar how do you feel about the fact that a teen who has just finished his first year at NYU or UCLA will need at least a couple of years to train you to bring you up to his own current level?


Happy. Eager. We're talking Viper camera system yes?
GesarMukpo
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:40 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby username » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:11 am

No they're not playing with toys and dreaming of being a hot occasinal freelance for a couple years for MTV sharkies, they're learning their field properly in theory, history and practice and play with stuff like Arri. Take that next batch of money and ask Khyentse Norbu where you should study with it.
Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes
username
 
Posts: 759
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:23 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby GesarMukpo » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:53 am

username wrote:No they're not playing with toys and dreaming of being a hot occasinal freelance for a couple years for MTV sharkies, they're learning their field properly in theory, history and practice and play with stuff like Arri. Take that next batch of money and ask Khyentse Norbu where you should study with it.


I'm more focused on making my next few films and music videos, I don't think my future has going to study film or Buddhism at an institution involved. I think Khyentse Norbu is a brilliant filmmaker and he was a big inspiration to me.
GesarMukpo
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:40 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby username » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:06 pm

Good luck.
Dzogchen masters I know say: 1)Buddhist religion essence is Dzogchen 2)Religions are positive by intent/fruit 3)Any method's OK unless: breaking Dzogchen vows, mixed as syncretic (Milanese Soup) 4)Don't join mandalas of opponents of Dalai Lama/Padmasambhava: False Deity inventors by encouraging victims 5)Don't debate Ati with others 6)Don't discuss Ati practices online 7) A master told his old disciple: no one's to discuss his teaching with some others on a former forum nor mention him. Publicity's OK, questions are asked from masters/set teachers in person/email/non-public forums~Best wishes
username
 
Posts: 759
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:23 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:12 pm

GesarMukpo wrote: I don't think my future has going to study ... Buddhism at an institution involved.


What a pity.

Formal education results in disciplined thinking and expression. Not necessary for making films and music videos perhaps, but useful for communicating and teaching things like Dharma. It [Dharma] is also something best learned by adults, and not by children. Learning Dharma requires a degree of emotional maturity. Otherwise, it is just rote religion. Rote religion is not Dharma.

Edit: I don't meant you have to get a master's in Buddhism. However, studying things formally like Madhyamaka, Abhidharma, and so on in a rigorous place is very beneficial.

N
Last edited by Malcolm on Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11754
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby gnegirl » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:47 pm

GesarMukpo wrote:
username wrote:No they're not playing with toys and dreaming of being a hot occasinal freelance for a couple years for MTV sharkies, they're learning their field properly in theory, history and practice and play with stuff like Arri. Take that next batch of money and ask Khyentse Norbu where you should study with it.


I'm more focused on making my next few films and music videos, I don't think my future has going to study film or Buddhism at an institution involved. I think Khyentse Norbu is a brilliant filmmaker and he was a big inspiration to me.


You didn't say what sort of films, but I think dharma in the west could use some multi-media approaches. Most of us grew up with television and film being incredible sources of information and inspiration. The first place I heard of Buddhism was a documentary film on PBS. That documentary probably started me in this direction.

So go make films, music videos, etc :). if your purpose is to benefit beings, that will have a way of coming out no matter what effort you find yourself in.
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
User avatar
gnegirl
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:22 pm
Location: Waponi Woo

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Greg » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:09 pm

What's your relationship to the Shambhala sangha these days?
Greg
 
Posts: 264
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:42 pm

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Adamantine » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:45 pm

Have you had / do you have any memories of your last life? Someone here said that back on Esangha you said no, you had none, and it'd be great to know what the truth is. I was under the impression you'd at least had some upsurging of past associations when you went back to visit the monastery in Tibet. . .
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
User avatar
Adamantine
Former staff member
 
Posts: 2954
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:09 am
Location: Space is the Place

Re: I am the director of the documentary TULKU. Ask me anything.

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:02 am

You wanna squeeze the guy, Adamantine? :lol:
In a way I think you are between a rock and a hard place, Gesar. ;)
User avatar
Dechen Norbu
 
Posts: 2798
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:50 pm

Next

Return to Tibetan Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], heart, Inge, Pemako, Soar and 16 guests

>