The Myth, the Legend, and the Truth of Fiction
Born in a small town in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. The town is still too small to even have a name. The hospital where George was born is no longer a hospital but even more surprisingly, is not used as a commemorative shrine.
The elementary school where George attended from kindergarten to grade 6 has been torn down.
The junior high school is now the town hall and library. The hallway and rooms in this building have totally shrunk since George went to school there.
For grades 10 to 12, George was bussed to a regional high school where the student population matched the population of his small unnamed birthplace (about 1,400 souls). This regional high school still looks like a cross between a bunker, a suburban shopping mall and an ineffective fortress. It is unknown whether high school students continue to drop acid on the bus on the way to school. Familiar with the movie Dazed and Confused about high school students graduating in 1976? This is George’s exact vintage, and except for being set in Texas, this movie is an accurate depiction of the scene which was high school. And now that the 70’s are here again, George is having incessant fashion flashbacks.
To the horror of his parents, George bought a motorcycle (a Kawazaki 250 cc street bike, with three big swoopy chrome mufflers). This snappy machine went like a bat out of hell, and the times being what they were, and having developed the theory that wind in the face was sobering, it is amazing that George is still alive. That combination of willful ignorance and self-destructive tendencies is often lethal. And yet he did survive, and left his home town, attending university first at Acadia, and then moving to Toronto, which was at the time, just as it is now, the very centre of the known universe.
George K. Ilsley was born and raised in Nova Scotia and is a graduate of Acadia University and Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. Being young and foolish at the time, he chose not to become a lawyer. He then took some time off to acquire life experience, a task that remains incomplete. He tried to travel, but the world is a big place and he did not get far. He does however continue to adore the Himalayas, and in general is a bit obsessed with anything to do with Tibet, Mount Everest, and red pandas.
One of the foremost interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was born in Bhutan in 1961 and recognized as a reincarnation in the Khyentse lineage of teachers renowned for their non-sectarian wisdom and insight. The founder of Siddhartha’s Intent International
, Dzongsar Rinpoche has teaching centres throughout the world, and regularly travels between Canada, California, Germany, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.
In the photos above Rinpoche is teaching from The Way of the Bodhisattva, an eighth century text by the Indian scholar Shantideva. This classic text (the Bodhicharyavatara) and the Bodhisattva vow inspired the dedication to my short fiction collection:
"Dedicated to the enlightenment of all sentient beings."
Dzongsar Rinpoche was a consultant for Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie Little Buddha and also went to film school in New York. Under his secular name Khyentse Norbu, he wrote and directed The Cup, a surprise hit at the Cannes Film Festival, which portrays young Tibetan novice monks in modern day multicultural India who are obsessed with the quest for a satellite dish so they can watch the World Cup. Following the international success of The Cup, Khyentse Norbu then wrote, produced and directed Travellers and Magicians
, the first ever feature length movie filmed in Bhutan.
From Siddhartha’s Intent: "Rinpoche has been coming to Canada to teach for more than 20 years, and is familiar with the situation of contemporary practitioners of Buddhism."
Check out the site for this documentary about Rinpoche, Words of My Perfect Teacher
(a co-production of the National Film Board of Canada).
The author of one of the most influential books on Buddhism in English, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche founded Rigpa
and also has teaching centres around the world, including Ireland, France and Germany. Among his many talents, Sogyal Rinpoche does a very funny Dalai Lama impersonation.
"The purpose of meditation is to awaken in us the sky-like nature of mind, and to introduce us to that which we really are, our unchanging pure awareness, which underlies the whole of life and death." (Sogyal Rinpoche)
When Trungpa fled Tibet, 13 years old and never to return (his published account is titled From Tibet By Foot), he ended up in Scotland. A few years passed. He was involved in an automobile accident, and during his recovery fell in love with his Scottish nurse. They eloped. They moved to Colorado. The Naropa Institute
was founded, and the Shambhala movement. Then in 1986, because of its resemblance to Scotland, Rinpoche moved the Shambhala headquarters to Halifax, Nova Scotia. About six weeks later, Rinpoche died, but the influx of these Buddhists, mostly from the United States, transformed Nova Scotia. Gampo Abbey
, a traditional Buddhist monastery, was established in Cape Breton in 1993.
Trungpa was an active and enthusiastic participant in the presentation of Crazy Wisdom, which he also referred to as "wisdom gone wild." Trungpa’s early teachings in North America were collected in two very lucid texts: Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which addresses the mindset of western consumer culture, and was a strong early influence on this becoming-Buddhist. The companion volume, The Myth of Freedom, only came into my life in 2004, just in time for ManBug. I used an excerpt from The Myth of Freedom as the epigraph for Part 4—Awareness, and as a nod to Trungpa and the lineage, I used his dedication from The Myth of Freedom as the dedication in ManBug:
"This book is dedicated to Dorje Tröllo,
the Crazy Wisdom form of Padmasambhava,
the father and protector of all beings."
The three terrible oaths of Dorje Tröllo
Whatever Happens, May it Happen
Whichever Way it Goes, May it Go that Way
There is No Purpose!