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As the Western world becomes more and more accepting of and interested in the principles of Buddhism, this documentary examines the life and teachings of Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987), a Buddhist monk who effectively bridged the gap between cultures, sometimes alienating himself from both, but more often bringing the two worlds closer together in harmony. Veteran director Johanna Demetrakas uses archival footage, visual effects, interviews, and original imagery to build a film that mirrors Chogyam Trungpa's challenging energy.
Trungpa became renowned for translating ancient Buddhist concepts into language and ideas that Westerners could understand and shattered preconceived notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave. The viewer is given the opportunity to experience what it must have been like to be around him, discovering groundlessness, wakefulness, delight, and terror.
He drew a following of the country's prominent spiritual teachers and intellectuals - including R.D. Laing, John Cage, Ram Dass, Pema Chodron, Allen Ginsberg and Thomas Merton. Humor was always a part of his teaching: "Enlightenment is better than Disneyland," he quipped, and he warned of the dangers of the "Western spiritual supermarket."
Initially judged harshly by the Tibetan establishment, Trungpa's teachings are now recognized by both western and eastern philosophers and spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama, as authentic and profound. Today, twenty years after his death, Trungpa's books have been translated into thirty-one languages and sell worldwide in the millions. His organization thrives in thirty countries and five continents. Yet Trungpa's name still evokes admiration and outrage. What made him tick, and just what is crazy wisdom anyway?
Veteran director Johanna Demetrakas uses archival footage, visual effects, interviews, and original imagery to build a film that mirrors Trungpa's challenging energy and invites viewers to go beyond fixed ideas about our teachers and leaders.