The Changing of the Guard

Western Buddhism in the EightiesRick Fields

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The procession carrying the body of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was heralded by the wails of a lone bagpiper and the slow, steady heartbeat of a deep bass drum, followed by the hoarse guttural cries of Tibetan horns. As a crowd of more than three thousand American students and guests watched in silence, the funeral procession of Trungpa Rinpoche emerged from a fogbound forest at the Karme Choling retreat center in northeast Vermont. The body was carried in a palanquin—a canopied, silk-curtained upright box—and covered with a round white parasol. The palanquin was then lifted into the ornately painted cremation stupa, twenty-five feet high and surmounted with a gold spire.

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