Sensei loved describing one of his earliest encounters with the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. As is the case with memory, I have no idea how much of the literal detail here is true, but I expect it is mostly so. For sure, the heart-truth came through unchanged whenever he recounted this.
Excited to be hosting Shibata Sensei in Boulder, Colorado, Trungpa Rinpoche invited Sensei as a guest of honor to the opening night of The Mikado--yup, the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera, satirizing the failings of the British government disguised in a quasi-Japanese setting. The play was fully produced, directed, and performed by the Vidyadhara’s students.
Showtime was set for 7:30pm. The audience assembled, along with Shibata Sensei, awaiting the Vidyadhara’s arrival. Time passed. 8:30. 9:30. 10:30. Another hour. Two. Another one. No one complained. No one left. They simply sat. Then, just as the first ray of sun began to peek over the horizon, the Vidyadhara arrived and took his seat next to Sensei. A student filled his sake glass, accidentally spilling some on Sensei’s kimono. The Vidyadhara took a sip and the play began.
“In Japan, no one would have waited more than a half hour.” Sensei was utterly struck by the patience of the students and the feeling of no complaint whatsoever—a sign of the Vidyadhara’s authentic power. Within this atmosphere of genuine trust and devotion between teacher and students, Sensei gained confidence that he could transmit the heart of kyudo practice in the West.
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Banner photo, Sensei in full draw ©Marvin Ross.