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I graduated from Columbia College in and had been working professionally as a musician for several years. In the fall of , I decided that I needed further training in music and so I got in my car and drove up to Boston for my first semester at Berklee College of Music. I had been interested in Buddhism, yoga, consciousness expansion, you name it for several years, so it was a natural for me to seek out a yoga studio in Boston.
I found the East-West Center under the direction of Patricia Harvey, who was a wonderful teacher and friend at the time. Coincidentally, she was one of the people who helped bring Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to the United States, and so not long after he arrived here, he came to her studio to lead a workshop — Work, Sex and Money.
I had heard he was a high lama from Tibet and nothing could have been cooler at that particular time, so I signed up for the workshop. As I remember that talk, it was reasonable but dry and maybe even a little bit boring. When I went back the next day, I began to really appreciate the quality of his presence, his directness, the subtlety of his mind and the depth of his training. He gave each person one-to-one meditation instruction in a room upstairs from the yoga studio.
He said that mantras are good but they are like medicine and you can use them but then you have to wean yourself off them, so maybe it was better just to relate directly with the mind. He taught a very open style of meditation that is still presented In Level 1 of the program he created called Shambhala Training, which I later realized was a mixture of shamata mindfulness with effort and Dzogchen a more open style of awareness practice.
Many of his early workshops were, in a Buddhist sense, very advanced in terms of how he presented material to us. I think later on he cut back and taught the fundamentals of Buddhism in a 3-month seminary we all had to attend before being introduced to the tantric more advanced teachings. This material at the time was so juicy, and it still is.