Chogyam Trungpa & Allen Ginsberg:
A Creative Legacy

A Creative Writing Workshop, led by Bill Scheffel


Photograph by Robert Morehouse.

Chogyam Trungpa taught his students, yes, but he also collaborated with them. Chogyam Trungpa's creative relationship with Allen Ginsberg was one of most fruitful and fascinating of these collaborations. Out of it grew many works of poetry, a legacy of teachings and Naropa University, which Chogyam Trungpa invited Ginsberg (among others) to co-found.

Chogyam Trungpa had real respect for the writings of the beat poets. Allen Ginsberg relayed the story of driving with Trungpa Rinpoche from New York City to Karme Choling, a meditation center in Vermont, and on the drive reading out loud Jack Kerouac's Mexico City Blues. Trungpa's comment was, "It's a perfect expression of mind." The beats were the most articulate modernists to convery that writing is an expression of consciousness and tool of wakefulness.

In his "dharma art" teachings, Trungpa taught extensively on the meditative potentials of writing, painting, filmmaking, photography and other mediums. Through his extensive interviews and essays, Ginsberg had been an influential writing teacher for decades, and when he began to teach at Naropa added considerably to the pithy writing slogans he was so good at creating. In the this course we will study what Chogyam Trungpa and Allen Ginsberg had to say about writing, and we will use their instructions as a jumping off points for our own writing explorations.

Each week we will look at writing and writing instructions; compose and share our own works, listen to audio lectures and have an on-line ninety minute group class.

This class is for anyone who would like to write and for all types of writing. No previous experience is necessary and the community aspect of writing will be prominent.

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In discussing poetics, we are not bound to the theme of written poetry. Poetics also includes one’s vision, hearing, and feeling, altogether. So, we are not talking about writing poetry alone; we are talking about a complete, comprehensive realization of the phenomenal world—seeing things as they are. - Chogyam Trungpa
Real poetry practitioners are practitioners of mind awareness, or practitioners of reality, expressing their fascination with a phenomenal universe and trying to penetrate to the heart of it. Poetics isn’t mere picturesque dilettantism or egotistical expressionism for craven motives grasping for sensation and flattery. Classical poetry is a “process,” or experiment—a probe into the nature of reality and the nature of the mind. - Allen Ginsberg

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Fishing Wisely

From the samsaric ocean,
With the net of your good posture,
The fish of your subconscious gossip
Are exposed to the fresh air.
No praise no blame.
The fish of your subconscious mind
Look for samsaric air,
But they die in coemergent wisdom.

Chogyam Trungpa, from First Thought Best Thought.



These poems almost unconscious to confess the beatific human fact, the language intuitively chosen as in trance & dream, the rhythms rising on breath from belly thru breast, the hymn completed in tears, the movement of the physical poetry demanding and receiving decades of life...

Allen Ginsberg, back cover of Kaddish

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public; that's what the poet does. - Allen Ginsberg







Bill Scheffel is a graduate of Naropa University, where he received an MFA in Creative Writing in 1994. He taught his class Chance, Synchronicity and Mind-writing for ten years in the Boulder, Colorado community and throughout the U.S. Between 1997 and 2004, Bill taught classes in creative non-fiction and poetry at Naropa University for many years. Bill's own writing teachers have included Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman and Diane di Prima, among many others.