New York Times Article 1971

KCL New York Times Article 1971

Seeking Nirvana in Vermont


NY Times 1971

BARNET, Vt.—You don’t have to go to Tibet or India to find a guru and learn about the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path to Nirvana. You can come here instead and visit Tail of the Tiger, the only working Buddhist community of its kind in the United States.

Set rather incongruously amid the springtime splendor of the Green Mountains in, Vermont, Tail of the Tiger occupies 400 acres of rolling farmland with babbling brooks, 700 maple trees and, like any other farm hereabout, a cluster of barns and sheds.

The difference is that during the summer the hills are dotted with tents and huts to accommodate “Yankee” Buddhists in solitary retreat, cook ing their own food, seeing no other person and meditating in silence for eight and more hours day. Below, under a sprawling “meeting” tent, upwards of 70 visitors participate in the regular seminars presided over by a Tibetan guru. At present, the members rent the farm, but plans are afoot to launch a fund‐raising drive to buy the property.

The name Tail of the Tiger means success, and that’s what the score of permanent personnel maintain they have achieved at Barnet in putting the principles of meditation into practice in their daily lives. The name comes from a passage in Chinese book of divination called “I Ching,” which reads: “Treading upon the tail of the tiger. It does not bite the man. Success.”

Tail of the Tiger, located just outside Barnet, eight miles south of St. Johnsbury in northeastern Vermont, was founded in March, 1970, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan high lama, who 19 fled his homeland on foot across the Himalayas before the advancing Chinese Communists.

After studying at Oxford, Rinpoche established a monastic retreat in Scotland and then came to the United States and founded Tail of the Tiger. No ascetic, Rinpoche (the Precious One) wears western clothes, smokes cigarettes, drinks Bud weiser and recently married an English teen‐ager. Author of two books of memoirs, he is now pre paring a volume of his poems and drawings for publication.

Everyone goes quietly about his chores as we inspect the premises. A mongrel lies curled up on the low pillows in the temporary shrine room, avid plants in abundance cover the windows behind the altar of the Buddha. The smell of incense fills the air and a toddler in coveralls plays with a balloon in front of the altar. We learn that a new shrine room has just been completed at the top of the house with picture windows commanding a magnificent view over the valley.

Our guide informs us that Rinpoche is not in residence at the moment but that he presides at all Tail of the Tiger seminars. The cost of staying in the community during the sessions is roughly $150 per person, including lodging and food. The dates of the forthcoming seminars are Aug. 7–15; Aug. 25‐Sept. 5 and Sept. 24‐Oct. 3.

In addition to conducting seminars at Tail of the Tiger, members hold weekly meditation sessions New York City each Tuesday at 7 P.M. in Apartment 3‐l, 75 Bank Street. The sessions combine group meditation with discussions on various aspects of Buddhism.

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