My name is Tenzin Kharma Trinley. That translates from Tibetan to English as “The Activity of the Buddha Teaching.”
There are two reasons why I haven't already killed you or several people just like you; hallucinogenic drugs, and a collection of thirteen songs.
I wasn't always Tenzin. I grew up as Doug Rose, the lone Jewish maniac in a Sicilian Mafia neighborhood. At the age of fourteen I became the only person to ever take Killer Tortello’s best punch and stay conscious as well as the only one to ever back down a half-dozen mafia kids my own age at knifepoint. This earned me the nickname “The Crazy Jew,” and enough respect for me to survive the rest of my childhood. The neighborhood folks thought of me as an emanation of Benjamin “Bugsy" Siegel, the legendary Jewish gangster famous for violent insanity, altruism, and the idea that became Las Vegas. By the time puberty kicked into high gear, I was well on my way to becoming a killer.
I steered clear of the mob whenever possible. Non- Sicilians didn’t do well with them in the long run. Even the organization's best friends, if not full-blood Sicilian, could count on eventually being used as a fall guy to take the rap for a Sicilian “family” member.
That possibility never caught my attention. I had a bigger problem than being an independent teenage drug dealer who was working discreetly within mob territory without their blessing. I was much more dangerous to myself than the Mafia, police, or rip-offs ever were to me. As the neighborhood violence and mayhem were happening all around me, I was busily trying to die.
At one point, friends that assumed me to be already dead from a drug overdose rushed me to Coney Island Hospital. One doctor put a shot of adrenaline into my heart. It didn’t work. That doctor pronounced me dead. Another doctor said no. The second doctor gave me a second shot. That one worked.
A bizarre shift happened shortly after that incident. Its result has endured for well over a half-century and is still building.
My methamphetamine and tranquilizer-addled parents listened for years to their unstable child whine about getting a dog. They finally gave in with a promise that within two weeks we would drive from our home in Brooklyn to Long Island’s Bide-A-Wee animal shelter and adopt one. They had no clue about my plan to name the animal Assassin and teach it to kill people. I built a training dummy of old clothes stuffed with newspapers and impatiently waited for the day Assassin’s training could begin.
As my plans were taking shape, fate kicked their ass. I guess it would be more accurate to say that fate knocked me into a whole new world where plans like mine were simply no longer relevant. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band musical album was released and I began a decades-long love affair with LSD during the two weeks of waiting to adopt the dog that would have become Assassin.
The dog was instead named Sergeant Pepper and became the gentlest, kindest dog in the neighborhood. She was a big hit with all the neighbors because in the 1960s, my German Shepherd/Boxer mix was the only female sergeant in existence. She was especially popular with the old folks that were unaware of The Beatles, LSD, or the multi-gender future of the military. The old folks in the neighborhood laughed themselves silly at the concept of a female soldier. They would cross the street through heavy traffic to place a hand near Sargie’s head. Sargie would bump her head up into that hand to beg for some petting. The neighbors obliged with a short laugh and a long smile.
The dummy built for Assassin’s training was used in an almost harmless Halloween prank. It was thrown out of a fourth floor window accompanied by my blood- curdling scream in an attempt to scare the balls off that old pain in the ass, Mr. Perlmutter, as he walked below. It did. He peed himself.
I have been spending the rest of life as a wannabe do-gooder instead of a short-lived hitman. It hasn’t all been easy. Decades of mental work done on the edge of sanity were invested in an effort to convert the violent and crazy tendencies into kind, considerate habits. At times those efforts got a little too strenuous to manage, slipped away from me, and fell over sanity’s edge.
Now, over fifty years later, I’ve almost completely dissolved the dangerous personality of that deranged teenager. It took decades of cross-country homelessness and hitchhiking. It required a determination that, more often than not, seemed impossible to maintain. There was a lot of study without classrooms. I had no phone full of friends’ numbers to call for backup, no home base to rest in, and no bank account. Mistakes were made. Traumas were suffered. Mishaps occurred. Some still do but they are a lot fewer and milder than they used to be.
The best explanation of how I turned myself, and how anyone can turn themselves, from a semi-crazed animal into a semi-decent human is within this old Cherokee legend.
A boy asked his grandmother, “How come some people are so good and some people so bad, grandma?”
The eighty-year-old Cherokee woman answered. “There are two wolves living inside every person. One is good and one is evil. These wolves constantly fight with each other for possession of the person’s spirit. They may occasionally compromise out of necessity, but they are always at war with each other.”
The puzzled grandson asked, “Which wolf wins, Grandma?”
Grandmother smiled. She lovingly stroked the boy’s face and gazed right through her grandson's eyes into his heart as she answered, “Whichever one you feed, my love. Whichever one you feed.”
I Start From Here
Many friends tell me that I am one of the happiest people they have ever met. I had a nightmare childhood. As an adult I have been diagnosed with several chronic disabilities and a few terminal illnesses. Several of the doctors that told me I would be dead by now have died themselves. It seems that formal institutional education is not always the most important thing to have.
A century ago, when medicine was still an altruistic profession and hadn’t yet become such a blatantly profit driven industry, I may have believed the doctors. I may have been more polite and died of respect for them. But by the 1960s it had become painfully obvious that polite and compliant were not always the right course of action to take when dealing with American institutions, including the medical industry.
Things have become even worse during this past half century. By now, many American doctors (as well as other formerly respected professionals) have shown a diseased integrity that was once reserved for used-car salesmen and high-level politicians. I don’t go to their hospitals or offices unless there are unusually important reasons to see them. Better results come from taking care of myself.
There are, of course, some very good doctors and many great nurses. Nurses are the saving grace of our modern medical systems. Doctors deal with diseases and symptoms. They can forget that treating whole humans is the priority. Nurses deal with people. Nurses can fix some things that doctors mess up.
I recently made a deathly serious mistake that no nurse could fix. I trusted the wrong doctor. A long-term liquid medication was prescribed by a Naturopath who didn’t know his ass from a shallow hole in the ground. It resulted in what appeared to be a fatal aggravation of an already problematic liver. Three doctors diagnosed liver cancer. The one called “specialist” said I had six months to live. That was in October of 2018. Do the math.
The pharmaceutical industry’s vampire pimps didn't put this smile on my face. I wasn’t about to let them take it off. After a half-year of heavy meditation with highly focused breathing and other assorted spiritual practices, Rick Simpson oil, apricot seeds (laetrile/B17), Chaga mushrooms, steam rooms and hot tubs, high potency Milk Thistle, potent vitamins, herbs, raw juices, and of course the essential dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes, I'm still here and having fun. I will be forever grateful to The Great Whatever-it-is for all those natural remedies.
Conquered diseases aside, I must still admit to being an old man. There are over a hundred thousand hard miles on my rapidly aging bones. Logic dictates that I be put out to pasture to enjoy the better memories.
If you have read my first two books, you know that the out-to-pasture thing is not going to happen.
I will travel completely around the world or die while trying to do so. Friends say that no one my age, especially no one my age with a disintegrating skeletal structure and diagnosed terminal illness, should make such a journey. But we all have to die sooner or later and I have a mission to accomplish before I do.
Several folks who have been abroad lately tell me that no place else on Earth is as morally bankrupt, sadly lacking in integrity, crumbling apart from the inside, as intimidating and repulsive to its neighbors, or as violent and divided internally as the United States of America. There is evidence to support their claims. I still do not want to believe them.
I have to go see for myself.
If it is true that no other place sucks quite as badly as America does, I want to find out why. What are other countries doing that we might benefit from doing? Why are we not doing those things?
I’m also curious about what other places are doing that is not working for them! Why don’t they fix their own messes?
The most important questions are about people, not governments or systems. How come there are so many reports of people in other countries facing much greater physical and economic hardships than Americans do, but living happier lives? What are the ways folks keep on smiling, laughing, and loving life while they fight to repair a world that is mentally and physically troubled, often quite disgusting, and may very likely have a more severe terminal illness than I do? How do people keep fun happening in the midst of all the tragedy?
I will look for the answers to these questions and report back to you. I often have several brain cells on vacation, so there will be subjective as well as objective observations. A little mental wandering will no doubt happen in these reports.
There may also be several situations, some people, and a little information that you will think is crazy.
Don’t let crazy scare you.
Being a bit crazy in the eyes of your culture often just means that you have a somewhat different way of seeing things than most folks do. That can be a good thing as easily as it can be a bad one! The only people that ever change big things are the ones crazy enough to think they can. Sure, Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin were crazy. But Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Copernicus,
Madame Curie, Jesus Christ, and so many more of our heros were also said to be crazy by many people of their day. Those critics didn't realize how wonderful so-called “crazy” can be if it is well-managed by altruistic motives and a loving intelligence.
The meditations and natural medications helped a lot in fixing my cancer but the real reason I am not dead yet is because I am constructively crazy. Maybe I can explain "constructively crazy" a little better with this very short story from a brilliant Indian mystic. “One cow asked another, ‘What is your opinion of the Mad Cow Disease?’ The other cow answered, ‘I don’t give a hoot! I am just a helicopter anyway’!”
The ancient Chinese mystic Lao Tse put it another way. “There is no fear of tiger’s tooth, no danger from rhino’s horn. There is no place for death to enter.”
Understand? If not, no problem. Riddles like these kept me confused for a long time. You are probably a bit smarter and a lot less sloppily stoned than I have been for the past half-century. It will all make perfect sense to you by the time you finish reading this book.