Gesar Mukpo was the director of the docentary film Tulku, about incarnate lamas in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who choose their terms of reincarnation and are then relocated in their next lives. He focused on tulkus who were born in the West. Mukpo has particular insight into this subject because he himself is a tulku of Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche.
This was the second time I interviewed him. When he speaks to you, he gives you all of his attention. What I said to my mom at the time–not meaning to speak in cliché–was that Mukpo seems to be wherever he is. Then I listened to what I had just said, and realized that statement sounded like the failed quest of every spaced-out, dull-eyed yoga teacher I have ever met. The real-life example of this practice, though, is very different from the put-on. It's even a bit intimidating, as you'll read, because maybe this didn't go so well.
VICE: I can do a love reading, work or general.
Gesar Mukpo: First off, I want to know, you're going to put this on the website?
If you're OK with it.
I looked at the other ones. They don't really give too much information about the person. It's just some random sort of facts or something.
I was going to talk about your movie. Maybe I’ll mention that you told me not to say so many mantras when I was eleven.
That's great, go ahead, I think. Say whatever the hell you want to say. I should not be wildly embarrassed and annoyed with it, but I like VICE a lot, so..
Thank you. So, what kind do you want to do?
General reading. Let's do a general reading. That's a little more fun.
Are you in Halifax right now?
Yes, I am.
What's going on generally?
What's going on generally... It’s time of change.
I'm trying to do more writing.
Oh, poetry, you said.
Yeah, yeah, I'm just sort of...frustrated. I can't even deal with it. I have to re-lay out the whole thing.
I don't know, I used to know more about that stuff.
Yeah, I have it written already, I'm just doing the actual layout. And I'm writing a script right now. I'm going to work on another script after that.
Oh, screenwriting's really hard.
I'm trying to do more writing.
Anyway, let me look up this stuff. It says that you're being more responsible these days. There’s this card that can mean both success and feeling kind of oppressed. It's saying, having taken more responsibility, you're experiencing that. Then there's this card, The Emperor. For you, I would say you're feeling more connected with your family.
More connected with sangha, less connection with others.
Maybe. Is that true?
You said it's been time of change--
Time of learning.
It says that a thing to let go of is feeling upset about change. Which I guess you can't do deliberately, but that's what it says, letting go of conflicts and regrets.
That's what sells magazines.
What do you mean?
Conflict. What's the conflict here?
Oh, I don’t know. It says your goal lately has been to study more, so maybe that goes with writing. It says in the near future… I'm sorry, all these cards are ones that I don't know so I'm having trouble. One sec.
Am I meant to give you some kind of feedback here?
If you can, anything you think of is probably interesting. I think this card is saying you have to be a little bossy. It says you see yourself as the Strength card, which is just true. It's a simple card that is easy to understand. It says you are setting out on some really important work. And it says in the past, the past is the Ten of Swords, which is a really negative card, but in the past it's sort of nice. And it’s encouraging you to be foolish, to jump into situations unguardedly.
Well, I’ve got a lot of ideas that are wrong, but I've already jumped into them all completely, so, it's probably the right one for my poetry book. I'm writing a very mainstream story right now.
Oh yeah, what is it?
It's about high school football.
I've been watching Friday Night Lights a lot. Do you watch that?
Yeah, I have. I've coached football, so the story is based on experiences I had.
Well, what's the main story?
There's a lot of intertwined ideas. There’s this group of misfits who bond and have a great season of football, but along the way, they learn important life lessons. They win the championship but they realize that the other game they played was more important. The overall message is that the experience is more important than winning.
Is it based on your experiences?
It's based on a lot of stuff that I believe in. I'm trying to bring in this other message of positive coaching. A lot of coaches are hardcore, negative, and aggressive with kids. They put victory ahead of the kids and belittle them. The other approach is based on this thing called the Positive Coaching Alliance, which develops kids as human beings, as opposed to just trying to win. Basically, in the movie, the coaches let the kids do what they want to do, and they're really successful because of it. Also, the kids have this big rivalry with this other team, and learn all these important things through that rivalry.
What do they learn?
Sometimes your worst enemies are your best friends.
Oh, that's good. OK, it says you should work quickly, and it says the outcome is... Oh! Oh, you know, I was wrong. The outcome is the card of making a good piece of art, and the card for “you as you actually are” is Pride.
That’s the full reading.
Yeah. I'm not psychic, so they're never that great. I mean, sometimes you get lucky. We’ll see.
Well, all right. Whatever. It's only the internet.
Previously - I'm Psychic... with Andy Blitz