Perks explores link of servant, spiritual master

Brattleboro Reformer, October 28, 2004

PUTNEY, VT (USA) -- John Riley Perks of Westminster West, author of the new book "The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant," will be at Heartstone Books, 133 Main St., on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. for an author visit, book signing and discussion.

Perks has written a fascinating and revealing first-hand account of the spiritual teacher-student relationship. He spent seven years as the personal attendant to the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a man considered the foremost teacher of Tibetan Buddhism in America during the '70s and '80s and the founder of the Naropa University in Colorado.

Mahasiddha means "great master of perfect capabilities" and an "idiot servant" is a person who, through instruction from his teacher, is able to transform a crisis in his life into a means for attaining enlightenment.

"The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant" is the story of this amazing relationship and the inside story of life with a spiritual master. Trungpa requested that Perks' "write about how we worked together." Perks' role as Trungpa's butler, personal secretary and "idiot servant" afforded him an intimate and unique vantage point into the man and the master --he managed Trungpa's household, traveled the world with him and eventually played a crucial role in the creation of many of Trungpa's meditation centers and institutions.

The resulting story is candid, up-close and personal -- and therefore controversial. It is "hilarious, wild, shocking and poignant," according to Douglas Penick, author of "Gesar of Ling." Kidder Smith, professor of Asian Studies at Bowdoin College, calls the book "the first intimate and authoritative account of Chogyam Trungpa."

The book also includes Perks' early years -- growing up in World War II England, familial anecdotes and his eventual emigration to the United States. The first draft was written after the death of Chogyam Trungpa in 1987, while the author was a butler for Bill Cosby. He now lives in Westminster West with his family and is the founder of the Crazy Heart Lineage of Celtic Buddhism and the Spiritual Director of the Anadaire Buddhist Center in Saxtons River.

For information, call (802) 387-2100.