"When we talk about the tantric world, we are talking about this visual, auditory, sensory world, which has not been explored or looked at properly. Nobody has bothered to actually experience it. People just take it for granted. We may have been interested in our world when we were little children, but then we were taught how to handle it by our parents. Our parents already had developed a system to deal with the world and to shield themselves from it at the same time. As we accepted that system, we lost contact with the world. We lost the freshness and curiosity of our infancy a long time ago. And now, although the world is full of all kinds of things, we find that in communicating with the world we are somewhat numb. There is numbness in our sight, numbness in our hearing, numbness in all our senses. It is as though we had been drugged. The reality of the world- the brilliance of red, the brightness of turquoise, the majesty of yellow, and the fantastic quality of green- has not been seen properly. We have been indoctrinated, or we have indoctrinated ourselves. The point of tantra is to reintroduce the world to us. A direct relationship between teacher and student is essential in Vajrayana Buddhism. People cannot even begin to practice tantra without making some connection with their teacher, their vajra, indestructible, master."
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
This quote, along with a book that I am reading called, "Journey Without Goal" has helped make buddhism more significant to my life. It is pretty much the goal of the internal martial arts that I am currently learning and practicing.
I had a teacher who always said to me that buddhism is focused on dieing and escaping, while taoism is about living and experiencing life to the fullest. He is taoist needless to say. I am finding though, that there are some kinds of buddhism, like vajrayana, that are about living as well.
Another plus about buddhism is that much more of the teachings are available. For some reason the taoist teachings and texts are hoarded and kept secret to the point of extinction.
Oh well, I will continue with what is available to me from both traditions.
Thanks for the Quote.
He didn't leave a fucked up life from my point of view. But perhaps by fucked up you just mean crazy and cool? If you mean irresponsible by fucked up or unskillful then I need to chime in. In part to explain the history of my lineage but in part because I struggled for quite some time over that exact view point and what I thought of his behavior. I'd like the opportunity to share that process of mine if you don't mind.
Now I'm definitely not saying one needs to check one's discernment at the door, quite the opposite. In considering any lineage or teaching situation, discernment is quite the important thing. And so discerning if Trungpa Rinpoche's behavior reflects badly on his lineage or his dharma is quite worthwhile.
I never met Trungpa Rinpoche in person, so I couldn't apply that discernment to him directly. But I've talked with many of his direct students and my discernment is telling me that his teachings were profound and vast and worthwhile, but ALSO that his behavior was impossible to pin down and understand for those witnessing it all. Only at a distance does it appear that he was a drunk or womanizing. Perhaps you experienced that firsthand, and you saw him as fucked up, but everyone I've talked to painted a very different picture. Granted they were all his students and devoted to him. Nonetheless, they had varying degrees of comfort and discomfort about his drinking and general unpredictability. Yet it sounded like there never was a problem going on, none of the usual neurosis we expect when we encounter a person who has been drinking - just space. unnerving space that was continuing to transmit directly the nature of mind.
further, when i talked with one of his former lovers, they painted quite a different story than i expected about his dating and polyamory. She said he would date anyone who asked him, he had no boundaries whatsoever. But that many women, who asked to sleep with him, would find the situation terrifying and unnerving. Some went expecting some amazing tantric sex, and they would get in the room and just find space and all of their own agenda and neurosis mirrored back to them in crystal clarity, and they just wanted to run screaming from the room. or the situation was described as very un-date like. no small talk. no seduction. no chatting over tea or a movie. all of what people might expect today in usual interactions between people and the dance of attraction, not quite any of that either.
so I didn't experience any of this first hand, but the more stories I hear the more I get a different story than any of my expectations or fears around a teacher abusing power or an addict. the stories all point to something very hard to pin down or perhaps something else altogether. more often, the stories help point out my own karma - what my expectations are and if I was doing these things what *my* neurosis would be. But then that doesn't quite apply to someone else's situation.
so that's been part of my process around this, as a shambhala student inspired strongly by its teachings but also weary of the stories. i should also note as an aside that trungpa rinpoche isn't just some crazy lama out of the hills. he came from a very strong background, so his teachings are perhaps as much his insight as they are his translation of teachings by jamgon kongtrul and ju mipham. so they're strongly rooted in the rime movement and the kagyu and nyingma lineages. so he might have been a crazy windom guru, but he was also simply passing on the profundity of long, long lineages of wisdom that we're quite lucky to receive.
hope sharing my process about this is helpful to others.
I really appreciate hearing those stories. Since I'm not connected
with Shambhala Buddhism or the Kagyu traditions of Surmang,
I just read the books and appreciate their qualities and CTR's
distinctive ability to explain in plain English.
The times are are very different between now and the 1970's.
The specific needs of "those to be tamed" vary. We still have our
inauthenticity, addictions, etc. but the context isn't the same. How
shocking and offensive he must have seemed to to his hippie
commune when he started wearing suits and military uniforms!
If anything, the organization he founded seems stuck in that era...
but that is just a casual observation from an outsider. Perhaps
there will be new termas coming out of Surmang as the XII
Trungpa assumes the throne in Tibet (he's 18 this year.)
Unsu...I admire Trungpa Rinpoche's following of HH the Dalai Lama's request for Chogyam to go to school to learn English then teach in the west - this is the story that I heard. I do feel that many of his teachings were perhaps generation oriented after he witnessed what was going on in the US, and quite frankly since I was never part of that culture even though I grew up during it, most of his works shut down my brain cells (just as that era did).
Along similar lines (learning English and teaching in the west), I also have the greatest respect for Sogal Rinpoche.
But this is part of the beauty of Buddhism - many different lineages for many different types of aspirants.
Unsu...crazy and cool?
Hmmm being an alcoholic, which led to an untimely death and putting someone in charge who as AIDS and knowingly spreads it to gullible students? Naw, I don't think that is cool.
I don't want to embark on a smear campaign but let's keep it real. I know certain people fall for the "well he or she is doing it in the spirit of enlightenment". Or the classic saying: "the Guru is always with you".
You see it time and time again.
If you look at other centers which are run by Tulkus (Soygal Rinpoche, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo) who have devoted followers and you dig a little, a less then perfect picture emerges. I just bumped into 2 of my ex-sangha members from many years ago at two different retreats in the past few weeks who share the same sentiment.
For some reason when someone gets recognized as being a Tulku people think that person is unaccountable for his or her actions and furthermore that person can do no wrong for they are "holy".
Hmmmm what's wrong with this picture?
Practicing Guru Yoga doesn't mean that someone has the right to abuse you. I feel bad for a lot of the "devotees" and "followers" for quiet a few of them suffer from psychological damage once they see the light. Afterwards they don't want anything to do with Buddhism let alone anything Tibetan.
Like I said before in my other post, Chogyam Trungpa's Dharma was some of the best, especially for us Western Students. One of my favorite books of his still is "Shambhala" which my father gave to me. It was published long before there was "Shambhala Publications"
I bought one for a Nyingma Buddhist monk as a gift once. and I still highly recommend that book for anyone. Now, do I want to join the Shambhala cult with its little lapel pins which you get as you get more enlightend and participate in more secretive initiations/trainings? No, thank you.
I am fortunate to have a great senior Lama as my current teacher - primarily Kagyu lineage if you want to get into that stuff and you think that means anything -it doesn't.
He is a Lama of Lamas. Lamas go to him for training. He lives in a cave in India and he has been in retreat for 30 years. Everything he owns he can carry in a knapsack. His teachers? Legends.
His saying? The Dharma is never for sale.
That's the Buddhism I practice.
It's really very difficult to say very much about anybody's guru.
Most of us are involved with tantra in some way. At the sutra
level, you can evaluate in a more straightforward way. But in
Tantrayana, the stakes are much higher-- the risk and the gain.
Nothing is ordinary and straightforward. Fortunately, nobody is
forced to accept a particular guru. We only do it if we see that
the relationship works for us.
Problem is if we don't do our due diligence before we enter
the relationship. Too many do so prematurely, and for inapropriate
I've never seen any abuse in this sangha, only serious dharma and serious practitioners and amazing teachings. Never experienced any cult like behavior either, except for the white robes. kidding. :) I think I would have heard of some real abuse by now if any had occurred, or experienced it first hand. I am keeping it quite real, and I'm really engaged in this sangha and not ignoring anything particularly. I'm definitely NOT the devotee type, my devotion sucks in fact. And I totally agree that abuse should never be tolerated, it's not bodhichitta. I just haven't seen any real problems and I'm practicing with CTR's students and the Regent's students and the senior teachers all the time - this week in fact. Yes the Regent contracted AIDS, and his lover got it from him. A truly awful thing to happen. Are you really saying he did that on purpose? Would anyone knowingly do that on purpose, siddha or not?
Alcohol: read up on more of the famous mahasiddha's, like Virupa for example.
Mostly I ask for you to try to have a more open view, that you leave the possibility that you don't have the full picture. At least don't solidify your view, for your own benefit. And I also request avoiding the "my lineage is the best" game, since each practitioner has different karma and different minds. What's right for you might not be what's best for others, of course.
Unsu...perhaps the point is being missed.
abuse in this context is invalid, as all who approached gave consent to and for what happened. if there was gullibility in place, whose issue is/was it? the entire foundation of buddhism rests in PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and sorry, that doesn't mean you get to squirm out from under it when it isn't convenient.
this, ultimately, was the lesson Trungpa-la delivered, in spades. no one could possibly see another as perfect when laboring under obscurations, so the notion that anyone did or didn't judge him (or anyone else for that matter) as perfect is rather irrelevant.
if someone is on a devotion trip that they think means they aren't responsible for their actions because they have a guru/lama, they're more lost than they realize, aren't they? i don't recall anyone but these 'abused practitioners' even trying to go there with it... and where are the horror stories about how they were forced to remain, forced to participate, forced to commit unspeakable acts of x, y, z?
oh. that's right. there are none.
when faced with the reality of what personal responsibility means on every level, in every moment, there's no doubt that some will cry 'abuse' and haul ass to hide from it, and maybe even spend the rest of their live(s) in denial. that's their choice, of course. doesn't change what is, just means they aren't ready to realize it.
the only 'psychological damage' in any of it is the kind that puts precious little ego under the dissecting knife and most folks just aren't as ready for that as they like to boast they are... so naturally it results in some pretty hideous self-torture.
as for Dharma being 'for sale', maybe that's the point... maybe, for some people, the only way to demonstrate to them that Dharma is NOT for sale is to sell it to them until they figure it out.
who are you to say what is inappropriate? what is it that would think to do so? the same thing that rests at the core of all these discussions... ego.
Its funny to notice that here is this thread and i just got
two days ago advice to read "Cutting through spiritual materialism"
which is book of Chogyam Trungpa.
My heart is really confused with all these opposite point of views,
its hard to say anything about them. Wiki has interesting
example of Chogyam where he is telling to his friend
continue bed hobbies even though this friend also have HIV.
But can i really trust the info what i get from wiki...?
Best solution for opening this thread to subtler context would
be that if there would be someone to write here who had
direct experience within that community; it seems like
"the same thing that rests at the core of all these discussions... ego. "
It could be more horrible if it would be awake =P
There are members of that Sangha among us.
Wiki is not a good source for much but basic information,
definitions etc. There is absolutely no substitute for study
of the core texts. CTR's books are great, they are also subtle
therefore maybe not a good choice for somebody who is not
a native English speaker. Give it a try, if they prove unclear
set them aside and try later.
Maybe you'd do better to read Words of My Perfect Teacher, or
Jewel Ornarment of Liberation?
Please get the big picture first.
"Maybe you'd do better to read Words of My Perfect Teacher, or
Jewel Ornarment of Liberation? "
Maybe, i have been given advice to read book which
i mentioned in my previous reply.
Anyway, thanks for tip.
Meanwhile, i am giving a break from these esoteric
things, so i dont want unnecessarily burden myself
with too much intellectual surfing.
"Please get the big picture first."
To my aknowledge, i didnt made any solid statements.
Let me just say that going around judging teachers (especially one like Trungpa Rinpoche) is not the way to make progress on the path. As Gyaltrul Rinpoche once said, no one ever got enlightened by pointing fingers. It is interesting to note that something like 80% of Trungpa's students had a substance abuse problem of one sort or another. Did you ever consider maybe that he was just reflecting their minds? I was a student of Trungpa's when I first got interested in Buddhism, and I have no complaints about the way he lived his life. Not one. Everything action he ever took was for the benefit of sentient beings. Whatever reactions you may have to that life should provide you with lots of material for your own contemplation.
Thinking Trungpa Rinpoche lead a fucked up life misses the point of his spontaneous expression of pure dharma - but that requires 'pure vision' which most of us can only hope to obtain - in relation to our Vajra masters or our Vajra siblings.
Trungpa Rinpoche is an awe inspiring force for me who brings tears to my eyes upon even just a reading of his transmissions - not that I expect everyone to feel this way - it is just this way for me.
Re Nandi :
"Sometimes we have no idea what's really going on. :o) "
Apparently Chogyam Trungpa Rinbochay was a REAL treasure revealer. I just learned that a couple years back. There is a whole list of treasure texts he authored before exile. A good chunk of this material may be lost.
As far as the personal behavior of this or any other legitimate teacher, I really have no value judgement to make. Can't afford to, not in public anyway. I am strongly connected to several *major*teachers of the Shambhalians, such as HE Namkhai Drimed Rabjam, HH Padma Norbu Rinbochay, V.V. Thrangu Rinbochay, HH Dilgo Khyentse, HH Kalu Rinbochay, and Lama Wangdor, the 30 year retreatant guy . These teachers are all *very* real.
I've also taken some big empowerments WITH the Shambhalians. They have great stuff in their sangha, including Cakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, Gesar, and Vajrakilaya and trekcho / togal. Plus their centers have hosted or co-sponsored very important teachers and teachings made available to the general public ( in more recent years ). This is crucially important.
The Shambhala dharma is actually quite legitimate in origin and practice, although their terminology is quite distinct. I think you'll find they are typically quite straightforward sane and reasonable people these days, now that the upheaval and ripping apart of the 1980s is done. This fellowship, in the words of a primary teacher "disintegrated", and yet has become re-established, like a phoenix from the ashes.
The new primary teacher is a reincarnation of Mipham Rinbochay ( one of the greatest Nyingma scholars and a Yamantaka Siddha ). I believe their fellowship is in *very* good hands.
One of the key breakthroughs of Khenpo Chogyam Trungpa Rinbochay was to bring major teachers and major transmissions to the West, to Boulder Colorado and so forth.
KCTR started small, with hippie types living in yurts and so forth. He was quite correct in seeing that hippie casualness and disdain for financial planning was unsustainable and gave spiritual instruction that the men wear ties. ( Ugh! )
KCTR did not introduce alcohol or alcoholism to the West. When he went to university ( either Cambridge or Oxford, I forget which ), there was a lot of alcohol flowing, so he accepted that as part of the high society scene. He also did not introduce cigarette smoking or partying in general. Westerners already knew about such things.
For better or worse, it is literally correct to say that KCTR often met westerners on their own level or levels. You may say this was a good thing, or a bad thing, or mixed. Your choice.
I will tell you one thing, though: KCTR had basic respect for women. He is quoted as saying
"If a woman is around, she is sure to be your teacher!"
I heard this from Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown in Seattle in 1983.
This is something I have found to be profoundly true in my own personal and dharma life.
He also excommunicated forever a western male who hit a woman in the face. Someone said that was cruel and insensitive. KCTR replied "I love that guy more than you can know."
This makes perfectly good sense to me. Respect for women HAS TO BE one of the key principles of western sangha, Tibetan or otherwise. This is actually a Very New Thing ( and a Very Good Thing! ), and Very Different than the so-called "western" religious traditions ( Orthodox Judaism, Catholicism, standard "evangelical Protestantism", Orthodox Christianity, and Islam ) where women are *never* equals or spiritual teachers.
In the Mahayana Dharma, women can and should become spiritual teachers. The opportunity is on.
KCTR spoke directly and honestly on key points. He made it clear that Buddhadharma was NOT oriented towards a Primary Personal Deity. He spoke of Buddhism as being NONTHEISTIC. In the Seventies or Eighties - or even today in modern America - such is a radical statement, as well as entirely true. Guru Sakyamuni wholly rejected the theology of a "Creator God", as have classical Buddhist gurus since.
He also went on record as rejecting democracy as the Be All and End All of human social organization. I myself am rabidly pro-democracy and have worked on major pro-democracy and public health campaigns, but democracy is not what sources classical spiritual culture.
Classical spiritual culture comes from authentic spiritual lineage, such as the Hindu and the Buddhist and the Taoist. It does not come from democracy. It's just that western norms of democracy and freedom of speech and religion are indispensible for the survival and development of real spiritual culture, now that most of Asian culture has been massively damaged or destroyed or placed under totalitarian rule.
These western norms of freedom and social responsibility under secular law are now of highest importance, especially given the growing threat of fanatic religious culture, a social system which seeks the end of democracy, the end of free speech, the end of religious freedom, the oppression of women, and of course the subjugation of dharmic societies.
Still, KCTR is correct in saying that Democracy is not the Be All and End All of human society. It is just that, as Winston Churchill said,
"Democracy is the worst form of government in the world, until you consider all the alternatives!"
Thus, we are all very fortunate to have both basic democracy and classical dharma for ourselves and our societies here in the West.
We are also very fortunate that Naropa has been established by KCTR. See
From their web site
"About Naropa University
"Classical Greece and Classical India hosted two of the most revered traditions of education the world has known.
"One wonders what might have happened if these two historical giants of academia had been able to combine their wisdom, to see the world from each other's perspective, and finally arrive at a place where East and West truly met, exchanging valuable ideas and insights.
"The fact is, this very phenomenon is unfolding today at Naropa University, a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education.
"This approach to learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students know themselves more deeply and engage constructively with others. By combining these two storied pedagogies, East and West are indeed meeting every day at Naropa University and the resulting sparks of inspiration are flying.
"Naropa University comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies. It offers BA, BFA, MA, MFA and MDiv degrees, as well as professional development training and classes for the community.
"Naropa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org). "
Since the Christians burned down the Great Library of Alexandria, and the Islamists burned down the great Buddhist university of Nalanda, it is good to see that the classical spiritual dharmas and centers of learning are not completely lost.
The day may come, but today is not that day.
Thank you, Chogyam Trungpa.
>This is actually a Very New Thing ( and a Very Good Thing! ), and Very Different than the so-called "western" religious traditions ( Orthodox Judaism, Catholicism, standard "evangelical Protestantism", Orthodox Christianity, and Islam ) where women are *never* equals or spiritual teachers.
You speak with some certainty about a religion and culture I doubt you know at all. Unless you have lived with Orthodox Jews how about you don't make broad generalizations about them.
In fact people, how about we stop trashing other religions as well as lamas.
i have nothing but utmost respect for Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. i think that if you want to, and you look at anything long enough, you can anything wrong with it. Conversely, if you look for the good, and you look long enough, you will find that too. fortunately, everything has both...including sanghas and teachers. what i've learned is that sometimes what is experienced is through our own conditioning and may not be what is. if we have pictures of how anyone "should" be and they don't fit that picture, we could go on and on and on about that, often missing that person or whatever experience we could be gaining from it. i don't know. just my own thoughts.
there is no perfect sangha. thank god...because how else can we be expected to grow?
Unsu...Joseph Campbell once said "it is the imperfections of life that are lovable."
Christians believe God became flesh for the sake of their the sinners..this means he had to take on imperfection himself in order to reach the sinners.
So I guess this is the way things are.. it cannot be otherwise, from our point of being.
Our great treachers cannot be perfect.. Thank God, otherwise, they would not be palpatable to us.
The Christian conception of the incarnation is very complex,
but I see your point-- Masters have "personalities" so that we
may connect with them according to our temperment.
A more traditionally Buddhist understanding would be that
having karma is how one finds onself in a human realm.
Masters are at choice in the rebirth process, but will present
in various ways according to their karma (and attract certain
students to be tamed), even as they are not limited by karma.
The 14 root vows of Tantra are somthing new?
The female has always been honored in Tantric Buddhism.
I know someone who knew Trungpa Rinpoche well & she said:
"Barry, I l o v e d him!"
Where there's power there will always be controversy.
Power generates controversy?
I don't think that is really the case.
Certain manifestations of power do...
There are some really powerful lamas who are
not at all controversial-- then there are others who
push buttons big time. Rather, I propose that it is
having buttoms that can be pushed that precipitates
a particular kind of lama who can push them.
"The function of a lama is to point out students' faults."
In hearing about the Vidyadhara, I'm struck with what he felt was necessary to plant the dharma in the west. Before all that, he was very monk like. His students then in Scotland and England, we hear, were really tripping on the Tibetan-ness of the dharma. They were turning it into yet another identity and scene. Missing the true meaning. Getting hung up on the details; playing dress up. So when he came to the US, he took this crazy wisdom approach instead.
And by dropping the trappings, and then becoming inscrutable, his students were left without any trip to hold onto whatsoever. I talk to them now, and they still can't really put their finger on who he was. Nothing left to hold onto. Only a path away from trips altogether. That was quite a gift.
That's an interesting point Davee.
Since I'm not connected with this tradition, I can only respond as an observer.
I find his life and work interesting. I think what he was doing was very much
linked to the students in front of him. If he manifested today, the flavor of his
teaching, the particular color would be very different. I'm not sure that any teacher
"becomes" something like a strategy.
For me, I appreciate Tibetan culture, I like Tibetans. Yet, I'd not put on costume
unless I was asked to. I wouldn't chant in Tibetan, but my teacher wants me to.
Nowadays we know more about Dharma, so we can understand the base,
path and fruit of the vehicles. We can distinguish the function and purpose
of each practice in a way that in previous generations wasn't possible. We can
choose Buddhism as such rather than "anything non-western."
I also feel tremendously lucky, the last generation really did pave a way. Much easier now, much more has been translated and translated well. And the next few generations are going to have it easier and easier if we continue that process. It will be quite a gift we can leave them. :)
From what I hear, he did decide to manifest in a certain way to bring the dharma to the US. He practiced at Tagtsang in Bhutan, where Padmasambhava had retreated before coming to Tibet. And from that experience, he came back, shed his robes, married, and moved to the US. The connection to Padmasambhava and coming to a new land in a new manifestation is notable. But it was in part from his experience teaching in England and Scotland before that retreat.