Knotty Veneer wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I would alot more open to these critical views of Trungpa if 90% of them weren't written in such shrill, preachy overtones. Seriously, if you wanna convince someone that they shouldn't listen to Trungpa, that is not the way to go about doing it.
I think there are shrill voices on both sides of this. I don't think Trungpa was evil but he was flawed. At one time, to suggest that Trungpa was anything other than godlike would bring down fierce opprobium from former members of his group. I think you should read Trungpa but bear in mind that the stuff put out by Shambhala is the official version and that there are other opinions. The truth lies no doubt somewhere in between.
As regards his relationship with Akong Rinpoche, I think Stewart has it right. And I have noticed over the years participating in internet forums that there seems to be/have been a narrative within Trungpa's organization that suggests Trungpa was either driven out of Samye Ling by tight-arsed politics or felt that Britain was not the place where his particular mission to the West could reach fruition because the British were not able to appreciate his revolutionary take on the Dharma and preferred to settle for a more fusty traditionalism.
I think this is nonsense and really another example of American exceptionalism. Just as the Pilgrim Fathers were driven to found the greatness nation on Earth through persecution and and the fulfilling of a divine plan, so Trungpa's arrival in the US replays the same founding narrative. In a sense Shambhala's nearest analogue is the Church of Latter Day Saints. Just as the Mormons created a truly American version of Christianity, Shambhala seems to be working towards creating an indigenous American form of Tantric Buddhism.
I understand all this, I also have no investment or interest in the Shambhala organization, I think (obviously) his legacy spreads out quite a bit farther than his official lineage..else we wouldn't be having this conversation, right?
When I picked up Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism years ago, the more I read about his bad deeds, weirdly enough the more I became attracted to Buddhism. I know it sounds terrible, but before reading him and learning a bit about him, I never would have even considered myself "qualified" to pursue spirituality..that was something for people more pure than me, with way less baggage, neurotic behavior, and self-hate. Whatever his flaws, seriously...knowing that someone so conventionally abnormal up could also have some insight did something for me. For me, it was the book
that made me believe in the Buddhist path...it's possible something else down the line could have done the same, but I am a freaking weirdo, for me it still stands out as a really singular message that was a kind of wake up call.
Not trying to excuse whatever negatives really existed in his deeds (and for sure it sounds like there were a number), or to argue that his lineage itself doesn't have issues (again, it seems to most definitely have them!), but his legacy is obvious more than that...and it seems like a very hard thing to quantify. There has to be a reasonable place where we can both acknowledge that he engaged in some terrible behavior, but was also a brilliant teacher with some real insights. indeed, i read plenty of people who interacted with him who say just that.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen