More Trungpa talk

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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Ramon1920 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:44 am

There's three things people are usually concerned with regarding Trungpa:

Was he a Buddha? Did he have a positive influence on his students and others: short term and long term?

Was he a Buddha?
No, he was not. Buddha's do not act like that. Crazy wisdom is when someone does something unconventional because you see benefit; what Trungpa did was not crazy wisdom.

Did he have a positive influence on his students and others short term?
No, he did not in the case of all the Trungpa affiliates I have met and known to be such. His influence destroyed their spiritual practice, some of them already having had a root guru that they broke away from.

Did he have a positive influence on his students and others long term?
Full results pending. So far no positives. Some attribute his terrible conduct to spreading Vajrayana in the West, but in reality he was taking advantage of the movement of Vajrayana that was already underway. Rather than benefit Vajrayana's image in the West, Trungpa's influence led to a generation of failures in the spiritual life, a misrepresentation of Vajrayana as immoral hedonists to this day, and a environment festering with illegitimate lamas, rinpoches, monks, tantric masters, gurus, etc. etc.

Sometimes being sharp and speaking out against this sort of thing is more important than harmony. I regularly warn young people about the dangers of falling in with people who were involved with Trungpa.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:50 am

Thanks to these sweeping generalizations, the whole mystery of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has forever been cleared up!

I apologize for my sarcasm, but your "Question and Answer" format does not lend your statements the iron-clad truthiness you might have hoped.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Lingpupa » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:45 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Yes, they really had quite a falling out it seems:
http://vajratool.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/the-conmanship-of-akong-tulku-chogyam-trungpa-1977/
although I believe they reconciled later.


Oh, that's really interesting, thanks for that. What a bitter piece of writing! My copy of "Born in Tibet" is the 1979 edition, and I'd heard of this section, but never managed to find it. I'd always wanted to know what it said.

I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has the whole "edition with the vitriol" as to what the rest of the context is. (Context is usually as important as the thing itself.) Does that edition mention that Trungpa was disinvested of his role as Kagyu lineage-holder for some ten years by the Karmapa himself, not by Akong Rinpoche personally?

Propaganda is such an interesting thing, whichever side it's on!
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby mandala » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:39 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:Did he have a positive influence on his students and others long term?
Full results pending. So far no positives.


You may not have heard of Pema Chodron.
:thinking:
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Nilasarasvati » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:31 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:Did he have a positive influence on his students and others long term?
Full results pending. So far no positives.



Mandala: You may not have heard of Pema Chodron.


Not to mention the dozens of practitioners who are now the senior generation of Western Vajrayana students and are now students of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Khandro Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, H.H. The Karmapa, and many other renowned teachers... and as far as I know, the majority of these students never "swore off" CTR.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby smcj » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:57 pm

Does that edition mention that Trungpa was disinvested of his role as Kagyu lineage-holder for some ten years by the Karmapa himself, not by Akong Rinpoche personally?

I was around from '76 on at a Karmapa center. I never heard of such a thing. And Akong didn't have the authority to 'disinvest' anybody of anything.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:58 pm

Lingpupa wrote:I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has the whole "edition with the vitriol" as to what the rest of the context is. (Context is usually as important as the thing itself.) Does that edition mention that Trungpa was disinvested of his role as Kagyu lineage-holder for some ten years by the Karmapa himself, not by Akong Rinpoche personally?

I have that edition. The passage occurs towards the very end of the book where he is describing his move to the States. The immediately preceding paragraphs describe how he returns to Samye Ling after visiting Tagtsang, gets into his car accident, decides to stop being a monk and marries Diana. I don't think there is anything about him being disinvested by anybody.

You can read a little more about the situation at that time here:
http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1645
which I think is an excerpt from her book. Here's an especially amusing passage:
However, for me, the most outrageous event occurred after all the reporters had gone away and the phone calls had ended. Late that morning, while we were lying in bed, Rinpoche decided he would call some friends to announce our marriage. His first call was to a friend in Wales, and I remember him saying, “Mary, a very exciting thing has happened to me. I’m married.” And then he said, “Yes, yes, she’s sixteen years old.” Then I could hear her talking on the other end of the line, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. Rinpoche looked slightly quizzical, there was a pause, and then he said, “Hold on a minute.” He put his hand over the mouthpiece of the telephone, and he turned to me and said, “Excuse me, Sweetheart, but what’s your name?”

He actually had forgotten my name! Rinpoche lived his life without the conventional reference points that most of us cling to as the signposts or landmarks of our sanity. I don’t know if you can possibly imagine what I felt at this moment. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about me or that fundamentally he didn’t know who I was. In fact, he knew me better than anyone had ever known me. But on the morning after our wedding, he couldn’t remember my name. At all. Not Diana, not Pybus, not any of it. So I told him my name, and he went back to his phone conversation as though nothing had happened. I was so freaked out. There was no regret on my part, but I realized that I had gotten myself into the wildest situation possible. I lay in bed thinking, “I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life. You know, I really at this point do not know at all what lies in my future. But I do know one thing: my life will never be boring. It definitely is going to be amazing and unusual.” On the whole, I was both excited and terrified at the prospect of spending my life with such a person.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Ramon1920 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:28 pm

mandala wrote:
Ramon1920 wrote:Did he have a positive influence on his students and others long term?
Full results pending. So far no positives.


You may not have heard of Pema Chodron.
:thinking:


I have never met Pema Chodron.

Regardless of Pema Chodron's credibility as practitioner, she is one person, you can't generalize Trungpa's influence by selectively pointing out 1 or 2 people that turned out alright and neglect the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, he ruined.


I've met many people, I'm sad to say even my own spiritual family, who have utterly destroyed their spiritual life due to the influence of Trungpa's books or students in the 80's and 90's. It no longer surprises me to hear Trungpa mentioned when I come in contact with those twisted hippies, beatniks, great white gurus, and drug aficionados that come to crash teachings, to "teach" their own made up tantras or perversions of real tantras, and to accost monks, nuns, and lineage holders of teaching a "false" doctrine.

I have had the unfortunate experience of observing 2 Buddhist communities, with young legitimate but impressionable lamas in the West and abroad in a non Buddhist country, degenerate into an embarrassment and hassle for their lineage. Originally they represented their monastery and lineage heads in a respectful and dutiful way, but in both cases Trungpa's influence seeped in and became the focal point of their teaching curriculum.

In one case it was a mistake by the young lama to associate with Trungpa's students whom he thought were legitimate practitioners. He soon found himself in a den of drugs, all his students trashed, the temple being used to launder drug money, and, himself having spent more time with these Trungpa's than his own root guru, completely warped by ideas of crazy wisdom, magic, and hedonism. This lama was told by his root guru not to contact him again until he repaired his samaya. Too my knowledge he has not even today, which is some 15 years of being separated from his teacher. As much as I care for this person, he has been trying to collect students to teach them a made up tantra, a Buddhist satanism Ayn Rand fusion, and he is always on the prowl for those young people interested in Vajrayana that don't yet know what is what. The region he lives in has been on high alert for over a decade as he's now a predator targeting youth and unawares.

In the other case I was not so closely related to the monastic lama, so I don't know when or where the Trungpa influence came into the picture. I do however remember the night that the lama gave a teaching on a Trungpa book, a sort of study group. This monk then set up a cult hierarchy around him complete with regular "crazy (don't question me) wisdom" teachings and harassment and stalking of students that want to leave. He told the students they could not learn from any other teacher, even the lineage head of their tradition. Unbeknownst to him I was the one that ended up contacting the abbot of his originating monastery because of major fund raising for the monastery that, after discussing with the abbot, I found never were delivered to the monastery. The abbot told me that he had been hearing from others that this monk was very dangerous and to be wary.

I don't have some strange grudge against Trungpa, I never met him, I glanced through one of his books once. What I've written is purely a objective observation of Trungpa's affect on others. A teacher can be pleasant, sound reasonable and still do serious damage to countless people; and that makes them a bad teacher. It is obvious to me by looking at the impact of his teaching career that this is the case with Trungpa.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Knotty Veneer » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:23 pm

I have observed in recent years that criticism of Trungpa has become more open than in the 80s and 90s. Even Pema Chodron I believe is not unequivocal in her praise any more. I think that his legacy is being re-examined and the previously more or less unchallenged view that he pretty much single-handedly turned America on to Tibetan Buddhism is being re-evaulated. Certainly, one cannot deny his influence in the creation of Naropa and Shambhala publishing and in his ability to attract attention and money in the 70s and early 80s that had a beneficial knock-on effect to other Sanghas.
However, as the baby boomer generation begins to age and die off, I wonder how much of his influence will outlast them. With each student memoir of the heady days that is published (and there are quite a few now), it seems as if his "scene" is turning more and more into a nostalgia trip. Even his many books (it seems his every utterance has been published at this point) while still full of interesting ideas, are beginning to creak at little with age and maybe do not speak with quite the same force to a new generation as they did to their parents and grandparents.
His organization under the direction of his son seems to be going off on a tangent of its own, that separates it from traditional Tibetan Buddhist schools and I think this too will contribute to an underplaying of Trungpa's role in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to America. Pema Chodron seems to be a last link with the Tibetan Buddhist Trungpa but even she is overseeing the creation of monastic tradition of sorts within Shambhala that will cut the tie with the Karma Kagyu monastic line.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:39 pm

Ramon1920 wrote:Regardless of Pema Chodron's credibility as practitioner, she is one person, you can't generalize Trungpa's influence by selectively pointing out 1 or 2 people that turned out alright and neglect the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, he ruined.

Thousands 'ruined' is quite a strong claim. Can you provide some evidence?

Ramon1920 wrote:I have had the unfortunate experience of observing 2 Buddhist communities, with young legitimate but impressionable lamas in the West and abroad in a non Buddhist country, degenerate into an embarrassment and hassle for their lineage.

Names, please? I am interested in what you have to say,
but unless I know who you are referring to I can't take your statement seriously.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Stewart » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:58 pm

smcj wrote:
Does that edition mention that Trungpa was disinvested of his role as Kagyu lineage-holder for some ten years by the Karmapa himself, not by Akong Rinpoche personally?

I was around from '76 on at a Karmapa center. I never heard of such a thing. And Akong didn't have the authority to 'disinvest' anybody of anything.


Maybe it would be a good idea, if not plain courtesy, to speak a bit more respectfully of Akong Rinpoche, who is a pure and well repected lineage holder.

Not only did he discover the 17th Karmapa on Tai Situpa's instruction, he played a major part in getting him enthroned at Tsurphu.

He has also worked selflessly to establish the Rokpa charity, which among it's extensive projects of restoring and supporting monasteries, schools, hospitals, clincs, childrens homes and training Tibetan doctors, supported the current Trungpa Tulku and Surmang Monastery for years, when Shambhala wasn't interested in doing so, Of course now that's all changed and now the Shanbhala view Trungpa Tulku as an 'asset'.

I have also never once heard Akong Rinpoche respond negativly to any of his critics, including the Shambhala people, most of whom never met him or the 'other Karmapa' faction, who have said shameful things about Tai Situpa and Akong R over the years. In fact I have only ever heard him speak of Trungpa R with respect and love. He was also in contact with Trunpa throughout the '70's, as was Sherab Palden Beru of Samye Ling, a fact the Shambhala people ommit.

Maybe it because Akong Rinpoche has been one of my teachers and I have known him for nearly 20 years, but I think your tone and comment just sounds flippant and disrespectful. Who gives a shit if you were 'at a Karmapa centre in '76'?! I doubt you knew Akong Rinpoche.

Rant over.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:58 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
Ramon1920 wrote:Regardless of Pema Chodron's credibility as practitioner, she is one person, you can't generalize Trungpa's influence by selectively pointing out 1 or 2 people that turned out alright and neglect the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, he ruined.

Thousands 'ruined' is quite a strong claim. Can you provide some evidence?

Ramon1920 wrote:I have had the unfortunate experience of observing 2 Buddhist communities, with young legitimate but impressionable lamas in the West and abroad in a non Buddhist country, degenerate into an embarrassment and hassle for their lineage.

Names, please? I am interested in what you have to say,
but unless I know who you are referring to I can't take your statement seriously.


Dzogchungpa, if you have ideas for how to conduct an authoritative study on this then I'd like to hear them.

Saying the names of these failed communities would embarrass their originating tradition or traditions. I'll not bring more embarrassment of association to them or become a target for degenerates. The second instance mentioned regards the private issues of a monastery.

There's no need to elaborate on what everyone should be able to see on their own, unaided. Trungpa had a nationwide influence and virtually all American Buddhists will have encountered it. Whether or not they recognize the damage depends on their discernment.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:22 am

Ramon1920 wrote: Dzogchungpa, if you have ideas for how to conduct an authoritative study on this then I'd like to hear them.

Hey, I'm not the one making a statement that would require such a study.

Ramon1920 wrote: Saying the names of these failed communities would embarrass their originating tradition or traditions. I'll not bring more embarrassment of association to them or become a target for degenerates. The second instance mentioned regards the private issues of a monastery.

There's no need to elaborate on what everyone should be able to see on their own, unaided. Trungpa had a nationwide influence and virtually all American Buddhists will have encountered it. Whether or not they recognize the damage depends on their discernment.

So, basically, you've got nothing. Very good.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:08 am

Inductive reasoning is sufficient to estimate numbers of those ruined, anything else would be impractical.

Dzog, there is in fact a logical fallacy here.
Because some information is unknown to you, all the related information is false is the fallacy
Suppose a man was to holler, "A train is coming!" as you walked along some train tracks and you responded, "Tell me something embarrassing about your friends". If he does not divulge all details does that mean there is no train coming?

I did not come here to make up detailed stories to denigrate others.
I have a lot of experience with breaking bad news to people and I am well prepared for the defensiveness and denial that often ensues.
I do not hold avoiding hurting peoples' feelings as high a priority as pointing out great dangers people might recognize as such.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:17 am

Hmm, interesting stuff. Personally I don't have anything invested here other than the fact that a couple of his books had a profound influence for me. How do you factor in people like me? I wouldn't even have bothered studying Buddhism I don't think had I not read Trungpa, I have no association with his lineage, and don't plan to..but I fully understand why his teachings are so highly regarded by some.

However, I don't think anyone's being particularly defensive, you've just utterly failed to make a compelling argument against him so far...or maybe it's more accurate to say that specifically, your argument about the effect of his legacy is so vague and undetailed that it's impossible to consider. I've no doubt there are some good arguments to be made in that vein, but yours was pretty sparse man.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:24 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Dzog, there is in fact a logical fallacy here.
Because some information is unknown to you, all the related information is false is the fallacy
Suppose a man was to holler, "A train is coming!" as you walked along some train tracks and you responded, "Tell me something embarrassing about your friends". If he does not divulge all details does that mean there is no train coming?

I understand, but this situation is not really similar.

Ramon1920 wrote:I did not come here to make up detailed stories to denigrate others.
I have a lot of experience with breaking bad news to people and I am well prepared for the defensiveness and denial that often ensues.
I do not hold avoiding hurting peoples' feelings as high a priority as pointing out great dangers people might recognize as such.

I am only interested in knowing the facts. I have nothing to defend and I am not denying anything, nor have you hurt my feelings. I have not studied with Trungpa or any of his students, and I don't plan to. I am just trying to learn about Trungpa's influence, since it is very large, as you admit.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Nilasarasvati » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:39 am

I did not come here to make up detailed stories to denigrate others.
I have a lot of experience with breaking bad news to people and I am well prepared for the defensiveness and denial that often ensues.
I do not hold avoiding hurting peoples' feelings as high a priority as pointing out great dangers people might recognize as such.


You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
You use catastrophic language, maximal statements (like "thousands" of people were "ruined"), and then totally ignore the people and close disciples who credit him with all that they value in life. I admit, he raised hell. He did things that would have made me walk out 1000 times over. I would have been terrified to meet him--but part of me genuinely believes its because he would strip me of my ego grasping bandaids faster than any other teacher could.

I have no personal connection to him...but I do deeply revere Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and I regard Pema Chodron as one of the only Western Vajrayana students I honestly believe to be a realized being. Moreover, I think the stories of his antics are completely illustrative of the Vajrayana. You can try to dismiss him, but if you think about the Kagyu lineage, you will realize it's a slippery slope at best.

My case, in a nutshell:

Decry Trungpa Rinpoche's lack of restraint, conformity, and social appropriateness--oh wait. What about Tilopa's diapers, violent rages, and raw-fish diet?
But surely, we can damn CTR for the trials and traumas he put his students through--sometimes to the point of near suicide, physical harm, and serious emotional disturbance! Oh wait, that's Tilopa, Naropa, and Marpa Lhodrak.
Or perhaps we can dismiss the legitimacy of his teachings because one of his students was a depraved, black magician who cursed and brought death to others...oh wait, that's Marpa again.
Or perhaps we can dismiss him because he was a debaucherous alchoholic with serial sexual partners--oh wait, that's Drukpa Kunley!

Anybody who thinks they can cleanly label Trungpa Rinpoche as "Good" or "evil" and walk away satisfied with that judgement is living in a nursery room of dualistic fixation. (Admittedly, so am I). But it's a world where all your action figures have to be good guys or bad guys. Every Dharma teacher is either a Yoda or a Darth Vader. It's silly. I wouldn't know a realized being if it bit me on the ass.

If you make these judgements of CTR when teachers like HH Dilgo Khyentse and the Karmapa held him as a Heart son... you're always going to be measuring him against criteria that has nothing to do with the Dharma itself.

In the end, the Harry Potters of the Kagyu lineage are going have to have faith that in spite of appearances, being queer as a two dollar bill, and all the scandals, Dumbledore is still the greatest Wizard of all time. :sage:
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby wisdom » Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:47 am

Ramon1920 wrote:Inductive reasoning is sufficient to estimate numbers of those ruined, anything else would be impractical.

Dzog, there is in fact a logical fallacy here.
Because some information is unknown to you, all the related information is false is the fallacy
Suppose a man was to holler, "A train is coming!" as you walked along some train tracks and you responded, "Tell me something embarrassing about your friends". If he does not divulge all details does that mean there is no train coming?

I did not come here to make up detailed stories to denigrate others.
I have a lot of experience with breaking bad news to people and I am well prepared for the defensiveness and denial that often ensues.
I do not hold avoiding hurting peoples' feelings as high a priority as pointing out great dangers people might recognize as such.


Even if everything you say was true, his printed works are not without merit. Nor is his life a waste because even if one takes your view his life is a teaching on the dangers of Vajrayana in general, and on the dangers of the student/guru relationship specifically. It can still become a cause for practitioners to try harder to keep their samayas and be mindful of their conduct thinking "look what happens when you don't do that!".

Either way I have no opinion on CTR. I enjoy his books, I am happy his student Pema Chodron has been able to positively influence probably thousands of practitioners in her life, if not more through her printed works. When it comes to karma, what we see is what we get.
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:05 am

Nilasarasvati wrote:Decry Trungpa Rinpoche's lack of restraint, conformity, and social appropriateness--oh wait. What about Tilopa's diapers, violent rages, and raw-fish diet?
But surely, we can damn CTR for the trials and traumas he put his students through--sometimes to the point of near suicide, physical harm, and serious emotional disturbance! Oh wait, that's Tilopa, Naropa, and Marpa Lhodrak.
Or perhaps we can dismiss the legitimacy of his teachings because one of his students was a depraved, black magician who cursed and brought death to others...oh wait, that's Marpa again.
Or perhaps we can dismiss him because he was a debaucherous alchoholic with serial sexual partners--oh wait, that's Drukpa Kunley!
It's called "crazy" wisdom because it is wisdom that doesn't seem to be wisdom. If I kill a few dozen people to increase my fame and wealth, have five mistresses, and drink large amounts of alcohol, am I a saint like Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak?
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Re: More Trungpa talk

Postby Nilasarasvati » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:12 am

Konchog, I hear you... I know exactly what you mean--outrageous behavior in and of itself doesn't make a Mahasiddha. But neither does outrageous behavior mean some one is a depraved, meaningless, wayward Guru.
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