I'd like to know what others think of this aspect of Trungpa's legacy. If no one's reading him, why is it necessary to bury him rhetorically or position him on the margin?
I do find this an interesting question – just why is it still felt necessary to go over the criticisms of Trungpa?
I, of course, can't look into the minds of others, but Jikan asked what others think, and I do have a thought to offer, and it is this: perhaps what rankles is not so much Trungpa himself, or even what people thought about him at the time, but the fact that there are still people who seem to think that those who are not taken in by Trungpa are somehow missing the point, failing to "get" some deep spiritual truth.
Trungpa himself, after all, has his own karma to deal with. Ironically, it does not seem to have brought much honour to his next incarnation from the organisation he left behind in the West. But the Trungpa we are talking about is long gone, and I think we can leave him to "rest in peace". (How do we express that sentiment in Buddhist terms, by the way?)
Egomaniacs are not uncommon. When they get into positions of power the results can be very unpleasant. This extends from dictators and emperors on through military commanders, politicians, captains of industry and banking, headmasters, teachers, priests and more. Not that all of these people are egomaniacs, of course. Leaving aside the more violent options available at the top of the list, the characteristic behaviour is well-known. Frequently it involves making people dance in attendance, making them wait, putting them in double-binds where they try to please the boss but are supposed to be honest about their feelings; unpredictable changes of plan; favouritism that is nevertheless volatile, with new favourites appearing unexpectedly and trusted lieutenants suddenly becoming persona non grata; the development of an "inner circle", guardians of the secrets, whatever they may be, all of them in fear of being ejected from that circle; expectations of particular behaviours, dress codes and tastes from the entourage; and of course, exploitation of the position of power to indulge the egomaniac's tastes for sex and drugs. A good, psychological gangster movie will pretty much give you the idea.
Obviously enough, Trungpa's behaviour has a certain consistency with the broad spectrum painted above. Now if somebody wants to say that in Trungpa's case there was something special going on, and that this behaviour was "enlightened" or even, heaven forfend, "crazy wisdom", I don't see that there is a problem. I have some good friends who say much the same about Sogyal Lakar. It's not a problem between us, even though they know that I don't share their view. On the other hand, one can come to the judgement that Trungpa was merely a clever, charismatic egomaniac who had the benefit of several years privileged education and training in the old Tibet.
What I suspect niggles at those who feel the need to still criticise Trungpa is that there are those who do not seem to be content with their admiration for him. Even now we find suggestions that those who take the second view are somehow inferior, in some way less "Buddhist" or at any rate not yet fit for the Vajrayana.
All the best
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