With a Spaulding sponsorship to study at Oxford, Trungpa landed in England in There, he wrote the first book published in English by a Tibetan, opened up the first Tibetan Buddhist center in the west, Samye Ling in Scotland and became a British citizen. It was also in England that he first encountered a cultural wall to the Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Students could be intimidated by his rank or romanticizing his exotic Tibetaness.
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Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, who has been the leading advisor steering Rigpa during its recent crises, has spoken often of his reverence for Chogyam Trungpa. Two seminary attendees, the poet W. Merwin and his girlfriend, Anne, had retired to their room for the night after attending the Halloween party for a short time. Chogyam Trungpa, who was quite drunk by then, ordered them to return to the party. When they refused, he sent his guards to coerce them.
Eventually, the guards ended up breaking down doors and a fight ensued, with broken bottles gashing faces and friends fighting friends.
The room was completely trashed. When she refused, she was stripped by the guards, screaming. Many of the people at the party were drunk. There had been much stripping before the couple were brought down. Some naked participants had been carried above the heads of the guards and paraded through the room. This was all done to mark the occasion of the start of Vajrayana teachings. If they do that, they are valid paths. Any path that does not crush ego is spiritual materialism even if it is coated with all kinds of Buddhist jargon.
Lets take a break to analyse this a bit and to stir some questions and doubts. Indo-Tibetan Buddhism has very fine definitions for all its terminology—as do sciences. The definitions help to acquire precise knowledge and understanding and to avoid confusion or misunderstandings.
There are none because this is not a Buddhist terminology. As a result, the mind perceives a more concrete, independent, permanent, unitary self than is actually present. Believing in this falsely appearing self as a truth, the mind grasps to it as a truth and is carried away. But there is not this water which appeared so vividly. Similarly, there is no such independent self, though it appears so vividly as such. This wrong view has to be abandoned.
By cultivating insight or wisdom discriminating intelligence. Further, the mind takes its own self as more important than the self of others, as a result we usually take more care of ourselves and tend to neglect others. In fact, the Buddha-to-come had a strong power of will! The Buddha-to-come left two of his teachers who taught him the form and formless concentrations and said to them, that the states of concentration they have taught him are not nirvana but still states in samsara, and he moved on.
He left also his circle of ascetics and went on to search and to find the peace of nirvana, the end of the sufferings of cyclic existence, on his own. Moreover, there are many Westerners who have a weak self identity or less self-confidence.
Such people, who also might lack love in childhood, might be thirsty to be loved, to be recognised, to get attention from a kind person—or a charismatic, nice smiling lama. If such a lama abuses these emotional needs by manipulating the person with a mixture of giving love and violence humiliation, beating, means of subjugation , what a damage for such a person! How ignorant! But some individuals express to me that while they are in that organization, a little bit sort of fear. Fear is another tool used in cults to control.
The story of the Halloween party is certainly an incident that could evoke fear. Not only did Chogyam Trungpa use violent means to coerce students, but he persisted in these means to the point where the students themselves became violent and behaved in ways that could only undermine their own self-respect.
We demonstrated that the statement made by His Holiness was differentiated later, after he was asked again about his statement. Are we accumulating the negative karma of causing a separation between a student and their teacher? If you clearly see that danger, then advise. He should keep this distance.
Of course, in all of these cases, motivation is really the key. Then students are given a clear choice and a clear view. It would also be fine for Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to interpret why His Holiness spoke differently on two occasions. It is not fine for him to continue clouding the truth and misrepresenting His Holiness by just waiting for things to blow over.
This is the status quo of so many of the troubles in Western Dharma Centers as lamas refuse again and again to simply address reality. This is how Rigpa weathered every storm of their past. There is another big concern we have.
The advice Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has given so far is going into a direction of circular thinking, which is a mark of cults. But I am also talking about Vajrayana principle, in the Vajrayana principle there is the principle of something called pure perception which we will be talking tomorrow, thank you.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche does not say that a Vajrayana student of that abusive Vajrayana teacher should do this. Instead he basically said in all of his speeches: 1 the relationship between Vajrayana teacher and Vajrayana student is secret, 2 you cannot talk about what the teacher did to you to others, 3 even to think abuse is a breakage of samaya even worse so if you publicize.
We are worried because we think this advice by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche—summed in 1 to 3 —is a type of circular thinking that protects and enables the abuse in an inner circle.
This way of thinking seems to also be the basis of abuse as it happened in Rigpa. Make it public! This makes it hard for many people struggling with these topics to find some wholesome orientation. In his support of the letter by the eight ex-senior Rigpa students , His Holiness spoke of feudalism. He also spoke of the need for a revolution. He also further elaborated that such a mahasiddha could only indulge in alcohol or sex if he was at the spiritual realization where a cup of urine was no different than a cup of alcohol—or also, if the mahasiddha performed miracles that could be empirically investigated by scientists.
Without the full realizations, then the behaviors are too much about power. How can Rigpa assure them of this when there is admiration for such violent behaviors being voiced by the lama they have chosen to advise them moving forward?
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This wonderful truth is clearly manifest. Let this be recognized by all people of both elevated and ordinary station. Of Trungpa, the Dalai Lama later wrote, "Exceptional as one of the first Tibetan lamas to become fully assimilated into Western culture, he made a powerful contribution to revealing the Tibetan approach to inner peace in the West. As we are human beings, there must be that kind of feeling.
Crazy Wisdom – Life and Times of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche