Keeping Alive the Teachings

August 10, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post

The living treasure trove of teachings, practices, forms, symbols, individual and group instructions and methods, which the great Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche left to the world, are held by his direct students–to preserve, protect, and propagate.   Such treasure belongs not to us, but to humankind.

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188 Responses to “Keeping Alive the Teachings”

  1. john Tischer on July 30th, 2014 3:13 pm

    Whomever got enlightened by studying philosophy? Naropa,
    the great pandit of Nalanda, gave up everything to wander
    around with Tilopa,, and his graduation was a slap the face.
    I just don’t see the point of all this speculating about which side
    of the head of a pin should one part one’s hair?  I was a heavy
    thinker when `i was in my 20’s….looking for answers in whatever
    I read. When I found Buddhism and met Rinpoche, I felt I had
    all that I needed. Sure, there was intellect involved in turning
    the mind towards the dharma…but, as practice grew stronger,
    reliance on concepts grew weaker…instead of parroting the
    teachings, there was some real understanding based on
    experience of the path. The problem with philosophy is that
    it talks about perception theoretically, but really has a paucity
    of tools to develop that perception….unlike ~Buddhism, which
    does. Intellect is a tool….a sophisticated version of the basic split,
    that can manipulate phenomena, but, by it’s nature,
    is incapable of understanding it.

  2. Susanne Vincent on July 30th, 2014 6:52 pm

    That was a beautiful piece of writing, John.

  3. John Perks on July 31st, 2014 6:23 am

    Bravo Mr Tischer !!!

  4. James Elliott on July 31st, 2014 12:32 pm

    Disagree with devaluation of all things philosophical.
    In an interview with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, she mentions how Buddhism has influenced her.
    (Interview starts at 32:05, statement refered to is at 35:32)
    Having been raised Buddhist, she has always seen Buddhism as having a philosophical way of looking at what goes on in our lives.

    The problem is when philosophical approaches are used on the wrong things, or when non-conceptual intelligence or wisdom is used on the wrong things. This is exactly the problem with mixing politics and religion.

    While I appreciated the reminder of fundamentals, reports that new students have claimed they don’t understand Trungpa Rinpoche, descriptions of how SMR isn’t teaching Shambhala terma, and a few other reports from Mr. Hartz I braked at several other ideas like: if only… the wise and skillful men of Tibet could have magnetized the Chinese back to their indigenous tradition, Buddhism, transformed both Chinese and Tibetan societies—and maybe global society, in turn—and saved tens of thousands of lives. (A Buddhist caliphate saving the entire world!?) Or of a genuine “get-together” that could happen between 3 large historic blocks of people: Christians, Buddhists, AND Marxists, as if those blocks were in any way discreet separate or in need of melding.

    There may be an enlightened way to govern in a communist way, the world hasn’t seen it yet, but it simply has nothing to do with spiritual practice. Nor does Buddhism or any other contemplative practice as far as I can see have anything that can be applied to social or political cultures in order to transform them and make them reflect whatever it is we think it should. I just don’t see it.

    Please don’t interpret this as anti-politics in any way. We have truly critical issues in need of radical reform. It’s simply that Buddhism or any other contemplative tradition has nothing to do with that. Perhaps if someone attains realization and then applies themselves to those realms, but contemplative practice is at least in part as John describes it. Politics, policy, governing logistics, conflict resolution, justice, law and order, taxes, bills economics systems, traffic regulation, food production and distribution, on and on, are not.

    Using either as the solution for the other is discombobulating.

  5. john Tischer on July 31st, 2014 2:23 pm

    I love VCTR’s comment on absolute vs. relative truth

    “Relative truth says a lot and means very little. Absolute truth says nothing at all. ”

    Wisdom never gets it wrong.

  6. R Assaly on July 31st, 2014 2:51 pm

    Bravo again!

  7. Rita Ashworth on August 1st, 2014 4:45 am

    Hmmmm…there are philosophers and philosophers –some I believe out there are edging towards the shambhala teachings – want to know what some of them are saying is all.

    CTR also engaged with good thinkers out there in a conventional sense-yes did he not talk to Laing etc?

    Seems to me he wanted to know what was going on in the western world in many dimensions. But re my interest in philosophy kind of looking for sense of ‘open’ ground between the western traditions and some dharma, believe a confluence of ‘thinking’ and perhaps with time practice re exploring openness is developing out there. Anyway thats what I am observing and checking in with, hence my continual interest in ‘Open Dojo’.

    Yes know of all the Kagyu stories over the years but looking for some kind of way of expressing connection re group in our dissolving society.

    In Manchester groups now developing tentatively to explore social and ‘political’ issues in a wide dharmic sense-wonder what I am going to hear re this from the many traditions out there at the event I am assisting with.

    O well in strict kagyu sense Vajrasattva statue arose in thrift shop here…. ha ….bought it was bout 6 bucks American…..well best rita

  8. John Perks on August 1st, 2014 6:56 am

    Thats a good buy!

  9. John Perks on August 2nd, 2014 7:48 am

    Buddha in the thrift shop = Auspicious Coincidence

  10. Lee Weingrad on August 2nd, 2014 8:28 am

    James said:

    I agree, that there is no hope of the amalgam of the wedding of religion and politics. With two provisos: 1) you are not living in Bhutan or 2) that the Shambhala teachings of the Vidyadhara are not accessed completely or thoroughly. For the latter, the training of the Rigden, describes the procedures for the development of governor general of Shambhala. For me, the Dorje Dradul here is giving us detailed instructions on how we individually can develop, magnetize,outer and inner Drala, following his example of the education of the Rigden.

    Re: marxism, I agree that they had their shot and failed. Strike one. Beyond that there is a steep hill to climb in trying to incorporate it into an Enlightened Society. One is it’s basic philosophy, which is a materialistic outlook: Dialectical Materialism. Strike two. And then there is the belief opinion the goodness of the group. From the Vidyadhara’s perspective it’s individual basic goodness. Strike three.

    So yes, religion has a horrific track record in ruling — the canary in the coal mine was Tibet, which was rife with meat-fisted politics (central government burned down Surmang twice) and its evil twin, corruption. Of course such greatness came and comes from there. But not much inspiration for politics. So I see the Shambhala Terma as being a way into politics, but it will take a lot of study and practice.

  11. Lee Weingrad on August 2nd, 2014 8:52 am

    I unwittingly elided James’ astute comment:

    “Nor does Buddhism or any other contemplative practice as far as I can see have anything that can be applied to social or political cultures in order to transform them and make them reflect whatever it is we think it should. I just don’t see it.”

  12. James Elliott on August 2nd, 2014 2:52 pm

    As always Lee appreciate your feedback.

    Communism. Interesting way to dice it. I’d say simply communism ignores several fundamental drives in human nature, and so will always have squirrely unexpected and unwished for results.

    I wouldn’t hold Bhutan up as exemplary, except perhaps the kinds of upside-down-ness institutionalized religion can lead to. According to several human rights watch groups, among them Amnesty International, Bhutan has been practicing ethnic cleansing for just over 2 decades, displacing and dispossessing up to now something in the order of 1 million people, many of those stranded and stateless in Napalese refugee camps. You’re closer and may know something else, but that’s what several agencies have reported.

    I’m not currently familiar with the Rigden training, but there may be some misunderstanding. I see no problem with a Buddhist or Shambhalian trained leader, or a Christian or a Muslim one for that matter. (Rumi for President! Hallelujah!)

    I think it can only be positive when someone enters contemplative practice, learns something about the nature of mind, the human condition and so on, and takes that wisdom, view or experience into whatever profession they practice. More power to ’em.

    That’s another thing entirely from trying to buddhify the political landscape, institutionalizing a specific religion and inculcating the political process with it’s specific beliefs and idiosyncrasies. (Rather than taking care of business.)

    Anyway, here in this thread, mixing the two seems to lead to talking points or clouds which are hard to discuss, because the two, practice and politics, are about quite disparate things, leading to a disparaging of philosophical approaches altogether, an unfortunate baby with bathwater thingy.

  13. john Tischer on August 2nd, 2014 5:36 pm

    James, you are so confused. Your intellectuality escapes any reality.
    You want to see things as complex, like Rita, like Jim, Good luck and best wishes, Tischer

  14. john Tischer on August 2nd, 2014 11:16 pm

    Hmmmm….interesting….uh, I dunno….maybe there’s someone smarter than me around here that can help you…..(me!)….

  15. Rita Ashworth on August 3rd, 2014 3:40 am

    Dear All,

    Actually I am not going for the ‘complex’ more going for the simplicity, that CTR wrote of re the shambhala teachings-thats why think I am interested in theatre now-it has a sense of the simple. Anyway testing my feet, hands in this arena now.
    Thinking bout Mark Szap.s post on politics recently given up above-might use that for discussion at the convention –seems very open-ended comment about dharma/politics. Wonder what people will come up with. Well let the discussion begin on these things-stuff has been so lid-topped in the last few decades about Enlightened Society.
    Re communism aka philosophy ….there is communism and communism…some people I think we could work with, thinking bout John Holloway who is a Marxist and he is amenable for capitalism to be ‘cracked open’ in multifarious ways – yes definitely a Marxist that we could do business with, and a very good open human being to boot.
    Aka philosophy generally people might want to check out the European Graduate School on line –definitely a place that is providing a space for free-flowing discussion and debate.
    O Mr Perks…yes quite a bargain re Vajrasattva…looking for what appears next! Oh –ho thing is when I start questioning things and seeing things from different angles things do appear….I really like rinzai zen in that respect aka koans – as I think someone said before ES could have elements of a koan within it in that it is prodding us to Open ground….well best Rita

  16. James Elliott on August 3rd, 2014 5:43 am

    John T.
    Thanks for that well considered diagnosis.

    Using absolute reality to trump any other idea you don’t want to grapple with is frankly disingenuous.

    Buddhists who do that to make a point, to shut down discussion or maintain an illusory upper hand, are not only confused. It’s like using intellect, a tool as you say, like it was a pipe wrench with a 5 mm handle to hammer nails into a bucket of rice pudding.

    Once again, if you are talking about advanced states of mind, direct experience, non-conceptual wisdom, then fine. Within a teaching situation that may well be a productive way to calm discursiveness and illuminate what’s being taught.

    If you are talking about how a government is organized, or the logistics of membership in a community, or the obstacles and challenges of doing something seperate from SI central to preserve Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, then that kind of discombobulating logic from a lazy intelligence, is less than useless. (Not meaning Lee’s encouragement for non-symetrical thinking, which I thought inspired.)

    For anyone who isn’t disturbed by reading more than three sentences, try looking up the talk “Discovering Elegance” from Trungpa Rinpoche’s “Dharma Art” book. It’s about all the kinds of materialistic confused intellectual details a leader must take into consideration in order to govern and protect the well being of citizens and the discovery of elegance to flourish. That doesn’t happen just because members have gazed at the absolute.

  17. john Tischer on August 3rd, 2014 12:05 pm

    I’m not making anything up. What does it mean when they
    say Vajradhara has achieved the highest state of simplicity?
    What does it mean in the sadhana of mahamudra that “all
    thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in
    the sky.” or, “He who does the dance of Mahamudra puts
    a stop to thoughts so that all acts become the acts of the guru“
    The Dzogchen path, as described in Tulku Ugen’s book
    “As It Is” is simply receiving pointing out of the nature of mind,
    and recalling that experience over and over “many times for brief
    moments.” That’s it! That’s Dzogchen. Of course, they have aspects
    of the gradual path as well, but this “Radical Dzogchen” approach,
    as Keith Dowman coins it, has been practiced for millennia.
    I think this point in the debate is simply what’s been debated in
    Buddhism for a long time…the scholar’s vs the yogi’s approach.
    The Gelugpas insist that one must study the texts for many years
    before even engaging in meditation, whereas, the Kagyus and
    Nyingmas go at it right away. It’s a perennial issue. But, the
    third noble truth speaks of cessation…that’s the goal. There is
    no other goal whatsoever. The cause of suffering may be “desire”,
    “Craving” but I think “belief” also falls into that category….any kind of solid
    mental construct or idea.

  18. john Tischer on August 3rd, 2014 12:31 pm

    The Mahasiddhas were involved in all kinds of occupations….some were rulers, some were crafts people, prostitutes, ect.. So, a ruler must be trained how to rule…even if a person achieves Vajradharahood doesn’t mean they automatically have the skills to govern. So, yes, the relative world is important in that sense. The Shambhala teachings contain instructions on how the
    Sakyong should be raised for example. Ideally, an individual would have
    learned the skills to govern as well as the absolute P.O.V.. Then we could have enlightened society.

  19. James Elliott on August 3rd, 2014 6:03 pm

    John T.,
    your judgements of others is entirely made up. The weight you give one or another concept over others in order to support one or another idea you hold dear is entirely your own making.

    Here you list a number of ways realization can be described, none of which I’d argue with but all of which require a good amount of of unpacking and practice to be truly meaningful. Fine.

    Then you admit that spiritual practice does not a leader/politician make which has been my point all along.

    The enlightenment spoken of in all the texts, all the practices we’ve been given offer virtually nothing I have found, certainly not directly in terms of specific methods, instructions, forms of governance, or anything practical to fix the kinds of logistical problems anyone who actually needs to do something will encounter.

    The people in the Shambhala International administration, as in any such community, on up to national governments, sit in rooms together with all kinds of advisers, friends, mentors, Svengalis, influences whatever, and using their brains and intellect, concepts and experience make very considered decisions about all kinds of things that affect all the members or citizens. They don’t just groove on the absolute and wait for an answer to fall in their laps. And when they get it wrong there are very real consequences.

    To say that they or the people affected by their poor decisions simply need to develop a better understanding of absolute view, is imnlho, an almost psychotic response to some of the problems I’ve encountered and heard about. In that context it’s more a form of denial than wisdom.

    If we don’t find a better and more practical response than that, any concepts of an imagined enlightened society will be more akin to how Karl Marx described religion.

    Trungpa Rinpoche is a good example. Did he ever admonish people to engage the absolute view to solve a temporal problem he or someone else encountered?

    In the inspiration that “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here.”

  20. Lee Weingrad on August 4th, 2014 8:05 am

    That’s funny. I think there’s something missing. I alluded to practice being the necessary condition, in the sense that if we have no connection with our minds, ourselves, there is no hope of a genuine connection to what arises in either phenomena or specifically relationships, aka work sex and money. I mean, quite obviously and stupidly, that without a relation to, an acceptance of being who we are, there is no political system that can deliver us from kyanniskattsi.

    So speaking of the absolute, Rinpoche used or invented the term “the absolute dharma of this world ” in contrast with the plain vanilla “absolute dharma/dharmakaya” I believe this is the same meaning as “True Relative” (in Tony Duff’s translation of) Dza Patrul’s “Two truths.”

    So we yes must have the theories and the administrators groomed in dharma, but when we say ‘practice’ here we include what happens in formal practice and also the practice when the candles and Incence are snuffed out. Actually the latter is Rinpoche’s special contribution to us: not just to manifest awake but how to live our lives. The sanity and genuiness of our actions we can aspire to as “the truth as being true and living that way,” as he said at ’79 seminary. But aspiration means there’s trial and error, and openness to that, falling down and getting up and seeing that in ourselves, extending it to others.

  21. Rita Ashworth on August 5th, 2014 10:53 am

    O well, just making some notes on Mark’s post re Vajra politics-will also get Volume 8 of CTRs work on this.
    So as an individual amongst individuals at the convention here will throw my two half-pence in, and see what comes up re our present world, might be thrown out completely but could also spark some debate. Not totally sure of the format yet but 200 people chatting/eating together there is room for a lot of informal exchange of viewpoints about the dharma and society with the monastic sangha and laity.
    Re communism listening to Eric Hobsbawm, Cambridge historian, last nite on utube – he too talking of a coming age of barbarism and darkness and of how people slowly get used to distortion re politics and political upheaval in various parts of the world.
    Going to engage more and more with people like Hobsbawm as I go on re ‘investigating’ and ‘practicing’ Enlightened society. We need more debate not solely from the religious domain about this now, we could work together on exploring what is the shape of things to come….ha. best rita

  22. James Elliott on August 9th, 2014 2:41 am

    It’s not so plainly obvious, Lee. How many times, or with how many administrators have you seen it actually work that way?

    It’s to consider, that within the Vajradhatu community lead by Trungpa Rinpoche, whom we are more than biased about, but who anyway was arguably one of the most influencial Buddhist teachers of his time, that kind of progression or cause and effect you describe did not take place and flourish. If it can’t happen within the microcosm of his community dedicated to dharma practice at the level he was teaching…

    We’re getting off point I know. Originally the point being that there are, I think, some obstacles to setting up alternatives to SI for carrying on Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings: administrative, legal, and also the gestalt, for lack of a better word.

    For example, here in Saarbrücken an acharaya and at that time Director of Shambhala Europe covertly set up competing study groups in our city, unbeknownst to the half of us he did not favor. It cannot be overstated how disruptive that became at some point, not because of any single issue but on all levels, from being lied to, a lack of accountability and respect, how it affected us when we each tried to compartmentalize that (focusing on the absolute view, for example) and carry on, on up to how dharma was being discussed and understood at all. One new student when this subterfuge was uncovered was rightly furious. Our practice, in gross and subtle ways, became politicized.

    So maybe I’m overreacting when I have an almost allergic reaction to seeing ‘this’ suggested as an alternative to ‘that’, without any of the side effects being discussed. I actually kinda like the idea, honestly, but the sneezing and itching…

    In the inspiration of “the Wizard of Oz” when Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle (the wizard) frantically pulls levers and instructs Dorothy and her entourage to “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  23. Lee Weingrad on August 9th, 2014 11:37 am

    James, the fact that It often doesn’t work that way in administration of a sangha is no more of a proof that it doesn’t work than it not ” working” in our own lives. It a ne essay , not a sufficient condition. The introduction of, the working with the view –whether you call it dharmakaya or basic goodness or great eastern sun matters not– is that without which there is no hope of vajra politics, enlightened society.

    This is to be distinguished from the sufficient condition(s), those that bring about the result. If for example we practice diligently every day, there is no guarantee of a stable realization of the unfabricated state …because of all the shit we work with, which mainly manifests in the form of so-called obstacles, which are thoughts and events that we are not totally open to upon arising.

    At a certain point we have to give up blaming ourselves and others when things dont seem right. We created this mess from Saarbrucken to Raffah, and the problem isn’t the confusion but our lack of ownership of what arises. There is plenty of room for negativity in the source of dharmas. When that sufficient condition is met, then confusion will dawn as wisdom.

    This cannot be trivialized as naïveté , or cockeyed optimism. We must fearlessly call a spade a spade, meaning not to live with hypocrisy of others and at the same time realize in doing so, we open the door to others pointing out our own. It’s a process none of us are strangers to, thanks to the
    Inerrant broken heart and example of the Vidyadhara.

  24. Rita Ashworth on August 10th, 2014 3:09 am

    Yo we need to return to a discussion of vajra politics I believe re how we go on with our practice, hence my interest in Volume 8, which will be much food for thought. One wonders if further essays could be forthcoming from older students of how these programmes were constructed at seminaries and how the Vidyadhara said they should be taught. Of course I did go to one with Karl Springer in 86 where he talked of dharmadhatus being ‘political’ centres.
    Yes part of what may not be present in the newer groups is discussion of politics in this manner, maybe this is why people are hedging their bets on them. I still feel there has to be more democracy established –this one of the prime reasons I have left SI. Therefore too the emerging groups must make ‘politics’ more of a higher priority.
    Re Saarbrucken –just seems par for the course when a great teacher dies, there must have been many power struggles going on I suspect which many do not know of, besides the one Dan Montgomery reported of in 2004 re the Sakyongs ‘status’.
    But we are where we are now -how do we go forward? Still dont think SI has ‘it’ persay and would be very hard to put the whole thing back together again, altho friendships could go on one thinks to a certain extent – believe this thing has split, and the essence of what we got from the Vidyadhara will now have to be manifested in different ways. Enlightened Society/Open Dojo will have to be more discussed outside of the SI remit and entertained with other dharma groups in my opinion to have much force in a wider society.

    Well best Rita.

  25. Mark Szpakowski on August 16th, 2014 12:15 pm

    Here’s the Wenaus brothers filling a gap:, connecting wannabe retreatants with retreat offerings. This should ease the administrative and marketing efforts behind successfully putting on programs.

  26. James Elliott on August 19th, 2014 10:02 am

    Cool idea, Mark. But site needs to grow. California, Colorado, N.Y., B.C. and Bali.

    Delayed response, after some thought… I don’t think there is any disagreement about individual practice and realization being of tremendous value. However, and maybe this is merely because I’m not devoted enough, it sounds to me like the sufficient conditions you refer to are only about individual chances of realization, what can bring that about. I don’t always understand lists of such things, but have no qualms either.

    But I think there’s some kind of quirk we’ve developed that equates that with external political or day to day logistics, as if when we become accomplished dharma practitioners to some degree, the external world will fall into step in some way, that we won’t need to struggle because the external world will itself be changed, like hot-wiring reality.

    But isn’t being saved from koyaanisqatsi the result of a transformed view, not the function of an altered world or government? Perhaps when enough people have grocked that, maybe there is the possibility of altering politics to reflect that, but it’s not a recipe.

    My thinking, regardless of anyone’s level of realization or any blame games, if for example an acharaya is abusing his position it should be stopped. If someone’s robbing the till, it needs to be stopped, speeding through red lights, fined, if you need to pay bills earn money and pay ’em, on and on. The only help from practice there, is that we might see more clearly and handle more directly, but it’s not a short cut that eliminates the need for rules, regulations, justice and conflict resolution, etc. and not just in our thoughts.

    On an individual basis, in the context of practice, maybe one can step over that and talk about more pithy things. But any society that doesn’t employ those kinds of social necessities will invariably collapse. Practice alone won’t absolve that need.

    A link to why we shouldn’t be naive about how power works, knowledge that may be neutral but necessary whether one’s intentions are corrupt or pure:

  27. Rita Ashworth on August 20th, 2014 4:11 am

    Brill film James-watched it last nite…yeh reminds me of Manchester all that movement-we did originally have the largest industrial site in Europe and a lot of the wealth of this country came from the workers here who were exploited by industrial management, thats why have a lot of sympathy for indigenous people myself.
    Re meditators ‘changing’ things, the actual structure of society we still dont know yet-maybe not sufficient numbers at this present time, but yeh I dont really know what will happen…think Ashoka’s period perhaps the ripest historical thing we can explore. Thats why reading up about him. Dont know if what I am doing here will also have any bearing on how society goes-its a very long shot, but for one thing we do need to open up the debate a lot, lot, more about this.
    For example was watching Crazy Wisdom the film about Trungpa last nite, and some of the stuff he did seems now so antiquated -dont know if the Kasung will last or the Court – seems Ray kind of abandoned it and Dan too re his feelings for structure of American society. Not sure if I can sign up for it anymore either, think only the broadest strokes of what Trungpa did will survive aka notion of enlightened society, and perhaps some aspects of the shambhala teachings for the mass audience out there now.
    It is a changed world from the eighties and people are not going to structure themselves in orgs any more I think – and indeed why should they that process not working in the conventional sense or the slightly liberal sense either now. They do,however, definitely want some more impact in the political process itself. Dunno perhaps we could have unions re dharma practice and try and be very pragmatic about the process of actually governing aspects of our lives.
    Anyway seems inevitable to me now that a lot of governance will collapse in the coming times, can see this happening in the Middle East at present. What if this disgruntlement comes west moreso – still thinking bout how US will go in this age of austerity. Well best Rita.

  28. Steve on August 20th, 2014 10:25 pm

    I just completed a retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center which is listed on the retreat guru site
    It was a mix of “wannabes” with more serious practitioners. I kinda doubt that Acharya Lyon would like the ad at the bottom offering the shopping experience. The retreat (dathun) was not much different from one that
    I attended at SMC in 1983, except that people were allowed to do one week at a time. Most people have jobs and can’t do a month.

    >Mark Szpakowski on August 16th, 2014 12:15 pm

    >Here’s the Wenaus brothers filling a gap:, connecting >wannabe retreatants with retreat offerings. This should ease the >administrative >and marketing efforts behind successfully putting on >programs.

  29. James Elliott on August 23rd, 2014 9:20 am

    3 things.

    1. TED talks are great. The Video is simply to illustrate that there are things outside of dharma we need to study and know about in order to work with the world. Simply focusing on the absolute view and denigrating anything else as materialistic, clunky and meaningless is a form of DDD, dumbing down dharma. This was sort of suggested with how obstacles to furthering Trungpa Rinpoche’s dharma should be approached.

    2. Influence. My favorite analogy is that of Martin Luthor, who gets ALL the credit, but who was merely the spark thrown into a multitude that had over many years been talking about the inherent problems of those times. Only because enough people had already groked what he was on about, did it then create the bushfire we know as the Reformation. And that critical mass only came about because so very many people, however inarticulately, had already been discussing those themes.

    Eventually someone will be much more articulate and wise about what we and many others are going on about and the paradigm shift we all intuit is necessary will be set in motion. We may be mere drops in an ocean, but an ocean is a multitude of drops, ça va?

    This should be pursued in another link about political thinking. Because…

    3.Comparing Trungpa Rinpoche’s sangha to any projection of what enlightened society might look like is a mistake. His/our community was very much organized like a traditional vajrayana sangha with a Buddhist hierarchy, the realized master as benevolent dictator, his inner circle of close students and the rest of us slobs. Sangha here meaning the traditional idea of like minded students gathered around a particular teacher. I don’t see that as in any way antiquated any more than any teaching situation in really any discipline whatsoever has that kind of hierarchy.

    Imnlho, this is a fundamental problem with current Shambaloid thinking, that any form of ‘enlightened’ governance must be modeled around the vajrayana student teacher paradigm. Comparing the two, a community administration built to support the teacher/student relationship and on the other hand any presupposed structure of enlightened society, which would not only be more tolerant of other spiritual views, but which also must have many other functions, shows I think a misunderstanding of the differences in the aims of both.

  30. Lee Weingrad on August 23rd, 2014 10:45 am


    Just a few remarks to you James on the road here in NY State. “Comparing Trungpa Rinpoche’s sangha to any projection of an enlightened society, might look like a mistake.” If by that you mean “the comparing is a mistake,” I agree.

    We westerners are –by Chinese standards– notoriously miopic. We’ve only bee in business for 40+ years. But the accomplishments are protean. We have the establishment of not just Dharmic vocabulary that the Vidyadhara almost singularly created, but the rooting of the practice lineage. The former is not to be discounted, since it is another necessary condition without which we’d have nothing intelligent to say about practice. this should be contrasted with the mess in Chinese Buddhism, which uses a vocabulary that is 800 years older than that of Tibet’s.

    The Vidyadhara created an imperial model to be sure. But let’s remember – he also created the delek system, and the Sangyums, which if you remember, could fire Board members (and the Regent!). He also introduced a supplication to the Mother Lineage as well, which somehow got consigned to our spiritual dustbin. But we will soon use this in our work in Tibet.

    He also created the procedures for the training of the Sakyong. If you re-read these you’ll see it’s not so much an imperial handbook as it is a methodology for our own training and, more importantly, for our own and that of our children’s. This has been a great help to me personally in our family. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Boss as well as John Perks for this.

    Lastly I think, again, that if we are too impatient, we are also too mechanical in our idea of how the Vidyadhara’s legacy will be handed down. I saw Reggie Ray in Boulder. I visited Karme Choling. Do I follow these teachings? No. But neither do I disrespect them.

    If we practice regularly, daily, the light of the Vidyadhara’s wisdom and upaya will manifest through our activities, no matter what they are. We can actually do that. We have to stop waiting for Godot, for some vast spiritual/social transformation and see that the Kingdom of Heaven, Earth and Human is at hand.

    We should be patient and at the same time diligent in practice.

  31. Rita Ashworth on August 24th, 2014 9:33 am

    Dear James, Lee et al,

    James, perhaps I would agree with you more if we were not in the times that we are in which are desperate times
    I take from the Vidyadhara something else than the vajrayana lineage and that was his aim to go beyond even that to people outside of that structure. In this respect we can see the creation of the Naropa Institute which did at one time foster an explosion of discussion between East and West, this one of the features of the Crazy Wisdom film that I found interesting.

    So more on this side of the coin re VD’s teaching re sense of outwardness, in the grokking part and the grokking part providing clearer visions here to me as I go exploring things dharma wise/non-dharmawise. Think vajrayana has to be accommodated in some way but now how? Seems there has to be focus on the container –on letting rip peoples conversations about this in an honest and uncompromising way without party lines.
    Yes being back in Manchester –made me refocus on many things re Vids teachings and how enlightened society can be ‘seen”-working on it a good deal now and trying to make alliances.
    Lee would like to hear about the Mother lineage, interesting-that coming up in my locale-we are going to have a women’s space re dharma, so that indeed will be good to explore.
    Re the Court and the Kasung –think it is antiquated –the military has not allowed civil debate –we need a new conversation about this. Court – can come in many ways –what do we really mean about it, if we have something like it now how can we do it -can not follow the benevolent dictatorship model now, that kind of dictator not present in this instance –that dancing prowess of the dictator to multiple situations and peoples-it has to be more malleable than that original image, I think. We have to let some fresh air into this whole thing, or like Courts of old it will collapse.

    There is too much awakening of people happening in our period of history for any Court in its present form to handle it. As to me I come from an impatient city created by mad industrialists, but one that also fought for suffrage both for women and men. I am not going to give up that notion of an enlightened society for anyone.
    Anyway let’s end with a video of a kind of mother lineage from one of England’s great writers, Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell, impatient to the last breath ha!. best rita

  32. Mark Szpakowski on September 11th, 2014 5:33 am

    Ron Colman has written an Open Letter to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche re the themes of this topic.

  33. john tischer on September 11th, 2014 11:18 am

    Great letter by Tashi. You know that it will have no impact.

  34. john tischer on September 11th, 2014 12:23 pm

    Tashi’s letter had some great suggestions in it. However, to be realistic, it seems highly unlikely that the Sakyong would deign to address it, if he even reads it. I’ve written before about Tepoztlan, where I live, about the Shambhala group here that follows a phony shaman. I’ve written how myself, and an other older sangha member had petitioned that Sakyong, through David Brown, to
    take action because these people are not only breaking all their vows, but also corrupting the dharma by following this impostor, to no avail. He’s even made a couple of the worst violators shastris. In light of this, I feel confident that SMR is not going to pay any attention to Tashi’s letter, or to anything that challenges his “vision”.

    I’m not speaking as a disgruntled student, but as someone who was empowered by VCTR to teach, as was my wife, and sent to South Carolina.
    When the Sakyong because empowered, he dis-empowered his father’s students. This much, at least, is clear… whatever it means to anyone. Tashi’s letter would be better off if it was sent to SMR’s students

  35. john tischer on September 11th, 2014 3:14 pm

    A number of the Acharyas have dropped out (Judy Lief, Sam Bercholtz, Fenja Heupers, Jud Leviinson) I mean, retired, and others who were important Vidyadhara students (The Loppon, Jeremy Heyward,) you hardly hear about anymore. These people never criticize the Sakyong, in part, I believe, because their reputations depend on him to a large extent…but you couldn’t say that their behaviors are a glowing endorsement either. So, I feel there is a lot of hesitation from people who see what’s happening, but, for a variety of reasons prefer to remain silent. Luckily for me, my reputation is so bad, I can say anything I want. the Vidyadhara was the only one in the organization who listened to me or heard me anyway, so, I’m fine with it.

  36. Suzanne Duarte on September 11th, 2014 4:30 pm

    I agree with John T. about Tashi Colman’s open letter to SMR, and about the unlikelihood of any positive response. I find Tashi’s heartfelt letter very poignant ~ so sincere in its supplication to please restore the chants that help us to express Kagyu-Nyingma devotion ~ basically, to please keep the Vidyadhara and Vajrayogini in the curriculum. But compassion for the Vidyadhara’s disaffected, alienated students does not appear to be a motivating factor in Shambhala Intl. I wonder whether Mahayana teachings even remain in the SI curriculum.

    In any case, Clarke Warren has written a response to Tashi’s letter, which presents a very interesting perspective. I hope that too will be posted as the two together might stimulate further depth in our explorations of ‘where we’re at’ collectively as a sangha of students of the Vidyadhara.

  37. Mark Szpakowski on September 11th, 2014 5:32 pm

    John T, I think you mean Jules Levinson rather than Jud Levinson.

  38. john tischer on September 11th, 2014 5:41 pm

    Mark…yes, thanks for the correction.

    Suzanne…where’s Clarke’s letter?