The Wheel is Turning

December 9, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Here’s a roundup of some of the latest goings-on related to Shambhala International and to dharma in today’s world.

Jim Gimian conducted a video interview with Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, the tulku, still a teenager, of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. This makes a great follow-up to Gesar Mukpo’s Tulku movie (trailer on YouTube), and might even be somewhat controversial, as the Yangsi says quite openly that he feels his teachers made a mistake in recognizing him as a tulku.

Shambhala News Service message on September 21st (note that all SNS emails can be reviewed on their web page) announces the new website of the Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project, and clarifies:

The project is housed within Kalapa, the central governing structure of the mandala, with the Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche and Lady Diana Mukpo as its patrons. It has an executive director and advisory board appointed by the Sakyong who work in close association with the President of Shambhala.

The upcoming Chögyam Trungpa documentary Crazy Wisdom, directed by Johanna Demetrakas, surpasses its “Kickstarter” fundraising goal.

The Letter of the Morning Sun presents the Sakyong’s vision of the future. It notes that “our community has healed and recovered”, and asks community members to respond to three questions he poses.

Chronicles Radio Dispatches starts a new series with an interview with Richard Reoch, president of Shambhala International, who discusses the Sakyong’s letter, how the Sakyong’s sangha is the life-force pole of a greater mandala, and other issues.

Meanwhile the Great Vajradhara thangka is moved from Dorje Dzong in Boulder to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya at Shambhala Mountain Center.

The Kalapa Capital Centre project, aiming to create the “Capital Building of Shambhala”, provides a couple of updates on its current and planned activities.


84 Responses to “The Wheel is Turning”

  1. Rob Graffis on December 9th, 2010 12:34 am

    Why would Yangsi still allow himself to be a Tulku then?
    I know. Not many people step down from the position, but if he feels it’s a mistake..
    Knowing me, I’ll ask people close to him about it.
    I have to see the chronicle thing first.

  2. John Perks on December 9th, 2010 7:50 am

    Well worth the time to read The Sakyongs letter to the Shambhala community a heartfelt and geniune invitation for all to join in the vision of Shambhala……the way forward

  3. Mark Szpakowski on December 9th, 2010 8:45 am

    I’ve corrected the link to the Yangsi interview video: it is at This works better, especially if you have lower bandwidth, than does the Chronicles link.

  4. Rob Graffis on December 9th, 2010 9:26 am

    Yangsti Khyentse Rinpoche interview link I have (that works) is:

  5. Suzanne Duarte on December 9th, 2010 12:21 pm

    Thanks, editors, for this roundup of news and links. I am interested to know more details about what has happened to the Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project since it has been taken over by, or subsumed into, Sakyong Mipham’s version of Kalapa. For example, you say above:

    “The project is housed within Kalapa, the central governing structure of the mandala, with the Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche and Lady Diana Mukpo as its patrons. It has an executive director and advisory board appointed by the Sakyong who work in close association with the President of Shambhala.”

    My understanding was that the Legacy Project started out as a somewhat independent project that was in the hands CTR’s students – independent of Shambhala International. In Carolyn Gimian’s blog on the CTLP, she wrote on DECEMBER 19, 2008, “Please join us. We need your ideas, your donations, and your passion to help support the legacy of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, which belongs to all of us and to many more sentient beings.” Does CTR’s legacy still belong to all of us, or does it now literally ‘belong’ to SMR?

    And Carolyn also said that The Advisory Board of the Chogyam Trungpa Legacy Project consisted of:

    Helen Bonzi, Walter Fordham, Carolyn Gimian, Wendy Karr, Judith Lief,
    Thomas Hast, Larry Mermelstein, Miriam Tarcov, Sara Bercholz, David Rome

    These are all students of Trungpa Rinpoche – people who knew and worked with him (except Sara Bercholz, daughter of Sam B. of Shambhala Pubs, who was a child when CTR was alive). Has the executive director (Carolyn Gimian) and membership of the Advisory Board changed now that SMR appoints them? If so, who has he appointed? Has he appointed people who knew and worked with CTR? The president of Shambhala did not know and work with CTR.

    When I read the CTLP About Us page, the personnel of the Legacy Project are not named, and info about funding seems opaque. I sense there’s a lot that isn’t being said on that page about the control of the project. Am I being unjustifiably suspicious?

    I guess my main question is, is the project better off now that it is “housed within Kalapa, the central governing structure of the mandala”? Or not?

  6. Dan Montgomery on December 9th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Suzanne Duarte asks: Am I being unjustifiably suspicious?

    Probably not.

    Within the last two years, I have heard second hand that certain members of the extended “Royal Family” have hosted so-called “Harmony Meetings” with certain very devoted senior students of the late CTR, at which it is pointed out that ongoing access to certain copyrighted teachings of CTR may be withdrawn at any time if one doesn’t support, or at least refrain from criticizing, the current manifestation of a certain Sakyong.

    I’m not sure if public confession of erroneous thinking and humiliation are also involved, but I may be confusing this with the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao.

    Having said that, I also know that many of CTR’s closest students had a much higher tolerance for ambiguity, groundlessness and cognitive dissonance than I could ever manage. That’s what he was like. I could only get so close to that fire. So, perhaps I’m way too literal minded here, and you don’t perceive this as a problem the way I might.

    If this rumor is not accurate, I am open to having my story corrected at any time.

  7. John Tischer on December 9th, 2010 3:11 pm

    J. H. wrote an interesting
    e mail about Jeff
    Waltcher’s Sakyong Foundation, and that he’s using donations to S.I. to support his own lifestyle. Another rumor? It’d be great to have a Wiki-leaks look into what these people are actually saying to each other.

    John Perks: I thought SMR’s letter was one long platitude, completely
    ungrounded in reality.

  8. Suzanne Duarte on December 9th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Thanks, Dan. You make me laugh. I’m not at all surprised to hear what you say about the ‘Harmony’ meetings. I’ve heard similar things. I have also heard that in Europe, some CTR students were asked to return their vajrayana texts for committing some unpardonable sin against SMR/SI some years ago. (James Elliott has told the story somewhere on RFS, I think.) Demanding that CTR students surrender their vajrayana materials is a major violation of samaya, from my pov. But I’d like to see the Amsterdam kasung try to break down my door of reinforced steel, and try to take my dharma materials away. Fortunately I have just about everything, and I know where I can get anything I might be missing outside of SI’s control. These totalitarian tactics never work for long – they only stimulate more cleverness among the anarchists. 😉

  9. meg on December 9th, 2010 7:31 pm

    thank you john tischer for your comment on SMR’s letter: my husband and i (both sangha members) spent hours pouring over the eight pages the letter took up when printed out. in the end, we could not make head or tails of it. i kept wondering who he had in mind as an audience when he wrote the letter. for both of us it seemed quite irrelevant. so we gently put the letter away on a bookshelf and decided that really ‘nothing happened’ and we’d simply continue practicing and see what unfolds. there’s been stirrings in our local sangha about ‘discussing the letter’ etc. but what we figure that means is that no one really wants to hear anything genuine: it’ll just be one big kumbaya party where people trip over themselves to say the next politically correct thing. onward ho!

  10. Rob Graffis on December 9th, 2010 10:18 pm

    It seems like Yangsi Khyentse was more being humble about his position as far as being a tulku goes, not saying it was a mistake. Thay was a friend’s of mine opinion too. I would like to hear what other people thought of it.
    I have read / heard that tulkus doubting their positions when they are young is not uncomon, because people think they are something they aren’t, and a lot of expectations are put on them.
    I read within in the last year about a western Galugpa tulku from Spain who denounced the.whole thing, and left his role in his early 20s because he said it stole him from his childhood, and he wasn’t allowed to be a normal boy.

    John, please clarify you said. Who’s lifestyle were you saying the Sakyong Foundation was supporting? The Sakyong’s or Waltcher’s? You only said “his”.

    The letter sent to Vajrayana students in Euroville was to those who didn’t pay their dues anymore.
    I have some cheap malas and bells and dorjes lying around I bought for a few bucks overseas.I’m sure many of us do. If Shambhala International in Europe is that desperate for practice materials, we should donate them if they pay postage.. I’m sure they can use some used prostration boards.
    Somebody misplaced or stole my Flight Of The Garuda book I lent to my local center.
    Just trying to be funny.

  11. Ravi on December 10th, 2010 3:31 am

    Hello Rob,
    it seems that tulkus sometimes negate their stature. I am quoting from: :

    Thrangu Rinpoche has been asked if he remembers his past and if he really is a tulku. The times I have heard him answer he has said that he has remembered little about his previous life. He has also said that he has no special powers or abilities and that sometimes when the Karmapa is asked to recognize a tulku and that tulku has gone beyond being reincarnated, the Karmapa “looks around” for a worthy candidate and says that person is the reincarnation. He says he is most likely one of those tulkus. Others believe that Rinpoche is just being overly modest. This conviction is based on events which Tenzin described in the continuing story he obtained from Rinpoche’s family members.

    I don’t remember where but I also heard he said he was not the tulku but would try behaving as if he was and keep the seat till the real one appeared. Judging from what he accomplished in his life he put on a rather good act and nobody is waiting anymore for the “real” tulku.

  12. rita ashworth on December 10th, 2010 9:05 am

    Dear All

    Dont know where this post will fit in re the Wheel is Turning maybe under the RR interview.

    I have been thinking of this 12 million figure stated by the Sakyong as a possible number of shambhalians and quoted by RR in the interview. So re the researcher in me I have been investigating this.

    It seems to me from my research on utube that it can be seen as a kind of marketing figure, for example houses are sold at 12 million, points are scored on games at 12 million, fundraising is done at the 12 million mark. So the figure does seem to have some allure.

    But again if you check the figure out in a more concrete sense via wikipaedia reports of Buddhists in the States stem from 1.5 million to 6 million –quite a large range but then its difficult to get figures I imagine. So some how I dont think the Sakyong is going to get the bulk of his students from America or may be not even Europe because of the similarities of our cultures.

    So then its to the world. I was trying to think of some where where he might be more successful and of course I thought of China inevitably. So I think you would have to begin to have more of a focus on the east and I do believe the Sakyong has plans for that.

    So from 8000 members could you get 12 million? You would have to get hundreds of mass conversions in the space of ten years –and I for one do not think that is feasible even for Mr Waltcher and the Acharyas. But even if you have a more conservative estimate of perhaps 1 million I am not even sure if that is on- you would have train many teachers to teach what is now becoming a very complicated curriculum that is quite expensive for your ordinary bod in the street. So how indeed would that attract 12 million people let alone 1 million people?

    (On a more humourous note after all these two hour WOS sessions that may occur in London –you would have no time to do the dialogue practices for real in the Pub!)

    However figures are important and I do believe that Trungpa wanted the teachings to get to people in terms of the meditation practice so I would welcome hearing from older students what were the figures that Trungpa was thinking about in his mind for people to hear about the teachings that would be interesting to know.

    So more pragmatic level and perhaps a more ‘spiritual’ level too called for with these teachings.

    Best Rita Ashworth

  13. rita ashworth on December 10th, 2010 9:24 am

    sorry to post again small typo should read millions of conversions obviously -thats figures for you! best rita

  14. John Tischer on December 10th, 2010 12:36 pm

    So….the past is over….think about the future? What happened to now?

  15. Judy Schenk on December 11th, 2010 7:08 am

    Hear, hear, John!
    Speaking of now… Rita, The new curriculum WOS courses present and explore the teachings of VCTR as he expresses them in Sacred Path of the Warrior. That book is recommended reading, and there are lending copies at the Centers to borrow. Also recommended is Turning the Mind Into an Ally. The first 5-week course offered explores various aspects of meditation: basic instruction, establishing a meditation practice, challenges and obstacles; working with strong emotions; working with and cultivating awareness in everyday life. The Shambhala Generosity Policy states that if people can’t afford to pay the full fee for anything, they are encouraged to please attend anyway and pay what they can. At my local Center there are always people attending who can’t pay anything. The courses are offered on Sundays and on a weekday evening. People arrange their lives and weekly schedules so that they can attend one or the other (or both) ; the Center schedule offers group meditation, tea, and a class or informal talk with discussion; then we usually go out to some public refreshment establishment for 3 or 5 hours more of ‘dialogue practice’..

  16. Rita Ashworth on December 11th, 2010 7:36 am

    Dear John,

    I am trying to posit how the teachings could be promulgated now.

    Of course we do seem now to have sort of plan how SI is going to carry things forward but from my post I dont see this as feasible and thats why I outlined my queries as to the 12 million figure.

    Indeed DKR has outlined in his interview on the Chronicle Project that western fascination with Buddhism might die out in the coming years which is a possibility if you look at the amount of people practicing the dharma in the states from all the traditions.

    Listening to his interview he does place more emphasis on the bringing the dharma out of somewhat the Tibetan tradition to a ‘modern’ world.

    Now the question is now how would you do that? For the life of me I dont see this happening with the operation of SI and on rfs I have brought queries to the table in regards to Art, politics and the transmission of the teachings. And all those queries are still laying on the table.

    So yes the ‘dissenters’ will have to also come up with ways of furthering these teachings in the west and the world. And indeed we have had tentative comments made about this by Phil Karl and Mark Szp.

    Heres another tentative aspect of how you could promulgate the teachings here. Why do we not empower people fully at the local level to actually transmit the shambhala teachings instead of having a command and control organisation like SI.

    I was trying to think of a comparative way that this has been done in the west and I have posted on this before. You could have something based on the reiki, NLP model where local groups are independent but are some how licensed by a supporting authority. Now people might say this is franchise Buddhism but I dont think so –you could still have within that context connection to vajrayana teachers as with the old motif of the shambhala teachings being the container for the vajrayana teachings.

    So it would be up to local level as to which teachers they relate to and indeed you would be providing the space for those relationships to occur.

    For example consider Christianity in the west, as history has proceeded it has gone more to the local level after the Reformation so it is an empowering religion in the sense of making the congregation the teachers initially–we need only look to the Methodist, Quaker, Reformed traditions to see that. And this is where social change happened with the aid of these churches. And indeed has time has gone on with these traditions colleges have been formed and they have deepened their practice and leaders have emerged.

    Well I hope Phil Karl and others post more on his conception of western Buddhism because people do need to be having similar conversations outside of SI as to how the teachings could be furthered in the west as Trungpa did indeed want on a large scale.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  17. Judy Schenk on December 11th, 2010 10:57 am

    (sorry for the second post!) I’m confused, Rita. Your suggestions re: “how the teachings could be promulgated” sound like descriptions of pretty much how things are organized now in Shambhala. Have you been to a Center lately..?

  18. rita ashworth on December 12th, 2010 5:26 am

    Dear Ms Schenk,

    Briefly I have left SI. I post on rfs to explore CTR’s lineage and to connect with that.

    I believe the shambhala teachings should be open for all in their entirety without recourse to becoming a Buddhist and other people on rfs are connected to such a viewpoint aswell.

    Yes and I still have a connection to the Kagyu lineage which I wish to explore in parallel.

    I do hope that WOS goes well for you but yes too others increasingly are exploring their options.

    O yes and Mr Tischers comment on the other thread this Sunday morning made me laugh!

    Still hope rfs remains to connect all of CTR’s students together in cyberspace and that we can explore his rich teachings.

    Well Best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  19. damchö on December 15th, 2010 9:00 pm

    I’ve read the Sakyong’s “Letter of the Morning Sun” a third time now and would like to set down some thoughts about it. (Apologies for taking up more than one post here–this is just one larger post and I promise not to make a habit of it!)

    1) “Even though it can be seen as a path by which an individual can travel into the great depths of enlightenment, this journey has a greater purpose than that. Shambhala vision is changing the whole social paradigm.” (page 3)

    The Sakyong does seem to be saying here unambiguously that Shambhala vision has a greater purpose than enlightenment. But what could possibly be greater than enlightenment?: “changing the whole social paradigm,” he says.

    But is this really greater than enlightenment? How could that be? Enlightenment means liberation from all delusion, ceasing to generate the causes and conditions of all suffering, becoming a wish-fulfilling jewel for all beings. Doesn’t the bodhisattva vow explicitly mean that **in order** to be of great benefit we must be utterly devoted to the realization of enlightenment?

    The Sakyong also seems to be saying, at least effectively, that Shambhala alone is doing the paradigm-changing, because nowhere in this passage and really nowhere in the letter does he acknowledge that in fact lots of other people are working on this change too, each in their own ways. And there is no reference at all to other Buddhist traditions either. (The existence of other spiritual paths in general is brought up only once, on page 5, in order to say the following: “The Rigden … as an enlightened universal monarch … has the power and vision to protect all wisdom traditions.”)

    2) “We are definitely kinder as a community. In a recent conversation with Lady Diana Mukpo, she commented that the community is as kind and as caring as she has ever experienced.” (pages 4-5)

    My personal experience could not be more different. In fact I would have to say I have experienced degrees of unkindness and lack of compassion, condemnation, ostracism, and just plain nastiness that I’ve never seen anywhere else in my life. Given a great many testimonies of others as well on this forum and elsewhere to similar effect, I think the answer to the apparent paradox must be this: Shambhala International as such is more **homogenous** than ever before. [cont]

  20. damchö on December 15th, 2010 9:04 pm

    [cont from above]

    In other words, those who disagree with something or are deemed insufficiently “with the program” are simply not given positions of power, are eventually let go from the positions they currently hold, are let go from centres. Those who remain are true believers, and indeed exhibit kindness towards each other. That is the way of things.

    3) “Therefore, I feel we have come to a crossroads. I understand that there are many complicated emotions and feelings. However, at this time we must wade through those feelings in order to reach some basic, fundamental conclusions about what our life is, and what we are committed to. Is Shambhala at the core of that commitment? ….. if we do not make the effort to be honest and challenge ourselves emotionally at this crossroads, in ten years time we will have just prolonged our vacillation and encouraged another generation of vacillating minds.” (page 7)

    What is the gist of this message, coming after the “three questions”? To me it can only be this: everyone reading needs to decide if they are fully, totally, 100%, uncritically “committed” and “loyal” to the program. Anything else is “vacillation” and negative. But what must people be “committed” to? Dharma, the truth? I don’t see that this is what is being said, because there are many communities teaching true dharma, and the Sakyong isn’t talking about that here, a situation in which all dharma communities and indeed all wisdom traditions could join together as equals to uplift the world.

    The Sakyong does seem to be speaking of a political loyalty to Shambhala International, asking everyone to cease all doubt whatsoever in the command structure of SI, in its teachers at all levels (see page 6), its organizers, its military / police–everything. Or else…commit oneself elsewhere. Shambhala–it is implied on every page of this Letter–has Big work to do, bigger than anything anyone else is doing. Nothing can stand in its way, it is too important. This work is even bigger than Enlightenment. It is, implicitly by itself, “changing the whole social paradigm”.

    I am happy for others to strongly disagree with the above, by the way!

  21. Michael Sullivan on December 15th, 2010 11:41 pm

    Damcho –

    Well said.

  22. Chris on December 16th, 2010 10:13 am

    2. Transcendental Belief System: the “overarching ideology” that binds the devotees to the group and keeps them behaving according to the group’s rules and norms. The leader and his administration layout the “methodology” or “recipe” necessary to travel the path and it provides a “world view” that offers both “meaning and purpose” through a “moral imperative.”This requires each member to subject himself to the programmatic structure laid out. The members can feel a sense of connection a larger goal. The belief system is “internalized” and behaviors and attitudes conform to the group’s goals.

    From Lilich: Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships: One of the four interlocking dynamics in the Power Structure of Cults

    The four interlocking power structures are listed in the Thread that was closed: Shamhala in the 21st Century.

  23. rita ashworth on December 16th, 2010 11:00 am

    Dear Damcho,

    Yes indeed well said.

    I am not vacillating because I am not in a vacillating container anymore –so I am non-vacillating post-dissenter!

    What do you think of the 12 million that kept me laughing for quite awhile after I had done the research.

    I keep thinking Trungpa is going to reappear round the corner and say Gotcha!

    Well best for the season.

    Rita Ashworth.

  24. Dan Montgomery on December 16th, 2010 5:02 pm

    I’m actually in agreement with some of the “theory” that SMR lays out in his Letter of the Morning Sun. Enlightenment for ourselves is not enough; Shambhala is a manifestation of the bodhisattva path that includes, but goes beyond personal enlightenment and interpersonal kindness, into more powerful action based on a deep systemic understanding of how things work in the world. In fact, CTR once said “Shambhala is the causematics of reality”.

    CTR was also very fond of admonishing us: “don’t be a Buddha-pest”. My interpretation of this pun derived from what he said so many times, that we don’t run out to save the world until we have developed some real insight into how things arise. The notion, contained in the Letter, that changing the social paradigm is a greater purpose than personal enlightenment actually makes a bit of sense if you believe (or are told often enough) that our very survival as a society is imperiled and we are descending into a dark age as foretold by some prophecy.

    So much for theory. In practice, when you combine that with the idea, expressed by Richard Reoch, that it doesn’t actually matter if the Sakyong is enlightened, that we should have loyalty to the Seat – to a chair! – we’ve (they’ve – you can count me out) lost all pretense of being an organization that actually creates a container for transmission of dharma. This will be an organization of Buddha-pests, believing that They Alone can save the world.

    The great Yogi, Yogi Berra, once said, “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.”

    If SMR truly means what he is saying here, he is painfully out of touch with reality. We have not healed. We have amputated. And how is it that Diana Mukpo is his only source for data as to how kind we’ve become? Is he really that isolated? This is just sad.

    To quote the letter: “Simply put, with such magical teachings as our legacy, if our community is not kind, cheerful, and confident, then the world should not pay us heed; our arrogance should be checked.” Indeed!

  25. edward on December 16th, 2010 8:44 pm

    The project is housed within Kalapa, the central governing structure of the mandala, with the Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche and Lady Diana Mukpo as its patrons.

    This sounds scary. I have no idea how this works, but I assumed that part of the reason why a legacy project was needed in the first place was because the man known as SMR was not honoring the Druk Sakyong’s legacy.

    The amount of blindness that might be going on here is scary.

    Isn’t there a need for someone to honor CTR? Does anyone care about this? Where is your anger?

    I don’t think a person has to be attached to their anger, but being free to allow it could be a step forward for some of us, depending on what kind of upbringing we had.

    Try watching this video clip with the volume all the way up. Then turn it up a bit higher.

  26. Mark Szpakowski on December 16th, 2010 10:13 pm

    Yeah, this scene from “Network” has been getting a lot of airplay recently, perhaps for obvious reasons ($12.3 _trillion_ handed off to the banks!?!).

    It’s pretty much winter here in Halifax, and I’ve been burning wood in the stove, which has given me an appreciation of how anger works, and how it’s different from aggression. If you let a lot of air into a fire – wind – it flares up the fire, so that it quickly fierces and dries up and sublimates the moisture, creating paths for the flames that remain after you damp it down. It clears out obstacles, destroys what needs destroying. It clarifies and gets past the bullshit. Flames in iconography signify anger. Obviously it’s dangerous, but sometimes it’s necessary. And some of us have witnessed its proper use.

    What is this air, this wind? It’s something that seems very much lacking all around us in this greater “scene”: courage, gallantry, daring, windhorse?

    It’s something Julia Sagebien’s interview with Richard Reoch totally lacked, except for a few seconds of wake up while telling the story of looking your enemy in the eye as your sword descends.

    I’m reminded of what Beverly Webster said in her Chronicles interview, that medals were given out for courage, and that it is courage that gets past the foppish minister (not exact words, but close).

    To get back to the quote about the CTLP project, it makes it clear in no uncertain terms who’s in control of that.

  27. damchö on December 16th, 2010 11:48 pm

    Hi Dan, I’m much in agreement with you. And initially I read that sentence in the same light. But a second time through, and in the context of the whole letter, it just felt odd. The syntax of it explicitly subordinates enlightenment to “changing the whole social paradigm”. But why does this paradigm need changing in the first place? Surely because in many ways it is non-conducive to the possibility of liberation, or even the prerequisites for entering the path. That’s what comes first, that’s the “greater purpose” in trying to change the paradigm, right? Not the other way round.

    As far as “dark ages” and so on, I really don’t know. When judgments get too certain and solid they tend to become self-fulfilling. Perhaps this is partly why the Dalai Lama expresses such optimism all the time? In any event it seems to me that this is a subtle and very tricky area, that it would be very easy to one day wake up and find that we have put political goals and methods before those of the spiritual–even in the very name of the latter.

    Perhaps I wouldn’t have commented on that particular passage did it not also resonate so much with the spirit of the letter as a whole, which is entirely about The Project, and how we need to make this amount of progress by this amount of time for The Project to succeed. And I found myself pondering something Dzongsar Khyentse has said: that “agenda” is a very big problem for us, and that we must learn “how to be useless”. Very challenging words, and no doubt I can’t understand them properly. He certainly isn’t implying passivity, since we do act, we find ourselves acting, we have no choice–and we want to anyway, we are drawn to help. And of course the world IS in a terrible way, and DKR as much as anyone tells us we must try and help it all we possibly can.

    But then that word “agenda” comes in, and what is the distinction he is pointing to? Again, I don’t feel I have a lot of wisdom to add. I just feel, when I read what comes out of SI these days, from Richard Reoch’s sales pitch on the beach to this letter, a sense of–how to put it–tightness and fervour and hubris. Something out of balance anyway.

  28. Judy Schenk on December 17th, 2010 11:53 am

    Speaking of fire, daring, aggression, and danger… I couldn’t sleep last night after starting to read The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant. John’s descriptions of participating with Trungpa in killing small birds for the pleasure of killing, ‘playing tricks’ on people for Trungpa’s amusement that caused them to fall down flights of stairs, participating with Trungpa in torturing and setting fire to the ears of a terrified dog… I had to stop reading. That is horrifying, sadistic, insane. How could people go along with that..? And then all of Trungpa’s writings and talks that I have always so appreciated, about compassion, loving-kindness, gentleness, non-aggression.. It’s too bizarre. I’m new to Shambhala. There seems to have been a massive disconnect between what Trungpa said and what he did… How does anyone make sense of it..?
    I guess the “scene” now does not have what is called ‘crazy wisdom’ in it.. I’m starting to feel relieved about that..

  29. Chris on December 17th, 2010 11:53 am

    Abusive relationships manipulate emotions in order to influence and control people, retrain them and ultimately further the cult’s or leader’s goals. Cult members are taught to distrust their feelings-to suppress certain emotions and foster others. Guilt, shame, and fear are all used to engender compliance and obedience. Many other feelings are punished, suppressed, or forbidden. What happens to these bottled-up emotions? Most often cults divide members and the outside world into an us-versus-them polarity that redirects such emotions as anger and fear away from the cult and onto the nonmembers,” ( or in this case , as we see on this site RFS, the non-conforming members (sic)). Positive feelings belong to the group or leader and are manipulated to offset any negative feelings about unpleasant occurrences…. “
    Inside a cult, members learn to survive by denying and supressing their feelings. Once they leave, they may be flooded with emotions that are difficult to identify or deal with. The return of spontaneous feelings is both good and bad news…. Regaining freedom of thought can be liberating, disorienting, and even frightening. But before you can regain your freedom, you have to acknowledge that you lost it.”

    “Feelings that may overwhelm us when we come out of a cult-experience are grief and mourning over loss: loss of time, youth, loss of innocence, loss of meaning in life, loss of one’s spiritual or belief system, …loss of self-esteem, loss of the group and the sharing of goals and ideals, loss of friendships… loss of the ability to trust again…Not wanting to admit to feeling used or duped may keep people in cultic situations longer than they would like. Once they do leave, they may have to deal with the awful realization that they were tricked, fooled, and exploited by the actual group or leader they idealized. Admitting that is most difficult, but it can be a great relief.”
    “The emergence of anger is one of the first signs of recovery. Anger is a normal reaction to the hurts and assaults experiences. Anger is an appropriate response to abuse and exploitation. It is also the most difficult emotion for many of us to get in touch with and address. If you feel angry, it means you are now ready to acknowledge” the situtation as it is.
    From “Take Back Your Life” by Janja Lalich.

  30. Chris on December 17th, 2010 11:58 am

    cont… and as we can see by the post above, even redirect the anger that is suppressed in the group, now onto the founder , Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Its only a matter of time that the suppressed anger that has been redirected to those that speak out, will be directed onto CTR, anything but face the manipulation and supression of emotions that is occurring in the group.

  31. Judy Schenk on December 17th, 2010 12:09 pm

    Chris, Are you saying that you don’t feel anger and horror at anyone who tortures a terrified animal..? Be it Trungpa or anyone..?

  32. David Carey on December 17th, 2010 12:20 pm

    To try and get society or the world to conform to an ideal- agenda is aggression, bullshit and pure folly. We don’t need any more saviors, messiahs, gurus. They have made enough mess already.

  33. Suzanne Duarte on December 17th, 2010 1:08 pm

    Calling John Perks!

    Judy Schenk, how does John Perks explain these cruel acts?

  34. Michael on December 17th, 2010 4:41 pm

    Judy. Could it be that the folks screaming the longest and loudest about how the other side is a cult are just as much a cult themselves? Cultists will always rationalize away, or simply ignore, hypocritical behavior of their own leaders. Same old same old.

  35. damchö on December 18th, 2010 3:12 am

    Judy, I for one am horrified at the idea of anyone killing small birds “for pleasure”. And the story you refer to about the torture of the dog horrifies me at least as much. I too, like Suzanne, would like to know any larger context that John Perks might be able to provide. Certain lamas of course (VCTR having been one of the most prominent examples) sometimes use highly, even shockingly unconventional means for teaching nonduality. However, I must admit it’s impossible for me to think of anything which would mitigate these particular acts. How could they possibly be of benefit to the animals involved? I feel sure something is missing in these stories. If not, they are profoundly disturbing.

    Your last thought in that post doesn’t follow for me though, for several reasons. SMR’s sangha sinks or swims with VCTR’s, so raising up the former to the detriment of the latter makes no sense. SMR is where he is because his father appointed him, having already provided the Shambhala teachings.

    As for the current sangha lacking “crazy wisdom,” well, it may well lack the kinds of scenes that were around in VCTR’s day (I wouldn’t know, on either count), but one of its legacies is definitely alive and well. Certain teachers seem to feel they can treat others with cruelty because they have been in the sangha / teaching for X number of years and therefore feel they must have absorbed sufficient wisdom to be “crazy” when they want to. I’ve noticed this syndrome even in students fresh out of seminary. They decide they’re simply going to be Inscrutable when they feel like it, not having even properly understood Meek, in my view. There oughta be a name for the syndrome because it’s so common in SI. (Actually someone I know calls it “being a dharma smart-arse”. But that’s not a strong enough phrase when harm is caused.)

    The down side to less “crazy wisdom” in the sangha, of course, is that it has moved in a quite puritanical direction. Even way back in 1997 I remember the wife of a senior figure within SI commenting to me with regard to the land centre where we were that there was no vajrayana there anymore, and that the whole environment had become staid and conventional and “religious”. So perhaps this is yet another example of two extremes?

  36. rita ashworth on December 18th, 2010 9:11 am

    Dear All

    Yes Crazy Wisdom big subject. I suppose you could ask Pema about this aswell as Mr Perks as she makes a brief comment about Trungpas behaviour in this clip.

    I think from this trailer Ms Demetrekas has done quite a good job in covering the subject.

    Re Crazy Wisdom and my own interpretation of it –seems to be the province of really great lamas and ordinary people dont seem to be able to get a handle on it for some reason. So yes I have thought about it and tried to see it in the context of what lamas are about in the world to wake people up.

    However this does not mean that you abandon your critical intelligence when you are faced with the crazy wisdom I dont think –I think the critical intelligence just becomes magnificently sharp from the stories I have heard about such things –it might be like being in a car accident?!

    I have heard stories about CTR and pussycats…..but perhaps I should have not mentioned them! I will leave such explanations up to Mr Perks and Pema.

    Best for the season

    Rita Ashworth

  37. John Perks on December 18th, 2010 9:35 am

    Dear all,

    Thank you for the call concerning the book, The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, which is mostly about my confusion in encountering the mind of a crazy wisdom Mahasiddha. It’s important to note that not all of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students were on the same path, and indeed the path is very individualistic. But to get back to the story, you must remember your words are “killing for pleasure.” I do not recall that at all.

    I killed the bird—from my desire to stop Trungpa Rinpoche from killing the bird, and also from the desire to show him that I was a sharp shooter, having been a hunter for many years. But even as a hunter I did not kill for pleasure, but to eat. I’m reminded of this fact every time I go to the supermarket meat section. Trungpa Rinpoche was surprised that I did this. But he did not condemn me for it.

    As to the dog—this is rather like a Zen riddle, and the key words were, “This is how you train students.” It was not how you teach students. So I took training and teaching to mean two different aspects. It’s interesting that Shambhala training is called Shambhala training. I do not remember playing tricks on each other for Trungpa Rinpoche’s amusement. They were for our amusement.

    And in the case of Max, Rinpoche showed me an alternate way of dealing with my aggression towards him, which in actual fact made both Max and me laugh and become friends. (Max played tricks on me too.)

    I think it’s very wise that there is no crazy wisdom within Shambhala International. The crazy wisdom approach requires a Mahasiddha. And there aren’t many of those around today.

    Concerning the path of compassion and loving kindness, I think this is an excellent path. When one encounters a dying festering animal covered in sores and maggots, because of one’s compassion—which knows no boundaries of good or bad or other conceptual qualities—one cleans the animal with one’s tongue. At that point when you’re engaged with the puss, sores, pain, and maggots, you could understand the crazy wisdom mind of Trungpa Rinpoche. At that point one would know how to train and teach even hunters, harlots, and other untouchables.

    Thank you again.
    John Perks

  38. Mark Szpakowski on December 18th, 2010 9:51 am

    Brilliant post! Thank you so much, John!

    BTW, the Max referred to was Trungpa Rinpoche’s cook at the time.

  39. John Castlebury on December 18th, 2010 1:31 pm

    Perks says his book “is mostly about my confusion” — meaning it is a work with a self-aggrandising streak.

    What blessings does Perks hope to stir in the minds of readers by sharing his confusion and narcissism?

    I threw our copy in the fire — from which we did at least derive the benefit of a few BTUs. With all due respect.

  40. Dan Montgomery on December 18th, 2010 2:30 pm

    I welcome that Chris has introduced some critical thinking about the nature of cults into this conversation. It all rings true to me, and especially with some of the private conversations I’ve had with people who feel so uncomfortable with what’s happening but just can’t leave after so many years. One builds ones entire life around this belief system, and exile is horribly painful to contemplate.

    The one comment that mystifies me is the one about deflecting anger on to CTR as a way to avoid facing the “manipulation and suppression of emotions in the group”, if I understood that correctly. To be brutally honest, I think there was a lot of that going on way back when SMR was still in high school. SMR didn’t start this – he inherited it and did what he did, but he didn’t start the “party line”. I cannot look at any of the major breakdowns in this sangha – the Regent situation, and now this ongoing divisiveness about SMR – without acknowledging that CTR established many of the paradigms that have supported spiritual dictatorship, and all that that leads to. The fact that he also remains my heart guru is an unending source of challenge to my feeble ego and sense of meaning. The more I surrender to my own critical intelligence, the more I sense his blessing. Paradoxical, but true.

    I’m going to order that cult book. Another resource for anyone interested in critical thinking about this mess is Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilber. One of his most provocative ideas is that there is a distinction to be made between States and Stages. States are modes of consciousness and realization that have been available to human beings throughout time, which may be uncovered or enabled through meditation practice. Then there are Stages of cultural development that we all participate in, that are temporal, mediated through language, and ever evolving. The Buddha didn’t speak of his experience for weeks after his enlightenment because he saw the limitations of words – and yet that is how humans must communicate these things.

    This is how Zen Roshis in Japan could support the Emperor in WW2. This is how Mahamudra and Dzogchen could exist is a fundamentally medieval context in Tibet – up until 1959. And I think this is why CTR was profoundly uncomfortable with the messiness of democracy as a political system. He had been born a King in his particular realm. Cont…

  41. Dan Montgomery on December 18th, 2010 2:43 pm

    He speaks at length in Mishap Lineage about how the Trungpas came to become temporal rulers of Surmang.

    That was then. This is now. In my view, monarchy is a political response to a set of environmental and life conditions that no longer exists in the world – we are in a different Stage of cultural development. The propaganda coming out of Shambhala just gets curiouser and curiouser. What is the question to which having a hereditary Tibetan King is the answer? Uniting sacred and secular? Do you want to live in Iran? I’m not feeling it. I live in the US, and the way the federal government functions is incredibly dysfunctional. But would I replace that with the Sakyong? No way.

    Is it possible that CTR could simultaneously be a mahasiddha and also have had political ideas that have proven to be fundamentally backward and unworkable? I have to admit that possibility.

    To paraphrase the 19th century philosopher (Man needs God like…) which was later paraphrased by the feminists (A Woman needs a Man like…) I would add:

    “The world needs a Tibetan King like a fish needs a bicycle.”

  42. Tashi on December 18th, 2010 4:31 pm

    Dear Mr. Castlebury,
    imho “The Mahasiddha and his idiot servant” is just a wonderfully entertaining piece of literature describing one rather excentric perspective of a very exciting point in time- the planting of the Buddhadharma in the west.
    What made you so angry about the book? I am from Germany and given history I get funny conotations concerning book burnings.

    All the best


  43. Jigme Chowang on December 19th, 2010 2:15 pm

    Thank you Dan, for your refreshing insights. I was a member of Karma Dzong from 1973 until CTR’s passing and I suggest that anyone who recalls “the scene” in Boulder as some sort of Vajrayana Pure Land either a) wasn’t there, or b) has tidied up and edited their memories beyond recognition.

    In the late 80’s, but prior to the VROT debacle, I was hanging out with a young Nyingma tulku and voiced my distaste over the bizarre behavior of certain of the VDh sangha and the board of directors in particular. His response was short and dismissive: “They have a real crazy wisdom teacher and they think that makes them crazy wisdom students, but there’s no such thing.”

  44. Anonymous on December 19th, 2010 4:20 pm

    Now you can all spend the next 20 years, castigating and demeaning your root guru and yourselves in order to rationalize that you let a charlatan steal the mandala. Very nice.

  45. Chris on December 19th, 2010 8:38 pm

    “Often it is difficult to embrace the idea that the leader you loved and admired was unable to love you or empathize with you. It may also be difficult to digest the fact that you were drawn to someone who seemed certain, strong, and knowing, but was actually psychologically impaired and deeply troubled. Although you may not recognized it in yourself now, ultimately, you are the one who is flexible, resilient, and able to grow. The tables are turned, in a sense, and most likely, you are not used to thinking in that way, of putting yourself ahead of the leader, for example. It may be painful to take this in, but ultimately it may be what frees you from the emotional ties and self-blame”.

    From Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships” . J. Lalich

  46. rita ashworth on December 20th, 2010 5:21 am

    Dear Dan,

    Thanks for that incredible post.

    Yes I too think the democratic angle is missing in the whole thing of SI but we have not gone into it in depth on rfs.

    It would be great if Ken Green could be interviewed about governance – I am still waiting for that interview on rfs as on the Project he did say that CTR did have ideas on the democracy that people had not fully tuned into, any way thats how I recall it.

    So yes re the King motif I dont think this is what Trungpa was in to in the end –I think he hedged his bets –we can see this on the utube talk on the shambhala. I could probably write a whole other argument to Richards re secular and sacred governance if I had access to all the papers and perhaps thats what rfs could get into another manifesto from Richards because to some extent too he is just playing with concepts like any of us is. But it got me him poring over the OED –sometimes I think when people turn to the OED they are beginning to lose the argument as they are not constructing their mode of governance from actual reality like philosophers have tried to do in the west. Re having a test of this western method check out Derek Jarmans film on Wittengenstein on utube.

    Spiritual dictatorship/benevolent dictatorship –gone into them a bit on rfs and why they are the status quo in Tibetan Buddhism itself. Of course there is devotion as opening to non-duality and all the mahasiddhis of the past like Tilopa, and Naropa etc- but as you state now we are in a different era and the messiness of democracy has to be in some way enfolded within the enlightened society ‘ideal’.

    Of course SI has put its stamp on their way forward with the King motif but for me as you I dont think this will work. So I think maybe what I could suggest is have the shambhala teachings as the container for the Vajrayana teachings as was stated by CTR and leave the whole thing to manure as it were, so the sangha mode for the whole thing might indeed have to take precedence for some time to come and for us to produce our own cultural vajrayana and shambhalian societies as time passes. So this would be the organic method and not the forced methods of SI.

    Yes also I dont really know how SI can lay claim to what will happen with the shambhalian teachings. These teachings could be taught as they were originally taught and capture the imagination of many religious/secular people. So SI can not put a stop on ordinary magic happening however much it wants to ‘brand’ the whole thing, that is indeed not a constructive way to proceed.

    I think also the above is probably going to be one of my ending comments on the SI phenomenon, as Chris says in her last post from where she quotes Lalich I think too we should all be considering ‘putting yourself at the head of the leader”. This approach does free up your mind to consider other alternative ways of going forward. And we all now know that is possible from Ray, Midal and others even if we think that their approaches are flawed.

    So I hope rfs can maybe start a thread for those of us out there who have split but also want to share information about how we are proceeding in all our different countries. So I have some ideas and I also have some ideas about Nova Scotia aswell. I would like to promote Sydney as the capital of Shambhala as the Vidyadhara wanted –so perhaps others would also want to investigate that aswell in some form or other.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  47. Judy Schenk on December 20th, 2010 10:50 am

    Many people who are still participants in the SI practice community find the whole kingdom, royalty, and court model that CTR set up for Shambhala and that SMR is carrying forward, to be *uncomfortable* – to say the least. Heck – back in the days of CTR, it must have driven people crazy as well. Never mind the kasung in full dress uniforms..(!) – among other things.
    A while ago I attended an informal talk and Q & A with someone from Halifax, and when someone asked about the point of this archaic medieval model of CTR’s, we were told that the way this model was always meant to be understood was as a metaphor for how each of us “rules our world” ie. we are each the king and/or queen of our own “kingdom”, and the people/ beings in our kingdom are our “court”… that hopefully we are “ruling” with humility, dignity, gentleness and compassion..
    And that is our practice, to ongoingly cultivate our ability and open-heartedness to be-in-our-worlds with gentleness, kindness, integrity and compassion to all beings = “enlightened society”.

  48. John Tischer on December 20th, 2010 12:57 pm

    One shouldn’t forget that all the practices that VCTR
    introduced, including Kasung, serving, ect., that might look like, from the outside, to be forms that support
    an elitist hierarchy, are actually meditation practices.
    Wearing suits and ties, for that matter, all part of practice. If one looks at VCTR’s actions purely from a political perspective, one is missing most of what VCTR was doing. Of course, as time goes on, and as the New Shambhala continues, it becomes increasingly harder to see that. I’m sure many people encountering Shambhala now think of it as a continuation of the Vidyadhara’s insight…which, to my mind couldn’t be further from the truth, but which is exactly what S.I. wants people to think, even while they continue to erase the Vidyadhara’s memory.
    It’s a shell game they’re playing….three card monte.
    It’s no more profound than that,

  49. Barbara Blouin on December 20th, 2010 1:20 pm

    Response to Judy Schenk
    Dear Judy, On December 17 you wrote that you couldn’t sleep after reading some of “The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant.” For reasons of space I’m not going to reproduce what you wrote, but it is easily found on this thread. Finally I went back to the book by John Perks, to see what I could find.
    There are two parts to this: the incidents you referred to, and your overall response to the acts of Chogyam Trungpa, as described by Perks.
    1. About “killing small birds,” this is found on page 57. What you omitted to report (!) is that, although Trungpa said “We’re going to kill some birds” to Perks, when handed a gun, he shot it into the air. Not a single bird was harmed. The message of this incident, as in every story in the book, is that Trungpa was constantly, intensely, working with his closest students to undermine their conventional views of morality. This is too big a subject for this limited format.
    2. About “torturing and setting fire to the ears of a terrified dog,” this is found on pages 60 – 61. I too had a hard time reading this story. But you exaggerate: The dog was not tortured, although he was hit on the head by some potatoes thrown by Rinpoche, and he was terrified. The fur on his ears was singed by being too close to candles, but no pain comes from burned hair.
    3. And as you said, he made himself fall down stairs — no one else. Maybe you could explain how this is wrong.

    I think you are overstating your case, for the cause of effect. Our sangha is seriously polarized, and clearly, you are on the side of the Sakyong and his students. In “The Mahasiddha etc.” outrageous acts are reported on almost every page. Some of them are indeed quite shocking. From the point of view of anyone who believes in conventional morality, even conventional Buddhist morality (if there is such a thing), Trungpa did some completely unacceptable things. What you missed is that the whole purpose of his life, his teachings, and his actions was to point out the truth from the point of view of the vajrayana teachings, which turn our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, on their head. Yes, it is shocking. Is that bad? In order to understand this, you would need to try to have a more open mind and continue to read the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa. But they certainly are not for everyone, and if they displease you, well, so be it.

  50. Joe P. on December 20th, 2010 2:07 pm

    Judy Schenk said:

    [ …meant to be understood was as a metaphor for how each of us “rules our world” ie. we are each the king and/or queen of our own “kingdom”, ]

    You seem to see yourself in a position of being a necessary yes-but voice here. Ruling you world is itself a metaphor. On both levels, the metaphors are not accidental. Else they wouldn’t be getting applied literally. People dress in formal wear to attend parties where they waltz and speak with upper class British accents. Then they go home to their own kingdoms where underpaid Central American immigants make sure the white sofa, clean stove and feng shui-ed decorations are kept in “uplifted” condition.

    As Dan said, Trungpa Rinpoche came with his own background. Monarchy was what he knew. I was always uncomfortable with that. But for me, what lit up my connection to Trungpa, Rinpoche was his unfailing expression of ultimate view without compromise, regardless of the trappings.

    The Sakyong said, “Shambhala warriorship is a path to social enlightenment. It transcends the path of individual enlightenment” and “The ultimate purpose of Shambhala is to benefit the world”.

    There seem to be two ways to read that. If “social enlightenment” refers to group Realization, then the plan seems to be nothing short of a Buddhist Rapture, with the Chosen People being the 12 million who gather in Nova Scotia. (That may sound sarcastic to some, but it is what’s being talked about. The people involved are talking about a “nation” of Shambhala, essentially usurping Nova Scotia. And it’s my impression that there are more than a few people in NS waiting for the worldwide economic collapse that will confirm their quest. This is not a small-scale dream. It’s a grand scheme, in the process of being fleshed out.) If “social enlightenment” refers to cultural improvement, then, at best, the Sakyong’s words seem to define a path of Theravadan-style “engaged Buddhism”. If so, then he’s saying that cultural improvement transcends the path to enlightenment. In that case the Sakong’s words would actually refute Buddhist teachings. (After all, didn’t the Buddha teach that life is suffering and the human realm is an illusion produced by our own confused addictions?)

    Apropos of all that, I thought Damcho hit the nail on the head: It’s not easy to be useless.

  51. Chris on December 20th, 2010 2:48 pm

    “There is a moment in the career of the seeker when he may have to face the problem of joining some special organization. …For most beginners, association with such an organization may be quite helpful, but for most intermediates it will be less so, and for all proficients it will be definitely detrimental. Sooner or later the seeker will discover that in accepting the advantages of such association he has also to accept the disadvantages, and that the price of serving its interests is partnership in its evils. He discovers in time that the institution, which was to help him reach a certain end, becomes itself that end. Thus the true goal is shut out of sight, and a false one is substituted for it. He can keep his membership in the organization only by giving up something of his indiividual wholeness of mind, and personal integrity of character. The organization tends to tyrannize over his thoughts and conduct, to weaken his power of correct judgement and to destroy a fresh, spontaneous inner life. He will come in time to refuse to take ANY organization at its OWN valuation for he will see that it is not the history behind it, but the service it renders that really matters…. Few are willing to sacrifice their desire for the gregarious support offered by joining an organization and therefore few see how this binds them to its dogmas, imprisons them in its practices or methods and obstructs their free hearing of the intuitive voice of their own soul or “inner guru” (sic)…. Group emotion is worked up until it becomes a substitute for personal inspiration. Either through ignorance of or inability to practice meditation (properly sic) or both, the group members are happy to share, and are satisfied with, a common experience on the shallowest level. But nothing will replace individual work at self-development leading to deeper experience and higher knowledge. .When too much is made of an organization or institution and too little of the idea behind it, the leaders become tyrannical and the followers fanatical. That is , their character is corrupted. Two of the grave and discriminative defects of the Indian methods ( and thus Tibetan which inherited the overlay of the Brahmin priestly caste system (sic)) is turning men into GODS, and glorifying of imperfect institutions. … From the Notebooks of Paul Brunton

  52. Chris on December 20th, 2010 3:00 pm

    “Why should many who are unable as individuals to lift themselves in meditation, devotion or prayer by able to do so as a group? It is illogical to believe that they can, auto suggestive to believe that they do…The biggest deceiver in religio-mystical life is the institutional establishment, the organizational group. For here the followers have the experience of being nourished when in actuality only the social need is being nourished”… Paul Brunton, Notebooks.

  53. James Elliott on December 20th, 2010 6:03 pm


    The theory about the need to change society rather than just the individual; this is where I have problems on a couple of levels, not least of all muddling practice and politics.

    The myth that other societies were more spiritual, more in harmony with nature etc. and we should emulate them is bullocks. The world is in dire straits because of success: medicine, food production, portable energy, all kinds of technology have enabled population to expand far beyond sustainable levels. You’d be hard pressed to find a development that one would have said no to at inception.

    So the notion that society is neurotic doesn’t really wash. I think you’re on to something when you say that monarchy developed for specific circumstances, which could be defined by lower levels of complexity. It’s likely the world has reached a level of complexity at which an entirely new political method evolves, or the law of diminishing returns may force a collapse, which is what most people are predicting, ala financial crisis or end of oil etc. (and then monarchy might make sense again…?)

    I honestly don’t see what Shambhala or any spiritual path has to offer that process, other than the ability to see clearly without agenda, and hence wisdom and flexibility to relate to what is and work with that, rather than ‘change’ everything because it’s all screwed up. (Isn’t that approach, like the opposite of what we were taught?)

    I also don’t think culture can be controlled by central committee or decree. It happens on a level beyond conscious control. We can and should strive for the kinds of wisdom talked about, influence laws and rules as best we can, but culture is much vaster and deeper than that. In fact specific intent on that level predictably have ways developing unpredictable and often negative consequences.

    Do you know how SMR defines ‘social paradigm’? That’s an enormous theme and knowing what models he’s working from seems more than pertinent. What specifically is wrong with them now? How does change happen? Who decides what should change and how? What do ‘good’ social paradigms look like? etc.

    In the inspiration that ‘political science’ is more like finger-painting than any other science.

  54. Judy Schenk on December 20th, 2010 8:54 pm

    Dear Barbara (and everyone),
    I want to express my appreciation for all the thoughts and feelings shared of late. Every comment posted has been helpful to me.
    A couple of years ago I happened to wander into a Shambhala center. I was just looking for a group to meditate with, and having read and deeply appreciated The Myth of Freedom, Cutting Through.., Path of the Warrior, etc.. years ago, I thought they might be a good group to sit with. Knowing nothing of Vajradhatu or Shambhala, I had no idea of the history or complexity of the situation I was stepping into. I had never been drawn to Tibetan Buddhism, and had always practiced with soto zen groups until we moved to a place that was a long way from one.
    When I read “Dragon Thunder”, it alarmed me; “Warrior-King of Shambhala” freaked me out; but “The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant” has made me seriously panic about getting involved in any way with a group affiliated in any way with the events described in that book.

    Re: the incidents described in John’s book. The passages referred to were on p. 57, pgs 54 and 60, and pgs. 60 – 61. Barbara, I have to respectfully suggest that you left a few things out in your descriptions of the events in the book – not the least of which is the fact that the ears of the terrified, blind-folded dog who was being held so that his head was positioned between the two strategically placed lit candles, were not just “singed”, but, as John wrote “Myson couldn’t move his head without being burned. When the dog moved, the fur on his ear would catch fire. I would put out the flames.”… as the shaking dog was repeatedly “whacked” on the head with potatoes by CTR. That certainly qualifies as “torture” to me.
    The only way I’ve been able come to terms with these described incidents, is to remember that even “mahasiddhas” are imperfect humans, and have their own issues and ‘disconnects’ as we all do. What we believe, and aspire to, are often not in sync with what we end up actually saying and doing. Hence the Eightfold Path, and the effort required to cultivate gentleness, kindness and compassion for all beings. The only response to John’s book that makes any sense to me, is to redouble my own practice efforts.
    (btw John P., I did not intend to suggest that *you* took any pleasure from killing. I am sorry that my wording implied that. cont’d below

  55. Judy Schenk on December 20th, 2010 9:07 pm

    cont’d You made it clear throughout the book that you did not, and made every effort to prevent CTR from killing, ie. adjusting the rear site of the rifle so it was out of line and he wouldn’t be able to hit anything he aimed at. And, despite my difficulties, I do appreciate the courage it must have taken to write that book, honouring CTR’s request that you do so.)

    I had heard mention of rfs a while back, and thought I’d give it a look see. When I read “About This Site” it says that rfs is “an open space for all those inspired by the “Shambhala Vision” and the “Buddhadharma Without Credentials” of Chogyam Trungpa”, and I thought “hey, that’s me”. And I’ve always been interested in exploring every side of a subject, hearing every point of view. I feel bewildered by periodic ‘accusations’ of people on rfs that I am “clearly on the side of the Sakyong and his students”, and such similar comments. I must have misunderstood this site’s intention. Perhaps an addendum should be added to the “About This Site” section, saying that the only views that are welcome on rfs are those of people who are not participating in any way in SI, and who are clearly *not* in any way sympathetic to, or appreciative of The Sakyong and/or his students, or their efforts..?

    My aspiration is that the only “side” that I ever find myself “on” , is the ‘side’ of compassion, kindness, gentleness and wisdom – wherever, however, through whomever I feel it most clearly manifests..

  56. John Perks on December 20th, 2010 9:11 pm

    I was very interested in Mr. Castlebury’s comments. Many times when we talk about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, we talk about the magic of his actions. But it’s very important, I think, for one to look at the nature of one’s own mind in terms of what Rinpoche was saying, or acting on. Most of the time I did not understand what his actions were saying on-the-spot. So it’s taken many years of replaying the situation and trying to remember the state of my mind at the time. And I think that this is possibly what’s led to my label as narcissistic, which by the way, I don’t mind. I’m limited by the ability of my own mind to understand my own actions.

    Thanks to Mr. Castlebury I had to think about that. So I would like to tell the story of the killing of the bird from the point of view of where my mind was at the time, and how Trungpa Rinpoche worked on-the-spot with that, which I suppose you could call magic.

    At that time I was invested very heavily in being a Buddhist. That is, I wanted to become a compassionate, loving, kind person. So in order to do that, I had to shun much of my previous conditions, and take on the aspects of being a Buddhist. My former lives of hunting and killing did not fit in to my new Buddhist approach. So I just switched it off. Trungpa Rinpoche had been asking me to take him hunting. This I refused to do because I was now a Buddhist. It was my practice as a Buddhist to feed all the little birds on the outside with crumbs and seeds from the house, whereupon I would stand in front of the window and feel great about how wonderful I was to be providing for these little beings.

    Trungpa Rinpoche came into the kitchen and seeing me looking out of the window at these birds, started to jump around and say, “I want to kill something. I am a monk and I have never killed anything,” whereupon he grabbed the .22 single-shot rifle that was in the kitchen, which we used for target practice to shoot things that I set up called maras. I became very alarmed at this and said, “No we can’t do that sir. We cannot kill.”

    And he said, “Well, I’m going to.”

    Seeing that there was no option I moved the rear sight of the rifle way out of line, so when he picked up the gun and shot, using the sights, the gun would be totally inaccurate. He did shoot, and of course did not hit anything. I did not know whether this was on purpose, but Max and I laughed a

  57. John Perks on December 20th, 2010 9:15 pm


    Seeing that there was no option I moved the rear sight of the rifle way out of line, so when he picked up the gun and shot, using the sights, the gun would be totally inaccurate. He did shoot, and of course did not hit anything. I did not know whether this was on purpose, but Max and I laughed and Rinpoche said to me, “Oh, you’re such an English gentleman, you couldn’t possibly kill anything.” At that point, I picked up the gun and without any hesitation I shot the bird. Trungpa Rinpoche was very surprised that I had done this. And at first he didn’t believe it until I went outside and showed him the dead body.

    I had no idea at the time what was going on. It was only after many years of replaying the scene that I had some understanding of what he was showing me about my fixation on Buddhism, amongst other things. Everything that Trungpa Rinpoche did was specifically on-the-spot teaching. Most of the time, practically all the time, I did not get it. And it was only after years of replaying the many scenes that I could even begin to understand what I was being shown.

    So I hope this will be of some help. And I thank Mr. Castlebury for his comments, which made me think about it again.

    Thank you,
    John Perks

  58. damchö on December 21st, 2010 1:02 am

    Judy, speaking for myself, I welcome your perspective, and do feel RFS is open to it. Your views are going to get different reactions of course–that’s just part of it all. By the same token, a number of people who’ve posted here have had various experiences of being disrespected / humiliated / ignored when trying to relate to SI. We’re all coming from different places. Please persist, if it’s at all worthwhile to you.

    I’m glad Barbara added her thoughts on the stories, and I’m glad you responded in return. The story of the dog does disturb me, frankly. John, can you give any further perspective on this, as you did with the other incident? (And thanks for the latter.)

    As someone who never met VCTR, I’ve always taken the view that on the one hand he was a one-of-a-kind, astounding teacher who opened up so much in so many, including me, and set up so many extraordinarily powerful and beautiful paths and practices and institutions; while on the other hand, I’ve never seen the need or justification for attributing perfection to him. However, sometimes I have gone for long stretches of time without coming across anyone able or willing to express any doubt at all about anything he ever said or did. Which can become a strange and alienating experience… But I did recently come across a quotation from Pema (on the Amazon page for John’s book in fact) where she bravely talks about her own lack of certainty. This was very helpful to me.

    And thanks for this Joe P.: “If ‘social enlightenment’ refers to group Realization, then the plan seems to be nothing short of a Buddhist Rapture, with the Chosen People being the 12 million who gather in Nova Scotia.” I had this exact same thought! I mean, what else *can* one think if not only something called “social enlightenment” is being posited but that it is said to be greater than “individual enlightenment”? All I could conjure up were those stories of the various early disciples all completely getting it at once. But that doesn’t seem to be what SMR is talking about. And in any case it would be distinctly odd if so.

  59. edward on December 21st, 2010 1:25 am

    Judy Schenk writes:
    “The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant” has made me seriously panic

    Yes, it’s an intense book.

    I thought of your comments tonight while watching a great movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

    At one point in the film, this so-called angel named Clarence completely terrorizes an innocent man named George Bailey. He takes him through an extremely traumatic, almost psychedelic, terrifying experience.

    However, the way it’s portrayed in the movie is not so terrifying because as the audience we’re “in on it”. Or we’ve seen it before. :)

    Another interesting thing about the movie is that George Bailey gives permission for what happens, but doesn’t consciously realize it. Which is interesting. Maybe that relates to crazy wisdom somehow.

    P.S. I love RFS.

  60. John Perks on December 21st, 2010 11:16 am

    Dear Damchö, Judy, and Edward,

    The dog, whose name was Myson, an Irish Setter, was Max King’s dog. Max was not present during this time. He was away in Boulder, and so it was just Trungpa Rinpoche and me living in the house alone for ten days. I remember there was a snowstorm, and all the lights went out, except we had candlelight. Rinpoche was very explicit in the arrangement of the dog, the candles, and even the color of the blindfold, which, by the way, was red. The whole scene reminded me of some ancient ritual, with Rinpoche jumping around nude in the candlelight.

    Rinpoche’s energy was like a force of nature—very electric. Absolutely terrifying. The comment, “This is how you train students,” reminds me now of how tightly people cling to concepts—even one’s such as compassion and loving-kindness. Other than being absolutely terrified, like me, I do not think the dog was hurt. There was some singed hair. What was quite amazing to me was that the dog hardly moved. It’s like it had some knowledge of its place in this ritual. Also, the relationship between Max King, Rinpoche, and the dog was one that I didn’t have too much knowledge of. But that also played a part in later events. Max would have to talk about that.

    You know Trungpa Rinpoche’s energy worked on many levels all at once. Personally I think it would be helpful for the new students to hear the older students talk about their intimate relationship with Trungpa Rinpoche, and how they felt, and what they were going through personally. That way there could be some deeper understanding and transmission of lineage energy.

    Thank you again for asking.
    John Perks

  61. John Tischer on December 21st, 2010 9:07 pm

    Well, I’ll tell ya….he (VCTR) wasn’t always nice to me….but whatever transpired between us was priceless.

  62. John Castlebury on December 23rd, 2010 1:27 pm

    P.S. to Tashi (on Dec 18th):

    Many new meditators have come to our home to practice and share our dharma library – vajrayana texts are in another room. I had a dilemma: MIS couldn’t be in the general collection, because its outrageousness had the potential danger of shocking some borrowers to lose faith; and obviously, it didn’t belong on the same shelves with precious vajrayana texts.

    It’s not like we would ever refer back to it, and we definitely would never lend it out, or donate it to the local public library for its shelf of books about Buddhism. So it made sense to simply reduce the book to ashes to spread in the garden for sweetening the ph to unlock the nutrients that fed the cabbages and carrots that year…

    If anyone is considering composing their intimate memoir of experiences inside the mahasiddha’s vortex, please don’t follow Perks’ example of indiscriminately publishing it as a book at for one and all [which would be seriously irresponsible]. If MIS were a private limited edition that the author privately shared with some of his vajra peer-group cronies, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    A text of VCTR’s describes an intimate memoir of his crazy wisdom teacher Khenpo Gangshar in candid detail; however, that candor is intended only for the eyes of “vajrayana practitioners who have been authorized to receive this by SMR. It should not be shared in any way with those who are not so authorized. Please respect this samaya of secrecy.”

    Like someone else already said, secrecy doesn’t mean somehow sleazy or shameful; sometimes a secret is a secret because it could be misleading, so it is secret out of consideration and respect.

  63. Yaicha on December 24th, 2010 10:29 am

    While I certainly sympathize with Judy, I also have experienced the dangers and pains of “keeping something a secret because it could be mislead” or hurt someone’s practice.
    I became a Zen monk years ago, and while on that path I read the book “Ambivalent Zen” The book disgusted and angered me. It made me question how “enlightened” zen masters could treat an earnest practitioner in such a using way. I was also, at the time, very deep into Buddhist morality and saw everything as black and white, right and wrong, win or lose. Many of the other monks at my monastery found the book hysterically funny. In the Zen tradition we do not have such concepts as a tell all book being somehow a breach of samaya. All things are what they are, and openness is regarded highly. Still, I could not fathom where they found the humor and, in fact, had I read that book befor entering the monastery, I might not have embarked upon the path.
    Years later, we had “Shoes outside the Door” which clearly shows the dangers of keeping things secret within a spiritual community. And, while my monastery was not directly involved with “Shoes outside the Door” as I climbed in our own hierarchical structure of my training, I did come to learn of our own “secrets.” Secrets which were kept “because they could be misleading or harmful to younger practitioners.” I can tell you that had I known of these secrets earlier on in my training, it would have made the realities of the place much clearer and helped me greatly. And in learning of them later in practice, I felt very betrayed.

    When I read MIS and Dragon Thunder and Warrior King, I truly enjoyed them and actually felt drawn to explore this lineage BECAUSE of the openness, the honesty, and the love within the craziness.
    Personally I feel that secret keeping is decept. plain and simple.

    There will always be people, as I was in my youth, who will be scandalized by the truth because they have been fed on sanitized stories of enlightened masters and thus misunderstand what “holiness” is, what humanness is. But open, honest stories make us question- and thus, with time, one comes to understand and appreciate.

    Deception, however, is something I have never come to appreciate. Seriously, who does?
    I believe it was CTR who said “When in doubt, tell the truth”
    Seems like wise words to me.

  64. Judy Schenk on December 24th, 2010 11:48 am

    Thanks for sympathizing with me Yaisha. 😉
    And John C., I appreciate your compassionate impulse to protect people from realities that might cause them to “lose faith”.
    The only thing that personal accounts of life with VCTR seem to have caused me to lose faith in (especially John’s book MIS) is my delusional belief in “perfection’. My incredibly hard-wired craving and demand for a flawless mentor, a paragon.
    It is always such a devastating shock to find out that things and people aren’t “perfect”. As we grow up we discover our parents are flawed, our friends have faults, our spouse has weaknesses, our physician mis-diagnoses us… Our boss, our work situation, our neighbourhood, our guru, our spiritual community, our acharyas, our *selves*… all imperfect, inevitably flawed, vulnerable, always in need of our understanding, wisdom, kindness and compassion.
    We are constantly seeking a Saviour, the Holy Grail, the place where there is no hot or cold… seeking ground, safe haven, shelter.
    But the buddhist life (the shambhala life..?) is about being a refugee. As CTR wrote this path is about “never being off-duty”. Sometimes our parent, our boss, our teacher, our zen master, our guru, the mahasiddha in front of us, is lost and needs our help to find their way.
    To me, this path is about embracing reality, seeing clearly what is true, with all of its outrageousness and heartbreak and imperfections.
    From all accounts VCTR did not try to keep his activities secret from anyone. His behaviour was not saved only for the eyes and ears of vajrayana practitioners.
    I can’t see how it serves anyone to hide anything, or to try to spin it that everything done and said was an ‘enlightened teaching’. Somehow that seems to deny and dishonour the heartbreak of VCTR’s very human struggles..
    I’ve always been very moved by the 1993 Tricycle interview with Pema Chodron in which she talks about how she used to believe that everything VCTR said and did was an enlightened teaching, and how that changed for her through the years. In talking about her deep devotion and gratitude to VCTR, she says, “I’m really willing (now) to entertain the idea that maybe he wasn’t perfect, maybe everything he did wasn’t to benefit people. In other words, my sense of not having to make it all right or all wrong is stronger now. ” (cont’d below)

  65. Judy Schenk on December 24th, 2010 11:57 am

    (cont’d) “I can actually hold my devotion purely and fully in my heart and still say Maybe he was a madman. And it doesn’t change my devotion “….

    And of course, if a Zen Master or Mahasiddha or vajrayana practitioner tries to frighten or harm a bird or cat or dog or other being “as a teaching” in my presence, I may be forced to compassionately use my kung fu to prevent that and encourage them to think of an alternate way to offer the teaching… !

  66. Yaicha on December 24th, 2010 1:08 pm

    nicely said, Judy!

  67. John Perks on December 24th, 2010 6:25 pm

    Bravo to all and to all good cheer
    this Christmas eve,
    who ever he was that madman from the land of snow,
    he had a good laugh he had a good giggle,
    an was us who was caught in the middle,
    lets celebrate our good fortune
    an bless us all and everyone
    Bravo well done,
    lots of love
    be happy

  68. John Perks on December 25th, 2010 8:32 am


  69. John Tischer on December 25th, 2010 1:00 pm

    Yes, Merry Christmyth!

  70. Vajrakilaya on January 21st, 2011 11:43 pm

    Indeed the wheel is turning, and it seems to be a matter of being properly braced in terms of the leverage exerted. Or does it even need our help to begin with? We may need to let go of some previous conceptions in order to get a better grip on the current situation, if that’s what it requires. Or we could just let go altogether. It seems up for debate, but is that just a shadow play? So many questions, so little time.

  71. John Tischer on March 5th, 2011 2:10 pm

    I want to thank Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for being so different from his father and for completely turning me off to Vajradhatu/Shambhala. If that hadn’t happened, I might still be working for them….attached to an institution…
    and never have progressed on the path. VCTR said that SMR was his gift to
    us. For me, this is what he meant.

  72. John on March 5th, 2011 8:09 pm

    To John Tischer

    Are you so sure that SMR is “So different from his father”.

    I don’t.

    I don’t at all.

    Sorry that you do, really sorry.

    Maybe one day you will see that they were truly father and son.

    You rant at the son but forget that an apple does not fall far from the tree.

    Only when you can rant at the father can you forgive the son.

  73. John Tischer on March 5th, 2011 10:51 pm

    Nothing to forgive. What I’m saying is that they’re different, and that’s ok by me. He has his students and that’s ok too. I frankly think VCTR was behind the whole thing…pushing the old students out on their own while Shambhala continues in it’s own way. For me, it seems at this point, to be a miracle…as yet not fully realized or determined…but heading in a miraculous (ordinary) direction.

    Different doesn’t have any negative connotation for me anymore, in this case.
    But, yes, very different in every way.

    Maybe I should thank the lineage, which I do.

  74. edward on March 5th, 2011 11:14 pm

    wow, beautiful answer… thank you.

  75. rita ashworth on March 6th, 2011 6:18 am

    Dear John

    It is interesting that you mention difference for now that many have split from the main organisation I think there is a growing body of people out there who are and were formed by the clarity of Trungpas teachings.

    So in a classic sense a disapora of Trungpa’s students are studying with other teachers, and forming their own groups. I have come to recognise that that might be an organic thing and not just a backing away from the present organisation.

    I think if we begin to see it in this manner great things could happen in these further mandalas. I also dont think we should abandon the shambhala teachings as some have done – I think we should investigate them further with other lamas, western scholars, Trungpa’s former students, and our own groups that we form. I have come to this conclusion through being with others in their ‘spiritual’ quest and seen how they are examining how to take the meditative process into transmuting our daily life into ‘sacred’ world.

    Of course alot of us will feel somewhat bereft about leaving the parent organisation but I also know great things are happening in the world at large in terms of seeing the world anew and we have to share our own connection to our own experiences of the ‘sacred’ with others. This is a journey that is just beginning and I dont know what will come of it. I am hoping to some degree that rfs can nurture that journey as we go along as other forums.

    On another point of governance I was having a conversation with an Indian friend of mine about Indian history before King Ashoka and he was saying that republics with Ministers leading them existed at that time. It is interesting to conjecture what those ‘republics’ could have evolved if the tides of history had not turned against them. Perhaps we also should consider the sense of equanimity that exists in such countries/provinces once again and how this relates to the furtherance of the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings.

    Best for the New Year

    Rita Ashworth

  76. John Tischer on March 6th, 2011 12:57 pm


    I never turned my back on the Shambhala teachings, in fact, I don’t see anything in the Scorpion Seal that I haven’t already received from VCTR.
    Many of the greatest Buddhist teachers in history…not only of Tibet, but
    also of Japan…(Iikyu is a good example)…have only flourished after they broke from the “parent organization”. It’s interesting to see, through history, how organizations that nurture the teachings also become, at times, obstacles for their realization.

    At some point we all have to leave home and be responsible for our own

  77. edward on March 7th, 2011 12:27 am

    what is amazing to me is how an organization, or an association of people, can become deeply committed to the exact opposite of what they claim to be committed to…!

    Not just in the case of anything particular to this discussion thread, but also out in the larger world this seems to go on all the time. And in other organizations I’ve come across.

    it reminds me of a book called “Systemantics”. I’ll restrain myself and not post a link here.

  78. rita ashworth on March 7th, 2011 3:45 am

    Dear John,

    Thanks for your reply and your perspective on Trungpa Rinpoche.

    I was not exactly thinking of Scorpion Seal retreat teachings in connection to the Shambhala path at present. I was more thinking of getting to the nub of what the shambhala teachings are through practice, discussion and consultation maybe with others such as lamas and academics. So I am again somewhat in the Robin Kornman mode of delving into these teachings more. I believe we have only just begun to think cohesively how these teachings will affect this world through the medium of rfs and of course the debate goes on about them in the world.

    As the Bonpo path has been mentioned in connection to shambhala amongst other paths I have begun to explore them too through reading. I believe also that Trungpa commented too on the Bon tradition.

    Yes Robin does goes into great depth about how the shambhala tradition was ‘created’ or manifested on his videos and when we get a resource page on whatever site I think they should be posted. Yes, it seems to me that what is called for in the present age will be a thorough connection to drala through various disciplines –in this way again we could open up the teachings, or whatever ‘we’ deem to call them in the future, to others of all traditions.

    I take your point about leaving the org. and our once home – yes we do have to be responsible about following our own path in the future however difficult that may be. Its true yes many ‘new’ traditions have been created in this manner through the ages –and your mention of what happened in history is a timely reminder of how things could go. But also I am beginning to think that we can share too our knowledge with others in the conventional religious/secular networks. Yes groups are being formed even within the established churches that are questioning whole bodies of doctrines and creeds that were once held so dearly. This revolution in social consciousness is going on everywhere and can not be held within one specific organisation.

    I do feel the real revolution in peoples spiritual lives will not be brought about by building fantastic Kalapa centres but the actual meeting of grassroots groups on the ground.
    For example look at our western cities in connection to grand churches that are already there –alot are empty of practitioners, even within the most powerful church on this

  79. rita ashworth on March 7th, 2011 3:47 am

    continued: on this earth the Catholic church. So yes I believe we are going through a transition stage in our practices and we will have to meet people where they are at at street level.

    So heres to the future for all of us carrying on Trungpas teachings in the world.

    And best for the New Year.

    Rita Ashworth

  80. John Tischer on March 9th, 2011 7:30 pm

    “Luminosity is seeing that cables
    may support the bridge but the metal
    itself is a disease…yet, we only need
    placebos because we’re hypochondriacs.” — Eusebio Sandoval

  81. Jim Hartz on March 12th, 2011 8:32 am

    John Tischer mentioned Ikkyu.

    Here’s a short poem from COYOTE’S JOURNAL (Wingbow, Berkeley, 1982):


    May my heart
    Be empty, O Karmapa;

    My wallet full.

  82. Jim Hartz on March 18th, 2011 12:13 am


    KITARO NISHIDA: On Prajñaparamita

    What I am talking about is something absolutely dialectical in the sense of the self-identity of absolute contradiction. Even Hegel’s logic did not avoid the standpoint of objective logic. It is precisely the philosophy of the Prajnaparamita Sutra which can be said to have truly taken absolute dialectic to its ultimate conclusion.

    • • •

    DAVID DILWORTH: On Nishida’s Dialectical Method

    If we attempt to express this in logical terms, we have to transcend rational, objective logic, which presupposes the subject/object dichotomy, and speak in dialectical and paradoxical terms. Here Nishida introduces the term gyakutaio teke me, the root meaning of which I take to be “in terms of a correspondence (relation) of inverse polarity.” This adverbial expression means “dialectically,” but seems to stress that the items in dialectical relation are absolutely inverse, or contradictory directions of the same tension or polarity.

  83. Rob Graffis on May 14th, 2011 2:50 am

    Is it true that if you attend the Scorpion Seal Assembly (or Vajrayana Seminary), you are not allowed to receive or accept Dzogchen teachings or transmissions from other Dzogchen masters? I can understand it to a point, because anybody could claim to be a teacher (Just ask SMC who has hosted many such teachers of all types) .
    But seriously, I would like to know from those who have gone to either if the official policy of Shambhala International is that you can only receive Dzogchen teachings or transmissions from the Sakyong in this lifetime.
    I think it’s a fair an honest question.
    I don’t recall many teachers calling them selves Dzogchen Masters, even though they were very much acknowledged as such (mostly out of humbleness.
    This should not be an anger provoking question.
    I wonder where the “New Curriculum” stands on this issue.

  84. Frans Schuring on May 14th, 2011 10:08 am

    I’ve gone to either, one as staff, the other as paritcipant.
    It’s not true!
    And don’t worry, how could one get angry about something as non-existent as that.