Dzongsar Khyentse Interview

December 11, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post

The Chronicles web site is featuring an audio interview with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, conducted by Barry Boyce as part of its Let Loose series. This interview, held in November 2008 during the Transcending Madness program in Halifax, is worth listening to for its comments on lineage, cultural flavoring of how the teachings are presented, and other issues relevant to readers of this site. Please comment and discuss either here or on the Chronicles site.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has a particularly strong connection to students of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, which began with his presentation of Vajrakilaya teachings to the Vajradhatu sangha on behalf of his (and CTR’s) teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and continued with his being tasked by Khyentse Rinpoche to relate with and care for the community of CTR’s students.


14 Responses to “Dzongsar Khyentse Interview”

  1. Mark Szpakowski on December 18th, 2008 4:15 pm

    One very interesting comment Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche made was in the context of a question by Barry Boyce relating to the perception, common these days within the Shambhala International mandala, that in the 1970’s and 1980’s Trungpa RInpoche was presenting the teachings in a way that was appropriate to that culture and that time, but that that now needs to be superseded by a more authentic and Tibetan presentation of the teachings that is also more geared to the 2000-ohs.

    Dzongsar Khyentse turns this around, saying that Trungpa Rinpoche was introducing the teachings to the western world, in style and language that’s very much culturally appropriate – to this world, and to this time and age. The time frame here is measured in hundreds of years – the time it usually takes to introduce Buddhism to a culture and a society (as in Tibet, China, Japan, even India). CTR’s approach is both innovative and culturally skilfull in that context and timeframe.

    At the same time, he says that using a term such as “orderly chaos” for “mandala” is just brilliant, and conveys much more of a dynamic sense than does the more static Tibetan term, and that it would be useful to introduce such vocabulary to the East. DKR says that he himself is a Tibetan, not a westerner, and considers that if Trungpa Rinpoche were teaching to Tibetans, it would also be culturally different from his western teachings – and that such re-introduction of Buddhism to the East is also necessary.

    It occurs to me that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is himself, like Dzongsar Kyenstse Rinpoche, more of a Tibetan than a westerner, and that perhaps this helps explain what to some might seem like his return to more traditional Tibetan forms: it’s just something with which he’s culturally more comfortable. It also makes more understandable his take on Shambhala Kingdom and society through essentially Tibetan cultural and Buddhist forms.

  2. Suzanne Duarte on April 19th, 2009 9:40 am

    Mark, Thank you for pointing out these issues of the timeliness and appropriateness to the West of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, and Dzongsar Khyentse’s confirmation thereof in a large time frame.

    You could well be correct that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is simply “culturally more comfortable” with “more traditional Tibetan forms” and that that could explain “his take on Shambhala Kingdom and society through essentially Tibetan cultural and Buddhist forms.”

    However, that doesn’t solve the problem of preserving the Vidyadhara’s legacy of teachings and practices in living form in the West, which the Vidyadhara himself was clearly concerned about. As Shambhala International continues to change the teachings and practices while claiming that they are the same as the Vidyadhara presented, the Vidyadhara’s teachings seem to be getting mothballed. And since Sakyong Mipham controls the copyrights to those teachings, essentially making it impossible to legally reproduce and use them outside of SI’s control, the danger that the Vidyadhara’s teachings and practices will die with his students seems quite real.

  3. ashoka on April 19th, 2009 10:03 am

    Just to clarify, it’s my mother who controls those copyrights, not Mipham Rinpoche.

  4. David on April 19th, 2009 3:03 pm


    With all do respect that comment presented with such force and conviction is indicative of a lot of your posts, in that it is not factually accurate or truly thought out. Please if you are going to be saying aggressive things do not spread things that are not accurate. That is not mindful speech and is also indicative of the rumor spreading and gossiping that is prevelant in our community, particularly on this site. Get the facts straight if you have the blind conviction to spew it to other people.

  5. Mark Szpakowski on April 19th, 2009 4:29 pm

    Re copyrights on the works of Chögyam Trungpa, these are held by Diana J. Mukpo (and so you see Copyright Diana J. Mukpo after texts by CTR). It is my understanding that the actual texts and other works (audio, video, art, etc) themselves, their original physical embodiment, are owned by Shambhala Archives. I think it has also been pretty clearly signaled (cf some of the articles on this site and elsewhere) that Sakyong Mipham, through the vehicle of the Kalapa entity or something like it) has the intention to consolidate both copyrights and ownership. As Richard Reoch described it: Kalapa will “provide the container for the lineage succession, seals, texts and properties of the Sakyongs”.

    The copyright issue is bound to arise after Lady Diana passes away, unless it has been clearly established beforehand how and to whom that will be passed on.

    This will not affect ability to link to texts that are online and public, or to quote portions of texts as fair use as part of study materials or commentaries, but it will affect the ability to make entire texts available, as well as how restricted materials and those with prerequisites are disseminated.

  6. Carey on April 20th, 2009 8:54 am

    David, Hmmm . . rumour spreading and gossip? On a blog?? No . . . say it aint so! Here’s an idea that stretches from where modern western expression of dharma may find some hitches . . and its my beef with the blog genre in general but particularly in relation to dharma.

    There’s is nothing our dualistic minds can’t complain about.
    Talking about greviances can be useful, even therapeutic but no amount of inter-chat will actually change our perception unless accompanied by a minimum of mindfulness. Most especially in relation to, as David pointed out, how we relate to others in a less aggressive and 100% certain attitude.

    Awareness through Gentleness was the beautiful hallmark of CTR’s presentation of teachings, particularly Shambhalian. Blogs that arent just for harmless horseplay can only begin to acheive this if the majority involved actually apply it. And its clearly a hard thing for us to do whilst busily involved in our own opinions, which I for one am thoroughly (and sadly happily) engaged in most of the time. . The written word is a beautiful thing when nothing can be taken the wrong way and create some negative potential. How often is that the case here? Just a thought!
    All the best

  7. Carey on April 21st, 2009 11:16 am

    Quick follow on thought . . . didn’t mean to sound patronizing or down on this project at all, perhaps I was simply unwittingly demonstrating my fundamental concern with the written word in blog format; misunderstanding!

    Anyway, I have read some positive and brave ideas discussed here with a gentle and open presentation CTR would surely have appreciated (like i know) along with some of the less attractive potentials.

    I guess the challenge modern dharma teachers face is not just how to present teachings but also how we communicate with each other in this “instant msg” culture. The speedy nature of this time is reflected in our means of action, particularly communication. Excellent that a potential to create reflection and insight within such a medium exists. Cheers

  8. rita ashworth on April 21st, 2009 2:39 pm

    ‘Awareness through Gentleness was the beautiful hallmark of CTR’s presentation of teachings, particularly Shambhalian.’ Carey

    Just a spin off thought on the above CTR was also forceful through gentleness –that crazy wisdom aspect – that’s why I think people are really still interested in him.

    Aka forcefulness in Art recently seen utube video with Ken Russell, the movie director, discussing the movie the Devils about the Catholic church in France – he said he was just portraying the truth with his film and that the censor was wrong when he censored a very violent scene. Truth a veritable many-edged diamond – it should be explored both meditationally, artistically, and philosophically –that’s why I like reading stuff on this site.

    Re the copyrights issue – I think it’s a side issue – the dharma is exploding in the west –who knows what kind of dharma will predominate here but safe to say religion in the west is like our Art provocative and communal.


    Rita Ashworth

  9. Jim Wilton on April 21st, 2009 3:04 pm

    Communication by email and blogs is interesting. Speech is an energetic communication that includes gestures and the “presence” of a person — both of which are absent in e-communication.

    So e-communication has most of the real time quality of speech but the speaker is much more susceptible to responding to their projections of what is said because the live qualities of speech that ground the communication in a human context are missing. This is why “flame wars” are a problem on on-line message boards.

    Except for some exchanges during the dun season — I think that this site has generally been better than most in maintaining civilility.

    This is not to say that Suzanne isn’t completely off the wall with her opinions (just kidding).

  10. Kevin Frost on April 22nd, 2009 12:55 am

    Two things bother me about ‘intellectual property’ and this ‘service marks’ business. Firstly, we are confronted with the disconcerting spectre of senior administration officials deferring matters of authority to the Canadian and American judicial systems. This is a bit of a joke because we know well enough that neither maintains any real authority but rather this has, for some years, already been relinquished to the WTO, which is itself a creation of a certain Washington Consensus, a neoliberal agenda. Now this strikes me as ill advised. I thought the Sakyong was the boss. Why are we deferring to these setting sun flag carriers? The question of property is absolutely foundational to any regime, monarchic or republican, our regime included. It is a matter which calls for wisdom and foresight. It is a matter which should be determined within our own courts, not somebody else’s.

    Secondly, though this should really come first, we know better and shouldn’t be doing this at all. Trungpa very clearly brought up the possibility of spiritual materialism and about the inauthentic presentation of the teachings. He told us that there was no such thing as an insurance policy. The only way to guard and preserve the teachings was to practice them in a genuine way. Why then are people so easily led to assume that the way to protect and preserve the teachings is to reduce them to the fixated form of a property relation? Is this an instance of forgetfulness?

    Branding (service marks). Is this really necessary? It reminds me of these Homeland Security measures we hear so much about. Senior officials create a problem so they can jump in there and save the day, protecting us against these unseemly hijackers and wrong minded people. But we know better than that to. It introduces a note of confusion. It might start small, but at a certain point it all starts to get out of hand. Better to avoid the business in the first place.

  11. Carey on April 22nd, 2009 6:18 am

    Yes I think I saw the “flame war” you referred to and was probably unfairly basing an unwise assessment of things on that!
    Totally agree with you about that Suzanne (kidding, mostly too)

    Good point about CTR Rita, yes he reportedly could of course manifest a wrathful quality, being a Mahasiddha and all, I guess the way he often emphasized gentleness as the basis of mindfulness was what I was referencing.
    This seems like good advice particularly in relation to e-communication and our tendency to, like Jim said, project more easily and sometimes readily.

    Having said that I’m not judging anyone other than my own projections here yall!

  12. Kevin Frost on April 24th, 2009 9:06 am

    Hello Mark, or somebody … . I tried to send an essay to but my computer kept telling me that this was not a valid address. I’m stuck. Is there some other address I could send this thing to? Thank you, KJF. My address is

  13. Mark Szpakowski on April 27th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Hi Kevin, got your essay (I think there was a “<" prepended to the email address you were trying to use), and I believe Andrew has been or will be in touch with you. - Mark

  14. Arthur Keneyd on January 10th, 2014 9:40 pm

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it
    seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative
    to read?