The Keys to the Kingdom

May 19, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Commentary by Susanne Vincent

Salutations to the former students of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche!

I write as a never-direct-student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (never witnessing his loving kindness, timing, wit or anything of his style or presence, but only the writings of the most intelligent mind that I’ve ever come across)  to the former-students-of-Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, because they carry forward That-which-I-define-as-Shambhala.

I’m a very recent voyager into this site, and I’ve just read three or four threads, with great delight.  I wasn’t aware that most of you existed or that you were talking to each other in this way, but in doing so, you’ve unwittingly assisted me a good deal and clarified the nebulous in quite a few places.

Through what you say, I understand a little of what I’d call your predicament. Quandary.  A liminal, edgy position – and in some of the dark matter (sic) of your exchanges, I hear the heart of Shambhala bleeding and feel resonance, concern and a good deal of curiosity.

The aim of this enquiry is to ask you to focus on a question – which is how the pure transmission of the Vidyadhara’s spiritual legacy will be carried forward.

I don’t know if that is a sufficiently precise way to say what I mean – probably because I’m describing something I’ve got no way to quantify – and I don’t have much of the language of such things (some of you could say it much better), but I hope you understand.

I heard from a houseboat family in Kashmir that the Imam of the mosque in Srinagar has a key which has been  handed down forever.  If the shit hits the fan for the planet – to the extent that the whole rigmarole is crashing without any other means of salvation – then he is to go up into the mountains and unlock the case that contains the Staff of Christ.

Why does this remind me of you?  I wonder if there is a parallel in value to the inheritance you hold?  Certainly I hear your sense of guardianship – and the word safeguard comes into my mind – as in protector practice.

I’ve loved listening to you, and your different textures of wisdom, and with great respect for the acuity of your minds and your willing disclosures (and sometimes mere vomitous projections, of course).  I hear in some of you a great sense of accountability, and I’m imagining you out there – in your various mostly American living environments or mountain huts – with the family jewels in the vault and an unclear sense of who they belong to.  Hot potatoes!

Now, all of this occurred as a result of your karma, of course, which could be a cause for confidence, please, since we all do very much need you to be confident.  You were born into this family, sometimes kicking and shrieking, but it has you by the nose, as in many ways it does me, and I have never been as close to it as you.

Looking at the State of the Union from many miles away, I find recently that I view the international construct that is currently identified as Shambhala quite separately in my mind from Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings and vision, or his Shambhala teachings and vision of enlightened society.  And this is of course, absurd.

Now I find a whole swag of you On the Outside, like some scene from Blade Runner, or maybe Watership Down.  Do you remember when the wild rabbits have this conversation with the farmed rabbits and the wild rabbits realise there is something very fishy about the situation with the farmed rabbits?

And all of this is fine for just so long, but no grinning Vidyadhara appears suddenly in the door with an expression that makes it obvious that all of this was a test of trust.  (Or does that spectre ever arise for you?  What do you feel if it does?  Try this one at cocktail parties.)

I don’t have a vested interested in seeing this.  It would be so much more convenient for so many people if the beacon of Shambhala did radiate a great big pulse of authentic presence at us all the time, calling . . . come . . .come . . .  across the miles like the Himalayas, or an absent lover.  I would sell all my furniture for plane fares – not a whisker of a doubt.

I greatly appreciate hearing what you are doing.  I am filled with excited anticipation by Suzanne Duarte’s discussion of DharmaGaia.  I’ve admired Bill Karelis’ blatantly loving heart, courage and determination to maintain an authentic position for some time – Bill’s work is slightly more easily tracked through reports than others.  I have also tracked the work / painful journeys of some better and lesser-known exiles such as Reggie Ray, Patrick Sweeny and Taggie, and there may be more exiles even within the walls.  One only has so much time to follow family affairs.  I also appreciate this is not a club, but with a heavily laden astrological twelfth house, I have often found that it is when we uncover that which has been supressed or exiled that we find the keys to the heavenly kingdom.

So I would like to ask you very sincerely – and as a very interested stakeholder – and even if you think you have already tried to answer this in your posts:

how is the authentic spiritual legacy of the Vidyadhara to be carried forward?

With love

Susanne (Susie) Vincent

Auckland, New Zealand

Susanne Vincent lives in Auckland, New Zealand and has been a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings since about 1978 via the written word, and via Shambhala since 2000.  After many years as an organisational psychologist / consultant, she now works for the nonprofit and community sector.


105 Responses to “The Keys to the Kingdom”

  1. Ngakma Zer-me Dri'med on June 22nd, 2009 8:11 pm

    “A few months ago I heard someone (let’s call him “R”) get asked how quickly meditation can produce results. He said within the first 5 minutes you’ll start getting benefits.”

    Did Richard Reoch really say this? When and where? What were the circumstances?

    Taken out of context, that statement is so far gone from the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche that we might as well be teaching people TM. Can anyone reading this imagine saying such a thing while teaching on meditation?

  2. Edward on June 22nd, 2009 8:17 pm

    Hi Ngakma Zer-me Dri’med,

    It was not Richard Reoch. Since I did not take careful notes and my memory might be faulty, let’s leave it at that. He was not a representative of Shambhala International.

    Actually, I can be more specific if I quote his website: “Techniques drawn largely from Tibetan Yoga — but also from Zen, Theravada Buddhism, Qigong, and a number of indigenous traditions — are used to access our hidden potentials, illuminate our inborn nature, and re-invigorate our movement toward wholeness.”

    Aside from all the goodies that are promised, I really liked meeting him, in many ways.

  3. Edward on June 22nd, 2009 8:34 pm

    Offering goodies might be a good way to teach, but I’d say it’s an extremely advanced way to teach, which I myself have a hard time even imagining anyone doing.

    I think when it’s done right it might be called “crazy wisdom”– working in a direct, powerful, and perhaps dangerous way with the fantasies that people bring to you.

    Probably a lot of teachers offer goodies of one kind or another– saving the world, putting an end to rebirth, attaining a calm state of mind. But are they all crazy-wisdom masters?

    Anyway, I liked Mr. RR’s daring nature, so I wish him luck.

  4. John Castlebury on June 23rd, 2009 9:15 am


    And no mind to be minded or not
    And no minding to do or not to do

    Is innate projection-free fresh state
    Is innate pre-projection blank slate

    This super-aware raw intelligence
    Is in the space between projections

    This is what we forget we ever saw
    Until we are reminded that it is so

    [from White Clouds, Samurai Press, 2009]

  5. rita ashworth on June 24th, 2009 1:42 pm

    I have been thinking around some comments posted on this site in relation to the shambhala teachings being a container for the buddhist teachings. Intially I thought of the container as bowls within bowls but then thought a bit more and came up with image of a body, which I think is also used within Hinduism as a metaphor for the creation of the universe, -the body image is a container, it contains the heart, lungs etc etc, but one can’t work without the other – so when Davee talks about the ‘core’ of the enlightened society being the vajrayana teachings I think it is a too mechanistic viewpoint – or in another sense I thought you cant have two ‘conceptions’ of Awake you can only have Awake persay. Now relating this to CTR’s presentation of the shambhala and vajrayana teachings in the world they must both lead to enlightenment – I dont think he shortchanged people of other religions with a lesser path of shambhala and elite vajrayana teachings for others – I think he was just telling different ‘stories’ to different people in a sense what they needed to hear at the time. Now as for putting the werma sadhana within the realm of a ngondro this CTR did not do -the cake of the sadhana to use another metaphor was placed on the table and in his life-time he did not take that cake off the table-he freely offered it to all the people of the world. Now I still believe we should offer it to people – even if they dont like the cake offered – its our treat for them, its up to them whether to take it or not.

    Would love to hear other comments on the container principle -perhaps it would enlighten us all.


    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK