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The Joke’s On You!

From hookknife’s Flickr photostream [1] comes the following photo:

Sakyong                                   Akong [2]
Sakyong Akong
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#1 Comment By Tom On April 1, 2010 @ 11:48 am

Wow. The similarity is amazing. There have been rumours for years about the Sakyong really being Akong’s son. It would explain so much. Has anyone else heard of these rumours?

Thank you,


#2 Comment By Suzanne Duarte On April 1, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

Yes, I have heard that rumor from several sources. Tibetans seem to have a different way of looking at these things (sex, marriage, paternity) than we do in Euro-American-Christian cultures. Absent DNA tests, we’re left with appearance and behavior. Appearance here says a lot about behavior.

#3 Comment By Edward On April 1, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

There is an old saying: “truth is stranger than fiction”

Now I understand why Ashoka defends SMR so strongly.

Just kidding. Personally, I don’t care whose father anyone has. Adopting children is fine, whether or not it happens or happened in any particular situation. It’s almost beside the point.

What really matters is carrying out one’s guru’s teachings properly– respecting one’s lineage. And in that sense, this photographic image might be a creative commentary.

My own teacher openly fathered three daughters via three different women, and then adopted a fourth daughter. Americans tend to be too hung up on sex and sexual intrigue, I think, trying desperately to fit in with a middle-class, lawn-mowing mindset.

My teacher said Americans are obsessed with the “non-having” of sex. We think about it all day long, but we almost never actually do it or enjoy it (in a fully-satisfying, unreserved, egoless way), generally speaking.

#4 Comment By ashoka On April 1, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

Know what else I heard? I heard that his birth certificate is fake! I think he was actually born in Kenya. We should get together in a big group to get to the bottom of that. Hmmm. What would we call ourselves guys? You know, the Vidyadhara LOVED British culture, and he did love to get together in large gatherings so maybe something related to…no….or….I GOT IT! TEA PARTY! We can meet up as the Tea Party group! I’ll make hats.

#5 Comment By Tom On April 1, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

I don’t know if it doesn’t matter. It might matter for example to the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche, since , as I understand it, SMR was not recognized by any one as a buddhist lineage holder in CTR’s lineage?

And it might matter it terms of the Ladrang thing.

And surely it would matter to SMR? Wouldn’t it?

Thank you,


#6 Comment By Edward On April 1, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

Yes, on looking at it more closely, the resemblance is remarkable. Uncanny.

Wasn’t SMR unrecognized as a Trungpa lineage holder, or a Kagyu lineage holder, in any case? How does DNA change that?

It certainly matters in terms of PR. I’ll admit that.

And it could certainly clarify what SMR means when he says he’s carrying on his father’s tradition…!

I guess I was feeling that if CTR adopted someone as a child, out of compassion, without telling anyone, maybe it’s not something to worry about, or pry into, at least for someone in my position…

Anyway, one of the only things I’ve heard that CTR said about SMR was that he feared the Sawang wouldn’t want to do the duties of Sakyong properly and would rather be some kind of rinpoche. That’s not an exact quote though, and I probably have it wrong.

#7 Comment By Robert On April 1, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

It seems to me that if a person has been stating for 23 years, that CTR was his father, , and he knew that was NOT the case, then he has perpetrated a fraud and a lie on the community.

There probably are severe civil and criminal penalties for this kind of deceit.

If this is true, then SMR has been and continues to trade on this misrepresentation of being Trungpa Rinpoche’s son, which has been the ONLY currency he has ever had.


#8 Comment By Michael On April 1, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

Yes, as I understand it from reliable sources, SMR dropped down out of the sky after CTR’s death, announced he was CTR’s son and everyone simply believed him. Mass hypnosis I think. Did CTR and SMR’s mother actually recognize this person as their son? OMG!!! If so, then CTR was in on the fraud!!! Maybe we can we bring CTR up on post-mortem criminal charges too as a participant in this fraud and deceit, concurrently with SMR’s arrest. (Civil charges too because I’ve laughed so hard at this stuff that I’ve soiled my pants! The answer is clear. We need to send in a spy to get some DNA evidence (used toilet paper perhaps, or a snot rag) and get to the truth. This is funny stuff. I guess that’s why it’s in “The Joke’s on You” blog. Happy April Fools Day! Great blog!

#9 Comment By Carolyn On April 1, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

Well, I don’t think its funny, if it is even possibly true.

Maybe they don’t care about paternity in the East, but we do care here , he has been passing himself off as Trungpa Rinpoche’s son hasnt he?

Maybe this isn’t a joke?

Maybe this is why he has no contact with his students?

I think I will be very careful now about groups I join.

That is probably a good thing.

#10 Comment By Michael On April 1, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

I agree. This is obviously serious stuff. How do we prove it though? I think the toilet paper or snot rag evidence might work. But I struggle with the question – did CTR recognize this impostor as his son? And if so, why? 🙂 The fate of the world hangs on a thread!!! (The James Bond theme kicks in about now.)

#11 Comment By Mark Szpakowski On April 1, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

Edward, whether SMR is or is not the biological son of CTR doesn’t matter one iota re his role as Sakyong: he was clearly, publicly and unmistakably given that role and samaya, to be Sakyong of the Kingdom of Shambhala. Trungpa Rinpoche did not empower or recognize him to be a Mipham tulku, a Rinpoche, a best-selling author, a marathon runner, King Kongma, or anything else – those are his own doing, and he can’t point to CTR as validating those: those he has to do on his own, and others have to find and see those things directly in him.

However, he can legitimately point to the Druk Sakyong having appointed him as the next Sakyong. The corollary, though, is that it does matter a mega iota whether he lives up to that role and samaya as Sakyong, Earth Protector, in that vision of Shambhala that was entrusted to him by CTR. And it does matter if others – us – also live and speak out that vision. And it matters if he has chosen to take up a role as Sakyong of a Tibetan feudal theocracy, which is how many see to be what’s happening. And it matters if those around him – big shots, family, acharyas, ordinary citizens of Shambhala – go along with that.

Empowerment by itself is just the beginning, and carries no guarantees. As Chogyam Trungpa said, “My confirmation of you will only go so far. The rest you will have to do by yourself. If that were not the case, we would have been corrupted a long time ago.” To put it another way, there is no infallibility conferred by empowerment.

If in fact the Sakyong is not Chogyam Trungpa’s biological son, which on the face of it (literally) seems possible (though not definitively proven), it does have lots of implications. It is a huge psychological factor, especially if he has known or suspected it for a while. Think about it – it must be immeasurably lonely in a way.

If this were the case and Chögyam Trungpa knew it, that further deepens the joke: he must be splitting his sides with laughter! Who is making this joke on us?

It also has implications re the idea of family lineage and of succession. Recall how vast and all-inclusive was his notion of “Mukpo Clan”: was there anyone who could not be a part of that? And what total trust – more than that, love – in all human beings CTR had.

I don’t know, this has layers and depths of humor, of chaos, of wisdom, of tearing down all facades, of being stripped naked, of liberation. I hope all of us, Sakyong included (and we’re all intertwined – there are no enemies here) take it that way.

#12 Comment By John Perks On April 2, 2010 @ 5:35 am

WELL SAID,Mr Szpakowski

#13 Comment By Chris On April 2, 2010 @ 8:34 am

When CTR wrote the “Sadhana of Mahamudra” he wasn’t just taking about the West being materialistic, although we have often thought that and have had that drummed into our heads for 20 years, by the lama fund-raising machine, that came like a tidal wave after his death, yet we ignored this display of lama spiritual materialism that contributed to the destruction of the dharma in Tibet, right in front of our faces. It’s been a much fuller history lesson than they would have wanted us to get.

So thank you for putting on those robes Sakyong, whoever you are! and for unwittingly displaying yourself as a corporate/capitalist/newage/feudal Tibetan Lama. It’s been a two-edged sword that cut through it all in one fell swoop!

#14 Comment By Edward On April 2, 2010 @ 9:46 am

Well, one thing I know is that carrying a secret around inside can sometimes make it hard to connect with other people. There can be a tendency to withdraw from others and put up walls.

Also, controversial secrets can be used in the realm of politics to blackmail someone. That’s how politicians are manipulated from behind the scenes in the movies, and we all know the movies have nothing in common with real life, of course.

So on further reflection, good job RFS for publishing this. Seems like a good and compassionate action, all around.

On a side note, I’d like to tell Mr. Perks that I loved his book. Not sure what else to say about it, briefly, but I connected with it more than most anything else I’ve read. It seemed to help me understand my own teacher. Actually a couple weeks before my teacher died, he came to me in a dream. I asked him lots of questions about crazy wisdom, which had offended and confused me greatly, and he patiently answered my questions. In the waking state I had tried to send him Mr. Perks’ book, but this straightlaced friend of mine had interceded and “censored” the book. In the dream, your book was somehow in my hand, and I showed it to my teacher. He was cracking up laughing at the tricks that CTR played on his students, and he was slapping me on the back and having a good time, as if he and I were old friends.

Now he’s physically no longer here, and all I have left is the sensitivity to suffering he awakened in me, along with a lot of responsibilities I don’t want, and a lot of bizarre people I can’t seem to relate to…


#15 Comment By Jake On April 2, 2010 @ 10:56 am

I have very mixed feelings about the Sakyong. However, I don’t think he looks similar to Akong.

#16 Comment By Andrew Speraw On April 2, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

Don’t like the Sakyong and your sangha? Then join the Internet’s largest user-created, 3D virtual world community: Radio Free Second Life. Meditate online using your avatar and travel to hell by looking for faults and fixating upon what is wrong with situations.

#17 Comment By John Perks On April 2, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

Dear Edward,
Yes that’s how it seems to work. When your teacher no longer has a physical body, the closeness of your relationship developes into old friends, which leaves you heartbroken and in love, as you described. About the book, it’s really not my book, which is kind of curious. A friend of mine accused me of channeling it. I’m not sure I know how to channel things, but I had to think about that. What it was or seemed to be, was how Trungpa Rinpoche and I worked together creating things, like the Kalapa Court. Of course alot of other people were involved in this too, rather like a flock of birds all turning in the air at the same time. That kind of relationship is called lineage, which seems to connect you to a very vast space. So, it’s nice to meet you in that space. Thank you.

On a related subject, perhaps the current situation of wanting to have twelve million students or subjects or adherents or whatever the word is, is spiritual materialism on a grand scale. Gregory Bateson used to say- “it’s like going into the restaurant and mistakenly eating the menu thinking it’s the food.” Meaning that, you are skipping out of the blood and guts inter-relationship between seeing, smelling, tasting, chewing, digesting and shitting out of the food, or the student-teacher relationship. This is of course, only one of the many problems we Shambhalians are now facing, and it’s very good to be talking about all these aspects as evolution rather than revolution.
Cheers to you Edward, and lots of love,
Mr Perks


#18 Comment By Edward On April 2, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

Thanks Mr. Perks.

Mr. Speraw, who is fixating on problems? A friend of mine once said to me– and I hated him for this– that whenever I point my finger at someone, I have three fingers pointing back at me.

Are you saying it’s “a problem” for the Sakyong to look similar to Akong? I agree that fixation is a bad habit, but closing my eyes is another habit that seems equally bad.

In many spiritual communities, the juicy part is at the fringe, the boundary between “inside” and “outside”. That’s where new people come from, it’s where feedback comes from. It’s where you find exaggerated characters, irritating people, all sorts of things not under the control of the central bureacracy. Unfortunately it’s also a scary place.

My own teacher said that he was not a “man in the middle” to be made much of, idolized, and then eventually and inevitably, ignored and scapegoated. Rather, his relationship with us was (is) a round-dance. He dances in the round with us. Course, a lot of us didn’t get this.

#19 Comment By John Perks On April 2, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

No ,no problem with the Sakyong how he looks,or who is or was or was not his Daddy,He is the Sakyong,we can relate to that….

#20 Comment By Andrew Speraw On April 2, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

Synchronization of body and mind is still keynote because that affords you the opportunity to see the natural beauty and perfection of situations. Someone who connects with authentic presence has no complaint because they understand that mind is unconditional. You don’t get there, you just realize that there is nowhere else through the effort of trying…

#21 Comment By John Castlebury On April 2, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

[from Smile of the Tiger, Sakyong Mipham
Vajradhatu Publications, 1998:]

4 April 1992, Halifax, Nova Scotia

(Memories of camping out in the back yard with my father)

Mostly beautiful
Occasionally unappealing
And always in a deliberate and self-existing fold,
You sleep like a round, rock mountain,
A mammoth bear, full and hairy, smelling of past meals.
Your mouth deliberates between cracks of dryness,
Lumps of ruby richness.
Legs stretch but remain coiled,
Feet flat and wide
Arches high.
Candelabras drip.
Sheet creates a white collage of form and mass.
Morning dances on each leaf;
People’s apprehensions slide away along each vine –
Your son’s curiosity is intrigued and invigorated.
Your cook remains perky –
Waist bound in white
Delighting in midday feast.
Your wholeness
Your sleepingness
Your carefreeness
Is so disciplined.
Your sensibility is four-legged oak bed.
Neighbors cannot see
Grass licks early morning dew
Morning is when you rise
You are morning.

#22 Comment By JimWilton On April 2, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

It is clear that some of you are serious about this. That is just sad.

Questioning someone’s paternity is about the lowest and crudest insult imaginable. It is offensive if it is true. And it is slander, a violation of law and mean spirited if it is a lie. And if it is idle speculation, motivated by a mean spirited inclination to gossip, it is awful.

It makes me want to throw up.

#23 Comment By Chris On April 2, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

“motivated by a mean spirited inclination to gossip, it is awful”.

Gee Jim, hope you never hang around intimately with Tibetan lamas, gossiping is their favorite thing. Where do you think we hear things in an attempt to wake us up from the ‘faithfool” fix we Westerners have gotten ourselves into? At least that’s what the really compassionate lamas do, whose only concern IS waking us up.

Even ordinary Tibetans can’t believe how gullible and stupid we Westerners are.

#24 Comment By Chris On April 2, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

The dharma is about waking up, becoming genuine. It is not about keeping ourselves in a “bubble of concepts” forever thinking that enlightenment is far away, and that our teachers are somehow divine and superhuman beings, without foibles, and neurosis, and all the things that make them human, too. If we have teachers that give us the gift of demonstrating their ordinary neurosis while simultaneously manifesting emptiness and luminosity, than we have a real and rare chance to see that nirvana and samsara are one, we have a real and rare chance to cut through the dualism that makes us believe that enlightenment is far away and something to be “achieved” instead of right where we are in the moment.

Of course lamas who are into fundraising, and donations and program revenue will only give you a glimpse of this because as long as you believe that enlightenment is somewhere else and “far away” you will keep going to their “programs” and filling their “landrangs” maybe forever.

Eventually, if you are lucky, you will have a teacher “that is in your face” that defies all your preconceived concepts of this and that and good and bad, and only wants to “wake you up” because they know that enlightment is ordinary, no big deal.

The others , the majority , with no more realization than ourselves, know that if they can keep us from dealing with what is right in front of our face, because that might be uncomfortable, we will choose instead to remain “confused,” comfortably asleep, and we will keep sending the check.

#25 Comment By JimWilton On April 2, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

Chris, gossip is a bad thing. Bad karma.

“Idle chatter or gossip is the fourth unvirtuous action of speech. Idle chatter means speaking on any topic in a way that supports nonawareness in ourselves or others. It is speech that distracts the mind, causing it to wander from the fundamental ground and grasp at various forms of entertainment. . . . Tertag Lingpa refers to idle chatter as the main reason for the creation of karma. If we examine carefully, we’ll see that most of our speech that is not slander, harsh speech or lies falls into the category of idle chatter or gossip.”

Khandro, R. “This Precious Life”

This is basic Mahayana — Four Reminders — but it is a big mistake to think that it is inconsistent w/ Vajrayana teachings on non-conceptual awareness.

#26 Comment By El Herrero Viejo On April 2, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

AH, a good, spicy jalapeño! So much spice! So many stomachs can’t handle such good spice! April fools! You are all such fools! You have been SO deceived…!

#27 Comment By Shelli Meyers On April 3, 2010 @ 3:26 am

Now I’m really sure I’m in the wrong place.

#28 Comment By Motley crew of the Shipe pf Fools On April 3, 2010 @ 8:44 am

ha ha might as well post this here! DRALA
Spirit of PLACE – insert the Eye of Wisdom = PLAICE >>~)))))*>
Ever experienced existence as groundless? Displaced EYE [‘I’ ergo EGO] out of whack all wobbly?
You don’t have to be a fish to feel like a fish-out-of-water.

Some people have a mistaken idea that it involves SITting in silence being
1] Happy [Eternalist]
2] Grumpy [Nihilist]
3] Mopey [purnachandra shambhala explorers of richness of phenomenal world]
Whether you are Puny, >>~))))*> Medium >>~))))*> or Jolly >>~))))*>
confusing Tilapia with TILOPA, we ‘pretend’ to take to the water,
[make friends with ourselves] by practicing some very fishy business – Kados and Dapons take notice!.
We are all at Sea!!

Apply 3-fold logic: Hook, Line and Stinker.

HOOK: Enquire whether fish have color, form, size, smell, [taste]? Do they arise,
cease or dwell inside or outside of hot water? the kitchen sink? the garbage pail? Do they
arise one by one, head to tail, inside other larger
fish, as caviar; or whole schools: spawns of little suckers? Don’t get carried away. Pay bare
attention so that even if one leapt and knocked you off your rocker, you’d recognize it
as a Gnat of Insight. Fish are unaware of the element they inhabit until they leave it.
Mind the Gap. Be homeless..

LINE: Pith instruction: Playing the line, not too tight not too loose.. feel that first tug?
Knots in your nadis? Yama got your prana? don’t be wishy-washy or get carried away!
You can do it! LET LOSE, don’t struggle. Fish or cut bait~~~Cutting Through.

STINKER:Cast the net of mind into space and let go. Forget any notion
of catching anything. Be aware of delusions, projections. Be Simple: rest in the stink of sushi
garbage a charnel ground of fish bones – heads and tails.

ANTIDOTE to PAI [passion, aggression, ignorance] known as the 3 POI[s]SONS

Passion [catch fish, label – tag them and let them go] Appropriate to tickle them a bit
but looong entertainment A No No!.
Aggression [catch fish to eat them mirrored by fear Monsters of the Deep are out to get
you!] – Jaws, Great White Whales.
Ignorance [no clear vision, fabricate tall tales of ‘one’s that got away’ origin of
‘thus have I heard stories’ – myths of Sirens, Mermaids, Nemesis].

With gratitude to CTR our Captain who taught by example and dedicated to Close
Fellow Motley Crews in the ship of Fools, and all Sentient Voyagers with sincere aspirations for
Joyful Awakenings. _/l\_ Ashe and Tsunami of Blessings.
Jolly good news.

#29 Comment By Ginny Lipson On April 6, 2010 @ 11:22 am

I appreciate the wide range of views on this topic, but I also feel that this topic should not be on this site. It is so out of left field, whatever relevance it has to the real issues is not worth it. It sort of sullies the brilliance of having a place to discus the issues we face as a voice in the Schism in the Sangha. Jim’s comment that it make him want to throw up, sort of resonated with me more than any of the other more philosophical comments.

I can see the cosmic humor here, but a medium such as this, especially on the internet, just doesn’t seem appropriate. Years ago, Thrangu Rinpoche solemnly warned us about how we use the internet. We take it for granted, but it is a powerful and unwieldy machine, spreading information like wild fire.

#30 Comment By Evan On April 6, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

I agree with Ginny. This feature in particular, and some of the comments associated with it, seem only to undermine the best intentions and thus effects of RadioFreeShambhala, which appears to me to be an important forum. I would add, that the moderation of the site has slipped somewhat recently, in a general way, allowing for more indulgence of views that seem to lack compassion or a considered compassionate intention.

#31 Comment By Gordon On April 6, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

Annnnd RFS jumps the shark.

#32 Comment By Chris On April 12, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

The Practice Lineage or Remembering Who We Are:

Or: “Not letting the moralists get you down”:

“Everyone in the lineage of the practicing tradition has been extremely sarcastic and critical of the current scenes taking place around them. They were extremely critical of the subtle corruption taking place in the name of the dharma. We could say that the Practice Lineage is the guardian of the buddhadharma not only in Tibet alone, but in the rest of the world. Someone should at least have a critical view of how things should happen, how things shouldn’t happen. That particular sharp-vision, traditionally known as “prajna-vision” is very important, and that is a very lively situation, a living situation, in fact, that is why we are here.

The Practice Lineage is the most pure and is unhampered by any kind of spiritual materialism”.

From “The Mishap Lineage: Transforming Confusion into Wisdom” by Chogyam Trungpa