October 29, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

compiled by Norm Hirsch

Quotations from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

(The former, by CTR, are in regular type) (The latter, by SMR, are in italics)

Nobody has given up hope of attaining enlightenment. Nobody has given up hope of getting out of suffering. That is the fundamental spiritual problem that we have.

CTR, The Lion’s Roar (LR), p. 22


What I always try to encourage is that we really know why we’re meditating. That’s always important, and the reasons why we’re meditating. So that’s something you have to think about. It could be just simply needing some relaxation, some stress reduction, peace, could be all the way up to, you know, we want to attain enlightenment, and we’d like to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha and have tremendous wisdom and compassion.

SMR, SMR meditation instruction video, SI website and Youtube

We might actually question what is the purpose of meditation, what happens next, but actually the idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. One just simply sits without aim, object, purpose, without anything at all. Nothing whatsoever. One just sits.

CTR, The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation (TOS), p. 117


. . . the mind has to be strong, stable, and clear. That’s why we meditate.

SMR, Turning the Mind into an Ally (TMA), p. 57

Whenever we have a dualistic notion such as, “I am doing this because I want to achieve a particular state of consciousness, a particular state of being,” then automatically we separate ourselves from the reality of what we are.

CTR, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (CTSM), p. 14

It is just simply creating a space, a space in which we can unlearn and undo our subconscious gossip, our hidden fears and hidden hopes. And begin to bring them out. Meditation is simply providing space through the discipline of sitting down and doing nothing.

CTR, Tibetan Buddhist Teachings and Their Application  (TB),  Collected Works (CW), Vol. 3, p. 522


Off the cushion, we’re no longer lost in daydreams. . . Our mind is a powerful ally that helps us focus on what we need to do: study, play sports, cook.

SMR, TMA, p. 56

Although many books on Buddhism speak of such practices as shamatha as being the development of concentration, I think this term is misleading in a way. One might get the idea that the practice of meditation could be put to commercial use, and that one would be able to concentrate on counting money or something like that.

CTR, Meditation in Action, pp. 75-6


Stabilizing our mind any time of the day or night is like taking a mineral bath. It dissolves our stress and revitalizes us.

SMR, Ruling Your World (RYW), pp. 100-1

I went snorkeling recently, and it was a very vivid experience. My body felt light and buoyant, and there was a penetrating clarity to the sunlight shining through the turquoise water on the fish and the coral. Mindfulness and awareness bring us into such a space, and as we stay there longer, that space gets bigger and bigger.

SMR, TMA, p. 55

The natural quality of meditation relaxes into boundless, unimpeded freedom and space. The dualistic struggle is over. This is peace.

SMR, TMA, p. 57

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility. . . . It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.

CTR, The Myth of Freedom (MF), p. 2


When we meditate, we’re training ourselves to see our weak points and strengthen our positive ones.

SMR, TMA, p. 30

So if your reason for sitting or doing postmeditation practice or any other kind of practice is self improvement, it is like eating poisonous food.

CTR, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-kindness, CW, Vol. 2, p. 206


. . . great meditators become so centered that they can feel their blood flow. They can actually sense the atomic level of their cellular structure.

SMR, TMA, p. 44

In Tibet we say, “Only a Buddha can explain the reason for every color in a peacock’s feathers.”

SMR, RYW, p. 55

Contemplating specific parts of the body like this, we are invoking drala. We can invigorate ourselves in this way. That’s how Milarepa, the Tibetan yogic saint, could fly…

SMR, Community Talk, Boulder, CO 1/10/03

. . . we can’t do publicity by having testimonials for meditation practice. If we did, it would be disastrous.

CTR, The Path is the Goal (PG), p. 135


Our meditation has come to perfection. When we sit down we engage with the breath in a completely fluid and spontaneous manner. Our mind is strong, stable, clear, and joyous. We feel a complete sense of victory. We could meditate forever. Even in the back of our mind, there are no traces of thoughts. We’re in union with the present moment. Our mind is at once peaceful and powerful, like a mountain. There’s a sense of equanimity.

SMR, TMA, p. 126

The basic point is to experience cessation rather than to have a theory or a dream about it. As several contemplative gurus in the lineage have warned, too much description of the outcome is an obstacle to the path.

CTR, TOS, p. 67


When thoughts come we say, oh, I shouldn’t be thinking right now because I don’t want to be thinking about that, I want to be paying attention to my breathing because I know that’s helpful, this is what I want to be doing. So just bring some calmness… and feel the peace and relaxation… simply breathing. . .a thought comes up say “I don’t want to be thinking about that”. Pay attention to the breathing and feel some peace.

SMR meditation instruction video, SI website and Youtube

For instance if you meditate, you might experience ordinary domestic thoughts and at the same time there is a watcher saying, “You shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that, but you should come back to meditation.” These pious thoughts are still thoughts and should not be cultivated.

CTR, CTSM, p. 161


Before it even arises, we can prevent a thought from destabilizing our mindfulness. This is how we prolong the continuity of peaceful abiding.

SMR, TMA, pp. 55-6

One should try not to suppress thoughts in meditation, but just try to see their transitory nature, their translucent nature. We do not become involved in them or reject them, but simply acknowledge them and then come back to the awareness of breathing. There should be no deliberate effort to control and no attempt to be peaceful.

CTR, TOS, p. 116


Although shamatha is abiding in peace, it takes effort to stabilize our wild mind in that peace.

SMR, TMA, p. 100

Trying to achieve a restful state of mind reflects a mentality of poverty.

CTR, MF, p. 48

[The Buddha] began to realize that there was a sane, awake quality within him which manifested itself only in the absence of struggle. So the practice of meditation involves “letting be.”

CTR, CTSM, p. 9


We can imagine the mind’s activity as circles of light radiating outward. Peaceful abiding is like taking the dispersed light and gathering it into ourselves. As we gather it closer, it grows brighter.

SMR, TMA, pp. 59-60

The meditation practice is not a way of entering into a manufactured state of tranquility or equanimity. . .

CTR, Dome Darshan (DD), CW, Vol. 3, p. 540

The reason why the technique is very simple is that, that way, we cannot elaborate on our spiritual materialism trip.  Everyone breathes, unless they are dead.  Everyone walks, unless they are in a wheelchair.

CTR, PG, p. 20


So in meditating properly, we’re strengthening aspects of our mind that are already there. It’s like working out. . . .I didn’t become strong from lifting one massive weight at once, but from doing repetitions consistently and regularly and building strength over time. This is exactly how we strengthen mindfulness and awareness—through consistent and regular practice.

SMR, TMA, p. 50

Rangjung Dorje, a great teacher of the Kagyu tradition, in his commentary on the Hevajra Tantra, says that the ultimate materialism is believing that Buddha nature can be manufactured by mental effort, spiritual gymnastics.

CTR, Dawn of Tantra, p. 9

You could sit down and do nothing, just sit and do nothing. Stop acting, stop speeding. Sit and do nothing.  You should take pride in the fact that you have learned a very valuable message: you actually can survive beautifully by doing nothing.

CTR, Journey Without Goal (JWG), p. 142

Buddha did it two thousand five hundred years ago. He sat and wasted his time. And he transmitted the knowledge to us that it is the best thing we can do for ourselves—waste our time by sitting.

CTR, PG, p. 9


The more we’re able to gather our attention and focus, the stronger our mind becomes, the stronger the experience becomes, and the stronger the result becomes.

SMR, TMA, p. 117

According to the Buddhist tradition, the spiritual path is the process of cutting through our confusion, of uncovering the awakened state of mind. . . . So it is not a matter of building up the awakened state of mind, but rather of burning out the confusions which obstruct it. In the process of burning out these confusions, we discover enlightenment.

CTR, CTSM, p. 4

We have to learn to be willing to die, to subside. This particular “me” that wanted to attain enlightenment has to go away. When that happens, then you actually attain enlightenment.

CTR, The Mishap Lineage (ML), pp. 4-5


In other words, to make this perfectly clear, the difference between spiritual materialism and transcending spiritual materialism is that in spiritual materialism promises are used like a carrot held up in front of a donkey, luring him into all kinds of journeys; in transcending spiritual materialism, there is no goal. The goal exists in every moment of our life situation, in every moment of our spiritual journey.

CTR, Crazy Wisdom, p. 15


The ball flew about 175 yards, came back on the green, and went into the hole. Jeff said, “It works, it really works!” That’s the power of discipline.

SMR, TMA, p. 204

…we’re talking about having a continual relationship with the phenomenal world that is not based on either a good or a bad result.

CTR, Smile at Fear (SF), p. 70


After years of practice and study, I’ve begun to understand why those realized teachers don’t need to go out to have fun. It’s not that they are antisocial or afraid of the world. They already have what everybody else wants and is looking for—contentment and joy.

SMR, RYW, pp. 70-1

We have the expectation that spirituality will bring us happiness and comfort, wisdom and salvation. This literal, egocentric way of regarding spirituality must be turned completely upside down.

CTR, CTSM, pp. 158-9


Contemplating, thinking about, and generating bodhichitta is a sure way to be happy, to be at peace.

SMR, TMA, p. 175

We realize in an outrageous moment that if we approach all beings with kindness, appreciation and love, we can be happy anytime, anywhere.

SMR, RYW, p. 138

I could say, “Soon you’ll feel good. Soon you’ll forget your pain, and then you’ll be in a beautiful place.” But that would be an enormous falsity, and in the long run, such an approach is ungenerous and extremely destructive to the spiritual path.

CTR, JWG, p. 47


We develop an aura that makes us seem bigger and more beautiful to others.

SMR, RYW, p. 193

Our potential is to become totally happy.

SMR, TMA, p. 138

We can quite safely say that hope, or a sense of promise, is a hindrance on the spiritual path. Creating this kind of hope is one of the most prominent features of spiritual materialism. There are all kinds of promises, all kinds of proofs. We find the same approach as that of a car salesman. Or it’s like someone demonstrating a vacuum cleaner and telling you how well you could clean your house if you would just buy it. If you would just buy that vacuum cleaner, how beautiful your room would be, completely free of dirt and dust, down to the last speck! Whether it is a vacuum cleaner salesman or a guru, we find the same level of salesmanship. That is why both are included in the same bag of materialists. There are so many promises involved. So much hope is planted in your heart. This is playing on your weakness.

CTR, Illusion’s Game, p. 61


People often ask me why I seem so happy. They think that I must have some kind of secret. I do—exertion.

SMR, RYW, p. 66

Exerting ourselves toward virtue creates stability in our lives—happiness that we can depend on.

SMR, RYW, p. 71

The teachings do not present another form of security at all, but bring the absence of any kind of security. Enlightenment is the complete absence of any kind of promises.

CTR, TB, CW, Vol. 3, p. 518


The more peaceful, cheerful, and generous we are, the more successful we are in attracting friends, as well as everything else we need.

SMR, RYW, p. 77

True spirituality is relating with the day-to-day living situation rather then hoping for or seeing your dreams coming true.

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3, p.542

Buddhism is the only nontheistic religion. It doesn’t contain any promises, or doesn’t permit any.

CTR, LR, pp. 23-4


Windhorse takes us beyond the “me” plan. As we release that small-mindedness, a natural magnetic energy arises. There is something charismatic about us. It’s not just that we look good from the outside; we are radiating from the inside out. We exude success and enthusiasm.

SMR, RYW, pp. 18-9

…you are neither on the side of success nor on the side of failure. Success and failure are your journey.

CTR, SF, p. 73


When we begin to mix wisdom into our secular life, we have success—both spiritual and worldly.

SMR, RYW, p. 2

The ancient Chinese Book of Changes, or I Ching, often talks about success being failure and failure being success. Success sows the seeds of future failure, and failure may bring a later success. So it’s always a dynamic process. For warriors, fearlessness doesn’t mean that we cheer up by saying “Look! I’m on the side of the right. I’m a success.” Nor do we feel that we’re being punished when we fail. In any case, success and failure are saying the same thing.

CTR, SF, pp. 70-1


By acting virtuously, exerting ourselves in service to others, we are blessed in return by harmony and good luck.

SMR, RYW, p. 160

Because we have aligned ourselves with basic goodness, the environment begins to reflect our open quality. We effortlessly, as if by magic, attract what we need.

SMR, RYW, p. 19

When we are connected with our basic goodness, it inspires our every breath, action, and thought. With the resulting brilliance and confidence, we can accomplish whatever we wish.

SMR, RYW, p. 6

Many practitioners in our culture are motivated by worldly concerns and use spirituality to successfully accomplish their wishes.  It’s fine to use spiritual practice to get what we want.

SMR, TMA, p. 180

The only way to deal with spiritual materialism as such is to develop an ultimately cynical or critical attitude toward the teachings and the teachers and the practices that we’re involved with. We shouldn’t let ourselves be sucked in, but question twice, thrice, from the point of view, “Is this spiritual materialism to me, or isn’t it?”

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3, p.539


Windhorse brings spiritual and worldly success—personal power, harmony with others, strong life force, and material prosperity.

SMR, RYW, pp. 192-3

The warrior who experiences windhorse feels the joy and sorrow of love in everything he does. He feels hot and cold, sweet and sour simultaneously. Whether things go well or things go badly, whether there is success or failure, he feels sad and delighted at once.

CTR, Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior (S), p. 85


You see the image of windhorse printed on the prayer flags that flutter in the breeze all over Tibet. It is the ability to bring about long life, good health, success, and happiness.

SMR, RYW, p. 21

The fruition of invoking windhorse is symbolized by the universal monarch with a broken heart.

CTR, SF, p. 120


I’ve received many instructions from my teachers about how to be a ruler. The simplest and most helpful is “Upon arising, have a positive and open attitude.”

SMR, RYW, p. 42

Being a warrior is being simply here without distraction and preoccupation.

CTR, SF, p. 123


When I wake up in the morning, first I stabilize my mind by placing it on the breath. When a thought arises, I acknowledge it and return my focus to the breath. Then I orient my mind in the direction of how I can be helpful, how I can learn more that day, or how I can raise my windhorse….. I know that if my mind is in the right place at the beginning, I am going to have the upper hand in ruling my day.

SMR, TMA, p. 30

So the only way that is feasible is developing an attitude of hopelessness, something other than future orientation.

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3, p. 539


In our sitting practice, we’re trying to penetrate our speedy exterior by reducing our activities and stabilizing our ability to be present. Then we carry that practice into our day, continually reflecting on what to cultivate and what to discard in order to strengthen windhorse.

SMR, RYW, p.46

Awareness is like a wind. If you open your doors and windows, it is bound to come in.

CTR, PG, p. 116


As I live my day, I always try to have a contemplation going—whether I’m talking to people, riding in a car, giving teachings, or eating.

SMR, RYW,  p. 31

Accepting yourself—rather than trying to be good by being solemn and religious about your behavior— leads to uplifted confidence in body, speech, and mind.

CTR, SF, p. 122


If we’re driving on the freeway, if we’re working in an office, if we’re having dinner with our friends, if we’re changing diapers, if we’re at the movies, we can visualize ourselves sitting tall in the saddle of patience astride the horse of meditation.

SMR, TMA, p. 211

We often invent and substitute somebody else for ourselves, some mythical person who doesn’t even exist. Then we fail to find our own human quality, and we run into a lot of trouble.

CTR, SF, p. 95


Having enlarged our mind in meditation, we continue to cultivate thoughts and actions that take us in a positive direction—away from the “me” plan and toward peace, compassion, and wisdom.

SMR, RYW, p. 31

Q: You seemed to say that compassion grows, but it was implied that you do not have to cultivate it.

A: It develops, grows, ferments by itself. It does not need any effort.

CTR, CTSM, p. 105


For students who see the world in a very naïve way and have naïve attitudes toward spirituality, goodness is the issue, peace is the issue, euphoric states of Samadhi are the issue; therefore, they try to cultivate those things.

CTR, TOS, p. 98


The most practical way to ensure forward movement on the path of rulership is to train for a short time each day in changing our attitude—just ten percent.

SMR, RYW, p. 28

We decide to decrease the percentage of time spent in negative emotion, and increase the amount of time spent in thoughts and ideas that lead somewhere.

SMR, RYW, 36

Little mind becomes smaller with bad habits. Big mind becomes bigger with good ones.

SMR, RYW, p. 49

As soon as a notion of polarity between good and bad develops, then we are caught in spiritual materialism, which is working to achieve happiness in a simple-minded sense, on the way to egohood.

CTR, MF, p. 68

Giving, opening, sacrificing ego is necessary. . .We lose our grip on the wishful-thinking world of pleasure and goodness. We have to give up trying to associate ourselves with goodness.

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3, p. 539


There are certain places we shouldn’t go in our mind. Angry, grasping, or greedy thoughts darken our view and deplete our energy.

SMR, RYW, p.24

Meditation practice is based on dropping dualistic fixation, dropping the struggle of good against bad.

CTR, MOF, pp. 44-45


Hanging out with the wrong crowd, be it the crowd of thoughts in our head or the people we call friends, only reinforces discursiveness and negativity. Nonvirtuous companions are like termites that eat away our noble qualities.

SMR, RYW, p. 74

Insights come only when there are gaps in our struggle, only when we stop trying to rid ourselves of thought, when we cease siding with pious, good thoughts against bad, impure thoughts, only when we allow ourselves simply to see the nature of thought.

CTR, CTSM, p. 153

When we speak of basic goodness, we are not talking about having allegiance to good and rejecting bad. . . It is not a “for” or “against” view, in the same way that sunlight is not “for” or “against”.

CTR, S, pp. 42-3

The ultimate implication of the words “peace on earth” is to remove altogether the ideas of peace and war and to open yourself equally and completely to the positive and negative aspects of the world. It is like seeing the world from an aerial point of view: there is light, there is dark; both are accepted. You are not trying to defend the light against the dark.

CTR, CTSM , p. 102

Sadness and joy are one in basic goodness. Don’t try to push out the nightmare, and don’t try to bring in the bliss. Just rest your being in a state of basic goodness.

CTR, SF, p. 89


Buddhists consider physical illnesses to be the results of previous negative actions. . .

SMR, RYW, p. 23

Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act nonvirtuously, suffering results.

SMR, RYW, p. 32

Perhaps we think that our ambition has brought us a beautiful house, a nice car, a loving family, and all the money we want. But according to the law of karma, that happiness came from previous virtuous actions.

SMR, RYW, p. 56

Even if we are sowing seeds of good karma, we are nevertheless still encircled in a samsaric fortress. So from this point of view, meditation practice is a way of altogether transcending both good and bad.

CTR, Karma Seminar, 1972


We all want to be happy. No one wants to suffer. So the point of contemplating karma is to look at what causes and conditions come together to produce happiness, and what causes and conditions come together to produce suffering. Then we can point ourselves in the direction of happiness.

SMR, TMA, p. 161

The attitude you bring to spirituality should be natural, ordinary, without ambition. Even if you are building good karma, you are still sowing further seeds of karma. So the point is to transcend the karmic process altogether. Transcend both good and bad karma.

CTR, MF, p. 45


Our motivation stretches further when we begin to think about how our current actions might affect us after death . . . With this motivation, we practice spiritual teachings to assure a favorable afterlife or rebirth, depending on our beliefs.

SMR, TMA, p. 181

Particularly the talk about reincarnation in Eastern religions is exciting to a lot of people. They regard it as the ultimate good news. We could go on after all! We could be ourselves all the time, eternally. Such an approach seems to be utterly simple-minded. We haven’t solved the problem of giving, dissolving into nothingness.

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3, p. 538


Our aspiration to help others is so great that we would gladly spend an eternity in hell even to help a child be less afraid to speak in class.

SMR, TMA, p. 207


Caring for others is the basis of worldly success. This is the secret that we don’t learn in school.

SMR, RYW, p. 18

We may be sitting there contemplating others, and in the back of our mind thinking: “I need to do more for myself.” By thinking of others, we are doing more for ourselves. Generating joy by helping others is a secret way—and the best way—of helping ourselves. Every time we think of someone else’s happiness, we are taking a vacation from the “me” plan. It’s like getting physically fit by helping our neighbour shovel the snow from the driveway.

SMR, RYW, p. 116

There’s a self-denying tendency that everybody knows of. At least they’ve read or heard that to gain a higher state of consciousness, to pursue the spiritual quest, you have to lose your selfishness, your egohood. However, that tends to become a strategy, a plot. Ego is pretending to itself it doesn’t exist; and then ego says, “Okay, now you got rid of me, now let’s both look toward our mutual happiness.”

CTR, DD, CW, Vol. 3,  pp. 537-8


By remembering the basic intention of a ruler—to ensure others’ welfare—we are laying the ground for enriching our family or business, and ultimately for our own happiness and success.

SMR, RYW, p. 112

Just thinking about how to help others relieves stress, brings joy to our mind, and has fantastic karmic repercussions.

SMR, RYW, p.111

By acting virtuously, exerting ourselves in service to others, we are blessed in return by harmony and good luck.

SMR, RYW, p. 160

So the point we come back to is that some kind of real gift or sacrifice is needed if we are to open ourselves completely. This gift may take any form. But in order for it to be meaningful, it must entail giving up our hope of getting something in return.

CTR, CTSM, p. 8


In the story of the Buddha’s life we hear of the temptations of Mara, which are extremely subtle. The first temptation is fear of physical destruction. The last is the seduction by the daughters of Mara. This seduction, the seduction of spiritual materialism, is extremely powerful because it is the seduction of thinking that “I” have achieved something. If we think we have achieved something, that we have “made it,” then we have been seduced by Mara’s daughters, the seduction of spiritual materialism.

CTR, CTSM, p. 119

The attainment of enlightenment from ego’s point of view is extreme death, the death of self, the death of me and mine, the death of the watcher. It is the ultimate and final disappointment.

CTR, MF, p. 6

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 Practicing 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.

CTR, ML, p. 5


A few years ago, my friend Greg told me that his brother was going on an expedition to climb Mount Everest. He asked me if there were something I would like him to take. I gave him the flag of Shambhala. . . . Now a huge nylon flag from the West is radiating the confidence of windhorse from the rooftop of the world.

SMR, RYW, pp. 194-5

The tantric journey is like walking along a winding mountain path. Dangers, obstacles, and problems occur constantly. There are wild animals, earthquakes, landslides, all kinds of things, but still we continue on our journey and we are able to go beyond the obstacles. When we finally get to the summit of the mountain, we do not celebrate our victory. Instead of planting our national flag on the summit of the mountain, we look down again and see a vast perspective of mountains, rivers, meadows, woods, jungles, and plains. . . That is ati style. . . So maha ati is the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning.

CTR, JWG, p. 133-4

Norm Hirsch has been a student of Chögyam Trungpa since 1973.

Editor’s Note: Further remarks by Chögyam Trungpa on practice, as compiled by Ravinder Rai from the Ocean of Dharma list, can be viewed on the CTR practice page.


74 Responses to “Quotations”

  1. James Elliott on November 10th, 2010 3:19 am

    I don’t think the teachings themselves are ‘skillfull means’.

    The implication then is I can say one thing to someone at one time, and fundamentally contradict that at another time, just so long as I get the results I want. If I do it in the name of dharma, or with other’s well being in mind, so long as it inspires, as long as enough believe. It’s all very fishy.

    The further implication is that dharma teachings are not about reality, hence one can say whatever one wants depending on the result wanted, i.e. there is no real basis for what is said, no tradition or rules to abide by. Teaching is to get people to do and be a certain way (other than how they are now). Something like that. (This is b.t.w. how dharma starts to get used for political purposes rather than to teach about truth.)

    In fact dharma does not contradict itself unless taken out of context, or as someone once said, when philosophers get lazy and don’t want to think anymore, you get paradoxes.

    Dharma teachings are about how things are. Some people have referred to Buddhism as a science of the subjective experience of mind. There may be deeper levels to that, but the freedom one can take with what is presented is much narrower than implied when justifying contradictory statements as having all the same aim, just… different strokes for different folks.

    Skillful means are practices like meditation, sadhanas and visualizations. Those can change depending on accomplishment. It can also be how a teacher relates to individuals. In particular the vajrayana student / teacher relationship is highly dependent on that. But to consider the teachings themselves: descriptions of psyche and human nature, the nature of mind and of ego and reality, of what can be achieved and the various ways ego can be overcome (skillful means), as well as warnings and signs along the way, to consider these truths in that way is treating truth as a tool we can alter depending on the result we want to have. Which is… ?

    In the inspiration that lying and telling the truth are not two sides of the same coin.

  2. mark a smith on November 11th, 2010 12:00 am


    Good morning–Before too long I may venture to respond to Gary Allen’s combination of arrogance and insight in his comments on ‘Shambhala Buddhism and Vajradhatu Buddhism’ (and elsewhere) and to the ‘Quotations’ thread (which illustrates differences in emphasis of VCTR and SMR without creating the need to label either a ‘charlatan’ or to condemn either the Shambhala Buddhist or VajraDHATU PATHS–IT IS really not all that difficult (if one is willing to relax a bit) TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE each ‘UNIQUE’ and (quite) different (please excuse the margarita induced more bad than usual typing)). Ani Pema , a student of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche (in addition to VCTR), received the transmission of ‘shenpa’, a deeper and more elaborate description of the roots/basis/manifestations of what we normally (but inadequately) denominate as ‘attachment’, from Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. Go to the Mangala Shri Bhuti website (www.mangalashribhuti.org -if I have it right– and you can locate teachings referencing ‘shenpa’ from the original–in the West–source).
    To quote the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin (from a supplication to VCTR), incomparable heart son of CTR, ‘…Enjoyment for all is your great teaching..’—-enjoy!–mark
    PS–I love you all despite (because of) your passionate,even if sometimes partial or biased , responses and energies.–Love–mark

    PPS–I hope each of you are well and reveling in the spendid, briliant legacy we all recieved form VCTR.

  3. Edward on November 11th, 2010 12:24 pm

    James Elliott writes:
    …when philosophers get lazy… you get paradoxes. Dharma teachings are about how things are.

    I can understand where you’re coming from here.

    But are you familiar with modern physics? Well, I don’t know if it’s strictly modern if it’s from the 1920s. When I was a child I learned about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Einstein’s Relativity Theories, which to me were way paradoxical. They contradict all the Victorian ideas about “how things are” which our society still clings to. Reality is paradox, according to 20th century science.

    I don’t think the teachings themselves are ‘skillfull means’.

    I’m not sure I agree. My own teacher said enlightenment could be transmitted from teacher to student with almost no words spoken, but as Westerners we need to have a lot of words. Get us out of our conceptual cocoons.

    Isn’t there a traditional story about some guy, Shariputra or someone, asking the Buddha a question, and in response the Buddha held up a flower, and just that gesture awakened the man, provided all the answer he needed?

    I remember reading in Journey Without Goal where CTR said there are three kinds of teachings. The lowest form is verbal teachings. The middle form is when the teacher creates an environment, creates situations or a proper container in which insight can spontaneously arise. And the highest form of teachings is silent transmission.

    But I agree with you, James, that the verbal teachings about ego and mind and reality are important and should not shift all over the place haphazardly.

    Nor do I think that people who see CTR as the founder of a lineage that they want to belong to (or represent!) should play it fast and loose with his teachings.

  4. John Tischer on November 11th, 2010 2:47 pm

    Mahakasyapa (sp?) received the transmission when
    Buddha wordlessly held up a flower. It’s said that the
    most susceptible students of the Buddha need only a word or gesture from a teacher to attain full realization.
    I believe a number of the 84 mahasiddhas had this quality. Teaching through language, I ‘ve read, is the least effective.

  5. James Elliott on November 11th, 2010 4:05 pm


    Good point about physics. I did actually consider quantum physics as I passed that thought on, and/but I would stay with it. The kinds of conflicting truths one sees in physics are not true paradoxes. They are apparent paradoxes that exist because old models are being replaced with more refined ones. In science this is done with verifiable experiments, not intrigue and power struggles, ousting those who disagree, nor due to who is the most inspiring or friendliest or holds the best cards or has the most adherents. Unlike psychology, for example, theories have to jibe with existing knowledge. If it doesn’t, but is nevertheless proven true, then it isn’t the case that all existing axioms remain immutably the same and new one’s are added. Instead everything in physics shifts a little.

    I don’t mean that teachings on ego and how it works shouldn’t haphazardly shift around because we need something stable to focus on. I don’t think they do because they are fundamentally true, and truth simply isn’t a shifty proposition. You can find echoes or parallels to these discoveries or truths in all major religions. Check out Rumi. Sufi upayas may be very different, but I don’t see any conflict in the nature of ego, how it is overcome and so forth. Or Zen. Or Paul Brunton. No doubt there are mystical branches in Christianity that say the same things as well.

    By teachings, I don’t mean a teacher relating to you. As you point out, a transmission can occur with virtually no words. That’s a good clue as to what a transmission involves. Words it ain’t. It’s simply not content. Westerners may like lots of words, but it’s questionable how much we need them.

    Lucid explanations of how to proceed with ego, obstacles, experiences and joy are necessary and a delight, but shouldn’t they jibe with our experiences as we progress along the path, and shouldn’t they work towards dissolving ego and fixations? (Or are they doing something else?) If teachings are based on how we work as human beings, can they really be so very different and all be true? On a contemplative level? I kind of doubt it.

    In the inspiration of Jaffe and Jaffe’s recurring question: “How am I not myself?”

  6. George Klima on November 12th, 2010 11:23 am

    I find it important, for every piece of teaching, every inference, every advice, whether, “undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness”. This is true whether I’m reading the Sutta Pitaka or observing my dog. It is precisely because I trust myself that I do this.

    I may have some opinions about this teacher or that teacher being enlightened but that is largely irrelevant in my struggle with confusion.

    It may be of some academic interest that one teacher differs from another teacher but is there another benefit? Is the debate worth the risk of creating further division?

  7. Mark Szpakowski on November 12th, 2010 1:08 pm

    George, in general I think you’re right: why compare teachers? Just follow the teacher with heart, who you feel benefits yourself and the world!

    In this case it’s a little different, though. Teacher B, whose teachings many direct students and lineage holders of Teacher A consider to be significantly different from those of Teacher A, is promoting his teachings not just as being based on their own heart and merit, but as being identical with those of Teacher A.

    This creates a communication, and you could say a transmission, problem: the language of Teacher B is obscuring that of Teacher A. For example, teacher A uses the term “Shambhala” to refer to an enlightened society that unites secular and sacred while including practitioners of various religions. Teacher B uses the term “Shambhala” to mean “Shambhala Buddhist Kingdom”, of which only Buddhists are full citizens. This is a difference that does not particularly affect me as a Buddhist practitioner, but it does affect those (95% of the world) who are not Buddhist, and it impacts the potential benefit to the world of the “A” Shambhala view.

    Nowadays, if someone connects with the vision of “A”, and then goes to a Shambhala Centre, the message they get is that “A” is actually “B”. If they do want to follow “A”, where do they go? And if they want to use the particular signs, symbols, language, texts, and practices of “A”, can they do so without “B” saying “that’s mine”?

    These quotations are mostly about the religious/buddhist side of things, and if it were just my own practice that’s important I could just keep on practicing according to the “A” vision and inspiration, and in my own way based on those. And many students of “A” take this approach – while they feel privately that they can’t really get behind “B”, they don’t say so out loud, and are happy to “cultivate their own garden”.

    But the view of “A”, and especially the “A” Shambhala, opens up a bigger vision that calls for greater stepping out, does it not?

    In that sense RFS is not about “to B or not to B”, but about A, and about having the care and courage and attention to further develop means and forms to express A.

  8. John Tischer on November 12th, 2010 2:22 pm

    Not all teachers teach the true dharma. If this were not the case, VCTR
    would not have emphasized spiritual materialism as a big obstacle facing students. He spoke again and again how the Tibetan system had become corrupted. He had no problem with being critical of other teachers.

    ” Is the debate worth the risk of creating further division?”

    The division is already there. Whether the debate will do anything to mitigate the division is doubtful. But silence in the face of what seems to many as a kind of corruption is worse.

  9. Rob Graffis on November 12th, 2010 10:06 pm

    I had already put this on Barbra Bluin’s Article On Shambhala Buddhism RFS recently, but I think nobody read it I think..
    Here it is again

    Re reading Barbra Bluin’s intro to her column, I will have to repeat that as far as I knew, VCTR was looking forward to having non Buddhists be full participants in Shambhala, including the practice.
    My understanding now (well, actually, it’s a fact), one now has to be a full fledged Shambhala Buddhist, and have attended Shambhala Buddhist Seminary to be a full fledged participant Shambhala. Being another type of Buddhist will not do. A lot of Shambhalians do end up as becoming Buddhist, but that is their own decision, however, they may not want to be pressured into becoming Shambhala Buddhist. Such pressure could actually drive potentially drive future Shambhalains who have a lot to contribute away, Buddhist or non Buddhist..
    A window should be open for all participants to participate. I don’t think that’s a radical idea.
    Rob Graffis

  10. James Elliott on November 12th, 2010 11:45 pm

    That’s a good question George: “Is the debate worth the risk of creating further division?”

    Put aside that a split in the community occurred first, starting many years ago. I don’t believe it developed due to ideology alone. I think there are problems of how the culture Trungpa Rinpoche developed with the help and participation of many dedicated students has been handled, and some administrative quirks as well. In any case RFS and these kinds of discussions started to occur because of the split, not the other way around.

    Let’s put aside the fact that debate is a time honored traditional Buddhist practice, about for instance the very kinds of differences these quotes seem to exhibit. Some people may be rude or insulting, or clumsy at it, but debate is a way to find truth and understand more deeply. Avoiding debate doesn’t protect truth, it protects something else.

    Put aside also that judging whether the value or truth of any particular dharma (or any truth at all) by whether it makes me happy is highly questionable. My current emotional state is a very poor barometer of truth – unless that’s where I want to get stuck. Breaking through ego fixation, neurosis or denial is, for one example, not always experienced as happiness. And yet, doesn’t that lead to a higher truth?

    Putting that all aside, what exactly about such debate or discussion causes divisions? Why couldn’t it just as well be a source of reconciliation?

    So, my two cents, yeah, it is worth the risk. In fact, that it feels like such a risk is probably another good reason for it to occur. What is being risked, anyway? The truth?

  11. Rob Graffis on November 15th, 2010 1:38 am

    I tried asking this question on RFS on the Monarchy column, but saw no responses, so I’ll try here, even if it’s out of context to this particular issue.
    Wasn’t one of the main themes for supporting the Sakyong on his “deep retreat” so it can be done properly. and uninterrupted Is the “deep retreat” already in effect? If not, when does it begin?
    I heard from a friend of mine he will be here in Boulder for the next wo three moths. He has been here for a couple weeks already. He was in Halifax not too long ago. There was a Benefit Dinner for him not too long ago at the Boulderado Hotel. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if he was there or not.
    I don’t think these are provocative questions.
    I remember when I would ask Cogyam Trungpa questions that were questions “everybody else wanted to ask, but were afraid to” at public talks, he was very open to them. He wasn’t very receptive to insulting questions (the old Naropa days eg 1994).

  12. Suzanne Duarte on November 15th, 2010 9:13 am

    Hi Rob, I think it’s possible to put your question in the context of this Quotations thread. The question is valid and is related to meditation.

    If I may paraphrase and elaborate, your question is, wasn’t there a great deal of fundraising for Sakyong Mipham’s “year-long DEEP RETREAT”? Wasn’t the ‘deep retreat’ supposed to be uninterrupted and a year long? Did it happen? He’s been in Halifax and is now in Boulder. Did he do a year-long deep retreat? If not, when does it begin?

    Given all of the Sakyong’s claims about the benefits of meditation in the Quotations, what has been the outcome of his ‘deep retreat’? Is he happier and more successful? Did he received any realization or any terma? How will anybody know? Will the jewels of wisdom be saved for only those who attend the next Scorpion Seal teachings? If so, what about the rest of the greater sangha? What about the rest of the world?

    Are these unfair or provocative questions, given what SMR has claimed about meditation? When Trungpa Rinpoche did long retreats, he usually emerged from them with something new and potent with which to engage the sangha in furthering all of our paths, and for the benefit of all beings….

  13. Susan Kurker on November 15th, 2010 11:17 am

    Yes – I have questions about this as well. I recall receiving 2 emails specifically on this subject. The second email – was asking for donations for SMR, so that he could “continue his retreat”

    I found that an odd request, as it makes an assumption that he was actually giving something up, like a job or some kind of income, so that he could to be in retreat. Not sure but I don’t think he actually has a job or was necessarily giving up any actual income, other than attending teachings and receiving donations, I am not sure what exactly he was giving up and why he needed money to continue his retreat.

    I also recall receiving a request to donate for his retreat period in Nepal. I believe an amount such as $40 thousand was raised or needed for something like a 2 months retreat in Nepal for him and his attendance.

    Now, I have never been to Nepal but I am pretty sure that $40 thousand goes a pretty long way there, and likely more than what was actually needed. While maybe not common knowledge, I was surprised to find out later that he actually did not spend any real time in retreat in Nepal but mostly was visiting his family the entire time he was there and not actually in retreat.

    So again, I am not sure what the money was actually used for or why it was needed?

  14. Rob Graffis on November 15th, 2010 1:51 pm

    This a just a cut out from a fund raising pitch. It implies you can get closer to the Sakyong’s Mind through patronage.
    In Boulder, he was seen publicly twice. Once for a fundraiser, and once where people could offer gifts and flowers to his baby. I’m not being sarcastic. That’s what happened. I don’t know what he did in Halifax, except it was related to the baby. I presume the Sakyong is staying in his own home here in Boulder.

    Connecting with the Sakyong through Patronage
    Post a Comment May 17, 2010 – 5:34 pm | Permalink |

    The Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, in the inner quarters of Surmang Dutsi-til, during his 2005 visit.
    Lodro Rinzler shares with the Shambhala Times the outstanding success in funding Sakyong Mipham’s period of deep retreat for forty days during May and early June. Due to the incredible generosity of the sangha, the deep retreat calendar filled in just 30 hours! Shambhalians still have the opportunity to become patrons of the retreat. The names of patrons will be read aloud at the conclusion of the deep retreat, and the Sakyong will include these names in his ceremonies and do blessings for these patrons.

  15. Susan Kurker on November 15th, 2010 3:04 pm

    Ah Ok – so I miss understood the vastness of the purpose of the donations – I now see that the donations are actually for the benefit of the patrons and not for benefit of SMR. I would also guess that the amount of actual time spent in actual retreat does not matter either – as the benefits are spontaneously accomplished in all directions by the simple act of a donation, as the act of donation is now what offically brings accomplishment to all donors.

    That being the case – I do have one other question – if the benefit is for the patrons – why is it that there is an implication of needing to have some amount by a given date so that something can be completed (which clearly implicates that a set amount is needed or is the goal, and or that there is a subject and object relationship between teacher/student – is this not the exact perspective difference that this entire thread has been discussing – SMR statements which seem to indicate a perspective of a separation of subject/object and CTR statements which seem to state that the subject/object are the same?

    “Lodro Rinzler shares with the Shambhala Times the outstanding success in funding Sakyong Mipham’s period of deep retreat for forty days during May and early June. Due to the incredible generosity of the sangha, the deep retreat calendar filled in just 30 hours!”

    Ok – well not sure what the real intention is/was or the meaning or even if it implies anything – maybe it is just marketing or is it manipulation or a bit of both – hard to say??? But how can we be sure we are not “putting our hand on the television” to believe in the faith healer on the TV or is this just a matter of blind faith?

  16. John Tischer on November 15th, 2010 4:47 pm

    “I now see that the donations are actually for the benefit of the patrons and not for benefit of SMR.”

    That does seem to be the logic put forth by S.I., but really, it’s very naive….and exactly the kind of spiritual materialistic twist that VCTR eschewed. He criticized the corruption of Tibetian lamas that performed ceremonies for remuneration that was rampant in Tibet, and actually, he suggested that this
    corruption was a main cause for Tibetans to loose their country

    “The names of patrons will be read aloud at the conclusion of the deep retreat, and the Sakyong will include these names in his ceremonies and do blessings for these patrons.” sounds like a business.
    deal. Makes me nauseous.

    If anyone think that SMR has some secret knowledge
    and that he’s building his kingdom to save the world,
    I have a bridge you might want to buy. VCTR’s
    ambition was to help the world, which he did by disseminating teachings and relating directly with his students…not by accumulating wealth for some unknown and hidden agenda.

  17. Rob Graffis on November 17th, 2010 7:22 am

    I hope most of you caught my typo concerning VCTR. I meant 1974.

    This is a dichotomy of where the view of where meditation and devotion rise.
    Are they two different view points looking at the same thing, or just two different viewpoints? We could dissect this to chopped liver if we want.
    This excerpt was posted already a while ago by the fund raisers for the Sakyong :


    You will recall that hundreds of Shambhalians served as patrons for all or part of a day when the Sakyong was in deep retreat in Nepal in May. If you would like to make an offering at this point in his retreat, it would be in the form of taking on the role of patron for part or all of one of the days from the beginning of October until the end of February. In accord with traditional ritual, the names of the patrons will be read aloud daily.

    • For $150 you can be a patron of 1/4 of a day
    • For $300 you can be a patron of a 1/2 day
    • For $600 or more you can serve as a patron for a full day of the Sakyong’s retreat

  18. James Elliott on November 18th, 2010 2:58 am


    Actually science is not stopping at the materialistic border. According to “A Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker, as well as a number of studies on what meditation physically and demonstrably does, some the Dalai Lama has lent his name to, it is now clear that what we do with the mind actually physically changes it.

    If we study, say math, or teach, or meditate, over time the synapses that help one do that actively develop and become more efficient. It causes real physical change in the brain. Some people are astounded, and some say ‘of course’ but it’s not a question anymore.

    Don’t know that therapy has caught up to this yet, still making stuff up based on instinct and received models which are sometimes wildly wrong, but science isn’t the obstacle it used to be.


    I can’t agree more about the therapeutic benefits of nature, camping saved my sanity a few times. But creating a label like “Nature Disorder Deficit” says very little about the causes and effects and is somewhat problematic when talking about real illnesses, rather than neurotic discomforts.

    Is it a benefit because we are away from household detergents, radon gas, the constant hum of electronic devices, artificial light cycles and so on, or is there something out there in nature we are imbibing or that effects us?

    It smacks of telling people to respect nature or risk a disorder, sort of thing. This matters when recommending nature as cure for something. Did it help someone with autism? Maybe, but how many and how come? If we don’t know that, it may well be that person was helped due to something else, like maybe simply the attention they received or getting out of wherever they were or something else. We don’t know and won’t discover in that instance if we accept that nature alone is the cure.

    Would it make any more sense to label people we think are neurotic as having MDD (meditation deficit disorder)? I swear there are some candidates out there for whom meditation is the cure, but a disorder? Don’t think I can get away with it, but will start using it to see. MDD.

    Agree that all doors should be open, but they should be examined thoroughly before labeling. Will send this info along to someone who has PTSD. Would love to hear more about BPD, a disorder which I think is ignored even exacerbated within spiritual contexts, with disastrous results.

  19. Suzanne Duarte on November 18th, 2010 8:01 am

    James, I think this last post under Quotations is addressing the wrong thread. And re: ‘nature deficit disorder,’ it doesn’t sound like you’ve read anything about it, but are just making assumptions. Did you take a look at my recommendations? If you want to carry on this discussion, please go back to the Blue Sangha.

  20. damchö on November 18th, 2010 5:51 pm

    James, a very brief reply over on the other thread.

    Regarding patronship, it’s the kind of question I normally don’t feel I should say anything about. Most of the time I assume there’s too much information I don’t know. But I’m startled by the figures you quote Rob. Clearly SI is hoping for $600 (“or more”) a day. But this would come to a minimum of $219,000 a year. As Susan has pointed out, that just seems a staggering amount of money for a retreat, especially one taking place (at least partly?) in a very poor country.

    Even if the money is going to support several people, aren’t retreats a time of radically paring down? When other teachers go on retreat there’s no fanfare at all. They simply go on retreat. Am I missing something here? (Very possible.)

    Also, the constant reiteration of “deep” in “deep retreat” irresistibly raises the question: is there such a thing as a “shallow retreat”?! I guess maybe “deep” here is simply referring to length of time–though it was also used in reference to the retreat of 40 days in May / June, not exceptional at all.

    In any case, aren’t teachers *expected* to go on retreat fairly regularly, simply part of the job so to speak? Yes there is a loss of income when a teacher is not teaching, but the vast majority of teaching income in Shambhala surely comes from all the other teachers, from week to week, in all of the centres. SMR is only one person in all of that.

  21. James Elliott on November 19th, 2010 2:30 am

    OOPs. Thanks Suzanne.
    I Can move this over to Blue Sangha where it belongs.

    Can the monitors please delete my last message here? It really has nothing to do with this thread.

    My apologies.

  22. edz on November 22nd, 2010 1:27 am

    Hello Ravi,

    Any chance you are following this thread? Thanks for posting the quotes by the Vidyadhara.

    I would like to be in touch. Could you email me at ezaron AT netscape.net.


  23. Rob Graffis on December 7th, 2010 9:41 pm

    To answer Damcho, the $600 dollar a day (there are $300 for half a day, etc) is merely a a fund raising gimmick. The expenses listed required much more.
    He has other donors, sponsors and other contributors, which is his business .
    It is a business you know. It’s a “non for profit” business, meaning you can’t investest your income outside of your umbrella..
    To Ms. Z, camping out is very therapeutic, but it’s not a cure all. Somewhat of a glib thing to say, but nothing is B & W. .

  24. Stuart on December 26th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Shambhala from 21st Century

    September 8, 2009

    John Tischer on December 5th, 2010 1:56 pm

    “Upaya council? Is there even a board of directors?”


    “The necessary and welcome economic growth within our Sangha, in the form of business operations and commercial and domestic investments, has brought along as a by—product an increasing frequency of disagreements and disputes. There is a need for our society to provide resources for the sane, nonagressive resolution of such conflicts in keeping with the principles of Dharma and the Great Eastern Sun. Accordingly I have decided to institute and appoint the Upaya Council. The function of the Upaya Council shall be to mediate and/or arbitrate commercial and domestic disputes among members of the Vajradhatu community, as individuals, groups, or businesses. It shall be the initial task of the Upaya Council to propose to me and my Privy Council a set of guidelines under which it shall operate. There shall be no internal hierarchy within the Upaya Council and each member shall have an equal voice; the findings of the Council shall be arrived at by unanimous consent.”
    ~ Vajracarya the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Spring, 1979.

    The Sakyong’s Counci is the board of directors, to wit:

    Sakyong’s Council