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The ultimate truth is fearless

posted by Greg Zwahlen
by Greg Zwahlen

Over the last few days our friend Waylon Lewis, editor at elephant journal, blogged about allegations he had recently discovered about Chogyam Trungpa. Waylon was convinced they were false, and suggested that a reference to it on Wikipedia, be deleted pronto, and he also sent an email to the Shambhala International internal listserv urging the community to do the same. 

Rinpoche, of course, was famously controversial, but to some degree that controversy has always been diffused by the knowledge that his life was an open book and he hid nothing. Sadly, that second part may be untrue. The material in question is from The Other Side of Eden, a memoir written by John Steinbeck IV and his wife and published in 2001 by a major publisher. Steinbeck, son of the novelist, was a respected journalist in Vietnam. He was also one of Rinpoche’s kusung (personal attendants) and part of the inner circle of the era, and by all accounts a man of personal integrity. The passage in question alleged that Trungpa Rinpoche had a serious cocaine and Seconal habit, and that this was careful kept secret from the community, among other things.

The passage quoted from their book is definitely shocking and incendiary, but I don’t think we can jump to the conclusion that it is untrue. To my knowledge, none of the other senior students of Trungpa Rinpoche who are in positions to comment have denied that these things are true. I’m guessing that the book flew under the radar until now because the title does not suggest it has anything to do with the sangha.
What does all this mean? Well, I can’t say personally that I am surprised about any of the content itself, really. What does surprise me (if it is true, and I suspect that it is) is that Rinpoche was secretive about his heavy coke and pills use, and that many of his senior students have misled us about it all of these years. That is something that I find deeply disappointing and disturbing. I think that is the critical point here. As Waylon noted, we’ve always been told that he was totally open about these things.
All the same, I am still quite proud to be a part of Shambhala and a student in the lineage of Trungpa Rinpoche. The reaction of the sangha on the listserv was varied. Some people felt that revealing any information that potentially makes Rinpoche look bad could only come out of hatred. Others felt that the best policy is to be as open, honest, and unsecretive about these things as possible. As you can tell, that is how I feel, and I am proud that so many of my fellow sangha members feel the same way and are willing to say so publicly.
Some make the case that new and potential students will be scared off by this information before they connect with all of the good things that the lineage has to offer. I think that is a chance we have to take. The alternative (what used to happen pre-internet) is that these things get shared piecemeal, through the rumor mill at programs, often after a student has given years of their lives and thousands of dollars to the sangha. I don’t think that is right, or ultimately helpful for anyone. As Rinpoche once wrote, “the ultimate truth is fearless,” and I think people are entitled to it in all of its relative permutations.
Unfortunately, the Buddhist media–Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma, and Tricycle–generally doesn’t touch anything remotely controversial. I am quite grateful that I live in the internet era, where information can be disseminated by other means. I also want to be clear that I don’t intend to be critical of Waylon, who was clearly acting out of shock in the spur of the moment. 
The other night I tried to explain the view of the “party line” on this one to my girlfriend, who is not involved with Shambhala. The view according to which Trungpa Rinpoche was a mahasiddha, so therefore, like the mahasiddhas of old, everything he did was utterly selfless and for the benefit of others. I had such a hard time even getting the words out of my mouth that I had to admit to myself that I don’t believe that, and never did.
But that’s ok. I do believe that Trungpa Rinpoche was a brilliant teacher who left us an amazing legacy of teachings. I also am sure that he showed an enormous amount of kindness, generosity and compassion to thousands of people. I can certainly accommodate the idea that he was also a flawed human being who made serious mistakes that caused a lot of harm. I really hope Vajrayana Buddhism as a whole can eventually come around to this view–about Chogyam Trungpa and all teachers–or else I think we have not seen the last of the devastating scandals.


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Waylon Lewis

posted September 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm


Thanks for spreading these rumors, which are unproven and come from single sources. My intent was the opposite. Please, please reconsider the intent and effect of republishing these allegations in this post.



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Waylon Lewis

posted September 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm


BTW, this hasn’t flown under the radar, ironically, except in our Shambhala community. It’s been posted, or was until my blog went up a few days ago and folks edited the rumors, on Wikipedia–the number one big and first go-to site for info about anyone online, including Trungpa Rinpoche. I think your blog, while wonderful, would stand on its own two feet without repeating those allegations.
The sex stuff is one thing, things were relatively open about all that (except for the details, which are rather…too intimate). The drugs stuff is rumor, and I’ve heard many senior students say they knew or heard nothing about all that.



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Waylon Lewis

posted September 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm


I don’t know, whatever, maybe leave it up…I just feel like spreading something around we don’t know that’s true makes it true, sadly. I’m tired after three days of getting attacked on my own site for trying to draw a line between proven facts and myth…so maybe what you’re doing here is correct, I don’t know. All I know is that I tried to remove what I view as rumor, and we did it, removing that stuff from Wikipedia.
As I said, if it is corroborated, three sources, that sort of thing, then let it stand, Trungpa Rinpoche was fearlessly open in the experience of the vast majority of his students.



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Greg

posted September 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm


I understand your perspective. But I think the cat is out of the bag on this one and trying to get it back in would do more harm than good. Better to confront it head on.



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Mark Szpakowski

posted September 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm


Um, when you say:
[John ] Steinbeck, son of the novelist, was a distinguished journalist who broke the story of the My Lai massacre.
I think you’re confusing John Steinbeck IV with Seymour Hersh, who broke the story of the My Lai massacre (“Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, after extensive conversations with Calley, broke the My Lai story on November 12, 1969;”).



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Greg

posted September 21, 2009 at 7:48 pm


You are correct – I am amending the article. He apparently worked with the Dispatch News Service, which first broke the story by Hersh. Thank you for pointing this out.



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Dot Luce

posted September 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm


From the mud, grows the lotus.



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Mu

posted September 21, 2009 at 11:04 pm


Hmmm…I thought this was pretty much common knowledge. I know a married couple who made runs to Bolivia for Trungpa. They have many entertaining stories–and that’s the way I look at it, just words, nothing to attach to. A blow habit, in some spheres, has a certain power to undermine or deligitimate a body of work–look at Freud-bashing in this regard. But Freud endures and so does Rinpoche. Relax, ya’ll.



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Your Name

posted September 22, 2009 at 6:03 am


Is the ability of a piece of art to communicate beauty and meaning to the viewer contingent upon the life style of the artist?
If the ability of a piece of wrting to communicate wisdom to the reader contingent upon the life style of the writer?
Perhaps Rinpoche has a lesson to teach about idealization of the teacher being an impediment. The lessons either have value or do not, quite aside from their proximate source.



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emily

posted September 22, 2009 at 8:36 am


Thank you for discussing this openly- I would say that it is definitely NOT common knowledge to me, someone who has been attending classes and sitting at Shambhala centers for a few years but doesn’t have close friends who are senior students. I was shocked when I read a quite tame interview with Diana Mukpo about her husband’s alcohol abuse and their relationship. Working with addiction is a significant part of my practice- I felt confused and disappointed.
But the greater concern for me: what does this say about the Shambhala attitude toward women? Why were these women silent? If none of them complained, did that mean it wasn’t sexual abuse? Where are they now?



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 22, 2009 at 9:38 am


Wow, Greg, you took us there.
I will hop into the discussion in a bit if it seems fruitful (not sure), but first I want to be exceedingly clear that this is Greg’s Post. We at One City do have a very open policy, as long as there is no libel and slander, and as long as commenters and bloggers do not become offensive or ad hominem towards each other.
Greg has only reprinted previously published material as well as Waylon’s published blog, and then added his own reflections.
So Greg’s decision to post this is valid, and his decision is his alone. I would not have done so, but I support Greg’s right to write about what he chooses. IDP and the One City Blog promote free speech, within the ethics of decency.
However, as an ethical note, Greg, when the article shifts to your personal reflections, you seem to shift subtly from saying that these allegations should be out in the open, to an ASSUMPTION that they are actually true. And it seems you do this only because you have not found any close students of Trungpa Rinpoche who outright deny the claim. I think it would’ve been better if, since you know many students of Rinpoche, you had a personal experience of one of them actually anonymously verifying the claim. Has anyone you know verified this to you? Everything I have heard from senior students seems to support that Trungpa Rinpoche was actually negative about the use of cocaine in general. And on his relationship with women, I have NEVER heard a positive first-hand verification of him acting abusively toward women.
Why do you jump to viewing these things as true? Do you have anonymous direct verification beyond Mr. Steinbeck? Nondenial doesn’t seem enough here.



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gza

posted September 22, 2009 at 9:40 am


Emily, there is a book called Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism by Sandy Boucher. You can view preview it on Google here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=ht4QqV_HIh8C&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=Turning+the+Wheel:+American+Women+Creating+the+New+Buddhism&source=bl&ots=Mpd6yoCECD&sig=9-S3UlKRbQbZKcnAk5dbsedInGY&hl=en&ei=5dC4SuDcKtLQlAfQ2bHXDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#v=onepage&q=trungpa&f=false
It talks about a conference held at Naropa Institute in 1982 in which Judith Simmer-Brown and Judy Lief (both now Acharyas) convened a panel discussion about Rinpoches sexual liasons, and whether or not they were abusive. pgs 66-69.
It sounds like it was an open candid affair, but it doesn’t seem that anyone who felt abused was there. I’m not sure if such women exist, and if they have spoken up anywhere I’ve never seen it. But I certainly would not rule the possibility out, and if any of them have come forward or do come forward I think we would have to grapple with it and it would not be easy.



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Greg

posted September 22, 2009 at 9:54 am


Ethan, you are right that perhaps I give these allegations too much creedence. But the reason why I think they are worth an airing, at least, is that the Steinbecks were the ones who blew the whistle on the behavior of the Vajra Regent. By all accounts that was information that a good part of the sangha was keen to suppress, and I know they took a lot of heat for that. So that alone lends them a certain amount of credibility in my book.
Another point is, this book was published by a major publisher and presumably vetted by their libel lawyers. I think it is OK to discuss it publicly. It’s not as if this was an anonymous comment on a blog.
I reached out to one senior student who was fully supportive of my decision to contribute to the conversation with this post – perhaps I should have reached out to more first. But I didn’t start this conversation publicly – it was already in motion – and I felt the need to address it in a timely way.
Anyone who is reading this and can speak to the veracity of the claims, please do so, we would all welcome that.



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Dharmakara

posted September 22, 2009 at 10:30 am


A friend and I were discussing this article, as well as Waylon’s failed attempt to “whitewash” the Wikipedia entry… if remembered correctly, someone had once asked Mrs. Rhys Davids if a Buddhist practitioner has a history and her reply was “No, and the longer he lives the more history he doesn’t have.”



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Mu

posted September 22, 2009 at 10:33 am


Trungpa, we know, was nothing if not contradictory. Like the “pharmakon” in Plato’s texts, it perhaps remains undecidable in any instance whether the effect he had on others was remedy and/or poison. Or whether or not he is best characterized as a kind of pharmakeus, a kind of magician, a character no logic can confine within a non-contradictory definition. Or whether is he an outright pharmakos, a rascal, a contaminated and contaminating agent, to be expelled one way or another. In short, first-hand evidence ultimately is of very little value when you’re dealing with a contradictory and complex figure.
Concerning Trungpa as remedy, Joni Mitchell, in an interview with Reader’s Digest (3 April 2006), talks about Trungpa’s attitude toward and treatment of her addiction to cocaine.
Here’s an excerpt from that interview:
RD: Did you ever have problems with drugs or addiction?
Mitchell: I did, briefly. I didn’t get involved for years, and then I went on Rolling Thunder and they asked me how I wanted to be paid, and I ran away to join the circus: Clowns used to get paid in wine – pay me in cocaine because everybody was strung out on cocaine. It was Chögyam Trungpa who snapped me out of it just before Easter in 1976. He asked me, “Do you believe in God?” I said, “Yes, here’s my god and here is my prayer,” and I took out the cocaine and took a hit in front of him. So I was very, very rude in the presence of a spiritual master.
RD: And he was able to…?
Mitchell: His nostrils began to flare like bellows, and he a rhythmic breathing. I remember thinking, What’s with his nose? It was almost hypnotic. They have a technique called emanating grace ways. I assume he went into a breathing technique and a meditation. I left his office and for three days I was in awakened state. The technique completely silenced that thing, the loud, little noisy radio station that stands between you and the great mind.
RD: And when you came out of that awakened state…?
Mitchell: The thing that brought me out of the state was my first “I” thought. For three days I had no sense of self, no self-consciousness; my mind was back in Eden, the mind before the Fall. It was simple-minded, blessedly simple-minded. And then the “I” came back, and the first thought I had was, Oh, my god. He enlightened me. Boom. Back to normal – or what we call normal but they call insanity.
RD: It was his breathing technique and he managed to pass it on to you. And when you came out of your three days, you were no longer cocaine?
Mitchell: Yes. Ten years later when I learned he was dying, I went back to thank him.



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Greg

posted September 22, 2009 at 10:55 am


That is interesting Mu, thanks for bringing it to our attention.



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ellen9

posted September 22, 2009 at 11:08 am


I can’t quite get the logic of this statement:
“[I]t doesn’t seem that anyone who felt abused was there. I’m not sure if such women exist, and if they have spoken up anywhere I’ve never seen it. But I certainly would not rule the possibility out, and if any of them have come forward or do come forward I think we would have to grapple with it and it would not be easy.”
When did you stop beating your wife? comes to mind.



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Greg

posted September 22, 2009 at 11:27 am


What I was trying to say is, at that particular conference there seem to have been no women who felt abused. The only claim I have seen that there are women who felt abused is the Steinbecks book. I don’t think it is a wild allegation, but neither can I say it is true. So I don’t have the answers here, that is all.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 22, 2009 at 11:35 am


@ Greg: The second thing I think is that, as you and I have both discussed, in our Shambhala Community (as well as in the communities of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students who don’t feel so connected with Shambhala anymore), there is sometimes, occasionally, an inordinate focus on the past. As a basic rule, the past can offer nostalgia and encouragement for the present, but as a focal point, the past doesn’t inspire anyone. There have been so many times during my Buddhist education where I wanted to scream at the speaker : “Don’t tell me about your teacher’s realization! Show me YOUR realization, YOUR heart.”
As a support for the present moment and future, discussing the past, understanding our human lineage, feeling connected to ancestors, can be awesome. But when the focus is too much on the past, it turns people off; their eyes glaze over. The past is never a very useful community-building tool.
I think this is one reason IDP has grown so quickly over the last year – we are very HERE and NOW. It is not our job to tell anyone how things did or didn’t use to be, in any way, shape or form. The .
In Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the head teacher here and now, and I stand behind him 110%. I may be in the minority to say he is every bit as gifted as his father, but that’s what I believe. Regardless, he’s the one we should be supporting and focusing on.
I think you have ironically fallen into this trap and chosen to put the focus back on the past. Why? What does that serve?
Why not focus on the really great things happening in the Shambhala Community now?



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Waylon Lewis

posted September 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm


Funny, I left three or four comments, and they’re gone. What happened to your “Free Speech” policy, Ethan? Greg, while I don’t support your repetition of these allegations here—I’ve already “broken” this story and aired everything in the open for a week prior to your post, and yet no one came forward to corroborate, actually a few consorts came forward to say the sexual stuff in particular had little to do with their experience—there’s nothing I can do to stop you. My blog was posted in an effort to clarify whether these allegations were true, and if not, to cut them from Wikipedia. Slander, innuendo, and rumors are not the same as truth, or openness or free speech—at least, not to me.
You can be assure elephant will cease any relations with you all from here on out—this is a major violation of any trust we might have had. That said, I think you all will live without working with ele (!), and I wish you all the best, I’m a big fan historically of Ethan and Jerry, and you’re a good, thoughtful writer yourself.



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ellen9

posted September 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm


@Waylon – All your comments are there.
Beliefnet’s interface makes it hard to find comments at the beginning of a thread; the best way to see a whole thread is to click on the orange “Comments (50)” link. (The number refers to number of comments.)



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Dharmakara

posted September 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Waylon: You’re original comments are still posted here.



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ellen9

posted September 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm


@Waylon All your comments are there.
Beliefnet’s interface makes it difficult to see comments at the beginning of a thread.
The best way to see the whole thread is to click on the orange Comments (number) link. The number refers to number of comments, so if you only see 3, and the number in parens says 21, you can be sure there are more there. As yours are.



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Dharmakara

posted September 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm


Sorry for my misspell and duplicating Ellen’s post… it wasn’t posted at the time.



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Greg

posted September 22, 2009 at 1:29 pm


@Ethan
I agree that the focus should be on the present. That is why I shared my experience of struggling to come to terms with what I find to be a troubling development.
When I first decided to visit a Shambhala center in 2000, I bought a book called “The Buddhist Guide to New York.” It read
“Precisely because this community has been plagued in the past by problems with its leadership, it may now be a particularly good place for Westerners to seek teachings and support—on ongoing public dialogue over the role of the teacher, proper actions, and skillful teaching tactics has resulted in a more mature Buddhist community that can more successfully police its own and avoid the excesses that are sometimes associated with Eastern religions plunked down in the West. Leaders at the New York Shambhala Center, for instance, have shown openness and honesty in discussing the good and bad points of Trungpa’s personality, and the tradition is now poised to transmit the most positive elements of his approach to the dharma.”
I’m not sure I would have visited the center if not for that. I found that to be true then, and I believe that it is still true now, and that is our strength as a sangha. That is what we have to offer in the present moment. We train not to act out of fear of reality, and embody genuineness and warriorship. We can’t do that if crucial subjects like the one we are discussing now are off the table. That’s what inspired me initially, and still does.
Whether I should have repeated the quote is debatable, but my feeling is it is out there so there is no point in hiding it. It comes from a source that in my opinion deserves serious consideration, and I don’t think any of us are in a position to immediately label it slanderous.



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Greg

posted September 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm


In the interest of full disclosure, I have been persuaded that my thoughts here do not require the controversial quote itself, and I have revised the article removing it.



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Damaris

posted September 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm


What’s done is done. Don’t remove it. Stand true to that moment and move forward. Isn’t that the truest intent for all of this?
To air out it out and move forward.



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contrarian

posted September 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm


@Ethan
“I think you have ironically fallen into this trap and chosen to put the focus back on the past. Why? What does that serve?”
Am I missing something here? Since when did Buddhist Teachings get used as a tool justify irresponsible behavior and collective denial? Oh wait, that’s right…
Trungpa.
Zentatsu Richard Baker.
Krishnamurti.
Am I the only one who learned in 1st Grade that not talking about the past allows us to repeat mistakes? When are we going to stop using authoritarian bullying to discourage the use of common sense?



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Damaris

posted September 22, 2009 at 5:30 pm


@gza – What you wrote was true to the heart.
A difficult thing to read yes but it was true to you. Do not abandon that.
As for :
“[I]t doesn’t seem that anyone who felt abused was there. I’m not sure if such women exist, and if they have spoken up anywhere I’ve never seen it. But I certainly would not rule the possibility out, and if any of them have come forward or do come forward I think we would have to grapple with it and it would not be easy.”
Abuse is a very complex thing. A woman in love with a man will allow him to abuse her and she’ll recognize it as love or in Shambhala’s case a teacher’s lesson.
I know that because I experienced it. Abuse is a very very complex web.



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Tru Dat

posted September 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm


One wonders if and when Waylon will return with his tail between his legs. Anyone else notice that his being convinced CTR is guiltless is a mirror reflection of his being convinced One City censored him. What an odd deluded little man. I guess when you run a mindless blog where your average post count is 2.5 and then you get your clock cleaned in the rare post that generated commentary, you’re going to be smarting.



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Your Name

posted September 22, 2009 at 8:48 pm


Tru Dat: Waylon’s behavior wasn’t well-received over at Wikipedia, where he’s described on the discussion page as “a fellow who is sort of a Buddhist Rush Limbaugh”. He kind of crossed the line, not realizing that Wikipedia is not “Shambhalapedia”.



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Old Timer

posted September 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm


I had a reality check with other senior students today. They agreed that Rinpoche’s coke use was common knowledge among the inner circle. Fleet Maul, who spent 14 years in prison for running coke up from South America, won’t come clean about his relationship with CTR because he makes money off CTR’s image. A kusung reported that CTR sometimes engaged in S&M games because he was impotent. A female student with a dislocated shoulder had to be taken from the Court to the hospital because he’d gotten too rough. We look at the past patterns of our grandparents in order to understand family dynamics. We were a family back then. CTR’s disturbing and criminal behavior caused a great deal of pain and confusion because he told constantly told us not to pollute our environment. As for Waylon, he uses CTR purely for self-agrandizement. He’s pushing for a seat on the Boulder City Council and fears his association with the sangha will tarnish his grandiose image.



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Greg

posted September 23, 2009 at 10:32 am


Thanks Old Timer. I really appreciate your willingness to address this, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
There was an article today in the NY Times which quoted a 1943 editorial in the Washington Post about their decision to publish photographs of war casualties. It read: “If we are to behave as adults in meeting our civilian responsibilities, we must be treated as adults. This means simply that we must be given the truth without regard to fears about how we may react to it.” Seemed apropos of this discussion.
I’ve met a number people in this sangha over the years who are hilariously irreverent when it comes to bullshit and pieties of every stripe. That’s a big part of what keeps me around.



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Anon

posted September 23, 2009 at 11:58 am


I don’t know that much about Shambhala other than what I’ve read online. I’ve never been to a Shambhala center.
Last week, I had considered attending a Shambhala meditation to try it out. I thought that it might be a good idea to learn a little about the founder, and like Greg said, my first stop was Wikipedia. After reading the entry, I was completely horrified. I Googled CTR and “cocaine” to see if there was any more information out there. I’ve learned over the years to take Wikipedia with a grain of salt. I came across Waylon’s entry at Elephant, which was written on the exact same day that I’d read about CTR on Wikipedia! Quite a coincidence.
I came to Buddhism through recovery from addiction. It has brought me a peace and serenity that I’ve never experienced before. So, for me, it would be very hard for me to take seriously a sangha/lineage that came in to being while it’s founder was an “active” abuser/addict. On the flip side, if CTR was an addict and living soberly while teaching and forming this sangha, my view would be completely different. That being said, I see no need to pass judgement on Shambhala if any of this is true or not. No tradition or teacher is perfect… It may just be that Shambhala is not for me personally.
It should be noted, though, that the NYC Shambhala center has a sitting group for recovering addicts that meets every Sunday. Clearly, the message that they put out in the Here and Now, is very positive. And I do agree with what Ethan said about supporting the teacher that currently leads a sangha, in this case SMR.
I’d love to hear the opinions from any current senior Shambhala teachers on this….



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm


Greg: I believe part of the problem is that many people find such conversation as distasteful, that they fail to realize that if through our silence we allow others to suffer or be abused, then we have likewise become willing partipants in that that suffering or abuse.



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Greg

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Anon, I’m not a senior student but I’ll give you my take on this anyway. In this day and age drug use is not particularly encouraged in Shambhala community. What people do in their spare time, I don’t know, but I think it is more or less reflective of society at large.
Likewise, alcohol is occassionally served at Shambhala functions but there are always nonalchoholic alternatives, and the range of consumption varies the way that it would at a similar event where alcohol is served in an ancillary way, like at a book reading or whatever.
Talking to people at the Sunday group will probably give you a much better idea. Also, if it is very important to you to find a community that is very oriented toward people in recovery, you might want to check out Dharma Punx.



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Greg

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm


Dharmakara, I agree with you, but I would also like to reiterate Ethan’s comments that no one is alleging that there are ongoing problems. Just so that is perfectly clear. Rather we are trying to get a fuller picture of what was going on in the 70s and 80s.



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 12:51 pm


Greg: I agree with you and Ethan entirely… what I was referring to was that if someone had the balls back then to challenge the behavior it might not have continued unchecked. Although I have mixed feelings inregard the Ojai community because repeated attempts to portray previous behavior as something other than it was, most Shambhala groups (including NY) do not suffer from such moral and ethical inneptitude and are definitely worth checking out.



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Greg

posted September 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm


Perhaps so, but my preference really is not to make this conversation about judging who supposedly should have done what back when.
That said, I am grateful to the Steinbecks for exposing the Regent’s behavior. And also for coming clean about Rinpoche’s secretive drug use, since it increasingly looks like they were telling the truth about that too.



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Dharmakara

posted September 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm


No, it’s not healthy to dwell on what could have or should have been done in the past, no sooner than it would be to adopt a spirit of denial to it. That’s one of thge things I love about this site… it encourages practice in the present moment.



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Anon

posted September 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm


@Greg
Thanks for your response. I’m very familiar with Dharma Punx. I love that group.
The one thing I don’t get from Dharma Punx, which is something I’m seeking, is a larger community with deeper teachings and more of a “path”.
I’ll check out the Sunday group at Shambhala sometime. Seems like the right place for me to learn more.
Thanks for bringing this topic out for discussion. It came at the right time for me.



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Old Timer

posted September 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Greg, I really appreciate your clarity and willingness to examine all sides of this still-painful topic. Rinpoche was like a father figure for us, so this is similar to learning something buried in a father’s past. For us, the secrets were a betrayal by someone we were told to trust implicitly. As recovering addicts, Steinbeck and I could not justify Rinpoche’s refusal to put the plug in the jug (or nose), along with his doctor, Mitchell Levy making jokes about how Rinpoche wasn’t an alcoholic because he had “an enlightened liver”. Not funny, considering how he died. Thanks for providing a sane forum.



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Dharmata

posted September 24, 2009 at 12:33 am


Using CTR opportunistically is all that Waylon Lewis has ever done. Most of us in Boulder Buddhist circles find him to be a bit of a joke. His campaign against Wikipedia was a sad display of his egoism. As for CTR’s addictions (alcohol, seconal, cocaine, and paraphilias), I’m glad to see this aired here. Greg Z has done a commendable job. As for Waylon’s hysterical reaction and severing of ties with this great blog, I say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the *ss.”



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Greg

posted September 24, 2009 at 9:57 am


In fairness to Waylon, I feel like I should mention that he and Ethan and I had a conversation after his last post here, our disagreements were resolved and he expressed his full support for continuing this discussion.
As I’ve reflected on this the last few days, it is increasingly clear to me that I’m not particularly interested in interpreting Rinpoche’s actions or drawing conclusions about them. I’m more wondering how much as been hidden from most of the community, and why, and what are the implications of that.



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Dharmakara

posted September 24, 2009 at 10:35 am


Greg: Maybe the answer can be found in the fact that such behavior is usually swept into the shadows of all traditions, whether Vajrayana, Mahayana, or Theravada, including other traditions that are not related to Buddhism. This past behavior is not something unique to the life of CTR.



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Dharmakayak

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm


Families keep secrets to protect their image of perfection. Religious organizations keep secrets to protect their cash-flow and the perfect image of their leader. There is a 12-step slogan that says: You are as sick as your secrets.
Vajradhatu kept Rinpoche and the Regent’s darker actions a secret, while projecting the image that they were completely transparent. Drinking, smoking and screwing were acceptable, so there was no need to hide that. Coke, physical abuse of female students, statuatory rape of a 17-year old consort and a male school teacher were illegal activities that would have cost them money if people left the scene. That’s why they didn’t want the sangha to know the Regent had AIDS. And when Kier died after getting it from Rich, the party line said “It was his karma.” Cold hearted greed.



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Dharmakara

posted September 24, 2009 at 2:46 pm


I’m not sure which Shambhala group it originated with, probably Ojai, but my favorite excuse that I’ve heard in regard to the Osel Tendzin (Rich) was that his behavior was of no consequence because he entered the Wind Samadhi for three days.



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Boulder Observer

posted September 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm


The fact that Waylon Lewis turns not the Buddha eye but the eye of denial toward serious illicit drug dependecy, sexual abuse, pedophilia, rape, and other ethical perversions will certainly do wonders for his political future.



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Nick Wright

posted September 25, 2009 at 11:03 am


What a bizarre chain of logic:
1) “The passage quoted from their book is definitely shocking and incendiary, but I don’t think we can jump to the conclusion that it is untrue.”
Instead you jump to the conclusion it is true. Are you similarly credulous, say, about unfounded claims about President Obama?
2) “To my knowledge, none of the other senior students of Trungpa Rinpoche who are in positions to comment have denied that these things are true….”
“To my knowledge” and “who are in positions to comment” are hugely qualifying statements, but that doesn’t seem to give you pause in drawing conclusions. Also, by what rule of logic and argument does the lack of denial (that you are aware of) automatically imply that the allegations are true?
3) “I can’t say personally that I am surprised about any of the content itself, really.”
Meaning what, that you are predisposed to believe grave allegations about CTR that undermine his reputation for openness?
4) “What does surprise me (if it is true, and I suspect that it is) is that Rinpoche was secretive about his heavy coke and pills use, and that many of his senior students have misled us about it all of these years.”
So without any further investigation or corroboration of a statement made by disgruntled older students of CTR, you conclude that the allegations are definitive proof that CTR was not open after all and that his senior students colluded in the deception.
Like I said, what a bizarre chain of logic.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 25, 2009 at 11:25 am


@Nick: When Waylon and Greg first published their pieces, I was in agreement with you – there is a real leap in logic when Greg switched to his personal disappointment. It went from “could be true” to “probably or definitely true,” and it saddened me
However, on either piece, or on the Shambhala list-serve (according to Greg), there hasn’t been a single person willing to step up and say: “This definitely isn’t true. I was there and I know.” I also think there is a lack of transparency around CTR in the Shambhala community, and I do think the effort to open discussion is valid.
It’s been a tough week for me on this. I didn’t want the One City blog to be the place to have this conversation, because this is a forum for much more than the Shambhala community. Greg published his piece without telling me (I would’ve advised strongly against it). Yet, as a Shambhalian I have always felt (and please please please forgive the generalization) a general un-ease in the community with dealing with the obvious (but supressed) traumas involving Trungpa Rinpoche’s life and premature death, as well as the cognitive dissonance he forced his students to hold lovingly in their minds toward him (awareness of cognitive dissonance might be the greatest teaching on interdependence there is, but we have to become AWARE and fully honest of the oppositional feelings in order for them to teach us anything). There is no getting around the fact (and no need to) that his death should be best categorized as a suicide (slower than most), and that this doesn’t take away from his legacy. But growing up and coming of age in the community, it was always clear that there was such a sadness around the way he destroyed himself, clear traumatic feelings of abandonment that swept through the senior community, that were not being openly recognized and addressed, instead being swept away into the “mahasiddha” argument (which is quite a nuclear option in openhearted dialogue, and one which anyone outside of the community would by definition laugh at).
So now I think Greg did the right thing, even though he certainly jumps from possibility to likelihood in a non-journalistic fashion.



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Leda

posted September 25, 2009 at 12:56 pm


I don’t think Greg’s main point was to state that the claims about the CTR were true, but to encourage more transparency within the community. He has stated that goal repeatedly and in my opinion very admirably. I always enjoy reading Greg’s posts because he writes with genuine scholarship and awareness of right speech.
Also, one point of Ethan’s recent response confused me. Do all bloggers on the OC site have to have their blogs vetted by you before being posted? Would you have expected that from a blogger who wasn’t also your friend? I have so much enjoyed reading these blogs and attending an occasional class I hope that this sort of disagreement between members isn’t actually rooted in something else.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 25, 2009 at 1:12 pm


Leda,
hey. Regular bloggers do not have to vet anything, although we do have to obviously conform to Beliefnet’s policies, as well as the legal interests of libel. Greg’s post seems well within both those boundaries.
What I said, and what I meant, was that at the beginning of the week, I would’ve advised against it, because I don’t think controversies involving a single community are really what we are trying to do here at the OCB, or the I.D. Project in general. So I said I would’ve advised against it.
I think, honestly, I would’ve expected forewarning on material such as this from any blogger, as a courtesy.
Again, however, in retrospect, I think Greg handled the process 90% admirably, and only good will come of his article.
Bloggers have the right to post whatever they want, within journalistic and legal limits. If Greg wants his next post to be about how I keep my cookies-and-cream-ice-cream-habit hidden from the IDP community, or spend a considerable portion of my $38,500 per-year IDP salary on coffee and falafel, he is more than welcome. :~)
My girlfriend (aka consort) will have to write a blog post about how boring my sexual proclivities are compared to other lay Buddhist teachers. I’ll work on that.
Could we get some levity back on the blog at some point today? Lots of serious-ass comments dominating of late. Me likey funny funny thoughts about cosmic jokes and such.
Anyone know a good joke? No matter what, I think that CTR would’ve want us to tell them.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted September 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm


@People Dissing Waylon: please stop. Waylon is a friend of mine, and all the innuendo about his intentions is just mean. Not to mention inappropriate speech. Do I think he should’ve attempted a movement to alter Wikipedia, which runs on a pretty sophisticated and democratic platform? No. Do I think you should be jerks? Also no. His heart, like Greg’s, is in the right place.
I hope he runs for office someday to be honest. Involvement in politics in some form might be the most dharmic thing a person can do.



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Greg

posted September 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm


Nick, maybe I am being too credulous here. But I don’t think the Steinbecks can be compared to Glenn Beck and the “birthers” for the following reason – they were the ones who went public with the news that the Vajra Regent was HIV positive, was keeping that secret, and had infected a student. Isn’t that reason enough to at least take their allegations seriously?
When I wrote “I can’t say personally that I am surprised about any of the content itself, really” what I meant by “the content” was simply that Rinpoche used cocaine. If true, that does not particularly surprise me except in light of the fact that we were never told about this.
I don’t know what is true. Perhaps that should have been more clear. I wrote this post as an excercise in “further investigation” and “corroboration” – that is what I would like to see.



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Dharmakayak

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:01 pm


I don’t know what shape that previous poster is in now, but back when Rinpoche was alive, he was seriously alcohlic. Peope worried about him, that’s how bad it was. People who have issues with substance abuse are defensive about Rinpoche’s behavior to this day.
Ethan and Greg, you both have emotional ties to the Shambhala community, so you have a deeper insight than an impartial journalist. That does not negate your objectivity.
Senior students who have spoken out on this forum are so much more than “disgruntled”. We are still wounded by the betrayal, confused by the double messaging (be open and fearless, but if you speak the truth, you’ll be shunned) and saddened by the loss of a man we loved and to whom we entrusted our lives and our children. That grief cannot begin to heal until the truth is spoken. This blog has started to heal the sorrow I have carried for the past 25 years, ever since I realized Trungpa, Rich and the Vajradhatu administration were not worthy of my trust.
Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t Bodhisattva activity. Do not feel you need to apologize. If this is the fruition of decades of sorrow and secrecy–to see the younger generation work with the situation with such generosity, discrimination and compassion, then perhaps those of us who have mourned the tragedy can begin to feel some pride again. You have courageouosly provided a forum that has been lacking since Trungpa’s death, where these issues can be openly addressed in the clear light of dialogue, not censorship, condescention and suppression a la Faux News. Thank you for your bravery and integrity,which will have far-reaching effects.



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Just finished reading The Other Side of Eden by John and Nancy Steinbeck and The Double Mirror by Stephen Butterfield – all old students of CTR. Recommend them -read together they provide clarifying insights on the ‘burning’ issues discussed in this thread. Will be happy to correspond privately with Ethan and Greg. As a female elder happy to cheer you up – establish a ‘joking relationship’ with young people: useful to talk to your ‘grannies’. Try me @ gnu.guru007@gmail.com



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Jake

posted September 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm


This is really shocking. It makes me feel a little bit sick to my stomach. I see Trungpa as my favorite teacher, and not a guru only in that your guru is supposed to be a living person.
If it turns out that this stuff is true, I don’t know what I’ll do. This makes me sad, and a little angry, angry at the possibility that a teacher I love and revere now seems like a monster in some ways.
Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, I’ve heard “controversial stories” before, but these seem different… Ethan, the mahasiddha argument is weak, I agree, not that I don’t think it’s true, but it is too easy.
This is so awful. I feel like I found out my girlfriend cheated on me. This makes me question a lot, including gurus in general as a tradition.



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damcho raphel

posted September 26, 2009 at 12:28 am


I’m grateful to Greg for starting this discussion in a forum that the general public can reach, and in a thoughtful, open, respectful tone. Waylon’s provocative and confrontational tone at elephantjournal has spun out a more contentious melee there, but I’ve found both forums useful. The Shambhala list is not available to everyone who cares deeply about this, and the Wikipedia page is not a forum for personal discussion, but more of a technical arena.
I read some of the contributions both here and at elephant as first-hand corroboration of the substance of the Steinbeck claims. We each respond in our own way to all that we continue to learn about CTR, and all that we continue to see in the behavior of his students. It’s been deeply puzzling to me, and deeply painful too, at times.



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Julia May

posted September 26, 2009 at 11:38 am


Nice post, Greg.
I’ve never been very interested in biographies. I understand however, that much of Shambhala rests on the shoulders of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s personality, and especially how it manifested in the immediate student teacher relationship.
But for those of us that did not know him – Chogyam’s books and writings and the amazing infrastructure he created is his legacy, right? It’s other-wordly what he was able to leave the world in such a short time, and the amount of people who feel inspired to bring Buddhism to people now and in the future because of him is incredible.
I find both the defaming and the adulation of his habits to be sort of adolescent and over-romantic. Of course maybe it matters for those who knew him. But does it? If I found out after my father’s death that he was a closet drinker would it have any effect on the relationship that we had?
I tend to think, if I really thought about it, not.
I come to this discussion as more of an outsider, but it seems to me that to revere or condemn CTR as a man is a mild form of celebrity worship. It feels to me as though if you continue to test the teachings for yourself as the Buddha recommends then the source from which you get it does not matter. If you find yourself doing things you think are silly or ridiculous and they do not help, but you’re doing them because you believe a man was something other-wordly – that perhaps deserves consideration.
I welcome information about CTR – it gives another reason to remind myself not to judge other people and to accept them as they are. Like you accept the moment. To say, “this information shouldn’t be released or speculated about” feels like a marketing tactic. Why? To make us feel better about our choice of truth? To make sure we bring in converts to Buddhism? To honor CTR, who I personally think is above shame or glory?



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Paul N.

posted September 26, 2009 at 2:17 pm


I’m rather surprised that this all has seemingly taken so long to ‘surface’,
and that many people here are only hearing these stories for the first time.
I’d heard these accounts from people who were heavily involved with Naropa in the
1980′s, and considering I knew and trusted the sources, assumed that ‘the stories’
were true.



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David Picariello

posted September 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm


My compassion goes out to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche who lost his country and position at such a young age and from the accounts of his life that I’ve heard from senior students it’s clear that he experienced depression and substance abuse. I’m saddened but not surprised to hear a rumor that he abused cocaine and Seconal in addition to alcohol.
My compassion goes out to Rinpoche’s students who indiscriminately emulated his behavior, not separating out his positive and negative qualities. It isn’t, however, too late for folks to do this separation internally and share with others what they find. Some long-time practitioners may find that they cannot transmute klesas into wisdom and will simply need to get into the good-old Buddhist practice of refraining from negative actions. It’s not sex(y) but it works! No matter how realized or in denial you are, there is suffering associated with substance abuse. I’m happy to hear that there is a sitting group for recovering addicts at the NYC Shambhala center.
I hope that these rumors about Rinpoche’s substance abuse will inspire people to be more introspective and honest with themselves. Also, I hope it inspires people to start a healthy dialogue about these difficult issues.



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Your Name

posted September 26, 2009 at 8:08 pm


Hello Everyone,
I am not a Buddhist, but a Christian, in the eighties and early nineties I was involved in a church led by a talented but deeply flawed leader (my mother-in-law). While her problems didn’t involve substance abuse or sexual irregularities they were serious and destructive. She died about fifteen years ago and it took years for me to come to grips with my enablement of her negative leadership – which like Trungpa’s was laced with much good and spiritual dynamism. I also had to accept, while looking at her with eyes of love and forgiveness, that she was a hypocrite, liar, and deceiver as a spiritual leader and not a good example of the truths she pointed to. I still miss her in her role as a loving mother-in-law, the beloved mother of my wife and a wonderful grandmother for my children. I wish now I had the backbone to stand up for what was right instead of rationalizing and defending what was defective. The incentive to go along with her leadership was the promise and at times experience of spirituality, of being part of something special and privileged, and also the threat of banishment.
At first I thought what I went through was unique, but have discovered over the years this syndrome is common to humanity and I’ve heard accounts of it from varied religious backgrounds, even in a secular group based around psychology and therapy. You could even say the entire country of Iran is now in the grip of it.
I close with words from the New Testament – speak the truth in love- and –you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!
Blessings



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damcho raphel

posted September 27, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Reading recommendations: 1: The Double Mirror, by Stephen T. Butterfield. This is a brave, honest and intimate memoir. 2: The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad. This is more generic in that it’s not specifically about CTR and Vajradhatu, but there is a huge value in thinking about patterns of human behavior that show up repeatedly in many different religious organizations of all different traditions. Even if we are students of The One And Only CTR, we are still human, and so was he, and we can recognize ourselves in these pages.



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David

posted September 28, 2009 at 2:59 pm


So far I haven’t heard credible evidence Trungpa used coke heavily. I also found this story very saddening, and plausible– just not to the extent Steinbeck and others claim. It seems unwise to base truth on the accounts of disgruntled students and internet rumors. Perhaps an impartial inquest is in order, to separate fact from allegation.



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Yogini

posted October 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm


Ethan,
i’m an outsider awed by all the good work & right livelihood done by Shambala and I’m def not laughing after ignorantly stumbling into your mists of time discussion.
Maoism, Scientology, “Jesus Freaks”—-searchers with the most wholesome motives and lost souls seeking only to belong committed to many enveloping communities in the 70′s and 80s that offered constant challenge and purpose in living one’s daily life in service to noble goals within a universal organization barely dreamed of in their families of origin, yet professing to explain all the cruelties of human history. A new intentional family intent on living the truth daily, and connecting with others.
This archetype of the perfect leader is troubling to me, but from this discussion, it is clear that he had and has some followers who learned a great deal from his teachings and continue to learn and teach themselves and others.
Of course it takes time, and living, to unravel what one brought to the teachings from the teacheing from the teacher, and few do. Witness the formerly high-level Scientologist now in a group she considers still faithful to L. Ron’s true teachings, or the former Maoist who’s been dogmatically “apolitical” since he could no longer deny the abuses of the Chinese gov’t in the 80′s. Both have suppressed concern for the lives of others and embraced the individual satisfaction as the cure of their human condition.
By looking at the teachings, and the teacher, as well as ourselves, it’s easy to see that individual bliss and/or hierarchy was essential to most of these movements. Hugh Milne’s “Bagwan:The God That Failed” is an exceptionally honest account of bliss addiction. Milne exposes himself, a high level follower, as much as the guru. From a distance, it’s easy to see the guru as a victim.
In all these cases, it’s also easy to see that cruelty, violence, acquisitveness, contempt for truth, were always present in the teachings, although the hierarchies guarded core teachings for those who paid their dues, or simpluy paid, & proved they could handle the truth.” If you were not carefully gromed into the system, reading the high-level teachings about the end of days, the vanguard revolution, or thetans seems very far removed from the core human impulses to heal and help that drew people in.
In praise of the heatrfelt discussion here, every participant is trying to put into practice teachings that are clearly life-affirming , challenging, and beautiful. the teachings do not seem to encourage selfish exploitation of other humans to achieve one’s own satisfaction. There is no need for disillusionment.



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Your Name

posted April 14, 2010 at 8:29 am


Trungpa Rinpoche made very clear that he wanted people to learn from his education, not from his personal embodiment of the things he thaught. If he did use cocaine and drink alcohol like gingerale, that could be viewed as an enourmous act of compassion: in this way he made it impossible for people to idolize him as a person, while his teachings still stand, and keep only their true value, not the value ascribed to them because some “enlightened” teacher “said so”.
I think the same stupidity can be seen with students demonizing the Dalai Lama in the Dorje Shugden affair. If you have serious doubts about a teacher, does that mean his lessons become worthless? Does that mean that all the efforts the Dalai Lama has made for peace, for which he got a noble price, become meaningless? I think that this kind of dealing with people only shows the ignorance of the dealers. They have no idea of their own “dark sides”, so with some spiritual blabla they dismiss whole human beings and highly valuable teachings in order to keep their ego-garden clean.



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Niels Klein

posted April 14, 2010 at 8:30 am


True happiness comes from within. It has nothing to do with finding a flawless teacher.



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Glen Johnson

posted May 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm


I don’t suppose anyone has compiled a list of everyone who was a member of the Vajradhatu/Shambhala sangha in the seventies who has since died of AIDS? I’m curious to find out how close I came to being one of them, and I suspect I came real close, if you get my drift.
For a kid of 22, living at Karme-Choling in the late seventies with undiagnosed bipolar II, all the boozing and promiscuity was like pouring water on an electrical fire. Its a wonder I didn’t end up in the psych ward, or worse. As I recall, I wasn’t the only one. That sangha was a magnet for the mentally interesting. Alcohol and sleeping around notwithstanding, intensive meditation practice is definitely not for the mentally unsound, at least not without skilled supervision and support.
After I had a mental breakdown and left the sangha in 1981, the closest I would allow myself to come to buddhism again was 9 years of gestalt psychotherapy with one of Seung Sahn’s senior students.
It’s been nice talking to you.



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Robert Erb

posted July 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm


@Your Name: “Trungpa Rinpoche made very clear that he wanted people to learn from his education, not from his personal embodiment of the things he thaught.”
In other words, do as I say, not as I do? Doesn’t fly when Mom and Dad say it, doesn’t fly when CTR says it, either. Unless CTR has transcended this common realm, and the rules that apply to us don’t apply to him.
@Your Name: “If he did use cocaine and drink alcohol like gingerale, that could be viewed as an enourmous act of compassion: in this way he made it impossible for people to idolize him as a person . . .”
Quite a rationalization, there. Again, we run into the implication that CTR is superhuman, that he couldn’t make a mistake, so his alcoholism and drug abuse must not be like *our* alcoholism and drug abuse. Sounds like crap to me. Wasn’t Gautama (just) a man, like us?
I recall some of CTR’s students explaining that alcohol has different effects on highly enlightened people; it doesn’t make them stupid and careless, as it does to us mere mortals, but actually *clarifies the mind* of those highly evolved folks. Another example of the deified-man vs. everybody else.



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Buddha the Psychologist

posted September 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm


Oh what deluded people the Shambala followers really are, including those who defend Trungpa. Answer this question for yourself; If you were seeing a Psychologist and during your therapy you found out that he was having sex with multiple clients, yet he had never made any sexual advances towards you; would you find this acceptable? When the Psychologist was brought before the licensing board, would you defend his actions by saying, “He was master Psychologist, trained by Jung and Perls directly! He really knew what he was doing and helped me a great deal”.
By the same logic given in some of these posts we can through ethics, especially those taught and lived by Shakyamuni himself to the wind.
For by this logic anyone should be allowed to help anyone if they have helped, for as Spock said, “the needs of the many out way the needs of the one”. So don’t about the one or the 6 that you have violated and hurt deeply.
Westerners are so ready to defend there deep seated, hidden
ethnocentric beliefs of Yogi masters, because we need the father archetype so badly. We need daddy so badly and we’ll defend him just like abused children defend the very parents that abused them.
This acceptance of unethical action from a Dharma teacher, actions that we would never accept from the priestly doctor caste of the west (psychotherapists of all kinds, MFT, etc.) is amazing.
If there is any benefit in this, albeit expensively priced dharma, called Shambala then it comes from those Buddhas before Trungpa who paid the price in their disciplined actions.
Only a truley psychological idiotic teacher would need to teach his students not to get identified with teacher transference through drinking and smoking and being unethical. There is no excuse for this behavior. ANd those who have come to the teachings of Tibetan style Buddhism through Shambala? There are numerous cheaper or altogether free Tibetan Buddhist teachings of different traditions in every major city. Find something that hasn’t been corrupted from the beggining by a sex and alcohol addict whose students were un-compassionate for not trying to help there teacher see his hypocritical nature and get him some help. Was it compassionate to allow Trungpa to seduce numerous students in the name of Tantra?
I am not an enemy of religion nor of the Dharma. My name in this forum is a joke on what the Euro-american idealizes. I love the dharma and I love God. I have spent years myself practicing in both Christian and Buddhist monasteries, but I have also been a dharma teacher for nearly 20 years and had a teacher with similar problems. A teacher that I loved deeply and still helped and deeply hurt many people. when his actions became unethical, I knew it was time to leave.
In the archetypal story of the Emporer has no clothes we see, An Emperor who cares for nothing but his wardrobe. He hires two weavers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position or stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects. A child in the crowd is the only one who can see this amidst the hysteria that is spreading and calls out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession. The Emperor has already committed himself to his vanity and pride about himself. Two things the followers of Trungpa enabled.
In this story it is only the simple honest one who can see the truth, the child.



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You

posted May 31, 2011 at 3:49 am


That’s it? Boooo. I want to read about people’s opinions and emotions on this topic some more.



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mezusmo

posted June 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm


what one decides to do with their body is ultimatley up to them.one could say its a same he drank so heavily as to cut his life short,but arent we all dust anyway,does this mean it takes away from his personal insigt?i would say absoulutley not.



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Charles

posted May 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm


That is the main problem with Tibetan Buddhism; there is the stress on the guru as being infallible, essentially, no recognition that he(or she) may be able to faithfully transmit the teachings , but still have personal failings , sometimes to the extent that they cause considerable distress to those following the dharma.And here I would mention the case of Sogyal Rinpoche, as one who by all accounts, is a serial sexual predator.
And the inability of the Dalai Lama to deal with this issue is a standing scandal.



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posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had impermanence on my mind recently. I've talked about it her

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movemen

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »




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