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My Guru Was A Drunk.

CittaCitta Veteran
edited June 2013 in General Banter
My first Guru was a drunk. And a womaniser. And supremely Awake.
" Don't do what I do " he said. So he was a hypocrite too.
How to resolve this...?
I can't. None of us former students can. Over on Dharma Wheel there is the latest of many many threads attempting to resolve the unresolvable..square the circle..It won't.
He was a drunk, and fearlessly, blazingly Awake.
There are a couple of tempting solutions...One being ' he was a drunk so he couldn't have been Awake ' But my heart knows that to be a lie.
Another temptation is to say ' he was Awake so could do no wrong...' but my heart won't buy that either.
"Tiger-like Chogyam roaming in foreign jungles " he said of himself.
" He caused more trouble and did more good than anyone I have ever known ".
Said Rick one of his students at his funeral.
I miss him. And yet I don't.


riverflowInvincible_summerperson
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Comments

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2013
    It's not yours to resolve.

    Teaching is a skill in and of itself.
    Teachers can be drunks.
    Not all drunks can be teachers.

    What did you learn?
    If he taught you what a hypocrite is...
    take the lesson....and go on. That's all that
    is 'yours' to resolve.
    Did you learn a whole lot of other stuff from
    him?

    The awake part? Doesn't matter now....
    Lucy_BegoodriverflowkarmabluesJeffrey
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    The Awake part certainly does matter.
    " He was fearlessly, blazingly Awake. "
    And I know its not mine to resolve. That was rather the point.
  • ZeroZero Veteran
    Citta said:


    There are a couple of tempting solutions...One being ' he was a drunk so he couldn't have been Awake ' But my heart knows that to be a lie.
    Another temptation is to say ' he was Awake so could do no wrong...' but my heart won't buy that either.

    Will you heart buy that his students subsidised and enabled him (often at their own expense) to live his life the way he chose?
    Tiger roaming foreign jungles sounds in this context like a sociopathic declaration.
    I never met him though so I'm wiki-speculating.
    SillyPutty
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Citta said:

    The Awake part certainly does matter.
    " He was fearlessly, blazingly Awake. "

    And I know its not mine to resolve. That was rather the point.

    Ok...it matters to you...sorry for assuming.

    Glad I got the point.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Curiously enough it does matter to me that a Guru whose student I was for several decades was Awake and aware..If It didn't matter to me and to several thousand people who were his students that he was Awake then he would simply have been a drunk. No problem and no thread.
    Which begs the question if he was merely a drunk and sociopath how did Pema Chodren and Lama Shenpen and Lama Shikpo and Lama Mipham the whole Shambala movement arise...?
  • ZeroZero Veteran
    Citta said:


    how did Pema Chodren and Lama Shenpen and Lama Shikpo and Lama Mipham the whole Shambala movement arise...?

    demand:supply?
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Citta said:

    Curiously enough it does matter to me that a Guru whose student I was for several decades was Awake and aware..If It didn't matter to me and to several thousand people who were his students that he was Awake then he would simply have been a drunk. No problem and no thread.
    Which begs the question if he was merely a drunk and sociopath how did Pema Chodren and Lama Shenpen and Lama Shikpo and Lama Mipham the whole Shambala movement arise...?

    To be honest....I didn't do all that thinking out from the OP.
    The start of a movement? I thought we were talking awake, like...
    can i trust what this guy says.....?
    Can I take refuge in/with him?


    I admit that I assumed you were asking/venting/ about the
    situation as...personally...that's why I gave my opinion.
    Personally.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    They would each tell you that all of their understanding comes from the same teacher. who was their Guru too...and that they can't resolve the dissonance either.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Vastmind said:

    Citta said:

    Curiously enough it does matter to me that a Guru whose student I was for several decades was Awake and aware..If It didn't matter to me and to several thousand people who were his students that he was Awake then he would simply have been a drunk. No problem and no thread.
    Which begs the question if he was merely a drunk and sociopath how did Pema Chodren and Lama Shenpen and Lama Shikpo and Lama Mipham the whole Shambala movement arise...?

    To be honest....I didn't do all that thinking out from the OP.
    The start of a movement? I thought we were talking awake, like...
    can i trust what this guy says.....?
    Can I take refuge in/with him?


    I admit that I assumed you were asking/venting/ about the
    situation as...personally...that's why I gave my opinion.
    Personally.
    Venting out loud.. yes. Expecting a resolution ..no. Everyone of CTR's students have been grappling with this koan for decades.
    Johnny Real-life is a tricky cove. Fairy dust and simple happy ever- afters are in short supply.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I wasn't offering a resolution. Just talking back.
    Conversating about the situation.

    This feels awkward with you right now....
    I'm off to work...have a nice day....and I'll let
    you be.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I have just read through a conversation on Dharma Wheel which once more drags up all sorts of painful stuff that I thought I had resolved to some extent...clearly I hadn't to the degree that I assumed.
    Take no notice of me Vastmind...I am feeling tetchy.
    Have a good day yourself.
    With metta..

    _/\_
  • Citta said:

    My first Guru was a drunk. And a womaniser. And supremely Awake.

    How do you know this to be truth?

    Not trying to battle you; just trying to ask how you *know* this as fact. How do you know he just wasn't a very persuasive teacher and that's the extent of it?

    I used to know a guy who drank a lot and had sex with numerous women (as well as men). He was one of the greatest thinkers of our time. People would flock to him and ask him for advice about life. His words were golden. But I wouldn't dare say that Christopher Hitchens was "supremely awake." Or does it only count when they are labeled "Buddhist" and take vows? :coffee:
  • PatrPatr Veteran
    People usually feel the same about Ponzy schemes, at least until it starts to unravel.
    SillyPutty
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013

    Citta said:

    My first Guru was a drunk. And a womaniser. And supremely Awake.

    How do you know this to be truth?

    Not trying to battle you; just trying to ask how you *know* this as fact. How do you know he just wasn't a very persuasive teacher and that's the extent of it?

    I used to know a guy who drank a lot and had sex with numerous women (as well as men). He was one of the greatest thinkers of our time. People would flock to him and ask him for advice about life. His words were golden. But I wouldn't dare say that Christopher Hitchens was "supremely awake." Or does it only count when they are labeled "Buddhist" and take vows? :coffee:
    Well I could produce lots of personal anecdotes, I knew him from the mid-60's. But obviously that could be simply subjective. So I will point you instead to his peers and contemporaries. You will find that he was or is held in very high esteem by HHDL , The 16th Karmapa, Pema Chodren who was his student, the great Kagyu scholar and teacher Thrangu Rinpoche, Jamgong Kongtrul, Tai Situ Rinpoche, and the teacher and artist Dzongskar Khyenste Rinpoche..among others.
    You can find their comments in full on the Chronicles Of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche website
    www.chronicleproject.com/Tribute.
    In addition he was held in high esteem by many non Buddhist writers and teachers, including Ram Dass, Thomas Merton, Aelred Graham and Syed Nasr Hossain.
  • rivercanerivercane Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Awesome thread, @Citta and I think that it took a lot of courage to post this. I never met him of course but I believe that CTR was Awakened. I remember the first time I saw one of his talks on video and was taken aback. He definitely had that 'certain something'.

    I had heard of the scandals and to be honest I wasn't expecting much when I started watching the video but right away I could tell that he was someone very special. I recently started reading Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and it's been the antidote that I've needed. I believe that I was drifting toward fundamentalism as well as expecting Buddhism to bring me certain things, relief from certain difficulties, and his words cut to the quick.

    I've also read a couple of Pema Chodron's books in the past and she has that same "fierce" kind of wisdom. Unrelenting, and neither one makes any excuses. I don't believe this would be the case if he and his organization were just charlatans. People can tell; there's no way he would have had that many followers and Shambhala still thrives to this day. I think it's exactly the way you described it - he was an alcoholic despite being enlightened. Have you seen Crazy Wisdom? If so, would you say that it was a fairly accurate description?
    Cittaperson
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    I haven't seen it rivercane. I should I guess.
    In addition to 'Cutting Through' ( indispensable to any modern person's understanding of Buddhadharma imo ) I would recommend ' The Myth Of Freedom '.

    _/\_
  • SilouanSilouan Veteran
    More than being a teacher he was first and foremost a human being, and struggled with the same passions we all share and recognizing this should promote compassion.

    I personally don't believe that enlightenment comes in a flash and then we wipe our hands and then we are done, but rather it is something one must ascend infinitely toward, and this is why it requires continued practice. If one succumbs to their passions then enlightenment or illumination becomes more distant in one's life.

    I'm certain from what has been described at a time he was a very enlightened being, and I think this is where tradition is so important in helping recognize what the teachings are and what they are not, because it is ultimately the teaching and not the person that one relies upon.
    Cittarivercaneriverflowkarmablues
  • A couple of things I wanted to say but forgot:

    I think that it's helpful to compare him to someone like Alan Watts. Alan Watts had great knowledge and was also an alcoholic, however I don't think Alan Watts was even close to being enlightened. He really was just an alcoholic who was also very charismatic, intelligent and knowledgeable.

    Secondly, from what I understand Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was also a renowned scholar, having studied from a very young age. I think he deserves respect and, like @Silouan said, compassion. We all struggle to some degree with these kind of issues, even if it's just an inability to stop drinking coffee or tea or stop eating sweets.
    Silouanericcris10sen
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I don't think CTR was Enlightened either...but how would I know..?
    What he was , was awake...completely there...and without fear and neurosis. No magic. No woo-woos. No bleeding hearts. No rain of flowers.
    When you looked into his eyes you knew that he was fully, completely, present. That might not sound much...until you experience it.
    rivercaneSilouankarastiperson
  • SilouanSilouan Veteran
    edited June 2013
    It seems he is still teaching. :)
    riverfloworlanda
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Trungpa made a very interesting comment in his autobiography. He said this after observing a former monk who had been pulled out of the monastery and installed as a regional king, after his brother, the king, had passed away. Suddenly the ex-monk abandoned all the discipline he had learned and indulged in every sensual pleasure possible. Trungpa, who was a minor lineage head in Tibet at the time, commented that once people leave the structured environment of the monastery, they lose their moral moorings, and give in to excess.

    A rather prophetic observation.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    And in at least one case they also turn the thoughts of thousands to Buddhadharma.
    orlanda
  • howhow Veteran
    edited June 2013
    We are ALL teachers AND students. The only limit is thinking one is better than the other.
    Most of the damaging wake behind Trumpa today is carried by those still not willing to allow that all of us have always been both.
    riverflow
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Citta said:

    My first Guru was a drunk. And a womaniser. And supremely Awake.
    " Don't do what I do " he said. So he was a hypocrite too.
    How to resolve this...?
    I can't. None of us former students can. Over on Dharma Wheel there is the latest of many many threads attempting to resolve the unresolvable..square the circle..It won't.
    He was a drunk, and fearlessly, blazingly Awake.
    There are a couple of tempting solutions...One being ' he was a drunk so he couldn't have been Awake ' But my heart knows that to be a lie.
    Another temptation is to say ' he was Awake so could do no wrong...' but my heart won't buy that either.
    "Tiger-like Chogyam roaming in foreign jungles " he said of himself.
    " He caused more trouble and did more good than anyone I have ever known ".
    Said Rick one of his students at his funeral.
    I miss him. And yet I don't.


    He was smart and charismatic, so y'all bought what he was selling hook, line, and sinker. No mystery there, it's quite common.

    Religion is about meaning, and that's why it doesn't need to make sense.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Yes, no doubt that was the whole story.
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    In a nutshell.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Yup.
  • I don't think they're mutually exclusive. Alcoholism is a chemical dependency, he had a body - a body made of chemicals - which grew so accustomed to alcohol being present that it started operating differently when it wasn't. There is no reason someone with such a physical makeup shouldn't also be Awake.
    Jeffreyriverflow
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I am grateful to him for impacting my teacher. You can read his books if you think he was *just* a drunk.

    Another factor is that he never said he wasn't a drunk so unlike a scandal he wasn't hiding.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    I suspect that that she would tell you Jeffrey that she may well not be a Dharma teacher now if not for him..
    :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    rivercane
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Suzuki Roshi says: You may criticize him because he drinks alcohol like I drink water, but that is a minor problem. He trusts you completely. He knows that if he is always supporting you in a true sense you will not criticize him, whatever he does. And he doesn't mind whatever you say. That is not the point, you know. This kind of big spirit, without clinging to some special religion or form of practice, is necessary for human beings.[36]

    The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche said, "As taught in the Buddhist scriptures, there are nine qualities of a perfect master of buddhadharma. The eleventh Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche possessed all nine of these." [35]
  • In the Udayi Sutta, the Buddha said that the Dhamma should be taught to others only when five qualities are established within the person teaching. These are:
    "[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

    "[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

    "[3] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak out of compassion.'

    "[4] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'

    "[5] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak without [exalting] myself or [putting other people down]."
    So if CTR can be said to be established with these five qualities, at least you can take comfort in the fact that he was fit to teach the Dhamma in accordance with the criteria laid down by the Buddha.
  • howhow Veteran
    @Citta
    I have not followed what is unfolding on that other site by it makes me wonder..

    Each of the spokes on that wheel are preceded by a"right or complete". This is to discern the difference between a powerful understanding and the "right" understanding. So it follows with every other spoke.

    I have also rode in wake of a charismatic Dharmachakra with some pretty powerful spokes. The followers of that wheel still have difficulty years later separating what was powerful from what was right.


    Personally, enlightened action leaving no ego wake, has addressed most of my questions..
    Invincible_summer
  • The Teacher teaches
    The student learns
    The sun shines
    A dog barks

    There is no teacher teaching, it is the name of a perception
    There is no student learning, it is the name of a perception
    There is no sun shining, it is the name of a perception
    There is no dog barking, it is the name of a perception
    Jeffreyorlanda
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013

    In the Udayi Sutta, the Buddha said that the Dhamma should be taught to others only when five qualities are established within the person teaching. These are:

    "[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

    "[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

    "[3] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak out of compassion.'

    "[4] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'

    "[5] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak without [exalting] myself or [putting other people down]."
    So if CTR can be said to be established with these five qualities, at least you can take comfort in the fact that he was fit to teach the Dhamma in accordance with the criteria laid down by the Buddha.

    I think that CTR operated within all five of these criterion karmablues,
    But that is by-the-bye. Vajrayana Dharma cannot be judged by the lights of Theravadin Dhamma. Not because one is superior to the other..but because they utilise an different set of skillful means. And the skillful means deployed the Vajrayana are only partly derived from Shakyamuni.
    orlanda
  • @Citta, the question this raises for me is what is the value of the Vajrayana criteria for 'awake'? Was he awake to the delusion, aversion and greed underlying his alcoholism? Heedful to the demands his sexual relationships placed on his Sangha? Awake to the risk posed by Osel Tendzin as his annointed successor?

    I sympathise with your grief about it. The teacher I've been following for years, Ken McLeod (also Karma Kagyu) was caught up in a minor sex scandal last year. He'd told me he's not enlightened, there was no formal relationship, and there was no comparable moral turpitude on his part in my opinion, just terrible judgement, but it was painful nonetheless.
    Patr
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @fivebells, I think he was awake in terms of understanding and teaching. It's hard to say that drinking alcohol is not craving. But then stamp collecting is also craving but it is possible not to be. In my personal situation with alcohol Trungpa set an example that I could practice the dharma even while drinking. Eventually the techniques I learned such as just sitting and clarifying the difference between practice and ego helped me get my drinking under control. So if I had been discouraged in the beginning I wouldn't get here. And Trungpa was inspirational because he taught compassion and basic sanity.

    Oh and I think what Trungpa taught of basic sanity means that he had discovered this in himself. Could you have basic sanity and drinking? I think yes. Confidence in your sanity can help with craving because you are less fearful..

    I don't think Trungpa was fearful. He didn't follow the precepts but he taught and understood the dharma.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited June 2013
    @citta -- I only met and conversed with him once. He was drunk as a skunk. And yet our two-minute encounter informed me more forcefully than the several years of practice that had preceded it. A very pleasant memory.
    person
  • @Jeffrey, Trungpa was a great inspiration to me, too. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism was a revelation to me, and I read everything by him that I could get my hands on at that point. It is also obvious that he had a huge influence on Ken McLeod, who has had a huge influence on me.

    None of this has much bearing on my questions, though.
  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran
    I see him as the perfect expression of the Trikaya.

    So human, profound presence.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    I started the thread in reaction to a thread on another forum.
    It was a mistake. It was in a sense selfish..I was using the good offices of this forum to ventilate about my reactions to another forum that I should ( always ) stay away from...
    My apologies.

    I will take a forum break.

    _/\_
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    it is the privilege of the enlightened to break rules, moral precepts. They are above morality. We the ordinary folk can't/shouldn't mimic it.
  • betaboy said:

    it is the privilege of the enlightened to break rules, moral precepts. They are above morality. We the ordinary folk can't/shouldn't mimic it.

    Are you being serious?
    riverflowInvincible_summer
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    betaboy said:

    it is the privilege of the enlightened to break rules, moral precepts. They are above morality. We the ordinary folk can't/shouldn't mimic it.

    Are you being serious?
    Do you believe an enlightened person is a prisoner of worldly, arbitrary rules?
  • betaboy said:

    Cinorjer said:

    betaboy said:

    it is the privilege of the enlightened to break rules, moral precepts. They are above morality. We the ordinary folk can't/shouldn't mimic it.

    Are you being serious?
    Do you believe an enlightened person is a prisoner of worldly, arbitrary rules?

    :hair:
    Oh my. ::: heads for the hills :::
    riverflowInvincible_summer
  • Probably not a good idea to confuse antinomianism with "enlightenment."
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