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Chogyam Trungpa Died Of Alcoholism

JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

I don't know what to think about this.

I started reading a book the other day called Training The Mind And Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa.

I Googled him and saw that his life was relatively short. He died in his 40s. So I wondered why and it turned out he died of alcoholism.

He also did cocaine.

Yet, they say, he died in a state of samadhi and his body didn't start decaying for five days.

How does that work?

No disrespect intended. I'm just wondering, literally, how someone can be intoxicated most of the time and still pull off that feat of samadhi. Maybe he had concentration abilities he had developed in a prior life?

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Comments

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @dhammachick said:
    I am not touching this one with a 12 foot cattle prod ;)

    That's because you're smart. I'm not.

    dhammachickherberto
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited January 6

    Weeeeell - yeah I have my moments I guess

    ROFL

    JaySonHozan
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited January 6

    @dhammachick said:
    I am not touching this one with a 12 foot cattle prod ;)

    Ditto.

    lots of past posts/threads on it....if you want to search and hear opinions....

    JaySon
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Vastmind said:

    @dhammachick said:
    I am not touching this one with a 12 foot cattle prod ;)

    Ditto.

    Plenty of posts/threads already on the board. try search box....

    New here. Didn't know that.

    Feel free to close off this thread, mods, if you so desire.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    No prob. ..... the search box here can be wonky sometimes...so best thing is google- NB + whatever topic....That usually works best for me.

    JaySon
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited January 6

    If the threads/posts are real old, and none of the people are still here ( not regulars)...then yeah, a new thread to hear people's take is understandable....I'm still not biting, though, lololol

    JaySon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    This one was a lengthy discussion on the topic. It was good to have the input of someone who actually knew him (who is no longer active on the board unfortunately)
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/18951/my-guru-was-a-drunk/p1

    Just remember that we are not our behaviors. Wisdom can com from many places. Do what works for you, of course, but I have found a lot of insight in his works and so does my teacher.

    JaySonVastmindzenyattaKaydeekay
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    @karasti said:

    >

    Just remember that we are not our behaviors. Wisdom can com from many places.

    :+1:

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @karasti said:
    This one was a lengthy discussion on the topic. It was good to have the input of someone who actually knew him (who is no longer active on the board unfortunately)
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/18951/my-guru-was-a-drunk/p1

    Just remember that we are not our behaviors. Wisdom can com from many places. Do what works for you, of course, but I have found a lot of insight in his works and so does my teacher.

    My little brother died of a drug overdose and my father is an alcoholic, so you're preachin' to the choir ;)

    My little brother had a huge heart. He was like a big teddy bear.

    zenyatta
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Yes, my 2 sons' father died an alcoholic and prescription drug addict at age 35. He was one of the most generous, intelligent and kind hearted people I've ever met. It seems to take so many similar people :( I'm sorry you lost your brother and have a lot to deal with with your dad I'm sure. It runs in my family like wildfire, too. I only said what I did because there are some pretty heavy hitters when this topic comes up (which is why no one wants to bring it up all over again, lol) who believe his faults invalidate everything he taught. I just don't think that is the case. It's a disease, and watching so many people go through it, I truly believe that. No one would invalidate TNH since he had a stroke. To me it is not really any different. Others feel differently, which of course is their right and based on their own different experiences. Perhaps Trungpa would not have had the wisdom to share without the afflictions he dealt with. He hurt a lot of people along the way, as of course most addicts do.

    JaySonpersonherberto
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    Sorry to hear about the addiction in your family too. I have the same addictive personality, but I channel it into my work and obsession with books and music and meditation and other things. I try to turn it into a positive.

    I don't discredit Trungpa at all. In fact, I'm impressed he performed amazing meditative feats. I'm puzzled by how he got to that point, and it was shocking to find out he died of alcoholism, but no, I don't discredit him because of alcoholism. We all have our own sets of problems. If anything, the alcoholism makes him human and relate-able.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited January 6

    There was always Ikkyu, if you are looking for exemplars with dodgy habits, and he is still quite revered in Japan. So perhaps Trungpa is not entirely without precedent...

    JaySon
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @lobster said:

    Alcohol is an effective preservative.
    Thus have I heard o:)

    Only when it's applied to the outside, I'd guess.

    I saw and stepped in some bits of my oldest friends internal organs and I can tell you that what alcohol does to the insides isn't pretty.

    I don't buy that his body held off decay or understand why it would be so impressive even if it did. It would impress me way more if it decayed faster than usual.

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
    edited January 6

    @lobster said:

    @JaySon said:
    Yet, they say, he died in a state of samadhi and his body didn't start decaying for five days.

    How does that work?

    Alcohol is an effective preservative.
    Thus have I heard o:)

    I've found the samadhi master.

    Shoshinherberto
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @JaySon said:
    ... Maybe he had concentration abilities he had developed in a prior life?

    ... or maybe not
    http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsamplechapters/trungpa.html

    Having regularly attended Shambhala centres regularly for the meditation - an excellent combination over two hours, combining seated and walking meditation, I value that experience.

    Delving a little deeper (the shambhala teachings instigated specifically by Chogyam Trump) they are in my experience and opinion ... what is the right speech term ... paramilitary, medieval serfdom based, twaddle ... very little useful material.

    This unfortunately is often the case when genuine and useful teachings are in the hands of such drug addled deluded 'masters' ... Remember he was introducing useful teachings from excellent sources. Desperate students are eager to follow outrageous megalomaniacs.

    @JaySon said:
    I don't know what to think about this.

    Discernment is the key to any appraisement.

    JaySonherberto
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Messengers are imperfect.
    Value the message.

    dhammachickBunksShoshinKannon
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    In a related story, Bikram Chouhudry was found responsible for sexually harassing a previous attorney for his Bikram business and he fired her for reporting it. She won a $7 million judgement, and he ran away to India. A few weeks ago, a judge gave the victi Bikram's entire US enterprise, including all the money from all his centers and his car collection (which will take a very long time to go through the legal process, no doubt). But the students of his yoga defend his wisdom and his teaching to the core. But not him or his behavior. They aren't the same. He did good things despite his awful behavior. That is often the case, it seems.

    My favorite stuff of Trungpa's is his 3 volume Ocean of Dharma series. I found it quite helpful in wading through the complexities of Vajrayana and my teacher recommended the 3rd volume for that reason. I trust his discernment (though of course it is still my job to do my own).

    He also produced many worthwhile teachers, including Pema Chodron, and Tony Duff who does a ton of work translating old works.

    JaySon
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 6

    @David said:
    I don't buy that his body held off decay or understand why it would be so impressive even if it did. It would impress me way more if it decayed faster than usual.

    It's mythology. It reminds me of a case in the Mongol region of Siberia, where the mummified (more accurately--somewhat dessicated) body of a historical high lama, the Khambo Lama, was found in a cave, supposedly in the lotus position. This happened after the Soviet Union crashed. He was brought to the main monastery in the region, and set up for display, dressed in robes, and all, for the faithful to view. He's still there.

    But I read that, in fact, devoted monks had taken care of his body ever since his death, washing it in a special formula--salts, perhaps?--and keeping it in secret. They confessed to this when some foreign reporters investigated after the big "reveal" in the late 1990's or early 2000's. It was all part of their job, to produce "miracles" to build public faith.

    Most, if not all, stories of miracles should be taken with a grain of salt, IMO.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Many Tibetans hold a believe in a Rainbow body after death as well. I think in the past couple of years there was a mummified monk in lotus pose found and people were suggesting he was still alive and meditating...I try to keep open minded, but I'm pretty sure most of the time at least science can tell if we are technically alive. Of course, if you want to really bend that definition, maybe you can make anything work.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Sounds like another case of talking the talk but not walking the walk. I believe Alan Watts also had a drink problem?

    lobsterTosh
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    But when someone suffers from illness, would we be so hard on them for not always walking the walking? I'm not excusing bad behavior, and I don't excuse what Trungpa or any others have done. But addiction lends oneself not able to have normal control of their life. An argument could be made for him having tried alcohol at all, but that's mostly unrealistic. One of our Sangha members is currently dealing with breast cancer. We certainly don't berate her for not walking the walk when she's unable to do so much that she used to be able to do. Addiction is deserving of the same compassion, yet it is one of the few things (along with obesity) that we still feel ok in justifying our judgement of people over. Addiction is their fault. They chose to drink/do drunks. Obesity is their fault, they choose to eat! Except they really don't. no one chooses obesity and addiction. Most of them have vast unresolved traumas and mental illnesses.

    JaySonKannonKaydeekay
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    The thing is @karasti when their illness impacts on others. A Lama or Rinpoche is not just a bulimia nutritionist, a crazy psychiatrist or a child care pedophile, destructive as these things can be ...

    They are exemplars and interior and outer life guides.

    Normalising excessive drug taking and deadly promiscuity (his designated succesor passed on Aids as the sozzled, fun loving, Rimposh Chugging Trumpet advised that mantra would ensure non passing of this deadly virus)? Pah!

    Now the ranks of the Tibetan heirarchy are celebrating his 'crazy saint' status. His books for me, rang as hollow, clever platitudes. Crippled dharma. I am very pleased some found them useful. Just as I found my visits to meditate at ShamBallah centres useful ...

    In my opinion there are great teachers who are transformed, transforming, integrating and healthy conduits for the lineage blessing. They deserve our respect, trust and support.

    Great teachers emerged, despite Jogyam Tonka, not because of him. Just as some people have found dharma through rogue guru Yoko Ohno Bog1 Oshoe or whatever he is now or reading the populist and mostly harmless gnu guru Dr Chopra Winfrey ...

    Again discernment.

    Apologies for my childish missspelling of the unrevered. It is the least I can do ... :p

    JaySondhammachickTosh
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    But would his students say that they are who they are despite him, or because of him (in part, not entirely of course)? It's easy to say that ourselves but I think the only one that can determine that is themselves.

    Like I said, it doesn't mean I approve of his promiscuity or drug taking/drinking or his normalization of them. But that is how the ego protects itself with an addict. They normalize the behavior. It is all part of the illness. Perhaps he should have known he was ill and stepped back. But often the last person to find out they are in need of help is the person who needs it.

    lobsterJaySon
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Do their character traits impact the teachings? Someone might be a tax cheat but an excellent coach. Would you take tennis advice from them? Would you take financial advice?

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 7

    @Steve_B said:
    Do their character traits impact the teachings? Someone might be a tax cheat but an excellent coach. Would you take tennis advice from them? Would you take financial advice?

    This is the perennial argument in cases like this. Should one overlook the lack of integrity, the inability to put the Dharma into practice in their private life (and in their public life as well, in many cases), and take the "we'll do as he says, not as he does" approach? Or is it reasonable and fair to expect a spiritual guide to practice what they preach?

    That question was put to the Dalai Lama by a large group of Western sangha leaders in the 90's, after some major scandals hit the fan, and he said to go public with complaints. He also said that if a teacher causes scandals, his understanding of the Dharma is wrong.

    I would also add that it's interesting to note that Tibetans don't have a quandary about this sort of thing; they view this type of behavior by a teacher as reprehensible. They don't buy the "crazy wisdom" excuse. It works with Westerners, who are (or were, especially back in CT's time) on unfamiliar ground in an exotic tradition, so they didn't know where to draw the line on what's acceptable and what isn't. Such teachers took advantage of cultural neophytes.

    Excerpt from Stephen Batchelor's report of the meeting between Western Dharma center leaders and the DL.:

    • If a teacher's actions are unethical, responded the Dalai Lama, then even if they have practised for many years, their practice has been wrong. Quite simply, they lack a proper understanding of the dharma. There is a "gap" between the dharma and their lives. He challenged the idea that once one has insight into the ultimate truth of emptiness, then one is no longer bound by the norms of morality. On the contrary: through revealing the web of relationships that ethically connects all living beings, the understanding of emptiness does not mystically transcend morality but grounds it in experience.*

    http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/index.php/en/the-future-is-in-our-hands
    (discussion of misconduct issue begins about halfway through the essay)

    lobsterperson
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran
    edited January 7

    @Dakini said:
    @Steve_B said:
    Do their character traits impact the teachings? Someone might be a tax cheat but an excellent coach. Would you take tennis advice from them? Would you take financial advice?

    This is the perennial argument in cases like this. Should one overlook the lack of integrity, the inability to put the Dharma into practice in their private life (and in their public life as well, in many cases), and take the "we'll do as he says, not as he does" approach? Or is it reasonable and fair to expect a spiritual guide to practice what they preach?

    I agree with this. If I'm going to get advice in ethics, I'd like to get it from someone ethical. The broader point I'm (ungracefully) trying to make is that different people have different flaws. If someone is my teacher, I would be less concerned if their flaws were unrelated to what they were teaching me.

    And even directly to your point, someone might give excellent advice that they themselves don't follow. Does that mean that the advice is flawed, or that the advisor is flawed?

    person
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    The way I see it is, you can't have it both ways. Why are spiritual leaders held to a different set of standards than other leaders? I remember the shit fight over the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal when who Bill boned really had sweet FA to do with how he led the country. Now some of you are saying that it's the message, not the person who is more important. So what's the difference?

    _ /\ _

    Steve_B
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 7

    @Steve_B said:

    And even directly to your point, someone might give excellent advice that they themselves don't follow. Does that mean that the advice is flawed, or that the advisor is flawed?

    Right. I'm just saying that people struggle with that question, and it's up for each practitioner or student to decide for themselves whether they can overlook a flawed teacher in order to hear the inspiring message.

    A teacher on another forum pointed out, once, that Buddhism is fundamentally about "virtue", and that the Buddha taught "virtue". So one can enjoy all the philosophical discussions that arise as one learns the tradition, but it all boils down to ethics; practicing good ethics is what eliminates suffering to oneself and other sentient beings--that's pretty much the crux of Buddhism, isn't it?

    Steve_Bperson
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @Steve_B said:

    A teacher on another forum pointed out, once, that Buddhism is fundamentally about "virtue", and that the Buddha taught "virtue". So one can enjoy all the philosophical discussions that arise as one learns the tradition, but it all boils down to ethics; practicing good ethics is what eliminates suffering to oneself and other sentient beings--that's pretty much the crux of Buddhism, isn't it?

    Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom according to the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition and Kadampa Tradition.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 7

    @dhammachick said:
    The way I see it is, you can't have it both ways. Why are spiritual leaders held to a different set of standards than other leaders? I remember the shit fight over the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal when who Bill boned really had sweet FA to do with how he led the country. Now some of you are saying that it's the message, not the person who is more important. So what's the difference?

    _ /\ _

    Was Clinton held to a different standard? The whole flap was in part due to the fact that many people felt his behavior was inappropriate.

    But spiritual leaders are held to a different standard because they're spiritual leaders. In many traditions they present themselves as having reached a spiritual level, or a level of spiritual understanding, that's above the common man/woman's. And isn't it hypocritical to preach one thing while doing another? People naturally expect their spiritual leader to have a higher level of spiritual attainment than themselves. Otherwise, they could go to a lay teacher, to get the same message, if the clergy member. Furthermore, some of the cases of teacher scandals involve teachers who are much more flawed even then their own followers; much more in the grip of sensual desire than the average person. Some spiritual seekers wonder what the point is of seeking guidance from a teacher who is worse off than themselves.

    But also, a great part of the problem is that most spiritual leaders transgress their teachings with members of their own flock, either taking advantage of them financially or sexually. These are often very vulnerable people who put their teacher on a pedestal (in fact, some teachers require this), and/or look to them to be the good example the followers didn't have in their formative years. The followers place tremendous trust in their spiritual guides, and open themselves up to devotion and vulnerability, so it's actually a criminal matter to violate that trust and take advantage of the vulnerability. Spiritual guides have a fiduciary responsibility toward their followers, to act in their best interests.

    Somewhat similarly, an employer, whether the POTUS or a more garden-variety employer, has hire and fire power over employees, so taking advantage of that position can be grounds for a lawsuit. I don't see the standards as being all that different.

    Steve_Blobsterpersonherberto
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 8

    Some of these errant spiritual teachers cause tremendous upheaval in their sanghas; their actions are not without consequences. Zen has seen sanghas split and fall apart as a result of an out-of-control teacher. Furthermore, extreme behavior can turn people off to the Dharma, which is considered a root downfall for a teacher. The resulting chaos in a sangha can cause tremendous pain and disillusionment. And instead of leading followers to overcome their illusions and emotional difficulties to become better, happier people, it only exacerbates their confusion and neuroses.

    Studying the Dharma is supposed to help people liberate themselves from suffering, not cause them suffering. And leaders aren't supposed to behave in a way that divides the sangha. That type of behavior makes a sham of Buddhism.

    personlobster
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited January 8

    @Dakini said:

    But spiritual leaders are held to a different standard because they're spiritual leaders. In many traditions they present themselves as having reached a spiritual level, or a level of spiritual understanding, that's above the common man/woman's.

    That's gotten Christianity and other monotheist paths so far hasn't it?

    And isn't it hypocritical to preach one thing while doing another?

    That's my whole point. Except the hypocrites are the ones changing their tune according to "industry"

    People naturally expect their spiritual leader to have a higher level of spiritual attainment than themselves.

    Why?

    Otherwise, they could go to a lay teacher, to get the same message, of the clergy member. Furthermore, some of the cases of teacher scandals involve teachers who are much more flawed even then their own followers; much more in the grip of sensual desire than the average person.

    Bill's dalliance with Monica was sensual desire too.

    But also, a great part of the problem is that most spiritual leaders transgress their teachings with members of their own flock, either taking advantage of them financially or sexually.

    Monica was a constituent of Bill's. As the POTUS, they are responsible for every citizen, regardless of how they voted.

    These are often very vulnerable people who put their teacher on a pedestal (in fact, some teachers require this), and/or look to them to be the good example the followers didn't have in their formative years.

    I never said otherwise.

    Somewhat similarly, an employer, whether the POTUS or a more garden-variety employer, has hire and fire power over employees, so taking advantage of that position can be grounds for a lawsuit. I don't see the standards as being all that different.

    Your earlier musings above appear to conflict a little with that statement.

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited January 8

    @JaySon said:
    I don't know what to think about this.

    I started reading a book the other day called Training The Mind And Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa.

    I Googled him and saw that his life was relatively short. He died in his 40s. So I wondered why and it turned out he died of alcoholism.

    He also did cocaine.

    Yet, they say, he died in a state of samadhi and his body didn't start decaying for five days.

    ** How does that work?**

    No disrespect intended. I'm just wondering, literally, how someone can be intoxicated most of the time and still pull off that feat of samadhi. Maybe he had concentration abilities he had developed in a prior life?

    I'm under the impression that.....

    There's more to life (form) than what meets the eye ("I" emptiness)

    Take for example the advances of.....

    Neuroscience (Selfing is what form does when riding Samsara's wave, the self having had no inherent existence as it is lowered in the grave)
    &
    Quantum physic (subatomic particles in a constant state of flux, disregarding whether life is pleasant or it sucks ) :)

    Perhaps he had experiential knowledge.understanding of the "Heart Suttra"

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    So one could then argue that she wasn't adversely affected and did better than Bill shrugs

    My whole point, which I'm sure some people have completely missed, is that in judging comparing people and situations one must be consistent at least. If one can't, perhaps one should leave it alone......

    JaySon
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I remember the Lewinski affair and uproar, and it's a good example of the two main points of view we're discussing, and for which I find myself agreeing with elements of both.

    If I engaged in sexual misconduct in my office with an intern (or pretty much anyone) and it became public knowledge, I am perfectly confident my employer would not keep me. They would feel as Dakini does, that such a person should not be in a position of authority. But the people who had the authority to determine Bill Clinton's fate (the senate) did decide to keep him, and public opinion mostly agreed with the decision, feeling as dhammachick does that his private life despite becoming catastrophically nonprivate was not an impediment to carrying out the responsibilities of the presidency.

    So, life is dukkha and humans will be imperfect. Should we demand otherwise? No, imperfection is here to stay, of course. The question is how to respond. Can someone with high-intensity personality flaws run a sangha? SHOULD they run a sangha? Or a country? It's hard to choose between these two perspectives, but I don't think I actually have a choice to make, do I?. Slimebags will find their way to positions of power regardless of any choices I may make. They will do both good things and bad things regardless of any choices I may make. And I will both benefit and suffer regardless of any choices I may make.

    Let the great reality show (ACTUAL reality!) begin.

    Oh wait, it already has. Many millennia ago. OK, well, pass the popcorn!

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I was fairly young during the Clinton/Lewinsky thing (in high school) but I always felt it was a private issue that didn't really impact my life via how he ran the country, therefore why should I care?

    The problem I have in the case of Trungpa specifically is that people look at him as lacking morals and values and flawed rather than ill. Which he obviously was. Part of my opinion on the matter also comes in having spent a lot of time with an alcoholic. Was he a fabulous example of a human being in every way? Most certainly not. But he was still a gifted musician and being an addict did not erase that. If anything, he would have been even better had he not been drinking. But the fact he drank didn't make his musical feats any less. The same is true for many artists and musicians. I try to separate the behavior from the true nature. But, not everyone can or wants to do that and everyone has to be cautious in who they put their trust in. It requires knowing and trusting yourself to know how to trust your guru.

    We seem to give a lot of sympathy to the students who might get the wrong message, poor people with no control to realize that because their teacher is drinking because of his addiction illness, that doesn't mean it's ok for them to be party animals. We all make our choices and we're all responsible for them. As far as I've ever read, Trungpa never shirked his responsibility for that. But his students often did by blaming him for their choices.

    lobsterSteve_BKannonperson
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I also think, when we get into deep discussions of this ilk, and we begin to 'back-and-forth' with opinions and justifications, that it pays to look at how WE stand in all of this.

    Not so much WHAT we think about it, but why we think it.
    What moulds our view or opinion? Why do we adopt one stance, or the other? Or what prompts (as in the case of some) an inner conflict of opinions?

    I think it pays to step back and discern why we think the way we think, because whatever way we think, we're judging something with a bias.

    lobsterJaySonpommesetoranges
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 8

    @karasti said:
    But when someone suffers from illness, would we be so hard on them for not always walking the walking? I'm not excusing bad behavior, and I don't excuse what Trungpa or any others have done. But addiction lends oneself not able to have normal control of their life. An argument could be made for him having tried alcohol at all, but that's mostly unrealistic. One of our Sangha members is currently dealing with breast cancer. We certainly don't berate her for not walking the walk when she's unable to do so much that she used to be able to do. Addiction is deserving of the same compassion, yet it is one of the few things (along with obesity) that we still feel ok in justifying our judgement of people over. Addiction is their fault. They chose to drink/do drunks. Obesity is their fault, they choose to eat! Except they really don't. no one chooses obesity and addiction. Most of them have vast unresolved traumas and mental illnesses.

    I think it's reasonable to make a judgement about a teacher's credibility, and there are plenty of teachers out there who don't have major problems like addiction. Buddhism is about liberation from suffering, and it teaches that the cause of suffering is craving. But addiction is an extreme craving, and an inability to overcome it doesn't inspire much confidence in a teacher. For me walking the walk is important, not least because it suggests the teacher is practising effectively. Perhaps part of the problem is the tendency of some students to put their teacher on a pedestal, and become blind to their faults, like guru devotion.

    lobsterpersonTosh
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited January 8

    @Steve_B said:

    And even directly to your point, someone might give excellent advice that they themselves don't follow. Does that mean that the advice is flawed, or that the advisor is flawed?

    I would say the advice may or may not be flawed but the advisor is for sure as they don't really know if what they are saying is true or not and are just pretending to understand.

    Like an acter that doesn't use method acting so has only memorized the lines and doesn't project the character.

    personlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    “I am firmly convinced to-day that, generally speaking, it is in youth that men lay the essential groundwork of their creative thought, wherever that creative thought exists. I make a distinction between the wisdom of age - which can only arise from the greater profundity and foresight that are based on the experiences of a long life - and the creative genius of youth, which blossoms out in thoughts and ideas with inexhaustible fertility, without being able to put these into practice immediately, because of their very superabundance. These furnish the building materials and plans for the future; and it is from them that age takes the stones and builds the edifice, unless the so-called wisdom of the years may have smothered the creative genius of youth.”
    ― Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

    LOL
    Great advice.
    Was it taken and enacted? No.
    This really is the situation. Judged by our own criteria, self inflation, side tracks ...
    Shall we be complicit in this? Or question why such words may be hollow ...

    “Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism.”
    ― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

    oops - might have got those quote sources mixed ... however the message is more important than the source [ahem] O.o
    https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2049624-mein-kampf
    https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/29133.Ch_gyam_Trungpa

    ... and now back to the unbiased and objective ...

  • It is really good that you have highlighted the major failing we identify within ourselves of the retrospective stupidity we have inherited as human beings @lobster - we have to face up to our mistakes at some time and reflect on the poignant facts - lest we forget!

  • The history of Chogyam was chequered, but can/did we learn from it?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I guess I choose to learn from everyone I can. Obviously, Trungpa was not my teacher, as he died when I was about 8 years old. But a teacher in some sense, as I learned things from him, and from a few of his students. But I also find teachers in everyone, and sometimes the most "flawed" or ill have the best lessons to offer.

    My issue surrounding Trungpa isn't so much about the man but about the judgement of his addictions. Like I said, we'd never think to claim a teacher is not worthy if their brain was addled by chemotherapy, but we have no problem judging those (teachers or otherwise) with addictions despite all medical literature stressing it is every bit a disease the same as cancer and they didn't choose it any more than someone with cancer did. They don't make themselves addicts. They just are.

    Steve_B
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 10

    @satcittananda said:
    The history of Chogyam was chequered, but can/did we learn from it?

    I think one way discussions of this nature get hung up is that there's a difference between picking up a book presenting inspiring ideas vs. actually studying under a person who may be doing some followers more harm than good. Viewed from that perspective, these discussions are talking apples to oranges, in a way. To people who never met the man, or who pick up one of his books long after he's passed away, discussions of the importance of virtuous conduct in a teacher can seem irrelevant.

    Steve_B
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