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Chogyam Trungpa Died Of Alcoholism

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Comments

  • I knew someone who studied under him.

  • He had a lot of respect for his teachings, but recognised he was just like you , me and the next man, so didn't get too involved.

    Moths hovering around a candle tend to get burned. Insects get eaten by Geckos when lured to the light.

    There are many other examples of inspiring teachers who didn't live up to the expectation of being a god-like figure. Do you go to a Guru because of him or her of what they teach.

    Worth thinking about.

    dhammachick
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @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?

    -It doesn't matter...

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @satcittananda said:
    He had a lot of respect for his teachings, but recognised he was just like you , me and the next man, so didn't get too involved.

    Moths hovering around a candle tend to get burned. Insects get eaten by Geckos when lured to the light.

    There are many other examples of inspiring teachers who didn't live up to the expectation of being a god-like figure. Do you go to a Guru because of him or her of what they teach.

    Worth thinking about.

    The problem comes in when gurus claim to be god-like figures. Some claim to be highly-realized, or outright demand from followers that they regard the teacher as a representative of the Buddha and the "holy Dharma", and require that followers place their trust in them. Also, some sanghas can become overly-invested in their teacher, and present him that way, or fawn over him (or her). This can open the door to temptation, even when the guru wasn't naturally inclined to take advantage of people.

    I think newbies and naive or psychologically vulnerable followers need to be aware that there are certain red flags to watch out for when selecting a sangha and teacher. Getting the word out about potential pitfalls would eliminate a large part of the problem. But even with the teachers who don't try to present themselves as anything more than Joe Monk, it can be difficult for women to receive the teachings if the teacher makes overtures towards them. They have to face the prospect of either confronting or being assertive with the teacher to draw boundaries (this is difficult for some), avoid the teacher before and after the sessions (teachers can sometimes be overt in expressing their personal interest even in front of the gathered group), or leaving the sangha and looking elsewhere. This places an unfair burden on women, and can result in their losing the opportunity to receive a lengthy course of special teachings that are not routinely available.

    These decisions can be much easier for men, who can overlook the improprieties on the part of the teacher, because they're not personally affected, unless the problem gets out of hand and disrupts the sangha. Some men aren't amenable to studying in a sangha that discriminates against women in this way, though, or that has drama going on; others prefer teachers who walk their talk, even if all the teacher is doing is presenting the same canned spiel he received in the monastery, reading from the standard texts.

    I don't think expecting a teacher to keep their genitals to themselves equals expecting them to be god-like. All it is, is expecting them to behave in a professional manner, and observe normal professional boundaries. That's not to much to ask.

    satcittanandalobster
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    I don't think expecting a teacher to keep their genitals to themselves equals expecting them to be god-like. All it is, is expecting them to behave in a professional manner, and observe normal professional boundaries. That's not to much to ask.

    No it's not, but neither then is asking people to use some common sense and not view other humans as deities. Right?

    Do you see where I'm going with this?

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 10

    @dhammachick said:

    @Dakini said:
    I don't think expecting a teacher to keep their genitals to themselves equals expecting them to be god-like. All it is, is expecting them to behave in a professional manner, and observe normal professional boundaries. That's not to much to ask.

    No it's not, but neither then is asking people to use some common sense and not view other humans as deities. Right?

    Do you see where I'm going with this?

    This comes back to the fact that some people seeking out spiritual guidance are highly psychologically vulnerable. They come from dysfunctional families with histories of abuse. They tend to view the teacher, especially one that is high-status in his tradition, or has been presented as having spiritual attainments, as the "healthy parent" they never had. This may not pertain to any of us here, but there definitely are many people like that in spiritual circles. Such people don't have common sense about these things, and easily fall prey to manipulation. These are the people who would benefit greatly from discussions about being discerning, being aware of potential pitfalls in the spiritual community, and so forth. IMO compassionate practice moves us to take steps to forewarn the more vulnerable among us.

    Sanga leadership can play a role in this, as well. The response of some Western sangha leaders to scandals hitting the fan in the 80's and 90's, after meeting with the Dalai Lama to discuss the problem, was to adopt ethics guidelines and include those in their literature regarding their mission, activities, and so forth, so that potential members could see that the leadership took a clear stance on the issue, had enacted a policy and safeguards, and delineated boundaries for students as well as teachers.

    There was a big learning curve regarding the potential for inappropriate behavior to arise, beginning with the first teachers to come from Japan and Tibet, and it's taken quite some time for sangha leaders and followers to come to grips with it.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Ok you've missed my point or want to miss my point.

    Either way I'm done.
    _ /\ _

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Everyone has responsibility and accountability. That includes students to know what they are getting into and to discern and ask questions and seek out other understanding if they are unsure. That is really easy to do now, thank goodness. In the 70s and before with no internet, it was a different story and many Eastern gurus of all sorts of disciplines ran into problems with students. Some of them rightfully. Some of them because of a lack of understanding of politicians and others who created problems where they didn't exist because of their own religious beliefs and fears. The timeline of the whole peace and love hippie revolution during the same time Trungpa was teaching no doubt blurred those lines more.

  • @dhammachick said:

    No it's not, but neither then is asking people to use some common sense and not view other humans as deities. Right?

    In Tantra/guru yoga the teacher is visualised, identified as the Buddha and as an emanation of a yidam/deity. That approach is powerful and potentially dangerous ...
    https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2013/02/21/the-guru-disciple-relationship-advice-by-hh-the-dalai-lama/

    Fortunately there are always discerning students and loving lamas and they are the norm.

    Here is a message from my esteemed plastic mentor HH Shree Cushion, which he has kindly imprinted on his bottom ... for those still drowning their way to the far shore ... Unfortunately I can not show his face without offending the devout ...

    OM MANI PEME HUM

    dhammachickTraveller
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Everything associated with guru's is rather curious. There is a saying, when the student is ready the master appears. Perhaps it is so, and for some people being a disciple for a while is a necessary stage. So I have long since stopped judging people who adhere to guru's.

    I mean, what would have become of Milarepa if he had tried to be discerning of Marpa's crazy tower-building instructions. He wouldn't have lasted as a disciple that is for sure. And the problem is most would-be disciples don't know enough to tell what is really unacceptable from what is merely eccentric.

    lobster
  • Well said @Kerome
    Developing discernment, attention and insight for me came by studying the words of the wise. Reading beyond revered, populist or titillating. Some of the great teachers certainly seemed crazy by conventional standards but a pattern begins to emerge ...

    For example Marpa was taught by the Dakini Niguma like so:

    Vajra Verses of the Self-Liberating Great Seal

    Nature of mind,
    Wish-fulfilling jewel, to you I bow.
    Wishing to attain perfect enlightenment,
    Visualize your body clearly as the deity
    To purify ordinary thoughts.
    Develop a noble intention to help others
    And pure devotion to your spiritual master.
    Don’t dwell on your spiritual master or the deity.
    Don’t bring anything to mind,
    Be it real or imagined.
    Rest uncontrived in the innate state.
    Your own mind, uncontrived, is the body of ultimate enlightenment.
    To remain undistracted within this is meditation’s essential point.
    Realize the great, boundless, expansive state.
    Myriad thoughts of anger and desire
    Propel you within the seas of existence.
    Take the sharp sword of the unborn state
    And cut through them to their lack of intrinsic nature.
    When you cut a tree’s root,
    Its branches won’t grow
    On a bright ocean,
    Bubbles emerge then dissolve back into the water.
    Likewise, thoughts are nothing but the nature of reality:
    Don’t regard them as faults. Relax.
    When you have no clinging to what appears, what arises,
    It frees itself within its own ground.
    Appearances, sound, and phenomena are your own mind.
    There are no phenomena apart from mind.
    Mind is free from birth, cessation,
    And formulation.
    Those who know mind’s nature
    Enjoy the five senses’ pleasures
    But do not stray from the nature of reality.
    On an island of gold,
    You search in vain for earth and stones.
    In the equanimity of the great absolute expanse,
    There is no acceptance or rejection,
    No states of meditation or postmeditation.
    When you actualize that state,
    It is spontaneously present,
    Fulfilling beings’ hopes
    Like a wish-fulfilling jewel.
    Persons of the highest, middle, and common levels of capability
    Should learn this in stages suitable to their understanding.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niguma

    KeromeTraveller
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Well said @Kerome
    Developing discernment, attention and insight for me came by studying the words of the wise. Reading beyond revered, populist or titillating. Some of the great teachers certainly seemed crazy by conventional standards but a pattern begins to emerge ...

    I find it difficult to read great amounts these days - I tend to read a few books and digest them at length, I find something gets lost or jumbled or taken at face value when I take in too much at once. I prefer to maintain a good grip over my own unique direction of thought, without getting entirely overrun by the (generously termed) wisdom of others.

    But I do agree a certain breadth is needed. In some areas of life Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet has more wisdom to offer, in others it is The Book of Chuang Tzu, which I am currently reading, and so on. Our minds contain a patchwork of wisdom but it is the quality of our acceptance and realisation that ultimately sets the bar for the entire fabric.

    lobsterFosdick
  • techietechie India Veteran

    I do not know much about CT, but generally speaking ... if a person has wisdom, does that necessarily mean he has self-control/will power as well? A person may know that smoking is injurious (wisdom) and yet lack the will power to stop smoking. So is it possible that wisdom (even the highest kind of wisdom leading to nibanna) could exist without any self-control whatsoever?

    Just wondering, not saying it is so.

    Steve_Blobster
  • RazorRazor Oregon Explorer

    Chogyam Trungpa was/is a Buddha, it's just your impure view that inhibits you from seeing that. He never claimed to be a god or highly realized. However, he was/is highly realized and that's just how it is. He spread the dharma throughout the west in a way few others have. We all owe him a great deal of gratitude. No one should follow any teacher mindlessly, but we should all follow a teacher. Trungpa Rinpoche wasn't a teacher for everyone, but I know several of his students and all of them are beyond grateful for his instruction.

  • @lobster said:

    @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.

    i think lobster has it right. some people who are well trained and welleducated can teacher good dharma but not have any realization themselves, just faith. i in fact met trungpa in the last year or two of his life, and was impressed that he was in alcoholic dementia. not inspriing. his students you must remember were mainly middle class americans, with little or no broad cultural education or exposure. he blew their minds. some transcended the bad aspects, most remain believers and still behave poorly at times. my personal experiences with many trungpa students is they are rather bigoted and full of themselves. it's hard to take at times, but i supose a practice in patience. i find his books very shallow. nothing like the lectures of kalu rinpoche--from the same time, or words of my perfect teacher, or the jewel orniment of liberation.

    they do teach a goos shamata in shambala. that's fine. it has a lot in common with the vipissana i started one and can help many.

    the big lesson is to remember that many teachers can teach good, well tried practices but be unenlightened. best to not get too close. learn the practice and stay at arms length.

    in the sakyas i used to hear the saying."sit only close enough to the teacher to hear the teaching"

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    We ALL behave poorly at times.

    lobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 6

    @ollaimh said:

    the big lesson is to remember that many teachers can teach good, well tried practices but be unenlightened. best to not get too close. learn the practice and stay at arms length.

    in the sakyas i used to hear the saying."sit only close enough to the teacher to hear the teaching"

    This is a good one. I haven't heard that before. One thing that impressed me with the Sakyas in Seattle is that they run a clean show. No funny business. They got a very good orientation from the Tibetan Studies professor who brought them to the US in the 60's, and their monastery has an insurance policy that requires the avoidance of anything, including behavior, that could lead to a lawsuit. One of the Sakya matrons would gather together newbies to the sangha, and teach a little mini-course as an orientation to proper dress and behavior during teachings, and so forth. It was a good introduction to Tibetan culture and behavioral norms in a religious context, too.

  • my greater concern is the sexual abuse. trungpa had sex with a lot of students, many undrr ge while in canada. in canada the age of consent with a person who stands in a position of authority is twenty one years of age. moreover there had to be senior students who knew what was up and covered up from authorities. both are unethical. i have tried to discuss this with people and they can often go ballistic. i have been tols this is wrong speech. i think defending the vunerable is never wrong speech. i now quote such people dudjom rimpoche's saying:"ethics are the highest dharma".

  • @Dakini said:

    @ollaimh said:

    the big lesson is to remember that many teachers can teach good, well tried practices but be unenlightened. best to not get too close. learn the practice and stay at arms length.

    in the sakyas i used to hear the saying."sit only close enough to the teacher to hear the teaching"

    This is a good one. I haven't heard that before. One thing that impressed me with the Sakyas in Seattle is that they run a clean show. No funny business. They got a very good orientation from the Tibetan Studies professor who brought them to the US in the 60's, and their monastery has an insurance policy that requires the avoidance of anything, including behavior, that could lead to a lawsuit. One of the Sakya matrons would gather together newbies to the sangha, and teach a little mini-course as an orientation to proper dress and behavior during teachings, and so forth. It was a good introduction to Tibetan culture and behavioral norms in a religious context, too.

    i can't say enough good things about sakyas in seattle vancouver and vancouver island. they are all great. i may ditch my present practices some day and go back to jeston kushock's v.y.. it's deep full rich and transcendnt.

    now i have to deal with too many trungpa students. i like a lot of what the group i'm in does but the trungpa students are taxing.

  • i do repeat that good dharma teaching can be passed on by bad teachers if they stick to the rules and boundries. it's not ideal but do any of us every have ideal circumstances for practice? if that's all ya got , stick to the rules untill you understand them fairly well. most are there for well thought out reasons that have been tried and tested over many centuries.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @ollaimh said:
    my greater concern is the sexual abuse. trungpa had sex with a lot of students, many undrr ge while in canada. in canada the age of consent with a person who stands in a position of authority is twenty one years of age. moreover there had to be senior students who knew what was up and covered up from authorities. both are unethical. i have tried to discuss this with people and they can often go ballistic. i have been tols this is wrong speech. i think defending the vunerable is never wrong speech. i now quote such people dudjom rimpoche's saying :"ethics are the highest dharma".

    Another good quote. :) Thanks, olliamh. When discussions like this come up, I usually trot out the link to notes from the Dalai Lama's meeting with Western sangha leaders, in which he says that any teacher whose practice involves misconduct has an incomplete understanding of the Dharma, and that their practice has been "wrong-footed" all along. Do we need to see that again? I'll post it if there are new members who'd like to see it.

    It isn't wrong speech to speak the truth at appropriate times with correct motivation, the Buddha said. It's also not wrong speech to warn people of potential dangers and pitfalls. In fact, in that context, the Buddha implied that silence can be considered "wrong speech".

    All of that comes within our scope of practice of compassion and striving to end human suffering. Keep on keepin' on, olliamh. You're on the right track. You're on The Path. :)

    lobster
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