She added, "At the same time there was a power about him and an equanimity to his presence that was phenomenal, that I don't know how to explain. A number of observers have reported that his cremation there on May 26, , was accompanied by various atmospheric effects and other signs traditionally viewed as marks of enlightenment. These included the appearance of rainbows, circling eagles,   and a cloud in the shape of an Ashe.
Major lineage holders of Trungpa's Tibetan Buddhist traditions and many other Buddhist teachers supported his work. In , Trungpa invited the 16th Karmapa , head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, to come to the West and offer teachings. Based on this visit, the Karmapa proclaimed Trungpa one of the principal Kagyu lineage holders in the west:. This wonderful truth is clearly manifest. Let this be recognized by all people of both elevated and ordinary station.
Of Trungpa, the Dalai Lama later wrote, "Exceptional as one of the first Tibetan lamas to become fully assimilated into Western culture, he made a powerful contribution to revealing the Tibetan approach to inner peace in the West. Trungpa also received support from one of his own main teachers, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche , head of the Nyingma lineage. In addition to numerous sadhanas and poems dedicated to Trungpa, Khyentse Rinpoche wrote a supplication after Trungpa's death specifically naming him a mahasiddha. The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche said, "As taught in the Buddhist scriptures, there are nine qualities of a perfect master of buddhadharma.
The Myth of Freedom
Suzuki Roshi , founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center , and another important exponent of Buddhism to western students, described Trungpa in the context of a talk about emptiness:. The way you can struggle with this is to be supported by something, something you don't know. As we are human beings, there must be that kind of feeling.
You must feel it in this city or building or community. So whatever community it may be, it is necessary for it to have this kind of spiritual support.
That is why I respect Trungpa Rinpoche. He is supporting us. 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.
The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Medition
This kind of big spirit, without clinging to some special religion or form of practice, is necessary for human beings. Gehlek Rinpoche , who lived with Trungpa when they were young monks in India and later visited and taught with him in the U. He was a great Tibetan yogi, a friend, and a master.
The more I deal with Western Dharma students, the more I appreciate how he presented the dharma and the activities that he taught. Whenever I meet with difficulties, I begin to understand — sometimes before solving the problem, sometimes afterward — why Trungpa Rinpoche did some unconventional things. I do consider him to be the father of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States. In my opinion, he left very early — too early. His death was a great loss.
The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation (Shambala Classics)
Everything he did is significant. First, Rinpoche always wanted feedback. One of the reasons that people were in his circle was that they were willing to be honest and direct with him. He definitely was not one of those teachers who asked for obedience and wanted their students not to think for themselves. He thrived, he lived, on the intelligence of his students. That is how he built his entire teaching situation. From my perspective, I could always be pretty direct with him. Maybe I was not hesitant to do that because I really trusted the unconditional nature of our relationship.
I felt there was really nothing to lose by being absolutely direct with him, and he appreciated that.
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Trungpa's own teaching style was often unconventional. In his own words, "When we talk about compassion, we talk in terms of being kind. But compassion is not so much being kind; it is being creative to wake a person up. Trungpa's sexuality has been one of the sources of controversy, as he cultivated relations with a number of his female students. Tenzin Palmo , who met him in while he was still at Oxford , did not become one of his consorts, refusing his advances because he had presented himself as "a pure monk.
Trungpa was also known for smoking tobacco and liberally using alcohol;  many who knew him characterized him as an alcoholic. Later, he described this event as a pivotal moment that inspired the course of his teachings. Some accounts ascribe the accident to drinking. Trungpa often combined drinking with teaching. David Chadwick recounts: .
Suzuki [Roshi] asked Trungpa to give a talk to the students in the zendo the next night. Trungpa walked in tipsy and sat on the edge of the altar platform with his feet dangling. But he delivered a crystal-clear talk, which some felt had a quality — like Suzuki's talks — of not only being about the dharma but being itself the dharma. In some instances Trungpa was too drunk to walk and had to be carried. The Steinbecks said the cocaine use was kept secret from the wider Vajradhatu community.
The poet W. Merwin had arrived at the Naropa Institute that summer and been told by Allen Ginsberg that he ought to attend the seminary. Although he had not gone through the several years' worth of study and preparatory mind training required, Merwin insisted on attending and Trungpa eventually granted his request — along with Merwin's girlfriend.
At seminary the couple kept to themselves. At the Halloween party, after many, including Trungpa himself, had taken off their clothes, Merwin was asked to join the event but refused. On Trungpa's orders, his Vajra Guard forced entry into the poet's locked and barricaded room; brought him and his girlfriend, Dana Naone, against their will, to the party; and eventually stripped them of all their clothes, with onlookers ignoring Naone's pleas for help and for someone to call the police.
They agreed to stay for several more weeks to hear the Vajrayana teachings, with Trungpa's promise that "there would be no more incidents" and Merwin's that there would be "no guarantees of obedience, trust, or personal devotion to him. In a letter to members of a Naropa class investigating the incident, Merwin concluded,. See The Myth of Freedom at amazon. Home Teachings Other Recommended Books.
It is the ultimate and final disappointment. Treading the spiritual path is painful. Having abandoned hopes and fantasies of spirituality, having completely surrendered to what is, we can view any state of mind and anything that happens to us as workable.
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Both books should be required reading for anyone considering commitment to a spiritual tradition, and for anyone forgetful of what commitment means. Granted these similarities, The Myth of Freedom covers significantly different ground from Cutting Through. It is a bit more diffuse.