Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Did Trungpa Die for Our Sins?

There is a quip -- usually attributed to Gyaltrul Rinpoche, who has been saying whatever pops into his head, and getting away with it, for many decades -- and said quip has been rummaging around in the recesses of my that was then, this is now braking mechanism.

"You Americans are always going on and on about the 'Second Coming' of Jesus Christ," he is supposed to have said.

"Well, he came, and you missed it."

I wasn't there when he made the remark, but I've heard from several people who were, and they all tell the same story:

He was talking about Trungpa Rinpoche.

I guess if I had to summarize how I feel about the matter, that quip would come very close to spot on. Since the crystal clear moment when I heard he died, I have always held the belief that he had taken up all of our poison and died for us.

Since that moment I have always asked myself the same question:

Did he die in vain?

Time is a crazy river under a spotless bridge, and time has bubbled and surged away between that was then and this is now. When you heard Trungpa in the then, and read him in the now, you are left with the inescapable evidence that the man was right.

Righteously right.

He foresaw. He foretold. He forewarned.

He understood us so much better than we understand ourselves, that he laid out precise instructions in advance. My question now is why we seem to so blithely ignore those instructions?
"Let us present the definition of buddhadharma," he wrote. "In the sutras, dharma is referred to as the 'path' and 'that which is knowable.' It is 'passionless.' Passion in this case refers to the dualistic fixations of the ego, which has two aspects. The first aspect is the ego of conceptualized confusion -- the notion of the other, that form exists. The second is the ego of personality -- if form exists, then there must be a perceiver of the form, an individual knower. These two aspects of ego are mutually dependent and constitute the samsaric mind. The seeming existence of other is a continually repeated proof of the existence of I, which is actually another other. I does not exist but takes the seeming existence of form as its credentials. The existence of form, credentials, is what maintains the illusion of I. Thus, if a person is self-righteously claiming to practice the buddhadharma, is using his practice as credentials, then he is simply playing ego's game."
In another post, elsewhere in this blog, I ventured the opinion that there are dramatically opposing currents developing in Tibetan Buddhism as expressed in America.

I want to give them a name.

The first understands the above instruction from Trungpa Rinpoche.

The second does not, and is attempting to assert "ownership" of Buddhism in the West, showing all the signs and wonders against which he gave repeated, ample admonition.

It is actually fruitless to recognize the first, for it doesn't require any recognition.

It is simple to recognize the latter, by the angry mob in which it hides its spears and thorns.

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2 reader comments:

Mama Mojo said...

It may sound like hyperbole, but The Collected Works of Chogyäm Trungpa is the best purchase I've ever made. What you say here is true. Although it does seem outlandish to call him the Messiah, it does seem right on.... Since January of this year I've been engrossed in his teachings both written and online. There's much more than the eight volumes, and I intend on continuing. The truth of what he said strikes me continually. Reading his teachings nearly everyday started out as a lifeline for me. Even though you often hear that it's "inaupicious" to read, I've personally found that reading Trungpa is making me into a sane and very stable person. It's boundless depth. I'm learning so much. It's clearly the most important contribution for me, and is bringing clarity to my life situation. People close to me are taking note. Those who see me everyday are encouraging. My ten-year-old son told me just the other day that he liked it when I did the Buddha thing. I have living teachers whom I respect and love very much. Reading Trungpa helps me to have greater insight into their teachings. Perhaps in reading his work I'm going beyond what we've learned in class, or ruining the surprise or impact of it on me if hearing it for the first time. I don't know.... I know that he's controversial for many Tibetans, and many people don't accept him. I can't speak for everyone, but it seems that those people haven't read or listened to his teachings.... I think I can say with confidence that Trungpa is one of my teachers, and I'm sorry that I was too young to have met him while he was still living.

J.Crow said...

he's a great guy with a great sense of humor. whenever you were with him you were on the spot and could not wiggle away. a joyfully terrifying release from ego's game he was.