Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 17, 2012 05:37AM

According to Stephen Butterfield (The Double Mirror)

Yet, as a young man Trungpa himself studied with many different teachers. This was normal and acceptable in the Rimed tradition.

Yet, Trungpa told his Western students different instructions. That anyne who went to study with a teacher other than Trungpa would be a 'heretic'.

In doing this, Trungpa departed from the very tradition that had formed him, in which he had had the freedom to study with different teachers--he denied this to his own students.

To me this looks like the afflictive emotion of clinging

On Kheper Net there is an essay on Trungpa and Stephen Butterfield's book.


He asks the vital question: why was it important to follow the Buddhist ethical guidelines in the early stages of practice and how then did these suddenly become irrelevant as soon as you were practicing at tantra level? Butterfield also mentioned something that was news to me: that Trungpa made a distinction between his followers versus 'heretics' and preferred that his students avoid consorting with 'heretics.'

Geoffrey Samuel, Reginald Ray, and Judith Simmer-Brown have traced the Shambhala lineage [Trungpa's teaching] back to the nineteenth-century Rimed movement in Eastern Tibet... When Naropa describes itself as a Buddhist-inspired, 'nonsectarian' liberal arts college, nonsectarian translates the Tibetan rimed. Nonsectarian does not, however, mean 'secular' as it is commonly used in higher education. Nonsectarian is perhaps understood as ecumenical openness to contemplative practices and arts of the world religious traditions that foster precision, gentleness, and spontaneity.[7]

(Samuels may be consulted in his subsection on Chogyam Trunpga in Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies)



Rimé is a Tibetan word which means "no sides", "non-partisan" or "non-sectarian". In a religious context, the word ri-mé is usually used to refer to the "Eclectic Movement"[1] between the Buddhist Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu traditions, along with the non-Buddhist Bön religion,[2] wherein practitioners "follow multiple lineages of practice."[3] The movement was founded in Eastern Tibet during the late 19th century largely by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the latter of whom is often respected as the founder proper. The Rimé movement is responsible for a large number of scriptural compilations, such as the Rinchen Terdzod and the Sheja Dzö.

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Contents [hide]
1 The Rimé approach
2 Rimé's founders
3 Present-day Rimé movement
4 References
5 External links

[edit] The Rimé approachMost scholars of Buddhism explain Rimé as an "eclectic movement",[4][5][6] however one scholar has suggested that this is an inadequate rendering, saying "In fact this Rimé movement was not exactly eclectic but universalistic (and encyclopaedic), rimed (pa) (the antonym of risu ch'edpa) meaning unbounded, all-embracing, unlimited, and also impartial."[7] One of the most prominent contemporary Rimé masters, Ringu Tulku, emphasizes the message of the original Rimé founders, that Rimé is not a new school.[8] It is simply an approach allowing freedom of choice which was always the majority practice within the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapas, Je Tsongkhapa, the Dalai Lamas, Sakya lineage heads and major Nyingma and Kagyu figures took teachings and empowerments from various schools and lineages.

The movement's name is derived from two Tibetan words: Ris (bias, side) and Med (lack), which combined expresses the idea of openness to other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, as opposed to sectarianism. The Rimé movement therefore is often misunderstood as trying to unite the various sects through their similarities, which was not the case. Rimé was intended to recognize the differences between traditions and appreciate them, while also establishing a dialogue which would create common ground. It is considered important that variety be preserved, and therefore Rimé teachers are generally quite careful to emphasize differences in thought, giving students many options as to how to proceed in their spiritual training.

Ringu Tulku describes these points which are often misrepresented:

Ris or Phyog-ris in Tibetan means "one-sided", "partisan" or "sectarian". Med means "No". Ris-med (Wylie), or Rimé, therefore means "no sides", "non-partisan" or "non-sectarian". It does not mean "non-conformist" or "non-committal"; nor does it mean forming a new School or system that is different from the existing ones. A person who believes the Rimé way almost certainly follows one lineage as his or her main practice. He or she would not dissociate from the School in which he or she was raised. Kongtrul was raised in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions; Khyentse was reared in a strong Sakyapa tradition. They never failed to acknowledge their affiliation to their own Schools. Rimé is not a way of uniting different Schools and lineages by emphasizing their similarities. It is basically an appreciation of their differences and an acknowledgement of the importance of having this variety for the benefit of practitioners with different needs. Therefore the Rimé teachers always take great care that the teachings and practices of the different Schools and lineages and their unique styles do not become confused with one another. To retain the original style and methods of each teaching lineage preserves the power of that lineage experience. Kongtrul and Khyentse made great efforts to retain the original flavor of each teaching, while making them available to many. Kongtrul writes about Khyentse in his biography of the latter.... When he (Khyentse Rinpoche) taught, he would give the teachings of each lineage clearly and intelligibly without confusing the terms and concepts of other teachings.[9]

Rimé was initially intended to counteract the novel growing suspicion and tension building between the different traditions, which at the time had, in many places, gone so far as to forbid studying one another's scriptures. Tibetan Buddhism has a long history of vigorous debate and argumentation between schools and within one's training. This can lead a practitioner to believe that one's school has the best approach or highest philosophic view and that other lineages have a lower or flawed understanding. The Rimé approach cautions against developing that viewpoint, while at the same time appreciating that the debate and discussion is important and that arguing which views are higher and lower is still valid discourse.

Jamgon Kongtrul summed his view:

The scholars and siddhas of the various schools make their own individual presentations of the dharma. Each one is full of strong points and supported by valid reasoning. If you are well grounded in the presentations of your own tradition, then it is unnecessary to be sectarian. But if you get mixed up about the various tenets and the terminology, then you lack even a foothold in your own tradition. You try to use someone else's system to support your understanding, and then get all tangled up, like a bad weaver, concerning the view, meditation, conduct, and result. Unless you have certainty in your own system, you cannot use reasoning to support your scriptures, and you cannot challenge the assertions of others. You become a laughing stock in the eyes of the learned ones. It would be much better to possess a clear understanding of your own tradition. In summary, one must see all the teachings as without contradiction, and consider all the scriptures as instructions. This will cause the root of sectarianism and prejudice to dry up, and give you a firm foundation in the Buddhas teachings. At that point, hundreds of doors to the eighty-four thousand teachings of the dharma will simultaneously be open to you.[10]

A rimé practitioner may take empowerments from numerous lineages and living masters, though it is not a requirement to do so.

[edit] Rimé's foundersTwo of the founding voices of Rimé were Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, both from different schools. (The epithets Jamyang and Jamgon in their name respectively indicate that they are considered to be emanations of Manjushri.[11]) Jamgon Kongtrul was from the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions, while Wangpo had been raised within the Sakya order. At the time, Tibetan schools of thought had become very isolated, and both Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul were instrumental in re-initiating dialogue between the sects.[12]

The Rimé movement came to prominence at a point in Tibetan history when the religious climate had become highly partisan.[13] The aim of the movement was "a push towards a middle ground where the various views and styles of the different traditions were appreciated for their individual contributions rather than being refuted, marginalized, or banned."[13] Many of the teachings of various schools were close to being lost and the movement set out to preserve them.[13] However, though the Rime movement gathered together teachings from each of the various traditions, it did not mix these, but rather recognised the individual integrity of each.[13]

The movement began within a large context of increasing domination by the Gelug lineage. Beginning in the 17th century, the Gelug view and politics increasingly dominated in Tibet and the minority lineages were at risk for losing their traditions.[14] At its founding, the Rimé movement was primarily non-Gelugpa teachers and at times the movement has appeared critical of Gelug views. Professor Georges Dreyfus suggests this argumentation was less to create further division but was to bolster minority views that had been marginalized by Gelug supremacy. Nonetheless, philosophic commentaries by early Rimé writers tend to criticize Gelugpa tenets.[14]

However, Rimé was in its idealized presentation the re-establishment of a rule or principle that had always been present in Tibetan Buddhism, but that had been de-emphasized or forgotten. That is: to ignorantly criticize other traditions was wrong, and that misunderstandings due to ignorance should be immediately alleviated. Ringu Tulku says:

The Rimé concept was not original to Kongtrul and Khyentse – neither were they new to Buddhism! The Lord Buddha forbade his students even to criticise the teachings and teachers of other religions and cultures. The message was so strong and unambiguous that Chandra Kirti had to defend Nagarjuna's treatises on Madhyamika by saying, "If, by trying to understand the truth, you dispel the misunderstandings of some people and thereby some philosophies are damaged – that cannot be taken as criticising the views of others" (Madhyamika-avatara). A true Buddhist cannot be but non-sectarian and Rimé in their approach.[9]
The movement became particularly well-established in the Kingdom of Derge.[15] Rimé has become an integral part of the Tibetan tradition, and continues to be an important philosophy in Tibetan Buddhism.

Other notable Tibetan Lamas noted for their non-sectarian approach were Patrul Rinpoche and Orgyen Chokgyur Lingpa. Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol, Dudjom Lingpa and the Fifteenth Karmapa Khachab Dorje who was a student of Kongtrul. Other lineage leaders gave their blessing to the movement and its founders who were considered extremely realized.

[edit] Present-day Rimé movementThe movement's achievements have been very successful in the 20th century where taking teachings and transmissions from different schools and lineages has become the norm amongst many monastic students, lamas, yogis as well as lay practitioners. This has mainly been due to the proactive support of many lineage holders and various leaders such as the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas, the 15th and 16th Karmapas, Sakya Trizin, Dudjom Rinpoche, following the "eclectic" approach of the 5th Dalai Lama "who blurred the lines between traditions":[5]

In the West, where so many different Buddhist traditions exist side by side, one needs to be constantly on one's guard against the danger of sectarianism. Such a divisive attitude is often the result of failing to understand or appreciate anything outside one's own tradition. Teachers from all schools would therefore benefit greatly from studying and gaining some practical experience of the teachings of other traditions.[16]
The 14th Dalai Lama has composed a prayer for the movement praising various historic figures and lineages of Vajrayana from India and Tibet, part of which says:

In short, may all the teachings of the Buddha in the Land of Snows
Flourish long into the future— the ten great pillars of the study lineage,
And the chariots of the practice lineage, such as Shijé (‘Pacifying’) and the rest,
All of them rich with their essential instructions combining sutra and mantra.
May the lives of the masters who uphold these teachings be secure and harmonious!
May the sangha preserve these teachings through their study, meditation and activity!
May the world be filled with faithful individuals intent on following these teachings!
And long may the non-sectarian teachings of the Buddha continue to flourish![17]
Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche are recent Rimé masters, known for their public influence and as being advisers and teachers to the 14th Dalai Lama. Other modern adherents include the late 16th Karmapa and Dudjom Rinpoche, both of whom gave extensive teachings from the works of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro, as well as Akong Rinpoche who, with the late Chogyam Trungpa helped establish Tibetan Buddhism in Britain. The lineage of the late Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche, also a venerable master of the Rimé tradition, is represented today in the teachings of Lama Surya Das.

The 14th Dalai Lama supports and encourages a non-sectarian spirit.[18][19] Major Gelug figures like Shabkar in the 19th century, and the Panchen Lamas and Reting Rinpoche in the 20th century studied Nyingma teachings along with their Gelug training.[20][21][22] The personal and hidden lake temple of the lineage of Dalai Lamas behind the Potala called Lukhang is dedicated to Dzogchen teachings.[23][24] Arjia Lobsang Thubten Rinpoche continues the Rime tradition in the United States.[25][26]

Bon teacher Tenzin Wangyal cautions, however, that even this so-called non-sectarian attitude may be taken to an extreme:

“ A problem that seems very difficult to avoid involves the tendency of spiritual schools either to want to preserve their traditions in a very closed way or to want to be very open and nonsectarian; but there is often the danger that this very nonsectarianism can become a source of self-justification and lead to as closed an attitude as that of the sectarians.[27] ”

[edit] References1.^ Karmay, Samten G. (1988). The Great Perfection (rDzogs chen): A philosophical and meditative teaching of Tibetan Buddhism. Leiden: E.J. Brill, p. 14
2.^ Lopez, Donald S. (1998). Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 190
3.^ David N. Kay: Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, Development and Adaptation, London and New York, p. 60
4.^ Damien Keown: Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 83
5.^ a b Dreyfus, Georges B.J. & Sara L. McClintock (eds). The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? Wisdom Publications, 2003, p. 320
6.^ Samuel, Geoffrey. (1993). Civilized shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan societies. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 538, 546
7.^ Seyfort Ruegg quoted in Samuel, Goeffrey (1993). Civilized Shamans. Buddhism in Tibetan Societies, p. 538
8.^ Ri-Mé_Approach. YouTube (26 January 2008). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
9.^ a b The Rime ( Ris-Med ) Movement. (24 July 2000). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
10.^ The Ri-Me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great: A Study of the Buddhist Lineages of Tibet by Ringu Tulku, ISBN 1-59030-286-9, Shambhala Publications
11.^ Samuel, Geoffrey. (1993). Civilized shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan societies. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, p. 538
12.^ Extract of Ri-me Philosophy Of Jamgon Kongtrul The Great paperback, A Study Of The Buddhist Lineages Of Tibet by Ringu Tulku And Translated By Ann Helm. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
13.^ a b c d Callahan, Elizabeth (2007). The Treasury of Knowledge: Frameworks of Buddhist Philosophy. Introduction, p. 10
14.^ a b Dreyfus (2003) p.320
15.^ Huber, Toni (2008). The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage & the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India. University of Chicago Press. p. 116. ISBN 0-226-35648-5. [].
16.^ An Open Letter by The Network for Western Buddhist Teachers, Tricycle, Fall 1993
17.^ Dalai Lama | Sage's Harmonious Song of Truth. Lotsawa House (28 February 1999). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
18.^ His Holiness the Dalai Lama's response to media a question on Shugden at the press conference in Indianapolis on 16 August 1999[dead link]
19.^ Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche (2007) Mind in Comfort and Ease: The Vision of Enlightenment in the Great Perfection ISBN 0-86171-493-8 page xiii
20.^ Simhanada-The Lord of Refuge Chatral Rinpoche[dead link]
21.^ Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche | Vegetarianism & Saving Lives (Tsethar). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
22.^ Extract of Flight Of The Garuda, The Dzogchen Tradition Of Tibetan Buddhism by Dowman, Keith. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
23.^ Ian A. Baker: The Lukhang: A hidden temple in Tibet. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
24.^ THE LIFE OF SHABKAR: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin, trans. by Matthieu Ricard, fore. by H.H. the Dalai Lama. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
25.^ Arjia Rinpoche (Gegeen) of Kumbum Monastery, Khukh Nuur
26.^ Arjia Rinpoche
27.^ Wangyal, Tenzin (1993). Wonders of the natural mind: The essence of Dzogchen in the Bon tradition of Tibet. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, p. 22

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2012 05:39AM by corboy.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 17, 2012 05:46AM

Persons who got to see the newly released film movie documentary on Chogyam Trungpa can read these excerpts from Butterfield which I published on this message board some years ago.


Neverheless, the Vajradhatu version of Mahayana (Trungpa's version)may be at risk of converting the "great vehicle" into a self serving mechanism for supporting Vajradhatu,' Butterfield writes.

"Such risk is inherant in meditation itself, and in the anture of organizations, but it is aggravated by the guru principle.' (which was central to the tradition in which Chogyam Trunpa and his successors taught--and teach Corboy)

Buttefield again:

"Political engagement, for the most part is left up to the individual (Buddhist practitioner). At times it has been overtly discouraged.

" Even on the pressing Buddhist issue of opposing the Chinese destruction of Tibet, the Vajradhatu press was late to speak out or take a position, although its coverage of Buddhists in Asian countries improved in the late 1980s.

"Ozel Tendzin (Chogyam Trungpas successor, chosen by Trunpa himself) was scornful of the "liberal conscience" of American Buddhists who opposed the corrupt, shortsighted policies of the Reagan Administration in Central America. And Trungpa in his Seminary talks from the 1970s, often referred perjoratively to political demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, using them as examples of a false, aggressive heroism whose purpose was more to affirm the ego of the demonstrator than to do anything constructive abou tthe problem.

"Speaking of Trungpa", Butterfield continues: "'While he may have been right in some cases, his views always reflected his dislike of democracy"'

Butterfield noted: "'Proposals for membership control of his own organization were squashed; he once referred to them as "democratic farts" and walked out of a meeting in disgust when a student suggested that the audience vote on how late he could keep them up."

Butterfield, The Double Mirror, page 77.

Another quote from Stephen Butterfield:

'The curriculum is presented through a hierarchy of forms that intensifies the mixed message behind seeking what you already have: enlightenment credentials are meaningless, said Trungpa, but you should definitely respect mine and here is a graded process for acquiring them.

"Although he deflated and his students scorned, the ego's desire for a higher, more spiritual more transcendental life, the whole Tibetan style lured me on with a promise of a higher more spiritual, more transcendental life.

'The system of the three yanas has an inherently elitist appeal.

" It triggers our desire to join the big shots, do the secret rituals, and find out what the masters really know. In my first contact with him, Trunpa undercut this elitism, he presented enlightenment as something anyone can have, right now.

'His message was too simple for intellectual analysis, you can do it, dont be a coward, cheer up.

'Any sensible country school girl could have said the same thing.

'Yet he wore expensive suits and jewels, rode in a chauffeured Mercedes, had servants, designed and awarded pins to symbolize levels of attainment in his programs, and was known to offer secret tantric instruction to selected disciples.

'Since he was telling me the truth about my own motives, I believed that if he did offer something transcendental, it would be real thing, not a plastic manipulation.

'But the ego, which supposedly did not exist, was both deflated and fully engaged.

' The impetus behind the journey came as much from the desire to earn one of his pins and hold a title in his organization as from a genuine longing to wake up, or an altruistic wish to benefit sentient beings.'

The Double Mirror, Stephen Butterfield, page 43

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2017 10:38PM by corboy.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 25, 2012 12:22PM

The recently release "documentary" was made by one of his long-devoted students and should not be seen in any was as unbiased or objective, even if it shows some of his "crazy" side.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 25, 2012 10:26PM

Hmm. Will monies raised from the film go to benefit the Trungpa business?

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 27, 2012 12:42AM

On the film Crazy Wisdom. Who knows if it will even make a profit. One reviewer called it "the film that nobody has been waiting for." If it does one can expect that a certain amount will be ploughed into the cult since followers are expected to pay their way through their advances into Enlightenment in this lifetime.

From the Village Voice review by Nick Pinkerton:

It is suggested that Trungpa was in possession of yeshe chölwa—the title’s “crazy wisdom”—and, as a sort of holy fool, his apparent misbehavior could be read as a manifestation of higher spiritual truths. If you’re determined to see something, it’s easy to find it—so those inclined to interest in Tibetan Buddhism will discover something here. Watching footage of Trungpa in later life, dressed as a banana republic generalissimo, I detected only charlatanism.

From the New York Times review by Rachel Saltz

Trungpa’s vices are what many followers see as his “crazy wisdom,” though some seem perplexed by the excesses in a man they consider enlightened. But the film doesn’t dwell on it too much. It would have helped to hear from people critical of Trungpa and from traditional Tibetan Buddhists, who might put his teachings, his crazy wisdom and his followers in perspective.

From New York Post review by V. A. Musetto:

Now, 24 years after Trungpa died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48, Johanna Demetrakas’ documentary arrives in New York. It plays more like a TV infomercial than an unbiased examination of the Tibetan’s controversial life. His widow is quoted as saying she “didn’t really know what made him tick.” Viewers will say the same after watching “Crazy Wisdom.”

My comment:

CTR clearly suffered many of the same type of abuses as Kalu Rinpoche but the very tragic thing is that the damage done was not understood at that time, in other words he was "in denial" of his own abuse, and the injuries were passed on to many others who are passing them on to still others. That is his legacy.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 04:15AM

There are people who, unconsciously are thrilled to see someone getting away with committing offenses they dare not do themselves.

And an added thrill if the Bad Boy not only gets away with it but is rewarded for Bad Boy behavior -- gaining wealth, fame, hot and cold running women, eminent poets and psychotherapists making intricate excuses for the entire sorry career.

"A Heart Blown Open" -- Excerpts
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 13, 2013 11:29PM

Exceprts from the memoir "A Heart Blown Open".



Kelly paused for a moment. "In my experience, there's nothing crazy about wisdom.”

Back in his room, Kelly slept soundly with the knowledge he would leave in the morning and never return to study under Trungpa. He had finally gotten the man, finally understood his teaching methods and how effective they were at breaking people apart.

Kelly even saw how well he had been played, with Trungpa taking the joke as far as he could, pushing Kelly's buttons for maximum effect.

It was, he had to admit, clever from start to finish.

Corboy note:Clever and cruel.

The person mentioned here as the Karmapa the Sixteenth Karmapa, now deceased.

It was hoped that he would get Trungpa back onto line.

Yet from Kelly's account it appears that the Karmapa was quite willing to go along with Trungpa's selfish behavior.

Here the Karmapa was, giggling with Trungpa behind the closed doors.

So much for hoping that a senior Tibetan rinpoche will do any good to put another one back on the right path.

And..the Sixteenth Karmapa was the last one whose succession and lineage was undisputed. (BWWWWPPPP)


From Crooked Cucumber



Later that year he returned to Boston to serve as the Tenzo, or cook, for Trungpa and the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpei Dorjé. The position was an honorable one, and Kelly spent a month preparing, learning the finest Japanese preparation for the six-pound red snapper he was going to cook.

The day he was to serve food to Trungpa and the Karmapa, the two men were sequestered with a number of attendants and senior students in a closed room not far from the kitchen. Dinner was scheduled for 9, and Kelly made all the necessary preparations.

Having remembered Trungpa's penchant for lateness, Kelly planned the dinner to be served at 11 p.m., a safe delay, he figured.

At 10:30 he approached the wooden doors where Trungpa and the Karmapa were sequestered. An attendant stood in front of the doors, his arms folded neatly in front of him and his gaze off in the distance.

"Dinner's ready,” Kelly said to the man, who nodded politely.

"One moment.” He slipped as quickly as he could through the door, but drunken laughter and a slew of moving bodies were divulged. A few seconds passed and the attendant again quickly opened and closed the door. He resumed his position, back to the door and hands folded neatly in front.

"Rinpoche is not ready for dinner yet.”

"It's fish,” Kelly reminded him, a little sharply. "Prepared to be served hot. If it cools, the whole thing will cave in on itself.” The attendant nodded and politely smiled, but did not move.

Kelly went back to the kitchen and cleaned the dishes. He put away his spices and the dishes, cleaned the counters, and folded all the towels.

At midnight he took his apron off and hung it up.

On the kitchen's main table his snapper sat in its pan, the red skin caved into the sides, cold and ruined.

The side dishes, garlic mashed potatoes with horseradish and handmade gravy, a green bean dish infused with honey and tarragon, and handpicked mushrooms sautéed in red wine and fresh spices, were cold, their sauces opaque.

Kelly walked into the hallway and toward the attendant, and halfway there could hear the raucous laughter and giggling coming from behind the doors. Kelly was deeply resentful of having his time and his talents taken so for granted.

Fuming, Kelly moved toward the doors like a projectile.

"You –” Kelly shot at the man. "I've got a message for that Tibetan cocksucker: he can go fuck himself.”

The attendant, who was one of Trungpa's inner circle had seen many strange things in his day, had never heard his teacher referred to quite like that. Kelly spun on his heel to leave as the doors to the room opened with a flourish. Trungpa emerged with a huge smile on his face.

"Charrless,” he slurred, using Kelly's alias, "where's our food?” He clapped Kelly on the back. "Come! I am sure you have prepared something incredibly delish-delicious for us, no?”

Kelly went to the kitchen and brought the food in, serving it onto dishes for the 9 people in the room. It was devoured amid heaps of lavishing praise about Kelly's cooking prowess. He stood silently with folded hands, listening to their compliments and watching them eat. As he cleared their plates afterward and brought the last of the dishes to the kitchen, the stoic attendant pulled him aside.

"Did you hear how much they enjoyed your food? You must be quite a chef!”

"I could have served them dog shit, and they wouldn't have known the difference,” . observed Kelly

"I fixed you up a plate if you're hungry. It's in the fridge, third shelf down.”

"Are you okay?” the man asked, genuinely concerned.

"Yeah,” Kelly said, "I'm fine.” He smiled. "I'm better than fine, actually. I'm great.”

"He teaches through Crazy Wisdom, you know,” the attendant, whose job was often to manage the shock Trungpa created, noted apologetically.

Kelly paused for a moment. "In my experience, there's nothing crazy about wisdom.”

Back in his room, Kelly slept soundly with the knowledge he would leave in the morning and never return to study under Trungpa. He had finally gotten the man, finally understood his teaching methods and how effective they were at breaking people apart.

Kelly even saw how well he had been played, with Trungpa taking the joke as far as he could, pushing Kelly's buttons for maximum effect. It was, he had to admit, clever from start to finish.

"See the perfection” was one of Trungpa's favorite expressions, by which he meant from the non-dual, Enlightened mind, from satori, everything was perfect.

Your master was drunk? So what?
He tried to sleep with your wife? So what?

See the perfection!

From the Absolute, there was no valuation, there was no ego, there was nothing that wasn't utterly perfect as it was. Despite what religion taught, the truth was that God didn't take sides or share our morality or our valuations. Everything that arose was Perfection, just as it was.

Kelly had no doubt that Trungpa was, like Swami Gauribala, a fully Enlightened character.

He suspected Trungpa's Crazy Wisdom was a smokescreen for self-indulgent behavior and an excuse to not do psychological work on his small, relative ego. The man was unquestionably an alcoholic and a sex addict, but Kelly also knew nothing Trungpa did mattered if one truly ‘saw the perfection'.

As he zipped his bag shut and headed out the door into the coolness of the Boston morning, a critical truth had taken shape for him: he saw how Trungpa's brand of crazy wisdom worked in retreats and weekend workshops and lectures, worked for the suburban middle-class Americans drawn to him who needed to learn to break the stubborn drudgery of their lives. Kelly, though, was trying to get back to sane. He was done with crazy.

His upbringing was crazy. A fourteen-year-old boy bringing a loaded shotgun into his parent's bedroom was crazy. His fleeing from his wife and daughter, working for the mob, and living on the streets for weeks on end was crazy. He had somehow along the way become one of the biggest LSD manufacturers of the 1970s and there were half a dozen DEA agents combing the country for him at that very moment. Crazy. Jesse had been lost to heroin and was doing hard time, Cheryl was lost to PMA and alcohol (as were a good many of their friends). Crazy was killing him, and killing those he loved. Crazy was Kandinsky whispering to him on the army base about necklaces of ears, crazy was the Kali worshipper covered in blood with topless women behind him, crazy was Swami Gauribala making a hut and an old woman and four ancient swamis vanish into thin air in defiance of everything that was possible. Crazy was Kelly's life. He had enough of crazy to last a lifetime

Excerpt from Amazon


February 1, 2012
Denis Kelly’s life is part Hunter S. Thompson, part Timothy Leary, and part Eckhart Tolle. From his beginnings in an abusive and alcoholic home in Wisconsin to becoming a major force in the counterculture movement, and then from a life on the run and in prison to a life in a monastery and in service, it is as entertaining as it is inspirational.

A Heart Blown Open chronicles the life and teachings of Zen master Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi as he worked to integrate hard-won wisdom into his dynamic life. Experience the successes and failures that brought him to found an entirely new form of Zen called Mondo Zen. Extraordinary for their playfulness, depravity, and liberating insight, Jun Po’s life events swirl together to underscore and illuminate the environment from which one of the most controversial masters of the American Zen scene has emerged.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2015 05:16AM by corboy.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 14, 2013 12:02AM

caution: Ken Wilber appears to endorse this book. Learn from the book but avoid any teacher endorsed by Wilber. He has already endorsed Da Free John, Andrew Cohen, Genpo Roshi (Big Mind) and Marc Gafni

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 14, 2013 01:57AM

One way to evaluate a potential teacher:

If his or she looks too darned serious in the official photograph, think carefully.

You can yourself try and hold that same pose, staring into a mirror.

If you cannot do so without feeling an intense strain after 3 minutes -- the pose is unnatural.

Re: Chogyam Trungpa--departed from Ri-Med Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 10, 2014 11:09PM

(Quoted from Crazy Wisdom and Other Bad Ideas - below)

(quote)In the west, we have a particular danger of gurus who cynically or naively capitalize on the possibilities that open up when you lead people out to sea. Many such teachers claim that their degree of understanding places them outside of the normal range of human values.

(Irony alert-Corboy)

Sure, they may seem like selfish assholes on the surface, but that’s just because they’ve broken through to the other side. And if that means the guru wants to sleep with your wife, like Adi Da or Richard Baker, then brace yourself for a lesson on non-attachment. (unquote)

Not What You Think-Crazy Wisdom at Fifty-Five | Tinfoil Ushnisha
Feb 24, 2013 ... It's Sunday for Japhy, the day after his "Day of Beauty" with Gigi, Harry and Marie. Marie out did herself, as usual, with Japhy's topiary, that five/ - 49k

Not What You Think-Crazy Wisdom at Fifty-Five


(Quote)Reading Khenchen Thrangu’s commentary it occurred to Japhy that “crazy wisdom” as he and his vajra cohorts know it, is fifty-five years old.
“We actually have a date of birth for crazy wisdom, August 3, 1957, which was the day Khenpo Gangshar transmitted his lineage at Thrangu Tashi Chöling’s school Shedrup Dargye Ling.”

Among many of Japhy’s vajra cohorts, when most of them think of “crazy wisdom” they think of Chogyam Trungpa’s much ballyhooed misbehavior, which in fact has nothing to do with what those of Japhy’s cohorts in the know, know to be crazy wisdom.

“Today, I and my vajra cohorts, thanks to the example of Khenchen Thrangu, and Khenpo Karthar, know that what many think of as crazy wisdom in the vajrayana is pure nonsense.”

Crazy wisdom or ‘yeshe chölwa’ (Tibetan:, Wylie: ye shes ‘chol ba) has nothing to do with how you behave. Based on the example of the two surviving Rinpoche’s who hold Khenpo Gangshar’s “crazy wisdom” lineage, Japhy and his vajra cohorts know better, that “crazy” or “chölwa” (, Wylie: ‘chol ba) in fact means “topsy-turvy, upside-down” in presentation, in the sense of a Tibetan dialectic, which has nothing to do with playing the fool to amaze and entertain your audience, which sadly is what many think crazy wisdom to be.

“In addition to the example of Khenchen Thrangu and Khenpo Karthar, we have, through the late Tulku Urgyen, we have Yongey Mingyur. His father, Tulku Urgyen received the lineage directly from Khenpo Gangshar.”

Historically, for Japhy and his cohorts, the origin of the crazy wisdom lineage can be traced back through Khenpo Ganghar’s root guru, Sechen Kongtrul, to Jamgon Kongtrul Kongtrul the Great, best known for his role in the 19th Century Tibetan Renaissance movement, Ri-Me, ????????(Wylie: rid med), which turned the conventional wisdom of centuries of Tibetan vajrayana’s rabid sectarianism on its head, by introducing Tibetans to the notion that vajra encampments of different lineages have something to learn from each other.

“In Tibet, back in the 19th century, this was thought to be crazy, as in topsy-turvy, upside-down, which is what the crazy wisdom lineage did to the Tibetan sectarian establishment at the time.”

As Japhy and his cohorts understand crazy wisdom, what makes Khenchen Thrangu, Khenpo Karthar and Yongey Mingyur holders of the crazy wisdom lineage crazy in their dharma activity, is to be seen in how they have turned the conventional wisdom of today’s Tibetan vajrayana establishment on its head.

“When I began with Khenpo Karthar over thirty years ago the conventional wisdom of the Tibetan establishment was that as an American, already in my twenties, given my utter lack of familiarity with the dharma, which anyone born Tibetan is born to, I had a snowball’s chance in hell of being able to practice the vajrayana on par with a Tibetan.”

After Japhy received the lung and tri for Mahamudra from KKR, given that KKR was teaching his fellow cohorts that they had to complete ngondro before receiving the lung and tri for Mahamudra at that time, he kept it under his hat until relatively recently. My receiving the lung and tri for Mahamudra before I had even heard of ngondro, was nothing if not topsy-turvy, upside down.

“Of course, the vajrayana conventional wisdom of today in America is that crazy wisdom is when a Rinpoche behaves badly. Sadly, this is simply juvenile, which is why I make a point to emphasize my doing HHK17?s ngondro, which is the opposite of behaving badly, instead my misbehavior in life, which has nothing to with wisdom, and everything to do with my ignorance. Any nitwit can fake crazy wisdom, if crazy wisdom is nothing more than behaving badly.”

Essay Two

Crazy Wisdom And Other Bad Ideals on Meso Blog

Google citations for yeshe cholwa
Here was another article and set of reflections
On Crazy Wisdom and Other Bad Ideas
with 11 comments

“To ordinary people, I look completely mad. To me, ordinary people look completely mad.” – Milarepa

Viktor Frankl, the celebrated author of Man’s Search for Meaning, was addressing a congress of psychologists and psychiatrists when he read two short writings to his audience. One was written by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger; the other, by a hospitalized paranoid schizophrenic. Which, he asked, was written by one of the world’s most prominent philosophers, and which by the patient?

Of course, they were unanimous in judging Heidegger to be the madman. (1)
How do you tell the difference between craziness and genius? It’s not always so easy. Sometimes the perspective that makes sense is simply wrong.

When Thomas Jefferson heard reports from Yale that meteorites had recently fallen, for example, he is said to have replied that “it was easier to believe that two Yankee Professors could lie than to admit that stones could fall from heaven.”

Madness and genius both entail perspectives that lie outside of the ordinary range of what people accept to be true.

The Tibetan Buddhists speak of a distinction between what is true from the perspective of ordinary life, and what is really true. According to one tradition, something is conventionally true if it cannot be disproven by normal reasoning or perception. But ordinary reasoning and perception are mistaken, so there is no simple way to arrive at the ultimate truth. (2)

This distinction between the way that things appear and what’s really going on is at the heart of Buddhist teachings, which hold that our mistaken ideas about the world are the ultimate source of all suffering.

When we translate this problem into a human context, we find groups of people trying to collectively orient themselves with respect to what’s really going on. But how do you know?

Of course, you can simply not worry about it – you can settle down in your own vision of reality and say that everyone else is wrong. That’s a common approach.

But if you don’t accept the normal version of reality, and you want to figure out what’s really going on, you have to go outside of convention. Most of the venerated spiritual masters have said that the ordinary perspective is mistaken.

The problem is, whenever people come together and reinforce a shared set of beliefs, they run the danger of creating a sealed-off world and losing their moorings to the planet earth. There has to be some basis for staying grounded, or it is very easy to drift off into space.

In the west, we have a particular danger of gurus who cynically or naively capitalize on the possibilities that open up when you lead people out to sea. Many such teachers claim that their degree of understanding places them outside of the normal range of human values.

Sure, they may seem like selfish assholes on the surface, but that’s just because they’ve broken through to the other side. And if that means the guru wants to sleep with your wife, like Adi Da or Richard Baker, then brace yourself for a lesson on non-attachment.

Such teachers have often appealed to the idea of “crazy wisdom,” which is supposedly of Tibetan origin, though in my 15 years of study I have yet to see the corresponding Tibetan term, or find any teacher in Tibet who advocates it as a philosophy.

There is, however, a rich tradition of folklore regarding venerated teachers who shock their disciples with unorthodox behavior, trying to wake them up by confounding their expectations. People like Tilopa, Milarepa, Drukpa Kunley, and the Sixth Dalai Lama fit the bill. It’s also a beloved and common motif in China and Japan – the itinerant Zen priest who piles contempt on the bureaucratic functionaries of the great temples.

It’s a charming motif, the mad fool. But I see no evidence that it was ever intended as a philosophy of practice or teaching. Most of the Tibetan sources I’ve read that deal with such an approach consist of scornful denunciations of self-described Tantrikas who use the Dharma as an excuse to indulge their appetites.

In the short history of the Dharma in the west, we have been blessed with an abundance of controversial teachers who, to all appearances, have acted unethically by pressuring students to sleep with them as part of their practice or by appropriating funds. And many of these teachers are defended as practitioners of crazy wisdom. Two of the many examples that come to mind are Chogyam Trungpa and Richard Baker.

(Persons in the comments section disputed whether 'abundance' was the right word. Well -- Chogyam Trungpa. Muktananda. Adi Da. Richard Baker. Rajneesh.
Sai Baba, Dennis Merzel, Eido, Sasaki,Zen Master Rama, Sri Chinmoy, Sogyal, Castaneda -- for more, go to the group archives for Cult Education Awareness. Abundance seems a restrained term and appropriate to use.-Corboy. Yet another instance in Tibetan Buddhism of promiscuity plus violence is described in Washington Post journalist Martha Sherril's book, The Buddha From Brooklyn.

Now back to essay. )

"Trungpa, who drank vodka like you and I drink water, according to his friend Shunryu Suzuki, is remembered as a sensitive, insightful teacher and a gifted writer. But he is also remembered for his raging alcoholism and controversial sexual tendencies, including reports that he led his followers in wild sex parties that got out of hand, with some students literally finding themselves stripped bare by hordes of others.
Having written a book by the name of Crazy Wisdom, Trungpa probably did more than any other figure to introduce and defend the concept to American culture. He spoke of crazy wisdom as though it were an established and mainstream tradition in Tibet, which it is not.

"That may well be his most enduring legacy to western Dharma, which leads me to agree with Kenneth Rexroth, who said that ““Many believe Chögyam Trungpa has unquestionably done more harm to Buddhism in the United States than any man living.”

"Richard Baker is an American Zen monk and energetic disciple of Shunryu Suzuki, the Japanese Soto Zen priest who founded of the San Francisco Zen Center. Baker was an enormously effective organizer and played a vital role at building the Zen Center into the prominent institution it is today. But he also was an egomaniac, using community funds to buy expensive vases and cars while a number of the students who worked full-time to keep the Center afloat did not even receive health care. And he slept with many of his students – a behavior that was, for whatever reasons, long tolerated and indulged, until one of his students became suicidal after his wife began sleeping with Baker. (3)

"Eventually he was forced out of the institution that he helped build, but many years after that debacle he showed himself in interviews to be bizarrely heedless of the impact of his behavior. Reading an interview he gave with Tricycle magazine, I got the sense he doesn’t even understand why people were angry.

"It is not so odd to me that a charismatic narcissist could set loose his unfettered appetites on a crowd of students and call it enlightenment.

"But it is odd to me that so many of his students didn’t seem to know how to take it. “Perhaps it is the great teaching of Buddha,” they may have said to themselves, “when he takes the food off my plate. I should greet it with equanimity.”
I was inspired to write on this topic this morning after reading in the New York Times about the latest chapter in the dramatic saga of American teacher Michael Roach, founder of the Asian Classics Input Project, and formerly a geshe of the Tibetan Sera monastery, until he was kicked out.

I took one of his correspondence courses in 2000, and at the time I was put off by what I took to be his doctrinaire perspective. Many times in his lecture series, he exhorted his students to just “take the Buddha’s word for it.”

Now, I do not subscribe to that point of view. The Tibetan scholar Gendun Choephel said the following about “taking the Buddha’s word for it”:
One may think: ‘We concede that our decisions are unreliable, but when we follow the decisions of the Buddha, we are infallible.’

Then who decided that the Buddha is infallible? If you say ‘The great scholars and adepts like Nagarjuna decided that he is infallible,’ then who decided that Nagarjuna is infallible?

If you say ‘The Foremost Lama [Tsong Khapa] decided it,’ then who knows that the Foremost Lama is infallible?

If you say ‘Our kind and peerless lama, the excellent and great so and so decided,’ then infallibility, which depends on your excellent lama, is decided by your own mind.

In fact, therefore, it is a tiger who vouches for the lion, it is a yak who vouches for a tiger, it is a dog who vouches for a yak, it is a mouse who vouches for a dog, it is an insect who vouches for a mouse. Thus, an insect is made the final voucher for them all.

Therefore, when one analyzes in detail the final basis for any decision, apart from coming back to one’s own mind, nothing else whatsoever is perceived.” (4)

There is no way out of this circle.

Ultimately, you are the judge of truth and falsity, and you are responsible for your judgment.

Michael Roach and Christie McNally
Michael Roach’s behavior has become increasingly strange in recent years. He was disowned by the Tibetan establishment after he began an unprecedented “celibate marriage” with his student Christie McNally several years ago, in which they were never to be more than fifteen feet away from one another.

That struck a lot of people as pretty weird. It’s the kind of distorted expression of sexuality, I think, that tends to come out of celibate clergies. I could not help but wonder why he didn’t do the obvious thing, give back his monastic vows and marry his cupcake? It seemed like a red flag to me.
The story just got a lot worse. Reports came out this week that McNally, who has since “divorced” Roach and married another fellow, was found delirious on the desert property run by Roach’s group.

McNally and her new husband Ian Thorson had continued living at Roach’s desert retreat center, but had a turbulent time of it. The two were apparently told to leave the retreat center after McNally stabbed Thorson during a fight.
Instead of complying, they headed for the hills and hid out on the land.

Tragically, both fell ill while living in a cave, and were too weak to retrieve water. By the time the couple was found by a search party, Thorson was dead.

You know, in all of these cases, the warning signs were not subtle. We have charismatic personalities associated with devoted students. We have increasingly prominent evidence that something is wrong with the guy in charge, and the signs are ignored. Cognitive dissonance is explained away by the students as crazy wisdom.

So, students of the Dharma, a word of warning: if your teacher tells you that sex with him is part of the practice, something is probably wrong. When they’re driving a Rolls while the center is kept afloat by volunteer work, something is probably wrong. If you’re told to “just trust” the tradition or the guy in charge, something is probably wrong. When you start seeing widespread evidence of students considering unethical or criminal behavior, something is probably wrong.

I’m an advocate for Sane Wisdom.

And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when your teacher starts talking about crazy wisdom, the sane thing to do is get up and walk away.

1) Frankl V. The Will to Meaning. Plume. 1988. pg. 4.
2) See, for example: Newland G. The Two Truths. Snow Lion. 1992.
3) Downing M. Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center. Counterpoint. 2002.
4) From Choephel’s Ornament of Nagarjuna’s Thought, translated in: Lopez Jr, DS. The Madman’s Middle Way. The University of Chicago Press. 2006. pp. 49-50.
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Written by Mesocosm
June 7, 2012 at 10:12 am
Posted in Articles, Musings
Tagged with crazy wisdom, criticism, michael roach, richard baker, trungpa
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11 Responses
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1. A thoughtful, necessary post. The term in Tibetan I was taught is yeshe chölwa, though you could then quite reasonably ask where it’s found, in what texts/oral traditions; and that I do not know (I’m just a recovering Zen person).
I do know that it’s easier to ignore or rationalize such cognitive dissonance when you’re in hierarchical situations: when victims (e.g. students) are disempowered and often also isolated, then they lose that ability to reality-check what their teacher is saying (there being not a lot of external reality against which to check it). The teacher becomes, usually at his/her insistence, the primary or only source of validation; at which point, of course, it’s the student who feels craziest. Really strikingly similar to an unhealthy romantic relationship. The only real refuge is in the precepts (and in finding a really good psychotherapist). Thank you for writing this—
JSA Lowe
June 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm
o Thank you for taking the time to reading my post, and for sharing your thoughts, J.
Thank you also for pointing me to yeshe chölwa – I am not surprised to learn that a term exists, but I’ve not run into it in my own reading, for what it’s worth.
The crucial point is that it’s a good narrative device, but a very poor model for practice.
I think you’re quite right. The asymmetry of the student-teacher relationship, as well as the role of transference – particularly in traditions that actively cultivate transference, like the bhakti or guru yoga tradtions – are precisely why a responsible teacher will place strict limits on sexual involvement with students. It’s a situation that is fraught with peril, and many lives have been damaged.
June 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm
§ Agreed—although I sometimes feel there’s so much attention paid to sexual abuse (understandably: it’s horrifying, plus calling it out looks more dramatic on e.g. a helpful chart), that not enough notice is taken of psychological and emotional injuries—often severe, and of the type that can set a practitioner back for decades. And this I find to be unfortunately much more common; systemic, even. In other words people don’t have to perish in caves for their spiritual communities to be truly sick. (Now I’m just writing my own post on your blog, lazy creature that I am, so please excuse.)
JSA Lowe

On Crazy Wisdom and Other Bad Ideas | Mesocosm
Jun 7, 2012 ... The term in Tibetan I was taught is yeshe chölwa, though you could then quite reasonably ask where it's found, in what texts/oral traditions; and - 88k - Cached - Similar pages

Corboy note: These two essays are important.

Vast damage has been done via the 'crazy wisdom' alibi.

Persons who suffered abuse disowned their own suffering by invoking this alibi.

Persons who made abusive gurus into self objects, projecting their own ideal
selves onto these abusive gurus, used the 'crazy wisdom' alibi to rationalize
and justify the violence and fiscal abuse perpetrated by these idealized thugs.

And those who delighted in the violence perpetrated by gurus but who carefully
avoided ever living under the authority of these persons used the crazy wise
alibi or rude guru alibi to defend these types.

Any suggestion that a spiritual seeker had basic human rights was considered
effete weakness.

So read these essays and ponder the implications.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2015 05:15AM by corboy.

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