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Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 23, 2017 07:07AM

Here is a quotation from Christine A Chandler's book, Enthalled: The Guru Cult of Tibetan Buddhism. (CHandler pages 108 - 111)


..our first Shambhala weekend, as we sat there, cross-legged on our cushions, meditating by following our breath and silently saying 'thinking' when we noticed any thoughts that arose in our minds, positive or negative,
before we started to follow them as a narrative.

"It was a very effective method to make sure we never followed through on any thoughts that might tell us to "go, get out of here" it was time to leave, "thes group is weird and suspicious", and that "it might not be a healthy thing to be around a group that seems to be constantly talking about their gurus."

These kinds of thoughts were immediately cut.

In fact, the more vivid they were, the more you would notice them and say "thinking" to yourself and let them go.

"Trungpa had borrowed from a cognitive behavioral therapy model, which he woudl be well aware of, using a "cutting technique" of thoughts that were causing anxiety or reinforcing phobias or other fears. In this form of therapy, would would imagine oneself in a real situation, experience the anxiety that came up when the feared object or situation came to mind, and then say, "cut" or "stop think" to oneself if anxiety or fear about the imagined situation arose; then
relaxing into the visualized situation. The idea was that this more relaxed feeling would be paired now with the visualized situation, the fear and anxiety replaced with a confident relaxation around the same stimuli in vivo.
It was a very effective behaviorist technique. I had used it myself, for a fear I had of public speaking.

However, unlike this cutting of certain habitual thoughts, targeting certain associations, Trungpa's technique was to stop all thoughts from forming;
to create a non-judgemental, 'no good - no bad' state of mind, that could later
ignore the egregious, exploitative behavior of those lamas, by labeling every negative thought as 'just thinking.'


"We were captivated early in this Shambhala shrineroom, on those cushions, meditating for many hours at a time, by the process of ignoring, ignoring, ignoring our thoughts...This subtle cutting technique would eliminate, by itself, eventually fading into the space around us. When it dissolved on its
own, we became in a sense, beside ourselves, lighter and more ethereal, yet tethered more than ever to the group and the guru...Since I liked this "state of mind" it kept me hooked. It prevented me from seeing the exploitation. You want to stay in this space, and the more you do it, the more easily "you" dissolve, left with a mindful clarity that is hard to explain; a spaceous
bubble that feels good and from which you can still be in the regular world, work diligently and hard yet not be of it.

"We all increased our meditation sessions, not only because we were told this was the only way it would have an effect, but because we grew to like this
meditative state of mind.....The more I meditated in the group, "dissolving my thoughts", the less I observed what was actually going on in this group. I lost my objectivity. Instead of noticing how robotic and conforming these students in Trungpa's inner circle were, I started to go along with their slow speaking, and moving and their pretentious Trungpa - mimicking manners during their presentations of the Shambhala path."

For comparison, here is something from a well informed participant in earlier CEI discussions, describing cognitive behavioral therapy.

Quote,12906,53444#msg-53444but we most certainly do NOT need to question ALL of our thoughts. That is just a crackpot technique from Byron Katie to destabilize your sense of Self. Its vicious.

In cognitive therapy, we do question SOME of our thoughts, to see if they are really incorrect, etc. But its done in a moderate way,quite carefully. Even in Zen, you are not to question all of your thoughts, you learn to ACCEPT them.

If a person tries to question ALL of their thoughts, to put it bluntly, they might go freaking nuts! Or get stressed out of their mind. Byron Katie is just trying to mess with people's cognitive faculties. Very very damaging.

Finally, here is another great contribution from The Anticult.



It is correct that in philosophy of science nothing can be known to be 100% true with Certitude.
But its false to say we can't verify, and only refute. That is a mental-con and false-statement. Is that from Byron Katie?

Science is based on both falsification and verification.
Einstein's Relativity has been VERIFIED thousands of times, and NEVER REFUTED. NEVER.
If you could refute it with evidence, you would win the Nobel Prize.

But does that mean its 100% true for eternity? No. But close!

Its more like a continuum, from 0% likely to 100%.
Nothing is 0% or 100%, but falls in between.


Byron Katie, a commercial mystic, has four questions. If you cannot
be sure that something is absolutely true, you cannot know if it is real. She uses this to get people to distrust their own thoughts, their own emotions, the stories they tell themselves -- then get them to believe only in Byron Katie
and in HER story. Likewise, the Buddhists and Hindus use teaching stories about
the guy who panicked because he saw a snake in the dark, then discovered
it was not a snake it was a rope, so therefore one cannot assume that one's perceptions are thing you know you let some guru take over your life.

So far, no one has ever calculate the last digit of Pi.

But one can use Pi to create mathematical models that are approximately
precise enough to design bridges and airplanes capable of supporting the weight of the various Tibetan gurus and their entourages who come visiting us.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2017 08:01AM by corboy.

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Trungpa reportedly changed the prescription - for the worse
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 23, 2017 07:33AM

From Chandler, Enthralled, page 104 105


"Trungpa gave us this formless meditation (mindfulness/shamatha)first, he said, instead of last, as was traditional in Tibet, because we were so intelligent as westerners, and we could handle it. ...Trungpa made sure his very first Shambhala weekends were always taught by the most completely indoctrinated of his inner circle of Westerners, like his Regent, Thomas Rich, and the Regent's wife, Lady Rich. I was later to learn that Trungpa had given these earliest of his students made up British titles in his made up royal court starting with ennobling his adolescent wife Lady Diana as his "Queen of Shambhala.'

"We later learned about the dangers of meditation in Tibetan Buddhist literature; about how this mindfulness meditation that the lamas called 'stupid shamatha' if done incorrectly or too much, could make people passive, even put them in a stupor or coma, as though dead.

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Noticing lapses is not the same as recognizing abuse
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 23, 2017 09:58PM

Noticing is not the same as recognition.

One can notice a million incidents of abuse. But one will never be capable of acting on this so long as each we notice each incident separately and never, ever ponder all of those incidents together and ask whether they form a pattern.

Here is how I stayed stuck with someone who was abusive. I stayed despite
knowing a great deal about abuse dynamics. I failed to apply what I knew to this specific relationship.

I assumed that I would recognize when it was 'bad enough' and then

I thought that 'bad enough to leave' would be a recognizable sensation.


A sensation is "a physical feeling or perception resulting from something that happens to or comes into contact with the body."
'Bad enough to leave' is not a sensation.

"Bad enough to leave" is a conclusion
you make. A conclusion is not a sensation. A conclusion is a judgment or decision reached by reasoning.

Here is the problem. "Bad enough to leave' is not something one observes.

One observes emotional and physical sensations.

I noticed each and
every incident of asshole behavior on X part. I noticed my fleeting sensations and emotions, I noticed, but I did not reflect on this, nor did I compare this and earlier incidents.

Reflection "serious thought or consideration."

I noticed this, I noticed that.

But, I noted each incident fleetingly, in isolation.

What I failed to do was to connect
all those incidents I observed.

I would not let myself see there was a pattern over time and it was getting worse, and I was losing more and yet more self respect.

If you make lots of observations, you cannot really get a picture of what is going on unless you graph those observations and thus become able to observe
not just points, but the curve, the TREND over time.

You cannot heal unless you feel free to ponder events over time, notice patterns. The kind of thought disruption as described by Chandler in
the Shambhala method of mindfulness would be a way to disrupt
this kind of analytical thought.

If you grow up afraid to draw conclusions about what you observe in your family, you may be just as afraid to draw conclusions that your guru is
abusing power.

Perhaps this is what Chandler describes - habits of thought that make it difficult to apply abstract, analytical thought to what one observes
and convert data into patterns, trends.

It is like an accountant
who adds thousands of numerals into the adding machine -- but never presses the Sum button.

I told myself that because I could notice each incident, I was therefore on the alert and could
leave any time I wanted to.

But, because I noticed each episode in isolation and never "added things up" I never arranged
my thousands of noticings into a pattern that would have also added up my flashes of annoyance
into a sum total of disgust that would have sent me out the door.

The worst of it was I never could admit that I had become afraid of this person without knowing
I was afraid of this person.

I'd learned to live with and ignore fear by growing up in my family of origin.

Good training for enduring years of abuse and subtle boundary insults.

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: October 24, 2017 11:14AM

I wonder where Trungpa learned those cognitive behavioral techniques. That's dangerous.

I also wonder why followers like Chandler, couldn't process their experiences and form opinions outside of the meditation hall. I suppose they trusted their teacher, so they tried to comply with his instructions even during their "down time". And once she left, she probably had to consciously retrieve all those experiences from her memory, and process them 30 years after the fact. That's a TON of personal work, emotional work!

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 25, 2017 01:38AM

Background on Trungpa and his own non sectarian tradition.

Trungpa was from the Ri Med sect - one studied with many teachers.

Trungpa discouraged his own students from studying with anyone but him.

A control freak, full of attachments from the beginning.


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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: October 25, 2017 06:19AM

corboy Wrote:
> Background on Trungpa and his own non sectarian
> tradition.
> Trungpa was from the Ri Med sect - one studied
> with many teachers.
> Trungpa discouraged his own students from studying
> with anyone but him.
> A control freak, full of attachments from the
> beginning.
> []

Well, I'm wondering if he was exposed to any modern psychology ideas or techniques, for example--possibly when he was getting a degree at Cambridge?

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 25, 2017 11:02PM

Here is a situation that relates to thought stopping, rather than the sort of
Trungpa's method as reported by Chandler of noticing and noting individual thoughts, then making them go, with no chance for each thought to form any relationship with the other thoughts and construct a narrative.

This person reported trouble after getting involved with Eckhart Tolle material.



What do you think about ET's idea of stopping thoughts? If I was able to stop my thoughts and become a blank emotionless slate, I should be able to start them up again right?

He talked about having the incessant brain chatter that is constantly going on and stopping it. Isn't this what grounds us and helps us relate to other people? Without this we are just zombies roaming around with nothing to say or achieve. And what's even worse is that he thinks this state is the "right" state. And if you are not in this state you are wrong or troubled. That people who are enlightened are better than those who are not. And how do we even know he's enlightened??


Once in this "blissed out state" it's extremely hard to get out of it. It's a very seductive place and the mind wants to be in it all the time. It's almost as if I'm on heroin all the time. That's what ET is doing. He's essentially giving out heroin to everyone. When one is on heroin they stop caring about all the small dramas that make life what it is.

I just can't shed this oneness idea. I feel like now that I've tapped into this realm it is impossible to go back to how I was. Do people ever get over this seductive mind trap state? I just want that dual-mind aspect back.

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 25, 2017 11:19PM

Here are examples of passing thought conglomerates that would NOT form or would be written off as delusional if someone used Trungpa's method of thought noting
or Tolle's method of dropping thought and remaining in some luminous 'now'.

Once, I strolled down a neighborhood street and saw a large cactus. Suddenly,
in spite of myself I imagined saying to some trustful visitor, "Have a seat".

This is not a single thought, but a thought-complex. My inner rascal.

Another time, I interviewed someone for a student project. The person was
renowned in the community for being saintly and altruistic. I looked forward
to meeting Father X.

We sat down, Father X, kindly as could be, responded to my questions.

All at once, I had an inner vision of a mask over Father X's face, then an eerie feeling that Father X was not one personality but a double personality -
his public personality a sweet artless charitable person, and, trying to
hide, a brilliant persuader and manipulator.

This is not to say I felt Fr X was evil, more that he was a much more complex person than his public image.

All this was a thought/emotional complex. I would not have been able to
intuit all this had I been trained in thought noting/thought dropping.

If we lose ability to notice incongruities, inconsistencies, lose ability
to notice our inner prankster, we lose access to the very thing that
can warn us that someone or something is corrupt or becoming so.

Those impulses in which we notice the guru has BO -- just like the rest of us,
or our feeling that the guru is a snob for expecting his assistants
to learn to speak in an upper class English accent -

all of these are products, not of individual thoughts kept in isolation by
using the Trungpa thought noting mindfulness process -- these subversive
observations and thoughts are not isolated individual thoughts, but are
thought complexes -- a part of our inner life that, as Brainwashed90 notes
is necessary for our inner life and necessary for us to care about other people, too.

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 27, 2017 01:19AM

A lengthy article on problems and issues with meditation.

One method discussed is intensive Vipassana retreats.

Can Meditation be Bad For You?


Very interesting comments.

The ones against the article say do not throw out the baby with the bathwater, the Westerners were going into meditation for escapism, had been using drugs, already had a predisposition to mental illness (blame the victim). One bloke
said the article made its conclusions from a lot of cherry picked information.

Relatives of survivors, people who observed nervous breakdowns in ashrams -- that is cherry picked?

The vast majority of the meditation literature is pro meditation all the way.

Discussions of side effects are rare -- and full of people ready to blame the victims, especially the Westerners. (If you don't like us, stop taking our Euros, Pounds and Dollars.)





Really excellent article, I am a veteran of Vipassana, having attended S.N.Goenka's first course in the West in 1979, and then been a strict follower for seven years.

It kept me enslaved in an abusive relationship, cutting off my self preservation instincts, unbalanced me to the point of severely aggravating my eventual PTSD symptoms and comorbid bipoar mania and psychosis.

Sure I saw a lot of stuff, but actually the wisdom I have returned to is not so far as the insight I had as a young man who encountered it and the person who insisted I had to do it.

Reexamining and then rejecting meditation was a major step on my recovery.
Others I know practicing more "self hypnotic" techniques seem even more damaged, numbed to empathy and merely going through the motions of compassion and conspicuous charity for ends other than the common good.

Lisa Ross • 2 years ago

I personally witnessed a suicide directly related to meditation.

As I sat in a Tibetan Buddhist meditation course in Kathmandu in 1997, a young man entered the room. He spoke briefly with the lama/guru, then promptly went up to the roof of the building and jumped off. I heard the horrible splat as he hit the ground and the commotion outside following the event. The guru merely continued with his instructional session as if nothing had happened.

Even that experience was not enough to bring me to my senses.

I continued to practice meditation for many years afterward, neglecting my adult son who needed my help, staying in a mentally and financially devastating relationship, and letting my mind go farther astray into isolation, depression, and obsessive tendencies.

In 2012, my only son died from a gunshot wound, never conclusively determined to be suicide or homicide. The shock of his premature, violent death and the horrible grief and guilt that followed have begun to bring me to my senses.
From personal experience, I would strongly discourage anyone from becoming involved with gurus and meditation practices other than a few brief moments of quiet time alone after a long, frustrating work day.

I agree that a short walk in a pleasant place (garden, park, beach, forest trail) is far better for mental health. I even find some computer games and a few educational movies more beneficial than mantras and sensory deprivation. Human brains as well as muscles require stimulation and exercise.

Since stopping meditation practice, I rarely wake myself up screaming but still have trouble sleeping. I initially turned to meditation as a means
of escape from a high-pressure job, a bad marriage that ended in divorce, and the rampant injustice, social inequality, and governmental interference in my native country.

The only benefit in my life from meditation was that I stopped smoking for ten years, most of which were spent in India and Nepal (where cigarettes are horrible). I would give anything to be able to undo the damage to my life and my son’s life that resulted from my following gurus and practicing
meditation. I had no prior history of drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness. Now, I am still struggling with the depression, lack of self-
confidence, and proclivity for isolation acquired during many years of meditation.

This article helped me understand what happened to my brain chemistry during those years. I now find facing reality through secular humanism and atheism to be far more beneficial.


Yury Skanavy • 6 months ago

This whole meditation business is a poorly researched area and certainly not universally safe or beneficial. I suffer from panic disorder and a couple of months of simple breathing meditation (20-30 minutes a day) caused me to spiral deeper into panic. At first the practice felt positive that came to an end suddenly when. I started having episodes of extreme fear and two months after I still struggling.

I wish I never done this stuff and I wish that all delirious propopents of this stuff just piped down and admitted that we know next to nothing about brain to abuse it like this. This is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. And don't talk to me that it has to be gradual and might not be for everyone. Because until we know how gradual and what kind of people are in the risk group, these statements are doing nothing but providing a false sense of safety.

This is serious business, folks. If you are looking for stress relief, pick up needle point or go for a walk in park. These things don't have chance of debilitating you.

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Re: Trungpa - meditation as toxic cognitive behavioral therapy?
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: November 03, 2017 12:55PM

Corboy, in Stephen Butterfield's book on life in a Trungpa community, (The Double Mirror), which community was he discussing? Was it the one in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or one in the US?

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