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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:11 pm
by admin
The Dialogue of the Yogi and the King
by Charles Carreon
7/21/19

The King was out riding one morning, surveying his domains with no particular aim in view, or so it seemed, until he spotted the Yogi walking down the dusty road. The King flagged his detail to ride ten paces behind him, and brought his magnificent horse to a walk, keeping even with the Yogi, who continued walking, not looking at his Highness. The King spoke first.

KIng: "I hear you are an honest Yogi."

Yogi: "Your Majesty will be the best authority on such a matter, for your ears are everywhere in the Kingdom. It is well-known that you are privy to the words and conduct of all, which is why crime is low and I live in peace, unbothered by hooligans, in the cemetery."

King: "You are so known."

Yogi (stopping and turning): "Delightful, Sire. How may I serve your Excellency?"

King (Gesturing to his guards to come forward): "Let us speak awhile under this tree."

Yogi: "Gladly, Sire."

The King dismounted with the aid of his squire, made his seat on a leathern tripod, and the Yogi eased his bones onto the bare earth, then the King resumed his questioning.

King: "Are you honest?"

Yogi: "I speak little, and so have few occasions to deceive. I live from alms, so I have no master to please. From this position, I have been known to speak my own mind."

King: "May I ask a philosophical question?"

Yogi: "Philosophy is not my strong point, Sire, but I will endeavor to answer any question you wish to ask."

King: "Is the soul eternal?"

Yogi: "I know not, Sire."

King: "Do you seek to offend the priests by this answer?"

Yogi: No, Sire, nor may I deceive my sovereign."

King: "What do you know of the nature of man?"

Yogi (smiling gently): "Of the nature of man, Sire, would you hear?
This body is like a puppet,
Sewn with myriad stitches of breath,
And man's mind is like the needle that pulls the stitches taut.
The body is like a musical instrument tuned to various tones
By the power of one's attention;
Or a regiment of archers,
Ready with their bows, with
Mind as their commander."

King: "Tell me more of mind."

Yogi: "The mind is like a river,
Bounded by banks,
Composed of innumerable droplets
Gathered from myriad mountains,
Slopes and watersheds,
All meandering,
Conjoining in a vast flow
That at last unites in streams
That mingle to become
That graceful, flowing
Snake of glass
That feeds the verdant banks,
Overtops them in the flood time,
And turns to naught in droughts.

King: "How is a river like the mind?"

Yogi: "A river has three characteristics
-- moisture, greatness and motion.
Without these three,
A river cannot be,
For even a single raindrop is wet,
And though a lake is great, it is not a river,
Whose nature is ever to flow.
As to mind, it resembles a river because
Moisture is life itself,
Greatness is mind's unlimited scope,
And motion is how it functions.
When mind animates the body,
it tugs the stitches of the breath
that control the body-puppet.
It tunes the instruments and causes them to play their various tones.
It commands the archers of intention and action."

King: "How do the various parts of the body coordinate?"

Yogi: "In the unity of body and mind,
Correspondent polarities order the whole.
The crown to the soles,
The ankles to the eyes,
The throat to the waist,
And the heart to the body as a whole.

The heart is like the middle of the bowstring
That the archer pulls,
The heart is the conductor keeping rhythm
For all of the instruments,
The heart holds all the threads
Of the body-puppet in its central grasp.

Mind is the power that
plucks the bowstrings,
sounds the tones,
stirs muscles and bones.
Mind is the unseen force
flowing through the rivers
fed by the heart, and
All flesh is like the life
that flourishes along the banks
of these hidden streams.

King: "Why do people suffer?"

Yogi: "The river of mind
Is a river of pain,
Because the nature of this river is to know,
To sense, to feel, to judge, experiment,
Adjust and persist,
And pain is the knowledge that feeds this system.
Pain is sensed, felt, judged,
As we conduct our ongoing experiment with existence,
Adjusting it by trial and failure,
To achieve our unquestioned good -- continued existence,
More time to refine our ability to sense, feel, judge,
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

King: "What is wisdom?"

Yogi: "Our failure to question the value of living,
Itself must be questioned,
If pain is to be understood,
Or we become an Ouroboros of pain,
Drinking our own blood
In mute, animal agony."

King: "You describe a grim fate for us as living beings. On this at least, you agree with the priests. What is your solution to pain? The priests have their own solutions."

Yogi: "Sire, may I ask, what do the priests say men should do to deal with pain?"

King: "Eliminate it, of course."

Yogi: "Yes, by what means?"

King: "By making abundant offerings to the Gods and the Ancestors, that they may bestow blessings in this life, by giving increase of fertility and health, and a pain-free existence in the divine realms in the afterlife. Do you accord with this advice?"

Yogi: "I do not oppose it, but as you can see, I have not fitted myself out to be a giver of abundant offerings, living from alms as I do."

King: "Do you imply that by rendering yourself incapable of making abundant offerings, you lose nothing?"

Yogi: "The entire matter of offerings is a touchy subject, your Majesty, since as we know, neither the Ancestors nor the Gods partake of them, but rather, after the plates are passed before the noses of the idols, the delicacies heaped upon them are consumed by the priests and their devotees, while the leavings are offered to animals and persons of small means, like your humble servant."

King: "You flirt with heresy, Yogin, but I get your meaning, and there are no priests here to accuse you."

Yogi: "For which I thank your Majesty."

King: "So what is your solution to pain, if you do not resort to bribing the disembodied Ancestors and the Celestial Ones?"

Yogi: "Sire, I have none at all. Pain cannot be avoided entirely by beings such as ourselves. The union of body and mind precludes it."

King: "Why do you say this? More heresy?"

Yogi: "Mere observation, your Majesty. Is not hunger painful? Loneliness? Fatigue? A wound received in battle? Labor and childbirth? The loss of a friend, a parent, a treasure? Are not these all painful?

King: "That they are."

Yogi: "But for hunger, Sire, we would not eat, and thus perish. Were we not lonely, we would not band together with our fellows, and your Majesty would have no subjects. Those who do not weary do not rest, their wits abandon them, they see phantoms and oftimes end their own lives for reasons beyond comprehending. Under death's impending shadow, we seek to advantage ourselves in life. From the fear of death, doctors and midwives learn the ways of healing and childbearing. From hatred of poverty, farmers till the fields, artisans produce crafts, and merchants ferry goods from the mountains to the seas, setting up markets where wealth is exchanged. All these human activities must be good, since Your Majesty protects them in his fortunate domain, by force of law and sanction, by employing lawgivers, magistrates, and constables. Yet they are motivated by fear of pain. Therefore pain is the basis of much that is good."

King: "Then why do you renounce the world and live as a beggar?"

Yogi: "I value my freedom, Sire. Do not you?"

King: "Of course."

Yogi: "And do you consider yourself free?"

King: I am Sovereign -- all serve me. How can I be unfree?"

Yogi: "I seek not to challenge you, Sire. I merely ask because you seemed vexed regarding pain. I take it that even you are not free from pain."

King: "Oh, I see. No, I am not free from pain. Would that I were."

Yogi: "Sire, there is a question you have not asked, the answer to which may interest you."

King: "And which is that?"

Yogi: "Can pain be reduced?"

King: "Well, can it?"

Yogi: "Yes."

King: "How much?"

Yogi: "A great deal."

King: "How?"

Yogi: "May I ask you, Sire -- if a drunken man disturbs the town, do the magistrates order his execution?"

King: "Of course not."

Yogi: "What do they do?"

King: "After he sobers up, they release him with a fine, to be paid in coin or labor."

Yogi: "To what end?"

King: "That he may learn self-control."

Yogi: "Does it work? Do they learn self-control?"

King: "Often it does. If not, the fines are increased, or he is imprisoned."

Yogi: "In the same way, Sire, the causes of excessive pain can be identified, corrected, and in the last resort, confined."

King: "How are the causes of excessive pain to be identified?"

Yogi: "By close observation, Your Majesty. The stream of the mind itself must be watched, the troublemakers identified, their weapons confiscated, their misconduct suppressed."

King: "Who are the troublemakers?"

Yogi: "Errant thoughts and emotions. Notions that arise from unchecked fancy. Feelings that rule a mind that is sunk in unreflection."

King: "What are their weapons?"

Yogi: "Arrogance, anger, and excessive desire."

King: "Any others?"

Yogi: "Greed and pride round out the lot."

King: "How does one identify these troublemakers?"

Yogi: "By the pain they bring to the mind, they identify themselves."

King: "How does one render their weapons harmless?"

Yogi: "By the exertion of authority, like the constable who bears the Royal Ensign, one manifests possession of one's own domains. Like a skilled horseman, by firmly grasping the reins of the will. Through vigilance and the exercise of will, guided by wholesome intention, one becomes what one wishes to be, and ceases to be the product of passions and ignorance, that roam like thieves in the darkness. One who kindles the lamp of self-awareness drives away the dangers that beset ordinary minds. One who asserts his power to be what he wills ends enslavement to the forces that bedevil the ignorant."

King: "Some say that if one opposes the passions, they rebel and return with redoubled force. Is this not a danger, and if so, how is it deflected?"

Yogi: "I have spoken of the rider and his horse. May I ask you Sire -- does the best horseman often apply the whip?"

King: "No, the best horseman applies the whip rarely or not at all."

Yogi: "Then how does he master the beast?"

King: "The best horsemen speak to their mounts, care for their welfare, and treat them with love and respect; therefore, they command their mounts through a power greater than fear of pain.

Yogi: "In the same fashion, Sire, the one who would be the master of his own being cares for himself, counsels himself with gentleness and wisdom, subduing all errant impulses with calm authority. The heart of the self-mastered man rests peaceful in his chest like a horse with a good rider resides in the stable, ready to serve its master, secure in his kindly command."

Upon hearing these words, the King's heart felt the touch of peace that he had not felt since he was a young prince, discovering the power of command. He understood the meaning of the Yogi's words, and could already feel the truth of their meaning. He felt gratitude towards the Yogi, and wished to reward him.

King: "You have given good advice, Yogin, and for that I shall grant you a boon. What would you ask of me?"

Yogi: "That which I would ask, you may not be willing to grant. I should not ask."

King: "I command you -- speak, Yogin. If I cannot grant it, I will tell you plainly so, and you may ask a second wish."

Yogi: "Very well, Sire, but if you will not grant it, I have no other desire, and will pray you leave me with my freedom and your kind regard."

King: "So it will be. What is your wish?"

Yogi: "I wish that you should make no wars for power, wealth or glory, and only protect your people from harm, that you should sever no young men from their families against their will, to be conscripts in your armies, and that you allow them to live their days in peace."

The King was silent a moment, looking at the Yogi with piercing eyes that sought the reason behind his words. At last he replied.

King: "Yogin, if I said that I would grant your boon, would you boast of it to your fellows?"

Yogi: "No, Sire, I would keep silence on the matter to my last breath, while it remained my secret joy."

King: "I cannot answer you, Yogin, but you have eyes in your head. In the fulness of time, you may judge the effect of your request."

Yogi: "Your Majesty, I am honored by your kind attention to the words of a humble beggar."

King: "As well you should be."

The King leavened his last words with a kindly smile, called for his horse, and resumed his ride, leaving the Yogin to go his way in peace.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:12 pm
by admin
Crazy Like a Fox – In “Crazy Wisdom,” Trungpa’s Heirs Sacrifice Truth to Profit
by Charles Carreon
July 24, 2019



It’s impossible to see yourself when you’re cocooned inside a rosy glow of nostalgia, so the Shambhala insiders who appear in “Crazy Wisdom” look very comfortable and somewhat pathetic.

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In this slick biopic lionizing the dead Chogyam Trungpa from the safe distance of a few decades, Trungpa’s core followers appear like a string of lottery winners dressed in casual formal attire, comfortably seated in cozy sitting rooms, tasteful meditation halls, traditional shrines, and art studios. Each lucky man or woman presents the same aspect – supremely satisfied with their decision to devote their lives to Trunpa’s vision; firmly grasping the brass ring they were so fortunate to clasp when Trungpa held it out to them; serene in the knowledge that they made the right choice when they delivered their life into his hands; happy singing hosannas forever to Trungpa, Trungpa, Trungpa!

Presented in a haze of perfection, this string of Trungpa worshippers presents like a necklace of matched, cultured pearls – each one expressing identical sentiments, venturing nothing surprising, unique, or individual. Their adulation comes from a factory with faultless quality control. Their very sincerity seems affected. They’ve become the Martha Stewarts of spirituality, offering a safe, respectable approach to inner growth and fulfillment. Nevertheless, this film cannot whitewash the tainted legacy of a man whose greatest skill was his practice of self-deception. What “Crazy Wisdom” will do is memorialize the naivete, blindness, and complicity of those who, seduced by Trungpa’s self-love, still serve his will, emulating his enigmatic poses and pregnant pauses as they gush praise, elide the truth, and distort reality, painting a picture of a spiritual Camelot that never was. “Crazy Wisdom” is a farcical re-imagination of a life marked by chaotic misconduct, florid self-aggrandizement, and canny manipulation as a stately progression from sainted birth, through heroic adolescence, to fruitful maturity, culminating in nirvana, crowned by canonization, his sainthood confirmed by meteorological displays of celestial glory. There’s more truth to be found in Disney’s Snow White.

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Most notable about “Crazy Wisdom” is the scenes that aren’t included. We don’t see the classrooms at the unnamed Oxford College that Trungpa likely never attended (there are currently 39 Oxford colleges), or hear from his teachers or fellow-students. Rather, over the rooftops of a quaint English town, the single word “Oxford” appears onscreen, followed by “1963 Chogyam Trungpa receives a grant to study in England,” a group photo of college-age people among which Trungpa’s appears as the only Tibetan face, and static shots of medieval saints carved in stone.

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Following this suggestive but factually substanceless montage, a trio of acolytes offer bland speculations about what Trungpa was up to during his early years in England. Francesca Freemantle, a silver-haired academic, says “He was going through a period of really examining how he was going to teach.”

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Rigzin Shipko, a graying English yogi, claims “Rinpoche was doing various courses in order to familiarize himself with Western culture.”

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Lyndon Antle, who claims that, after seeing Trungpa once in the Telegraph newspaper, he sold his house, quit his job, and made the trip to Samye Ling on public transport, walking the last 17 miles to the remote location near Eskdalemuir, credits Trungpa with “trying to gather the experience directly for himself of the suffering of the human condition in the west.” And that’s it for Trungpa’s attendance at England’s most prestigious institution of higher learning.

We don’t see the bedroom at Garwald House where Diana Pybus, all of sixteen and a week, climbed into Trungpa’s bed to aid his recovery from his crippling accident. We don’t hear about how the two were jailed for a night after skipping out on a hotel bill after a frolic in Glasgow. We never hear how Pamela and Christopher Woodman, devoted students scandalized by Trungpa’s habitual drunkenness and his marriage to Diana, over fourteen years his junior, accused him of moral turpitude to the American immigration authorities.

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We are briefly shown a tabloid headline trumpeting the marriage to the British public, which became notorious as one of the first marriages of a sixteen-year-old bride pursuant to a change in English law. We do not hear about how the marriage outraged Diana’s family, causing her Uncle Michael to loudly accuse Trungpa in a public house as “a cradle robber and a baby snatcher” who would be wise to “go to America, because anything goes there.”

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Although Akong Tulku appears in the movie, he says nothing about how he ostracized Trungpa at Samye Ling for being an embarrassment to the Kagyu lineage, or how Trungpa retaliated against him by destroying his personal shrine, urinating on the staircase, and passing out in his own filth, all on a special day when donors were present for a special visit to the abbey. Neither does Akong tell us how he was so eager to see the pair gone that he loaned Trungpa the money to fly to America, and so distrustful of repayment that he demanded custody of the ancient Trungpa lineage seals as collateral for the loan. We don’t learn that Trungpa flew to the USA without a visa, and had to wait for several months to get one, because the Americans cancelled his visa due to the accusations made by the Woodmans. We don’t hear about how Trungpa and Diana were turned out of the home of a Korean monk, Samu Kim, from whom they initially received a warm welcome, after one night of drinking. Apparently not having the requisite ability to reinterpret Trungpa’s rough behavior as crazy wisdom, Samu asked him to leave, explaining that, “You look like a Buddha, but you’re just an ordinary man. You look the story, you walk the story, but you’re not the real thing. You can’t stay any longer.”

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Trungpa’s son, Osel Mukpo, aka “the Sakyong,” appears to speak a few ambiguous words about his father, but we never see the “Lady Konchok,” the Tibetan nun upon whom Trungpa sired the child, then abandoned in India. Osel doesn’t tell us how he felt about being taken from his mother, transported to Samye Ling at the age of seven, and left without family to care for him when Trungpa and Diana decamped for the States. We do not hear from Pamela and Chris Woodman, who gave Osel a home and cared for him for over a year before Trungpa filed a custody lawsuit to take him from them. Osel doesn’t tell us about the two years he spent at the Pestalozzi Village, an orphanage for refugee children, after being taken from the Woodman home by means of legal process, while barristers and solicitors sorted his fate. Nor does he tell us how he felt about his absentee father, who made his presence felt primarily by means of custody litigation while he drank, wrote poetry, and seduced his students in Vermont and Colorado. Osel doesn’t tell us how, the one time Trungpa came to see him in England, he experienced little more than fear of the stranger who was his father.

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Several of the people interviewed in the film were present at the drunken Halloween party where Trungpa ordered the most aggressive males in his devotion-addled cult to break into the bedroom of a famous poet and his girlfriend, and drag them downstairs to participate in the festivities, where Trungpa, lording it over the fawning crowd like a Buddhist version of Jabba the Hutt, had the couple stripped naked for his entertainment. However, not one of these well-scrubbed, well-respected teachers of American Dharma breathes a word about this event.

We don’t meet any of Trungpa’s seven wives, who kept many nasty secrets about him hidden – his ultra-secret cocaine addiction, his penchant for torturing animals, his indulgence in sex with underage girls. We don’t hear about Trungpa’s tragic marriage to Ciel Turzanski, his sixth wife, whom he “married” the day she turned eighteen, after what all presume was a five-year long affair between the two. We aren’t so much as shown a photograph of this sacrificed child bride, who committed suicide many years later, a victim of torments too painful to imagine.

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The movie paints a friendly face on this sexual predator. We see the “Dorje Kasung,” Trungpa’s vajra guard, marching in uniform, and hear unctuous explanations about how putting Dharma nerds in uniform integrates worldly and spiritual life in “enlightened society.” However, none of these Kasung tell us that they really served as vajra pimps, bringing him the wives and girlfriends of his male students as sexual offerings, breaking up families, poisoning conjugal relationships, and preying on the daughters of students too young to lawfully consent to sexual relations.

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Two middle-aged Dharma matrons appear to declare the transcendent nature of their trysts with the tantric master.

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A cuckold declares that he was jealous – of his wife’s relationship with Trungpa! He wished he could get that close!

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Lest anyone think that only Trungpa’s students are able to see the saint behind the sins, Wendy Roshi of Los Angeles Zen Center shows up to laud the “openness” with which he carried on his dalliances, and Kwong Roshi of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center comes close to tears recalling how Trungpa cried at Suzuki Roshi’s funeral.

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Still, when it comes to modeling innocent befuddlement at how Trungpa could indulge in such extensive bad behavior while engaging in a religious mission, Pema Chodron sets the gold standard. Claiming that she just “does not know” how to reconcile the conflicting facts, she delivers dumb looks with panache, equating ignorance with wisdom. It is all a clever dodge, however. When she says she “doesn’t know,” she conceals that what she really means is that she is so convinced of Trungpa’s sanctity that nothing he did could ever shake her faith in his perfection. Like a Trumper who would excuse the Donald of homicide if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Pema Chodron won’t be budged from her commitment to Trungpa’s divinity, regardless of the evidence. For her to claim that this is a “suspension of judgment” or an “inability to reach a conclusion” is mere sophistry, devoid of sincerity.

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Trungpa’s bizarre family life is of course off limits. We hear some “secular spiritual” mumbo-jumbo from the lips of Dr. Mitchell Levy, the Doctor Feelgood who allowed Trungpa to drink and drug himself into an early grave: “He taught by being a human being. He never said, ‘follow me, imitate me.’” What Dr. Levy doesn’t tell us is that, when Trungpa cast Diana aside to engage in sex with everyone else with tits inside grabbing range, he made himself useful by becoming Diana’s lover. Nor does Dr. Levy tell us that “Ashoka Mukpo” who passes in the press for Trungpa’s son, is actually his own child, born to Diana -- a Jewish-British Buddhist boy who got stuck with a Tibetan name. There are of course advantages to this arrangement, because Ashoka was recognized as a tulku, even though not born of Trungpa’s seed.

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Ashoka would really have little to complain about, because Trungpa’s seed may not have been the safest genetic line to spring from. Taggie, the eldest son of his union with Diana, suffers from severe autism, and is not featured in the movie at all, even though he was recognized by the Sixteenth Karmapa as a tulku. Although autistic children benefit from sensory therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy, Taggie received none of these. Indeed, he didn't even receive basic home care, or parental affection. At age six, he was interned in the Karmapa's Rumtek monastery, and didn't return to the United States until he was eighteen. Since then, Taggie has been in the care of third parties in separate housing, due to his proclivity for violent rages and other dysfunctional behavior. One of Taggie’s longtime caretakers, Christine Chandler, in her book about the thirty years she spent in the Mukpo family cult, explained that what most enraged Taggie was the endless procession of fawning Trungpa students who, believing him to be a tulku, sought to indulge his every whim, thus stimulating his worst behavior. As Chandler recounts, Diana visited Taggie only once in over six years. On another occasion, his brother Osel promised to come for a visit, and although he never arrived, the newsletter for the Karme Choling retreat center joyfully published a report about "what a wonderful visit the Sakyong had with his brother." Chandler also describes how everyone, from Trungpa disciples to visiting lamas, seemed eager to project their fantasies on the disabled youth, variously believing him to be an embodiment of crazy wisdom, possessed by a demon, or merely in need of "a female consort." Since the movie fails to make any mention of Taggie's existence, of course, it conveniently avoids the fact that the Mukpo family, known for its extravagant spending on luxuries, has shifted the cost of Taggie's home care to the state of Vermont. Thus, disowned in body and spirit, cared for by strangers at the expense of the state, Taggie's origins as Trungpa's son appear to have benefited him not at all. While it would take a DNA test to gather the necessary evidence, modern medicine tells us that fetal alcohol syndrome often results from paternal alcohol abuse, so Taggie may have more than tulku status to thank his father for.

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Gesar Mukpo, the youngest son of the Trungpa/Diana union, is another incarnate Bodhisattva, due to the now-obligatory practice of recognizing the fruit of all lama-seed as sacred. Gesar appears briefly in the movie, designated as a “filmmaker,” despite having only one film to his name, a one-hour production entitled “Tulku,” in which he interviews a number of young men who, like himself, have been recognized as incarnate Bodhisattvas, but can’t quite seem to get the hang of the family business. Gesar rejects the opportunity to share reminiscences about his famous father, deflecting an inquiry about whether Trungpa showed him love: “Love? Talking about love is an insult sort of to our relationship, because it was like he treated me like the reincarnated lama that I was recognized as. So in terms of love, did we ever talk about love – there was never any talk about something like that. He treated me like he would have treated a king of another country, you know?”

One of the most tragic episodes in the history of Trungpa’s “enlightened society” goes entirely unmentioned in the movie -- Trungpa’s terrible choice of a successor to run his organization -- Thomas Rich, that some stalwarts still venerate as “Osel Tenzin, the Vajra Regent.” Rich, whose feckless indulgence in unprotected sex while infected with HIV claimed the lives of at least two people, and probably more, has been disappeared altogether. This keeps us far away from the dangerous fact that Trungpa apparently knew that Rich had AIDS, and discouraged him from disclosing it to his sexual partners or using a condom, giving Rich license to commit heinous crimes that are now recognized as murder, plain and simple. But for those who watch “Crazy Wisdom” without knowing the story behind the lies, the concealment of Rich’s misdeeds is as complete as a bricked-over passageway to a room that has been erased from the floor plan.

Although it is well-known that Trungpa’s death was preceded by a long decline during which he lost control over his bodily movements, becoming totally reliant on personal aides to maintain his appearance and manage personal life activities, we see nothing of this. “Crazy Wisdom” sanctifies Trungpa’s early death due to alcohol and drug toxicity at the age of 48, by avoiding all discussion of the months during which his ravaged body was maintained in a semi-comatose state by the use of extraordinary medical procedures at the behest of students unable to come to grips with Trungpa’s untimely passing.

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The movie announced his death as a historical fact, then segues into the gala cremation ceremony in a vast green field thronged with followers, presided over by crowds of traditionally-garbed Tibetans, led by the redoubtable Dilgo Khyentse, whose mere face is sufficient to reduce the devoted to sighs of awe. We see the uniformed pallbearers, numbering about a dozen, carrying his remains in a brocaded palanquin to the funeral chorten, where they are consumed in a splendid conflagration, flames spouting from the roof in a micro-inferno of sacralized fire.

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The event is crowned with “fire rainbows,” an atmospheric phenomenon scientifically known as a “circumhorizontal arc” that can occur when the sun is at an elevation of 58° or greater and sunlight enters high altitude cirrus clouds at a specific angle. Like many other folks with cameras, the filmmakers were able to capture images of this unusual celestial occurrence. For those who scan the heavens for confirmation of their beliefs, colors in the clouds are proof of whatever they wish to believe. For those tethered to reality, colored clouds are pleasing, and probative of nothing.

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“Crazy Wisdom” was made with a purpose in mind – to cover over the ugly edifice of Trungpa’s transgressions with a façade of holy achievements. To accomplish this, history has been doctored. Important people, both victims and perpetrators, have been removed from the frame, and traumatic events expunged from the record. Trungpa’s own actions have been edited to remove evidence that he exploited his students for sex, seducing female students and cuckolding their mates, amassing money and authority for personal aggrandizement, surrounding himself with fawning servants and uniformed toadies, neglecting his children while procuring for them useless titles of sanctity that merely inflate their pride to no purpose, and recklessly indulging in behavior that destroyed both his mind and body. Simultaneously, the movie elevates the reputations of his close students, who now have established careers as meditation teachers that are founded on the illusion of Trungpa’s own spiritual legitimacy. “Crazy Wisdom” is religious propaganda to shore up a cult of personality, and a marketing campaign that Trungpa’s followers hope to keep going for generations. To use a phrase well-known to his students, it is pure “spiritual materialism.”

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:34 am
by admin
The Invisible Pyramid
by Charles Carreon
August 14, 2019

Meet Loren Eiseley

I am stealing this title from a collection of essays by Loren Eiseley because it so perfectly encapsulates an important idea. Loren Eiseley launched his writing career from the unglamorous field of paleontology. He was a bone-collector, as he sometimes put it. His brilliant essays on the human condition – written from the vantage point of geological timespans – have inspired countless readers to think more deeply about who we are, how we became this way, and what we might become – if we can escape the darkness of our evolutionary past. Take this brief excerpt from the book whose title I’ve cribbed:

“I compose, or I make clever objects with what were originally a tree dweller’s hands. Fragments of his fears, his angers, his desires, still stream like midnight shadows through the circuits of my brain. His unthinking jungle violence, inconceivably magnified, may determine our ending. Still, by contrast, the indefinable potentialities of a heavy-browed creature capable of pouring his scant wealth into the grave in a gesture of grief and self-abnegation may lead us at last to some triumph beyond the realm of technics. Who is to say?”

-- The Invisible Pyramid – A Naturalist Analyses the Rocket Century, pp. 93-94 (1971 Scribners).


In this short paragraph, Eiseley spans the gulf between Australopithecus and Homo Sapiens, between the darkness of the arboreal forest and the terrible illumination of the hydrogen bomb, and concludes by pinpointing the origin of compassion in our longing to care for our dead.

Why Is the Pyramid Invisible?

Written in the late sixties and early seventies, The Invisible Pyramid is an urgent contemplation by a profound thinker who arrived at the precipice facing all humanity about forty years ahead of the crowd. The book is comprised of seven essays that turn round a central theme inspired by President Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon -- why humans are reaching for the stars, what we hope to find there, and what we might be hiding from here on earth by seeking to hurl ourselves into the heavens.

Comparing the space program to the pyramids of Egypt, Eiseley wrote:

“This effort has become the primary obsession of the great continental powers. Into the organization of this endeavor has gone an outpouring of wealth and inventive genius so vast that it constitutes a public sacrifice equivalent in terms of relative wealth to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza almost five thousand years ago. Indeed, there is a sense in which modern science is involved in the construction of just such a pyramid, although an invisible one.”
Id., p. 87.


Further on in the book, he makes reference again to the immense monuments left behind by our ancestors, who apparently commanded tremendous resources, leaving behind a legacy in stone, whose full significance we can only vaguely apprehend:

“Egypt, which had planted in the pyramids man’s mightiest challenge to effacing time, had conceived long millennia ago the dream of a sky-traveling boat that might reach the pole star. The Maya of the New World rain forests had also watched the drift of the constellations from their temples situated above the crawling vegetational sea about them. But of what their dreamers thought, the remaining hieroglyphs tell us little.”
Id., at pp. 129-130.


I See the Pyramid

When I grasped Eiseley’s meaning, I suddenly envisioned our whole society, all of us, living inside an immense pyramid of inconceivable proportions – as real as the cellphone in my pocket, the fast food restaurants and strip malls on every corner, the endless ribbons of asphalt that stretch out to the mountains and the plains, the airliners that ply the skies, the satellites that orbit above us. This vast construction, created to pursue an evanescent dream of material fulfillment, is our invisible pyramid. We have mortgaged the future of the planet, the lives of future generations, to this dream. We have become what Eiseley calls, “the world-eaters,” a race of beings who consume the earth voraciously, turning resources to waste in an accelerating drive to create and sustain a network of illusions. Now, as our habits of consumption threaten to destroy our dreams forever, we look to the stars for an escape route. Trapped on a poisoned planet, we now see billionaires reaching to establish orbital havens from whence they can gaze down on their dominions from a safe remove.

Writing in the sixties and seventies, Eiseley saw danger in our society’s reliance on scientific knowledge to guide us forward. He had not foreseen, and therefore did not address another danger – that humanity would nostalgically turn back to the past, seeking comfort in mythical cosmologies, priestcraft, and magical thinking. He did not anticipate that millions of people would turn their backs on the empirical view of reality, and take refuge in what Carl Sagan called “the demon-haunted world,” a world populated by forces that can damn or redeem in an instant, banishing the inconvenient reality in which the technocrats have sewn us up.

The Individual's Search for A World-Structure

In my view, each one of us builds his or her own invisible pyramid of belief. By a lifelong expenditure of mental energy, we construct our view of reality, and in it, we abide. Others cannot approach us without passing through the invisible gates we have constructed. When they visit, they must sit on the furniture we provide, within the walls we’ve constructed, seeing the limited view outside our windows, if indeed we haven’t simply painted images on the walls to simulate the external world in a style that comports with our projections. Most people, of course, consider it quite beyond their ability to design their own abiding place. They shop for designs, often emulating the living spaces occupied by those they admire or envy.

Religious Worldviews -- Readymade & Guaranteed to Please

Those with the biggest aspirations, those who want to have the most clearly superior abiding places, often shop for a religious structure to enclose themselves. Religions accommodate this impulse by creating lavish structures that purport to be genuine, authentic, reliable, exquisite, and eternal. Amazingly enough, when you buy a religious design, you are always promised the penthouse suite, the apex of perfection, the most perfect house in the City on the Hill. Purchasers are amazed to discover that all of this wonderfulness is well within their means. Making the down payment is always as easy as tendering your belief. You sign a blank piece of paper, and move right into the model home. Later, the realtor comes by with a copy of the full contract. It stipulates that you must live there forever, can never move out, submit to the authority of the homeowner’s association, promise to keep your lawn watered and mowed, and will not conduct ping pong tournaments in the garage. Also, only certain types of sex are permitted in the bedrooms, certain kinds of foods can be cooked in the kitchen, and particular types of clothing washed in the laundry room.

Yes, the overwhelming characteristic of the religious worldview is rigidity. Only in this way, the realtor explains, can you be sure that your neighbors will not offend you, and you will not offend them. Your choices are limited, but this is a time-saver. Your ambitions and personal hopes become irrelevant, but on the other hand, no one can embarrass you about how you live, because you live just like everyone else. There is safety in numbers, and you are one fish in an immense, silvery school that moves in a unified, harmonious dance.

Within this realm of uniform views, in which all questions have an appropriate doctrinal answer, the outer world is irrelevant. Your only concern is to eliminate all of the impulses to individual thinking and conform yourself to the right way of seeing things. When you can achieve this form of “right thinking,” you gain full membership in the “enlightened society.” Eventually, you can even dispense with your calendar, because in this realm, there is no change. Time never passes. Troublesome events never occur in this gated community. You are safe in your place, and the uniformed security guards drive by four times a day and four times a night. Because the religious life is a total commitment that pays off in complete contentment.

The Joy of Belonging

The disadvantage of moving into such an ideal realm seem to have escaped the people who have been moving into these conceptual communities. It does not occur to most of them that the invisible pyramid that they are laboring to construct is actually a monument to the ambitions of other people. The joy of laboring communally on a project that is supposed to bring universal satisfaction is often a relief from a life of individual striving in a world without meaning. Having been told all of our lives that there is some kind of meaning in life, and having been unable to find it for ourselves, we may be greatly relieved to have it provided.

Hidden Drawbacks of the Spiritual Tract-Home

But life, unfortunately, has a habit of intruding into our idealized realms. For all the promises we receive from those who sell us idealized homes in perfect psychic subdivisions, trouble seems unavoidable. The greatest problem is that almost all religions have their basis in belief systems that were evolved long before Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, or Einstein worked out the theory of relativity, or Bohr established the quantum nature of matter. Thus, we can only abide in these perfect mental habitations by ignoring the incongruency between scientifically-observed reality as we have grown up to know it, and the doctrinal formulations that guarantee our psychological comfort. We may discover terribly inconvenient, even terrifying aspects to our perfectly-designed abode – hell in the basement, an attic filled with strange deities speaking in foreign tongues, a backyard that stretches off into eternity, with strange figures stalking back and forth menacingly in the eternal twilight. And when you think about moving out, there’s that damned contract.

Finding Your Own Alternative

Yes, of course, you have to live somewhere. You have to have a view of the world. You have to have a comfortable sitting room to share with your friends, a kitchen to cook in, a bedroom in which to sleep and make love. But in designing that place, you should not let nostalgia be your guide. Nor should you look to move into a place just like the one your friends moved into last week. Rather, as I see it, you should do the minimum amount of construction possible, preserving as much of the original view as you can. Look for durable materials to build with, natural materials that don’t jar with the environment as you perceive it. Don’t be afraid of the world as you know it to be, and build a rational structure that reflects your own, genuine needs. True, there are no off-the-shelf blueprints for such a construction. But at least you won't become the victim of a pyramid scheme.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:10 am
by admin
Twilight of the Tulkus
by Charles Carreon
March 16, 2020

THE CURRENT SITUATION

A THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION, IN LARGE PART BECAUSE THE DALAI LAMA HAS SERVED AS EVIDENCE OF THE DOCTRINE’S VALIDITY; HOWEVER, THE DALAI LAMA HAS JUST DECLARED THAT HE WILL NOT REINCARNATE, BECAUSE THE TRADITION OF SELECTING A NEW DALAI LAMA AFTER THE DEATH OF THE PREVIOUS ONE IS A FEUDAL ANACHRONISM. WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?

HISTORY OF THE TULKU SYSTEM

THIS ARTICLE PRESENTS THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF THE “TULKU SYSTEM” IN TIBET, THE WAY THAT TULKUS ARE RECOGNIZED TODAY IN THE WEST, AND THE EFFECTS OF THE SYSTEM ON TULKUS, THEIR STUDENTS, AND THE PROCESS OF TRANSMITTING BUDDHISM TO THE WEST.

SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ILLUMINATE HIS HOLINESS' MOTIVATION

WE THEN PRESENT SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR THE DALAI LAMA ABOUT THE TULKU SYSTEM, AND VENTURE SOME ANSWERS WHICH, WE HAZARD TO SAY, WILL ILLUMINE HIS HOLINESS’ MOTIVATIONS IN TERMINATING THE TRADITION OF REINCARNATING A DALAI LAMA.

His Holiness did not explain his motives further, and the incurious press has neither inquired of his office nor engaged in conjecture. But let us think it through. This is a super-heavy thing to say, assuming it will get around to the Tibetan people, both those living in Tibet and in émigré communities around the world. To say his announcement will be a disappointment is a serious understatement. The central tenet of the faith has been removed. The Tibetan Atlas has submitted his resignation. The throne of Tibet will soon be vacant, because its next God King has prospectively abdicated. The skies of Tibetan Buddhist cosmology are shaking on their medieval foundations. If the Fouteenth Dalai Lama really believed himself to be the “tulku” of Chenrezig, the Father of Tibet, who has altruistically, intentionally reincarnated fourteen times to lead the Tibetans, he wouldn’t abdicate.

THE LORD OF COMPASSION AND HIS WRATHFUL COUNTERPART

Chenrezig is a timeless figure. He’s not going to let some political changes on twenty-first century planet earth impede the fulfillment of his commitment to bring benefit to all living beings in general and Tibetans in particular. That would be backing down in the face of a worldly challenge, as Chenrezig would never do. Indeed, when the going gets tough, Chenrezig gets tougher, and becomes Hayagriva, whose wrath has been legendary for a thousand years, ever since he dealt with a traitor to the Buddha’s Sacred Doctrine by turning into a horse, riding straight up his anus, and out his mouth. While painful, Hayagriva’s wrathful therapy abruptly and totally rehabilitated the heretic, who attained Tibetan Buddhist liberation as the result of the apparently fatal rape.

This type of brutal spiritual parable often recurs in Tibetan Buddhism, because Tibetans were an extremely rough people. Although today, Tibetans are marketed as the spiritual athletes of the planet, this is a western fantasy. They have been better known throughout history by their neighbors as untameable brigands mostly likely to kill you on sight, who worship demons whose external forms appear as mountaintops, and to whom they offer simulated and non-simulated blood sacrifice. The Tibetan feudal system suffered from a shortage of arable land, so younger sons did not inherit, and rich and poor alike, one in four boys, were packed off to the monasteries, where the social divisions in the society at large were replicated. The abbots of major monasteries would all be tulkus, who enjoyed a plush lifestyle, eating much better, living in warmer, cleaner accommodations, enjoying an abundance of leisure.

TIBET -- A MUCH ROUGHER TURF THAN YOU HAVE BEEN LEAD TO EXPECT

Yes, the Dalai Lamas have been known to play rough -– the Fifth Dalai Lama made common cause with the Mongol conquerors to acquire monasteries and monks at the point of the sword. The Dalai Lamas have been treated roughly as well -– the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Dalai Lamas all died before reaching the age of majority. Their convenient deaths allowed Regents to rule uninterruptedly for nearly a hundred years, and malignant cliques within the Potala are presumed to have poisoned the young prelates. The situation of some tulkus today is little better. First, it is not beneficial to remove young children from their parents at an early age to be raised among male clergy. Second, hard evidence of sexual abuse in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries has come from many sources, eg., in 2013, Bhutanese health authorities were forced to distribute condoms at all Buddhist monastic schools to “stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV among young monks who are supposed to be celibate.”

THE NO-WAVE TULKUS

Today, because the young tulkus have ceremonial value, and can be toured as spiritual entertainment in China, Europe, and the US, collecting substantial donations for the clerical impresarios who mount these international tours, many tulkus are raised in an excess of indulgence and wealth, as the irascible tulku Dzongsar carped in a typically rambling screed a few years back. Most American-born tulkus would fall into the class of the needlessly pampered. They are never discovered, like occasionally happened to the old Tibetan tulkus, to have been born into a farming family from the hustings; rather, they are uniformly the male offspring of lamas or of women who have carried on with lamas, in and out of wedlock. These innocent souls are discovered as tulkus in their toddler years, when brother lamas recognize each other’s offspring as divine in exchange for love donations and future reciprocal recognitions.

Unfortunately, these bizarre titles of Tibetan clerical royalty are of limited value in the modern world, and really of no value at all to those unwilling to mime the appearance of sanctity and conduct meditation retreats. While the recipients of these bizarre titles may enjoy marinating in the rote adulation bestowed by abject believers, they rarely “train in meditation,” and many clearly suffer from impostor syndrome. They simultaneously benefit from their titles and connections -– getting jobs with UNESCO and other NGOs like some of the multiple Trungpa tulkus -– and wish to come across as “ordinary people” who are “not full of themselves.” In other words, they have been backed into a lie that they had no part in creating and have no idea how to carry off.

Some of these young people try to throw it off, declaring they’re done with the sanctimonious pose, but then, they end up back in the mind-healing business, like a Spanish boy who was “recognized” as a tulku, trained in India at a monastery, rejected the indoctrination and proclaimed his training a form of captivity in a degenerate environment, and left his robes behind, only to succumb to the allure of guruhood again, which he seems to be pursuing against his own better judgment. Some cases end up like Dzongsar, a bitter, bile-spitting little man who exhibits a fascination with spiritual totalitarianism and a raunchy sexuality that many would say ill befits a cleric.

Others end up like the child that Chogyam Trungpa sired upon the body of a Tibetan nun, then abandoned in childhood -– Osel Rangdrol Mukpo, aka the Sakyong Mipham. No one would envy young Osel’s upbringing -– life in India must have been tough with his mother, who received no support from his father Chogyam, and worked on a road crew after Osel was born; however, it was probably better than the two years he spent in an orphanage in England while his father was litigating over his custody with a family of English Buddhists who believed Trungpa and his sixteen-year old bride were a bit too punk rock to be raising children. When Trungpa finally got custody of Osel and brought him to his Boulder, Colorado enclave, he was whisked into a weird world where his father was a god to legions of dazzled Americans, and spent most of his life in a booze & coke haze, delivering himself of unusual Buddhist lectures that wordsmith students pounded into core Buddhist bestsellers, the backbone of the Shambhala Publishing empire.

Osel was not trained extensively in meditation, and it is rumored by those present during his internment at the Karmapa’s monastery that he was an impulsive sort, more given to blasting about on his motorcycle than engaging the “three wisdoms” of “hearing, contemplation, and meditation” that ripen a lama’s spiritual wisdom. Osel was not at all prepared to lead a spiritual movement. Nevertheless, when Trungpa’s chosen Regent, Thomas Rich, fell into disgrace and killed two students with a sexually-administered dose of AIDS, the original Trungpa succession plan was scrapped, and Osel found himself in the role of Top Banana.

Ultimately, Osel’s legacy was consumed by the absurd excesses his father engineered into the social structure of his “Kalapa Kingdom.” The “Kalapa Court” was a locus of licentiousness during Trungpa’s life, a playground of sex, drugs and alcohol that ensnared seven women that Trungpa married. Trungpa had been married to Diana for a few years when he started marrying seven other women, and she played turnabout deftly, cohabiting with Mitchell Levy and bearing his child, Ashoka. The extra seven women, called “Sang Yum,” received marriage licenses from the Kalapa Kingdom, and comprised the core of Trungpa’s inner social circle. One young woman, inducted into an intimate relationship at an early age and married to Trungpa at 18, later committed suicide. Among those who remain, some are venerated as near-saints, and appear in gushing profiles as ideals of the spiritual woman on the Shambhala.org website. Most of the surviving Sang Yum have kept their silence about the iniquities they observed and engaged in while serving as one-eighth of Trungpa’s sex life. One of the Sang Yum has broken silence, however, revealing Trungpa to be a cocaine addict, explaining, metabolically, how he could drink alcohol to extreme excess and remain mobile, if not ambulatory. This toxic lifestyle put an end to Trungpa’s earthly adventures at the age of 46 in 1987, but the shenanigans continued in the Kalapa Kingdom.

Trungpa’s love of intoxicants and an abundance of sexual encounters had spread throughout the group. Two teachers are currently incarcerated awaiting trial on charges of child molestation. Numerous others have been credibly accused of using their teacher status to extract sexual favors and obeisance from women and men. And Osel himself, the Sakyong, the monarch of his father’s spiritual kingdom, was outed in 2018 as the beneficiary of an entire system that, Weinstein-like, captured and sacrificed female followers to his drunken lust. Shambhala exhorts its followers to believe that their religion will someday take over the entire world and save it from a Moslem horde, which might seem a bizarre notion for modern American students to hold, but once you know that Trungpa was a rake and yet the founding saint of the religion, nothing is too crazy to believe. So just as sure as dogs come back and lick up their vomit, the Shambhala organization is moving with all deliberate speed to place Osel back on his throne, which, by the way, is ten feet high.

Asked about his father in a hagiographic video advertising Chogyam Trungpa’s “Crazy Wisdom” persona, Osel’s half-brother Gesar obliquely reveals that his father was a distant figure who gave him kingly respect, not fatherly affection: “My father respected me, and would listen to what I had to say. He treated me like a reincarnated lama -– like the king of another country.” Gesar has chosen not to act out the role of tulku, but wants to be a good Buddhist. Gesar’s half-brother Ashoka is the product of the loose sexual mores prevalent in Trungpa’s group, born to the extramarital union of Gesar’s mother Diana and Trungpa’s disciple Mitchell Levy. Ashoka has not donned Buddhist robes, currently is a staff reporter for the ACLU, and has enjoyed a series of plum jobs as a journalist, if his own webpage is accurate.

The son of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was offered a job that might have seemed attractive to many -– to take over the guidance of the spiritual flock amassed by his father, numbering into the thousands. But he was born in Italy to an Italian mother, his name is Yeshi Silvano Namkhai, and he got himself a western education and a job with IBM. In the movie, “My Reincarnation,” Silvano is depicted as a highly conflicted person. Silvano’s father is another distant type. The old lama grew up in a monastery from childhood, and although he was groomed to play father figure to thousands, and obviously does that job well, he didn’t bounce his kids on his knee while singing silly songs, or read them stories before bedtime. There’s this huge gap between father and son, and then the son is told that he’s a tulku. Silvano even goes off to Tibet and meets people who think he’s a reincarnation of their former guru. These people make it clear that they sacrificed much to care for his former incarnation. But now, what can he do for them? He doesn’t speak the language, he doesn’t know the rituals, he’s a hollow shell. In “My Reincarnation,” the narrative arc leads us to think that he’s actually beginning to warm to the role of spiritual leader, and since his father’s death, he has taken on the leadership role in the community; however, there are reasons to believe that his engagement is strictly limited by his own awareness of the limits to his personal commitment to the role.

For example, this April, Silvano was planning on giving a “transmission” of his father’s teachings, but only to those who have never received the transmission before (excluding all old students), and only in Italian (no translation provided). This is a strangely provisional approach to propagating a religion that I would venture to say springs more from Silvano’s respect for his father than from any inner impulse to teach Buddhism. Finding himself put upon by hundreds of people who say, “Don’t let your father’s lineage die,” he has given in, and is going to deliver a “transmission.” But such a transmission is more in the nature of a placebo than anything else. His father’s students are looking to Silvano to give them access to their own “true nature,” as his father taught. How can it be that they seriously believe they will receive it? Because they have psychologically transferred their power to the guru, and now need to get it back, even from a person who knows darn well he doesn’t have it.

Ironically, the Twelfth Trungpa tulku, whose eleventh incarnation as Chogyam Trungpa is lauded as the pre-eminent transmitter of the Kagyu lineage to the west, has been supplanted by his mere physical progeny, i.e., poor old little Osel. So now, the Twelfth Trungpa lives isolated in Tibet, neglected by his spiritual relatives. The Twelfth Trungpa has never been taught English, has begged on YouTube to have the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa translated into Tibetan so he can read them, and lives in an isolated monastery in Tibet. Meanwhile his American “relatives” give him the sop of faint praise, a stipend and some building funds, while the Sakyong parties like a rockstar, and a small coterie of insiders live well by exploiting the mass of students accumulated by the original “crazy yogi.” Memories are indeed short in the spiritual world, and the irony of the mistreatment of the Twelfth Trungpa tulku seems to elicit no comment from spiritual writers. While other Tibetan Buddhists rush to re-enthrone their deceased teachers and exalt them in their new life-form, Trungpa’s devotees frankly don’t seem to give a damn where Trungpa’s incarnation ended up. But it doesn’t matter, because Shambhala has simmered down to being what all religions are at bottom -- social clubs that profess a faith, collect donations and bequests, and issue insurance redeemable in the afterlife. American Tibetan Buddhists have been groomed to expect the tulku tradition to continue, but as Shambhala’s disappearance of the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku illustrates, the outlines of that tulku tradition are quite unclear. The fact that Shambhala students tolerate the conceptual sleight of hand that makes Trungpa disposable while all other tulkus are venerable tells you something about the effect of good mental programming. Get people to accept contradictory ideas early on, and eventually, they don’t even notice them.

Gullible students are a valued commodity, however, and they are not always present to make every modern tulku’s life comfortable. The tulku of Kalu Rinpoche, who had thousands of students worldwide, was routinely raped by multiple monks and nearly murdered by his tutor, a matter to which the young, victimized Tibetan boy testified on YouTube. It appears that such occurrences have not been unusual in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and the current pampering that tulkus receive in the west is essentially an anomaly. Dzongsar reports that, “As a child I had just two handmade toys that I made myself. Worse, my tutor confined me to one room not just for a few weeks or months but for a whole year, so that even going to the toilet became a long awaited excursion. We also suffered regular verbal and physical abuse that went as far as making us bleed from the head and whipping us with nettles.”

PREDATOR-GURUS

Tulkus aren’t the only ones abused in this system. Some people pretend to be tulkus, and pay lamas to agree that they are tulkus, in order to wield mind-control powers over gullible students, who will accept any type of abuse from people who are called “Rinpoche,” the honorific that is properly applied only to reincarnated tulkus. Sogyal formerly-known-as-RInpoche is the scariest case of a self-annointed tulku disporting himself like a wolf among the spiritual sheep. Sogyal Lakar was born to a family of hereditary retainers for the legendary Nyingmapa tulku, Dudjom Rinpoche, and educated by Jesuits in India. His first efforts at establishing himself in the spiritual fields of America misfired, and after he was sued for sexual assault in California, he decamped for Britain, where his schtick found a warm reception. Still, nobody recognized him as an altruistically, intentionally reincarnated being until he began generating large numbers –- as in sales of his “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” ghostwritten by Andrew Harvey, a British writer who has published a number of books with spiritual themes, none of which sold anywhere near as well as what he wrote for Sogyal. The dynamic of branding has tremendous power in the spiritual field, where devotees will vacuum up all of the literature offered by a popular teacher, often in a first rush of enthusiasm, sometimes over a lifetime of deepening devotion. Besides publishing a runaway spiritual bestseller, Sogyal had other techniques for gathering disciples.

First, he got folks to call him Rinpoche. It may have seemed a harmless indulgence to the lamas who knew he was lying, which was all of them, given how much money he could spread around. An invitation from Sogyal to teach at a Rigpa center could provide a Tibetan lama with more money in a weekend than he would otherwise make all year. Sogyal also targeted the vulnerable for sexual and financial predation. He preyed upon the bereaved, using his bona fides as a Tibetan lama to enviegle his way into the confidence of those who had lost their loved ones. Sometimes women weeping for their lost loved ones were subjected to crass advances, or worse. He demanded sex and got it from the willing and the unwilling alike. Sogyal often threatened students with hell in the afterlife, a serious threat when leveled by a Rinpoche, whose actions are presumed to carry weight with the karmic authorities. When his desires for worldly comforts, food, and lavish amenities were not swiftly fulfilled, he struck students, sometimes causing serious injury, and always causing psychological pain.

A lawfirm hired by Rigpa Foundation, the organization Sogyal founded to spread Tibetan Buddhist teachings, advised Rigpa’s leadership to separate the corporation from Sogyal permanently, because it had discovered pervasive evidence not only of Sogyal’s direct misconduct, but of widespread enabling of abuse, denial of its existence, and retaliation against those who complained about the sick situation. A trustee of Rigpa, Patrick Gaffney, was banned from serving on the nonprofit board after the UK’s Charity Commission investigated, and found Gaffney “had knowledge of instances [of] sexual and physical abuse against students [and] failed to take appropriate action and is therefore responsible for misconduct … in administration of the charity.” Nor was Gaffney alone. After the entire affair had burst like a pustulent boil on the front pages of the world periodicals, a considerable group of high-level followers wrote a letter to the Board asking for Sogyal to be reinstated as Rigpa’s head. Sogyal’s madness had corrupted an entire organization.

SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR THE DALAI LAMA THAT MAY ILLUMINATE HIS DECISION NOT TO REINCARNATE

After this discussion, we might ask ourselves again why the Dalai Lama declared his own reincarnations at an end. First, he might have reflected on the psychological cost to the young men, like himself, who are recruited for these strange jobs without consent. Second, he might have considered whether creating tulkus serves any use in the modern world, where they aren’t needed to serve as the abbots for huge monasteries. Third, he could have reflected on how badly some of the new tulkus are doing, and have seen that when tulkus are created for no purpose, they may suffer from a lack of clear mission or purpose, perhaps for their entire lives. Fourth, he could have reflected on how the misuse of the tulku doctrine causes injury to everyone when lamas engage in sexual, physical and financial abuse of their students. Fifth, he could have reflected on how, since tulkus have no real purpose, the doctrine will tend to be used by pious frauds who adopt the name of tulku for selfish purposes, which will bring Tibetan Buddhism into discredit, and render it an inappropriate vehicle for sharing his message of compassion and humanism. Sixth, he could have considered how the Chinese and his other political opponents will make the next Dalai Lama’s selection a circus, and that he will not be around to make it turn out right. Seventh, he might have realized that the tradition of “recognizing” tulkus such as the Dalaia Lama, is inherently a vehicle subject to manipulation by deception, and should be put to rest before he dies.

Considering the first question, the Dalai Lama would certainly probably agree that kidnapping young boys early in life and grooming them to be abbots might have been somewhat functional in Tibet’s feudal theocracy, but there’s no need for that sacrifice anymore. The Chinese have utterly altered the society, and the centers of culture are no longer isolated monasteries lodged in craggy mountain ranges, requiring the stabilizing belief in an enduring local ruler who reincarnates to maintain the ritual practices that assure good fortune on earth. Estimates made by China in the 1950s placed 24% of Tibet’s male population in monasteries, approximately 120,000 monks in 2,700 monasteries. (M.C. Goldstein, Tibetan Buddhism and Mass Monasticism) The Chinese have reduced the monastic population to 46,000, still a substantial number, but due to Han immigration from China, there are now 3.18 Million people in Tibet, so their influence on society is no longer vital. In truth and in fact, continued fidelity to the image of the Dalai Lama as Lord Chenrezig, the God King of Tibet, while a source of comfort to many of the faithful no doubt, seems unlikely to bring substantial benefit to the Land of Snows.

Second, the Dalai Lama could see that making tulkus is not in any way necessary to the propagation of the Buddhist Dharma, as he has formulated it, which is a form of non-sectarian humanism with an emphasis on compassion and optimism, and a meditation practice founded in “mindfulness,” a practice style that is more common to Thailand and Burma than Tibet. The colorful gods and demons who ruled Tibet with splendor and terror are not making the jump from their land of origin to the west, and for good reason. The Tibetan sorcerers would contend with bad weather by casting spells, legendarily standing on a mountaintop going toe to toe with demons, being battered with hail and snow to fight them with the magic of the Lotus-Born Guru. Ah, those were the days, and they’re gone forever. Even the staunchest Tibetan Buddhist doesn’t think we’re going to exorcise our way out of global warming. Just as we have no place for sorcerers, so we have no need for tulkus. If gurus want to pass their students on to their children, there’s nothing to stop them –- they don’t need to pretend their children are divine. Zen teachers have passed temple abbot positions down through a hereditary system for centuries. The famed Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s father was a Zen master, and he ultimately took over the family temple after serving elsewhere, and before traveling to establish Zen Center San Francisco, and the Tassajara and Green Gulch monasteries.

Third, considering whether it is good for the tulkus to be created to live in a world that doesn’t need them, he has probably seen enough of the results. There was a time, from the 1970s into the first decade of this century, when there was a lot of enthusiasm for traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Americans and Europeans were excited by the idea that tulkus might be born into American and European Buddhist families, and indeed, they have been recognized. But the crop has pretty much rotted in the basket. As we’ve discussed above, these young men are lost, having been inducted into a system that no longer exists except for sentimental purposes. If they take themselves seriously, they risk becoming corrupted by an idea in which they have no basis for real belief. None of these boys “remembers their past life.” Consider the strangeness of the Twelfth Trungpa’s plea to be able to read the works of the Eleventh Trungpa in Tibetan. For heaven’s sake, the whole purpose of being an intentionally reborn being was to remember the wisdom from your past lives! If you need to read books to learn this stuff, where’s the inherent wisdom? So being called a tulku is actually just a ticket to becoming disconnected from reality.

Not only Tibetans can be afflicted with the tulku delusion. Plenty of westerners are afflicted by the belief that they attained wisdom in past lives and are here to dispense it. For example, a couple of years ago, I ran into a man in his fifties whom I have known for thirty years. A fringe player in the Oregon Buddhist community, he was the big fellow with the deficit of smarts who tagged along, drove cars, hauled loads, smiled, bowed, and basked in every ounce of love that ever came his way from the lamas. Unfortunately, one of them heedlessly told him that he was actually a tulku. Ever since then, this poor man has felt cheated out of the assistance that he has been lead to believe tulkus should receive. He desires fervently to be recognized by others as a saintly man, so much so that he’s become lonely, isolated, resentful, and frankly lost. Stories like these are far from uncommon, because many lamas will use this sort of flattery to extract favors from the gullible, who allow themselves to be paid for labor and devotion in false praise. Like a fetish that gives pleasure merely from being handled and gazed upon, the delusion that one possesses inherent spiritual eminence feeds a spiritual narcissism that is no less toxic than the worldly variety.

Fourth, there have been enough stories of recognized and unrecognized tulkus abusing their students, and the Dalai Lama has not been pleased by any of them. He hasn’t said much about them, either, but that is probably because the massive pedophile scandal swallowing the Catholic Church dominates the airwaves, and a compliant press never asks the Dalai Lama anything embarrassing. But he has to see that the conduct of Sogyal, Trungpa and Osel Mukpo has injured their students and besmirched the Buddhist doctrine. So he may not say much about it, but he certainly has it in mind.

Fifth, the continued existence of the tulku tradition corrupts lamas into selling recognitions, and results in the devaluation of the entire concept of Tibetan Buddhism, when gauche American clowns ape the ecclesiastical elite. The absurd “recognition” of Steven Seagal, now recognized as one of Hollywood’s merry band of celebrity rapists, is a classic example. Seagal has always been a self-impressed blowhard whose primary gift is his enormous body, his ability to use it to kill people, and his willingness to display that skill in dreadful movies where the body count is the measure of Seagal’s star achievement. The same lama who recognized Seagal also recognized a woman whose given name was Alice Zeoli, who renamed herself Catherine Burroughs and became a Washington DC psychic catering to the spiritual element in the nation’s capitol, then snagged a tulkuship and become Akon Jetsun Norbu Lhamo, aka Jetsunma, aka “The Buddha from Brooklyn,” as Martha Sherrill’s book on the woman is entitled. Zeoli fled Maryland after being charged with beating one of the nuns in her compound, and has found an appropriate perch in the land where anything might be true –- Sedona, Arizona.

Sixth, the Chinese are wily adversaries who have been playing politics with Tibet for a couple of millennia. They have conquered the land, they are subjugating the people and flooding the region with the Han ethnic Chinese settlers, and they regulated Buddhism in Tibet as they do in China. Temples require licenses to operate, their doctrines are subject to censorship, and the monastic population has been greatly reduced, initially by outright murder and imprisonment, and today by the imposition of coercive forces usually less extreme. The Chinese have always exercised as much control as possible over Tibetan reincarnations. The Panchen Lama’s latest rebirth was dictated by the Chinese. There are two Karmapa tulkus, because the Chinese chose one, and a Tibetan faction chose another, and both have continued to represent themselves as the Seventeenth Karmapa. Tai Situ, a high Kagyu lama, has made himself very comfortable as a creator of fake tulkus for power and profit, and he has close Chinese connections. Thus, the manipulation of the next Dalai Lama’s birth by the Chinese is a foregone conclusion.

Seventh, death makes fools of us all when we try to exercise control from the grave. It just doesn’t work. We control the earth while we live, and then death takes our power and hands in to the next generation. Chogyam Trungpa thought he could control the future. He made his intentions crystal clear, and it wasn’t to spend his next incarnation as the Twelfth Trungpa in a remote monastery in Tibet, uneducated in the English language, and ignored by the students of his Eleventh incarnation. He trusted his boyfriend Thomas Rich, a lascivious bisexual with whom Trungpa may have had intimacies, to serve as his Regent, and trusted his lawyer, Alexander Halpern, to fulfill his intentions. But Halpern is a practical man, who provides legal advice to the Dalai Lama and many other Tibetan lamas, and Halpern unloaded the bad press associated with Trungpa’s name deftly and permanently, cutting the Twelfth Trungpa out of the action by changing the Articles of Incorporation, structuring authority around Osel Mukpo, and changing the name of the corporation from Vajradhatu to Shambhala. Everything is now precisely as the Eleventh Trungpa did not want it to be. He is on the outside, his blood kin on the inside. The Dalai Lama can see these dynamics could afflict his own succession. The Fifteenth Dalai Lama could be chosen by China, and put to work undoing the current Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s life work. Questions arise, as well. Presumably, the Fifteenth Dalai Lama would be the ruler of the Tibetan Government in Exile, and from that position, he could declare the existence of Tibet null and void. The world would not shift in its course, if he did.

Tibet is in fact, already a historic relic. As the source of virtually all of the rivers that pour through China and India, it was inevitable that the Chinese would take over what they saw as an unoccupied square on the chessboard of the Great Game. The fantasies of Tibetan Buddhism were like rarefied species that live only on high mountains. As the Tibetans rightly feared when they left, their culture has not proven particularly useful to them or to the other inhabitants of the world beyond the mountains that ring the Land of Snows. Because this is the way of impermanence. Things arise based upon the confluence of conditions, and they disappear along with those conditions. The conditions that gave rise to the tulku tradition are gone, and with them all need for the tradition. The Dalai Lama has recognized this. Whether American Buddhists will is an open question.