Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mukpo

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:21 pm


In the summer of 1982, not long after the Sakyong abhisheka, I moved up to Nova Scotia with Gesar and Ashoka. (By this time, we had concluded that nothing was going to change with Taggie. The monastery in Sikkim was willing to have him return, and Rinpoche felt this would be the kindest environment for him at the time.)

Rinpoche was talking about moving to Nova Scotia at some point in the future. He had toured the province again in 1979, and at the end of 1981, he had spent several weeks there, culminating in a seminar at the Keltic Lodge in the northernmost part of Nova Scotia, on the island of Cape Breton. He became more and more enthusiastic about the place with every visit. Beginning in 1979, a few of his students moved there from other parts of Canada and from the United States. When I arrived, there was already a small dharmadhatu in Halifax.

I thought that the sanest thing for the children and me would be to move up ahead of him and get a farm there, where I could have horses, and the children could have a more normal life. I bought a farm in Falmouth, near Windsor, Nova Scotia, which we named Willowstream Park, after the farm that my parents had owned in South Africa. I brought several horses up there, including Warrior. I had also purchased a young stallion at Gronwohldhof when I'd been in Germany the previous year. I bred him to more than twenty mares in Nova Scotia in the spring of 1982.

Rinpoche was excited that I was going to live in Nova Scotia. He saw me as pioneering the development of the Shambhala world there. For me, it was both an attempt to participate in furthering the vision that he was trying to promote and a way to have a personally sane existence. Being married to Rinpoche was sometimes like being married to a cosmic force rather than a human being. As time went on, this was more and more the case. I felt the need for a more ordinary human existence, which I thought the situation in Nova Scotia would provide.

Rinpoche had asked Jane and Tom Ryken, two senior and trusted students, to live on the farm with me. They were very committed to us and helped the family a great deal; we had quite a pleasant household for most of the year that we were there together. A student of Rinpoche's from Australia, Geoff Martin, also joined us and was a great help. We had a large vegetable and flower garden, and I used to do a lot of pickling and canning. Ashoka was happy running around on the farm, and Gesar enrolled in King's Edgehill, an excellent private school in the neighborhood.


SCHOOL FEES / $17,750 / $41,750 / $54,500

-- 2017-18 Tuition Fee Schedule, by King’s-Edgehill School

Rinpoche used to come and visit periodically, and Mitchell also came up a few times.

There was an indoor arena a half-hour from the farm where I could ride, and I started competing Warrior in a number of local shows. I received excellent scores competing at the lower international or FEI levels, and I was invited to ride in a clinic in Toronto with the Canadian Olympic coach at that time, Johann Hinnemann. At the end of the clinic, Hinneman told me that he liked the horse but felt that he would do better at Prix St. Georges, the first international level, than at the Grand Prix level, the highest level of dressage. Hinneman suggested that I sell Warrior.

After going to Toronto, I seriously got the riding bug again, and as my opportunities were so limited in Nova Scotia, I decided to move back to Europe in early 1984, to continue training and find a horse with more potential. I sold Warrior and moved over to Germany with Gesar and Ashoka, intending to stay for the whole year. After looking around a bit for a new horse, I went back to Gronwohldhof, Herr Rehbein's facility. There was a horse there, Poseidon, that I had known about for several years, that had always appealed to me. When I rode him, he was a beautiful mover and gave me a good feeling. I thought that I should purchase him.

Hinnemann was skeptical. He called and said, "If the horse is already eight years old and he hasn't been successful competitively, there's something wrong and they shouldn't be selling him to you." I called Herr Rehbein at that point, who was furious that someone was saying these negative things. I had suddenly ended up in the middle of a political upheaval. I decided to trust Rehbein, so I went ahead with the purchase.

After several months training at Gronwohldhof, I began to have doubts. Poseidon was very big, and he proved to be spooky and quite difficult to ride. Later, I learned more about his medical history -- had I known these details earlier, I would not have purchased the horse, because the prognosis was not good. In retrospect, I don't think Herr Rehbein was malicious in selling me the horse in any way. He took an educated gamble. He was trying to help me find a good horse that I could afford. In the end, I lost on that gamble.

After riding the horse for more than six months, I found that he was getting more and more difficult to ride. The difficulties with my horse coincided with the time that I was supposed to return to North America to visit Rinpoche, who had begun a year's retreat in MillVillage, Nova Scotia. So in the fall of 1984, I went to MillVillage, and then I spent time in Boulder. This provided me with time to think about whether Poseidon was the right horse for me. I decided to sell Poseidon. I phoned Rehbein at that point and asked him to sell the horse. For months, I continued to call Gronwohldhof to ask if he had been sold. Every time I called, I was told, "No, No, he hasn't sold yet." This continued for almost a year.

During this period, Vajradhatu experienced severe financial problems. Most of my own financial affairs were handled by the organization. I kept asking if my bills at Gronwohldhof were being paid, and I was told that they were. It turned out I was almost a year in arrears, without my knowledge. The people at Gronwohldhof had basically repossessed the horse without saying that was what they were doing. Then Poseidon went lame. He was no longer worth anything, and Vajradhatu had let the insurance lapse. It was a fiasco.

In some quarters of Vajradhatu, there was resentment about the expenses connected with my riding, and I started to question whether it was worth going through all the negativity, especially when nothing seemed to be working out. I became depressed about my riding career.
I was also quite worried about Rinpoche's health at this point, so I decided to stop riding. As it turned out, I didn't resume my career for four years, until after Rinpoche's death. Today, I find that I have more enjoyment and love for my discipline than ever before in my life. But at that particular time, that four-year hiatus was necessary.

I left Germany in the fall of 1984 and went to Nova Scotia, where Rinpoche was in retreat. He had contacted me and told me that he wanted me to come over to receive the Vajrayogini abhisheka from him in retreat. After all these years, I still had not had this transmission, and Rinpoche seemed to feel that this was extremely important at this time. He was planning to confer another important empowerment, the Chakrasamvara abhisheka, after his long retreat, and he wanted me to be able to take that as well. Chakrasamvara is the consort of Vajrayogini and a very important yidam in our lineage. Vajrayogini represents the wisdom aspect of the teachings, while Chakrasmavara represents the practitioner's skillful action and compassion. Since wisdom and compassion are indivisible, Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara are joined in union in the iconography. These are some of the most profound and important teachings that Rinpoche could transmit to the West. Looking back now, I feel that he knew that his life was coming to an end, and he wanted to be sure that I received these transmissions from him.

The house he was living in was an old sea captain's house about two hours outside of Halifax. There was a large kitchen on the main floor, and people would hang out around the kitchen table at odd hours of the day and night. Near the kitchen there was a shrine room where the staff, and occasionally Rinpoche, would practice. There was a spacious dining room where Rinpoche ate at all hours of the day and night -- his schedule changed a lot -- and a large living room. The main cook, Joanne Carmin, who we called Machen (which means "chief cook" in Tibetan) also had a room at the very back of the house on the first floor. She spent the entire year in retreat with Rinpoche. There was always at least one attache, and one kusung on duty, and Rinpoche had a number of other guests who came and went. There was also a little guest bedroom on the first floor, where Gesar stayed when he visited his father for several months. Upstairs, Rinpoche's bedroom was a large room with a walk-in closet and a separate bath. Other bedrooms for the staff and visitors were also on the top floor.

The year before he went to Mill Village, Rinpoche had been on a schedule that was often totally turned upside down. He got into the habit of staying up all night and sleeping during the day. During the all-night sessions in this era, he began teaching his students elocution with an Oxonian accent, the English accent of a person educated at Oxford University. He wrote exercises that his students practiced with him at all hours of the day and night, and he also wrote a novel about life in the Shambhala Kingdom, which he liked to have read aloud in Oxonian, sometimes at three or four in the morning.

By the time he got to Mill Village, his schedule of activities was even stranger. He would often stay up for twenty-four to forty-eight hours straight, and then he might sleep that long. No one knew when he would be awake or when he might be sleeping. Sometimes, he would eat dinner three times in a day; sometimes, he would hardly eat at all.
It was not very easy to be part of his staff or his household at that time.

Rinpoche's approach to retreat was quite different from the approach of a group retreat where everyone feels good and relaxes and communes with nature or with God. Rinpoche's retreats were more like the trials of Christ wandering in the desert or what ascetics in various traditions went through in their caves. Altogether, retreat in the Buddhist tradition is meant to be very tough. It is an undistracted opportunity for a student to work on unraveling ego and neurosis at a fundamental level. Rinpoche was both doing that for himself and he was also working with his students. The situation he created for himself and others in retreat was stripped bare of the conventions of everyday life. He was free to be exactly as he was, without any pretense. Even beyond the personal and interpersonal level, he was working on the karma of his whole community in North America, trying to liberate what was stuck both now and in the future.

I felt that his approach, how he worked with himself and with others in retreat, was the spiritual equivalent of the tough training that I went through in Vienna. He was creating an uncomfortable space for himself and other people, an almost ruthless space where you constantly felt groundless -- you have the ground pulled out from under you so that you realize what life is about at the most fundamental level. Eventually, you might realize what buddhanature is, the heart of enlightenment, stripped of all pretenses and concepts. But while you are going through the process, you totally lose any reference point to a goal. This process is very, very uncomfortable.

Sometimes people ask me what meditation practices Rinpoche himself did, and I realize that, in some respects, it's a strange question. In a very real sense, everything he did was practice. This may be a dangerous thing to say, because if students were to take this to mean that they don't need to do formal meditation practice, that would be a big mistake -- encouraging self-deception. However, I do feel that for Rinpoche, especially in the later years, his life was his practice. From time to time, he joined his students in the sitting practice of meditation, and he took part in the major practices he gave to people, such as the Sadhana of Mahamudra, the Vajrayogini Sadhana, and various Shambhala practices. But in general, his practice was his being, or vice versa. Very early on, in 1971, a student asked him if he ever meditated, formally. Rinpoche's response was: "That seems to depend on the situation -- but formal sitting, in terms of imposing it on oneself, somehow doesn't apply anymore." The student said, "Apply to whom?" And Rinpoche responded: "To whom. That's it!"1 I think his response here is another way of expressing the groundlessness one encountered at Mill Village. For Rinpoche, there was really no contrast between practice and everyday life, and there was nobody there to ask the question. For most of us, sharing that space was unsettling, sometimes deeply so.

Before going to Mill Village, I spent time studying the Vajrayana teachings that Rinpoche had given us to help prepare myself for the abhisheka. Rinpoche had phoned the Vajradhatu ambassador to Europe at that time, Steve Baker, and asked him to tutor me before I left Germany. The more I read, the less sure I felt about what I was about to do. I had a lot of questions and, one could almost say, doubt during this period of time. I didn't feel through and through that I was necessarily ready to take on this commitment. I wanted to understand what I was getting into if I took this transmission. I wasn't sure that I would be completely genuine if I took this empowerment without complete conviction. In my own way, even before I arrived at Mill Village, a spiritual crisis was growing within me, which seemed to be exactly what Rinpoche was provoking in everyone there.

When I got to Mill Village, Rinpoche said that I had to do twenty-one prostrations, twenty-one vajrasattva mantras, twenty-one mandalas, and twenty-one recitations of the guru yoga mantra on the day of the abhisheka before he would give me the transmission. I had never completed my preliminary practices. Traditionally, people do a hundred thousand of each of these practices, so he was letting me off pretty easy! However, I still resented him telling me what to do. I did the first three parts of the practice, but when I got to the guru yoga mantra, I had to visualize Rinpoche as my teacher. I was totally angry with him at that point for insisting that I take this abhisheka. I was conflicted about Rinpoche being both my husband and my guru. I found it difficult to reconcile these two things during this period. I thought to myself, "What the hell am I visualizing here?"

I was pushing the boundaries, wanting to discover for myself what made sense, what worked and what didn't. I had never had a chance to have a teenage rebellion, in a way, because I had married Rinpoche so young. I thought, "Why on earth am I in the shrine room doing this stuff?" So I came out and I said to him, "This is ridiculous." He got really angry with me. He screamed at me and started pounding his hand, saying, "Go back." He told me to go back and finish the practice. I was pissed off, but I went back and completed it.

I was also uncomfortable with the fact that in giving me the abhisheka, he seemed to be presenting Vajrayana as the highest reality. I was feeling that there were other valid positions in the world and that we were isolating ourselves as a community if we didn't acknowledge this. I was having a meltdown. The abhisheka was going to take place later that night. I wrote him a letter asking, "Aren't there other truths? Aren't there other realities?"
In response, he wrote me this prose poem on the night that he gave me transmission:

To Lady Diana Mukpo on the Occasion of Receiving the Abhisheka of Vajrayogini

Why so?
Cheerful birthday once again.
You are my only eyes, heart and life as well as my breath.
Nonetheless, we haven't been together for a while.
Thinking of you is like a sudden flash of lightning in a cloudy night time.
Remembering your smile and your face relieves my pain.
Now and in our previous lives, we have been bound together by the chain of karma.
This letter was written with a combination of sadness and joy.

The reason why we are together in this lifetime is only due to the buddhadharma and the guru.
The little I have been able to help others is because of meeting the only authentic guru.
It is by the blessings of the guru that I am not insane.
However, these days, many people are insane.
Two world wars and nuclear weapons and other chaotic situations have occurred.
Your practising the dharma is not just for me, in the same way that taking of medicine is not for the doctor.
It is in order to cheer up others and blossom their lives.
The Vajrayana teaching is the highest of all.
It is the greatest magic that Buddha has ever taught.
Just as you need a mother to begin with as an infant, Vajrayogini practice is very necessary.
If one realizes the importance of that, one would understand all the Vajrayana teachings.
It is necessary to develop eyes in order to see the brilliance of various flowers.
Then one can develop an understanding of both spiritual and temporal ways.
This is not just thought up by somebody.
It is 2,500 years of wisdom.
I am presenting the ghanta, dorje, and damaru [bell, scepter, and hand drum] as a birthday gift.
They are like a horse and saddlery.

One might say: "Is this the one and only way? But we have become civilized and no longer act as cavemen."
Obviously, everyone would agree that the sky is blue.
One might ask: "Aren't there other truths, other ways?"
There might be, but mathematics must begin with zero.
One might say: "I don't want to buy any (one) else's viewpoint."
In this case, one is not buying others' viewpoint, but trees have to grow up from the ground.
They never take root in the air upside down.
But in any case, one is not buying somebody's view.
The Communists might say: "Lenin's view is the only way."
There are things with view and opinions.
There are also other things without view and opinion, which, as we know, is shunyata [emptiness] and is free from opinion and concept.
Vajrayogini herself represents nonthought.
There are ways to experience that, free from skandhas [ego] and fixed opinions and so obtain universal freedom.
That is why we have the story of the arhats [Buddha's disciples] who died of heart attacks when for the first time Buddha proclaimed the teachings of shunyata.
Once Nagarjuna said: "I have no axioms; therefore what I present is without dichotomy."
I would like to invite you into this enlightened world.
Once more, I would like to express that you remain as my greatest inspiration and companion.

With profound love and thanks,
From your best friend,

I don't know if this will speak to others as it did to me. It was one of those times that Rinpoche was talking directly to my heart and my intellect at once, and he completely disarmed me. My hesitations dissolved on the spot, and I realized that my seeming irritation was actually more a reflection of my connection to him and longing for him. So I wrote this poem in reply:

Chogyie to the Rescue

Your kindness and brilliance go beyond conceptual mind.
Your generosity has transformed my life.
I was lost in the clutches of confusion
Searching for sanity and reference point
And along came Chogyie,
The first genuine person I'd ever met.
You demonstrated that the phenomenal world is merely a playground
To be captured with kindness and skillful means.
Your heart is unsurpassable.
You have taught me to believe in myself.
Your awakened mind is the source of my loyalty to you.
You nurture your students with loving kindness and include them in our Mukpo family.

I'm so glad I met you.
Please prolong your life for the benefit of others
I love you.
Your devoted wife and student.

Does it seem odd that we wrote poems to one another? I suppose in a way it is, but it also was a way of reconnecting with him. In particular, I supplicated him in the poem to prolong his life because I felt that he was beginning the process of dying while at Mill Village. No one else seemed to realize this was happening at the time, which was one thing that made it so difficult for me during this period.

We proceeded with the abhisheka, which I felt as a breath of fresh air in what I experienced overall as a hot, crowded room. After giving the abhisheka, Rinpoche gave a little talk. There were several other people who received the abhisheka, and he gave a lecture to all of us about the principle of Vajrayogini and how to regard the practice.

During the remainder of my visit to Mill Village, I felt anything but receptive to the environment. I couldn't relax there, and I found that Rinpoche wasn't there for me in the way that I counted on him to be. It was very difficult.

During the last years of his life, Rinpoche intensified the training of a number of his close, older students -- including me. I, like many others, was to be left with many unfinished lessons to work out in years to come. The story of two great figures in the lineage, Marpa and Milarepa -- which I referred to much earlier in this book -- involved Marpa setting impossible tasks for Milarepa, asking him first to build and then tear down building after building. This was part of purifying Mila's karma. Marpa would often be drunk and abusive when he dealt with Milarepa. These stories of surrendering are colorful when they refer to events in the past, but when they are about something that happens in your own life, it's much less easy to accept or understand. The atmosphere at Mill Village evoked those classic tales and was anything but easy.

Altogether, I was there for a week or so, and I became incredibly claustrophobic. I felt a lack of personal space; things seemed to be closing in on me.
I had Ashoka with me, and that made being there more difficult. If Rinpoche slept for twenty-four hours and then was up for twenty-four hours, it was completely incompatible with being with a young child. So at one point, I said that I would like to go into Halifax and stay at the Court on Dutch Village Road for a few days. This was a house that had been recently purchased for us. Rinpoche was planning to spend an extended period of time in Halifax, probably beginning in 1986, so this house was purchased with the idea that it could be his residence at that time. In the meantime, some sangha members were living there and fixing it up, and Rinpoche stayed there when he was in town. He told me that it would be fine if Ashoka and I went up there. I left as quickly as I could pull my things together! When we got to the house, I spent a nice evening there. Ashoka stayed in bed with me, and we had a bath and watched movies on television together and went to sleep early.

The next morning, around seven o'clock, a kasung walked into my bedroom and said, "Rinpoche is on his way down." I couldn't believe it. I finally had found a corner of privacy and space, and now he was coming there. The Sawang was staying at Mill Village at this time, also, and he arrived in the car with Rinpoche at the Court. We all gathered in the living room. By then it was close to 8 A.M. Rinpoche wanted to play a game that he loved, called the "qualities game," in which people would ask him questions about the quality of something they were trying to guess. They would ask questions such as: "If the subject of the game were a meal, what kind of meal would it be?" And he would say something like, "It would be a hot dog." Or "It would be roast beef and Yorkshire pudding." You could get a good idea about what you were guessing from the pattern of a number of answers. A British monarch might be described as roast beef, while Rinpoche was more likely to describe an American president as a hot dog.

That was the traditional way that the game was played. But starting in this era, frequently there was no subject. In other words, there was no correct answer and therefore no end to the game. Rinpoche would just give answers, and they weren't related to guessing anything. The game ended when he wanted it to end. Period. This was heightening my sense of being trapped and uncomfortable.

More broadly, I was increasingly upset because I sensed Rinpoche was going into another realm at this point, and I didn't know how to reverse things. He often didn't seem responsive or grounded in the way that I was used to. I felt that everything was spiraling out of my control.

I once asked His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche why, when you had these descriptions of how far out Vajrayana experience was, the great teachers like himself were all so kind and ordinary. He said to me, "It's that way on the outside, but if you could see into my mind, it might look completely crazy to you." So Rinpoche, in a sense, was letting people see into his mind and into their own -- with nothing covering up anything.

Mill Village was the last intense opportunity he was to have to train the people around him, and he didn't let up for one moment. He didn't even say, "Now, I'm training you and this is going to be really uncomfortable." He just was the way he was, and you had to deal with it. It was outrageous in a whole new way; this time, it wasn't glorious outrageousness. It was really tough. The point seemed to be to push people in the environment until they couldn't hold it together anymore -- then see what happens. He didn't relent until people lost it in some way.

At one point during this retreat, a person visiting Rinpoche asked him why he was being so tough on one particular staff member. Rinpoche had been relentlessly breaking this person down, waking him up over and over again during the night, criticizing him, and on and on. This visitor was in a car with Rinpoche and the person Rinpoche had been tormenting, so to speak. The visitor asked, "Why are you being so hard on so and so?" Rinpoche said, loud enough so he could be overheard, "I have to make him feel as bad as I possibly can."
Somehow this made the person feel a little bit better. Later Rinpoche indicated that this person was really very close to him -- he wasn't mad at him or anything. He just was trying to get through the facade and work with what was there.

Again, this was very familiar to me. What Rinpoche was doing at Mill Village had a similarity to the tactics at the Spanish Riding School, where they push people to such an extreme that a person discovers what he or she is made of. The difference in what Rinpoche was doing was that his approach was not based on aggression but was using aggression, turning it on its head, to break through the fundamental aggression. This is similar to how he worked with the Dorje Kasung discipline. It is both the heart of his brilliance and often the most misunderstood part of his teaching.

On the morning Rinpoche arrived at our home in Halifax, when the qualities game mercifully ended, I went upstairs to escape, but Rinpoche followed me. I encountered him in the upstairs hallway. He was standing with Osel, leaning on his arm. I said to him, "This situation is terrible. It's really awful. You are getting completely crazy. You are getting completely out of control, and you're killing yourself. You're drinking yourself to death." And he said, "Well, do you know what's the matter with you? You're a punk." (He was referring to my hairstyle; I had had my hair cut short and spiky in Germany.) I came right back at him. I said, "I may be a punk, but I'm not drunk." With that, he tried to hit me, but he missed.

From my perspective as his wife, which I think is different from a student's perspective, I felt that the whole thing, my whole life, was falling apart. In earlier years, when people were having difficulty accepting Rinpoche or his latest campaign, they would come to me and ask, "Is everything okay? Is everything going to be all right?" I could always say, with complete conviction, "Everything is going to be fine." I had so much faith in Rinpoche and what he was doing. But in the later years, I would have had to say, "I don't know. I really don't know."

As Rinpoche's wife, my role seemed to be to nurture him and help to keep him on this earth, in some ways. To see him sacrificing his body and going beyond the bounds of good sense in terms of his health was excruciating. Maybe that was a lesson in itself. One of the stories about Milarepa is that the last time he was with Gampopa, his dharma heir, when they parted, Mila lifted his cotton robe so that Gampopa could see his emaciated body covered in scabs and sores. "This is the dharma. This is the truth," he said. The end of Rinpoche's life had some of that aspect to it.

When I look back at this period of time now, it still makes me incredibly sad. Yet I can see now that Rinpoche was still doing an amazing amount during this final era. Things actually weren't falling apart. During the year that he was in Mill Village, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior was published, and it was a great success. Rinpoche continued to work closely with Shambhala Training, and when the administration faltered, he moved forcefully to make changes so that the project would remain strong. During this period he also directed a group of students to upgrade the facilities at RMDC, overcoming hesitations within the board of directors, so that we could hold the seminary and Kalapa Assembly on our own land starting in 1985. There were a number of projects like this, which he kept in touch with and moved forward during this period. He was also working on what I can only call a nonconceptual level in terms of planting seeds in Nova Scotia. I don't know how else to put it. He was feeling out the energy of the place, and he was putting parts of himself into the environment there. It was something like that. But as his wife, seeing that he was less and less in his body and less and less healthy, it was heart-wrenching. Sometimes, I think that he kept me away, at arms length, during this era because he knew that he was going to die relatively soon, but he just had to go forward.

Rinpoche at times was like a typhoon, or a hurricane. Viewed from afar, a hurricane appears orderly and beautiful; from inside, it is dangerous, chaotic, and difficult to endure -- unless you are in the eye. The eye of the storm is absolutely still and calm. I think that for much of my life with Rinpoche, I could find the empty center, which was calm and open. I could feel the brilliance and the power, but I wasn't buffeted around by it. However in the later years, I felt that I was part of the swirling chaos. Rinpoche threw everyone into that whirlwind. I think that was deliberate on his part. After his death, I could begin to see the larger pattern again, its power, beauty, and meaning. I realize now that the immediate chaos, though painful and excruciatingly real, was a passing confusion. I find that what endures is the big picture, the vast vision that Rinpoche communicated.

Around the time that I was in Mill Village visiting Rinpoche, Mitchell and Sarah decided to separate after what had certainly been a very difficult time for them. When I left Mill Village, I went back to Boulder, where Mitchell and I were able to spend time together. The Regent and Lady Rich were living in the Court at Eleventh and Cascade. I was supposed to have stayed in Germany for the whole time that Rinpoche was in Mill Village, so we had given them the Court for the year. Rather than try to move in with them, which really didn't appeal to me, I got my own apartment, where Ashoka and I stayed. (Gesar was in Nova Scotia for the rest of the year.)

The next month I found out that I was pregnant again. Once again, it happened while I was using contraception. It was, of course, another big drama, but this time there was no question about whose child this was. David, my second son with Mitchell, was born in August 1985.

At the time of David's birth, Rinpoche was conducting the Magyal Pomra Encampment again. He asked me if I wanted him to be present at the birth, but I told him it was not necessary. My mother, however, actually came to the hospital. Somehow, she was able to accept my unconventional relationship with Mitchell, and she was delighted to have more grandchildren. Mitchell's mother was also there. The two grandmothers waited in separate rooms during my labor, as they were not overly fond of one another. After the baby was born, they both were ushered into the room. When Elaine, Mitchell's mother, saw David for the first time, she remarked, "Another Jewish doctor is born!" My mother countered, "The best part of this child is English!"

Rinpoche had the Dorje Kasung at MPE fire off the big cannon to celebrate David's birth. Rinpoche was very sweet to David when he was an infant, but Rinpoche didn't live long enough to spend much time with him. David was just eighteen months old when Rinpoche died. Rinpoche's hope was that we would name the baby Yung-lo, after the Chinese emperor who built the Forbidden City and was a great warrior-king. Rinpoche felt that this child would have a particular connection to martial energy and that this name would be very appropriate for him. Rinpoche said that this child would be the next Kasung Kyi-Khyap, the commander of the Dorje Kasung. I wanted to call my son "David." Emperor Yung-lo was also a ruthless tyrant who killed many people before converting to Buddhism, so I thought it was a strange name to saddle my son with. However, after thinking about it, I realized that all of our children had Shambhala names and that I trusted Rinpoche's inspiration. My son's birth certificate reads Yung-lo David Mukpo.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:21 pm

Part 1 of 2


In early April 1985, Rinpoche concluded his retreat at Mill Village and prepared to return to Boulder. Since he had been away for so long, there was great anticipation about his homecoming. The day before Rinpoche was scheduled to fly out of Halifax, he and the staff arranged to leave the retreat without notifying anyone in Halifax or Boulder that they were moving up the departure. They left one person behind manning the phones at Mill Village, who was instructed to maintain the illusion that Rinpoche was still there, while making him unavailable to any callers.

Rinpoche and his small band of pranksters flew out of the Halifax International Airport a day early. Their escape was not discovered until the next day, when Rinpoche did not appear for his previously scheduled flight. His whereabouts were unknown. Even I did not know where he was. The Dorje Kasung in Boston, New York, and other likely cities were asked to check the airports he might fly through, and a contingent was sent to the Denver airport. However, Rinpoche had flown into Denver before anyone was aware that he was missing, and he was staying in a hotel in Denver under an assumed name. He was not found.

The night of his expected arrival, a large welcome home gathering and blessing had been planned in the Dorje Dzong shrine room in Boulder. Although people had no idea whether he was going to appear -- or whether he might be in Tahiti, for all they knew -- still the community gathered and waited. There were close to a thousand people in the shrine room. The Dorje Kasung went to the airport at the hour that his original flight would have gotten in, but he did not appear there.

Finally, just at the time he was scheduled to arrive in Boulder, he and his staff pulled up to the curb of Dorje Dzong in a limousine. The Dorje Kasung were there to greet him -- they were waiting there not knowing if he would come -- and he entered the building, took the elevator up to the top floor to the shrine room, and he ascended the Tibetan throne from which he gave remarks and a blessing to everyone assembled. Rinpoche had always loved April Fool's jokes, and this was one of his best (although it came a few days after April 1!). People's reactions to this joke included a wide range of emotions. Some were amused; others were irritated, confused, or angry. Behind that, everyone felt a sense of empty heart and potential loss. Rinpoche's "disappearance" pointed out that we can't take anything for granted. Given that he died two years later, almost to the day, it was perhaps part of the preparation for what was to come. His death, so close to April Fool's Day -- April 4, 1987 -- may have been the biggest joke he ever pulled.

Throughout 1985, Rinpoche continued the schedule of teaching and meetings that he had followed for many years. For the first time, both the Vajradhatu Seminary and Kalapa Assembly were held at RMDC in the summer of 1985. Hundreds of new tents had been purchased, and the facilities had been upgraded to expand the capacity of the center so that it could house hundreds of participants for months at a time. We still hold the seminary at RMDC, now called the Shambhala Mountain Center. The facilities have grown over the years since Rinpoche's death, but he laid the ground by insisting that we begin to use our own center for these large, advanced programs.

Rinpoche made his final visits to many of the city centers where he had been teaching over the last seventeen years. Of course, people did not know that it was the last time; I do not know if he knew this although I strongly sense that he was aware that he would not live much longer. He toured Europe in December and January of 1986, where he gave the Vajrayogini abhisheka -- the first time ever in Europe and the last time during his lifetime. He made his last visit to Karme Choling in June of 1986, where he gave a seminar on the indivisibility of the Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings.

In April of 1986, Rinpoche conducted the Chakrasamvara abhisheka for about three hundred of his students in Boulder. It was very important to him to be able to transmit this teaching to people. The fact that he finally gave this transmission was a mark that he felt that the Vajrayana teachings were firmly established. The ceremony takes two days to complete. It was exhausting for him; his health at this time was quite fragile. He was, nevertheless, delighted to accomplish this. I too was delighted to be present, and I realized his kindness in having pushed me to take the Vajrayogini abhisheka the year before. Without that transmission, I could not have received this final empowerment from him.

Rinpoche conducted his final Kalapa Assembly early in the summer of 1986, and this was followed by the last Vajradhatu Seminary he presided over. There was also an encampment during the summer, but Rinpoche came and went from it very briefly. At the seminary, he gave fewer and shorter talks, and much to everyone's surprise, he left RMDC early and asked the Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje to give the final talks, with the Vajra Regent conferring the Vajrayana transmission at the end.

Rinpoche had plans to go to Halifax to spend the year, beginning in the fall. Initially, this was just to be a one-year visit, after which he expected to return to Boulder. I was planning to remain in Boulder and visit Rinpoche from time to time, rather than move the whole family up for just a year. But all of that was to change, with very little warning.

One day, in August of 1986, while we were at the Kalapa Court in Boulder, Rinpoche asked for me, telling his kusung that it was urgent. I was somewhere else in the house at the time, but I joined him in the bedroom. He said to me, "The time has come. I want to move to Nova Scotia, permanently. We all have to go. You and the children should make plans to come with me. We should leave next week." For some reason, this seemed fine to me, even though it came out of the blue and was the opposite of what I had been intending. He was also proposing to leave several weeks ahead of schedule. It reminds me a bit of when His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche informed me that Gesar was a tulku and we should enthrone him right away. Something about how Rinpoche addressed me made me feel that I definitely should do whatever he wanted at this time. I said to him, with really almost no hesitation, "Okay, we can go."

Then, he said to me, "We're going to move into the Regent's house in Halifax. That will become the Kalapa Court." While that might sound quite straightforward, actually it was quite a bold move. In 1985, Rinpoche had asked the Regent and Lady Rich to move to Halifax to work on developing the organization and the community there, in preparation for Rinpoche to come in a year or so. Through the efforts of the Regent and other members of the community in Halifax, they had found a building on Tower Road for Vajradhatu to move into. There was one woman in our community, Martha Bonzi, who was an extremely generous patron of Rinpoche's work. She had provided funds for the Naropa Institute over the years, and she gave very generously to many other projects, such as funding the activities of the Nalanda Translation Committee. In this instance, she donated the funds to purchase the Tower Road building. There were extensive renovations throughout 1985, and in January 1986, Rinpoche had gone up for the official opening of the center, which was attended by local politicians, religious leaders, and businesspeople as well as the members of our community.

545 Young Avenue, Halifax

The Regent had then found a house that he thought would be suitable for himself and his family to live in. It was a three-story mansion on Young Avenue, one of the most expensive areas in Halifax. The Regent began renovating his house, and he spent exorbitant amounts of money on the project, hundreds of thousands of dollars. There were many complaints about the money he was spending and the manner in which he was preparing to live. To be fair, he and Lady Rich had a large family that included four children (they had twins born in 1981). They certainly needed a lot of space. But the approach the Regent was taking seemed over the top. It appeared that he was going to have quite a lavish lifestyle, beyond anything that Rinpoche and I had ever had. I think that he felt that he was going to assume Rinpoche's role as the head of the community, sooner than later, and this was the kind of house that he envisioned for himself when he was in charge. At the same time, Vajradhatu was experiencing extremely tough financial times. Everything else aside, it was questionable for us to invest so much money in his household.

Up to this point, Rinpoche had heard all the complaints, including some from people close to him whom he trusted a good deal, but he had not done anything about the situation. Then, in this one fell swoop, he dealt with the whole problem. He sent a senior student, Larry Mermelstein, to deliver the message to the Regent that Rinpoche was moving to Halifax and would need his house. Then, Rinpoche phoned the Regent to confirm this. Of course, the money had already been spent, but the Regent didn't get to live in the luxurious palace he had built for himself. As it turned out, he was building it for his teacher, a twist that was not lost on many of us. The Court on Dutch Village Road, where we otherwise would have gone, was a much more modest dwelling, both in size and the level of renovation and interior decoration. It would in fact have been extremely odd to have the Regent living in a house that was so much grander than his teacher's.

According to what I heard, the Regent suffered terribly after Rinpoche's phone call. When Larry gave the Regent the news, his first reaction was, "Whatever the guru wants." However, he then became both angry and distraught and descended into a depression that lasted for days. He didn't want to give up his house, but Rinpoche was the one person he couldn't say no to. I heard that he threw things around that night after the call, he was so angry. I believe this, because when our staff arrived at the new Court on Young Avenue in Halifax -- to move in our belongings before Rinpoche and I arrived -- there were holes in the bathroom walls where towel racks had been taken out of the wall, and there were large screw holes in the wall in the Regent's bedroom where a built-in shrine had been removed from the wall. They took the fixtures and the shrine with them, I guess.

The same day that Rinpoche informed me that we were all moving, he asked Mitchell and me to go for a drive with him. We got into his Mercedes, which had a custom license plate that read TLGD (for Tiger Lion Garuda Dragon). Mitchell was in the front seat. He was riding shotgun, and there was also a driver. Rinpoche and I were in the back. Rinpoche wanted to go to all the places that we had lived in Boulder and places where important things had happened. We drove up Boulder Canyon, and the first stop was the Four Mile Canyon house. He wanted to see that again. Rinpoche kept saying to me, "Tell Mitchell. Tell him about it."

After that, we went by the Red Lion Inn, which is a restaurant up Boulder Canyon where we had many wonderful meals. We went down to the first Karma Dzong, 1111 Pearl Street, and Rinpoche kept saying, "Tell him. Tell him about it." We retraced our early life in Boulder. I began to feel concerned, because Rinpoche seemed to be saying goodbye to everything in Boulder. There was a sense of closure that made me uneasy.

This drive reminded me of a ride that I had taken with him in early 1984, shortly before I went to Germany for the last time. At that time, Rinpoche had been spending a lot of time in bed, and he seemed somewhat depressed, actually. Finally I said to him, "Come on. Let's get up and go for a drive somewhere." He wanted to take a drive up into the mountains, up Left Hand Canyon, north of Boulder. While we were out driving, I said to him, "You've got to cheer up." He was in a very black mood. I said again, "You've really got to cheer up." He didn't respond. So I said, "Come on, look out of the window. It's beautiful. It's a beautiful day. Look out. Remember, Shambhala Training, the Great Eastern Sun, and all of that." He just growled at me. So I said, "What's the matter with you?" He replied, "I'll be dead in three years." That certainly set me back. I said to him, jokingly, "You probably will, won't you, just to show me that you're right." I made light of it, but I had never forgotten that conversation. Now, this drive was feeling strangely reminiscent of that. I had the same feeling of his impending death, although he didn't mention it.

Rinpoche went ahead of me to Halifax. I went to Florida briefly before I joined him. I had taken David to a beautiful baby contest when he was seven months old, and we had won a reduced-price trip to Disney World. So Ashoka, David, and I, along with one of my kusung, Nancy Craig, all went on a short trip to Disney World, and after that I flew up to Halifax.

It was now September of 1986. We all moved into the Court at 545 Young Avenue. It was an impressive building, but to me it didn't have the warmth or the accommodation that the Court in Boulder had had. The Court on Eleventh and Cascade felt so open and bright. The house in Halifax always felt slightly oppressive and cold to me, even though it was magnificent. There wasn't a sense of comfort in the home. Rinpoche was very sweet to me when I arrived and seemed very happy to see me. He had invited a number of students in the Buddhist community to greet the children and me at a reception in the living room. He seemed excited at the prospect of our new life and pleased that the whole family had joined him up there.

I moved into an apartment on the top floor of the house with Mitchell and the two younger boys. Gesar had a room on the floor beneath us, close to where Rinpoche occupied the large master bedroom, which the Regent had painted gray with gray curtains. It was a sleepy room, but it had large windows that looked out on Young Avenue.

The apartment I shared with Mitchell felt like a great luxury. I had struggled for so long with needing personal space for the children and myself within the Court environment. After David was born, I had actually moved out of the Court temporarily, into a house on King Street in Boulder, to try to provide some kind of family sanity. As I described earlier, this was a struggle for many years of my marriage to Rinpoche, especially as the family grew. Having my needs accommodated within the Court in Halifax felt great. I found that I could relax and actually appreciate Rinpoche more.

In our apartment, Mitchell and I had a combined living and dining room in the apartment, and there was even a small kitchen upstairs. We usually had dinner downstairs with Rinpoche, but I could make breakfast for the kids upstairs if I wanted, and I kept snacks for them there too. There were bedrooms for us and for the children, and even a playroom. I spent a fair amount of time with Rinpoche, but I also had my own space. Mitchell and I being together was just an accepted feature of life at the Court at that point, and everyone seemed fine with it. My kusung would come into the apartment, but I was no longer subjected to having the people serving Rinpoche running through and forgetting that anybody else existed.

Rinpoche did not seem well physically. He looked gaunt, and his skin had taken on a dark color. He would sleep for long periods of time, and sometimes even when he was awake, he would be less than lucid. At this point, we were aware that Rinpoche had some health problems that were going to be difficult to address, especially if he continued drinking. That was one reason that he had planned to spend the year in Halifax: he was supposed to take time off from his demanding schedule to try to get a handle on his health. Rinpoche had had diabetes and high blood pressure for years, which are both diseases that many Tibetans develop in the West, perhaps due to differences in climate, altitude, and lifestyle from the environment in which they grew up. Added to that was his excessive use of alcohol over many years, which at this point in his life was overtaxing his liver.

Mitchell had come up to Halifax with us, but he was just on a visitor's visa at that time and couldn't work in Canada. He still was on the staff of St. Anne's Hospital in Denver, so after a couple of weeks, he had to fly back to Denver to work for several weeks.
During that time, I stayed in the house with my three children.

One evening I went down to see Rinpoche. He was in the bedroom sitting on the side of the bed. I saw that he was bleeding from a cut on his ear. I asked him what had happened, and he said that he had fallen and cut his ear on the side table by the bed. He was trembling, and he was bleeding quite profusely. He said to me, "Look, I cut my ear. I can't stop the bleeding." He didn't want me to call anyone, but I insisted. I was very concerned about him. The kusung came in and we got his ear bandaged, and then they left us alone. I said to Rinpoche, ''I'm worried about you. Something's not right with you. You shouldn't be lying in bed all the time. Tomorrow, let's open the curtains and let some daylight in. We can go out. What can we do for you at this point?"

He said, "It's too late. It's too late."

So I started to spend more time with him, hoping that I might cheer him up. He told me a number of things that were on his mind. He said, "The situation with the Regent is terrible. We've got to dismantle him." He was very specific about this, but I had no idea what to do. Several times he said to me, "The Regent is terrible. We should take his position away. He's dreadful." I couldn't imagine how we would go about getting rid of him. A few years earlier, I had complained to Rinpoche about the Regent, and he told me, "Fine. We'll get rid of him. But who else can you imagine? Who could do the job?" He had named some people and then broken into laughter. "Who is there?" There didn't seem to be anybody else he thought could do the job.

During this time, he also said to me, "We should reconfirm you as Sakyong Wangmo." We never did anything about that, either. Sometimes, when I tried to talk to him, it felt as though he had completely checked out. Other times, he was right there; he would come back, so to speak, and we would talk. However, the situation was tenuous. It was not easy to have an ongoing stream of communication with him during that time.

One late afternoon in September, I had just put David to bed. The kusung on duty came running into my apartment, asking, "Do you have a syringe? Do you have some kind of syringe? Rinpoche's not breathing." Not knowing what they meant, I just ran downstairs with one of the bulb syringes that we had for the baby. Then I saw that Rinpoche was not just having trouble breathing; he was unconscious. I screamed at them to phone 911. Then I tried to suction out his throat, which didn't work. I remember trying to put my hand down his throat to see if there was an obstruction. It felt like ages before the ambulance came, but it was just a few minutes. I was allowed to ride in the ambulance. I remember asking, "Does he have a heartbeat?" just as they started CPR. He had definitely had a cardiac arrest. We finally arrived at the emergency room in the Halifax Infirmary, on Queen Street. They took him in the back, and it seemed like aeons while we waited, while they worked on him. We didn't know if they were going to be able to bring him back or not. Eventually the doctor came out and said that they had been able to reestablish a pulse. I was allowed in to see him, and he was completely comatose in the emergency room. Eventually, they admitted him upstairs. Later, I remembered that there had been a lunar eclipse that day.

Rinpoche was completely comatose for at least the first seventy-two hours. Yet I felt his consciousness in the room during this period. That was my perception, in any case.

Mitchell was working in Boulder when Rinpoche had his cardiac arrest. He immediately got on a flight to come to Halifax. About fifty other people got on a plane in Denver the day after Rinpoche's heart attack and flew up. The minute that Jim Gimian heard about Rinpoche, he phoned a travel agent in Boulder and booked every seat on the flights from Denver to Halifax for the next few days. (He and his wife, Carolyn, had been scheduled to come up later that month anyway. They and their infant daughter, Jenny, were going to live in the Court with us as staff for the next year.) Jim held all the available seats, and then he phoned people to offer them a seat. Everyone wanted to come. So within the next forty-eight hours, about a hundred of Rinpoche's most senior students arrived in Halifax, from Boulder and from other places, not knowing what his condition was or if he would recover. We put up about twenty people at the Kalapa Court. Every possible room was used for people to stay in.

While Rinpoche was still in a coma, two important Kagyu lamas who had been very close students of His Holiness the Karmapa, Jamgon Rinpoche and Situ Rinpoche, flew in. They went to see Rinpoche in the intensive care unit at the Halifax Infirmary. I talked with Situ Rinpoche at the Court after he had seen Rinpoche. He said, "We hope that Trungpa Rinpoche will recover, and we're doing all kinds of practices for him. But if Trungpa Rinpoche decides to change bodies, this is no problem." I thought to myself, "Well, that's easy for you to say."

Rinpoche's students -- wherever they lived -- gathered together to practice meditation and to do various chants and practices for his recovery and overall to express their love and devotion for their teacher.

Within a few days, Rinpoche regained consciousness, but it became apparent that he had suffered brain damage. We didn't know how much or whether it was reversible. Eventually we brought him back to the Court. We had a special hospital bed put into his room, and we hired private nurses to care for him around the clock, along with our own people. The nurses became very connected to Rinpoche and to our family, and four of them attended his funeral in Vermont the next year.

Over the next few months, his physical condition went up and down. Throughout this period, everyone in the community continued to practice intensively, alone and in group practice sessions, trying in whatever ways they could to encourage Rinpoche's return to a state of health and also to work with their own state of mind in this difficult situation. He never regained the ability to speak, really. I remember trying to get him to talk, and at one point he was actually able to imitate some of the words that I said. I felt optimistic for a short period. At a certain point, I remember clearly that he said, "I want beer." He definitely said it, although I know that Mitchell didn't believe me when I told him this.

Although there was a phase when we thought that some rehabilitation might be possible, in early March 1987, he began to degenerate again. He was readmitted to the hospital in mid-March of 1987.

I had many dreams about Rinpoche during this period. In January I dreamed that he was standing in a palatial bedroom. He was in his mid-thirties, at the peak of his teaching career, wearing an orange brocade robe. He was very handsome and manifested in the dream in somewhat wrathful form. In the dream, he pointed at me with two fingers, and he said, "I am going to die soon." He opened his eyes wide and said, "The whole thing is up to you now." I interpreted this to mean that I would have to take responsibility for the Shambhala teachings he had given me, as much as I could throughout my own lifetime. In early February, I had another dream about him. He was lying in a single bed on his right side, as the Buddha lay during his parinirvana, or death. He said to me, "I am going to die very soon, and I am very concerned that the circumstances around my death go well."

When he was readmitted to the hospital, he had severe bloodclotting problems. At some point, they had inserted a stomach tube. Toward the end of March he began to have bleeding from the hole in his stomach. Right around this time, I was away for a couple of nights. I went down to New York to attend a trade fair because I was opening a children's clothing store in Halifax, and I had to go down to buy stock for the store. I was in close communication with people in Halifax, so that if I needed to come back right away, I could. I felt that if I continued to do ordinary things and behave as if everything were all right, maybe it would be. I was on some sort of emotional hold at that point, as was everybody. I was taking sleeping pills every night, and functioning on automatic pilot. They phoned me in New York to say that Rinpoche's condition was deteriorating, and I rushed back. The night after I returned home, I had another dream in which Rinpoche and I were in Tibet together. I was in the waiting room of a monastery there. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to greet me. He was in the prime of his youth, wearing a brocade vest and monks' robes. Standing with him was another very great teacher, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma lineage, also in the prime of his youth, wearing a gold robe and an earring in one ear. Dudjom Rinpoche's hair was long and glossy black and styled like a yogi's hair. Trungpa Rinpoche was also there, also in the prime of his youth, and he was wearing monks' robes. He was about twenty-three or twenty-four and his head was shaved.

First, His Holiness the Karmapa entered the room. He sat on an elevated armchair. Then His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche came in and sat on a slightly elevated couch. Finally, Trungpa Rinpoche came in and took his seat on the same couch. Then, I entered the room and sat on the floor, cross-legged in front of a coffee table, opposite Trungpa Rinpoche and facing the Karmapa. His Holiness had a very nice teacup in front of him. He was explaining something to me, something very straightforward and simple.

The next night, I had a dream in which His Holiness the Karmapa and His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche appeared again. The Karmapa pointed to an empty seat and said that they were waiting for Trungpa Rinpoche to join them. Exactly at that moment in the dream, the beeper next to my bed went off. It was there in case of emergencies. I phoned the hospital, and they told me to come right away, that Rinpoche was having terrible bleeding. When I got there, I learned that he was hemorrhaging from the hole where the stomach tube was inserted. Basically, his entire body was breaking down. It became evident that Rinpoche was going to die soon. He had been in one of the regular wards of the hospital, but now he was readmitted to the intensive care unit.

Because of his father's dire situation, Osel, the Sawang, returned from England where he was studying. Many, many people in Halifax came to see Rinpoche for the last time at the hospital. Many others flew in. The hospital even gave us a special sitting room for the people waiting to see him. People were allowed to file into his room in the ICU, several at a time, to say their good-byes. The hospital also allowed us to keep a number of our own staff people on duty, so we always had five or six people around Rinpoche, although there was very little to do. It was such an emotional and heartrending time for people. Many people broke down as they came into his hospital room. This went on for about a week.

On April 4, it became evident that Rinpoche's death was imminent. I, the Sawang, the Regent, and a group of close students went in and stayed with Rinpoche. We practiced all day and on into the evening. Rinpoche developed aguinal breathing, deep breathing from the brain stem. This went on for awhile, and then there were long gaps between breaths. Then, at a certain point, Rinpoche opened his eyes and stared, completely alert, completely awake, intensely into the room. I remember his eyes were as dark and as sharp as ever. At that point, I supplicated him. I said, "Please come back." He closed his eyes and took two more breaths and then he died. Although he had many of the classic health problems that develop from heavy drinking, it was in fact more likely the diabetes and high blood pressure that led to abnormal blood sugar levels and then the cardiac arrest. He died from urosepsis, a result of complications from the heart attack.

Our people, particularly Mitchell, Jim Gimian, and Marty Janowitz, had been working with the hospital to establish what would happen when Rinpoche died. Once again, the hospital was amazing in accommodating us. We had a prearranged plan. Marty had been getting information together on exactly what we should do with Rinpoche's body when he died, according to the tradition of how the body of a great teacher is treated.

Special Tibetan syllables, which are called the seed syllables of various deities, were painted on small pieces of paper and placed on his eyelids, his nostrils, his mouth, and other parts of his face and body. His body was put on a stretcher. We took him downstairs in the elevator and wheeled him out the back door. He was transported back to the Court in an ambulance. When we arrived at the Court, there had been a Tibetan throne already prepared in the living room. Everything else had been cleared out of the room. Mitchell, Jim, and Marty dressed the body in the special chuba that had been selected. His body was placed in meditation posture on the throne, and on his head they placed the special red teaching hat that Khyentse Rinpoche had given him and which he wore for abhishekas. I remember it was quite cold. It was snowing and all the windows were left open so that the body wouldn't decay as quickly. An honor guard of the kasung and kusung was placed on either side of the body, and people practiced in the room with his body around the clock. Later, we learned that for the first time in decades, ice clogged the Halifax harbor in the days before Rinpoche died.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:17 pm

Part 2 of 2

That night, when I finally lay down for a few hours, I dreamed that I was with Rinpoche in a palace. There were four gates in the four directions: blue in the east, yellow in the south, red in the west, and green in the north. It was one large room with the four gates and many pillars. Rinpoche and I were in the center of the palace. He was dressed like a young prince. He was wearing a crown inlaid with jewels and he had a beautiful necklace and earrings. We were making love. (In the dream, he had a huge penis.) The atmosphere was luminous. He had no color and no personality. There was only intense energy. He was facing east, and we were making love lying down and standing up. Then I awoke.

Hundreds of people came to the Court to practice over the next few days. We did all of the practices that Rinpoche had given us throughout the years. Much of the time, people did the sitting meditation practice that Rinpoche had stressed as so important. We also did the Sadhana of Mahamudra, which he had discovered in Bhutan in 1968; the Vajrayogini Sadhana, which he had transmitted to so many students; and the Werma Sadhana, the Shambhala practice that he had written when we were in Mexico.

When a very realized lama dies, they say that the heart of the teacher remains warm for several days while the teacher remains in a state of samadhi, or meditative absorption. I had always been a skeptic about this. However, every day I would put my hand underneath Rinpoche's robes and feel his heart center. It remained warm. Initially, I tried to explain this to myself, thinking that the clothing was keeping Rinpoche's body warm. Then I realized: there's no obvious source of heat here, and the clothing was not going to keep a cold body warm. However, for three days, the heart center stayed warm. Also, there was never any rigor mortis with the body, which is quite unusual.

On the third day, I put my hand on Rinpoche's chest and it was cold. This was the sign that the samadhi was over. At this time, fluids also began to escape from his body, which is another indication that the samadhi has ended.

The Vajra Regent had wanted to accelerate the cremation. He thought that it should be done as soon as possible. He was in touch with His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche to see when Khyentse Rinpoche could come over and perform the funeral ceremony. Khyentse Rinpoche said that he wanted to wait seven weeks before the cremation. The Regent did not want to postpone the funeral that long. However, he could not overrule Khyentse Rinpoche's wishes. So plans were made to hold the funeral at the end of May, and we used traditional Tibetan Buddhist methods to preserve Rinpoche's body, again according to the instructions that are prescribed for the treatment of the body of a great teacher. Rinpoche had left the outline of these instructions in his spiritual will, which he had composed during the Mill Village retreat. For the details, Marty, Mitchell, and Jim consulted with several lamas who knew what to do.

A special coffin had been built to hold Rinpoche's body after the samadhi was broken. At that time, his body was put in the coffin for transportation down to Karme Choling. Karl Springer arranged to charter a special jet from Air Canada, and he got permission to transport the body across the Canadian-U.S. border. The jet was designated TLGD One. It was a large plane that would hold about 150 people. The coffin was in the front of the plane, and Rinpoche's family and many of his close students rode down on the plane. We flew directly into the airport in Burlington, Vermont, where a hearse picked up the coffin. We rode in a motorcade to Karme Choling, which is about an hour away.

I stayed at Bhumipali Bhavan, the house where Rinpoche and I had stayed so many times, with Mitchell and my children. Taggie was still in India, and we didn't bring him over for the funeral. Everyone else was there. The Sawang had his own house near Peacham.

Two Tibetan lamas accompanied us to Karme Choling to assist with the ongoing preparations of the body for the funeral. Lama Ugyen had been a student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He had been working with the Nalanda Translation Committee for a number of years. Lama Ganga flew to Halifax from Los Angeles to assist us. The traditional method involves preserving the body in salts prior to the cremation. Rinpoche's body was placed in a special box in the center of the shrine room at Karme Choling. The body was kept in an upright posture, as though seated in an armchair, and the box was covered in satins and brocades. Elaborate shrines were constructed on all four sides of the kudung, or "body relic," with candles and incense burning on the shrines throughout the day and night. Many of Rinpoche's uniforms and other clothing and personal objects were also displayed in the four directions surrounding the kudung. At the beginning and end of practice periods, students could come up and circumambulate the body and look at his belongings. There was always an honor guard in the shrine room, with several of the Dorje Kasung standing at attention on the sides of the kudung and others posted at the entrance to the room.

You could come in and practice at any hour of the day or night; people wandered in or signed up to practice at different times. There were also large group practices throughout this period. We did the Sadhana of Mahamudra and the Werma Sadhana at certain times, and people gathered to practice the vajrayogini Sadhana together.

There were thrones and seats for the various lamas and dignitaries set up in the four corners of the shrine room as well. Throughout the month, many Tibetan teachers came to pay their respects and to practice in the shrine room. In the evenings, a visiting teacher would often give a talk. There were four main teachers from Rumtek whom the Karmapa had empowered to carry on the lineage after his death. One of them, Shamar Rinpoche, was not able to attend the funeral itself, but he was one of the first visiting teachers to arrive during the intervening weeks and he did various ceremonies in the shrine room there. He also gave a talk one evening. The other three, Jamgon Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche, and Gyaltsap Rinpoche came for the cremation itself.

Buddhist teachers from other traditions also came to Karme Choling, some briefly and some for an extended stay. Kanjuro Shibata Sensei, the archery master and bow maker to the emperor of Japan, who had made a very close connection with Rinpoche and our sangha, was at Karme Choling for almost the entire time. He worked on painting the purkhang, the structure in which Rinpoche's body would be cremated. Purkhang literally means "corpse house" in Tibetan. It had the appearance of a small stupa. The Sawang's mother, Lady Konchok, also was there. She worked on many of the preparations for the funeral. She had first come over to visit Rinpoche and the Sawang in 1986, after a separation of many years. She was becoming a beloved part of the community, and it was wonderful to have her there.

My mother spent several weeks at Karme Choling. She brought two of her closest English friends with her, Jack and Alex, whom Rinpoche had earlier nicknamed Thomson and Thompson, from characters in the Tintin comic books.

The Regent oversaw many of the arrangements for the funeral, and I have to say that he spared no expense. A number of major donors had given money for a trust fund that was originally intended as an endowment for Vajradhatu. There was provision, however, to use the funds for cases of extraordinary need. The Regent felt that the funds from the trust should be used for the cremation, and I think we all agreed. Vajradhatu flew many people from all parts of North America, as well as from Asia and Europe, to Vermont and paid for hotels or rental houses for many of the dignitaries. A movie crew filmed all of the preparations, as well as the cremation itself, and a corps of photographers documented the funeral and the weeks that led up to it. The Dorje Kasung set up an encampment up the hill from the main Karme Choling building, close to the site where the cremation would take place, in a big open meadow. About 150 members of the Dorje Kasung lived there for over a month. They provided all manner of service: guarding Rinpoche's body in the shrine room, providing drivers and other help for the family and invited guests, and helping in many, many other ways.

As I mentioned, a small circular building, called the purkhang, was constructed for the cremation in a meadow above the main buildings at Karme Choling. This structure was large enough so that Rinpoche's body could be elevated in the upper portion, with openings on all four sides at the height of his head. Below this was an area where the fire would be built. The purkhang was decorated with gold leaf and other pigments. In the four corners surrounding it, large platforms were erected. Thrones were built for His Holiness, the Kagyu teachers, and other officiating teachers. There was also space on one of the platforms for the family, the Regent, the members of the board, and other senior students.

During the last few years, after the Mill Village retreat, Rinpoche had officially appointed a group of seven women as his heart companions, or sangyum, which is usually a term reserved for the guru's wife. He had asked the sangyum both to be his personal attendants and companions during the last years of his life and to help provide leadership in the community. He had envisioned them overseeing the board of directors, and he considered them to be part of his family. So they were to be seated with us as well.

As the 33rd anniversary of my Sangyum ceremony passes, I am filled with devotion to the great guru who duped us all and the rapist culture that has defined his legacy. I pay homage to the omniscient one who managed to make thousands of people believe he was enlightened and that this way of being was something to aspire to. I pay homage to the sangha who made it their mission to keep the truth about how he really lived and died secret. I pay homage to the dharma that was built on the belief that elevating narcissists who claimed to have so much more knowledge than the rest of us would result in the blinding bright light of enlightenment. I pay homage to the students who devoted their lives and often their livelihoods and their intelligence to a deeply disturbed sociopath. I pay homage to the Mukpo lineage -- which began some 40 or 50 years ago, built on the ravings of a madman who appointed a child molester and murderer to hold his seat. I pay homage to the men who drove that sick bastard, tom rich, around the back alleys of cities late at night looking for prostitutes when the secret was out about his deadly infection and he was too arrogant and addicted to power and sex to care about the men he was infecting. I pay homage to the trees and the greenery and so on. I pay homage to Doctor Death who succeeded in allowing this “master” to kill himself with alcohol, cocaine and forced vomiting. I pay homage to my sangyum sister wives who are probably experiencing some pain and anger due their own ignorance about being used as a sex slave by the great enlightened one. I pay homage to his two sons -- Gesar and Osel, -- who grew up to be violent, abusive sex offenders like their father.

I pay homage to Tagi -- a true innocent here, who’s mother gave birth through the haze of a fifth of scotch and a scalding hot bath. I am sorry his life was ruined the moment he was born to her. I am sorry that she chooses to spend her money on horses rather than her son and that Tagi now lives in a state-funded group home. I am sorry the Mukpo’s think disowning Gesar means they must disown his child, who didn’t get even a birthday card from this heartless, rich family. I pay homage to the ministers and acharyas and shastris and Kalapa board members who managed to cover up Osel’s crimes for 25 years, silencing and kicking his victims aside with false friendships and trinkets. I pay homage to the women acharyas, including Pema, who want this man to come back and continue robbing the coffers of an organization that claims to be founded on kindness and compassion. I pay homage to the women enablers who sold their sisters down the river in order to maintain some seat of import in this rape culture of sham.

But from my heart, and for real, I stand 100% with the victims of Osel Mukpo. I am broken hearted for everyone who has taken their lives along the way, especially for those who were under the spell of this false idea of enlightened society. I pledge to keep telling my truth, regardless of the deep hatred that comes my way from current defending members of the sham organization. I forgive my younger 23-year-old self for thinking we were all on some grand mission to bring the dharma to the heathen hordes of small people who needed to find a greater meaning in their lives. Please, I hope everyone who is questioning this gets help and support from outside of the cult. You are so much more than this perverted idea of crazy wisdom.

-- An Anniversary Recollection of my Sangyum Vows, by Leslie Hays

In 1984, after his retreat in Mill Village, which John Perks wrote about in his book, Chogyam Trungpa (CT) decided to marry some more women....At first, the Rigdens said he should take three more wives, so in order of weddings that would have been Karen Lavin, Cynde Greives [Grieve], and Wendy Friedman....But as time passed they upped the number to five. That’s when I met him. I was number five and I was groomed to be attractive to him by the father of the children I nannied for. During the summer of 1985, after our wedding, CT apparently fell in love with Ciel, and she became number 6. Agnes Au followed about four or five months later, I think, bringing the total number of wives to 7. But just to be on the safe side, they had 250 copies of the marriage licenses made....

I need to say here that Ciel first slept with CT when she was very young, 13 or 14 years old. Of course people will deny this but it is the truth. She told me herself. I doubt anyone out there has the guts to back me up on this, however. Most still want to believe he was omniscient and powerful and not some pervy, rapey asshole who preyed on children. If your daughter was sleeping with the king of the universe at that age, would that be OK?...

CT was not the only powerful man to reach out to Ciel -- her love affair with Mitchell Levy began when she was 16. WE ALL KNEW -- JESUS CHRIST WE ALL KNEW....

Ciel married CT on her 18th birthday. I was at the wedding, as were the other wives, and I remember her parents brought Polish caviar and vodka, or maybe it was champagne. Her father made a toast, saying he gave his daughter to CT completely, that he trusted him with all of his heart and soul, and that he was honoured to become part of the family, or something similar. CT toasted him back as his father in law and thanked him for his kindness or generosity or something. (Folks can you imagine?) The wedding was a very big deal that summer. Of course, only people who had attended Assembly were invited to this event.

-- The Life and Death of Chogyam Trungpa's Child Sex Slave: Ciel Turzanski [Drukmo Nyima], by Leslie Hays [Drukmo Dashen]

All of them came to Karme Choling and helped with the practice and other preparations. Karme Choling itself was filled to the rafters. Many of the regular residents generously moved out of their rooms into tents in the fields surrounding the main building, while the sangyum, the board, and other senior students -- many of whom had brought their whole families -- were given rooms in the house. There was a whole wing of Karme Choling set aside for families with young children. The place was packed. I have already mentioned the dreams that I had before Rinpoche died. I continued to dream about him. Sometimes one has dreams that are obviously just the product of one's discursive thoughts. Other times I have experienced lucid dreams, where I have self-awareness within the dream. In that situation, there's almost a voice in my head that says to me: "Look at this; this is it." There's some sort of reality and texture that is very different in a lucid dream. While I was staying at Bhumipali Bhavan, I had a few dreams that felt significant to me. Once, after I had gone to sleep, I woke up in my dream to find myself in the bedroom, in my dream body. Rinpoche was sitting in the room, which looked exactly the way it did when I was awake. Rinpoche was in the chair by the shrine that we always had in the bedroom. He was naked, sitting as he often did with his left leg bent at the knee, his left foot resting on the other knee. I said to him, "So here you are. What's going to happen to you? Are you going to be reborn?" And he replied. "No, not now." He said, "I think I have to rest for awhile. I'm going to go and rest in the dharmadhatu." (The dharmadhatu is a realm without form; the big, impartial space of dharma.) This dream felt very sweet and ordinary, as though he were simply explaining the situation.

Several weeks before the cremation ceremony, Khyentse Rinpoche arrived from Bhutan. I remember him coming in the door at Karme Choling. He was such a wonderful old man: tall, massive. He was having a little trouble walking at that point. His knees weren't good, and he leaned very heavily on his attendants. I don't know how old he was exactly, perhaps around eighty. He was definitely getting on in age. You could see how exhausted he was after his long journey. He was still so gracious and kind to everybody. He gave all of us who had assembled a blessing, and he made a few remarks about how good it was to be with Trungpa Rinpoche's students, and how he was going to provide guidance to us in the days to come. Then he went upstairs to a special room that had been prepared for him. It was a large room usually reserved as a secondary shrine room, which was turned into a combined bedroom and sitting room for him. The next day, after he'd had a chance to rest, he began to check into all the arrangements that were being made. Over the next weeks, he would come down every day and practice with people in the shrine room. However, he spent a lot of time in his quarters upstairs, where he would receive people for private meetings and small gatherings.

I started to visit him every few days, which he encouraged. He told me that I should never hesitate to come to see him if I had anything to discuss. It was amazingly generous of him. He would sit cross-legged on the huge bed with his mala, his rosary, in his enormous beautiful hands. The whole room felt luminous to me, golden, whenever I went to see him. I found it a tremendous relief to spend time with him during this period.

I was able to discuss many issues with Khyentse Rinpoche. In particular, he wanted to know if I had had any dreams about Rinpoche. He thought these might be helpful in finding Rinpoche's reincarnation. I told him that I wasn't sure there would be an incarnation that we could find. Given Rinpoche's immersion in Western culture, I wondered at that time if there would be a tulku in the traditional sense. I told him that Rinpoche had told me and many of his other students that he was planning to be reborn as a Japanese scientist in Osaka. Khyentse Rinpoche said, "You shouldn't worry. Trungpa Rinpoche might have many rebirths. There might be many incarnations. It's like when you look at the moon reflected in a bowl of water. If you look in more than one bowl at a time, you may see many, many reflections. But all are reflecting the same thing." He continued, "Trungpa Rinpoche can be reborn in many different manifestations. That's possible." I didn't really understand that, and I still don't, I have to say. But this is what he said.

He also told me that the dream in which Rinpoche and I were making love was in the middle of the Chakrasamvara palace, which had never occurred to me. He said that Rinpoche was the manifestation of Chakrasamvara in that dream, and that the interpretation of the dream was that I was Rinpoche's true consort.

He also told me that any problems in my relationship with Rinpoche, which had occurred at the end of his life, were completely repaired, and that the dream was also symbolic of this. He gave me advice on how to raise my sons and promised to help educate them as they grew older. He talked about how Trungpa Rinpoche was like his son, and that they trusted one another completely, and that therefore he would definitely do whatever he could to help me and to help our community. He asked me to write and tell him about my dreams after the cremation ended, which I did. He told me that I should question Trungpa Rinpoche in the dreams about where he was going to be reborn. I tried to do this, but I didn't find anything out that was that helpful.

As the weeks went by at Karme Choling, Khyentse Rinpoche's wisdom in allowing seven weeks between the death and the cremation became evident to me. I think it was absolutely necessary for people to have this time to process what had happened. In the days after Rinpoche died, I remember feeling how strange it was to be alive when he was dead. It seemed very strange that I could still walk on this earth when he did not. For all of us, his death was not a simple issue of burying somebody and getting on with your life. He was the reference point of everybody's life. Meeting him and. studying with him was the most precious thing that had ever occurred in the lives of his students. Now, in the future we would all have to sort out our entire lives without him. It's difficult for me to know how to talk about this. However, I can truly say that we needed the time, those weeks, to prepare for the cremation.

The ceremony itself took place on May 26, 1987. Thousands of people came for the ceremony. Early that morning, I arrived from Bhumipali Bhavan dressed in a Tibetan chuba, and my sons were also dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing. We had rust-colored chubas made for the three boys. I had one that was dark green. Mitchell was dressed in his khaki uniform. He was one of the eight Dorje Kasung who carried the palanquin containing Rinpoche's body in the procession from the shrine room at Karme Choling up a path that wound through the woods to the clearing where the cremation would take place. Among the others were the Kasung Kyi Khyap, David Rome; the Kasung Dapon, Jim Gimian; and the Kusung Dapon, Marty Janowitz. These four marched in front. In the back of the palanquin were four other senior Dorje Kasung: Hudson Shotwell, Suzanne Duquette, Jan Wilcox, and Dennis Southward. Barry Boyce held a huge umbrella on a long pole that hung above the kudung, providing a canopy.

The procession was led by a lone piper, who played "McPherson's Lament" and a mournful tune he had composed for the occasion. Behind him came a small group of Tibetan monastics as well as Western monks and nuns from Gampo Abbey, the monastery Rinpoche had started in Nova Scotia. Then there was a large contingent of the Dorje Kasung, followed by the body in the palanquin carried by the eight students. Then came the rest of the Dorje Kasung marching very slowly, extremely slowly. Behind that was a procession of people who had been particularly close to Rinpoche, led by our family, including the four boys and me. The Regent, Lady Konchok, my sister and her husband, the sangyum (female companions), the board of directors and their wives, and others all marched in the procession. Khyentse Rinpoche and the other high lamas who were going to lead the ceremony were already up the hill on their thrones when we approached. The entire procession passed under a large wooden gate, which had been erected for the occasion, and slowly approached the purkhang. The four pallbearers then placed the body in the purkhang.

When we completed the climb up the hill, we took our seats. I was seated with the Regent and the Sawang on a wooden platform close to the purkhang. The other members of the family, the sangyum, members of the board, and other close students were also nearby. Khyentse Rinpoche was seated on a throne on the main platform to the left of me. He was leading the practice and his seat directly faced the purkhang containing Rinpoche's body. Before the practice itself began, everyone assembled there was invited to circumambulate the purkhang in a clockwise direction and to offer a white scarf, a khata, as they walked past the front of the stupa. The Sawang, the Regent, and I led the offering procession. We were told to try to throw our khatas through the ornate window opening in the front of the purkhang, through the little hole where you could barely see Rinpoche's face screened from view but sort of peeking out. I remember that my khata went right into that opening. There were thousands of people attending the funeral, so it took quite a long time for this khata offering. From time to time, the honor guard around the stupa would have to remove the hundreds and hundreds of white scarves that were accumulating on ropes strung in front of the purkhang.

It was tremendously colorful up there in the meadow. I noticed how beautiful the purkhang was, ornamented with its gold designs and with the Mukpo colors: brilliant white, bright red and orange, and deep blue. These colors were used in the Mukpo family emblems that adorned the corners of the monument. While everyone was walking around the purkhang to pay their respects, I had the opportunity to look out and see the thousands of people who were assembled there. It had been cool and misty in the early morning, but the sun burned off the mist, and it was a brilliant sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. People were standing or sitting on chairs and blankets they had brought with them, and the crowd spread out across a great expanse. There were also tents for special guests and invited dignitaries. James George was there, the Canadian High Commissioner to India and Nepal, whom Rinpoche had met in the 1960s. Ato Rinpoche was there from England. Several Zen teachers with whom Rinpoche was close also attended the funeral. There were many dignitaries who had come to his cremation.

After everyone completed their circumambulation, we began the ceremony itself. The main text that the Western students used was a fire offering connected with the vajrayogini Sadhana that Rinpoche transmitted to so many of us. All of us practiced this together. His Holiness and the other Tibetan teachers practiced a number of other fire offerings in Tibetan. After the practice had gone on for some time, the fire for the cremation was lit. According to tradition, no one who had known Rinpoche could light the fire. So they had to search for someone with no physical connection to him. One of the monks from India, I believe, performed this service. At a certain point, which was a different point for different people in the audience, I think almost every one of us broke down. It was impossible not to weep, not to be overcome with the tremendous sadness of this moment. As the flames were lit, a cannon was fired off, and for many of us, that was the moment when the tears started. Not surprisingly, many of us wore our dark glasses that day. While the flames were burning, Shibata Sensei and three of his senior students performed a traditional ceremony, which is done when an emperor dies. At the four corners of the purkhang, they plucked empty bows and then offered straw sandals to the fire.

When the fire offerings were finished, there was one announcement, the only announcement during the entire day. "Ladies and gentlemen, the Shambhala Anthem." We sang as we wept.

At the end of the afternoon, as the fire subsided, after the body had been consumed in the flames, we looked in the sky and there was a succession of rainbows. The most dramatic was a circular rainbow that circled around the sun in the sky above the purkhang. It was absolutely circular and quite vivid. This was written about in the press as an amazing phenomenon. A white cloud in the shape of an Ashe appeared, and three hawks circled and circled. Other small clouds in the sky looked to many onlookers like tigers, lions, garudas, and dragons. They too were tinged with rainbow light at one point. Two of the senior teachers accompanying His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche later interpreted some of the auspicious signs: fog in the morning, which was neither too high nor too low, and which hung like a protective parasol over the area; then the rainbows, then the clouds shaped like khatas, ritual scarves; and finally the three hawks, dakinis or celestial maidens, who had taken the form of birds and were welcoming Rinpoche.

After the formal part of the cremation had ended, I remained up in the meadow to have the opportunity to talk with people. It was very moving to see and speak with so many of the people who came to the cremation ceremony. I realized even further what a profound impact Rinpoche had had on people's lives. Speaking with people who were so filled with love and sadness, it was impossible not to be affected.

Several days after the cremation, I had to go back up to the meadow. This time there were very few of us. Traditionally, several days after the cremation of a great teacher, there is a ceremony where the purkhang is opened and the bones and ash are removed. As Rinpoche's consort and his wife, I was expected to accompany the lamas up to the purkhang. Someone opened the section where Rinpoche's remains were, and they told me that I should be the first one to reach in and pull out a bone. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a young teacher who was being trained by His Holiness, was in charge of this ceremony. As I looked into the purkhang, I saw a pile of charred bones. I hadn't expected to be so shocked, but it was very traumatic. I kept thinking, "I never thought I'd see you in this condition. I never thought I'd see you like this." While I was peering into the stupa, somewhat stupefied, Dzongsar Rinpoche said, "Go on, go on." He handed me a khata, and I had to lean in and draw out a bone, which I finally did. Then the rest of Rinpoche's bones were taken out. Some, including a section of his pelvis and part of his skull, were preserved to be placed in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya that we were planning to build at RMDC. Many others were pounded down to make tsa-tsas, which are small sculptures in the shape of stupas that are made from various substances including the bone relics and ashes of the teacher. Later, these would be given to various of Rinpoche's disciples and to the many meditation centers he founded, as objects of veneration to be kept on the shrines in each center. Some of his major disciples were also given one of his teeth to keep as a relic. One of these was later placed in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

'During the seven weeks between Rinpoche's death and the cremation, we could ride on the energy of the situation most of the time. We were carried along by all the work that needed to be done to prepare properly for the cremation. Khyentse Rinpoche's presence also buoyed people's spirits. During the weeks that led up to the cremation, it was almost as if the power of Rinpoche's energy kept him alive for us. With the conclusion of the cremation, there was a huge deflation. His presence had definitely moved on.

Everyone was left with the realization that now they had to live their lives without the support and presence of Rinpoche. There was a quality of emptiness and loss. Something unfathomably precious had been lost from this world. Something amazing had passed through this world and now was gone.

At the end of the spiritual will that Rinpoche wrote in 1984, he said,

Altogether we are happy to die. We take our joy along with us. It is unusually romantic to die:

Born a monk,
Died a king--
Such thunderstorm does not stop.
We will be haunting you, along with the dralas.
Jolly good luck!1

I know that for me, I will continue to long for him, as long as I have breath. I am left, however, not only with a broken heart but with a tremendous appreciation of my life. I remember one evening sitting with him in a restaurant by the water, and he said to me, "You know, you should appreciate this. This is our life. This is our marriage. It won't be like this forever." I laughed him off a little bit. Now, in retrospect, I realize that he was saying something profound about impermanence and the importance of appreciating one's life. I learned from him to appreciate the world as sacred.

As his wife of seventeen years -- in a marriage that not only had tremendous highs but also had its low points, which were not easy -- I can attest to the fact that Rinpoche was not an ordinary human being. His actions cannot be imitated, neither should they be interpreted by conventional reference points. Rinpoche had no other motivation in his life than to enrich the lives of others and to make the world a better place. He gauged all his successes in those terms. His sole motivation was to enrich the lives of others and create a world in which others could flourish.

He taught me that in order to save the world, one must begin with oneself. One of the main thrusts of his teachings was to trust oneself and to rely on one's own basic sanity. I have tried to take that teaching to heart. He devoted his life to showing others that path. His every moment was devoted to helping other people. To be able to live one's life with a fraction of the wisdom and compassion that permeated his would make one an exceptional person.

As the model of sanity and compassion in my life, he continues to guide me. Throughout my life, I continue to question myself as to how he would want me to handle one situation or another. He is no longer outside of me, so when I turn to him, I turn to my own wakefulness. He will always be my gold standard.

There is a song that Rinpoche loved by Robert Burns. It is called "The Winter It Is Past." He owned a treasured recording of the Scottish vocalist Jean Redpath singing this melancholy ballad. Later, one of Rinpoche's students, Jane Condon, used to sing it to him in a beautiful soprano voice. Sometimes when I think of him, especially when I long for him, I hear this song in the background:

Oh the winter it is past and the summer's come at last
And the small birds sing on every tree
Their little hearts are glad but mine is very sad
For my lover is parted from me

Oh the rose among the briar by the water running clear
Has charms for the linnet and the bee
Their little hearts are blessed but mine can know no rest
For my lover is parted from me

For my love is like the sun, in the firmament does run
Forever constant and true
But his is like the moon that wanders up and down
And every month it is new

All you who are in love and cannot it remove
I pity the pains you endure
For experience makes me know that your hearts are full of woe
A woe that no mortal can cure.2
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:18 pm


To my astonishment, it will have been almost twenty years since Rinpoche's death when this book is published. Contemplating this, two things come to mind. One is how quickly life passes. In some respects, the years since Rinpoche's death seem like the blink of an eye. Also, when I think of what Rinpoche accomplished in just seventeen years in North America, I am in awe.

Even in sickness and death he continued to have enormous influence. Following Rinpoche's cardiac arrest, during the period leading up to his death, and for several years after he died, a stream of students moved to Nova Scotia from the United States, other parts of Canada, and Europe. Several hundred of his most senior and closest students settled in Halifax and other areas of the province. While he was alive, I think that people felt that they had all the time in the world to fulfill Rinpoche's wish that we would join him in Nova Scotia. Now it became clear that we had no time left at all. This inspired people to pick up and move themselves, their families, and businesses to this new homeland.

Whether they joined in this odyssey or not, wherever they were, all of Rinpoche's students now had to take responsibility for the teachings they had received from him. Rinpoche appreciated and magnetized people with talent and intelligence. During his lifetime, he supported everybody, and, at the same time, he expected a lot of people. He asked them to live up to their own highest expectations. The people who were close to Rinpoche have developed into remarkable human beings. Uniquely, individually, his students have led incredibly productive lives, which I feel have had a profound and beneficial effect on other people.

When the teacher dies, it is like breaking a vase; the air that was held in the container mixes with the whole of space. It is partially in this sense that the teacher's death is a blessing. Similarly, Rinpoche's students, who were held together in the circle of his life, were released and let go to find their own way. Many have remained in Nova Scotia, Boulder, and other major centers he founded, but many others are spread around the world.

In its own way, his death was the beginning of a tremendous period of growth for a lot of people, including myself. However, it was not a particularly easy time for any of us. During his lifetime there had been a dependence upon Rinpoche for sanity and for a confirmation of our personal worth. After his death, when that external reference point was gone, people hit rock bottom in states of depression, anger, and psychological poverty. Then slowly, as people began to internalize his teachings and turn those teachings into their life path, realization began to occur on many different levels. It is like the story of Ananda, a monk who attended the Buddha for many years. It's said that Ananda didn't fully understand the Buddha's teachings when the Buddha died, and that was when his personal journey really began to move forward.

Following Rinpoche's death, the Vajra Regent moved immediately to consolidate power, and he began to slowly weaken the community's financial and psychological support for my family. Within days after Rinpoche's death, I learned that his life insurance policy had already been cashed in before his death to help pay Vajradhatu's bills. I began to panic a bit about how I would provide for my family. I went to see the Regent and reminded him that Rinpoche had intended to put the house at Mill Village, which Vajradhatu now owned, into my name. I told him that I wanted to sell the property and put the proceeds in a trust for my children's education. The Regent agreed, and the house was put on the market. At the time of the sale, however, I was only given something like ten thousand dollars. The rest went to Vajradhatu. Initially, the Regent offered me a monthly stipend, which I think was $1,400 a month to cover my living expenses. (The mortgage on the Court was covered by the organization.) Less than a year after Rinpoche's death, however, the Regent told the comptroller of Vajradhatu, Bill Karelis, to stop sending me a monthly check. To his credit, Bill refused to cut us off, a kindness that I have never forgotten.

William Karelis enters the courtroom at the Boulder County Jail on Friday (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer - Daily Camera)

-- Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually assaulting student: Community expelled mentor over separate misconduct allegations in 2004

I felt that I should continue to support the sangha in whatever ways I could, and this included teaching within Shambhala Training, something that Rinpoche had always encouraged me to do. The year after Rinpoche died, when I was asked to teach an advanced level of Shambhala Training in Texas, the Regent wrote to me, telling me that I was only qualified and authorized to present the most elementary levels of the teachings. This was typical of how he attempted to belittle the family. He began to refer to the Sawang as "the little prince," a term he employed in the most derogatory fashion.

Rinpoche had left instructions that a committee consisting of myself, the Regent, the Sawang, the Kasung Kyi Khyap, and the two dapons was to be convened to help with the transition after his death. I was to chair this committee. The Regent never once brought this group together. Rather than seeing it as his role to support the family and to advise the Sawang as he grew into his maturity, the Regent obviously felt threatened by us.

In late 1988, the community learned that the Regent was HIV positive and had developed AIDS. A young man in the community who had had a brief sexual encounter with the Regent was diagnosed with HIV and could only trace his illness to the Vajra Regent. I did not know about the Regent's condition until this all came out. I learned later that Rinpoche had arranged for the Regent to be tested for HIV, without his knowledge, in the mid-1980s. Rinpoche had then met with the Regent to inform him of his illness and to warn him to be careful not to infect others. The Regent didn't heed Rinpoche's warning, it seems.

There was an uproar in the Buddhist community -- and in the press. The Regent, without actually being stripped of power, was forced by actions of the board and other community members into retreat in California. Finally, with the intercession of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the Regent gave up his attempt to exercise authority over Vajradhatu and he was in a sense exiled into retreat for the remainder of his life. Early on in this crisis, I traveled from Halifax to Boulder where I gave a talk to the community in which I said that I thought that the Regent should step down, for the good of everyone. Although I was criticized in some quarters for taking this public stand, I feel that it was necessary, and I have no regrets. The Regent's family and a small group of students who remained loyal to Osel Tendzin established a community in Ojai, California, where a few of them remain today. The Regent died there, from complications of AIDs, in 1990. We are as of this writing still working to have a genuine reconciliation of the two communities, based on dignity and truth on both sides. This troubling chapter in the history of our community continues to haunt us, as perhaps it should. It serves as a powerful, ongoing reminder of the dangers of self-deception, especially on the spiritual path. It was not just the failure of one individual. In a sense, we all failed. Sometimes I think that it will be the sum total of the achievements of all of Rinpoche's students that will ensure that his wisdom remains. In that sense, we are all burdened with the responsibility for transmitting his teachings and seeing that his legacy endures.

In the years following Rinpoche's death, I found that some people were looking to me for leadership, but many also wanted to tell me how to behave and what to do. There was no malicious intent, but people started to become domineering and brittle with one another. In Rinpoche's absence, not surprisingly perhaps, numerous power struggles developed. Vajradhatu was having tremendous financial problems, and some of the negativity about this became focused on me.

Rumors also abounded during this period. At times, they were quite petty. To give an example, at one point, Ashoka had a pet turtle that ate small quantities of ground beef. One evening, I went down to the kitchen and found out that we had run out of this food. A volunteer was preparing shrimp for dinner, and I cut a small sliver of one of the raw shrimps to feed the turtle. A few days later, I heard that a story was going around the community that Lady Diana had a pigeon that only ate lamb chops!

Under financial pressure, the board of directors decided to sell the Kalapa Court and only informed me after the decision had been made. I was to be given the money from the sale, with the expectation that I would buy a house somewhere else in Halifax. I felt like a pawn in a male power play. The negativity was permeating my family life as well as my public life. Criticism sometimes came in the form of poisonous letters, some anonymous and some not. Eventually, I reached a point in my life where I experienced no personal joy at all. Strangely, it reminded me of how I had felt growing up in England. People seemed to have tremendous expectations about how I should behave, which had no relationship to my own experience or instincts. The situation weighed on me very heavily.

Eventually, in 1989, Mitchell and I decided to move the family away from Nova Scotia to Hawaii -- just about as far away as we could get. We expected this to be a temporary move. We had been through such a stressful time that we needed to go to a place that was isolated and relaxing. Mitchell wanted to get back into his medical career, and he was able to get a good position in a hospital in Honolulu. Our family needed the time to heal. We stayed in Hawaii for three-and-a-half years. Mitchell and I married in 1990, in a small family ceremony in a Buddhist temple there. In Hawaii, we were able to discover some family unity and provide a normal environment for the children, which was very important.

Soon after Rinpoche's death, the Sawang traveled to India to study with His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He remained there until 1990 when, with the death of the Vajra Regent, he was called upon to assume the leadership of the Vajradhatu community. In 1995, he received the Sakyong abhisheka from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Penor Rinpoche also recognized Osel as the incarnation of Mipham, a great Tibetan teacher who died at the beginning of the twentieth century. Osel Mukpo is now widely known as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In the mid-1990s he changed the name of the organization from Vajradhatu to Shambhala. He continues to propagate the dharma teachings of his father. In 2005, he married Semo Tseyang Ripa in a private ceremony in Boulder, Colorado, and they plan a large public celebration in Halifax in 2006. I have been asked to conduct the public ceremony for them, and I am delighted to be able to welcome Lady Semo Tseyang into our Mukpo family in this way.

Taggie returned from Sikkim soon after Rinpoche's death. For many years now, he has been living at Bhumipali Bhavan at Karme Choling. Although things have not changed a great deal with him, I have recently been extremely pleased to see that he is more cognizant and has an improved ability to converse with people about simple subjects. His seizures have finally been controlled. I think he is content, and I am so grateful to all those who have supported his care.

Gesar had a turbulent adolescence, and we went through a period when communication between us was difficult. We are now extremely close. I have been delighted to see him mature and to take on many of his father's qualities. He is tremendously intelligent and has exceptional artistic talent, which I believe he will develop more over time. After Rinpoche's death, Gesar studied with Dzongsar Khytenste Rinpoche and spent time in India, where he received teachings from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Later, he traveled to his predecessor's monastery, Sechen, in Tibet, when it was very difficult to do so, and he also joined the family when we visited Tibet in 2002.

Gesar was already on his own when we moved to Hawaii, but he did join us there for several months. He spent a number of years in California, where he attended community college, played football, and worked on several Hollywood films. Gesar moved back to Nova Scotia in 2003, where he married Anna De Nicola, the daughter of longtime sangha members. In 2004, their daughter Chokyi Sofia Mukpo was born. I am a proud grandmother. Chokyi is a very special little girl.

Ashoka graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in political science in 2004.
In 2005 he attended the seminary at the Shambhala Mountain Center. Earlier, in 2002, he was enthroned in Tibet as Khamnyon Rinpoche during our family's trip to visit the Surmang monasteries that Rinpoche came from. Hundreds of Tibetans mobbed our hotel in Jyekundo, the last town before Surmang, to see Ashoka and receive his blessing when we arrived there.

From time to time, we get phone calls in the middle of the night from Ashoka's monasteries in Nepal or Tibet. I pick up the phone at 3 A.M. and someone says loudly into the line on the other end, "Khamnyon Rinpoche?" I respond, "Sleeping." They continue repeating Ashoka's name until I get him to the phone.

Within the next few years, Mitchell and I plan to travel with Ashoka to his monastery in Tibet. It is located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Ashoka made a deeper connection to the Tibetan world when we traveled there in 2002. He was initially extremely skeptical about assuming any position as a teacher. Through the course of our trip, he began to realize the suffering of people there and how he could help them in his role as a teacher. He particularly was taken, not just with the poverty of the people, but also by the treatment of dogs and other domestic animals in Tibet. He made strong pronouncements to people there that they needed to stop mistreating their animals. Later, we said that this was his first dharma talk.

He has just become engaged to be married to Bianca Velez, whom he met at Georgetown. They both plan to attend graduate school within the next few years, and Ashoka hopes to have a career in the field of human rights. Rinpoche talked about Ashoka having the potential to be a great statesman. It has been interesting to see his interest in political science, and I feel that great things lie ahead for him.

David graduated from high school in 2003. He also attended the seminary in 2005. Currently, he is traveling for a year with his brother, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in the role of an attache and kusung. This will be excellent training for him, whatever direction his life takes. He plans to attend university in 2006. David has shown a great connection to the Dorje Kasung since he was a small boy. He is constantly cheerful, empathetic with others, and a delight to me.

Altogether I am very proud of my boys, especially as I see more and more that they feel a connection to Rinpoche and to his teachings. They feel a responsibility to help care for Rinpoche's legacy and to continue the work that he began. This makes me especially pleased.

Rinpoche and I had always wanted a daughter, and we wanted to name her Chandali, but we were never blessed by one. He even wrote a poem to Chandali Mukpo. In 1988, Mitchell and I heard about an eight-year-old Tibetan girl who was in quite dreadful circumstances. She had been adopted by a woman in North America who mistreated her and had placed her for awhile in foster care. We decided to adopt her. So Chandali Mukpo joined our family at that time. Chandali is currently in nursing school in Providence, Rhode Island: She is a beautiful, gentle young woman. Altogether I am pleased that we are a closely knit family.

My mother, Elizabeth Pybus, died in Chatterwood Nursing Home in Hampshire, England, on September 8, 1998. She was eighty-eight. Recently, our family suffered a tragedy when my sister, Tessa, passed away. She was diagnosed in 2001 with hepatitis C. Tessa worked very hard to help raise funds for a Shambhala center in Providence in the years prior to her death. In the spring of 2006 she received a liver transplant but she did not recover, and she died on the evening of March 28, surrounded by members of our family. I was reading to her from the Tibetan Book if the Dead when she died. She had a peaceful and luminous death. I miss her profoundly.

While in Hawaii, I started riding again, and found that my passion for it returned with a vengeance! While we were living there, I was able to arrange for Rinpoche's horse, Drala, to be flown over. I found a place where he could spend his last days on the island of Hawaii. The woman who took him used to feed him strawberries in the field. When he finally died, around the age of twenty-five, they discovered that the mare with whom he'd been pastured was pregnant. I attempted to buy the foal, but it was not for sale.

After a few years in Hawaii, both Mitchell and I felt ready to move back to the mainland. I moved the family to Seattle ahead of Mitchell while he was investigating work possibilities. There, I connected with a wonderful group of people interested in dressage. Within a very short period of time, I developed quite a good teaching and training business, and I continue to travel regularly to Seattle to teach. However, Mitchell did not find a good position there, and after about a year, we moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where we have remained. Mitchell became a professor in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Brown University.

Although my life may have been unconventional, I have had two marriages in which there's been a tremendous amount of love. I feel that I've had very good fortune in my life in terms of the men I've been married to. For me, my marriage to Mitchell is in fact a continuation of my relationship with Rinpoche, in that Mitchell and I both have a commitment to bringing the Shambhala vision into our lives. We have supported each other in developing ourselves and our lives as Rinpoche encouraged us to do.

During Rinpoche's lifetime, Mitchell and Rinpoche worked together on creating an organization called Amara to explore how to treat sickness from the Buddhist perspective. After Rinpoche died, Mitchell threw himself into his career 100 percent. He is now one of the foremost physicians in critical care in the United States, and in 2009 he becomes the president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. He has been instrumental in bringing into the mainstream of Western medicine the compassionate care of the dying and providing support for their families.

For my part, I have been very actively involved in my dressage career for the last ten years or more. Currently, I spend about six months a year in Florida, teaching and training horses.
I have had many horses over the course of my career. Currently, I have excellent horses to ride. There are many vicissitudes of life and of horses, but I find that I take more and more delight in the day-to-day discipline of dressage.

When Rinpoche and I first came to America, I tried to keep the dressage world and the dharmic kingdom separate. Over the last ten years, I've noticed a change, so that many of my friends who are interested in dressage are now also interested in spirituality. I have great respect for the people I meet who have taken their discipline to its pinnacle. To do so, one must go through a process of working with one's own state of mind. I know many people who are extraordinarily open-minded Shambhalian people in their own right. For me, the situation becomes more and more comfortable, so that I no longer have to keep the two worlds apart.

Khyentse Rinpoche was helpful to our community in every way. After Rinpoche's death, he gave advanced Vajrayana teachings at Karme Choling and then traveled to Halifax and to Boulder to give the same empowerments. These were teachings that Rinpoche had always hoped could be transmitted to his students. As he had promised, His Holiness took a role in the education of my two sons who were old enough to study with him. His advice and loving kindness were invaluable to everyone during the difficulties surrounding the Vajra Regent's illness and death. Following the Regent's death, His Holiness counseled everyone to remember the preciousness of Rinpoche's teachings and to work together. He left letters to that effect that still continue to guide us. His Holiness died in Bhutan in September 1991, and the Sawang led a large delegation to His Holiness's funeral.

In 2001, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya That Liberates upon Seeing, dedicated to Rinpoche's life and Buddha activity, was consecrated at RMDC, now renamed the Shambhala Mountain Center. Khyentse Rinpoche gave that name to this monument. It is the largest stupa in North America. More than a thousand of his students attended the consecration ceremonies. The stupa is an exquisite and very powerful expression of the devotion of his students, and represents an outpouring of generosity from many people. A small stupa was consecrated that same year at the monastery that Rinpoche started in Nova Scotia, Gampo Abbey, in Pleasant Bay on Cape Breton Island.

At the time of the consecration of the stupa, I had begun to feel that it was very important for me to travel to Tibet and visit Surmang, Rinpoche's monastery there. I wanted to take the children with me, except for Taggie, of course, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche -- who had already gone the year before, leading an official delegation from Shambhala. In the summer of 2002, Mitchell and I journeyed there with Gesar, Ashoka, David, and Chandali. It was extraordinary to see the place that Rinpoche came from and to meet so many people there who were still so dedicated to him. We spent quite a lot of time with the Twelfth Trungpa, who is now a teenager. We also met a number of members of Rinpoche's family, including his nephew Karma Senge Rinpoche, who had traveled all over Tibet collecting the teachings that Rinpoche had written and transmitted to people before leaving there in 1959. Karma Senge has now made two trips to North America. Rinpoche's brother, Damchod Rinpoche, was also at Surmang when we were there, and he and Karma Senge will be coming this summer to Halifax for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's wedding.

When we first arrived at Surmang, it was two or three o'clock in the morning. The monks greeted us wearing wrathful mahakala masks and playing Tibetan horns, drums, and cymbals, which make an unearthly music. I was profoundly affected by the primordial feeling. In the morning, we were able to see the state of Surmang, and it was heartbreaking and somewhat shocking to realize that the monastery had not been rebuilt, and that people were living in extreme poverty.

I was very moved throughout our visit, not only by the physical hardship people had endured, but also by the knowledge that they had also suffered from losing Rinpoche so early in his life. We got so much from him; they gave up so much. Since that visit, I have been spearheading the work on a number of projects to rebuild Surmang Dutsi Tel. We have started the Konchok Foundation as the umbrella organization for this work. Currently, the monastic school, or shedra, is being rebuilt, and we have also been raising funds for the education of the Twelfth Trungpa. I am particularly interested in providing education for the laypeople as well as for monastics, and I would like to work on sustainable economic ventures for Surmang. For one thing, I want to donate 100 dris, female yaks, to help establish the dairy business there.

Before Rinpoche died, he had received letters from Surmang asking him to return. He had written back, saying that he was not well enough to travel there by jeep or horse, but that he might try to helicopter in. That never happened. In the years after Rinpoche's death, when much of Tibet opened up to Westerners, for various reasons, our community neglected the rebuilding of Surmang. However, now we are striving to make up for lost time. I am very pleased the project is moving forward. In the end, I hope that Surmang will become a place where our students can go to practice, and also that we can send people there to share the teachings that Rinpoche gave us. While I was there, for example, I gave the transmission of the Werma Sadhana to several hundred people.

During Rinpoche's lifetime, he wrote more than a dozen books. Since his death, more than two dozen additional books of his teachings have been published based on his lectures, which are preserved by the Shambhala Archives in Halifax. In 2004, an eight-volume, three-thousand-page collection of The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa was published. There are plans to publish many more volumes of his teachings. We are particularly looking forward to the publication of several volumes based on the teachings that Rinpoche gave at the seminaries, a project that is being headed up by Judith Lief. There is certainly no dearth of material overall. When we added up all of the talks he had given in North America, we discovered that there were more than two thousand of them! Between now and the twentieth anniversary of his death, the Archives is digitizing all of the audiotapes on which his lectures were recorded, and centers around the world will have digital libraries of this material.

We are now in the initial stages of planning a Chogyam Trungpa Foundation and Institute that will help to ensure that the publication of his work will continue and that generations of students can continue to study what he taught.

Every year on April 4, the anniversary of Rinpoche's death, students around the world gather to practice together and to share with one another stories of his life and teachings that he gave. Rinpoche planted the seeds for the teachings to flourish in the West. Because of the depth of his intention and his actions, and because what he gave us was absolutely unadulterated, I know that Buddhism will firmly take root in the Western world, as another link in the chain that began with the Buddha. When Padmasambhava brought the teachings of Buddhism to Tibet, he was able to present their essence, transmuting them into the Tibetan culture. Similarly, Buddhism is taking root here in a uniquely Western way; based on Western sanity and wisdom, independent of the crutch of other cultures. This is due, in part, to the purity and the intensity of Rinpoche's efforts. I have no doubt that he will be with us for a long time, and that my grandchildren, as well as their children, will come to know him.
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:19 pm


I first met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Diana Mukpo in 1970, soon after they arrived in the United States. I had recently published the American edition of Rinpoche's book Meditation in Action and had invited him to the San Francisco Bay area to teach and promote his book. I was very much looking forward to meeting him in person. At thirty-one, Trungpa was already a revered Tibetan Buddhist master, but he was not yet well known in this country.

In those days, I had little idea of the impact this meeting would have on my life, both personally and professionally. My relationship with Rinpoche was one that gradually evolved from the traditional rituals of publisher to author into the spontaneity of a profound friendship. Then at some point I realized that he was no ordinary person but someone who fully embodied the teachings of the Buddha. At that point our relationship changed and I formally became his student. If one put aside or suspended habitual conceptions, it was clear that Rinpoche was the most extraordinary person, specifically his unwavering dedication to benefit others at his own expense. He always considered other people and beings (including animals) before his own comfort.

In all the seventeen years I knew him I never saw him do anything that was just for himself. Rinpoche was a person you could never pin down -- he was a man who possessed an infinite variety of faces, totally in and of the moment.

In the future there will likely be many more memoirs and biographies published by various people who were associated with Trungpa Rinpoche, as well as those who will feel inspired to study him from a distance. This book sets the proper tone and context for any books that might follow by telling the story in an uplifted manner, and without holding back seemingly unpleasant details. Diana Mukpo's fearlessness and candor, the very qualities that Rinpoche so appreciated in her, are abundantly present throughout. She has done a great service to her husband and to the vast array of his students -- not only for those who met him, but for those that will meet and be inspired by him through his teachings, and now, through this book.

In my view, the history of Chogyam Trungpa in the West is analogous to that of the eighth-century Indian Buddhist master Padmasambhava, who was principally responsible for bringing the complete teachings of Buddhism to Tibet. Likewise, Chogyam Trungpa is arguably the most important figure in the transmission of Buddhism to the West -- through his activity, speech, and writing, the power and compassion of the Buddhist path of enlightenment have been clearly presented.

I once heard Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche describe his "family business" as "caring for others." During his lifetime, Chogyam Trungpa presented himself in many different forms: as a monk, a married man and father, a crazy wisdom yogi, a university founder, an artist, a monarch, and so on. In Sanskrit, a man like Trungpa Rinpoche is described as a mahasiddha -- one who not only has achieved great accomplishments through practice, study, and realization, but who has also transcended the bounds of ordinary social expectation or behavior. In the Buddhist tantric tradition, a mahasiddha is an individual that manifests in order to reveal the ultimate truth for the benefit of anyone he or she encounters, through their activity, through their speech, and through the profundity of their mindstream. It is said that it doesn't matter if the person meeting the mahasiddha is attracted or repelled. In the Indian tradition of Tantric Buddhism, there are many accounts of these iconoclastic masters called mahasiddhas. The most well-known have been collected in The Lives of the Eighty-Four Mahasiddhas, an assemblage of life stories both revered and studied by Tibetan scholars and practitioners. Many of the great teachers of Tibet are considered to be emanation rebirths of these mahasiddhas. In fact, Trungpa Rinpoche is traditionally considered to be an emanation of the mahasiddha Dombi-Heruka. The biographies of these mahasiddhas present extraordinary examples of enlightened behavior that not only transcend duality, but also avoid the ordinary norms of materialism with activities that might seem, to the uninitiated, both outrageous and miraculous.

Even though Padmasambhava and the mahasiddhas lived at another time, in another place, if one understands the timeless realities and truths of their essential natures, one can also realize that it's entirely possible for such beings to exist in different cultural contexts. It is my belief that Trungpa Rinpoche is one of the great mahasiddhas of our time. Like the mahasiddhas of the past, he transcended the ordinary bounds of social convention, sometimes employing outrageously innovative means to encourage others to realize fearlessness, compassion, and ultimately complete enlightenment.

The Buddhist teachings emphasize that we should not look outside of ourselves to discover the truth. I often heard Chogyam Trungpa repeat this point to his students, urging us not to look to him or any spiritual teacher as a savior. The seventeen years that Trungpa Rinpoche taught in North America were like a golden age. What he was able to accomplish and inspire others to accomplish was completely magical. His love of life and honesty about the human condition provided fertile ground to plant the seeds of Buddha dharma.

This book can inspire one to be a decent human being in whatever one does and not become bound by cultural and social conformity. Rinpoche was true to himself and to his tradition. Because he was an honest person who didn't hide anything, the details of his life were not off-limits to his students. There was no wizard behind a curtain. If you want to know something about the man, this is the book to read -- his day-to-day life was the core of his teachings, the display of his enlightened activity. Rinpoche's transcendent qualities of compassion and wisdom will, over time, be appreciated as his major contributions to our society. Those qualities are illustrated in this book.

Thank you, Diana Mukpo.

Samuel Bercholz
Wesak Day, 2006
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:34 pm


It is said that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This is certainly one of those times. Looking at Chogyam Trungpa's life is like looking into a cloudless night sky. It is impossible to count the stars; impossible to name them all; impossible to describe all the possible constellations. So this book does not try to tell the life, but one life of many. In this case, perhaps, the advantage is that the storyteller is the Moon, who reflects the light of the Sun rather well. It seems that way, at least, to me.

Diana Mukpo and I began work on this project in late 1998. It took us almost eight years to complete. The manuscript is based on more than a hundred hours of taped conversations, which took place in Providence, Rhode Island, and in Wellington, Ocala, and West Palm Beach, Florida. Additionally, Diana Mukpo recorded a number of reminiscences on microcassettes. To verify dates, places, and occurrences described here, we drew heavily on both published and unpublished teachings by Chogyam Trungpa. Unpublished material in the Shambhala Archives was an important source of information, as were issues of the Vajradhatu Sun. We also relied on eyewitness and second-party accounts offered to us. We thank all those who have offered information and helped us to solve various puzzles. Where there have been disagreements or discrepancies, we have relied on the author, Diana Mukpo, as the principal witness. For errors of fact or omission, we apologize.

We have not "composited" any characters knowingly. However, in a few cases we have knowingly changed or omitted names. We regret that we could not include or name hundreds of people who played important roles in Chogyam Trungpa's life.

Many people contributed to this book. Again, it is impossible to name them all. Thanks to all of the members of the Mukpo, Levy, Pybus, and Gimian families who appear in this book and were supportive in so many, many ways.

We would like to thank our agent, Joe Spieler. Melvin McLeod, editor of The Shambhala Sun, convinced us to show him an early draft of the manuscript and published two articles based on the material. We might never have finished the book if he hadn't had this inspiration. Thanks also to Trish Rohrer for editorial help with the second article. My husband, James Gimian, helped me through many rough times and spots with this book, and I cannot thank him enough. I would also like to thank my father, Edward Rose, who taught me much about reading, writing, and listening that was helpful in preparing this manuscript. Tessa Pybus provided information about her mother Elizabeth Pybus and other events in the book. Larry Mermelstein and Walter Fordham read the book carefully and made many helpful comments. For their general support and love, in addition to those already mentioned, we thank Lisa, Winnie, Jenny, Amy, and Rosie.

Eden Steinberg, our editor at Shambhala Publications, has been remarkable to work with. Thanks also to Sam Bercholz, Peter Turner, Jonathan Green, Hazel Bercholz, Kendra Crossen Burroughs, Steve Dyer, Julie Saidenberg, Ben Gleason, and Art McCabe for their support and contributions.

We would like to thank all those who read and commented on the manuscript in draft and penultimate form. In addition to those already named, thanks to Rudy Wurlitzer; he has been supportive in so many ways. Thanks also to Michael Herr, Pema Chodron, Steve Silberman, Andrea Mcquillin, Liza Matthews, Gail Flynn, Dierdre Stubbert, Jane Carpenter, Fabrice Midal, Larry Shainberg, Art McCabe, Bill Turpin, Lindsay Brown, and Barry Boyce. At the time that this is being written, a number of other people are reading the manuscript, and we thank them in advance for their input. We are also grateful to the photographers whose work appears here, including Andrea Roth, Blair Hanson, George Holmes, Tharpa Chotron, and others as yet unidentified. We also thank the Spanish Riding School for permission to reproduce a photograph of Diana Mukpo riding at the school, and we offer our profound thanks to the Shambhala Archives both for access to their photo collection and for their efforts to preserve these images.

For the privilege of having known Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and having served him, we offer profound thanks. For the opportunity to share in writing this book, we offer a deep Shambhala bow to him and to one another.

[quote]By the confidence of the golden sun of the Great East
May the lotus garden of the Rigden's wisdom bloom.
May the dark ignorance of sentient beings be dispelled.
May all beings enjoy profound brilliant glory.[/b]
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Re: Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa by Diana Mu

Postby admin » Sun Dec 29, 2019 12:33 am



1. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected "Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. 1 (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), p. 265.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected "Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. 7 (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), pp. 299-300.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, from a letter to Bob Copley, October 31, 1969, unpublished.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom if Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), pp. 73-74.


1. From an address to the Naropa Institute Conference on Christian and Buddhist Meditation, August 9, 1983, as quoted in Speaking in Silence: Christians and Buddhist on the Contemplative Way, ed. Susan Walker (Halifax: Vajradhatu Publications, 2005).

2. Chogyam Trungpa, letter, unpublished.

3. Chogyam Trungpa, True Command: The Teachings if the Dorje Kasung, vol. I (Halifax: Trident Publications, 2003), pp. 138-139.

4. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected "Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. I (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), pp. 282-283.

5. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. I (Boston: Shambhala Publications., 2004), p. 283.

6. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. I (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), p. 266.

7. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. I (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), p. 279.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, in "Ten Years in America," Vajradhatu Sun special issue, 1980.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, "Tenth Anniversary Dharma Celebration," Vajradhatu Sun 3, no. 3 (February-March 1981).

3. The approach to the sitting practice of meditation that Chogyam Trungpa taught was always based on the highest teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Because he emphasized the simplicity and formless aspects of the practice, sometimes people thought that his approach was elementary. In fact, he taught his students the technique of mixing mind and space by placing an emphasis on the outbreath. He taught his students to go out with the outbreath, as he often described it, and then to allow a gap. The inbreath, he said, would happen naturally, without any emphasis. This approach was expansive and encouraged one to develop a broad sense of the environment. He further emphasized the openness to space by having his students sit with their eyes open, facing the central shrine rather than facing the wall or otherwise closing themselves in. While in the beginning he allowed a loose approach to the physical or bodily aspects of the practice, he slowly introduced more discipline, with particular emphasis on good posture, which he termed good "head and shoulders." Rinpoche always stressed the importance of receiving personal meditation instruction from someone trained in the discipline.

4. Chogyam Trungpa, "Opening Talk: Alaya Preschool," March 1978. Boulder, Colo., unpublished.


1. Thomas Rich, in "Ten Years in America," Vajradhatu Sun special issue, 1980.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, "Vajracarya's Birthday Address," Vajradhatu Sun 1, no. 4 (April-May 1979).

3. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.


1. The Five Buddha Families -- buddha, vajra, karma, padma and ratna -- refer to five distinct styles of both enlightened and confused behavior. Each family has both a sane and a neurotic manifestation. The buddha family relates to spaciousness or openness on the one hand and ignorance on the other. It is associated with the color white, and its symbol is the wheel. It is connected with the element of space, which is considered to be the fifth element in the Tibetan Buddhist view. Vajra energy is connected with intellectual penetration or precision, on one side, and with the cutting quality of anger and aggression on the other. Its element is water, its color is blue, and the symbol for vajra is the tantric scepter, which itself is called a vajra, or dorje in Tibetan. Karma, which simply means action, is connected with appropriate action and spontaneously fulfilling one's endeavors on the enlightened side and with jealousy, or competitiveness, on the other. It is associated with the color green, with the element of wind, and the symbol of karma is a sword. Padma, which literally means lotus, is connected with communication, discrimination, and compassion in its sane embodiment and with neurotic grasping and unbridled passion in its neurotic form. The symbol for padma is the lotus itself, it is connected with the color red, and its element is fire. Finally, there is the ratna family. Ratna means jewel, and the jewel is the symbol of this family. It represents enriching and equanimity, appreciating all situations, or on the other hand its neurotic side is a sense of poverty and envy, coveting what others have. It is connected with the element of earth and the color yellow.

2. Rinpoche wrote an article about his view of a proper relationship to alcohol and drinking. "Alcohol as Medicine or Poison" can be found in The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, volume 3, pages 456-460. Here are a few excerpts that give some sense of his view of the problematic as well as the positive possibilities connected with drinking. He had much more to say about this, and for those interested, I would recommend reading the whole article.

There seems to be something wrong with an approach to alcohol that is based entirely on morality or social propriety. The scruples implied have solely to do with the external effect of one's drinking. The real effect of alcohol is not considered, but only its impact on the social format .... It seems that alcohol is a weak poison which is capable of being transmuted into medicine .... Nevertheless, alcohol can as easily be a death potion as a medicine. The sense of joviality and heartiness can seduce us to relinquish our awareness. But fortunately there is also a subtle depression that goes with drinking .... Psychologically, intoxication with alcohol is a process of coming down, rather than, as with the other substances [such as LSD, marijuana, and opium], of going up into space. Whether alcohol is to be a poison or a medicine depends on one's awareness while drinking. Conscious drinking -- remaining aware of one's state of mind -- transmutes the effect of alcohol.

3. Chogyam Trungpa, diary entry, unpublished, translated from the Tibetan by John Rockwell.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), p. 38.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, excerpt from "Wait and Think," in The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. 7 (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), pp. 395-396.


1. A horse's height is measured in hands, which each represent four inches. A sixteen three hand horse would measure 16 x 4 inches plus three inches for a total of 67 inches. The measurement is from the ground to the highest point of the withers -- the bone that arches at the base of the horse's neck.

2. The title "His Holiness" is usually reserved for the head of one of the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Although Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was not the formal head of a lineage, Rinpoche felt that he was a man of such realization and presence that he should be called by this title. For this reason, I have kept this title and used it frequently in the manuscript to refer to Khyentse Rinpoche, although I know that some of his students would not agree that it is accurate. Nevertheless, it reflects my own feeling about his extraordinary qualities, as well as what Rinpoche instructed us.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), p. 100.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.

3. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.


1. Elizabeth Pybus, letter to Chogyam Trungpa, 1977, unpublished.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, letter to Diana Mukpo, 1977, unpublished.

3· Chogyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), p. 110.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, Court Vision, unpublished manuscript.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), pp. 140-141. (The version presented here is an earlier version of the book, before the reference to LSD was removed.)

3. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. 7 (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004), pp. 515-518.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, Kalapa Assembly Transcripts (Boulder: Vajradhatu Publications, 1979), pp. 77-79.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, "He Raised the Dharma Victory Banner in All Directions," Vajradhatu Sun 4, no. 2 (December 1981-January 1982): I.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, "Shambhala Anthem," in Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1999), p. 207.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, vol. 7, p. 258.

2. Chogyam Trungpa, poem, unpublished.

3. Diana Mukpo, poem, unpublished.


1. Chogyam Trungpa, excerpt, spiritual will, 1984, unpublished.

2. Robert Burns, "The Winter It Is Past," 1788.
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