Quotes by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Give up the Paranoia
The open path is a matter of working purely with what is, of giving up altogether the fear that something may not work, that something may end in failure. One has to give up the paranoia that one might not fit into situations, that one might be rejected. One purely deals with life as it is. (OD)
Nobody is being aware of anything, but itself. The razor blade cuts itself. The sun shines by itself. Fire burns by itself. Water flows by itself. Nobody watches.
Self-deception means trying to re-create a past experience again and again, instead of actually having the experience in the present moment. In order to have the experience now, one would have to give up the evaluation of how wonderful the past was, because it is this memory which keeps it distant. If we had the experience continuously, it would seem quite ordinary, and it is this ordinariness that we cannot accept. We keep ourselves busy remembering the wonderful experience of openness we had in the past. This is self-deception’s game. (CTSM)
Ignorance is the sense of having one particular aim and object and goal in mind. And that aim and object, that goal-mindedness, becomes extremely overwhelming, so you fail to see the situation around you. That seems to be the ignorance. Your mind is highly preoccupied with what you want, so you fail to see what is. (TM)
Returning to the world
You have to go beyond duality and you also have to go beyond nonduality at the same time. You have to return to duality: that is the final goal. It is like the ox-herding pictures: finally you return to the world, with a big belly and with the ox behind you. That picture, returning to the world, is the final point. So you have duality; then you discover nonduality because of duality; then you transcend both nonduality and duality because of them. (TS)
Many people make the mistake of thinking that since ego is the root of suffering, the goal of spirituality must be to conquer and destroy ego. They struggle to eliminate ego's heavy hand but that struggle is merely another expression of ego. We go around and around trying to improve ourselves through struggle, until we realize that ambition to improve ourselves is the problem
Humility is the vessel that accommodates the neuroses of others. Then, having been accommodated, their neuroses are transformed. So it is very important for us to realize that humility, gentleness, and genuineness are absolutely necessary if we are interested in working with others. And if we are not, then we are not actually practicing dharma, the buddhist teaching, at all.
Life is a humorous situation, but it is not mocking us.
The bodhisattva vow acknowledges confusion and chaos—aggression, passion, frustration, frivolousness—as part of the path. The path is like a busy, broad highway, complete with roadblocks, accidents, construction work, and police. It is quite terrifying. Nevertheless it is majestic, it is the great path. “From today onward until the attainment of enlightenment I am willing to live with my chaos and confusion as well as with that of all other sentient beings. I am willing to share our mutual confusion.” So no one is playing a one-upmanship game. The bodhisattva is a very humble pilgrim who works in the soil of samsara to dig out the jewel embedded in it. (MF)
Our life is an endless journey
Our life is an endless journey; it is like a broad highway that extends infinitely into the distance. The practice of meditation provides a vehicle to travel on that road. Our journey consists of constant ups and downs, hope and fear, but it is a good journey. The practice of meditation allows us to experience all the textures of the roadway, which is what the journey is all about. Through the practice of meditation, we begin to find that within ourselves there is no fundamental complaint about anything or anyone at all. (SPW)
If you are able to relax—relax to a cloud by looking at it, relax to a drop of rain and experience its genuineness—you can see the unconditionality of reality, which remains very simply in things as they are, very simply. When you are able to look at things without saying, “This is for me or against me, I can go along with this”, or “I cannot go along with this,” then you are experiencing a state of wisdom."
We must try to discover how to view this embarrassing and potent commodity (money) as a part of ourselves that we cannot ignore. When we relate to money properly, it is no longer a mere token of exchange or of abstract energy;it is also a discipline. No longer hooked by it as a medicine that has become a drug, we can deal with it in a practical, earthly way as a master deals with his tools. (THB)
Ignorance is the sense of having one particular aim and object and goal in mind. And that aim and object, that goal-mindedness, becomes extremely overwhelming, so you fail to see the situation around you. That seems to be the ignorance. Your mind is highly precoccupied with what you want, so you fail to see what is. (TM)
Discipline is about giving up the search for enlightenment. (TPIL)
Boredom is part of the discipline of meditation practice. This type of boredom is cool boredom, refreshing boredom. Boredom is necessary and you have to work with it. It is constantly very sane and solid, and very boring at the same time. But it's refreshing boredom. The discipline then becomes part of one's daily expression of life. Such boredom seems to be absolutely necessary. Cool boredom.
Ocean of Dharma
You should appreciate yourself, respect yourself, and let go of doubt and embarrassment so that you can proclaim goodness and basic sanity for the benefit of others. The self-existing energy that comes from letting go is called Windhorse in the Shambhala teachings. Wind is the energy of basic goodness, strong, exuberant, and brilliant. At the same time, basic goodness can be ridden, or employed in your life, which is the principle of the horse. When you contact the energy of Windhorse, you can naturally let go of worrying about your own state of mind and you begin to think of others. If you are unable to let go of your selfishness, you might freeze Windhorse into ice.
I began to realize that I would have to take daring steps in my life. Nevertheless, there remained some hesitation as to how to throw myself completely into proclaiming the dharma to the Western world, uprooting spiritual materialism and developing further compassion and affection. I went through several months of ambivalence, of feeling pushed forward and pulled back simultaneously, unable to respond clearly in spite of a series of small warnings. Then driving one day in Northumberland, I blacked out at the wheel of my car, ran off the road, and smashed through the front of a joke shop. I was brought to Newcastle General Hospital. In spite of the pain, my mind was very clear; there was a strong sense of communication—finally the real message had got through—and I felt a sense of relief and even humor. Twenty-four hours later, awakening suddenly, I found that my left side was paralyzed. When plunging completely and genuinely into the teachings, one is not allowed to bring along one’s deceptions. I realized that I could no longer attempt to preserve any privacy for myself, any special identity or legitimacy. I should not hide behind the robes of a monk, creating an impression of inscrutability which, for me, turned out to be only an obstacle. With a sense of further involving myself with the sangha, I determined to give up my monastic vows. More than ever I felt myself given over to serving the cause of Buddhism. (BT)
The Bodhisattva Leap
According to the bodhisattva’s way—the way of those working for the benefit of others—we have to get into it; we have to do it! We have all these faculties such as generosity, patience, discipline, energy, meditation, and knowledge already in us. Then a leap is necessary—a leap in the sense of developing basic confidence. We might feel inadequate, but nevertheless we pretend we can do it. We push ourselves into the situation. We are uncertain whether we are able to tread this path or not, but we still decide to do it. (GP)
There is an interesting story of a group of people who decided to go and study under a great Tibetan teacher. They had already studied somewhat with other teachers, but had decide to concentrate on trying to learn from this particular person. They were all very anxious to become his students and so sought an audience with him, but this great teacher would not accept any of them. “Under one condition only will I accept you,” he said. “If you are willing to renounce your previous teachers.” They all pleaded with him, telling him how much they were devoted to him, how great his reputation was, and how much they would like to study with him. But he would not accept any of them unless they would meet his condition. Finally all except one person in the party decided to renounce their previous teachers, from whom they had in fact learned a great deal. The guru seemed to be quite happy when they did so and told them all to come back the next day. But when they returned he said to them, “I understand your hypocrisy. The next time you go to another teacher you will renounce me. So get out.” And he chased them all out except for the one person who valued what he had learned previously. (CTSM)
In the tantric tradition, discovering that ambiguity is called “discovering the seed syllable.” Ambiguity is called a “seed syllable” when it becomes a starting point rather than a source of problems. When we accept uncertainty as the working base, then we begin to discover that we do not exist. We can experience and appreciate the ambiguity as the source of confusion as well as the source of humor. The discovery of nonexistence comes from experiencing both the energy of humor and the heavy “thingness” or form of confusion. But form or thingness does not prove the existence of energy, and energy does not prove the existence of form. So there is no confirmation, just ambiguity. Therefore, we still find ourselves at a loss. However, at this point that feeling of being lost has the quality of freedom rather than the quality of confusion.” (JWG)
It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of THE BUREAUCRACY OF EGO. This means stepping out of ego's constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort, or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga, or perhaps have studied under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen? Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego's display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as 'spiritual' people. But we have simply created a shop, an antique shop. (CTSM)
The only true elegance is vulnerability
Elegance means appreciating things as they are. There is a sense of delight and of fearlessness. You are not fearful of dark corners. If there are any dark, mysterious corners, black and confusing, you override them with your glory, your sense of beauty, your sense of cleanness, your feeling of being regal. Because you can override fearlfulness in this way, tantra, or the highest stage in Tibetan Buddhist practice, is known as the king of all the stages on the path. You take an attitude of having perfectly complete and very rich basic sanity. (OD)
The mutual dance of love
In the mahayana, love and affection are largely based on free love, open love which does not ask anything in return. It is a mutual dance. Even if during the dance you step on each other’s toes, it is not regarded as problematic or an insult. We do not have to get on our high horse or be touchy about that. To learn to love, to learn to open, is one of the hardest things of all for us.
A bodhisattva is like a crocodile : once you land in its mouth it never lets you go. If you were to want to leave your spiritual friend in order to live a free life away from such involvement, he would say, "That's great, do as you wish, go ahead and leave."
By approving your leaving he removes the object of your rebellion, so instead of going away you come closer. It is a reciprocal situation: the guru's devotion to the student is intense and therefore the student's devotion begins to awaken, even if he is stupid and thick and burdened with all kinds of problems.
The teacher's devotion to the student is compassion and the devotion of the student to the teacher is discipline. So compassion and discipline begin to meet together at some point.
And then we come to the vajrayana type of devotion in which you have given up fascination. You have identified with the path and the phenomenal world becomes an expression of the guru. There is a sense of devotion to the phenomenal world. You finally identify with the teachings and occasionally you act as a spokesman for them. Even to your own subconscious mind you act as their spokesman.
If we are able to reach this level, then any events which occur in life have messages in them, have teachings in them. Teachings are everywhere. This is not a simple-minded notion of magic in the sense of gadgetry or trickery, but it is an astounding situation which you could interpret as magic.
There is cause and effect involved. The events of your life act as a spokesman constantly and you cannot get away from this guru; in fact you do not want to because you identify with it.
Thus the teachings become less claustrophobic, which enables you to discover the magical quality of life situations as a teaching. (D)
You Don’t Have to Consume Projections
How could I exist without fighting? How could I exist without grasping? Does that mean I should not eat food and I should not defend myself from dangers? One might ask that question. The answer is yes! You don’t have to consume projections in order to exist, and you don’t have to fight projections in order to exist either, metaphorically speaking. (GOP)
You need to develop some sense of appreciation, and you need to reduce your demands and stick to the point, or realize the need for very good toilet training. Please forgive me—I’m not insulting anybody here by saying that you are not toilet trained. It could be seen as a compliment that you need a higher level of toilet training; that is something you should look for. There is tremendous cause for celebration if you could be toilet trained at a higher level.
in “Seven Characteristics of a Dharmic Person”
Stray Dog by Chögyam Trungpa
Chögyam is merely a stray dog.
He wanders around the world,
Ocean or snow-peak mountain pass.
Chögyam will tread along as a stray dog
Without even thinking of his next meal.
He will seek friendship with birds and jackals
And any wild animal.
The Pleasure of the Snow Lion
In the Shambhala teachings, the snow lion is connected with being perky, enjoying the freshness of the highland mountains. The snow lion is vibrant, energetic, and also youthful, roaming the highlands where the atmosphere is clear and the air is fresh. The snow lion is not perked up by temporary situations but experiences unconditional cheerfulness . . .
Human dignity is not based on monetary wealth. Affluent people may spend a great deal of money making their home luxurious, but they may be creating artificial luxury. Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources, by doing things with your own bare hands - on the spot, properly and beautifully. You can do that; even in the worst of situations, you can still make your life elegant. (SPW)
Questions often come up like, “Why the hell am I doing this, behaving like an idiot, just sitting?” And people also experience a lot of resentment. They think, “I've been told to sit like this. Somebody's making fun of me, taking advantage of my gullibility. Somebody has made me just sit like that, just sit. I'm not even allowed to hang out. I have to just sit on my meditation cushion.” But the instruction to do that is actually an extremely important, powerful message. If we learn to sit properly, thoroughly, and fully, that is the best thing we could do at this point. If we look back on the history of our life since we were born, since we first went to school, we never sat. We never sat. We might have hung out occasionally and experienced utter boredom and felt sorry for ourselves. Feeling bored and preoccupied, we might have hung out occasionally on street corners or in our living rooms watching television, chewing our chewing gum, and so forth. But we never sat. We never sat like a rock. We never did. How about that? Here, this is the first experience in our life of sitting — not hanging out or perching — but actually sitting on the ground on a meditation cushion. Just that to begin with, to say nothing for the moment about techniques for how you sit. Before we discuss techniques, let us point out the merit — punya in Sanskrit — the very merit and sanity and wakefulness you are going to get out of this, out of just simply being willing to sit like a piece of rock. It's fantastically powerful. It overrides the atom bomb. It's extraordinarily powerful that we decide just to sit not hang out or perch, but just sit on a meditation cushion. Such a brave attitude, such a wonderful commitment is magnificent. It is very sane, extraordinarily sane. (PG)
Ask yourself: Is there something worthwhile and trustworthy in me? Of course there is! But it’s so simple that we tend to miss it or discount it. When we look into ourselves, we tend to fixate on our neurosis restlessness, and aggression. Or we might fixate on how wonderful, accomplished, and invulnerable we are, but those feelings are usually superficial, covering up our insecurities. Take a look. There is something else, something more than all that. We are willing: willing to wait, willing to smile, willing to be decent. (MIA)
At the beginning meditation could be regarded as an intrusion,as an extremely painful thing to do,because it takes you away from your habitual dwelling. All kinds of painful situations churn out because for the first time, you create another relative situation, other than your dwelling. Gradually, you gain a new perspective, new ideas from the meditation experience,which show you another living situation other than your own. (TM)
It must have been something of a shock to him to see the sacred teachings of his lineage expropriated as aids to psychedelic explorations. In characteristic fashion, he didn’t attack this approach head on; he simply took the discussion to another, more profound level, rendering the earlier views largely irrelevant. Chögyam Trungpa Collected Works Volume VI (intro).
When you awaken your heart in this way, you find, to your surprise, that your heart is empty. You find that you are looking into outer space. What are you, who are you, where is your heart? If you really look, you won't find anything tangible and solid. Of course, you might find something very solid if you have a grudge against someone or you have fallen possessively in love. But that is not awakened heart. If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. This kind of sadness doesn't come from being mistreated. You don't feel sad because someone has insulted you or because you feel impoverished. Rather, this experience of sadness is unconditioned. It occurs because your heart is completely exposed. There is no skin or tissue covering it; it is pure raw meat. Even if a tiny mosquito lands on it, you feel so touched. Your experience is raw and tender and so personal.
The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your nonexistent heart is full. You would like to spill your heart's blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others. (SPW)
Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.
To Serve the Dharma
There is the story of Anathapindika, who was a disciple of the Buddha and a great supporter of the community of monks. He provided meditation centers for the monks and food for them, and he created environments in which the Buddha could teach. Without him, there would have been no possibility of propagating the teachings on such a wide scale at the time of the Buddha. Anathapindika asked the Buddha if he should give up his work serving the sangha and devote himself purely to meditation practice. If he did, it might be good for him, he thought, but on the other hand it might not be a good thing on the whole because he would no longer be providing situations for other people. The Buddha’s answer was that he should remain a householder. The best way that he could serve the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha—and follow his own path to enlightenment—would be to practice within the householder’s life. For each of us, the answer to this question depends on our individual situations. Your choices depend on what you have gotten yourself into already. There is a Tibetan saying that it is better not to begin things, but once you begin, you should finish properly. (WSM)
Where does fear come from? It comes from basic bewilderment. Where does basic bewilderment come from? It comes from being unable to harmonize or synchronize mind and body. You don't have a sense of your place or your posture. This applies to the rest of life as well. When you don't feel grounded or properly seated in your world, you cannot relate to your experience or to the rest of the world. So the problem begins in a very simple way. When body and mind are unsynchronized, you feel like a caricature of yourself, almost like a primordial idiot or a clown. In that situation, it is very difficult to relate to the rest of the world. (SAF)
Samaya has nothing to do with maintaining a particular territory. That is why understanding the meaning of samaya is so important. Samaya is a territoryless-ness that is able to cut through falsity and lies of all kinds. Because there is no territory, there is no gain or liberation.
The guru is the executioner from that point of view, and at the same time the guru is the person who inspires you. The guru is the initiator or the preceptor of the abhisheka, the one who could bring you into the realm of the body, speech, and mind of your inherent buddha nature. The guru could bring your buddha nature to the surface.
The full experience of samaya can only fully occur when a student receives empowerment. Nevertheless, the basic samaya principle comes up when you are about to enter into vajrayana discipline altogether, when you are about to begin your practice.
At that point, there is a basic bond already, which consists of your trust in the truth of the teachings, and the teacher’s trust in your genuineness. Combining those two aspects of trust — that of the student and that of the teacher — creates the vajra world. There is a sense of commitment, and there is the willingness to accept the vajra world and jump into it. That commitment seems to be very important, even before a student decides to practice ngöndro, or any other preliminary practices.
The samaya principle is bondage; it is an oath that exists between the teacher and the student. Basically, the vajra master and the student of vajrayana are joined together in a love affair instigated by the various tantric deities.
In vajrayana, you study and work with different deity principles and you actually become a part of their world, but it is not based on the worship of any god.
Tantric deities are part of your innate nature, which is shining through and being experienced. In the vajrayana, you are celebrating that experience properly and fully. It is very moving.
The strength inherent in the samaya bond is based on the fact that nobody is deceiving anybody else. It is reality in the fullest sense. The vajra master and the vajra student have taken their mutual vow, and if either the vajra master or the vajra student violates that, they will suffer in the lower realms: the animal realm, the hell realm, or the hungry ghost realm. So that particular bond, or samaya, is very important and very powerful.
The interesting thing about the samaya bond is that the more freedom you experience, that much more bondage takes place in you. The more you develop openness and a letting go or shedding of your ego, that much more commitment there is to the world of sanity. Therefore, student and teacher are bound together eternally.
Samaya binds you not only from the outside, like a belt you put on, but at the same time it binds you from within. If you let go of that bondage, you will find that you are on the top of a garbage chute and that you will go right down the drain. But if you constantly maintain the bondage and stay bound together, you will go further and further on your journey together.
You can actually go along and uplift yourself with delight, confidence, and sanity in the vajra world. And finally, you transcend the vajra world and go beyond even the dharmakaya level and attain absolute sanity. At that point, the bondage is dissolved, and you become one with coemergent wisdom. (TPIW)
Personally speaking I have never been put off. I never give up at all. I am not going to give up the cause of peace that might occur in this world. And I am looking forward to it in some sense. The more chaos happens, I feel more possibility of creating greater peace, and when I see more aggression, more chaos, I feel more encouraged. That is, my smile is never diminished. I always smile.
I think that if you are already committed to the process of exposing yourself, then the less you try to open, the more the process of opening becomes obvious. I would say it is an automatic reaction rather than something that you have to do. (CTSM)
We must surrender our hopes and expectations, as well as our fears, and march directly into disappointment, work with disappointment, go into it, and make it our way of life, which is a very hard thing to do.
Disappointment is a good sign of basic intelligence. It cannot be compared to anything else: it is so sharp, precise, obvious, and direct. If we can open, then we suddenly begin to see that our expectations are irrelevant compared with the reality of the situations we are facing.
Illuminating our life
Enlightenment is referred to as en-lighten-ment. It is further luminosity; it illuminates life. Up to this point, we had a very bad lighting system; but now we are getting a better lighting system, so we begin to see every curve of skin, every inch of our world, properly. We might get irritated by such sharpness and precision, but this seems to be part of the perspective that Buddha is everywhere. (GR)
You being here (a seminar) means that you have decided to work on your pain. That's great, wonderful. But that doesn't mean that we here are going to understand your pain. We are going to accentuate the meaning of your pain. The teaching does not provide a possible hope, the possibility of a pleasurable situation. The teaching provides intelligence to relate with the pain. (LR)
Work of art
What a work of art is all about is a sense of delight. Touch here, touch there, delight. It is an appreciation of things as they are and of what one is - which produces an enormous spark. Something happens - clicks - and the poet writes poems, the painter paints pictures, the musician composes music. (OD)
Whatever you do while you are here is part of dharma practice. Whether or not your ballpoint pen works when you are trying to write something down is also part of the dharma. The journey is delightful from that point of view. You are totally in the dharma, rather than being an alternating or part-time dharma practitioner. You are completely total, fully total. That totality of being completely in the dharma provides tremendous joy, because you are not kidding yourselves. You are actually in it already. That is how I feel personally, whether I am sick or well. When I am on a journey, flying in an airplane or traveling in a car, in whatever I do I feel that I am at the service of others. I feel that my function and my existence—the reason for my existence at all—is to serve the dharma and to serve the sangha altogether. I feel that way strongly, and I would like to share that with you. (1982 Seminary)
I find it necessary to express my negativities about presenting such potent—two hundred percent potent—teachings to the people of the continent of North America, or to the West altogether. Nobody here seems to be ready for this material at all. People are relating with the starting point of practice, and as far as we know, nobody in America has a complete understanding of even the Hinayana level of Buddhism. People have hardly any understanding at all. They have a completely schizophrenic attitude: they conceive of a divine, enlightened personality that is opposed to their confused version of themselves. As a result, people regard themselves as abandoned people, completely bad people. Or else they might have some hope, but that again is based on some kind of spiritual pride that does not leave any leeway for confusion at all. So we’re hopeless. I’m afraid we’re hopeless. Isn’t that a terrible, grim picture? Extremely grim. We are hopeless, absolutely confused. We are so confused we do not even know why we are here listening to this. We wonder why. We are extremely confused, bewildered. What can we do about that? Let alone talking about Naropa?
Please don't hurt others...
Please try to work with people and be helpful to them.
A fantastically large number of people need help.
Please try to help them, for goodness sake, for heaven and earth.
Don't just collect Oriental wisdoms one after the other.
Don't just sit on an empty zafu, an empty meditation cushion.
But go out and try to help others, if you can.
That is the main point...
Your help doesn't have to be a big deal.
To begin with, just work with your friends and work with yourself at the same time.
It is about time we became responsible for this world.
Becoming a warrior and facing yourself is a question of honesty rather than condemning yourself. By looking at yourself, you may find that you've been a bad boy or girl, and you may feel terrible about yourself. Your existence may feel wretched, completely pitch black, like the black hole of Calcutta. Or you may see something good about yourself. The idea is simply to face the facts. Honesty play a very important part. Just see the simple, straightforward truth about yourself. When you begin to be honest with yourself, you develop a genuine gut level of truth. That is not necessarily cutting yourself down. Simply discover what is there; simply see that, and then stop! So first, look at yourself, but don't condemn yourself. It's important to be matter-of-fact, on the spot. Just look, and when you see the situation in its fullest way, then you begin to be a warrior. (SAF)
Don't Give Up on Others
It is necessary to work patiently with others, all the time. If you have patience with people, they slowly change. You do have some effect on them if you are radiating your sanity. They will begin to take notice, although of course they don’t want to let anybody know. They say, “Nothing has changed. I have the same problems.” But don’t give up. Something happens—if you take your time. It works! (TSWABW)
When you have completely accomplished the shamatha-vipashyana practice, you have a sense of reward. You experience joy in the possibility of buddha nature, but you may still feel skeptical. Although you begin to feel that buddha nature is a possibility, you think the whole thing may be a hoax. You begin to doubt the teachings. The idea that you already have a built-in buddha in you is something that you cannot quite imagine. It seems to be too good to be true, and you begin to feel that maybe it is not true. You think that the whole thing may be a big put-on, a big joke, a lie. The birth of mahayana spirit begins with a combination of distrust and the possibility of good news. It is a very powerful emotional experience, a sweet-sour feeling. That quality of joy and delight is wisdom, or jnana, and the doubt or distrust is compassion. Doubt and compassion are both very direct. Compassion is somewhat more spacious, but the pain of doubt and compassion is the same. There is a sense of something touching your heart, and it is painful. At this point, you have the possibility of wisdom and compassion, but they are not completely finalized. It is like a fetus whose limbs are not quite formed. It is as though you are pregnant with buddha nature: you realize that something is happening even before the baby begins to kick. However, this pregnancy is different from ordinary pregnancy. Unlike a fetus, buddha nature is not a foreign body, it is a part of your whole being. You cannot have an abortion because it is too powerful to get rid of. You have to accept the whole thing. (TBPWC)
Meditation is a way of permitting hang-ups of mind to churn themselves up. If we try to focus on our neurosis as a practice, that is an escape; and if we try to suppress it, that is also an escape. So the process is to relate with the neurosis as it is, in its true nature, the actual simplicity of it. Then we begin to make some progress. As this process of relating to our hang-ups develops, at some point we at last begin to trust ourselves. We begin to develop some kind of faith and trust that what we have and what we are is, after all, not all that bad. It is workable, usable.
At every moment, our every move usually has a thought provoking quality. The universe is constantly trying to reach us to say something or teach something, but we are rejecting it all the time. In categorizing your experience as mundane and sacred, good and bad, significant and insignificant, you are rejecting symbolism, right and left, all the time. You are rejecting the whole thing. By fitting everything into categories and pigeonholes, you have nothing left in your life except your own pain. But this pain is not really productive pain, like the original basic pain we were talking about. Instead, you just rot yourself into a grain of sand. That is not really very romantic, it's a terrible thing. Finally it is as if your ingrown toenail becomes monstrous and eats you up, not only your toe but your whole body and your expansive energetic vision. Everything is disheveled.
Are the great spiritual teachings really advocating that we fight evil because we are on the side of light, the side of peace? Are they telling us to fight against that other 'undesirable' side, the bad and the black. That is a big question. If there is wisdom in the sacred teachings, there should not be any war. As long as a person is involved with warfare, trying to defend or attack, then his action is not sacred; it is mundane, dualistic, a battlefield situation.
Without this world, we cannot attain enlightenment. Without this world, there would be no journey. By rejecting the world we would be rejecting the ground and rejecting the path. All our past history and all our neurosis is related with others in some sense. All our experiences are based on others, basically. As long as we have a sense of practice, some realization that we are treading on the path, every one of those little details, which are seemingly obstacles to us, becomes an essential part of the path. Without them, we cannot attain anything at all—we have no feedback, we have nothing to work with, absolutely nothing to work with. So in a sense all the things taking place around our world, all the irritations and all the problems, are crucial. (~TPIL)
Giving without demanding anything in return
Generosity here is not the conventional notion of being charitable. The idea is giving without demanding anything in return. You are willing to receive people into your territory, to offer hospitality and appreciate their existence and their presence - and then make no further demands. It could be very irritating and even terrifying to be a bodhisattva's guest because of his way of being generous. You might think there is something fishy behind it: "Why should this guy be extremely kind and friendly to me and not demand anything? Maybe it's a Mafia plot or something." But if you come across such a thing, you should not be afraid. Usually one finds a genuine act of generosity more terrifying than partial generosity. because there is nothing to hang on to. If it is partial generosity, we can play games with it. We could give half an inch in exchange for the other person's half an inch-it becomes a kind of bartering. But that element is absent here. (TLR)
Fearlessness is not like a wild tiger or brown bear that is locked up in a cage and growls every time you open the door. Fearlessness is powerful, but it also contains gentleness and constant loneliness and sadness. Wisdom and consideration for others are also part of fearlessness. When you are more fearless, you become more available and kinder to others, more considerate of others and more touched by them. The more fearlessness evolves, that much more available and vulnerable you become. That is why sadness and gentleness are part of fearlessness. (SAF)
It Doesn't Work to Hide Your Pain
There is a story about a man who was stealing a bell, and he covered his own ears so that no one would hear it ringing. We plan ways to hide our own pain, thinking that nobody will know. Realizing the fundamental suffering, the private parts that we stupidly try to hide—being so intelligent and so stupid at the same time—is the first step of the journey. Discovering that this hidden factor is exposed already is the highest thing of all. It is the real truth, and if we acknowledge it, it is a beautiful truth, a fantastic truth. (TLR)
Don't Transger the Ox's Load to the Cow
One has to think about one’s problems personally, honestly, and genuinely. Transferring the ox’s load to the cow, who is weaker than the ox, means not wanting to deal with anything on your own. In En
glish, we call this “passing the buck.” But we are supposed to be cutting down chaos and creating less traffic in the samsaric, or confused, world altogether. We could invite other people to be our helpers, but we cannot pass the buck to them. So don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow. (TMCLK)
The practice of meditation does not involve discontinuing one's relationship with oneself and looking for a better person or searching for possibilities of reforming oneself....The practice of meditation is a way of continuing one's confusion, chaos, aggression, and passion - but working with it.
Cowardice is the seductive and distracting quality of our wandering or neurotic minds which prevents us from resting in our natural state, the state of unwavering wakefulness which we have called the warrior's confidence. Cowardice is actually the force of evil which obstructs what we could call our basic goodness, our inherent state of confidence which is by nature devoid of cowardice and aggression, free from evil. From that point of view, the purpose of warriorship is to conquer the enemy, to subjugate the evil of our cowardly minds and uncover our basic goodness, our confidence. (CW8)
Don't Bring Things to a Painful Point
This slogan is about not humiliating people. An important point for the bodhisattva, or the practitioner of this mind training, is to encourage people on their path. However, you could relate with people in such a way that you progress must faster on the path than they do. There are ways of slowing down other people’s journeys so that you can stay ahead of them. But in this slogan, instead of doing that, you develop the other way around—you come along behind the others. (TMCLK)
Sometimes you become so petrified on your journey that your teeth, your eyes, your hands, and your legs are all vibrating. You are hardly sitting in your seat; you are practically levitating with fear. But even that is regarded as an expression of fearlessness if you have a fundamental connection with the earth of basic goodness—which is unconditional goodness at this point. (SAF)
The joy of fearlessness brings the sadness. Joy doesn't stay by itself. If it did, there would be something wrong, something perverted about it. Real fearlessness is like mixing sweet and sour together. The tone of joyful sadness is like the sound of a flute, which is so melodic and beautiful. It ravishes your mind. It is not accompanied by any other musical instruments. The solo melody of the flute brings the echo of emptiness into your mind. Such loneliness is almost romantic, as if you were in love. You think you might be falling in love, but you don't know with whom. You are in love without a particular object in mind. Such sadness is very soft. It's not a miserable sadness, but it feels sad because it is soft and pliable. (SAF)
In the realm of mindfulness, there are no set guidelines for how to handle yourself at cocktail parties, for example. Skillful means and intuition are a matter of your continual process of working with life, even when the cocktail party is not happening. There’s no quick programmed answer at all. We have to meet ourselves for the first time completely and properly. We have to make friends with ourselves. I have to get to know who I am, what I am, and what the world is in relation to me. (WSM)
Spiritual interest is coming out more strongly in people now because of the character of this century: the river of materialism has overrun its banks. Not only are there endless gadgets and machines, but there is pervasive spiritual materialism under which the great traditions have become just so much milk in the marketplace. The current century is the age of ego. (CW9)
The Groundlessness of Absolute Truth
The second of the two truths is absolute or ultimate truth, or töndam. Tön means “meaning,” and dam means “superior,” or “ultimate”; so töndam means “absolute truth.” It is the real truth as opposed to the relative truth, and quite difficult to explain.
One of the definitions of töndam is that it is experiencing reality in its fullest sense, without regarding any individual style as tangible from the ego-clinging point of view.
In discussing absolute truth, I have decided to drop the yogachara viewpoint and approach it from the point of view of the madhyamakans. The yogacharans are very good at relative truth. If you want to understand relative truth, you cannot help but see it from the yogacharan point of view that everything is about your mind, how your mind boggles and how your mind bucks and kicks. However, I don’t think you can experience absolute truth properly from the yogachara point of view.
Absolute truth is that we have no truth. In talking about absolute truth, I do not want to discuss hypothetical theories about absolute truth, but to build some kind of ground for experiencing the groundlessness of absolute truth. Just knowing about absolute truth does not help you, particularly. The question is, how do you know it is absolute truth? (TBPWC)
Unless you are inspired to discipline yourself you are helpless. (MPB)
The trouble with Westerners is that they want to witness their own enlightenment.
No Part-Time Bodhisattvas
The bodhisattva vows to save all sentient beings, but that is not a goal in the relative sense. The bodhisattva realizes that what she is saying in that vow is completely impractical. You can’t really do it. We see this from the mythical story of the great bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. He had a literal mind in the beginning. He took that vow, “Until I save all six realms of existence, I will not attain enlightenment.” He worked and he worked and he worked to fulfill his vow. He helped beings, and he thought he’d saved hundreds of millions of them. Then he turned around and saw that an even greater number than he had saved were still suffering, and he had flickers of doubts at that point. At the beginning, when he took the vow, he had said, “If I have any doubts about my path, may my head split into a thousand pieces.” This vow came true at this time. His head began to fall apart. He was in tremendous pain of confusion, not knowing what he was doing. Then, according to the myth, Amitabha—a great buddha of compassion—came to him and said, “Now you’re being foolish. That vow you took shouldn’t be taken literally. What you took was a vow of limitless compassion.” Avalokiteshvara realized that and understood it. Through that recognition, he became a thousand times more powerful. That’s why the iconographical image of Avalokiteshvara often has twelve heads and a thousand arms. You see, once you take the meaning of saving all others literally, you lose the sacredness of it. If you’re able to see that compassion applies to every situation, then compassion becomes limitless. You don’t try to attain enlightenment at all, but you find yourself enlightened at a certain stage, because you continuously put in such a concentrated effort. You realize that the path is also the goal. The bodhisattva is quite happy with the path he is treading on. The path is what there is to work with, and that work is there eternally, because sentient beings are numberless, and we have to work with them eternally. That realization manifests as vast energy. The bodhisattva vow is really an acceptance of the energy. It is saying, “I take a vow to commit myself to work with this limitless energy.” It is a commitment to work twenty-four hours a day without time off. You can’t have part-time bodhisattvas. (WSM)
Outrageousness is symbolized by the garuda, a legendary Tibetan bird who is traditionally referred to as the king of birds. The garuda hatches full-grown from its egg and soars into outer space, expanding and stretching its wings, beyond any limits. Likewise, having overcome hope and fear, the warrior of outrageous develops a sense of great freedom. So the state of mind of outrageousness is very vast. Your mind fathoms the whole of space. You go beyond any possibilities of holding back at all. You just go and go and go, completely expanding yourself. And like the garuda king, the warrior of outrageous finds nothing to obstruct his or her vast mind. (GES)
Work with the Chicken, not Chicken Shit
You should work with whatever is your greatest obstacle first - whether it is aggression, passion, pride, arrogance, jealousy, or what have you. You should not just say "I will sit more first, and I will deal with that later." Working with the greatest defilements means working with the highlights of your experience or your problems. You do not just want to work with chicken shit, you want to work with the chicken itself. (TMCLK )
The Seasons of Life
There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures.
There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding.
And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade.
And finally of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream.
Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are. (OD)
Question: What is the Dakini?
Trungpa: One never knows.
When we work with people, we should examine our minds and our intentions completely. Please be careful. Make sure your intentions are clear. Make sure you are not going to reproduce the problems that you are trying to clean up. Our intention is to save individuals from intense pain. We want to make sure that what we are doing is genuine, absolutely genuine—not presenting further problems or creating further pain. Whatever we do has to be genuine, true, and straightforward. (CW10)
If you have awareness in whatever you do, you always have a sense of basic decency. You do not cheat. You do not do things just because they are traditional, and you don’t just do something this year simply because you did it last year. You always try to practice your discipline as genuinely and honestly as possible—to the point where the honesty and genuineness begin to hurt.
The spiritual path is not fun - better not begin it. If you must begin, then go all the way, because if you begin and quit, the unfinished business you have left behind begins to haunt you all the time. The path, as Suzuki Roshi mentions in 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,' is like getting on to a train that you cannot get off; you ride it on and on and on. (TMF)
Any confusion you experience has within it the essence of wisdom automatically. So as soon as you detect confusion, it is the beginning of some kind of message. At least you are able to see your confusion, which is very hard. Ordinarily people do not see their confusion at all, so by recognizing your confusion, you are already at quite an advanced level. So you shouldn’t feel bad about that; you should feel good about it.
Ladies And Gentlemen, It Is About Time For Us To Look!
…When we talk about nirvana and samsara, we take sides. We think of nirvana as our friend. We would like to associate with our friend, nirvana, and have enlightenment as our goal and aim. On the other side is samsara. Samsara means being imprisoned; samsara is confusion and pain. We do not want to relate with samsara or be a victim of that deadly area. That way of thinking has become the problem. Our conversations and our understanding of all this have been diverted to the level of what should be and what shouldn’t be, rather than what is and what isn’t. So we don’t realize that, in fact, we are helpless. We don’t realize that we cannot challenge this gigantic cosmic course that’s taking place. We can’t even sign our names to be in favor of it or against it. The whole thing is helpless. We can reduce ourselves into a grain of sand, but, at the same time, we are part of outer space as a whole, cosmic space. So we need to have a certain amount of open-mindedness, rather than always asking, “What does this mean to me at this point in my meditation practice? What does this mean to me in terms of my salvation? I have a problem with my husband; I have a problem with my wife. Is this particular argument, this idea or concept, going to save me from that problem?” We are not talking in those terms, at this point—we are talking big! We are actually tapping into an area that we have never touched, never looked at. Because we are so confused, we do not bother to look, apart from maybe the occasional glimpse. We think, “Who cares? This is not my cup of tea, my kettle of fish.” We think that we were too poor, that it is too painful. We don’t want to look at those areas that exist on a greater scale. Ladies and gentlemen, it is about time for us to look! It is time to think bigger and open our minds to the possibility that non-duality does exist. You may not be philosophers or great meditators, but there is the possibility that greater areas could be opened to you if you bothered to look, if you bothered to open your minds. (GR)
Student: I’d like to ask a question about loneliness and love. In my experience, the kind of love where two people try to be together in order to protect themselves from loneliness hasn’t worked out too well. When you come in contact with loneliness, it seems to destroy a lot of things you try to pull off in trying to build up security. But can there be love between two people while they continue to try to work with the loneliness?
Trungpa Rinpoche: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think anybody can fall in love unless they feel lonely. People can’t fall in love unless they know they are lonely and are separate individuals. If by some strange misunderstanding, you think you are the other person already, then there’s no one for you to fall in love with. It doesn’t work that way. The whole idea of union is that of two being together. One and one together make union. If there’s just one, you can’t call that union. Zero is not union, one is not union, but two is union. So I think in love it is the desolateness that inspires the warmth. The more you feel a sense of desolation, the more warmth you feel at the same time. You can’t feel the warmth of the house unless it’s cold outside. The colder it is outside, the cozier it is at home.
S: What would be the difference between the relationship between lovers and the general relationship you have with the sangha (community) as a whole, which is a whole bunch of people feeling desolateness to different degrees?
TR: The two people have a similarity in their type of loneliness. One particular person reminds another more of his or her own loneliness. You feel that your partner, in seeing you, feels more lonely. Whereas with the sangha, it’s more a matter of equal shares. There’s all-pervasive loneliness, ubiquitous loneliness, happening all over the place.
The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.
The beautiful thing about Buddhism, if I may say so, is that Buddhists don't try to con you. They just present what they have, say it as it is, take it or leave it. (TPDA)
GOP - Glimpses of the Profound: Four Short Works
D - Devotion (on Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa Vol 3)
TSWABW - The Sanity We Are Born With
PG - The Path is the Goal
TM - Transcending Madness
OD - Ocean of Dharma
CTSM - Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
TS - The Teacup and the Skulcup
SPW - Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior
JWG - Journey Without Goal
BT - Born in Tibet
MIA - Mindfulness in Action
WSM - Work, Sex, Money
SAF - Smile at Fear
TPIL - The Path of Individual Liberation
TBPWC - The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion
TPIW - The Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness
GR - Glimpses of Realization
LR - The Lion's Roar
TPDA - True Perception Dharma Art
TLR - The Lion's Roar, an Introduction to Tantra
TMCLK - Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
CW - Collected Works (volumes 1-10)
MPB - Meditation the Path of the Buddha
GES - Great Eastern Sun
MF - The Myth of Freedom
Joni Mitchell re: Chögyam Trungpa
“He snapped me out of [cocaine use].”
Joni Mitchell video: Refuge of the Road, a song for Chögyam Trungpa.
Self-deception means trying to re-create a past experience again and again, instead of actually having the experience in the present moment. In order to have the experience now, one would have to give up the evaluation of how wonderful the past was, because it is this memory which keeps it distant. If we had the experience continuously, it would seem quite ordinary, and it is this ordinariness that we cannot accept. We keep ourselves busy remembering the wonderful experience of openness we had in the past. This is self-deception’s game. ~ Chögyam Trungpa in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism