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Home > Buddhism > Quotes > Quotes by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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)

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Self-deception's game

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)

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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)

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Life is a humorous situation, but it is not mocking us.

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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."

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Ignorance

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)

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Refreshing Boredom

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

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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The only true elegance is vulnerability

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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.

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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.

Chogyam Trungpa, Devotion, Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa Vol 3, Shambhala Publications.

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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”

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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.

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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 . . .

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"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)

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Just Sitting

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)

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Willing

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)

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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)

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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).

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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 - 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
TPIW - The Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness
GR - Glimpses of Realization
LR - The Lion's Roar




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