using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 59 |spring 2006 it. ... We are allergic to ourselves; therefore, we create all kinds of sicknesses and pains.” Throughout his life, Trungpa Rinpoche pre- sented the Buddhist message in a challenging and uncompromising fashion. Even the central Bud- dhist notions of enlightenment, buddhahood, and nirvana were not to be treated as objects to be pur- sued and possessed as some kind of reward for our efforts. Trusting that such transcendental realities will allay our fears of neurotic confusion and sam- saric suffering is something that Trungpa Rinpoche equated with using a carrot and stick to control a donkey. As he says in Crazy Wisdom, “in spiritual materialism promises are used like a carrot held up in front of a donkey, luring him into all kinds of journeys; in transcending spiritual materialism, there is no goal.” To use another Trungpa-ism, this is equivalent to grasping the wrong end of the stick. In The Lion’s Roar, he alleges that we are driven to this kind of impulsive and humiliating behavior because “nobody has given up hope of attaining enlightenment. nobody has given up hope of get- ting out of suffering.” From Trungpa Rinpoche’s point of view, to be overly enthusiastic and enthralled by enlighten- ment is to begin our journey with the kind of subtle fallacy that guarantees bewilderment. This misconception arises because we have not con- fronted a genuine sense of hopelessness and we are still trying to escape our own condition for some more enchanted realm of existence. Trungpa demanded total, uncompromising honesty and authenticity with ourselves in this regard, more so than any other Buddhist teacher in the West. This requisite can be gleaned from the following assess- ment in his translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead: “In other words, the whole thing is based on another way of looking at the psycho- logical picture of ourselves in terms of a practical meditative situation. nobody is going to save us, everything is left purely to the individual, the commitment to who we are. Gurus or spiritual friends might instigate that possibility, but funda- mentally they have no function.” A transformative sense of hopelessness is an essential element of the path for two reasons: the fascination with enlightenment and nirvana has the potential to become a dangerous distraction from our present condition, while the fixation on a god or divine being that will rescue us reduces us to a puerile state of dependency. Both of these approaches encourage the kind of wishful think- ing that leads to spiritual materialism. We cannot use transcendental, nirvanic concepts to safeguard ourselves from the realities of conditioned exis- tence, nor can we draw succor from thinking that a divine being will bestow salvific favors on us and release us from our imprisoned desperation. Buddhism, being nontheistic, does not hold out any promises of divine grace or supernatural intervention, as Trungpa Rinpoche makes clear in The Lion’s Roar: “you see, Buddhism is the only nontheistic religion. It doesn’t contain any prom- ises, or doesn’t permit any. It just suggests the basic necessity of working with ourselves, funda- mentally, very simply, very ordinarily. It is very sensible. you have no complaint when you get to the other end of the trip of Buddhism. It’s a very definite journey.” Trungpa Rinpoche felt strongly that theism has the tendency to create a sense of dependency, which renders the individual perpetually hopeful, but with no real certainty about his or her own redemption. He felt that this approach was both psychologically harmful and spiritually vacuous. The approach of nontheism, on the other hand, emphasizes a genuine sense of hopelessness that, in an ironic twist, produces real conviction in our own ability to secure liberation for ourselves and by ourselves. Trungpa Rinpoche could not stress enough that this genuine sense of hopelessness, along with trust and faith in oneself, is the real precondition for engendering authentic spiritual development. The openness and lack of ground that this hope- lessness engenders is not unworkable, but it has to be filled by faith. Trungpa did not mean faith in something external, but a trust or conviction in our own ability to liberate ourselves. In Trungpa Rinpoche’s thought, genuinely experiencing a sense of hopelessness does not lead to despair or a sense of the meaninglessness of life; it gives rise directly to this trust in oneself. This is the natural result of genuine hopelessness, because of the attendant realization that nothing we can imagine or strive for will safeguard ego’s territory. something of our basic sanity will be allowed to surface as a result. A sense of meaning and faith will arise from this trust in ourselves and our own self-determination. Hopelessness and faith, Trungpa Rinpoche says, must coexist if we are to discover our basic sanity. As he says in The Lion’s Roar: “We have com- pletely tired ourselves out, exhausted ourselves beyond our hopefulness. We realize that life is hopeless and that any effort we put in to gain fur- ther experience is also hopeless. Then we get into a real understanding of the space between us and our goal. That space is totally and completely full. And that fullness is what is called faith. ... Faith here means dedication to and conviction in one’s own intelligence. ... you have trust in the basic truth of what you are, who you are.” In Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, faith consists of seeing everything about ourselves as workable and salvageable. In this context, then, faith has to be understood in a different way from traditional religious contexts, where hope and fear go together and both involve placing trust in the unknown.