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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
42 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 3 tradition of Buddhism before fleeing to India. Through his studies at Oxford University and years of living in the U.S., he developed a command of the English language, as well as an intimate knowledge of Western culture and the contemporary cosmopolitan psyche. Coupled with his classic Buddhist train ing, these experiences laid the ground for a fascinating and unique presentation of the Buddhist teachings, one that left none of the most essential pith instructions behind. In many cases, in order to connect with Western mind and experience, he redefined and reshaped terminologies to give fresh connotations to existing English words, such as ego, boredom, and basic goodness. A number of Buddhist phrases commonly used today were coined by Rinpoche. He used the terms spiritual materialism and spiritual narcissism to describe a tendency of many practitioners to turn their spiritual jour ney into an egoenriching exercise. He dubbed as idiot com- passion the tendency to give people what they want, instead of what they really need, because one can’t bear their suffering. Such innovations, rare in traditional settings, signaled the very beginnings of a truly Western Buddhism. The concept of spiritual materialism, especially, has become ingrained in the lexicon of Buddhist practice communities in the West. This term brilliantly demonstrates not only the Vidyadhara’s powerful understanding of the difficulties and struggles of the path at hand but also a savvy grasp of West ern psychology. His intimacy with Western culture allowed him to take an idea like “materialism,” already familiar to his students, and apply it to the Buddhist path in a practical way. Not the philosophical position of materialism, mind you, but the habit of going to the mall—that perpetual pressure of consumerism built on the assumption that the acquisition of more and more things will somehow lead to contentment. It was Rinpoche’s rapport with the Western experience that allowed him to make the connection between our ordi nary materialistic desires and impulses and the more subtle, deepseated grasping that reinforces egofixation and derails our spiritual path. This was Rinpoche’s idiosyncratic ground breaking kindness and genuine innovation: buddhadharma skillfully delivered and packaged for the first time for a West ern audience. In addition to transplanting genuine buddhadharma in the West, in the late 1970s Trungpa Rinpoche also shared his longheld vision of enlightened society with the world through the cycle of teachings known as Shambhala Training. A series of contemplative workshops and meditations in secular form, Shambhala Training provided lay practitioners with a progres sion of skillful means to connect with their “basic goodness” and contribute to the development of a fearless, gentle, and sane society. With the publication of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, the same seminary transcripts that I first set eyes on more than thirty years ago have taken birth as three userfriendly volumes, beautifully arranged and elegantly edited without losing the author’s intention or voice. The vol umes offer a glimpse of the heart teachings of the Vidyadhara, given to his students over several years with his uniquely pro vocative and meticulous style, enhanced by his knowledge of Western epistemology and psychology. Volume one covers the classical Buddhist teachings of the Hinayana, volume two the Mahayana, and volume three the Vajrayana. There are some misunderstandings surrounding whether or not Vajrayana practitioners even need to engage in the other yanas. But according to some of the major Buddhist tantras, like the Hevajra and Kalachakra tantras, the development of the view, meditation, and action of the entire threeyana jour ney is without a doubt essential and necessary. In this compila tion of his seminary teachings, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche is in complete sync with tantric tradition. Ego, thE Brilliant Work of art When engaging in any spiritual practice, Trungpa explains, “You need to have a basic understanding of where you are starting from, where you are going, and what you are working with.” Starting with “what you are and why you are search ing” is the correct way to begin. DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE is a meditation master and holder of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism who has taught extensively in the West. He is the founder of Nalandabodhi and Nitartha Institute, which offer Western students courses modeled on the Tibetan shedra, or monastic college system. His books include Rebel Buddha, Mind Beyond Death, and Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. PHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWNRYSZARDK.FRACKIEWICZ