Disturbing “facts” re Trungpa Rinpoche on Wikipedia.

Via elephant journal
on Sep 18, 2009
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trungpa controversies

Update: Mission Accomplished. The unsubstantiated allegations have been removed (for now). When and if there’s three on-the-record, corroborating, verifiable sources that state Trungpa Rinpoche did...those things...then, honoring Journalism Ethics 101, they have a place in his biography. Until then…their presence in his official Wikipedia biography, the most-clicked-upon top-in-google-rankings page defining who and what this great Buddhist teacher was has been amended by many of the people who knew him, and read this post over the past 32 hours. With thanks— ed.

Original post follows:

Horrifying rumors & slander re: Buddhist pioneer Chogyam Trungpa on Wikipedia. Surprised? Let’s correct it:

I know every rumor and fact there is to know about Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, the Buddhist meditation master who de-mystified and made accessible the seemingly esoteric teachings of Buddhadharma, and who was the teacher of my parents. I’ve reported on them here before, seeking to draw a clear, broad line between fact and myth. I believe in openness, showing the light of day on this stuff—as did Trungpa Rinpoche himself, who never hid anything, which is part of the reason he was so well-loved and that the many myths that have sprung up about him did not fester until after he’d died.

I just happened upon his Wikipedia page, and was shocked. I couldn’t even read all of it. It’s like hanging out in the most degraded cocoon of gossip you could imagine.

Wikipedia is often made fun of for not having its facts straight—still, it is the web’s number one source for information. Chogyam Trungpa’s page has some really horrible information regarding cocaine, etc that I’ve never even heard rumors about, though I grew up in his community and write about him frequently in the public sphere these day. I’d love to hear a confirmation from some senior students that this stuff isn’t true—and, assuming the stuff on this page…

Wikipedia Biography of Chogyam Trungpa Controversies

“…Two former students of Trungpa, John Steinbeck IV (son of novelist John Steinbeck) and his wife, wrote a sharply critical memoir of their lives with him in which they claim that, in addition to his addiction to alcohol…

[…it goes on to talk about drugs, and womanizing, in a harsh light and with many unsubstaniated facts and opinions, like his treatment of women as “chattel,” something I’ve never heard. Since some of the most vitriolic, inflammatory entries have been amended or deleted (for now) as a result of this here post, I’m not going to repeat all the details here, as “repeating rumors makes them true.”]

…is BS, any of you who want to help me correct the information on this page, which we all can do, please go to that page and edit it. Anyone can do so.


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67 Responses to “Disturbing “facts” re Trungpa Rinpoche on Wikipedia.”

  1. (Just entering this so I can subscribe to any future comments.)

  2. anti-vitriolic says:

    too much talk, too little information. What is the problem with Trunpga and cocaine, or women? He was a man, for god's sake. A Mahasiddha, but a man! No dharma is affected, just listen to him.

  3. […] I didn’t like this at all, trust the English to put a damper on things. Good old Wikipedia was a little more life-affirming: “the quality of being modest, reverential, even politely […]

  4. jan hendrik says:

    Would Trungpa care? I guess not. Then why would you? What is it that you devote your energy to? Memories of your own thoughts about thougts of athers about Trungpa??
    Maybe there might be something better here and now.

  5. Jim Morgan says:

    All of us are here to learn and to grow, even a great teacher as Trungpa.

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  7. I’m not certain where you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or figuring out more. Thank you for excellent information I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  8. Melissa says:

    I am supposed to take the refuge vow this weekend-this is the first time I have heard any of these allegations and I am horrified! I dont know what to do now…I was so ready and excited to take the vow and follow this path, but I dont know if I can follow the teachings of someone who lived such a hypocritical life.

  9. Would you be inquisitive about exchanging hyperlinks?

  10. Nick says:

    Thank you for that intellegent passage.

  11. jesse mackinnon says:

    westerners are so delusional re: eastern mystics and guru's. I have friends that still worship Osho never bothering to investigate how much pain and suffering he and his minions visited against those in his own community and neighbors in Oregon. Or Muktanada and the many children who testified to being raped. In a way trungpa and the Viceroy were the worst -deluded into believing they could do anything and be above rthe consequences. I have the theory that many of these from humble asian villages achieve, through Karma and discipline high levels of awareness perhaps just short of full enlightenment and are brought to the west where thousands of beautiful mostly young americans worship them and believe they can do no wrong —–and they fail the final test for the ego

  12. Asking questions are in fact fastidious thing if you are not understanding something completely,

    however this piece of writing provides pleasant understanding even.

  13. David says:

    Just saw Crazy Wisdom, and I've come to the conclusion that Trungpa was nothing more than a cult leader whose cult is still apologizing for him to this day. He was nothing but another jive-assed preacher working only for his own benefit, and he took a lot of innocent people with him.

  14. edward says:

    Missed it all.
    All of the books, tapes and seminars. Difficult for me to accept that someone addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex would have the clarity of mind to express all that knowledge and accomplish so much. Yes, i was not there but am here now.
    "We could have given him more of a fight…. " Yes, i sometimes consider the viewpoint that certain teachers create an environment and/or atmosphere around them just to see what we will do. A few might go to extremes to shock us us out of our habitual patterns and self-absorption. I am delighted that Trungpa maintains his presence in our thoughts, discussion, gossip and even unfair analysis. Why – because he is still here. Someone reading this will log off, and simply sit quietly for awhile and maybe – simply be. Trungpa is gone? 😉

  15. Janelle says:

    To the person who wrote that a teenaged girl committed suicide as a result of being CTR's consort. That makes me so upset. Is this information verifiable? If it is true than, Shambhala International needs to make amends to that family even if the incident occurred in the distant past. Could someone else with inside information please speak to this. And no devotion to the guru cover ups please. The truth.

  16. Janelle says:

    I am extremely said to hear about the statutory rape and suicide of a young woman. Is this information verifiable? Do you have firsthand knowledge of this situation?

  17. Eily says:

    Dear elephant journal, I am one of those newish students. I have been involved with Shambhala and meditating for 7 years. I have found Trungpa's teachings very helpful. At the same time, I am trying to integrate whatever happened during the Merwin incident and also the vajra regent's reputed behavior (keeping his HIV/ AIDS positive status secret while having sex with students, possibly even condoned by Trungpa Rinpoche, possibly raping one of his students) into the existing framework in my head. I already know that the Dorje Dradul was quite controversial- smoking, drinking, and having sex with some of his students. All the same, what I've read on Wikipedia about the Merwin incident and about the vajra regent make me want to know more about what really happened. I understand Merwin talked his way into a restricted event and then was not participating, and that Merwin and his girlfriend themselves didn't make a big deal out of the events…. what is known about the Merwin incident? What is known about the regent? Apparently, the Vidyadhara planned to designate Osel Tendzin as Regent for a long time – a decision he allegedly made soon after meeting Thomas Rich, a decision that according to Lady Diana (via Wikipedia), he subsequently regretted. Another thing that raises questions for me is that it is said that some or all of the Kasung during these rumored events stood by or even helped their teachers with these more fuzzily ethical activities that may (or may not) have happened back in the day. Perhaps Trungpa was testing bystanders as well as Merwin and his girlfriend. At the same time, even senior teachers are still human and fallible and every one has different teaching styles, some of which raise more hackles than others, and there are such things as crazy wisdom and idiot compassion, but also one sees things through the lenses of one's own ordinary-people ethics and does wonder. So, I am curious about what is to be known about these things, if you or your commenters can tell me, and what is as far as we know, simply rumor. Thank you.