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Apr 03
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Mark of a Mahasiddha: Letter from the Guest Editor for Parinirvana Day
The Dorje Dradul Thangka, showing the Vidyadhara in his ultimate form. Designed by HHDilgo Khentse Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

The Dorje Dradul Thangka, showing the Vidyadhara in his ultimate form. Designed by HHDilgo Khentse Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

On the occasion of the twenty-second anniversary of the Parinirvana of the Vidyadhara, the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, I am struck by how vast his influence has been on all of us and by the multiplicity of his manifestations. When I was the director of the Shambhala Archives, I was told many anecdotes about the Vidyadhara. People saw him in completely different ways, often with an intense sense that they had an intimate view and knew the “real” Trungpa Rinpoche. Some spoke of his kindness, some of his smile, some of being afraid of him, some of his outrageousness. A few criticized, fewer still reviled him; most loved him dearly. I came to believe that, by and large, all these varying impressions were accurate, just as the myriad facets of a crystal accurately reflect all the aspects of the viewer. At the same time that these impressions might seem totally at odds, all were similar in that they spoke to a presence that was incredibly powerful, a glowing ball of energy that could take many forms.

The theme for the Shambhala Times on the occasion of Parinirvana Day certainly reflects the power of the Vidyadhara as well as some of his complexity and variety – although it cannot possibly show every dimension. No matter what is said about the Vidyadhara here, it will be inadequate; it could not possibly sum him up. Or more accurately, the parts will not equal the sum. Some readers will feel that these offerings do not speak to who he was or is for them. That in itself is a statement of how deep a mark he has left.

Photo by Lee Weingrad. All rights reserved.

Photo by Lee Weingrad. All rights reserved.

I am particularly intrigued and delighted by an article written by someone who never knew Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. “Meeting the Guru I Never Knew,” by Eric Zechmann speaks to how a student who never met Chogyam Trungpa and never will meet him can still have a relationship with him. That ability to reach across space and time is the mark of a mahasiddha, and it’s particularly cheerful and significant to hear about this. Other reflections are offered by those who knew the Vidyadhara intimately. “The Direct Antidote,” is Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s remarks from the Twentieth Anniversary of the Parinirvana. This weekend Lady Diana Mukpo, the Vidyadhara’s widow, is offering a program on his life and teachings at Sky Lake in New York, and one of her talks will appear soon in the Times, as quickly as it can be transcribed and edited.

This theme also offers the opportunity for us to reflect on how the past and the future are joined in the continuity of lineage, loyalty, and devotion. An article on the new longevity chant to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche appears here, written by Russell Rogers. The Vidyadhara’s own commentary on the meaning of “The Shambhala Lineage” is also in this theme, reprinted from his classic work Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Finally, the consideration of lineage is addressed in “The Surmang Relics: Part of Our Heritage,” which matches extraordinary photographs of small lineage treasures that the Vidyadhara carried out of Tibet with the story of how he brought these pieces of his heritage to the West and what remains to be done to preserve and share their power with all of us. Another reflection of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is shared by Acharya Jeremy Hayward in “The Joy Continues,” an excerpt from his biography of the Vidyadhara.

Photo by Jeremy Hayward

Photo by Jeremy Hayward

Finally, this theme of the Shambhala Times looks ahead as well, with an article on a major editorial project that will help to fulfill the express wishes of the Vidyadhara. “Fulfilling His Aspirations: The Root Text Project” tells the thirty-year story of the attempts to turn the Seminary Transcripts into volumes of teachings for a general readership. A taste of how that might unfold is provided by “Basic Anxiety Is Happening All the Time,” excerpted from The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation, the first small volume of the Vidyadhara’s teachings based on the Seminary Transcripts, just published by Shambhala Publications. All in all, this is a rich and varied theme.

I hope that the Parinirvana will be a time for people to come together in their love for the Vidyadhara and in our mutual aspiration that his world and his lineage may remain and benefit beings for kalpas to come. May his buddha activity spread and flourish throughout the world.


Carolyn Gimian

Carolyn Gimian

Carolyn Gimian is a freelance writer and editor living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the Director Emeritus of the Shambhala Archives and the Director of the Chogyam Trungpa Legacy Project. Carolyn is one of the senior editors of the work of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, including two forthcoming titles: The Mishap Lineage and Conquering Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery.

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