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Aug 25
Thursday
Scene and Heard
21st Commemoration for the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin

On August 25, 1990, the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin passed away in San Francisco, California. Who was this man, and why do we commemorate his life?

On August 22, 1976, the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche empowered Thomas F. Rich, Ösel Tendzin, as his Vajra Regent, and lineage holder in the Karma Kagyü and Nyingma lineages. During his 1977 visit to the United States, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyü lineage, confirmed the Vajra Regent’s appointment as a lineage holder. Ösel Tendzin was the first Western student to hold such a position in the Kagyü lineage.

After being empowered as the Vajra Regent, Ösel Tendzin taught extensively throughout North America and Europe. In 1977, when Trungpa Rinpoche went on an extended retreat, he left the management and primary teaching responsibilities of Vajradhatu in the hands of the Vajra Regent. Trungpa Rinpoche and the Vajra Regent worked closely together on many projects, including co-founding the Shambhala Training Program. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, the Vajra Regent also practiced dharma art, including calligraphy, poetry, and photography.

For more information on his life and accomplishments, please visit this page on Shambhala.org.

To further celebrate the life of the Vajra Regent, you are welcome to visit the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin Media Site hosted by his student’s organization, which is named Satdharma. There you will find videos and audio files as well as more information on his well known calligraphies.

Today at the Boulder Shambhala Center, at 7pm, there will be a commemoration featuring a Sadhana of Mahamudra Feast, and including a video, readings, and stories of sangha member’s memories.


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9 responses to “ 21st Commemoration for the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin ”
  1. tashi armstrong
    Sep 17, 2013
    Reply

    Even in basic Buddhism we don’t judge people by karmic results but by their motivation. I don’t believe for an instant that the Vajra Regent ever meant to harm anyone.
    Having met him and received teachings from him I know that he was the genuine Dharma Regent for Trungpa Rinpoche’s lineage. We should be extremely careful about rushing to conventional moral judgements. How many of us would recognize Tilopa if we met him today? We are very obscured. This says nothing about the special vows that tantrikas take in this instance. To view this in a conventional way is obscene and unforgiveable.

  2. Judith Sullivan
    Sep 10, 2011
    Reply

    The Vajra Regent was an extraordinary teacher, full of life, presence, warmth and joy. To those of us who knew him, he will always be remembered by his ‘joie de vive’ and great kindness. It is still quite painful that the memory of the Vajra Regent is ‘swept under the rug’ and not properly acknowledged. He was the heart son of the Vidyadhara and dharma heir to the Vidyadhara, as well as holder of the Kagyu lineage.

  3. Matthew_Bryan
    Sep 8, 2011
    Reply

    I’m part of the “<35" crowd here in Shambhala so I wasn’t really around when all of this controversy was going on with the Vajra Regent. Its disheartening to me, if this stuff really happened, that we don't talk about it. Is it being censored or ignored? I'm scared to get involved in an organization that would do that, especially one that talks so much about being genuine and open.

    I notice the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin Media Site above, in the "About" section, says there were many "traditional signs of realization" after his death. It is likely I am quite ignorant about how all this works, but is it really possible for somebody to be "realized" and still knowingly spread a deadly disease like he did?

  4. Stephen Mathiasen
    Sep 1, 2011
    Reply

    It is a little sad, that it still seems difficult for our sangha to acknowledge the crisis and its consequenses for our community in regard to the Vajra Regent and his conduct. We have such a deep vision and commitment for influencing the world in a positive way. How can we manifest what is nescessary for this, without being able to look at our own history with honesty, discernment and courage? Maybe I should add, that I deeply appreciated my connection to the Vajra Regent, as I am sure were the case for many others. We also share the pain of what followed. Not the least because of the way the organisation handled or mishandled what happened.

  5. Kirk Cornwell
    Sep 1, 2011
    Reply

    If a “celebration” is a suggestion that we have moved beyond some of the mistakes and excesses of the eighties into a more focused organization concentrating on the Shambhala vision, this commemoration is not inappropriate. Next?

  6. A true celebration of this man’s life will not be possible for much of the community until there is some official acknowledgement of the harm that he did. As long as that dimension of his life continues to be conspicuously ignored in articles such as this one, the whole thing will continue to feel like a sham to me.

  7. We had a lovely 3 day celebration of Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin here at Shambhala Mountain Center. It started on the 23rd with a video of a shambhala talk from 1985. I was struck to see that he was already teaching shambhala from a point of view that I only associate with the Kongma Sakyong’s recent revelations. Truly he was way ahead of most of us in understanding the Vidyadhara’s teaching. On the 24th we celebrated Vajrayogini feast and on the 25th, Sadhana of Mahamudra feast with readings and recollections from the old dogs. It becomes more clear to me than ever that shambhala would not exist if not for the brilliance and joy of Osel Tendzin. We were all so thick and he created some kind of bridge of openness and love so that we all could be touched by the dharma.

  8. His talks on health are helping me a lot, as though he´s sitting inmy head or heart letting me learn how to see properly – the constant wrong assumptions and a more sane way of being.
    Danke schön
    Priya

  9. Brad Hoffman
    Aug 26, 2011
    Reply

    Can we stop ‘celebrating’ this man? Please?


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