Would Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche have visited Tibet if the Chinese Government had invited him instead of Akong Rinpoche in 1983?

One explanation of Akong Rinpoche’s 1983 acceptance of the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet is that he did it for the benefit of the people he thought he could help in occupied Tibet by doing so. Fair enough.

I’m so glad the Chinese Government didn’t approach Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1983 to visit occupied Tibet. On another thread here I was discussing Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche earlier. I published a hot take on Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche years ago and I’m to this day getting comments on it.

Nobody appears to care about Akong Rinpoche by comparison. One, maybe two people have over the years had something to say about Akong Rinpoche here. He was a decent human being. I get that. What he did makes sense, in retrospect. Of course he collaborated with the Chinese Government. It’s not like he ever claimed to have done otherwise. He left to history to judge what he had done.

Historically, the consequences of what he did when he accepted the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet in 1983 are with us to today in the 17th Karmapa and his promise to the Chinese Government to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu.

In regards to my hot take on the question of what Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche would have done if the Chinese Government had invited him to visit occupied Tibet in 1983 is that he would have declined to take it up. Unlike as with Akong Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa believed his people’s future was not with the Chinese Government, a dictatorship, but instead in the West, living in a democracy. As far as their Buddhism was concerned it is well known how they parted company at Samye Ling over there differences on that subject.

It is hard to emphasize too much though just how unthinkable, how outside the box the Chinese Government’s invitation to visit occupied Tibet extended to Akong Rinpoche was in 1983. The Cold War was on and Reagan had the Pope in Poland, Radical Islam in Afghanistan, and the Dalai Lama on China’s border in India weaponized against the Godless Communist threat to his God fearing United States of America.

I don’t see Chogyam Trungpa wanting a piece of such madness. Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches were perfect for the job though, what they all saw to be their last best chance to save Tibetan Buddhism in the only form they have ever known it, with monasteries filled with children to be taught as was the case of the Tibet they fled into exile as young men.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Would Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche have visited Tibet if the Chinese Government had invited him instead of Akong Rinpoche in 1983?

  1. The US policy of One China is probably a big reason why the Free Tibet has difficulty gaining traction in the mainstream…

    I wonder what HHDL is thinking now – is it possible that the new administration will abandon the One China policy? This would have to be good news for the notion of a free Tibet.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/12/05/world/asia/china-donald-trump-taiwan-twitter.html

    “It’s quite ironical and very funny indeed.”

  2. starshine

    A trusted friend once warned me to not be caught up in politics, and as I took the words to heart I can attest to the wisdom of my dear friend after years of observation – family torn apart, lives lost and ruined, etc.
    If Dharma is reality, it continues to exist without one practitioner… can’t say that for organized madness or political entities.
    Allowing the light of sanity/dharma to guide your own affairs while allowing the world to find out for itself – so to speak – is probably a peaceful albeit lonely life for someone tired of drama vs dharma.
    Best wishes and all that.

    • Lama Yeshe

      I agree with starshine.

      Mixing political ambitions with dharma is a recipe for disaster.

      The ego clings and claws at every thing that might puff it up.

      • Of all the egos of all of free Tibet’s exiled status quo no political faction has done more to ruin Tibetan Buddhism than Thrangu, Akong, and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches did when they collaborated with the Chinese Government in 1992 to enthrone a 17th Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery. If only these men had been more woke then they were after the 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana in 1981 we wouldn’t have to today oppose as we do their legacy of collaborating with said Chinese Government and Chinese Buddhists around the world whom support Mainland China’s machinations to become the leader of the Buddhist world.

    • Great advise if your goal is to harmonize your practice with the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America. I suspect many of my fellow Buddhists didn’t vote, or didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, as a matter of principle, the belief that Buddhists aren’t political. The fact of the matter though is that harmonizing your dharma practice with the political status quo of the day is a political act.

      Throughout the history of Buddhism as a religion Buddhists in every Buddhist country that has ever existed have collaborated with the political status quo of said countries without exception, with one exception, us and others like us whom live in countries which explicitly separate Church and State, the Enlightenment ideal which this separation of Church and State represented to the founders of our nations so alien to all Buddhists but us alone in the world today.

      I am a lama thirty five years in the making, I’ve dedicated my entire adult life to the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage, which unlike the Buddhist religion as practiced since Buddhism became an integral part of the political status quo of the governments of every Buddhist country that has ever existed, is a path of liberation.

      In 1974 when the 16th Karmapa first came to the United States of America he came to a country as politically divided as it had ever been since the Civil War and yet it was this very same country that said Karmapa in 1981 chose to pass into Parinirvana in, the culmination of a lifetime of his dharma activity as the last Karmapa of a free Tibet, a political act on the part of the 16th Karmapa against free Tibet’s exiled status quo which lost free Tibet to China in 1959 which is everything to my narrative as a Buddhist.

      To borrow a well known phrase from the period, “The swan came to the lake,” a “black swan”, a hitherto unthinkable event, in the form of Vajradhara, which changed everything for me as a young man in search of a path of liberation, coming of age as I did in the midst of revolution which for my generation meant challenging the political establishment of the day, even if it meant dying in the process, as it did at Kent State in 1970, the tipping point for my generation, from that point forward harmonizing myself with the political status quo of the day ceased to be an option for me personally.

      As for religion, forget about it. The last thing we wanted was religion (“the opiate of the masses”) in our lives. Anyone whom today suggests otherwise knows not of which they speak. When the 16th Karmapa came to the United States of America it was not to establish a Tibetan Buddhist status quo here but instead to introduce us to his Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom karma lineage which in his wisdom he concluded that we as a people, our generation, were uniquely qualified to make our own, which we has subsequently done. That there is a Tibetan Buddhist status quo in our country today speaks to the failure of subsequent generations Tibetans to follow in the 16th Karmapa’s footsteps.

      In the Tibetan world today nor anywhere else other than in the democracies of the West is the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom karma Kagyu lineage practiced as we in the West have done. The cause and condition required for how we practice the dharma, democracy, the separation of Church and State is unique to us alone in the history of Buddhism.

      No amount of political interference from the Chinese Government (it’s recognition of a 17th Karmapa in 1992) nor the countless millions of dollars (as documented in the Panama Papers this year) poured into Tibetan Buddhism from Chinese Buddhists around the world whom support the Government of Mainland China can change what the 16th Karmapa did when he chose to pass into Parinirvana, the culmination of his dharma activity as the last Karmapa of a free Tibet, here, in the United States of America, a political action on his part of which for all whom as myself hold his Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom karma Kagyu lineage dear take to be self evident in our respective narratives as Buddhists.

      Ours is a path to liberation, not a religion. Whether it be Donald Trump at home or the Chinese Governments choice for 17th Karmapa (and his promise to said government to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu) abroad, we refuse to harmonize our Buddhism with the political status quo of the day. This is who we are as dharma practitioners. Our goal is our path and our path is our goal. This is how we do it. Here, and now. By whatever means necessary. Just as the 16th Karmapa did it.

  3. Sam

    Yes, knowing who to hate and when is the secret to being politically correct.
    Ive learned that hating the right people at the right time changes absolutely nothing, yet it gives you that warm satisfaction of being on the right side.
    I’m reading “from lion’s jaws” today. The entire reason given for invading Tibet and killing monks, destroying culture was “to liberate” Tibet from its oppressors. Seems to me a grand “liberal” idea, this violent hatred cultured in the Petri dish of revolution. Give them a mantra, “for the people”, a few guns and tell them it’s for the rosy future. How is hatred in turn justified, how does and when does it end? When does that revolution turn inward?
    Everyone here is in the same boat, there is suffering everywhere, we all eventually die.

    May all beings be peaceful.
    May all beings be happy.
    May all beings be well.
    May all beings be safe.
    May all beings be free from suffering.

    I know, silly shit that does nothing.

    • Barway Dorje said it best, “If it bothers you, leave it alone,” or something along those lines. That being said the disruption that the election of Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States represents is a teachable moment for me that which as a lama of the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage I can’t let pass without comment here. Especially as it pertains to the disruption of the long standing conventional wisdom which has over the decades normalized China’s occupation of Tibet which hasn’t been an issue for the world since the death of the 16th Karmapa in 1981.

      I have no use for Donald Trump personally but at least there is today a voice to be reckoned with talking about China with the same sense of urgency that Presidents past prior to Richard Nixon spoke of the Chinese, (we fought two bloody proxy wars in Asia, Korea and Vietnam, with the very same Chinese Government occupying Tibet today) as being the dictatorship everybody knows it to be, determined to relegate the democracies of the West to the dustbin of history which it is well along in the process of doing so at this point in our history. This isn’t a matter of hate. It’s about history, our history as a democracy, and their dictatorship’s history no different than any other dictatorship that the democracies of the West had to ever overcome in the past century in that we are as we have always been when competing with dictatorships past, at a distinct disadvantage given the nature of any government which governs with the consent of the governed such as ours. Needless to say, it really must suck these days to be the 17th Karmapa, China’s poster child for harmonizing Tibetan Buddhism with the dictates of a Chinese Government in the time in which it is said to be cracking down on dissenting voices in China’s civil society like it hasn’t since the cultural revolution, as hard to believe as I find such an assessment. For example, Tiananmin Square had to have been worse. Anyway, thanks for posting a comment I can share here with readers,

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