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Lions Roar : November 2006
An exciting spiritual, intellectual, and artistic scene quickly devel- oped around Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche as word spread that a hip, powerful, and provocative Buddhist teacher had established himself in the college town of Boulder, Colorado. Diana Mukpo, still a teenager and soon to be a mother, worked to balance home and marriage with her husband’s historic work. PEOPLE WERE ARRIVING from the East and West Coasts, as well as from the Midwest. Some people flew in, but in those days, it was more than likely that someone would arrive in an old car with belongings strapped to the roof. Some people hitchhiked into town. Some took the bus. All of them seemed to converge on our house. There were people there morning, noon, and night. Even though the scene was sometimes crazy and intense, I enjoyed it most of the time, especially in the two months before our child was born. In the evenings, the house would fill up with people, and I would sometimes cook dinner for everyone. There might be twenty or thirty people for dinner. I would make a big roast or a pot of stew, and we would all sit around and eat together in the kitchen. It was a wonderful era. Anything seemed possible. It was around this time that it dawned on me that Rinpoche was go- ing to create something magnificent. All of us, I think, began to realize that his influence was going to be enormous, on a grand scale. It seemed unstoppable. He was so much vaster than anybody else I have ever met. I began to see Rinpoche as a mahasiddha, someone who outwardly may live an ordinary, secular life but whose every action is an expression of ultimate sanity, or wakefulness, and compassion. I don’t even think it had to do with him choosing to live his life this way. The es- sence of his being was on a different plane than most other human beings, including most of the other Tibetan teachers. There were absolutely no boundaries to his compassion and his desire to present the teachings. His passion and his role in this lifetime was to present Buddhism in the West, and he put up no barriers between himself and others. Rinpoche did business at the house, as he had no outside office in those early days. He was making plans to write books, make movies, open meditation centers. He was writing poetry, writing plays, taking photographs, giving a talk every other night of the week. He was planning to go back and forth from Boulder to Vermont several times a year, and there were re- quests from people all over the country for him to come and teach. There was endless activity, and he involved his students in every aspect of making and carrying out these plans. When you think about the raw material that he had, it’s quite amazing that he trusted these people—all of us—to help him spread the buddhadharma in America. In fact, this was a very important way that he worked with people and trained them. I say that from my own experience. I learned so much from him, from everything he did and everything we did to- gether. He gave me such confidence about who I was and what I could do. At the same time that he would build you up, he would also call forth the most genuine part of yourself, and he wore down the problematic parts. But he never did this by time, with the establishment of the Naropa Institute and the growth of Rinpoche’s sangha. What was it like to be there as all of Rinpoche’s different programs flourished and people started coming from all over the world to study? You know, I didn’t have much of a conceptual reference point at that point. You have to remember I was very young. But I trusted Rinpoche implicitly, and it was wonderful to watch the richness that was coming into our lives. I watched his world grow and de- velop. The brilliance of his mind tended to magnetize all sorts of situations. It was very exciting. It was a very happening time. At that point, did you consider yourself a student of Rinpoche’s or something different because you were his wife? I always considered myself—and I still do—primarily a student to Rinpoche. My relationship with Rinpoche was initially a spiri- tual connection, which evolved into a love relationship as well. But first and primarily I always felt that I was his student. In a personal sense, what was it that made you fall in love with him? He was the kindest person I ever met. Sometimes I hear people talk about being afraid of him because he could be rough. Of course there were times he could be rough, and he had so much insight into people’s minds. You always felt he could read you like an open book, but he never misused his power. What he did was always based on empathy. He was an unbelievably kind, in- sightful, and intelligent person. 46 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 Magnificent, Unstoppable