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Lions Roar : November 2006
In a poem that Rinpoche wrote to you in 1982, he said, “You never hesitate to tell me the truth when you see the falsity.” What was it like to be in the position of standing up to someone like that, whom other people saw as close to infallible? First, Rinpoche always wanted feedback. He very, very much en- couraged his students’ critical intelligence. One of the reasons that people were in his circle was that they were willing to be honest and direct with him. He definitely was not one of those teachers who asked for obedience and wanted their students not to think for themselves. He thrived, he lived, on the intelligence of his students. That is how he built his entire teaching situation. From my perspective, I could always be pretty direct with him. Maybe I was not hesitant to do that because I really trusted the unconditional nature of our relationship. I felt there was really nothing to lose by being absolutely direct with him, and he ap- preciated that. One of the things that people who knew Rinpoche often said about him was that he was not ordinary—that he lacked ego in the usual sense and that the habitual patterns of human personality were sim- ply not present in him. What do you think about that? Did you relate to him as an ordinary human being as well as a great tantric guru? Actually, no, to be honest, not at all. Rinpoche wasn’t ordinary. There was nothing about him that was ordinary. I remember looking at him and thinking, I can never really predict how you are going to react to something. Generally, you know how SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 47 belittling you. He was very skillful that way. The only problem was that sometimes people lost track of the fact that they still had a lot of work to do on themselves. Living in his world, you sometimes felt that you had accomplished the whole thing on the spot. From some point of view, you had, but then there’s always the path. We all have that to work on. ♦ Chögyam Trungpa, 1979 PHOTOBYCHRISTOPHERDAHL