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Lions Roar : November 2006
people you are close to will react to things, but you could never predict Rinpoche’s reactions. On that level he was unfathomable. Rinpoche didn’t have two personas, one out there with the public and one at home. He was always the same per- son. He was absolutely extraordinary, and I think I’m a good judge of that, having lived with him all those years. So no, there was no occasion in my entire marriage to him that I thought he was an ordinary person [laughs]. Some- times I craved that. I’d say to him, “Come on, just be nor- mal for one evening, take me to the movies,” and he would say to me, “I am going to stay at home because it is the best movie of all.” [laughs] Did you ever go to the movies with him? I think we went to a couple of movies, which was pretty notable. I remember we went to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang after we got married. We went to Love Story and we almost got thrown out. Why? [laughs] Because he was making loud comments because he didn’t like the sort of... [laughs]. He was going “Yuck!” when she was dying. He was misbehaving in the movie theater and they told us that if he wasn’t quiet we’d have to leave. Do you recall ever getting angry with him? Sometimes we would fight. We would have a really angry fight, and then the air would clear right away—we never hung on to our fights. We would get very mad at each oth- er, and then an hour later everything would be fine. I think the only times I had some depth of anger with Rinpoche was when I felt he wasn’t taking care of his health. I knew that his primary commitment was to his students and to teaching, but it was painful for me to see him lose his health. Sometimes I was so angry that he wasn’t taking bet- ter care of himself. By the time I got to Naropa in 1977, there was a lot of talk about Rinpoche’s drinking, and students had different expla- nations for it. In 1972 Rinpoche wrote, “Whether alcohol is to be a poison or medicine depends on one’s awareness while drinking. Conscious drinking, remaining aware of one’s state of mind, transmutes the effect of alcohol,” and I remember people quoting that quite a lot. I have two questions: why do you think Rinpoche drank so much, and do you feel it ever became a poison for him? On Bended Knee Diana’s mother continued to oppose the marriage—there were even rumors she had put out a contract on Trungpa Rinpoche’s life—but when she came to Boulder at Christmas one year to visit Diana’s sister and her husband, Trungpa Rinpoche decided he must win her over. SEEMINGLY OUT OF the blue and certainly not to my lik- ing, Rinpoche announced on Christmas Day that he would like to invite my mother to dinner with Tessa and her hus- band Douglas. I was astounded. I thought that there was not a chance that she would accept. So I said, “Go ahead.” Rinpoche asked his kasung to drive the Mercedes over to Tessa’s house, which was only about a five-minute drive from our home. He asked the attendant to deliver an invitation to Mrs. Pybus, my mother, to come for Christmas dinner. The attendant dutifully went with the invitation, but returned empty-handed. Mrs. Pybus had replied that she would only accept the invitation if Rinpoche would come himself and beg her forgiveness on bended knee for having stolen her daughter away. Rinpoche was so excited. He was already dressed to the nines for dinner, and he immediately asked for his coat and hat and went off with the driver. He went to Tessa’s house, where he went down on his knees and apologized for tak- ing her daughter and invited her back to Christmas dinner. She was, I think, completely disarmed by his willingness to humble himself in this manner. She accepted the invitation. They arrived back at the house together, with Tessa and Douglas in tow as well. I was somewhat in shock. Rinpoche, however, was beaming. As you can imagine, my mother was thoroughly impressed with the house, the dinner, the ser- vice—the whole thing. It was quite different from our life- style a few years earlier. In addition to our family, the Regent and Lila and their family joined us for dinner, and I believe there were several other guests, nicely dressed and on their very best behavior. My mother made charming chitchat with people, and she herself was clearly charmed. She and Rinpoche had a long conversation about the history of Euro- pean architecture over drinks. By the end of the evening, she was completely won over. Rinpoche sent his car to take her home, the perfect crowning touch. Rinpoche was enormously pleased with himself for having won her over. After she went home from Christmas dinner, we sat up for awhile in the living room talking about what had happened. At one point, he turned to me with a huge smile on his face and said, “If I can conquer your mother, I can conquer the whole world!” ♦ 48 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006