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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 119 www.kagyu.org 335 Meads Mt. Rd., Woodstock, NY 12498 845.679.5906 x 10 off firstname.lastname@example.org KARMA TRIYANA DHARMACHAKRA Tibetan Buddhist Teaching and Meditation Center KHENPO KARTHAR RINPOCHE OCT 20-22 NOV 17-19 Lamp of Mahamudra ACHARYA SUNGRAB G. DRONGPA OCT 28-29 Tibetan Language for Beginners LAMA DUDJOM DORJEE NOV 3-5 Bodhichitta in Action KHENPO UGYEN TENZIN OCT 6-8 The Three Yanas LAMA YESHE GYAMTSO OCT 13-15 The Practice of Dharma Well, I had grown up in a relatively for- mal British household, so some of it was familiar. But Rinpoche was not imitat- ing the English; he was using some of their forms. Obviously, he wouldn’t have wanted to adopt the entire English tradition, but there were certain aspects of English culture—the table manners, the way you might furnish your house, the way service can be manifested—that he appreciated as expressions of mind- fulness. He had the same feelings toward Japanese culture; he really appreciated the aesthetics. The court was sort of a dharmic pres- sure cooker. There was tremendous en- ergy there. I think it was a kind of for- mula he developed to work with his stu- dents on a very intimate level. As people would serve him, they were genuinely able to connect with his mind. For me, one of the hardest things in the court was the complete and total lack of privacy. Rinpoche was always, always inviting people into our life, con- stantly. He had no sense of personal pri- vacy or space, and sometimes that was difficult. Combined with this feeling of isolation and the situation of being his wife, sometimes it was difficult for me to form genuine relationships with people. Throughout the book, you describe the dif- ficult job of balancing a marriage, a fam- ily, and your own life against Rinpoche’s historic work. I imagine that a lot of peo- ple who are married to important figures find themselves in this situation. Did you ever feel you were being taken advantage of as a woman by ceding first place to his work as a spiritual teacher? Not at all. Had I not had a commitment to the dharma myself, I might not have been able to understand it. But all the way along I realized that what Rinpoche was doing was going to enrich the lives of thousands and thousands of people, so had I tried to claim him for myself I think it would have been tremendously selfish. I think that I was able to under- stand that completely. At the same time, I always knew unconditionally that if I needed him, he would be there. He was fiercely loyal to the family in that way. So, that was not a problem for me. Another thing for which he was known, and which is a source of controversy, is having many lovers among his students. You address this very straightforwardly and honestly in the book. That’s some- thing that most spouses would find diffi- cult to live with. How were you able to? Well, I know the whole thing was very unconventional, yet at the same time I felt completely, totally loved and adored by Rinpoche. So I never questioned the root, the fundamental aspects of our relationship. Yes, the first time he slept with somebody I had a very difficult time with it, but generally after that I understood he was much more than just my husband. Rinpoche had intimate re- lationships in many different ways with many of his students, and the fact that he slept with different women was an ex- pression of the intimacy that he had with people. Another thing that was impor- tant was that Rinpoche never attempted to hide anything about his behavior. He was always forthright and there were no secrets. I didn’t really have any diffi- culty with it because I think that people were never exploited. The hallmark of Rinpoche’s life, the way I saw him, was that he never did harm to others, and people came out of those experiences feeling good. So, within the noncon- ceptual, unconventional aspects of the whole thing, it all worked out fine. Perhaps because of those kinds of contro- versies, do you think he has been misun- derstood by the culture at large, or even by his own students? That’s interesting. Rinpoche was never free from controversy, but I think he Married to the Guru continued from page 50