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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 15 DENIAL & JUSTIFICATION I found “Married to the Guru” (No- vember 2006) fascinating. I have relatives who are members of the Shambhala/Naropa community and I hold it with respect and compassion. However, during its painful growing years, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche rationalized some dangerous behavior that hurt, rather than helped, many of his students. Diana Mukpo continues this level of justifications and denial. When questioned about Rinpoche’s al- coholism, she proclaims that although it was bad for his health, alcohol was a teaching tool and it is only poisonous if you aren’t conscious of your attitude. Well, that’s a good story and I wish my colleagues twenty years ago had let me get away with that. Un- fortunately, the tradition and justifications of exces- sive drinking kept a lot of alcoholics in the commu- nity from getting the help they desperately needed to live a sober life. One of them was quite near and dear to me, and he had a lot of trouble staying sober be- cause of his denial, combined with the community’s tolerance of and ambivalence about alcoholism. Ms. Mukpo’s justifies her husband sharing “spiri- tual intimacy” with some students by sleeping with them. This simply prolonged the adolescence of the community. I can understand how vital boundaries could have been crossed during that period, yet this old, sad story of abuse of power was exploitative and harmful to many students. Many of the Rinpoche’s students’s marriages were torn apart in the experi- ment of “openness.” I am glad the community and all of us have grown into adulthood. Wendy Allen, Ph.D. Santa Barbara, California Your November issue was a strange mix for me. Shambhala Sun is one of the most visually beautiful magazines on the market, and as usual I enjoyed por- ing over the images. As a poet and teacher, I loved the Ginsberg piece. I was, however, appalled by the cover story, “Married to the Guru.” It never ceases to amaze me the ex- tremes to which followers and devo- tees of some clergy/priests/teachers will go to justify and sanctify the otherwise abhorrent, and exploit- ative behavior of said “holy ones.” Thank God I saved the Q&A with Ani DiFranco for last! (And that I’ve got my subscription to Mother Jones.) Wayne A. Gilbert Aurora, Colorado NOT GUILTY AS CHARGED Having now published two books critical of religious dogmatism, I have had many opportunities to marvel at the extent to which in- telligent people still rise to the defense of all the divisive lu- nacy in our world that goes by the name of “religion.” While I have encountered many silly, vacuous, and even infuriating responses to my work, B. Alan Wallace’s review of my book, Letter to a Christian Nation, (November 2006) has given me rare cause for astonishment. While Wallace purports to have exposed many “tragic” shortcomings in my book, I find that every one of his substantial criticisms has already been refuted by the book itself. I will grant that Wallace appears to have read Letter to a Christian Nation, as he quotes and misquotes from it readily, sometimes without attribution. But he has not understood it. While it would, of course, be sportsmanlike of me to concede that Wallace has put forward many fine points that demand my further reflection, he hasn’t. I have neither “idealized” science, nor denied the profundity of contemplative experience, nor commit- ted any of the other sins with which Wallace seems so (over) eager to charge me. There is only one point on which Wallace has offered a useful criticism: I am now convinced that I should have used the phrase “do not Letters to the Editor