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Opening One's Heart

April 8, 2009

Words offered by Jack Kornfield, following the Parinirvana of Trungpa Rinpoche:

Trungpa Rinpoche was a follower of the path of the bodhisattva, the path of opening one's heart and one's life to all circumstances and all beings. His way combined discipline and openness in a remarkable fashion. I hope that speaking about him and some of the qualities that I've learned from him will help to inform and inspire the practice of Dharma for all of us.

Chögyam Trungpa has been a tremendous supporter of the Vipassana community in America. Trungpa Rinpoche got Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, myself and a number of others to all join together to teach in the first year of Naropa University in 1974, and after collaborating there we all began to teach vipassana in large retreats across the country. My first personal talk with Rinpoche was in 1973 at a cocktail party in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was thinking about starting Naropa Institute. It was a group from Harvard University, with professors and dharma practitioners. We were drinking cocktails and chatting, and he was interested in the training that I had as a monk and about my experiences in monasteries where I'd gone in Asia. Rinpoche asked a lot of interesting questions about my training. Then he said, "I think you should join us and teach at this Buddhist university we're going to establish, Naropa Institute." I was reluctant. I had some training in teaching while I was in Asia, and I had done a bit of teaching on a very small scale while I was in graduate school. "I don't know if I'm ready to teach at that level." He was quite pleased with that, actually. He said, "Then it's clear you should be teaching. Come on, I'll sign you up, and you'll be our teacher of Theravada Buddhism." So I went. I had met Joseph Goldstein briefly before that, but it was that summer at Naropa that he and Sharon Salzberg and I really struck up a deep friendship, and began to teach together and have led our community since then.

Besides being a supporter in those early days, over many years Chögyam Trungpa was a great supporter of the Vipassana practice. When the great Burmese master Mahasi Sayadaw came to teach at our American centers in 1979, Rinpoche was in Europe, but he telephoned and tried to arrange a flight to come back just to pay his respects to Mahasi Sayadaw.

From "Holding the Banner of the Dharma," by Jack Kornfield, in Recalling Chögyam Trungpa. Compiled and edited by Fabrice Midal. Pps.20-21.

This post was posted in Ocean of Dharma