Ken Wilber: Remembering Traleg Rinpoche

Book cover

"At 12:10 am on July 24, Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche passed into parinirvana. His death was not only a deep shock, but a truly tragic loss to the world of spirituality in general and Buddhism in particular-well, actually a tragic loss to the world, period. Traleg was one of what can truly be called a genuine Kosmopolitan-a truly universal human who had a deep understanding not only of Eastern culture and practices, but a genuinely profound grasp of the West and its various philosophical strands. When I first met him, through the graciousness of our mutual friend and Shambhala founder, Sam Bercholz, Traleg had a list with two columns: 'Where Ken is right' and 'Where Ken is not so right', and we proceeded to have one of the most intelligent, Enlightened discussions on Integral thought that I have ever had.

"As it turns out, he and I agreed on much more than we disagreed on, and we gave several public workshops together, often focusing on the perils of an extreme postmodernism to a genuine spirituality. But what was so amazing about Rinpoche is that, even though a high-ranking teacher in the Tibetan system, he was no mere traditionalist. He wanted to keep Buddhism pure, but he also wanted it to advance into the modern and postmodern world, and he (and I) were deeply worried about what some of the popular forms of Buddhism were doing to both distort traditional understanding and forestall evolutionary advancement. He was particularly concerned with the rampant anti-intellectualism that pervaded much of American Buddhism (and spirituality in general), and the common confusion of postmodern platitudes ('all things are equal') with deep Buddhist truths (which acknowledged absolute and relative truths equally). He was, in my opinion, one of the first truly Integral Buddhists, and at the time of his passing, he and I had in place plans to do a book together on these general notions, and had already transcribed our seminars in preparation.

"Now, alas, the world has been deprived of this voice of a genuine 4th Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. Those of us who knew him and counted him as Teacher will never forget him-his astonishing and wide-ranging intelligence, his deep Enlightenment, his easy-going nature and deep love of transmitting the Truth. But even his relatively short period with us was enough to demonstrate that a true coming together of East and West is indeed a real and extraordinary possibility, and a possibility upon which the future of humanity now depends."

-Ken Wilber

Visit the Integral Life website to watch Rinpoche and Ken Wilber discuss the evolution of enlightenment and the future of Buddhism.