The Dot Winter 2007
Refreshingly Open Reporting
I wish to commend the Dot for helping to lead us out of our own cocoon as a community and explore what may well be sensitive if not difficult issues. In the spring issue, Katherine Lieberson’s article, “Sex and the Dharma,” raised the matter of potential abuses of power between older men and younger women in contemporary Shambhala retreats. Similarly, Jennifer Williams’s piece in the same issue, “The Feminine and the Masculine: Striving for Balance,” raised the issue of how to balance (or not, as her critics articulately argued on the Letters page) gender in today’s Shambhala training and texts.
You gently continued this trend with your interview with Lady Diana Mukpo in the autumn edition, asking her among other things what it was like to marry the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche when she was only sixteen, and what it was like to be his spouse in an open marriage. But as courageous and mindful as the Dot’s reporting has been, your stories, when taken as a whole, also raise questions that you do not yet answer. I cannot help but wonder out loud if there is any connection between the pattern shown by Trungpa Rinpoche and Lady Diana’s marriage and today’s concerns about gender and sexual relations. On this and related matters, it seems like the Dot could help us peer beyond our cocoon even further.
One thing I have heard from several of Trungpa Rinpoche’s former students but not yet read in places like the Dot concerns the lineage father’s relationship with alcohol. (He himself noted that it could serve as either medicine or poison.) Was his drinking a factor in his early death at only forty-seven? Does this help explain why his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, today at nearly the same age is so focused on his own physical health as much as on his own emotional and spiritual well-being? In short, are there more lessons from Chögyam Trunpga Rinpoche’s life itself to be learned?
Another story in your autumn issue, “Shambhala’s Relationship to Reggie Ray,” lightly touches upon another sensitive subject. Dr. Ray has written Shambhala Publications books dedicated to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, respectively. So his split with the Shambhala community comes as something of a mystery. You report that there are “difficult, unresolved issues,” but the story explains more the consequences of those matters for Reggie Ray and his ongoing students in terms of no longer being considered part of the Shambhala community than the issues themselves that gave rise to this decision. Although, to be fair, you did quote from Dr. Ray’s Dharma Ocean website, and you did report that you tried to reach him. But he was on retreat and had not yet responded to your request for a statement. Perhaps the cocoon will crumble more in coming editions. Much like the role journalism serves in any community, the Dot serves this one through its refreshingly open reporting.
Frank Smyth Washington, D.C.