Are enlightened people creepy?

I love this question! I don’t think your garden variety enlightened being is creepy. But what about spiritual adepts with poor character development? It sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it?

Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was the 11th descendant in the line of Trungpa tulkus. A tulku is the rebirth of an enlightened master. I don’t know if he had attained anuttara samyak sambodhi, but he was a big deal. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and several other Tibetan luminaries attended his funeral. There was even a circular rainbow around the sun (Circular Rainbow). The Tibetans consider this a miracle. It is supposed to signify the presence of the Buddha Samantabhadra.

Yet Trungpa had sex with his female students, smoked tobacco, got drunk and was a reckless driver. A famous incident was when he wrecked his car into a joke shop in Scotland. Fortunately, his passenger escaped with minor injuries, but he was left partially paralyzed by the incident. It unclear if he had been drinking.

Now if his attainment only involved presence, the ability to live in the here and now and the experience of emptiness, I can understand how such pursuits may hold a fascination. Many of these activities have an exhilaration that could be seductive.

However, there is so much more to Buddhism than the present moment. There is the cultivation of compassion, gentleness, generosity, kindness, equanimity, joy, morality, wisdom, etc.

To his credit, he didn’t hide these activities. He was honest about them. He could be drunk on his ass and deliver a crystal clear dharma talk. He was also the teacher of Pema Chodron, who I adore.

So what do we make of a spiritual adept of poor character like Trungpa?

I find it creepy.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Photo: Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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