Trangu Rinpoche Interview
Interview with Ven.Trangu Rinpoche June 2, 2016
I’d learned earlier in the day that Rinpoche doesn’t use a translator for interviews since his English is “pretty good.” I entered the room – Rinpoche’s attendant left as I entered - did three half-prostrations and offered a kata. Rinpoche greeted me very warmly and I felt immediately comfortable in his presence, very confident to look him in the eye.
“Hello, Where do you live?”
“I live in Boulder.”
“Rinpoche, I’d like to ask you a question, but it might take me a while to explain it, if that is OK?”
“Rinpoche, I’ve always had a strong connection to the Shambhala teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche. I’ve studied and followed them much more than Buddhism. I taught Shambhala Training for twenty-nine years. I’ve had confidence that there realization of these teachings.”
“Beginning about fifteen years ago I began to have very strong experiences of what Trungpa Rinpoche called the drala principle. I began to have very strong experiences of blessings and visions of the drala principle, of the dralas. I began to follow these blessings, in a way having them lead me. I began to have tremendous confidence and conviction in what was occurring. It was as if my own path was really happening to me and that realization was possible on this path. Much of what I did was also very unusual.”
“Then, about four years ago I developed a bi-polar condition, a mental illness. I began to go up into mania and then later, down into deep depression. I was in the hospital three times from the manias, I got very crazy. Now I don’t have the mania, I don’t go up, but I have very strong depressions that come and go. The mental illness has completely shaken my confidence and I experience tremendous confusion, too. So Rinpoche, I’d like to ask you if you have any perspective on my path and if you have any advice for how I can regain my confidence and move forward.”
Rinpoche thought for a moment and then said, “Ah, Shambhala (pronouncing each syllable with equal accent, Sham bha la). Then he paused for quite a long time. He looked toward the ceiling, then closed his eyes for many seconds. I felt he was looking deeply at my question, searching for or seeking an answer. He seemed deep in concentration/contemplation and I was very moved. Finally he spoke.
“Do you have a family?” he asked.
“No, I’m pretty alone.”
“Do you have a wife?”
How long have you had the mental illness.”
“About four years, Rinpoche.”
“I think you should continue with the drala practice.”
“With drala?” I asked to make sure I’d heard him correctly!
“Yes, with drala.”
“You could also do Medicine Buddha.”
As soon as he said this I began to cry, softly. I could easily have burst into tears (and on the drive home I did). "Continue with the drala practice" - this was the last thing I’d have expected him to say. I’d expected to be given Buddhist practices of some kind, to say the least (though his instruction to do Medicine Buddha felt great). I’d half expected some kind of disapproval of my path.
“Thank you, Rinpoche!”
Then, along with Labsong Dorje (his attendant who had just entered the room) Rinpoche gave me several protection objects for my shrine, including a Vajrakilaya text, writing in gold ink.
With tears in my eyes I continued to look at Rinpoche for as long as seemed in accord with decorum. He looked at me with incredible kindness and openness and seemed truly happy. I put my hands to my heart, Sufi style, then into anjeli and thanked him again and left the room.
I was flabbergasted and touched to the core. How could the path I’d been on possibly be confirmed and by such an eminent lama and trusted colleague of Trungpa Rinpoche! The mental illness has brought such doubt, and the depression has caused me to scour my psyche down to every imbroglio, infraction and evil deed I’ve ever committed, bringing such devastation doubt. Afterwards I cried and cried. What a watershed! I feel I’ve been given back my life. Whatever challenges I will still face, I have received a precious gift that will carry me forward. Even as I write this I feel how deeply integration is occurring.
What else is incredible is that I’ve never has a living person tell me to follow the drala practice, much less a Rinpoche or other spiritual master. Heretofore its always been my own conviction in the experiences that have happened to me, my conviction in Lord Mukpo.
Besides all this, “continuing with drala practice” must also have been Rinpoche’s advice or remedy for the mental illness.
Final note: On the drive home I happened to glance at the clock: 3:33.