A Conversation about the Vajra Regent with Kenneth Green

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This three part discussion with Ken Green on the early years of the Vajra Regent’s path is offered in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Regent’s passing. To introduce this conversation, Ken writes:

Dear Friends,

I thought it might be helpful to write a short preface to this interview (in three parts) that I agreed to do for Julia Sagebien’s “Mosaics.” Julia was very persuasive in her request for this interview.

The subject of the Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin has been riddled with a lot of controversy and drama spanning now over 25 years. In agreeing to discuss this subject it is not my intention to open old wounds, and in any way to create a heated debate. It is however, an important chapter in the life and work of the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his ceaseless efforts bringing the dharma to the West. I have tried to remain true to my memory and frankly at 70 years old, I am grateful to still have a memory at all, especially going back over 43 years. Recollections come and go, and this interview is not meant to be journalistic but rather a reflection of a complex relationship with Tom Rich aka Narayana aka Ösel Tendzin, the Vajra Regent. We both travelled in conjunction, like two planets closely moving in our life’s trajectory, for an intense 15 years, first being soaked in the pure yogic teachings of Swami Satchidananda and ultimately dismantled and reassembled (somewhat) in the dharma ocean of Trungpa Rinpoche.

For me sharing these stories, as well as reading other Rinpoche stories by senior students are mythic tales in the classic sense. Together with my dharma brothers and sisters, we all hold pieces of a greater Namtar, the life and teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Please forgive me for any errors or omissions of events.

In conclusion I would like to share this excerpt from a talk Rinpoche gave on the mishap lineage which I found very helpful.

CTR: When you think everything’s going to be okay and everything’s going fine, there are always reminders taking place. A larger degree would be Milarepa’s mishap. Finally he was accepted by Marpa, who made him his chief disciple and important person, the only son of the lineage. Milarepa felt extremely good. He went back home and everything was ruined. The whole place was destroyed. That kind of mishap is always apropos of our particular practicing lineage once you have any association with this kind of thing.

STUDENT: Was it Milarepa’s fault that he found his home ruined and all of that?

CTR: Well, it’s part of his creation. I wouldn’t say it was his fault.

STUDENT: Was it a result of his lack of mindfulness or clumsiness? I have the impression that the reason the mishap is unexpected is because of some gap in the person’s awareness.

CTR: What usually happens is that when you begin to relax in the teachings, but you are not quite adult enough, you’re not grown up enough, at that point you’re still thinking that everything is going to be okay. At that level, when the relaxation and tension both begin to take place together, you get a mishap. Otherwise, how can you have the accident? An accident happens when tension and relaxation happens together.

STUDENT: So it’s not anything as simple as lack of mindfulness?

CTR: That seems to be a layman’s joke, you know, that you are not aware of yourself, so that’s why something happened. “Look what you’ve done.” It’s like dealing with kids, something like that. But in this case, it’s actually much more sophisticated.

I believe that nothing in Rinpoche’s life happened by accident, nor are they mistakes; but his life and the effect on his students past and present have and continue to unfold in a logic much greater than the sum of the parts. It is in this spirit of auspicious coincidence that I agreed to the interview. May the dharma flourish.

Ken Green aka Krishna aka Dagme Dorje
Nangsi Kalon
July 22, 2015

The theme music for Mosaics is from Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition