Lying To My Guru

"Did you understand anything?"

Richard John

Rinpoche and some of his main dharma art students were teaching a program in Boulder in 1980 or 81. I was one of the assistant directors. All of us met a couple of times during the program with him in his office. I felt like a fish out of water because, even though I had a design background, I never really understood dharma art.

After the weekend, his car pulled up in front of our house on 19th street, which we shared with Max King and Michelle de Raismes. I think Rinpoche was bringing Michelle home from the program and I was standing on the sidewalk, trying to be kusung-like. He rolled down his window and looked at me and said: “Did you understand anything?” And I said something superfluous like “Oh, yes sir; I think I did sir,” and he just stared at me and rolled the window back up. And I knew I had lied to my guru and so did he.

An early student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Richard was appointed acharya by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. For many years he has taught Shambhala Buddhist programs in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico and Chile. He completed the first Three-Year Retreat at Gampo Abbey, and now teaches full time.