Help with this Trungpa talk please?

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undefineable
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Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by undefineable » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:01 pm

At the outset of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's well-known Dharma talk "Working with Negativity", there is a direct contradiction in the definition of 'negative negativity', which I feel is an important/relevant topic for my (secular/pre-dharma-'hearing') spiritual development at the moment. I suspect that this contradiction is resolved by Trungpa's statements in other talks (such as "Endless game after endless game after endless game - there are so many games going on") that seem to refer to the self-deception of ignorance, but I have no idea if this is the case, let alone how it would work itself out if it is the case. Here are the quotes:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:These interpretations and judgements are negative negativity, watching ourselves being negative and then deciding that the negativity is justified in being there. The negative negativity seems good-natured, so we pat its back, guard it, and justify it.
and
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:Negative negativity refers to the philosophies and rationales we use to justify avoiding our own pain. We would like to pretend that these 'evil' and "foul-smelling" aspects of ourselves and our world are not really there, or that they should not be there, or even that they should be there.
All I can speculate is that the first statement reflects one's immediate subconscious reaction to negativity, whereas the second represents a contradictory response at the level of self-consciousness.

Trungpa later adds:
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The conceptualised negativity, the negative negativity, must be cut through. It deserves to be murdered on the spot with the sharp blow of basic intelligence-prajnaparamita.
and
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:That kind of intelligence should be killed on the spot, "uncompassionately." This is when compassion should not be idiot compassion. This intellectual energy should be shot, killed, squashed, razed to dust on the spot with one blow.
Inspired by this, I have recently completed and let go of the secular (and coincidentally pseudo-Buddhist) philosophy that I developed largely by way of keeping the depression I kept in place for around 25 years in place for the sake of my ego and its self-deceptions, almost simultaneously, and even as the philosophy started to transform into something largely positive. This leaves me with nothing worthwhile to contribute to society. Either way, I believe I face incalculable eons in avici hell, but would at least like to attain a level of understanding that would allow my mind-stream to 'hit the ground running' afterwards. I would justify this partly by referring to later (and apparently stronger) statements in the same talk, which may be relevant to some members, but not all I'd imagine, as they appear to refer to further layers of "negative negativity":
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:...destroy altogether. This last is necessary only when the negative negativity uses a strong pseudologic or a pseudophilosophical attitude or conceptualisation. It is necessary when there is a notion of some kind that brings a whole succession of other notions, like the layers of an onion, or when one is using logic and ways of justifying oneself so that situations become very heavy and very solid. ... When we begin to play this kind of game, there is no room. Out!
and
Chogyam Trungpa wrote:The path of dharma ... is a path on which no one should walk blindly. If anyone does - Out! Such persons should be awakened by being excluded.
Depending on the correct interpretations of these statements, I take the last statement as confirmation that I and others whose 'issues' can be characterised in the way described by the penultimate statement will not meet a genuine teacher (and thereby hear the dharma) until long after they drop their wrong view - when their body language loses its related tension. If that wrong view has been psuedo-buddhist, then I would imagine it is best to abandon all interest in Buddhism and practice of meditation in this life. Please (Malcolm etc.) let me know if this is the case, and I will try and do so for my own sake and for the sake of others.

Private messages are welcome.
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jkarlins
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:38 pm

Trungpa is amazing, my favorite Buddhist writer. What's the contradiction exactly?


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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by undefineable » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:28 pm

Sorry I managed to misquote him!
When I wrote:
The negative negativity seems good-natured, so we pat its back, guard it, and justify it.
I meant to quote:
The negativity seems good-natured, so we pat its back, guard it, and justify it.
I also forgot to quote a passage spoken even earlier in the talk, where Trungpa describes negativity (and not just pain) as foul-smelling:
This is negativity. We experience it as terribly unpleasant, foul-smelling, something we would like to get rid of
This connects with the later passage I quoted:
We would like to pretend that these "evil" and "foul-smelling" aspects of ourselves and our world are not really there, or that they should not be there, or even that they should be there.
Both are relevant, because the latter description of negative negativity appears to contrast with the former one.

I was in no way criticising Trungpa Rinpoche, who was presumably speaking for those with a regular meditation practice...
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by undefineable » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:41 pm

Last post definitely finalised..

Just to clarify, the passages that appear to contrast are:
These interpretations and judgements are negative negativity, watching ourselves being negative and then deciding that the negativity is justified in being there. The negativity seems good-natured, so we pat its back, guard it, and justify it.
and
Negative negativity refers to the philosophies and rationales we use to justify avoiding our own pain. We would like to pretend that these 'evil' and "foul-smelling" aspects of ourselves and our world are not really there, or that they should not be there, or even that they should be there.
- where negativity has already been defined as:
foul-smelling, something we would like to get rid of
rather than "good-natured" etc..

I would appreciate any response to the rest of my OP as well.
you wore out your welcome with random precision {Pink Floyd}

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:05 pm

undefineable wrote:Last post definitely finalised..

Just to clarify, the passages that appear to contrast are:
These interpretations and judgements are negative negativity, watching ourselves being negative and then deciding that the negativity is justified in being there. The negativity seems good-natured, so we pat its back, guard it, and justify it.
and
Negative negativity refers to the philosophies and rationales we use to justify avoiding our own pain. We would like to pretend that these 'evil' and "foul-smelling" aspects of ourselves and our world are not really there, or that they should not be there, or even that they should be there.
- where negativity has already been defined as:
foul-smelling, something we would like to get rid of
rather than "good-natured" etc..

I would appreciate any response to the rest of my OP as well.
I don't know. Trungpa's not always the most simple and systematic speaker/teacher. It could also just be that I'm drawing a blank, and don't get it.

As far as "negative negativity" vs' negativity itself, my interpretation has always been that's it's about the underlying energy of negativity versus intellectualizing it, building up all sorts of thoughts and justifications around it. Could be related to concepts like "first thought best thought" and "the Big No."

I've also always seen this as a teaching on traditional vajrayana, the five buddha families. There are basic energies out there, and in our minds. We tend to take them and do a lot with them. For example, we take the energy of negativity and turn it into complicated ideas, resentments, resistance.

I haven't totally answered your question. I hope that helps somewhat.


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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Punya » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:09 pm

I might be misinterpreting what you are saying undefinable, but are you saying you are going to burn in avici hell and that you had some wrong idea about Buddhism and now Buddhism is lost to you? If so, I think you are wrong. The karma of Buddhism is not that of Hinduism, it can be changed. There are many ways to create merit and counter past actions.

And sorry to add a familiar refrain but since you seem a bit confused, I suggest finding a live teacher rather than just reading stuff in books.

I find CTR pretty obscure at times, but I think he is talking about how we try to find justifications for our negative actions rather facing up to them. Ideally we should find a way to abide with the dark parts of ourselves rather burying them. Easy to say, hard to do. Buddhist practice will eventually take us there.

Everyone has something positive to contribute to society.

:namaste:
We abide nowhere. We possess nothing.
~Chatral Rinpoche

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Adamantine » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:33 pm

There's a Profound Treasury book club that covers all of the volumes and chapters of CTR's collected works which is led by
an elder serious student of his and involves reading and discussions. This occurs in NYC, but if you're far away you could potentially ask to Skype in and then access the recordings of previous sessions. Your questions here are precisely the kind of thing that would be perfect to seek answers for there. Let me know if you need contact info over PM.

That said, I'd guess Jkarlins answer is pretty close to the target:
There's an initial affliction / negative emotion that intoxicates the mind for a moment. If left alone, or simply recognized, this energy will soon dissipate naturally. However if the conceptual mind begins to pick up and run with it, justifying it, reinforcing it, fleshing out further details etc. the whole thing becomes much more complex and stickier and could linger indefinitely, producing all sorts of negative actions and unfortunate karmic consequences and leaving a painful psychic hangover.
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:23 am

Thanks Adamantine. Along these lines, there's something called "Ocean" with online classes and meditations led by Trungpa's students. If you go to the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa website, there are links. It's free. Same kind of thing.

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Strive » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:42 am

dunno much about him but ppl say hes good

no clue tho lol

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:45 am

Try reading it as "negating negativity".
"Negative" as an adjective kind of misses the point. it works better as a verb.

First, he is referring to negativity as a characteristic of some of our experiences. We have negative experiences.
Then, he is talking about the way we relate to those negative experiences, negating them.
Sometime we deny that they affect us, or that they even occur. It's like denial.
What he is ultimately getting at is that this denial wastes the potential that our negative experiences provide for or growth.

For example, suppose somebody always nags and yells at you, or berates you and makes you feel bad.
That's a negative experience.
We can negate that, by trying to convince ourselves that we are not bothered, that our feelings are not hurt. We put up a psyhological coping wall. We think, "I don't need that kind of negativity in my life". And it's true, nobody does,

But, it is there. So, the practice of a bodhisattva is to use that as an opportunity to practice compassion, patience, generosity, and wisdom.
You realize that people are negative because ultimately, samsara. They are suffering. In meditation practice you cultivate a kind of openness, a kind of great spaciousness. There is room in the back of your truck to throw everybody's suffering, without getting distracted. There are practices such a sending and receiving (tong len) that you can do.

But ultimately, without being tested by the confrontation of negativity, your dharma practice remains hypothetical. It never really develops. So, negativity is actually a great gift to the buddhist practitioner. If you negate that negativity, you throw away that gift.
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Adamantine » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:47 am

Right that's the flip side. He seems to be using the term both in that sense of negating and also in the sense of justifying the negativity which is what I was more focused on in my reply. But yeah he is grouping them together. I don't think "negating negativity" as you put it leaves room for the justifying negativity side though.
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Lingpupa » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:56 am

Some of Trungpa's writing is insightful and inspiring, but let's face it, much of his material is incomprehensible. Unless you are a special enthusiast, of course.
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:59 am

Difficult, but not incomprehensible.

A little anecdote- me to a student of Trungpa's at a Shambhala center:
"What's one thing you remember about Trungpa?"
"He was an artist."

This perspective on him and his work was helpful to me. If you read his stuff as art, you can interpret it as art, not just based on logic. Like you'd read a poem a painting.


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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by cky » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:42 am

With Trungpa Rinpoche its very helpful to develop an overall sense of the way he expressed himself, a "feel" for how he liked to put certain things.

Then, I find, he makes a lot of sense. Actually some of his explanations were sheer genius. Just take the classic term "Spiritual Materialism". It may be a bit confusing when we first hear it. But after a little while we see it is putting the finger on the wound with precision.

Sometimes it is also helpful to remind us that he wasn't an English native speaker.

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:24 pm

cky wrote:With Trungpa Rinpoche its very helpful to develop an overall sense of the way he expressed himself, a "feel" for how he liked to put certain things.

Then, I find, he makes a lot of sense. Actually some of his explanations were sheer genius. Just take the classic term "Spiritual Materialism". It may be a bit confusing when we first hear it. But after a little while we see it is putting the finger on the wound with precision.

Sometimes it is also helpful to remind us that he wasn't an English native speaker.
Agreed on both counts. Especially the part about getting a feel for it, that's the point about art I was trying to make. He's not for everyone, because of strange style, and other reasons. But for those who connect with him, this is probably the best way to do it.

He wasn't a native English speaker, and I've heard many students say he was "fluent" which is very odd, at least if they meant it literally (which I thought they did). It took me a long time to appreciate his recorded talks and videos, because his books are HIGHLY edited for fluency. It's really a collaboration between him and his students, as far as the books.

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by Adamantine » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:22 pm

My guess is that Sam Bercholz, who was one of his first American students and became head of Shambhala publishing, was a big force in editing for fluency. He later became a disciple of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and it's also likely he assisted him in the same way. I don't know this with total certainty, just a hunch.
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:27 pm

Judy Lief was a big editor, and now teaches his material, as well as giving Bodhisattva vows. At least she has given the vows in the past.

He had many editors, and Sam Bercholz was a big one, along with Judy. There are others, can't remember now and I'm too lazy to google it, it's my lunch break. :tongue:

What is "on topic?"

This could go down a whole different path, which might be fine. I mean, in a way, these are like conversations, and conversations' quality isn't defined by their being super focused or clear even.

"MIshap Lineage" came out around 2010 I think, one of his later books. I feel like this was one where "Starbucks" was substituted for "Dairy Queen," a very controversial change to my mind. He didn't say this, it was changed by the editor, not sure which one.

I've thought about transcribing his talks, the actual speech would be much harder to read, lots of hesitations, self-correcting, improper grammar, just like anyone in real life.

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by undefineable » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:18 pm

Thanks everyone for all your replies :)
Adamantine wrote:Right that's the flip side. He seems to be using the term both in that sense of negating and also in the sense of justifying the negativity which is what I was more focused on in my reply. But yeah he is grouping them together. I don't think "negating negativity" as you put it leaves room for the justifying negativity side though.
I remembered another quote of Trungpa's which *may* 'elucidate' the problem:
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche wrote:Endless game after endless game after endless game. There are so many games going happening.
This is in reference to the samsara.

So, perhaps there is an initial semi-conscious 'patting on the back' reaction to negativity that is then trumped by a later, more conscious conclusion that negativity is bad - along with all the s^%* that follows that. Short of the new Trungpa Tulku remembering what his 'previous self' meant and explaining it in more concrete terms, the use of passages like this one by 'dilettantes' will be limited to this kind of provisional guesswork at best.

Trungpa always reminds me of Nietzsche in both style and content, Nietzsche being infamous for 'painting pictures', rather than coherent arguments, in words. It seems better to 'feel' the words than to expect some kind of complex system of logic to spring out of them, as may happen with other writing, and the preferred writing style has to depend on the personality of the reader among other things...
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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by jkarlins » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:55 pm

Well it's all guesswork of a sort, this is contemplation. But talk in person to a senior practitioner, even someone who knew the man, that would be a whole notha story!

:thanks:

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Re: Help with this Trungpa talk please?

Post by MalaBeads » Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:01 pm

Why not contact Pema Chodron about this? She has said that this talk was very pivotal for her and may be the very teacher you need to be in touch with. She lives at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. It would be easy to write to her there I would think.
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