Dan74 wrote:Hmmm... I don't think moral authority is derived from making judgments about others.
Moral authority is derived from making reasonable judgements about what is and isn't appropriate behavior and then sticking to those judgements with integrity.
As for Trungpa, apparently he used to go to pubs, talk to the alcoholics about the Dharma and they would become his students. Coming to the West in the 60ies as a young and innocent Tibetan monk, I wonder how he could've achieved some real contact with his audience if he stuck steadfastly to his precepts.
Are you suggesting that we should act immorally in order to gain followers? Should we hold our talks in brothels or teach meditation while we go out on hunting trips? I'm all for reaching out to those who might not come across the Dhamma, but not by casting aside the Dhamma itself.
I also wonder about the shock this vastly different culture and the permissiveness in particular, would have had on someone raised in a monastery in medieval surroundings. Perhaps this is a failing of Mahayana - if you enter the cesspit, it is hard for the dirt not to rub off. It would surely have been easier for Trungpa to stay in the Himalayas in his monastery where he was worshipped and respected rather than do what he had done.
By "what he had done," do you count the sexual misconduct? The descent into alcoholism? The general misuse and exploitation of his religious authority? I can't say whether or not it would have been easier, but it certainly would have been more in line with the Buddha's teachings.
And though his successor was a disaster by most accounts, we have some great teachers coming out of Shambala, like Pema Chodron, and others and the organisation is very much alive to this day - Naropa University, publishing Dharma books at Shambala, translating and teaching at Vajradhatu. His legacy, whether we like it or not is very powerful and much of it, if not all, is very much in line with the Buddha's teachings as preserved in the Pali Canon, though his own life deviated from the them in some significant respects, it is true.
I have nothing bad to say about his legacy. What I'm asking here is at what point do someone's actions stray so far from the Dhamma that they can no longer honestly be described as walking the Buddha's path? Bhikkhu Pesala is right that we should focus only on what is and isn't vinaya - but what should we do when we go down the list of someone's major life decisions and have to check "not vinaya" at every turn? Do we just stop before we make the obvious step from "their life was lived with a complete disregard for the Buddha's path" to "They were not on the Buddha's path?" Because it seems to me that such reservations are intellectually dishonest.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta
Stuff I write about things.