The essence of Buddhism is like pure water; it is wisdom that is transparent and fluid. Like pure water, it is without any inherent shape or color of its own. Yet at the same time it is capable of adopting any shape and reflecting all the colors of the container into which it is poured. It is a science of mind and a philosophy of life that addresses the emotions as well as the intellect and offers a basis for understanding the meaning of life and the nature of the world. Historically, as Buddhism traveled from its homeland of India to other lands—to Tibet, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, and so on—this pure water, the genuine wisdom of Buddha, took on the shape of its different containers and reflected the languages and social forms of each country.
This is the water Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche began pouring from his Tibetan container into the vessel of Western culture, to quench the thirst of beings overwhelmed by poverty mentality and spiritual materialism. Thus, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche played a very important role in bringing the complete buddhadharma to the West.
When the great wisdom of the East met with this completely open-minded vessel of the West, both found a new home, a new heart, and a fresh meaning to life. Trungpa Rinpoche leaped right into this meeting place to explore and deepen his connection to the West and Western students, as well as to ponder the right vessel for the wisdom that benefits all beings. As he wrote in Born in Tibet, “there remained some hesitation as to how to throw myself completely into proclaiming the dharma to the Western world, uprooting spiritual materialism, and developing further compassion and affection.” With great courage and love, he engaged fully in Western culture, language, and tradition, and dedicated the rest of his life to transplanting “on the spot” the lineage teachings of Buddhism.
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in “Genuine Water: The Legacy of Chogyam Trungpa,” in Recalling Chogyam Trungpa, edited and compiled by Fabrice Midal, pages 12 to 13.
Offered in honor of the 35th Anniversary of the Parinirvana (Death) of Chogyam Trungpa, April 4, 2022.