Guide to the Three-Yana Journey

Photo Courtesy of Naropa University

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s comprehensive presentation of the three-yana journey, taught only to his senior students, is being made public for the first time in The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche takes us through this unique body of teachings.

In the summer of 1980, the Vidya­dhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, invited my father and me for dinner at the Kalapa Court in Boulder, Col­orado. That evening, Rinpoche sur­prised me with an extraordinary gift: a collection of his seminary transcripts along with a roll of Japanese brocade personally designed by him, on a tray. The Vidyadhara looked at me over the rim of his glasses and asked, “Can you read in English?” “Not very well,” I replied. “Perhaps someday you can enjoy these,” he said, motioning to the stack of transcripts.

While I was attending monastic college, I kept Rinpoche’s transcripts with me and never forgot his words. After attending Columbia University, I began to read them more closely. Rinpoche’s fresh and experiential interpretations of the orig­inal Buddhist concepts that I’d studied my whole life couldn’t help but give me a new perspective.

Three decades after receiving the transcripts, I appreciate the opportunity to revisit these his­toric and innovative teachings. Once again, I’m struck by the remarkable achievement of the Vidyadhara and his brilliant and masterful pre­sentation of buddhadharma to the West. At the same time, it’s a challenge to convey their special qualities and what they’ve meant and continue to mean to those seeking a genuine experience of waking up.

As a member of the last generation of Tibetan masters trained in Tibet, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche received a rigorous, and I daresay excruciatingly thorough, training in the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism before fleeing to India. Through his studies at Oxford University and years of living in the U.S., he developed a command of the English language, as well as an intimate knowledge of Western culture and the contemporary cosmopolitan psyche. Coupled with his classic Buddhist train­ing, these experiences laid the ground for a fascinating and unique presentation of the Buddhist teachings, one that left none of the most essential pith instructions behind.

In many cases, in order to connect with Western mind and experience, he redefined and reshaped terminologies to give fresh connotations to existing English words, such as ego, boredom, and basic goodness. A number of Buddhist phrases commonly used today were coined by Rinpoche. He used the terms spiritual materialism and spiritual narcissism to describe a tendency of many practitioners to turn their spiritual jour­ney into an ego­enriching exercise. He dubbed as idiot com­passion the tendency to give people what they want, instead of what they really need, because one can’t bear their suffering. Such innovations, rare in traditional settings, signaled the very beginnings of a truly Western Buddhism.

The concept of spiritual materialism, especially, has become ingrained in the lexicon of Buddhist practice communities in the West. This term brilliantly demonstrates not only the Vidyadhara’s powerful understanding of the difficulties and struggles of the path at hand but also a savvy grasp of West­ern psychology. His intimacy with Western culture allowed him to take an idea like “materialism,” already familiar to his students, and apply it to the Buddhist path in a practical way. Not the philosophical position of materialism, mind you, but the habit of going to the mall—that perpetual pressure of consumerism built on the assumption that the acquisition of more and more things will somehow lead to contentment.

It was Rinpoche’s rapport with the Western experience that allowed him to make the connection between our ordi­nary materialistic desires and impulses and the more subtle, deep­seated grasping that reinforces ego­fixation and derails our spiritual path. This was Rinpoche’s idiosyncratic ground­breaking kindness and genuine innovation: buddhadharma skillfully delivered and packaged for the first time for a West­ern audience.

In addition to transplanting genuine buddhadharma in the West, in the late 1970s Trungpa Rinpoche also shared his long­held vision of enlightened society with the world through the cycle of teachings known as Shambhala Training. A series of contemplative workshops and meditations in secular form, Shambhala Training provided lay practitioners with a progres­sion of skillful means to connect with their “basic goodness” and contribute to the development of a fearless, gentle, and sane society.

With the publication of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, the same seminary transcripts that I first set eyes on more than thirty years ago have taken birth as three user­friendly volumes, beautifully arranged and elegantly edited without losing the author’s intention or voice. The vol­umes offer a glimpse of the heart teachings of the Vidyadhara, given to his students over several years with his uniquely pro­vocative and meticulous style, enhanced by his knowledge of Western epistemology and psychology. Volume one covers the classical Buddhist teachings of the Hinayana, volume two the Mahayana, and volume three the Vajrayana.

There are some misunderstandings surrounding whether or not Vajrayana practitioners even need to engage in the other yanas. But according to some of the major Buddhist tantras, like the Hevajra and Kalachakra tantras, the development of the view, meditation, and action of the entire three­yana jour­ney is without a doubt essential and necessary. In this compila­tion of his seminary teachings, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche is in complete sync with tantric tradition.

Ego, the Brilliant Work of Art

When engaging in any spiritual practice, Trungpa explains, “You need to have a basic understanding of where you are starting from, where you are going, and what you are working with.” Starting with “what you are and why you are search­ing” is the correct way to begin.

There is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what we discover about who and what we are. In fact, we should be proud of actually finding out who and what we are and appreciate the courage it took to acknowledge that. According to the Vajrayana view, our fundamental nature, the basic ground, has always been open, spacious, pure, and rich with enlightened wisdom. Trungpa’s imagery here is simply elegant:

In the beginning, there is open space belonging to no one, and within that space is primeval intelligence, or vidya, so there is both intelligence and space. It is like a completely open and spacious room in which you can dance about and not be afraid of knocking anything over. You are this space; you are one with it. But you become confused. Because it is so spacious, you begin to whirl and dance about. You become too active in the space. As you dance, you want to experience the space more and more…

When we are unaware of this genuine state and start fixating, “spinning around in our life,” that is the beginning of samsara. We are giving birth to ego, duality, and samsara all together. Trungpa explains this mechanism with clarity and precision:

When you try to cling to space, to grasp it, the whole perspective is completely changed. You have solidified space and made it tangible. That sense of self­consciousness is the birth of duality… There is still primeval intelligence, or vidya, but it has been captured and solidified. Therefore, it has become avidya, or ignorance. That blackout of intelligence is the source of the ego.

Trungpa describes the ego that we discover in the process of solidifying the space as “a brilliant work of art.” According to Buddhism, ego is merely a label given to the collection of the skandhas experienced as “I” or “me.” Trungpa felt that this process—how the ego­label unifies this “disorganized and scattered process into one entity”—was rather clever.

There is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what we dis­cover about who and what we are. In fact, we should be proud of actually finding out who and what we are and appreciate the courage it took to acknowledge that. According to the Vajrayana view, our fundamental nature, the basic ground, has always been open, spacious, pure, and rich with enlight­ened wisdom. Trungpa’s imagery here is simply elegant:

In the beginning, there is open space belonging to no one, and within that space is primeval intelligence, or vidya, so there is both intelligence and space. It is like a completely open and spacious room in which you can dance about and not be afraid of knocking anything over. You are this space; you are one with it. But you become confused. Because it is so spacious, you begin to whirl and dance about. You become too active in the space. As you dance, you want to experience the space more and more…

When we are unaware of this genuine state and start fixat­ing, “spinning around in our life,” that is the beginning of samsara. We are giving birth to ego, duality, and samsara all together. Trungpa explains this mechanism with clarity and precision: The “blackout of intelligence” becomes the very ground on which we develop the path of transcend­ing ego. Although such a ground “may not be particularly enlightened, peaceful, or intelligent, it is good enough,” says Trungpa, and we can work with it “like plowing a furrow and planting seeds. We are not trying to get rid of the ego, but simply acknowledge it and see it as it is.”

Learning how to deconstruct our ego, or transcending avidya, is crucial for attaining true liberation. Mastering the methods of transforming our ego involves the progressive development of right view, familiarization with meditation, and engaging in mindful actions in accordance with the three yanas.

How do we cut through this seeming “ape instinct of habit­ual struggle” and find liberation from ego­fixation? Trungpa answers, “Everyone possesses ultimate wakefulness,” which is not a product of our effort. He says, “The only effort needed is to give up that struggle.” Only then is liberation—gentle and delightful—realized.

Hinayana

After presenting us with a panoramic view of the principles of the Buddhist path, Trungpa guides us step­by­step through a precise, in­depth Hinayana journey, starting with shamatha meditation and the practice of mindfulness, then moving through the more analytical teachings of the four noble truths and twelve links of dependent origination (nidanas), and on to other classical Buddhist concepts, such as the six realms of existence, presenting them as six psychological states.

Nontheism and Individual Salvation

Once we discover our suffering, originated from ego­clinging and avidya, the important point is to tame the mind and its neurosis. The path here is called Individual Salvation, and as Trungpa explains, it begins with the “desire to develop peace or tranquility within, and to prevent actions that may be harmful to others.”

If we’re to learn the lessons of the Hinayana and get at the most essential meaning of the Buddha’s teachings, we “need to let go of theism,” says Trungpa. The concept of nontheism, originally seen in a work of George Holyoake in 1852, is one of the vital themes in Trungpa’s teachings. He explains that the Buddhist practices involved here are nontheistic “because you don’t have to rely on any aids. Nobody is going to jolt you, except for your own mind.”

Going further on the Buddhist path by taking refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha is itself another way of letting go of theism. It’s an acknowledgement of an undertaking, an expression of personal responsibility, not dependence. As Trungpa explains, “Buddha’s statement that you have to be intelligent about what you are doing and about your com­mitment to spirituality automatically brings up the notion of nontheism.” While the spiritual goal of theism seems to be reaching the highest possibility of the world’s loftiest ideals, such as becoming godly or reuniting with a supreme deity, the approach of nontheism is simply trying to relate with ourselves. There’s not a lot of distance to travel. It’s based totally on personal experience geared toward fully realizing egolessness.

Shila, Samadhi, and Prajna

In accord with the three­yana approach, Trungpa presents the main body of the Hinayana practice with the triad of shila, samadhi, and prajna.

“That which cools off neurotic heat,” shila, commonly translated as discipline or ethics, is a practice that makes your being and your mind one­pointed, achieving a level of deco­rum. It’s a way, Trungpa explains, “to keep your precision, to keep your sense of dignity, your sense of head and shoul­ders—to maintain your being altogether.” Through engaging in shila, “we follow the Buddha’s example so that our state of mind becomes workable.”

With the ground of shila, samadhi, or meditation, becomes a way of touching a deeper state of our mind through the meditation practices of shamatha, or peaceful abiding, and vipashyana, or higher awareness. Trungpa instructs that “unless we are willing to commit ourselves to shamatha prac­tice, there is no way out of ill­birth or distortion. So shamatha is very important.”

You may think you’ve experienced real boredom many times in your life and wish always to avoid it. But real bore­dom, the genuine thing, is another matter. Trungpa calls it “cool boredom,” and it’s what you experience in meditation. This simple and refreshing expression of your well­being plays an extremely important role as “the barometer” of your accomplishment in meditation. It’s what you experience when you sit observing the natural rhythm of your breath, over and over. Unless you’re able to sit efficiently, remaining pres­ent with your experience, “you will not get properly bored,” says Trungpa, and therefore “you will not be in tune with the power of the practice.”

Meditation practice is not only about developing your powers of concentration. It’s also about developing sympa­thy for yourself. You can finally enjoy being you, Trungpa explains, without having “to borrow anything or bring any foreign influences into your life.” The only thing you need is the genuine experience of your own mind.

Shamatha alone isn’t sufficient to cut through ego, how­ever. It needs to be joined with vipashyana—higher aware­ness, or superior seeing. It’s the insight that comes from direct meditative experience or contemplative analysis. In Tibetan Buddhism, this is vipashyana meditation on emptiness, which brings about the realization of egolessness.

Once our mind is processed by shamatha, discriminating awareness, or prajna, begins to arise. Also known as tran­scendent knowledge, prajna becomes the quintessential ele­ment of practice that directly cuts through ego. Without the understanding of egolessness, there is no Buddhist path and there is no cessation of suffering, or nirvana.

Mahayana

Once you have refined the perfect body of shila, samadhi, and prajna of the Hinayana, then the Mahayana outfit of bodhichitta, the mind of awakening, will fit well and look good. “The question is, what are you waking from?” asks Trungpa. “You are waking from the three poisons: passion, aggression, and ignorance or delusion.” There’s a simple pro­gression. First, through the application of loving­kindness and compassion, your heart starts to awaken, which means being gentle with and respecting yourself. Then you begin to develop a particular kind of heart—the enlightened heart of wisdom and compassion, intellect and insight.

No matter how remote this heart of compassion may seem, the Mahayana teachings say that it exists within us. Trungpa describes it as the “natural state of being awake, tender, and genuine.” In fact, our “first taste of enlightenment” is this experience of bodhichitta: “mind clicking in and awakening on the spot.” True bodhichitta, Trungpa explains, “combines spaciousness, sympathy, and intelligence; or shunyata, com­passion, and knowledge.”

The very foundation of the Buddha’s teachings and the centerpiece of the Mahayana journey is bodhichitta, the heart that generates warmth of compassion toward all beings and realizes the true reality of shunyata (twofold egolessness). It’s “the basis of being awake and open.” Trungpa gives a par­ticularly pithy instruction on bodhichitta practice:

In order to be exposed to intelligence, or prajna, you have
to understand that it is not worth struggling, that you have
to give up ego fixation. In order to be exposed to sympathy,
or compassion, you have to give up territoriality, possessive­ness,
and aggression.

Enlightened Genes

The more we tame our mind, the more our inquisitiveness increases. “At that point, the possibility of further learning is taking place,” says Trungpa. The Mahayana teachings point out that our fundamental nature is tathagatagarbha, bud­dhanature, or what Trungpa calls the “enlightened gene.” Whether we see it or not, Trungpa explains, this deeper nature manifests all the time in “some kind of gap, some discrep­ancy in our state of being that allows basic sanity to shine through.” Even though such potential may appear to be hid­den or stained, the stains can be removed since they are not part of the true nature. Such buddhanature is said to have two aspects: stained and unstained. Hence, the practice here is to eliminate the conditioned stains and realize the unconditional state of tathagatagarbha.

Basic Goodness

Exploring the reality of our mind further, we discover that the basic state of our existence is fundamentally good, something that we can rely on, and therefore, says Trungpa, “there is room to relax, to open up.” This is what Trunga Rinpoche calls “basic goodness.” The notion of basic goodness is derived from the traditional Tibetan Buddhist concept of kun­shi ngang-luk kyi gewa, meaning the natural state of virtue or goodness of the alaya—the level of consciousness that is the basis of all experience. For Trungpa, this “is the basis of the possibility of absolute bodhichitta.”

In order to discover and nourish this precious awakened heart, we engage in the skillful practices of the Mahayana. Therefore, in the second volume, Trungpa guides his students through the Mahayana principles of relative and absolute bodhichitta, focusing on those practices well known for their power to cultivate experiences of emptiness and compassion: making commitments to the bodhisattva way; engaging in the practices of the six paramitas and the seven points of mind training; and applying ourselves to the study of the profound view, meditation, and conduct of the five paths and ten bhumis.

The whole journey we take here is designed to bring us back to our original state, the open space of “primeval intelligence”—also known as the state of buddhahood. Avidya, or ignorance, is transformed back into vidya, pristine intelligence, through the general Mahayana notions of benevo­lence and insight into egolessness. This is not neces­sarily a swift or direct path to awakening but rather a long journey to full enlightenment.

Vajrayana

Next we enter the final stage, the diamond path, or Vajrayana journey, which is notably “short and concentrated,” but as Trungpa reminds us, that does not mean we get to bypass the Hinayana and Mahayana. Trungpa points out that “in order to become decent Vajrayana people, we need to estab­lish a strong foundation through Hinayana disci­pline and Mahayana benevolence… we never really abandon the previous yanas, but we constantly go back and forth.”

Sacred Outlook

A key difference between the Mahayana and the Vajrayana, Trungpa explains, is that “the Vajrayana teachings understand that even relative truth is workable and insightful. On the level of relative truth, all dharmas are seen as equally important and in equilibrium.” The relative truth is “not regarded as a pick­and­choose situation; rather everything taking place there is regarded as the real world,” says Trungpa.

Sacred outlook, or “the awareness that all phenomena are sacred,” is the understanding that “stems from the experience of mindfulness­awareness practice, or shamatha­vipashyana.” The idea of sacredness, says Trungpa, is not based on a popu­lar “theistic view of sacredness,” a sense of being “blessed or influenced by external holiness.” Sacredness here is self­existing, originally pure and free.

Hence, Vajrayana introduces the notion of “sacred outlook”—a vision or perception of the world and its inhab­itants as genuinely beautiful and originally pure. It’s a sacred world just as it is. Trungpa Rinpoche explains:

In the Vajrayana, we learn how to respect our world. We realize that this particular world we live in is not an evil world, but a sacred world. It is filled with sacredness alto­gether. We learn to develop sacred outlook. As we develop still further, we receive transmission. And from that, we develop a sense of how we could actually perceive phenom­ena without trying to perceive. We realize how we could appreciate phenomena instantly, without a struggle.

In this vehicle, Trungpa points out, there is an emphasis on having a kind of “fundamental trust. You could experience either trust or distrust when such truth is told.”

Yet there is room for doubt and intellectual questioning because, as Trungpa explains, “it is important that you know what you are getting and what you are getting into.” This “intellectual understanding acts as a vanguard before you do anything” in the Vajrayana or tantric tradition. However, doubt and distrust are not the same. According to Trungpa,“doubt is very fertile ground” and thus, “the more doubt there is, the better.” As Rinpoche points out:

…distrust means condemning the whole thing, whereas doubt is knowing that there are possibilities. Doubt is knowing that something is happening, but not knowing exactly what is going on. It provides you with the possibility of questioning yourself as to whether you have the faculties and capability to understand the Vajrayana.

With a heart of trust and the full capacity of our intellec­tual mind, we enter the vajra world. The main emphasis in this yana, Trungpa says, is on “upaya, or skillful means. In fact, one of the definitions of Vajrayana is that it is composed of teachings based on a particular state of mind, or mental approach, in which shunyata and prajna are put together and are regarded as upaya.” With that understanding of sacred outlook, the way we enter the Vajrayana is through the abhisheka, or empowerment ceremony, which is tied to the notion guru, or vajra master. As Trungpa clearly states:

If you are treading on this path, it is very important for you as a student that you and your vajra master come to a mutual conclusion. You have to reach a mutual understand­ing with each other that you actually have to demolish the hidden corners of samsara. You have to demolish the devas­tating tricks that exist and that you have been able to main­tain for such a long time.

The abhisheka process is connected to the Vajrayana con­cept of the samaya principle: the commitment and vow to safeguard the integrity of the teachings. Fundamentally, this “basic commitment is to yourself. Beyond that, your commit­ment to others and to your teacher will arise naturally,” says Trungpa. However, samaya should not be taken simply as a vow or command. It’s a meaningful way of binding “the teach­ing, the teacher, and the students together in one particular project.” In this way, we come to trust in our own vajra heart, the absolute nature of our own mind.

The Guru

There are lots of misunderstandings regarding the Vajrayana guru in the Buddhist world today. However, if we look with the eyes of unbiased wisdom, a similar principle exists in all three yanas—that is, the concept of a master holding the upadesha, or key instructions. It’s important to understand that there are different levels of teachers who support and guide us appropriately on our journey through the yanas.

According to Trungpa’s explanation of these levels, in the Hinayana, the “teacher acts as kind of a parental principle” and is somewhat like an instructor or a schoolteacher; whereas in the Mahayana, the teacher is known as kalyanamitra, or “spiritual friend,” which is “more than a schoolteacher. The Mahayana teacher is a like a physician and friend at the same time,” says Trungpa. He or she is concerned with your spiri­tual development and well­being.

Finally, in the Vajrayana, the teacher is called “vajra mas­ter,” or guru. This level of teacher works much more directly with students and has a keen unflinching interest in their prob­lems and buddha potential. Consequently, the search for pro­found instructions, profound wisdom, or profound methods of awakening is most fruitful with the guru.

Normally, the guru refers to someone who holds an enlight­ened lineage that is passed down unbroken from genera­tion to generation. Such a person need not be prominent or acclaimed. The guru in the Vajrayana, however, isn’t neces­sarily an individual; there’s also the principle of guru, which operates at this level.

The Vajrayana guru, whether vajra master or pure princi­pal, is “a teacher, an executioner, a magician, and a surgeon.” These gurus, Trungpa says, are “like a surgeon because they help you out thoroughly, and that thoroughness might present you with some pain.” Nonetheless, “in order for the surgeon to heal you, you have to let them get into you thoroughly and completely. So while the vajra master is a parental figure, this particular parental figure is a surgeon, somewhat of an execu­tioner, a heavy­handed person who has good intentions. That is one of the important aspects of a vajra master.”

I believe that the guru is simply like a mirror that reflects the true nature of our own mind, our buddha mind. But in order to see this reflection, we have to have some light. We can’t be standing in a dark room. That light is our sense of devotion to our guru. Without turning on this light, there’s no way we can truly see all the features and qualities of our reflection.

The Vajra World

It’s also important to understand correctly that the “vajra world has three aspects,” says Trungpa. In it you have “the yidams, or principal deities; the teacher, or vajra master; and yourself. Combined, that threefold situation provides what is known as the vajra world. Sacred outlook is not only about thinking that everything is good; it is the absence of impris­onment. You begin to experience freedom that is intrinsi­cally good, almost unconditionally free. So the vajra world that you are entering is basically good, unconditionally free, fundamentally glorious and splendid.” When we enter the vajra world in this way, explains Trungpa, “there is bondage between your vajra master, your deity, and yourself; you are joined together. That provides a profound basis for Vajrayana practice altogether.”

The method of deity yoga, or yidam meditation, is a key element of Vajrayana practice. The yidam deities are “personi­fications of your particular nature” and are connected with the notion of the five buddha families—each symbolizing par­ticular neuroses and skillfully connecting to their transmuted nature of enlightened wisdoms. The yidam that you identify with is based on your own experience because, Trungpa says, “it is an imagination of your mind.” The only way to take part in the skillful practices of yidam meditation is through receiving abhisheka and oral instructions.

In order to embark on the Vajrayana path fully, we must understand and engage in the practices known as the four aspects of tantra or those of the nine­yana journey. Hereafter, Trungpa Rinpoche precisely and in detail presents the four tantras and the Mahamudra teachings on the nature of mind in the context of the nine yanas of the Dzogchen system.

Dzogchen

In the Vajrayana, we say all rivers eventually flow into the ocean, and in the same way, all the practices of the three yanas lead to the ninth yana, atiyoga or maha ati. This yana is also renowned as the ultimate vehicle, or “the yana of complete transcendence,” belonging to what’s known as Mahasandhi, or Dzogchen, the great completion.

The connotation of ati, explains Trungpa, is that “ ‘a’ expresses ‘awake’ or the first breath you take, and ‘ti’ indicates ‘ultimate’ or the ‘final thing.’” The flavor of experience at the maha ati level is a sense of being “awake continuously” or “utterly awake, ultimately awake all the time.” Thus Trungpa says, “Maha ati is the highest level of cool boredom, which is very exciting.”

So “the maha ati approach to enlightenment,” says Trungpa, “is that wisdom has never begun, and therefore, there is no end.” According to Rinpoche’s simple and clear instructions on the ati practice:

You should keep things natural and basic. You do not have
to jazz things up or make them into anything more than
necessary, or turn them into anything spiritual. Things are
on their own, very simply. Maha ati is ultimate or final.
It is very basic.

Along with such pithy instructions, Trungpa also raises some concerns about presenting the ultimate yana: “What makes me nervous about teaching maha ati is that it sounds too simple.” Furthermore, he cautions that ati can be misun­derstood as something that “sounds very simpleminded,” and “the problem might be that there is no respect. You might feel that maha ati is just something that happens organically, and you do not have to put any effort into it. There could be the problem of being somewhat bored with maha ati or disap­pointed with it.”

At the same time, says Trungpa, it’s important to know that “the practitioner of maha ati has already accomplished a great deal by going through the earlier yanas.” For this reason, the whole nine­yana journey becomes indispensable for those who seek true freedom and genuine awakening.

In short, says Trungpa, one could say that “In maha ati you have everything, and at the same time you have nothing. The only technique maha ati provides is the leap, but that is absurd, because maha ati does not provide any place to leap from. That is the big joke.”

Nevertheless, Trungpa points out, “In the maha ati realm, there is a natural tendency to see that the journey no longer needs to be made. Instead, the journey itself is the goal.”

The journey of awakening here is our primeval intelligence, or vidya, leaping into the open space at the beginning. When we become the space and awareness, or the primeval intel­ligence, then awakening is right there with you.

Great Eastern Sun

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s activity and contributions can be summed up into two distinct categories: 1) transplant­ing the spiritual wisdom of buddhadharma into the modern Western psyche, culture, and language; and 2) introducing “basic human wisdom” and his vision for an enlightened soci­ety in the secular world through Shambhala Training. Trung­pa’s vision of Shambhala is stated clearly in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior:

The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. The wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come from the West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of human warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history.

In these three volumes, the wisdom of Trungpa Rinpoche shines like “the great eastern sun.” The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma is truly a precious resource for all Buddhist practitioners and for those willing to explore and learn the complete teachings of the Buddha. This is Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s banquet for lovers of the spiritual path in this twenty­first century—and a great gift to the development of Western Buddhism.