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Chögyam Trungpa

Chögyam Trungpa was a Tibetan Buddhist monk who escaped from Tibet to India and went to Oxford University in England. While in England, he married one of his 16 year old students and he got so drunk, he had an automobile collision into a joke shop in Scotland. Trungpa took the title “Rinpoche” because he had some serious ego problems (the title “Rinpoche” means “precious one”, and is only really used for kings), as there were Buddhist monks that enabled him and fed his ego while he was in Tibet. He formed the Vajradhatu Buddhist organization in America and created several retreat camps in the United States and across the world. He took roots in Boulder, Colorado for many years, forming a huge Shambhala community and creating Naropa University for the purpose of lending some sort of credence to his teachings.

Trungpa died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1987 due to some serious drug use and while his wife denies it, his personal friend and physician confirmed it on the Chögyam Trungpa Chronicles. Trungpa was known to be a heavy alcoholic, giving lectures when he was drunk off his ass and it was likely that he also did cocaine. So he was like other cult leaders like L. Ron Hubbard, because when the going gets tough, those who are unable to handle it get stoned – which is understandable. After all, Trungpa had sexually assaulted the poet laureate W.S. Merwin and his girlfriend, Dana Naone at a seminary in Snowmass, Colorado and the interviews of people from the seminary were circulating around Boulder. They were eventually published, first as excerpts in Boulder Monthly and the Great Naropa Poetry Wars, which helped to spread the word about Naropa University and it’s abuses. However, the book has gone out of print and the author has lost his courage and is unwilling to let anyone republish his words – even if they would be willing to pay him for the privilege. (I know this because I offered to pay him to publish a free version online).

Trungpa believed that he was the only way to learn Buddhism and told a practitioner named Floy Van Der Berg that if she left his circle, she “would be eaten by the wolves”. This was after she was told by Trungpa to get pregnant by another person in the community and he told the man who inseminated her to move to Canada and for Floy to go on welfare. Trungpa had sex with a number of women in his circle, especially with those who were already married.


27 thoughts on “Chögyam Trungpa

  1. Old time Boulder locals and those who knew Chogyam know he was a psychopath about to deported but died of alcohol abuse before. Tons of books, articles etc about his sex abuse, cocaine, etc

  2. Jessica, according to Wikipedia, Chogyam Trungpa died in Halifax.
    One positive thing I can say about the man is that he wrote some books which seemed clear and inspired. I especially enjoyed “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism,” which quite possibly, and ironically, turned out to be a clever out-picturing of his own deceitful or deluded mind. Be that as it may, I didn’t know anything about him except through his books,
    so I became very interested in studying contemplative psychology at Naropa. Fortunately, before entering the program in
    the early 90s, I saw this article that was reprinted in Tricycle: http://www.katybutler.com/publications/commonboundary/index_files/commbound_shadowbuddhistusa_new.htm

    • Says the person who uses the wrong form of “your”. You probably meant “You’re an idiot”, because “you’re” is a contraction of “you are”. “Your”, on the other hand, is the possessive form, such as “your grammar sucks”. 😉

      But please, tell me why I’m an idiot, or what about my “an idiot”…?

  3. Whenever you criticize any aspect of Tiibetan Lamaism. or anything connected with it that is about proselytising for it, such as Naropa, then the western Tibetan ‘Buddhists’ show their real colors and the result of all their ‘shamatha’ practices’ their ‘peace bubbles’ and their ‘non-violent communication’ collapse, and they start swirling around ad hominem attacks immediately, why ? Because they are not becoming more ‘enlighted , peaceful’ beings, they are becoming more and more narcissistic and cut off from the world, obsessed about their ‘specialness’ and particularly their specialness of their group, which is the group narcissism of a cult, thought controlled in Hindu Lama Guru memes, and they have become fanatics , closed and not open to anything that causes cognitive dissonance around their new belief systems. . You cannot converse with them on any subject unless it adheres to the politically correct groupthink. Go outside of that and you are seen as odd, go way outside of that , and actually criticize aspects or try and have an ‘open debate’ or point out anything that seems wrong or unjust, (the sine qua non of a democratic, liberal education) you will be shunned, attacked and the dung heap of fanaticism and narcissism and non-compassion, that is boiling under the peaceful patina .

    Naropa should never have gotten that accredidation, since it is the farthest thing from a ‘liberal education’ in terms of what that meant.

    It is a fundamentalist religious education in politically correct New Age memes , Tibetan Lamaism and Hinduism with a Green Corporate agenda to completely neutralize all future protest and create passive workers who never have an individual thought again, and certainly are not going to criticize the Corporation. That is why Naropa even exists, to spew out more young people who are totally malleable and no longer have an individual thought in their heads, and will create a groupthink so powerful that the group itself will censor itself into passivity and conformity.

    Congratulations , you must have had you own strong belief and education from your own family in the importance of western values, the values of freedom of speech and thought, and individualism, and were brave enough to speak out all things connected with a liberal democracy are being annihilated in places like Naropa where an atavistic Hindu ONENESS and communitarianism is being substituted so that a new generation has no thoughts of freedom , never thinks or speaks outside the box and is a malleable work force that makes good teamworkers.

  4. This is Tibor Stern. Father of Sharoni Stern who died in 2012 due to a total mental and sexual abuse by her teacher in Naropa. Please contact me for more info. We need to expose this tragedy. I believe that Naropa was negligent in hiring of Katsura Kan who I believe brought the death upon my daughter. Tibor Stern on behalf of Sharoni Stern Estate.

  5. How do we get ahold of you Tibor Stern? I was in this cult of Shambhala for 20 years, another Tibetan Lama cult , one of thousands of Tibetan Lamas groups, that have infiltrated into higher education and that are destroying democracy and freedom of thought. . Tibetan Lamaism itself is a cult. Try to read Peter Marin’s “Spiritual Obedience”, it can be downloaded on Scribd. He was one of the few journalists in and around Boulder that saw the dangers of Naropa University. Your daughter’s tragedy was enabled by Naropa , who knew full well about the sexual abuses and guru abuses, because Naropa is founded on a sexually abusive cult of Lamaism.. We are now seeing its ‘fruition’ all over the western world as moral relativism and chaos always follows this Hindu Tantric Vajrayana cult of sexual abuse and exploitation of the masses. Other charlatan groups have now hooked up with Tibetan Lamaism.

    It is corporatism and late capitalism that keeps Naropa funded and going and its is corporate controlled news that keeps these scandals hidden. . You have an uphill battle but your daughter’s tragedy can save other young women who are naïve and innocent and wind up with these sexually abusive gurus..


    • Tibor’s website is http://familiesagainstcultteachings.org/ and you can find information on how to contact him there. I make a commitment to keep information disclosed on this site confidential but it looks like (and Tibor, if I got it wrong, I do apologise) that he left the .org off of the website address for his comments. That’s why, when you click his name in any of the comments, his site doesn’t pop up. Also, for legal and ethical purposes, I do not edit any of the comments on this site (other than my own). This is because the second I make any sort of edit to the comments, I could be held legally liable for the content in the comments.

      There is nothing wrong with “moral relativism” because we all need to work through morality and learn morality for ourselves. But yeah, it’s not moral relativism at play in this cult, it’s simply immorality. It’s basically a piss-poor attempt to justify sexual misconduct that they wouldn’t want done to themselves.

  6. Thanks Jessica.

    Correction, the article, “Spiritual Obedience’ which you should read, because Peter Marin was one of the few journalists that investigated and saw through Naropa and how devastating it was to young peoples minds, was published in Harpers in 1979. I accessed it through their archives, and I don’t think you can find it, it has been ‘buried’ unless you subscribe to Harpers and can get into their archives.

    You can get the Poetry Wars from an interloan library, or buy a used copy on Amazon, some of his letters, which were published as “Spiritual Obedience’ are in that book, but that book mostly covers the his Snowmass Seminary.


    • Yeah, I have read the Great Naropa Poetry Wars and even asked the author if I could repost the contents (he said no, so we’ll have to wait until it becomes Public Domain). There is a lot of material out there that could be beneficial for exposing Naropa for what it is. Problem is a mix of copyright issues and access issues. And if it sounds like I’m being vague, please do forgive. I don’t want Naropa to fuck over my sources and I’m aware that they read this site.

  7. Jessica, you are very brave and just keep telling the truth. Great work!

    I know several people who are older than you are and know this history to be a long one of silent abuse. There are those who speak out that as children in the Shambhala cults at the forming of Naropa that they were thrown into anterooms with these “priests and rinpoches” along with their siblings (many who later contracted HIV from Trungpa’s appointed Regent Ösel Tendzin and died from it too) and were sexually abused/molested along with most of children as well as the women and some men too in the groups under both Naropa and Shambhala leadership. This was swept under the rug in the 1970’s. BUT WE MUST NEVER FORGET!! If we do not remember or know our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

    “At the end of the day – measure of a spiritual teacher’s progress is their level of adherence to the basic foundational practices of their tradition, and in nearly all traditions, this foundation is rooted in ethics. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how profound Trungpa’s insights were. He hadn’t even set the foundation of the house. It is a measure of how much total confusion there is around the notion of enlightenment that people still think that someone whose personal practice is such a complete mess can bring people to realization or that they are ‘realized’ themselves. Its all in the day to day practice. Everything.”

    I think It’s time tell Naropa to take down all those pictures of worship of Trungpa and the Lord Rinpoche’s in Naropa’s great halls and at Shambhala and all over Boulder!! They should take these down and stop worshipping and venerating sick, perverse, addicted, old men who ended up selling snake oil to the West and which they are trying to perpetuate! To worship these men is only promoting the egoic aspects FOR PROFIT AND POWER AND DOMINATION/MANIPULATION, and at it’s core this is completely against the message itself.

    Naropa and Shambhala show themselves to be hypocrites for creating egoic venerations such as these FOR PROFIT and perpetuating power and dominance hierarchies that mostly promote the domination of men called rinpoches or priests, not unlike we also see in Catholicism. This is what happens when men and money are more important than the truth itself and it’s inherent purity and freedom. It shows organizations like Naropa to be as corrupt as any brothel house selling women and children and trading on humanity for dollars.

    Sex trafficking and prostitution in Asia and in Buddhism is as rampant as drug use and millions of women and children are it’s victims each day living in a time of HIV and sexual exploitation and a land that is all for sale. Join http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ and http://voicesmatter.org/. This is all hidden especially from women, and it’s one of the most lucrative global industries in the world.

    Don’t kill the message, but do shoot the messenger! The truth is not of men or of the world nor does it need to be worshipped without rationality and logic. Even the Buddha said, test everything I say for yourself. Do not follow anyone.

    Also, here are a few others that may be of service…

    Our Voices Matter

    Not For Sale: Home


    Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

    Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-International

    Stop Porn/Prostitution Culture

    How Porn Fuels Rape Culture – AntiPornography.org Nonprofit


  8. Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses the problems with LUST:

    See also:


    The truth is getting out because of people like you posting independently on sites like this and we must protect you and your freedom of speech from naropa’s Legal Eagles… and we have to constantly keep educating against abuse in a world stuck on worshipping “great men”. You aren’t alone.

    “On August 22, 1976, Chögyam Trungpa empowered Ösel Tendzin as his Vajra … On August 25, 1990, Ösel Tendzin died of HIV in San Francisco, California. … the Regent, just as it had been for a woman to have sex with [Trungpa] Rinpoche.”


  9. Hello to you all, this is Tibor Stern the grieving father of Sharoni Stern . My beloved daughter Sharoni has died as a result of a brainwash , sexual and financial exploitation by an Naropa teacher Katsura Kan. Those of you who try to contact me enclosed find my email address. tibor@familiesagainstcultteachings.org Also please visit http://WWW.familiesagainstcultteachings.org or see our Face Book Page familiesagainstcultteachings. Your work is highly appreciated . Lets fight evil together. Tibor Stern

  10. The Dalai Lama speaks out of both sides of his mouth, He tells people to expose the abuse, but honors one of the biggest Lama abusers of them all, Soygal Rinpoche, who now has a second multimillion dollar law suit against him for sexual abuse, Tibetan ‘Buddhism’ is Lamaism , a sexually misogynistic cult of Hindu Tantra Lamaism, not Buddhism.

    The sexual abuse of little boys is rampant in the Tibetan monasteries and sexually abused boys ten become sexual abusers, while sexual misuse of women is institutionalized in Tibetan ‘Buddhism’ It is the pinnacle of Kalachakra teachings that he gives around the world.

    There is no greater deceiver in all the world than the Dalai Lama, hooked up with the plutocracy now to infiltrate everywhere and dumb down another generation , the third , into Hindu Guru Tibetan Lamaist memes to undermine freedom of speech and individualism and reason.


  11. Jessica the language in your blog is disturbing, “escape” and “abuse” come to mind. You paint yourself as a victim when you yourself chose to go there. You focus on the negative and in almost every sentence mention how angry you are. I’ve read very few facts and a lot ranting and emotional writing. I have to wonder what sane person would hate so hard on Naropa and focus so much life energy on slandering it. It’s disturbing. Further disturbing is your love of Bikram Yoga, Bikram is known to have raped and sexually assaulted many of his students and this information is out to the public. I’m speechless. i read something about the girl who committed suicide and had an affair with a Naropa visiting instructor. From what I read the woman had serious psychological issues. Its unfortunate that she had an affair with a visiting teacher who no longer works there but the fact that this woman’s mental illness and suicide is being blamed on Naropa is ludicrous. Talk about not taking responsibility. I’m sorry but I can say the same for you, take some responsibility that as an atheist and a very angry person you chose a school that wasn’t right for you, and move on. Stop talking about it and blaming everyone but yourself, and feeling that yoyu are helping people. Help your self. Peace.

    • So, by your logic, Naropa should also take responsibility for badly handling incidents of sexual assault? Or for gathering around students who are having seizures and talking about how this is making them feel?

  12. Dear Rose,

    Your understanding of what happened to Sharon Stern at Naropa University is quite erroneous. Katsura Kan was a guest teacher hired by Naropa who violated the trust between teacher / student and used undue influence to manipulate and brainwash her for his own selfish gains. She showed absolutely no signs of any mental issues (according to all her family and friends) before meeting Katsura Kan at Naropa, and his abusive influence over her drove her to complete mental instability and eventually suicide. After his daughter’s tragic death, Mr. Stern’s many attempts to reach out to Naropa University in order to try and effect the necessary changes to help safe-guard future students from such abuses were either completely ignored or outright refused.

    I am not sure what version of Sharon’s story you read, but you can find the official and actual version here:


    Also, please read this concisely written article about Naropa’s long and documented history of faculty abuse with students to understand precisely what posters here are talking about.


    Thank you,

    Families Against Cult Teachings, Inc.
    501c3 non-profit that fights against cult abuses

  13. I believe Naropa is a dangerous place. Look who founded it. Trungpa Rinpoche, a man who died of being an alcoholic, who slept with married women and God knows who else, and who used hard drugs? Later, he went on to hire the Regent who gave several students aids! This cannot be a wholesome school. I have had the creeps every time I am on the Naropa campus. I applied for the Masters in Psychotherapy program in 1988 and was accepted, but was so creeped out by the energy at Naropa..(.its hard to put my finger on it just seems that everyone, faculty and students seem so disconnected and brainwashed), that I didn’t go to grad school there. I had a FULL trust fund to go to graduate school at Naropa, and I was accepted and I declined.

  14. I am an ex alkie/druggie (big time)- my street sense tells me something stinks there. Buddhist generally think it is bad form to say something negative about another- mostly a good trait….however, the best poison always comes with sugar coated. My final analysis ,and the “give away”, is the sense that behind the smiles are things not well in Naropa land. go figure. It shows on the faces of the leaders. I bet the top dogs are living quite large – they usually do… and ,of course, so many “spiritual and practical reasons” for doing so… sigh, just trust yourself. ….. crazy wisdom is sometimes just plain crazy.. good luck . m

  15. He displayed all the symptoms and characteristics of a classic sociopath. Thank you for the forum, where others can begin to understand and protect themselves from future sociopaths, that take the form of charismatic spiritual leaders. Basic human guideline to follow. “If it feels wrong, it is.”

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