LINEAGE AND MISSION

“Dharma Ocean” is the translation of Chögyam Trungpa’s Tibetan teaching name – Chökyi Gyatso

LINEAGE AND MISSION

Dharma Ocean thus reflects our core mission of transmitting Trungpa Rinpoche’s living lineage of meditation practice in the modern context.  A person of incomparable vision, creativity, and energy, Chögyam Trungpa (1939-1987) is considered by many to be the most innovative and influential Tibetan Lama of the 20th century in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Born in East Tibet, he principally trained with three extraordinary teachers — Jamgön Kongtrül of Sechen, Khenpo Gangshar, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche — and came to hold the Kagyu and Nyingma practice or meditation lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Through a series of revelations, Trungpa Rinpoche later became a holder of the Shambhala lineage as well, a tradition of secular meditation and practice, that teaches the fundamental sacredness of the human person, the sacredness of all experience, and a fearless embrace of life in all its aspects.

Living in North America from 1970 until his death in 1987, Trungpa Rinpoche established meditation and retreat centers, founded a Buddhist-inspired university (Naropa University), and brought his teachings into many areas of modern life, such as the arts, the healing professions, and business. At the core of these many activities lay an abiding confidence that modern people could realize the fullness of their human existence. Such confidence was perhaps most brilliantly revealed in Rinpoche’s willingness to train his students to become teachers in their own right.

Trungpa Rinpoche transmitted what he had received from his teachers to many of his western students. A number of these have gone on to teach programs, accept students and establish practicing sangha. One of these is Reggie Ray. Dr. Ray has practiced and studied in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa since 1970, when he met Rinpoche just after his arrival in the U.S. Soon thereafter, Reggie helped found Naropa University, where he served on the faculty for more than three and a half decades. In the fifty years since meeting Rinpoche, he has explored the teachings of the practicing lineage in his various roles practitioner, ongoing student of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, researcher, scholar, university teacher, and dharma teacher.  He was appointed the first teacher-in-residence at Shambhala Mountain Center, began accepting dharma students, designed the transformative Meditating with the Body® curriculum, and published nine books and over 100 hours of audio programs through Sounds True.  At Rinpoche’s strong  direction, from the beginning Reggie devoted himself to exploring the teachings in solitary retreat, eventually accumulating about nine years in solitude and an equal amount of time teaching in group retreats. In 2007, he asked Caroline Pfohl to co-lead the lineage with him, to be his co-lineage holder, and to help him further develop the teachings of somatic spirituality and take them into new areas. Caroline accepted and, in 2017, in a ceremony in the mountains above the Crestone retreat center, he empowered her as primary lineage holder and his principal lineage successor. A mentor to hundreds of students all over the globe, Dr. Ray passes on the “moving and remarkable trust” he received from his teacher. Under this guidance, many of his senior students are instructing others and transmitting the lineage.

The Mission of the Practicing Lineage

is to embody, unfold, and widely offer the unique path to awakening and human fulfillment taught by Trungpa Rinpoche, Reggie Ray, Caroline Pfohl, and their senior students, creating a living continuity of the practicing lineage in our time. All those transmitting this lineage aim to express the essence of this lineage, namely:

  • The fundamental goodness of the human person — our own and others’ inborn enlightenment, beauty, and inherent perfection;
  • The importance of deeply respecting the life, individuality, and journey of those whom we meet and work with;
  • The sacredness of all of life and experience — that everything that arises is an expression of ultimate wisdom and a potential gate to immediate awakening;
  • The everyday practice to “never turn away” — to develop an attitude of complete acceptance and openness toward all experience;
  • Relying on the somatic practice of meditation to meet our own experience, open to it without fear or hesitation, and experience the transformation that that makes possible.

This is our journey alone to make — we must be exceptionally wary of handing our responsibility and power over to anything external; or of being hijacked by those who say that we cannot trust ourselves and must rely on external reference points. Lest we fall prey to our own self-doubt, insecurity, and fear, we must be wary of substituting anything external for our inner reliance, whether it be friends, communities, the day’s “political correctness,” or anything else. Especially, we must not try to turn responsibility for ourselves over to our teachers. If we allow ourselves to surrender our own agency to anything outside, and seek to make it a reference point, we evade our final responsibility. And then it is no longer our journey, but somebody else’s.

While this is ultimately our journey, and we must take complete ownership of it, we need to be pointed in the right direction and to be offered resources to follow the path, including not only teachings and practices, but encouragement to seek out companions on the path, and a measure of — just enough but not too much — mentorship from our elders.

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