Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987) brought Tibetan Buddhism to our country as the founder of the Boulder Shambhala Center and Naropa University. In the Foreward to this new edition of his book, Trungpa Rinpoche's student, Pema Chodron (WHEN THINGS FALL APART, THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU) writes: "When I took to heart the teachings presented here, a curious change slowly began to take place. I became far more open to the pain of myself and others; far more open to laughing and crying; far more able to love and accept and see my interconnectedness with all beings. As the years go by, I gradually become more and more at home in the world with its inevitable ups and downs."
In his 179-page book, Trungpa teaches us how to know ourselves through meditation. "Meditation in the beginning is not an attempt to achieve happiness," he tells us, "nor is it an attempt to achieve mental calm or peace, though they could be by-products of meditation. Meditation should not be regarded as a vacation from irritation" (p. 46). While we may believe we are free to pursue our dreams, achieve our goals, and satisy our desires, Trungpa shows us how we are instead enslaved to our habitual patterns and negative emotions such as self-absorption (pp. 23-28), paranoia (pp. 28-29), passion (pp. 29-32), stupidity (pp. 32-35), povery (pp. 35-37) and anger (pp. 37-40). "We must be willing to be completely ordinary people," he observes, "which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path. But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our 'self-improvement'" (p. 44). And in this highly-recommended book, Trungpa teaches us how to cut through the barriers separating us from the rest of the world.