A turning point for spirituality in the West occurred in the early seventies with the publication of a book with a radical new perspective. The principle of true spirituality presented as demasking the ego, was in many ways groundbreaking and opened up for authentic meditation training taking root in the hearts and minds of young people. Forty years later, with an untold number of reprints and translations into many languages, it remains a classic, a must read for anyone pursuing a genuine spiritual path.
Now people understood that a spiritual path, rather than a build-up, is a process of dismantling habitual shields and psychological defenses. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism opened up the possibility of following in the footsteps of past buddhas by entering the high way of open mind, the path of a bodhisattva.
The author, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was an extraordinarily gifted individual. Already as a young man, he had been in charge of several monasteries and governor of a province. Fleeing the Communist invasion in 1959 his dramatic journey is recorded in Born In Tibet.
After years at Oxford his command of English became impeccable. A skilled artist, poet and meditation teacher, he has been a continuous influence on Western culture by establishing Naropa University in Colorado. His unique style of teaching, profound and yet easy to understand, is encapsulated in one book in particular: Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has meant a lot to me, especially as a teenager in the ’70s. His simple and precise choice of English words—for instance using awakening for bodhi and basic wakefulness to show the real meaning beneath the word wisdom (jnana)—has guided my translation work over the decades that followed. Even though I only met him once, I am deeply grateful to this master who has been so important for transmitting the Buddha’s teachings to the West.
Photo is courtesy of the Collection of the Shambhala Archives.
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