This is a mystery story. It might be a whodunnit—but I think it is a “wha’happened.”
Some people say that Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche said negative things about Ngakpa Chögyam or the Aro gTér. Others say he had a strong positive opinion. Since he’s dead, we can’t ask him. So that’s the mystery: why do these accounts conflict?
If this were a whodunit, the answer would be that one group or the other was lying, probably to cover something up. But I don’t think anyone has lied. The truth is more complicated. This mystery is a “wha’happened,” and there can be no short answer to that. It will take several pages to lay out the solution. If you want the short version, I have a summary of conclusions later on this page.
- I did some informal investigative journalism. I contacted everyone I could find who might know about the relationship between Rinpoche and Ngakpa Chögyam, and asked them many questions about it. I have also reviewed relevant documents and an audio recording.
- I describe Rinpoche’s “wrathful” teaching style. As part of this: what he said could not be taken at face value; he liked to provoke negative emotions; he had huge trust in his students.
- I describe the history of the relationships among Rinpoche, Ngakpa Chögyam, and others in Rinpoche’s sangha.
- I analyze each of the things hostile web sources say Rinpoche said about Ngakpa Chögyam or the Aro gTér. Some of these reports are definitely true. Some are almost certainly not. Some I am unsure about. None of the untrue claims appear to be deliberate lies. They are mostly careless errors, in which someone attributed to Rinpoche what was actually said by someone else. The others are misinterpretations of things Rinpoche did say. These mistakes are understandable in terms of Rinpoche’s wrathful teaching style.
- I consider what he thought about the Aro gTér.
- Rinpoche strongly approved of, and explicitly authorized, Ngakpa Chögyam’s teaching as a lama.
- There was no break between the two. Some detractors have suggested that Rinpoche originally approved of Ngakpa Chögyam, but then something changed. This is not true.
- It is impossible to know for sure what Rinpoche thought of the Aro gTér. He may have told different people different things. I explain why he may have done that.
- Jealousies among Rinpoche’s students appear to be the single largest source of hostility to Aro. Perhaps it is time for everyone to let go of resentments about events from twenty years ago.