What he said

Ngakpa Chogyam and Chime Rigdzin Rinpoche making an empowerment hat

Ngakpa Chögyam and Chhi’med Rig’dzin Rinpoche making an empowerment hat

This page analyzes all the reports I have found, on the web, of things Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche is supposed to have said about the Aro gTér or Ngakpa Chögyam. Some reports were accurate; some were not; some I am unsure about.

I believe that none of the inaccurate reports were deliberate lies. Most were careless mistakes. Things that were actually said by someone else were reported as having been said by Rinpoche, by people who were not present.

It is important to understand Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche’s “wrathful” teaching methods. He often said things to provoke emotional effects, or to test students’ understanding, not as statements of fact.

I quote web sources verbatim, in green.

Chimed Rigdzin Rinpoche,said it best- if there are 9 bardos then Padmasambhava must be stupid as he only knew six of them.

The Aro gTér describes nine bardos. The “Tibetan Book of the Dead” has only six.

Rinpoche did say this. Ralzhig Pema Legden was there at the time, and he immediately responded, “In the Drukpa Kagyüd system there are only four bardos, so Drukpa Kunley must have been really, really stupid, isn’t that right Rinpoche?” Rinpoche then gave him a big approving grin.

This is a clear instance in which what Rinpoche said should not be taken at face value. It was a joke, and probably a test. The joke is that different terma systems have different numbers of bardos. As Ngala Rig’dzin Dorje pointed out, the Drukpa Kagyüd system has four; others have other numbers. There is nothing magic or “correct” about six, nor wrong with nine. I have written a full page on this elsewhere.

If you missed the joke, you might think Rinpoche was making a factual statement that the Aro gTér was wrong. In that case, depending on how you felt about the Aro gTér, you might have strong feelings. If you were an Aro student, you might feel hurt and confused. You might even start to lose confidence in the tradition and Ngakpa Chögyam. If you were hostile, you might feel gleeful: “Rinpoche has seemed supportive before, but finally here he is saying it is bogus—now at last we can put Chögyam in his place.”

Either way, the test is how you deal with those feelings. Ralzhig Pema Legden was not tested, because he immediately recognized the joke. Apparently the person who posted this on the web missed the point, and thought Rinpoche was making a factual statement against the Aro gTér. If you did not know that there are many different systems of bardos, with varying numbers, this would be a natural mistake to make.

Chogyam was forbidden to teach by Chime Rigdzin

Many independent witnesses (plus documentary and photographic evidence) agree that Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche strongly encouraged Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s teaching.

The only person to claim the opposite, as far as I have found, was Karma Gedun (quoted above). He later publicly retracted his criticisms of the Aro tradition as inaccurate. He was not a student of Rinpoche.

In this case, I believe he made an attribution error. He was thinking of Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche, who did in fact say that Ngakpa Chögyam should not teach. This is an easy type of mistake to make; I have done it myself.

There is some evidence that in the early days of the Aro, Chogyam was part of a recognized lineage, that of Chime Rigdin Rinpoche, but that he broke away when that master told him that he was not ready to teach independently, or to give wangs (empowerments).

This was Karma Gedun making much the same claim in a different place. I have found no credible evidence for “breaking away,” and much evidence against.

I think Chogyam has painted himself into a corner and cant stop. When he was "disowned" By Chime Ridzin Rinpoche he could have climbed out of the hole, instead he kept digging.

Karma Dechen, a close associate of Karma Gedun, wrote this. Again she got Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche and Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche mixed up.

Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche never disowned Ngakpa Chögyam. Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche did. Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche actually increased his public support for Ngakpa Chögyam after the disowning.

As far as I know, Karma Dechen has no personal knowledge of any of these lamas. Her statement here was just a confused repetition of e-Sangha gossip she had read.

the late Kyabje Chimmed Rigdzin Rinpoche has warned his students [against the Aro gTér] many times.

This was written by Henry Chia, who as far as I know has no personal knowledge of the matter.

It is not unlikely that Rinpoche expressed skepticism about the Aro gTér on some occasions. I discuss that later. I don’t think this was a “warning,” however. Numerous credible witnesses say he told them it was very good that they were practicing it.

Also the thing with Chime Rigdzins foreword, it seems that Chogyam faked this part of the book and used name of Chime Rigdzin without his consent (this was reported by Jomo Gudrun - a long time student of Chime Rigdzin I think).

I think this is another mis-attribution. Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche did say that Ngakpa Chögyam forged the Foreword he wrote. That was not true. I discuss that elsewhere.

There are numerous credible witnesses who say Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche continued to be friendly to Ngakpa Chögyam up until his death in 2002. It seems extremely unlikely he would have done that if Ngakpa Chögyam forged his Foreword to a book that appeared in 1997.

I have tried to contact Jomo Gudrun in every way I could think of, to ask her if she said this. If she did not say it, she may want to correct the record; if she did, she might like to make it official. I have not been able to reach her.

This claim about the Foreword was written by “marpo,” who has said various obviously incorrect things about the Aro lineage. He recycled e-Sangha gossip and exaggerated it, but got his stories mixed up. For example, he said:

Kickpatrick aka Ngagphang rinpoche was Chime Rigdzin rinpoche’s student

There is no such person as “Ngakphang rinpoche.” Presumably he meant Ngak’chang Rinpoche. Ngak’chang Rinpoche is an entirely different person from Traktung Rinpoche, who was born Stuart Kirkpatrick, and teaches in a different lineage. Traktung Rinpoche was never a student of Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche.

Given this level of sloppiness about basic facts, I don’t find marpo’s reporting credible.

Apart from that, everything in Rinpoche’s very short Foreword is consistent with other evidence. All it says is that it is a good book, Ngak’chang Rinpoche is a good guy, and that he is authorized to give tantric empowerments. These are points that other documents, oral accounts, and photographic evidence agree on.

"Ngakphang" is as described by the late Kyabje Chimmed Rigdzin Rinpoche that it means one is throwing away the tantric vows (aka breaking samaya), it is not one who hurls the mantra.

I am reasonably sure Rinpoche did not say this. First, ngak’phang does not mean “one who throws away vows” or “breaks samaya.” The Tibetan words simply do not refer to anything like that. Second, the person who did originally claim this was Christopher Fynn. His theory was based on a spelling error, and he mostly retracted it once the spelling error was pointed out. I have written an extensive analysis of this confusion elsewhere.

The person I quoted above, attributing the claim to Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche, was Henry Chia, who as far as I know never met him. I expect that Henry remembered that someone had made the claim about “ngak’phang,” but mis-remembered who.

Chhimed Rigdzin Rimpoche I've heard with my own ears saying during a public teaching here in Finland that he has not seen any text of this so-called terma, and in private conversations the complete inauthenticity of this "tradition" of NC has been left in no doubt.

Let’s take this in two pieces, public and private.

We don’t know what anyone in the public conversation thought “text” meant. Maybe the question was “have you seen any Tibetan text?” That is a standard hostile question about the Aro gTér. Rinpoche of course knew that there aren’t any, and that is not a problem. As far as English texts go, it is still not clear what “texts” would mean. The Aro gTér is a non-liturgical system; it has no sadhanas or scriptures. Rinpoche knew that too. The English “texts” that do exist are explanatory. Ngakpa Chögyam’s books are examples. Rinpoche certainly had seen those.

So whichever of these ways “texts” is understood, it appears that Rinpoche was stringing along whoever asked him about them. He deliberately gave an accurate but misleading answer (“no”) and let the questioner get excited about it.

The writer does not say what happened in the private conversations, other than that he came away with no doubt. So I can’t comment—beyond saying that some people are capable of hearing whatever they want to hear—and that wrathful lamas are capable of encouraging such people to believe false things, if it gets them interestingly furious.

I very often asked my teacher H.H. Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche why he did not do anything to stop Chögyam. He simply said that "Chögyam has put himself up and will fall down all by himself".

Asking your lama the same question “very often” suggests that you do not like the answer he keeps giving you, and you hope that if you keep asking, you will get a different one.

I suspect that Rinpoche’s final statement here—if the report is accurate—meant “It is none of your business, so shut up and stop pestering me about it. If Ngakpa Chögyam is a fake, he will fail all by himself. You don’t have to worry about that.”

Recently I have listened to a tape recording of teachings Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche has given in the 1990s. There he said that Guru Rinpoche has prophecized more than 1000 Tertons, but the name Aro gTer is NOT on that list; and besides if a crystal ball would be a terma you could buy a terma at a department store.

This is an honest report. The recording was kindly sent me by a member of the Khordong sangha. (The Khordong sangha is some of Rinpoche’s senior students, and their students.)

I would like to discuss the recording in depth. However, I was told that Rinpoche explicitly told his students never to make the recording public. I was asked not to distribute it by the person who sent it to me. Out of respect for both Rinpoche and that generous person, I will not make its contents public either. For that reason, I cannot say much about it.

However, I can say that it is completely unclear what to make of what Rinpoche said. It is incoherent, in a way that goes beyond an English language problem. I do not think anyone can say definitively what he meant, or how it should be interpreted.

If it should be understood as saying “the Aro gTér is fake because it was not prophesied,” then Rinpoche was definitely not making a factual statement. There is no requirement that termas be prophesied; many are not. If he said that, it was a test or provocation, not a declaration.

In near future there’s going to appear on youTube a video about Chimmed Rigdzin Rimpoche exposing the Aro “Terton” to be fraud. Chimmed Rigdzin Rimpoche is claimed by Aro folks to have granted approval on them, which is proved wrong. Anyone interested to hear more, please contact khordong sangha.

This was written by “dhammacop” a couple years ago. No such video has appeared on YouTube. I have contacted the Khordong sangha to ask about this, as he suggested, but have not received an answer.

This might be a confused reference to the audio recording I have discussed above. Or maybe there is a video—in which case we’ll have to see it to know what to think about it. Or this posting might just be a fantasy.