Spacious Passion

Chapter 8 – Spacious Passion & Passionate Space


Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that the key to warriorship is not being afraid of who you are, ‘When you live your life in accordance with basic goodness, then you develop natural elegance. Your life can be spacious and relaxed, without having to be sloppy. You can actually let go of your depression and embarrassment about being a human being, and you can cheer up.8

This is also the essence of the Vajrayana path. We are, and have, everything we need to become enlightened; and we should not believe that we are unworthy or incapable of realisation. As Trungpa Rinpoche said, ‘The essence of warriorship – is refusing to give up on anyone or anything.9

Warriorship is an essential aspect of our relationship with our Lamas. We need a respectful, open, appreciative attitude – being prepared to listen and to work with whatever suggestions are provided. This does not mean however, that we abandon respect for ourselves – the dignity of vajra pride is actually an essential aspect of relationship with our Lamas.

Vajra relationship, the relationship with one’s Lamas, does not require that we become servile. Grovelling in an obsequious manner in order to gain spiritual privileges never procures the desired end.

Khandro Déchen once told me that very little is more disgusting to one’s Lamas than to have to endure sycophancy, and pointed out that often such ‘dharma toadies’ were responsible for some of the unkindness and unhelpful acts which have been perpetrated under the so-called ‘sanction’ of ‘instructions from the Lamas’. Such students often fail to understand instructions or use instructions as excuses to abandon responsibility.

Warriors maintain integrity and take responsibility for their actions – in every situation. If one has the capacity to follow the instructions of one’s Lamas, and allows one’s rationale to be overridden, it offers great opportunity for spiritual growth – but one still remains responsible for one’s decision to function in this manner.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche said, Self-respect is crucial as the basis for respecting the Lama. If you have no self-respect then you cannot respect others. Self-respect however, does not mean self-importance or self-admiration. Self-respect is not integral – it has to be earned. Self-respect is earned through maintaining commitments and through one&rsqo;s reliability in the experience of friends and family. Self-respect is earned through effort and demanding work – through integrity and through the friction sometimes arising from honesty and sincerity. If one has authentic self-respect rather than self-importance then one can have authentic respect for others. If one has self-respect as a practitioner then one can respect the Lama. One then respects the Lama because one recognises the qualities of the Lama from the perspective of one’s own genuineness.

The heart feeling of warriorship is encompassed in the Three Terrible Oaths associated with the practice of Dorje Tröllö, the most wrathful manifestation of Padmasambhava.

Dorje Tröllö proclaims:

Whatever happens – may it happen.
Whichever way it goes – may it go that way.
There is no purpose.

Whatever is happening – is perfect. Whatever the outcome of any situation may be – it is perfect. There is no inherent purpose to any activity – other than its own compassionate purpose of being. Its own purpose of being demands presence, entire effort, complete attention, and intent. This is the view, this is the path, this is the heroism of living as a Dharma Warrior.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche says of the third terrible oath, When Dorje Tröllö proclaims ‘There is no purpose’ – he declares ‘there is no one purpose’. Purposes are pluralistic because compassion is pluralistic. Compassion is pluralistic because compassion is form and form arises in infinite variety as responses to the needs of beings. There is no ‘will of God’, there is only the necessity initiated by the unique circumstances of each phenomenal point-instant of reality.


8. Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: the Sacred Path of the Warrior (Bantam Books, 1986).

9. ibid