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  1. Jul 9, 2013
    3
    The documentary is a retrospective on the unusual life and teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche, a high-profile author and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. The film hinges on interviews with his former students, and it suffers greatly from their lack of objectivity. Obviously these folks admire the man, as they have devoted a lot of time and energy to his teachings and generally hanging around his community for many years. The potentially interesting topics here are completely missed because the subjects seem unable to criticize the human failings of their master (and by extension, themselves). The Master sat on a throne and selected a steady stream of young women (married or not) for special private lessons. Meanwhile his wife kept her mouth shut and the devoted throng dutifully sat for hours on their meditation cushions longing for enlightenment. How did he get a way with it?? As the title suggests, at the core of the saga is an allegedly powerful teaching technique known as "Crazy Wisdom". Unfortunately the film holds the concept in high esteem, failing to bring any of the skepticism it deserves, so it is doomed to being a wistful, biased, nostalgic love letter. What is Crazy Wisdom? According to the surviving students, it was their master's ingenious method of awakening his students by behaving wildly out of character, and shocking his students with confusing psychological challenges. Okay, maybe that is a real technique with some utility, but that's only one way of looking at it. Another would be to say it is a method of convincing a large group of gullible 1970's hippies that their guru's alcoholic philandering and his basket full of exotic Tibetan mumbo-jumbo is all part of a master plan aimed at guiding them to enlightenment. Why was any kind of disrespectful behavior that might have smelled funny reflexively deemed acceptable? Well, "it's just more of Trungpa's Crazy Wisdom, of course!" Basically, it is the kind of free pass that too many gurus have granted themselves since the beginnings of the cult racket. It was a heavenly sweet deal for the horny master, and all too easy in the free love era, which was also hungry for any kind of the exotic teachings that had begun to filter in "from The East". It was not such a sweet deal for the vulnerable students. Glaringly absent are the interviews with the hundreds or thousands of students who got burned by his selfish, manipulative behavior. Anyone who did find enlightenment in that milieu probably packed up and hit the road before the next sunrise sitting. Full Review »