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Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chögyam Trungpa Hardcover – September 12, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (September 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302567
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302569
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The wife of the late Tibetan Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche tells a lot (but probably not all) in this memoir of her 17-year marriage to a man known for his "crazy wisdom" style of teaching. That crazy wisdom manifested itself in a highly unconventional life that Mukpo shared for virtually all of her husband's time in the West until his untimely death in 1987. Rinpoche drank prodigiously and had numerous lovers. He was also greatly gifted as an imaginative interpreter of Tibetan Buddhism, with its many esoteric practices, to the West. The couple was unconventional from the get-go. An upper-class Briton educated at an exclusive girls' school, Mukpo was just 16 when she married the Tibetan lama, who she recalls couldn't remember her name when he broke the news of their marriage to a friend. Such anecdotes form a series of revealing private snapshots of the influential Buddhist teacher. Mukpo makes sense out of his craziness and also builds a good case for his brilliance. She is better at domesticity than discipleship, however, so the value of this book is to open household doors and tell a page-turning family story by which the controversial guru can be better understood. (Oct. 3)
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"Dragon Thunder is a 'warts and all' account of a most extraordinary marriage, and a collision of Tibetan and Western cultures. It gives an intimate and unflinching portrait of the author's life with Trungpa Rinpoche. . . . The book contains many surprises, and demonstrates Trungpa's undoubted genius for creating very provoking teaching situations."—The Middle Way

 "A delightful and unusual book. Diana Mukpo offers readers new understandings of the life and teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a remarkable person and irreplaceable teacher."—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart <p class="MsoNormal">“An intimate and frank telling of the life of one of the great spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Diana Mukpo’s extraordinary story as wife, lover, and friend to Chögyam Trungpa reveals her to be a courageous, independent woman with a depth of understanding of her husband’s life and teaching. More than just a history, it is a timeless illumination of the genuine Buddhist path.”—Melvin McLeod, editor of The Best Buddhist Writing series

"Diana Mukpo has written a deeply intimate, insightful, raw, and moving account of her life with her late husband. I don't think it would be possible to capture the essence of Chögyam Trungpa more accurately and beautifully than she has done here."—Dzigar Kongtrül, author of It's Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on the Buddhist Path

"This candid and unsparing book offers up wisdom, courage, and compassion, but also engages the reader in a journey far beyond the normal frames of reference for what spiritual experience actually is. An extraordinary love story as well as a remarkable portrait of a great spiritual teacher."—Rudy Wurlitzer, novelist and author of numerous screenplays including The Little Buddha

"Taking us into the heart of Chögyam Trungpa's crazy wisdom, exposing us to his genius and the 'craziness' which I at least was never sure was not his madness, Dragon Thunder is a wild and unfathomable story, as heartbreaking and irresistible as Don Quixote. As a dharma book, its mix of sadness and wisdom is so complete that reading it becomes a practice in itself."—Lawrence Shainberg, author of Ambivalent Zen: One Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path

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Customer Reviews

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See all 29 customer reviews
Dragon Thunder is a must read for anyone.
John A. Perks
Written clearly and with all sides of the story seemingly honestly written about.
Melanie Kay Merritt
This book is a generous and bold revelation of life with a rare Great Being.
Jack Elias

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By H, D, and A's Momma on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book. I am a practicing Tibetan Buddhist of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, and I really wanted to come away from this book with a better understanding of Chogyam Trungpa. I wanted to be able to stop thinking of him as a womanizing drunk.

Unfortunately, this book didn't help me. The author spends a great deal of time explaining away Trungpa's behavior by stating that he just wasn't like other people and that the normal rules didn't apply to him. It felt like someone who is abused making excuses for her abuser. I didn't gain any clearer dharmic understanding of Trungpa's outrageous actions or his reasons for having affair after affair after affair, drinking to excess, or taking drugs.

Brilliant teacher he may have been, but from what I read in this book, he doesn't strike me as any sort of a dharmic role model or a spiritual friend on whom I could rely.

In addition to not feeling like I gained any sort of higher understanding of the main character, I feel that the book dragged on and on and on. It read at times like a list of dates and places, overly specific and uninteresting. The author seemed to be trying to account for every event in her and Trungpa's lives and explain how and why it showed Trungpa's brilliance. It got boring long before the book concluded.

I give this book three stars because some of it is very interesting, and it gives a decent account of how Shambhala Buddhism came to be, but it doesn't offer any sort of scintillating window into who Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sabrikitty on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be heartbreaking. I was initially interested since I have so admired and loved the work of Ani Pema Chodron who has impacted my life with such illumination over the years. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was her core teacher. I was not shocked by the drinking and "affectional" involvement with the students (there have never been reports of any students having felt used or coerced), rather by the excesses in hierarchy so common to cults of that era: how to separate the medium from the message? At least, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche offered great wisdom and enlightenment, and created a base of wisdom teachings from which many have prospered. But Diana Mukpo seems in the book almost wholly without insight, accepting that which comes her way without compunction or hesitation. Houses in Europe! Horses to own and ride! Being crowned queen with a tiara of diamonds. Receiving a title, and the subordination of footmen, butlers, chefs, chauffeurs and servants. Mink stoles and upset over her new shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue being ruined during a Buddhist Ceremony. She accepts all of this as though her due, when both finances and labour are provided by devotees of her husband (who did seem like a tireless worker in this tome) gratis. I do not see any difference between this group and the other cultish excesses of the time: the Rajneeshpurams, the followers of other charismatic leaders. I was grateful to the book for having brought out all of my "shenpa" with which to practise (I was "hooked" on nearly every page!), but it had me questioning everything? Am I right to follow Pema Chodron and Sakyong Mipham? Are these excesses sanctioned in Tibetan Buddhism? My disillusionment was extreme: I had thought of Tibetan Buddhism as enlightened and kind.Read more ›
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard G. Petty on September 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Enlightened Master"

It is difficult to imagine one person attracting so many different sobriquets.

Yet Chögyam Trungpa gathered all of these and many more.

A recognized reincarnation of the Tenth Trungpa, he came to India after the Chinese invasion of Tibet and faced enormous hardships. He eventually came to Britain and met and married the sixteen-year-old Diana Probus, who took the name Diana Mukpo, and finally wrote this extraordinary memoir, almost twenty years after his death. They were married for a tumultuous period of seventeen years during which he established meditation centers throughout Europe and North America, attracted a large number of students and founded Naropa in Boulder, Colorado, the first Buddhist-inspired University in the United States.

Chögyam Trungpa was a key figure in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and apart from the testimony of his personal students, he has left a substantial body of written works, many of which are widely recognized to be spiritual masterpieces. He was always controversial and heavy alcohol abuse contributed to his early demise.

I never met Chögyam, but I well remember many of my Buddhist friends being scandalized by his behavior. Most of them had acquired an extraordinarily ascetic view of Buddhism that many still hold today. The idea that an Enlightened Master may smoke, drink and have sex is anathema. They have an idea of the way that a spiritual being should behave, and if he or she does not, well that simply proves that they are not enlightened! I have known so many people who never realized that this view of spirituality is a projection based on just one spiritual current.
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