As well as being a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhist, Chögyam Trungpa was notorious for his more extreme behaviour such as drinking, smoking, sleeping with students, crashing cars and so forth. While this seems unusual behaviour for an advanced Buddhist practioner I was told that senior figures in his lineage (Kagyu and Nyingma) and were very comfortable with his actions.

So how were his more controversial actions justified by others within his lineage? Is there a tradition within Tibetan Buddhism which encompasses seemingly unethical behaviour? Was there any precedence within his lineage for this kind of thing or was he just a very unusual character?

1 Answer 1


The most famous Tibetan "Mad monk of the Dragon Lineage" Drukpa Kunley would be an example and precedence.

He was known for his crazy methods of enlightening other beings, mostly women, which earned him the title "The Saint of 5,000 Women". Among other things, women would seek his blessing in the form of sex. His intention was to show that it is possible to be enlightened, impart enlightenment, and still lead a very healthy sex life. He demonstrated that celibacy was not necessary for being enlightened. In addition, he wanted to expand the range of means by which enlightenment could be imparted, while adding new evolutionary prospects to the overarching tradition. He is credited with introducing the practice of phallus paintings in Bhutan and placing statues of them on rooftops to drive away evil spirits.[2] Because of this power to awaken unenlightened beings, Kunley's penis is referred to as the "Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom" and he himself is known as the "fertility saint". For this reason women from all around the world visited his monastery to seek his blessing.[3][4]

The drunken saint Drukpa Kunley

Poems and songs of Drukpa Kunley

Poem about happiness

I am happy that I am a free Yogi.

So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.

I can have sex with many women,

because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.

Outwardly I'm a fool

and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.

Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.

And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.

Outwardly, I live for my pleasure

and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.

Outwardly I am a ragged beggar

and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Song about the pleasure

A young woman finds pleasure in love. A young man finds pleasure in sex. An old man finds pleasure in his memoirs. This is the doctrine of the three pleasures.

Who does not know the truth, is confused. Those who have no goals, can not sacrifice. Those who have no courage, can not be a Yogi. This is the doctrine of the three missing things.

Even if a person knows the way of wisdom; without practicing there is no realization. Even if a master shows you the way, you have to go it by yourself.

The five spiritual ways

I practice the path of self-discipline. I meditate every day.

I go the way of embracing love. I work as a mother and father of all beings.

I do the deity yoga. I visualize myself as a Buddha in the cosmic unity.

I read the books of all religions and practice all at the right moment.

The life is my teacher and my inner wisdom is my guide.

More on The Sublime Life and Songs of Drukpa Kunley

  • I've personally known a teacher who was claiming that abusing his female students was a way of teaching (a few of them ended with serious condition in mental hospital); and his followers believed that. I find it easier to think "that guy might have been realized but still a jerk", than justifying his behavior with the supposition that enlightened people always behave ethically.
    – eudoxos
    Jun 5, 2015 at 12:54
  • Everyone has a view, except the enlightened guy!
    – Samadhi
    Jun 5, 2015 at 13:10
  • Exactly. I've heard bunch of similar statements justifying "spiritually" what he was doing. Including him denying that. Come on.
    – eudoxos
    Jun 5, 2015 at 14:57

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