Illusion's Game
Illusion’s Game

Illusion’s Game

The Life and Teaching of Naropa

By Chögyam Trungpa

In Illusion’s Game, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche presents the view of Vajrayana through a discussion of Naropa’s encounter with his Lama, Tilopa. This is an important text because the essence of Vajrayana is contained in this seminal encounter. For the same reason, it is a difficult book to read – because the subject matter itself is so easy to misunderstand.

Naropa’s twelve visions encapsulate his process of disillusionment with Samsara. Because intellectual accomplishment was both his greatest dualistic hang-up and his greatest asset in deconstructing duality, Naropa’s experience exemplifies the method of the Mahasiddhas. Trungpa Rinpoche skilfully portrays the psychological experience of Naropa’s visions without reducing them either to spiritual materialistic fantasies or to clinically-dissected ‘symbolism’. The result is a text in which a sense of non-dual play permeates the precision underlying lucid explanation.

Like many of Trungpa Rinpoche’s books, Illusion’s Game is the transcription of a pair of seminars. The included ‘Question and Answer’ sections are particularly apt because the manner in which Naropa’s confusion was reflected, intensified, and eroded by his experience of Tilopa is evidently mirrored (to varying degrees) in the experience of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students. It is commonplace to consign the extraordinary highlights of Vajrayana to realms of the mythic past, but this direct and personal presentation makes clear that such experiences are necessarily available even now, because they represent the fundamental nature of Vajrayana.

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