Chogyam Trungpa

Chogyam Trungpa on Buddha, Information Overload and Being a Universal Expert

My friend Cyndi Elliott posted the quote below from Chögyam Trungpa’s book Crazy Wisdom on her Facebook page this week, calling out the idea of what it means to be a universal expert. It made me stop and think about my own work in the world as well as the work I do with my coaching clients. What does it mean to be a universal expert in today’s world of information overload?

I found the orginial quote on the Shambala website with the following headline:

What if Buddha Doesn’t Know How to Change Snow Tires?

Enlightenment is not purely a matter of collecting information. If a buddha didn’t know how to change his snow tires, for example, a person might begin to have doubts about him, if you have the view of an enlightened being as a learned person, a great scholar. After all, a buddha is supposed to be the omniscient one; how could he be a buddha if he doesn’t know how to change his tires? He or she should be good at everything.

But buddha is not that kind of universal expert, nor a super-professor. Here, the idea of intellectual understanding and sharpening the intellect is not feeding oneself millions of bits of information, making oneself into a walking library. Rather, it is developing sharpness and precision in relating with the nature of reality.

From “Intellect and Working with Negativity” in Crazy Wisdom by Chögyam Trungpa, page 155