In December 1988, the most harmful crisis ever to strike an American Buddhist community unfolded when Vajradhatu administrators told their members that the Regent had been infected with the AIDS virus for nearly three years. Members of the Vajradhatu board of directors conceded that, except for some months of celibacy, he had neither protected his many sexual partners nor told them the truth. One of the Regent’s sexual partners, the son of long-term students, was infected, as was a young woman who had later made love to the young man.
Two members of the Vajradhatu board of directors had known of his infection for more than two years, and chose to do nothing. Trungpa Rinpoche had also known about it before his death. Board members had reluctantly informed the sangha (community) only after trying for three months to persuade the Regent to act on his own.
“Thinking I had some extraordinary means of protection, I went ahead with my business as if something would take care of it for me,” Tendzin reportedly told a stunned community meeting organized in Berkeley in mid-December.