August 10, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post

“Kalapa” is a new protecting entity announced in the Sakyong’s 2008 Shambhala Day address. But what is it protecting? If Shambhala Buddhism and Shambhala are two different lineages, it can protect the former, but not the latter.

Read the full article, and come back here to comment on it.


45 Responses to “Kalapa”

  1. Mark Curtin on August 19th, 2008 1:52 pm

    I must wonder as a relatively recent Shambhala practitioner why some of the original students seem so “attached” to some interpretation of VCTR they formed a while back. Have you lost perspective on the dharma’s teaching of impermanence?

    I for one have no bias against the Sakyong’s leadership or direction, nor do I question his motives or wisdom.

    May we all enjoy profound, brilliant glory.

  2. Dan Montgomery on August 19th, 2008 2:34 pm

    That’s a really good question. The attitude of many of us could be attributed to the inherent conservatism that comes with old age. You know, as in “Things used to be that way, I was used to it, and now they went and changed it.”. Here’s the other perspective – many of us were students of Trungpa Rinpoche, who we regarded as enlightened, who taught us that Shambhala was much bigger than Buddhism and warned us against the dangers of spiritual materialism. Now we look around and see it everywhere. You can see all the quotes from CTR on this website.

    Judge for yourself.

  3. Ngakma Zer-me Dri'med on August 19th, 2008 3:50 pm

    Just discovered this site, great work Mark!

    If I could wave a magic wand and make one thing happen, I would ask that anyone who writes, writes as if they were writing to themselves. By which I mean, view everyone on this site as a person at least as real and complicated and good-hearted and confused and thirsty for realization as you are.

    Nothing will bring real communication to a screeching halt faster than stereotypes and warmed-over talking points. Mark’s comment is an example. Shambhala has spent several years trying to paint everyone who disagrees with them as old, stuck in the past, attached to outdated ideas, etc, ad nauseum.

    Been there, done that. It serves only to shut people up, which of course is the purpose of the tactic . But that does not make the steroetype or talking point true.

    Nobody wants to sit around and be called names and ignored forever. Maybe that’s why some of us are here?

    I’m happy to engage in lots of disagreement and lively discussion, but how about something fresh? Yes, I know I’m old, and that old is bad. Next?

  4. Susmita Barua on August 19th, 2008 6:22 pm

    I just took a brief pause here. Thanks to everyone behind this transparency effort. I was reflecting on this question this morning. When does a protective boundary becomes a barrier or obstacle to creative growth inside us and out in social/institutional structures?

    Hmm..need to devote more time on that. Lets stay cheerful. BTW I don’t know much about CTR or Sakyong’s philosophy but love our human experience and the dilemmas we face as human beings. Kalapa looks cool at least in picture 😉

  5. Chris Keyser on August 19th, 2008 10:09 pm

    To Mark Curtin:
    The dharma is not impermanent, nor is our root guru’s indestructible wisdom mind which abides unceasingly in our hearts and minds. The Vidyadhara defied any attempt at “interpretation” during his lifetime, and his teachings defy any attempt at interpretation now. They can only be experienced in their raw and rugged spontaneous display of primordial purity.
    As he often said, jolly good luck.

  6. Suzanne Duarte on August 20th, 2008 12:36 pm

    Thank you for delineating the difference between the Dorje Dradul’s conception of Shambhala and Sakyong Mipham’s Shambhala Buddhism, and the questions these differences bring up regarding the “Shambhala lineage.” I do think there is something ‘funny,’ or not quite ‘right’ about this notion of “Kalapa.” I get a funny feeling in my gut when I read the statement that Sakyong Mipham “has created a “format” or “structure” called Kalapa which will be a “storehouse, a protector of the Shambhala lineage, particularly the lineage of Sakyongs”.

    Particularly the lineage of Sakyongs? Wow. You know, when the Dorje Dradul was alive, I never heard a word about him needing protection as Sakyong. There was of course need for protection of the mandala he created, for which he created the Dorje Kasung, and for his students to practice ‘mind protection.’ But the D.D. was the ‘indestructible warrior.’ He WAS the protector, the “Earth Protector” – which is the literal translation of Sakyong, isn’t it?

    So what is this protection of the “lineage of Sakyongs” really about? Protection from what or whom, may I ask? Perhaps from the current Sakyong’s critics? It seems quite insular, this notion of protection.

    I’d like to hear the views of other students of the Dorje Dradul regarding the meaning of “Kalapa,” too. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember what it meant when I attended Kalapa Assemblies or went to Kalapa Court when he was alive. My sense of it was expansive, not insular. Yes, it was a “storehouse” of power, but that storehouse was filled with the power of a Sakyong and practitioners whose view and practice connected Heaven and Earth, and thus we were able to raise lungta and invoke the dralas, which are not embodied beings. In that sense, as long as we did that, we all – all the students of the Dorje Dradul – were part of the lineage of Shambhala warriors. At least, I thought so. And there was also the sense that the Shambhala lineage was not confined to a blood lineage, at all. It was a mind lineage. And the D.D. gave us the tools to protect that mind lineage within ourselves, and to perpetuate it for the benefit of others and all of life. He gave us access to the storehouse of power in Kalapa, but it didn’t all come from him, at least I didn’t understand it that way.

    So, again, why would the “lineage of Sakyongs” need protection? Aren’t Sakyongs there to protect others – by helping them protect the Earth (upon which we all depend for life) and their own minds??? The secrets of Shambhala that I received from the Dorje Dradul were definitely intended and dedicated to helping the world, not perpetuating his blood lineage.

  7. Petra Mudie on August 26th, 2008 12:27 am

    Andrew – funny, but sad, that you are so bitter and purplexed about Shambhala Buddism when it is exactly what the Vidydhara prescribed:

    You quote…. “in Journey Without Goal, Trungpa Rinpoche said the following about obscuring the dualistic gap (in this context, the gap between Shambhala (the non-sectarian) and Buddhism (the religious):

    The attempt to define who we are and who we are not is basically split into two approaches: the theistic approach and the nontheistic approach. In the nontheistic approach we simply acknowledge the dualistic gap rather than trying to unify it or conceal it. In the theistic approach, there is an ongoing attempt to conceal that gap completely. There is a notion of spiritual democracy. In fact, that approach is often used in dealing with political and social problems: “Blacks are not against whites–we are all the same species. Since we all live on the same earth, we should regard ourselves as a brotherhood.”

    Yup, we could regard ourselves as a brotherhood/sisterhood. It would be great, theistic or not. To me, that is “it”. If we chose to reject that we are the same, seems like we missed the point of both the Shamhala and Buddhist paths.

    I really got tired of Shamhala classes throwing negative comments on the folly of Buddhism – I am delighted we are starting to outgrow that view.

    With fondness and gratitude for your blog,

  8. Julie Rayda on August 26th, 2008 1:31 am

    I think Mark brings up something that many of us who began practicing in the last ten years or so wonder about when we meet those who studied with Chogyam Trungpa in the 70’s – it does seem as though many of those students are not comfortable with the current Sakyong for one reason or another. I have heard many times from an “older” practitioner (I use quotes because I am younger only in years of practice, not age) that they were students of Chogyam Trungpa but not of the current Sakyong; that they are loyal to the teachings, but not the leadership. It can be rather confusing. Perhaps what Mark brings up is not new and certainly many have heard it before, but I don’t think that makes his question unimportant or unworthy – yes, for many it may be “been there, done that,” but for those who are new to the practice, well… it’s a bit harder to just dismiss it.

  9. Suzanne on August 26th, 2008 10:41 am

    Mark Curtain questioned why some of the original students seem so attached to some interpretation of VCTR they formed a while back. Dan Montgomery responded that older students see all around them within Shambhala International many things that VCTR warned them against, and when they speak up, they are dismissed. Julie Rayda’s comment that Mark’s question should not be dismissed raises the issue to me that everyone thinks nobody is listening to them. The pro-Sakyong students are not dismissing the older non-pro-Sakyong (I don’t think anyone is really “anti”) practitioners as unworthy, but those older students do feel dismissed by the Sakyong and leadership, if not other students. The non-pro-Sakyong students are not dismissing the younger practitioners’, but these younger students do feel their loyalty being challenged. How can we stop this vicious circle? Everyone is worthy, nobody is dismissing the other, and serious problems must be addressed.

  10. Jonathan McKeever on September 4th, 2008 10:58 am

    I find a recurring theme amongst some of the newer students of the Sakyong, and that is if older students are wary of the new direction that the Sakyong is taking, they use words like “bitter”, “attached to the old ways”, and basically crusty.

    I don’t sense bitterness at all in this article, nor do I sense particular attachment. I for one am not an old student in years. I am 35 years old and also hold the same view of Shambhala being much bigger than Buddhism. I think Andrew’s article says it beautifully.

    For me, and for those I’ve spoken with, its not so much a question of ideology and not wanting the ideology to change. Its more a question of what I am interested in investing my life in. My “call” to Shambhala and to Buddhadharma was very much based on the non theistic, secular view of Shambhala as espoused by CTR. In fact, as a Dharma Brat, I feel that in some way that was the vision that – perhaps – drew me through the bardo (if you believe in all that.)

    To be honest, I am simply not that interested in Shambhala as a religion. That is the main point. I think that a lot of the older students are simply not interested in wedding their lives to a Shambhala Buddhist ideology, and rather than just roll over and die, there is a sense of “What can we do? How can we take this inspiration and path, and apply it to our lives and make a difference in the world? For many of us, that means a sad departure from the current parish. But ultimately, the view is not one of bitterness. Its more about underlining what our vision is. What our inspiration is. And what is the blueprint/ direction that brought us to the path and continues to nourish us?

    So, please, enough about bitterness and stodgy attachment to the past. Its simply not true! We are watching our society become a church, and are seeking to find a way to continue in our secular practice. That is all.

  11. Chris Keyser on September 6th, 2008 2:02 pm

    To Jonathan McKeever:
    Well said, O son of noble family!
    And much gratitude to you for your wisdom born within and having the courage and eloquence to express it.

  12. Suzanne Duarte on September 7th, 2008 2:50 pm

    Petra, you say: “Yup, we could regard ourselves as a brotherhood/sisterhood. It would be great, theistic or not. To me, that is “it”. If we chose to reject that we are the same, seems like we missed the point of both the Shamhala and Buddhist paths.
    I really got tired of Shamhala classes throwing negative comments on the folly of Buddhism – I am delighted we are starting to outgrow that view.

    Hmmm. First of all, if Shambhala teachers have made negative comments implying that Buddhism is folly, shame on them. I doubt they were loyal students of the Vidyadhara.

    Secondly, you may have missed the point of the quote Andrew cited on the ‘dualistic gap.’ Trungpa Rinpoche said that “The attempt to define who we are and who we are not is basically split into two approaches: the theistic approach and the nontheistic approach. In the nontheistic approach we simply acknowledge the dualistic gap rather than trying to unify it or conceal it. In the theistic approach, there is an ongoing attempt to conceal that gap completely.”

    I believe that the reason the Vidyadhara emphasized the nontheistic approach so strongly and frequently is that he did not paper over or try to conceal the sharp edges of reality. He acknowledged duality and conflict. They do exist. And in dealing with them we can develop skillful means and wisdom. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Trungpa R. taught his students to keep their seats in the midst of the discomfort of reality, which sharpens our prajna, awareness and intelligence. If there was anything he hated, it was deception.

    The avoidance of sharp edges and conflict is what we could call the theistic culture of ‘inclusivity,’ which can be deceptive. It can be a political strategy to gather all those disciples who want to belong, are afraid to deal with conflict, and want to be ‘saved’ by somebody or something outside themselves. I’m actually thinking of the history of Christianity, which was very political and used metaphors like ‘gathering the flock,’ to gather power and wealth to the Church. Maybe this also applies to Shambhala Buddhism, I don’t know. I’m sticking with the Vidyadhara’s teachings, which taught dharma as reality and also taught students to be warriors, not sheep.

    The following article may be coming from a completely secular perspective outside of Shambhala or Buddhism, but it makes some excellent points about the ‘culture of inclusivity’ among younger generations and the avoidance of conflict and differences:

    Illusions of inclusivity in the culture of “whatever”  by Carolyn Baker 8/26/08 – A seasoned elder understands, as she takes in hand the youth of her tribe, that they must be guided, taught, reasoned with, and invited into conscious dialog so that ultimately that young person can mature into elderhood and carry on the wisdom tradition of the tribe. He or she is instructed in the art of setting limits for him/herself and for the community and is schooled in the fundamental realities of human existence, not by avoiding, but by taking on the messiness of conflict. Above all, the elder emphasizes that the young person’s life journey is not about being happy, but about becoming conscious [developing prajna].

    In my experience of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Buddhist and Shambhala teachings, the nontheistic, nondualistic approach was not to minimize differences but to heighten them by seeing them precisely. The nondualistic view is not the New Age “All is One’ nonsense.

  13. Andrew Safer on September 8th, 2008 7:49 pm

    Jonathan posed the $64,000 question: “What is the blueprint/direction that brought us to the path and continues to nourish us?” For me, staying focused on that is certainly key.

    Suzanne wrote that the Vidyadhara did not “paper over or conceal the sharp edges of reality.” Suzanne, thank you for stating that so succinctly and beautifully.

    A few days ago I received a mailing from Shambhala (the organization). In it was a letter/brochure called “The Way of Shambhala”. There’s a quote from Trungpa Rinpoche: “The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. *This wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion*, nor does it come only from the West or the East.

    (* * — my emphasis)

    On the reverse side is an explanation of The Way of Shambhala which “offers a structured path of meditation and a complete introduction to the foundations of Shambhala Buddhism.”

    Huh? I’m thinking the powers that be do not see the contradiction here. Am I missing something?

  14. Michael Sullivan on September 9th, 2008 12:45 pm

    At my most cynical, I can see “Shambhala Buddhism” as a branding strategy for marketing purposes. I imagine the organization was at somewhat of a financial cusp and needed to grow, and the name change enabled the organization not only to differentiate itself from other teachers / teachings but also to claim turf outside of the existing lineage hierarchies while still riding the crest of new interest in Buddhism. Sorry if that assessment is harsh but there you have it.

    Personally, I also think that the Shambhala teachings were the “code” that the Vidyadhara used to teach dzogchen as a stand-alone vehicle. He was already viewed as a bit of a renegade for disrobing, and to teach dzogchen openly might have been a bit much for the lineage conservatives. Other teachers who did teach dzogchen openly in the early 80’s did get into a bit of trouble…

  15. Suzanne Duarte on September 11th, 2008 8:50 am

    Michael, I’m afraid I agree with your ‘branding strategy’ surmise. It does seem that Shambhala – which used to be Vajradhatu – fell into the hands of free-market capitalists for whom growing the organization had quite a different meaning than it did for the Vidyadhara. I remember two specific things that Trungpa Rinpoche said privately while I was working for Vajradhatu: we should not look at people as if they have dollar signs on their foreheads; and we need more Shambhalians. I think it is safe to say that Trungpa Rinpoche’s motivation for growing the organization was not to increase the flow of money so he could build palaces. His motivation was to grow or cultivate more Shambhalians who could build an enlightened society that would preserve and perpetuate the dharma – true spirituality, not spiritual materialism – through the dark age.

    Your insight that “the Shambhala teachings were the “code” that the Vidyadhara used to teach dzogchen as a stand-alone vehicle” is quite interesting. You may be right about that, but I always felt that his social vision of enlightened society was a genuine part of his overall dharmic vision. He saw chaos coming and wanted to create a social container based on living the dharma, which would endure through the chaos. This is clear from Richard Arthure’s account of the Taktsang retreat and the translation of the Sadhana of Mahamudra. http://www.chronicleproject.com/stories_110.html

    So the Shambhala warriorship that Dorje Dradul taught surely was based on dzogchen, but it was also warriorship that would be needed to carry the dharma through a world that is falling apart – the dark age. He was a very practical social visionary, among many other things!

  16. Michael Sullivan on September 11th, 2008 12:48 pm

    Suzanne, I agree that the Vidyadhara’s social vision was a part of his dharmic vision, and I think that the key to that was exactly in the secular aspect of it. By explicitly NOT linking it to Buddhism, it is open to all, and not able to be brushed off as “merely Buddhist”.

    My teacher Chogyal Namkhai Norbu teaches Dzogchen as a “stand-alone” method and he has written and commented often that it can be practised by those of other (or no) beliefs without any problem. This flies in the face of Nyingma orthodoxy (and he was criticized for it!) which has it as something only taught after extensive Vajrayana practice. Likewise, my other teacher Wangdor Rinpoche teaches Dzogchen to all who show up at the teachings, regardless of their belief or level of experience. This kind of freaked out Robin Kornman and I when we first invited him to teach in Milwaukee, but we got over it quickly!

    Khenpo Gangshar also taught Dzogchen openly and to all when he realized that Tibet was going to fall to the Chinese.

    Trungpa Rinpoche’s skillful means was certainly evident in his Shambhala teachings. He was able to give people very high teachings – in plain language, minus any “otherness” that a Buddhist container would have, and he was also able to sidestep any lineage politics that might have happened with a more traditional presentation of Dzogchen.

  17. Suzanne Duarte on September 11th, 2008 3:05 pm

    Thank you for your clarification and insight, Michael. No argument here.

  18. Kristine McCutcheon on September 25th, 2008 7:10 pm

    great dialogue – thank you jonathan and michael and susan.

    after reading andrews article the final question seems to be his main point.

    “The haunting, fundamental question in all this becomes: Who is going to propagate, transmit, and keep alive the Dorje Dradul’s teachings? It seems to be up to us—the students who are bound to the Dorje Dradul, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, by samaya.”

    I wonder – does the lineage start with the student? Or with my teacher? All of the stories of Buddhism seem to indicate that we need a teacher. (marpa, mila, tilopa etc) If we feel like we have a connection to a teacher would we not naturally in the process of being a student want to fulfill their aspirations? As Andrew is indicating. In that case would what we teach be called shambhala-kristine or shambhala-andrew or kristine student of the buddha? Or could it be Shambhala (student of Dorje Dradul) Buddhism (student of Trungpa rinpoche lineage holder through Tilopa).

    I like the discussion of where the lineage is going and feel it is also helpful to think of where it is coming from. And to let that continuously inspire us in our actions.

  19. Perry Brissette on September 28th, 2008 6:51 pm

    However you want to call it — “Shambhala Buddhism” or “code for dzogchen” or — call it Liverwurst if you want to… in my experience, it relates back to a genuine heart connection to what’s relevant and true within the practitioner’s own being– the “living dharma within”… it cannot be contrived and self-serving…. it is always free from agenda and criteria… the genius of the teachings is that they are experiential and therefore self-protecting to a certain degree: any attempt to “brand” them will only result in self-exposure… As in the Sadhana of Mahamudra: “one cannot conceal the anti-dharma that pretends to be dharma”… Anti-dharma is bound to be exposed by dharma which cuts through our traps of conceptualization, pettiness and doubt… Fearlessness and genuine confidence can never come from organizational mandates or marching orders. If Shambhala or *any* spiritual tradition is going to survive, it will be about how practitioners personally realize this, particularly at the top of the organization.

  20. Andrew Forbes on August 31st, 2010 2:25 am

    There are no gaps in the transmission of the Shambhala teachings and the wishes of the Buddha to manifest enlightened society, and the teachings of the Dorje Dradul. The practices are brilliant, establishing enlightenment in the minds of the people who practice the Shambhala termas. The ground, path and fruition of these particular teachings are truly a great way of benefiting beings and bringing people onto the path of meditation in this particular manifestation of the practice lineage. Intense evolution, and devotion to the three jewels in all brilliant manifestation is the only thing that is really going to help us through the darkest hour of the dark age. So the Sakyong is actually doing all of this to the letter. Survival of the teachings of the Buddha, and the continuity of the Dharma are what is most important.

    Shambhala Buddhism is the proper manifestation of the transmission lineage in a unique way that brings community as well as bravery and power. Individually, it is complete path with limitless potential. It is ours, we must ensure it’s survival and integrity. It is like something that the Vidyadhara mentioned in his talk documented in the final video of the thus have I heard series. He says (and I paraphrase), that Buddhism is like the mountain on which the trees – Shambhala – grow. Shambhala itself still remains very much a secular path. Only when the student of meditation embarks on the infinite wisdom of the Buddhist tradition, can the two traditions – not separate (by simple logic) – become, aptly, “Shambhala Buddhism”. It is how the student of buddhism can deepen his or her understandings of the profound Shambhala teachings. Have you listened to the guru’s words, like nectar pouring from a vase? Nothing more.

  21. Gary Allen on September 6th, 2010 6:50 pm

    Well, if I go back to the experience of Shambhala I had in the 80’s, while Trungpa Rinpoche was still alive, the idea that it wasn’t religious was always completely ridiculous. It had scriptures (secret ones), ritual, iconography, cosmology, doctrinal vocabulary,devotionalism, etc, etc. Trying to say that, as you invite ethereal beings down to your shrine to aid your enlightened society, you’re not somehow being religious is flying in the face of the obvious.

    Trungpa Rinpoche knew this well enough and comments on it in the Kalapa Assembly transcripts (one of the later ones, can’t remember which). The issue of “secular” always meant that there was no need to divide everything up into here’s the priestly hierarchy and here’s the unwashed rest of the universe, here’s the holy shrine and there’s the fallen world of creation, here’s the holy religious observance and there’s people going to work and washing the dishes. The point all along of “secularism” in Shambhala was that it didn’t make distinctions in its view of sacredness–it’s all sacred, we all have basic goodness, whoever we are, and there’s nothing that we do that doesn’t fall inside that sacredness, no matter how externally “secular” it may seem.

    Trunpga Rinpoche used language in unusual ways, and this is one of them. Much of the argument people make on this site seems to be based in thinking that somehow Shambhala is non-religious, whereas it was always an encompassing religiosity that saw everything as included in that, whatever form of life you might be living. At the same time, it has very specific practices for actualizing that view, ones that wouldn’t exist without a Buddhist framework, that’s always been a part of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Shambhala teachings: including shamatha, egolessness, bodhichitta, space, tathagatgarbha,mandala, refuge and bodhisattva vows, the structure of sadhanas, lots of things like that are inherent in Shambhala, but reconstituted, refreshed, reordered, re-envisioned. It’s neither straight Buddhism as has been developed in the past, nor is it some completely other thing. If this could be recognized, it would help a lot in understanding clearly what Sakyong Mipham has done to develop these teachings and their presentation.

  22. John Perks on September 6th, 2010 8:19 pm

    well said

  23. Edward on September 6th, 2010 8:55 pm

    Gary Allen writes:
    [Shambhala] has very specific practices for actualizing that view, ones that wouldn’t exist without a Buddhist framework,

    Yes, that could be.

    However, probably there are many Hindus who believe that Buddhism wouldn’t exist without a Hindu framework. Buddhists borrowed the concept of meditation and many specific types of meditation directly from Hinduism. For that matter, the Buddha was a Hindu! And he had Hindu teachers, who perhaps had their own Hindu lineages? (The Buddha certainly was not a “Buddhist”.) And a lot of the Sanscrit terminology used in Buddhism is taken straight from Hinduism, including words like “sadhana”, the concept of vows, and so on.

    There was already some relatively nontheistic branches of Hinduism, “advaita vedanta” for instance. So maybe Buddhism is just one more type of Hinduism. a somewhat chauvenistic branch, one that looks down on the rest of the world?

    Of course, I’m being facetious here. Personally I give the Buddha complete permission to have created his own separate “thing”, without all Buddhists having to also declare themselves as members of Hinduism.

    Likewise, if the great realizer Chogyam Trugnpa Rinpoche wanted to be the first Sakyong of a new tradition he was revealing, which is based on wisdom found in many traditions from around the world, then I don’t have a problem with that either.

    I’ve spoken to Buddhists who feel differently however, and who’ve told me that because CTR was a Buddhist, everything he did was to be owned and controlled by the hierarchy of Tibetan lamas. I’m not kidding someone said that right to my face, which was kind of refreshing. It was a Caucasian chap who said he did his daily devotions in Tibetan. I appreciated his coming right out and saying that plainly.

    It seems like SMR’s students are aligning themselves more and more with that view…?

    As far as CTR’s use of the term “secular”… I could be wrong but I think it’s supposed to mean that the enlightened society is big enough to have room for many different religions.

    Are Native Americans bereft of warrior wisdom? Are Buddhists always braver than other people? Do Buddhists have a monopoly on wisdom, on basic goodness?

    These are good questions to ask ourselves, maybe.

  24. John Tischer on September 6th, 2010 9:15 pm

    CTR arose from Tibetian Buddhism just like Padmasambhava arose from a lotus and Buddha arose from Hinduistic mandala. That’s the way it works. Somebody wakes up. Maybe SMR has or will wake up. For some, he has.
    No different than finding the last cookie in the jar, although on a different level.

    No…Buddhists don’t have a hedge on enlightenment. What was the name of that Hopi? Joe? I believe VCTR said something to the effect that all he needed to know was a few Buddhist concepts (help me here) and he would be enlightened..

    In fact, there are a couple of stories about people Rinpoche ran into (one was at at talk he gave in New York, one was a disgusting drunk in a gutter in London) that he said were enlightened. Sorry

  25. Edward on September 6th, 2010 11:35 pm

    You know, it’s funny, there is an idea in Christianity that only souls born after Christ have a possibility of going to heaven. This is described in Dante’s Divine Comedy, for instance. So people may have been very charitable, very humble, very awake good people, but if they lived before Jesus, the best they could hope for was purgatory, but not heaven. Whereas everyone who believed in Jesus had a one-way, non-stop ticket to heaven.

    Likewise in Buddhism, we have this idea sometimes that only Buddhists know anything. So if CTR, or, say, Marpa, had previous lifetimes on earth before he became a Buddhist, he must have have been ignorant in those lifetimes, by this logic.

    Maybe it’s blasphemous to say this, but I think that kind of reasoning is silly. I think the unverse is much bigger than that.

    I think what it comes down to is that we feel we have no ground, which absolutely terrifies us, and then we come up with explanations and twisted logic of all sorts to fill up our cocoon and make us feel better about it all….

    We’re just like the guy wandering around after death, who desperately reaches for a womb to take shelter in…. 🙂 Oh, that’s better– something familiar and cozy to flop in!

  26. rita ashworth on September 7th, 2010 5:38 am

    Dear Mr Allen

    Re your post I do find it very interesting and I do find you posting on this site very welcome with the SB point of view one may say.

    However,(!) re the comment of calling down ethereal beings to your shrine I am not sure where you are coming from with that statement. I dont think logically re the shambhala teachings you can call down anything from ‘up’ there, rather it seems to me that that concept of power pervades our mundane existence and we are not separate from it, hence Mr Perks stories about Trungpa Rinpoche visiting different dimensions for want of a better word.

    So if drala is not present at this very moment it is a false ‘concept’ I think –it must be everpresent as is indeed the ‘ethereal beings’ who I think logically must come in different forms to the culture and consciousness of the environment you are in. Maybe another reason why CTR left the whole thing wide open

    Re the religious viewpoint and the secular viewpoint –yes this is the great bugbear of the west at the present time and does seem to many in the west to be a mad argument that we should not be getting involved in because surely to them the secular view point is predominant and true –the reliance on scientific method. However myself yes I too believe that the world we are living in is sacred, but an awareness of that can come also from secular reasoning which clears the decks of obfuscation and leads us into the ‘experience’ of the sacred – so it is a process of uncovering ourselves from our masks that we put on in society and of course the emergence from the cocoon. This is why the shambhala teachings have the intellectual rigour of many western philosophical traditions. And to me personally I think the engagement in the next few decades with the shambhala teachings for a lot of people will be coming from the ‘secular’ viewpoint through Art and other similar disciplines perhaps yoga for example.

    Indeed in the west there are many reports of secular people engaging with what is termed the ‘religious’ experience from a non-religious background -one only has to look at the numerous articles about this in connection to peoples experience of coming back from the death state after a heart attack. Maybe there has been much media emphasis on these areas of life/death because people are indeed looking for a way to make sense of their lives without a need for a hierarchical organisation. Historically this is supposedly what happened too, according to Trevor Ling –a noted Buddhist scholar, in sixth century India when sociologically it was a time when the middle classes were emerging and they had the time to reflect on such things.

    In addition there are points of contact with conventional religion with the shambhala teachings such as Christianity who talk of Christ being alive in our present workaday lives so for the life of me truly this is what CTR was pointing at aswell the inseparability of our mundane world with the sacred and Christians have been going on about this for ages –so the reawakened knowledge in their own contemplative tradition also reflects that meditation of some description will increase in the Christian churches. For that conversation to be limited by SB into the teachings meant for everyone and now only for Buddhists is to me a rejection of the Others experience of the divine or the Sacred as we term it in shambhala.

    So yes yet again lets have the teachings for everyone in their entirety and let them flood all traditions so much.

    Well I think that is all

    Best from this side of the pond

    Rita Ashworth

  27. Edward on September 7th, 2010 10:17 am

    Rita Ashworth writes:
    So if drala is not present at this very moment it is a false ‘concept’ I think

    Rita, drala isn’t a concept.

    It’s something for you to explore personally, experientially.

    Good luck!

  28. Rita Ashworth on September 7th, 2010 12:03 pm

    Yes I agree -it is hard to be specific when writing in ones posts -my main point was to emphasise the presence of the drala in ones life. So I was trying to emphasise that there can be no up there and down here with the teachings.

    You sometimes get that hit on drala I think after your practice thats what I have somewhat noticed in the sense that there seems to be a quality of clarity and fullness to your actions in the world, yes too that could be there all the time but for me recently I have noticed that after practice. Thats why in some respects people can not give up practicing I think because now they have kind of tasted that fullness. So some times when you go in a shrine room it is quite an inviting atmosphere if you are not raggedy tired during a programme.

    I suppose it is like the Regent said your mind goes to the teachings because of the brilliant luminosity of them -check out the utube clip of him and his Q and As with students in various programmes which explain this -quite stunning!

    Best Rita Ashworth

  29. Andrew Forbes on January 3rd, 2012 3:23 am

    Let the phenomena play. As long as you have conviction in your own understanding of the dharma, and you practice as you have been taught by your teacher, and have devotion to him, it does not matter what superficial appearances the world puts out no matter how deep you think they may be. Those who have the capability to study buddhism to it’s hardcore fundamentals will find that conviction in themselves if they are continually cutting through self-deception. There is also a sense that people are being introduced to the dharma that are not of the same ilk that some of the older students are: it is easy to give someone more credit in understanding then they deserve. Rampant spiritual materialism pervades the western culture altogether, and it is easy to get swept up in it. Shambhala is bigger than buddhism, it is bigger than inclusivism, it is bigger than Shambhala. The only thing that matters is that the genuine teaching of the Buddha is transmitted in such a time as this. And when you get down to the personal revelation of the dharma, it is as personal to each one of us as who we are sleeping with, whether we eat meat or not, or what dark secrets we hold in our hearts. Kalapa is completely expansive, now and in the past. What keeps it from expanding is our own doubt and ignorance.

  30. Rob Graffis on January 4th, 2012 8:43 pm

    Has The Shambhala Turned Liberal? My Brother Found This.
    This Would Be Cool If Young People Learn About More About The Last 50 Years.

    04 Jan 2012 – Celebrating Warriors in the World

    The Sakyong continues to encourage us to view our centres and our offerings as more than meditation training, but as a complete social vision uniting the depth of spiritual practice and the concrete possibilities for sanity, compassion, sustainability, and justice in society. With this view, the leadership of all Shambhala Centres and Groups, who are so inspired, have been invited to choose an evening to celebrate, remember, and contemplate the inspiration of previous warriors who have done their part in revealing compassion, wisdom, and justice in society. This will begin the creation of Shambhala community events on the theme “Celebrating Warriors in the World.”

    An existing holiday celebrating such warriors (for example, in the United States, the week of Martin Luther King Day, 16-22 January 2012) could be an appropriate time, or any date that works best for local communities. During this evening the topic for the open house or other public offering will be exemplary warriors throughout history -­ those women and men who have demonstrated bravery and compassion in service to humankind and the planet.

    This year, rather than suggesting new events or programs, the proposal is to invite a teacher who is inspired and skilled in discussing life examples of warriorship to lead an already-scheduled open house or other public gathering. If many of our centres around the world chose to participate in ways that suit their cultures, perhaps on individuals from their nations or communities, it could be most powerful.

    For example, talks might be on: Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Harvey Milk, William Wilberforce, etc.

    The talks could cover Shambhala’s vision of creating enlightened society; our personal training, bravery, and compassionate action in the world which connect with a vast social vision; specific life stories, teachings, and experiences of a warrior in the world, from any tradition; and what we can learn from such a person about the meaning of warriorship, being a bodhisattva, and creating enlightened society.

    Language and teachings from the Shambhala Lineage Festival, and from the Enlightened Society Vow, could be helpful in expressing this vision. If most centres offer a talk in relation to this topic, it would be excellent. If centres wish, more could be done with physical, artistic, and electronic postings,­ photo exhibits, presentations on local warriors, etc. In future years, we aspire to offer a “Celebrating Warriors in the World Week.”

    Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,

    Adam Lobel, Kalapa Acharya
    Mary Whetsell, Chair of Societal Health and Well Being
    Debbie Coats, Desung Arm Commander
    Charlene Leung, Shastri, Chair of the Diversity Working Group

    (This announcement was from the Shambhala News Service)

    Mark Hazell markhazell45@gmail.com via list.shambhala.org to sangha-announce
    show details 2:55 PM (2 hours ago)
    Images are not displayed.
    Display images below – Always display images from markhazell45@gmail.com
    Following up on the today’s news bulletin, I thought people might be interested to know that Shastri Rebecca Hazell is the author of a trilogy of books for young readers on genuine heroes and heroines. These books were the fruit of her recognition that people throughout the ages and from every culture have risen to the challenge, whose lives were and are expressions of the very best of humanity. All of these books are available from Amazon in Canada, the U.S.A., and the U.K. — they are all currently out of print, but both new and used copies are showing as being available. Even though they were intended for a relatively young audience, they are wonderful resources and beautiful books.

    Mark Hazell
    – Show quoted text –

  31. Andrew Forbes on May 21st, 2012 7:58 pm

    Shambhala is Bön, not Buddhism. Case closed.

  32. Rita Ashworth on May 22nd, 2012 2:46 am

    No not case closed –if we are to limit Shambhala to Bon I believe we would have missed the main point of the Vidyadharas teachings on this subject i.e. Shambhala is much bigger than one culture persay, at this time in history one could almost term it an unexplicable force erupting on to the scenes, brought about maybe by global intuition about the decay of society/societies.

    Perhaps also it is heralded just by questions, maybe the artists questions of What and Why?

    So as with many indigenous people that I am now hearing about via the web I think we should be less definitive in the west about culture persay-we have much to learn about setting up a shambhala enlightened society in the present and future. We have only just begun to unpack this whole body of teachings I believe and I am thinking that there is much more to come.
    Rita Ashworth

  33. John Tischer on May 22nd, 2012 5:16 pm

    Shambhala is Dzogchen, not Bon….case closed. (by the way, Rita, I’m sick of the term “unpack” that you and James seem to use a lot…..cut it out…[ kidding])

  34. Rita Ashworth on May 23rd, 2012 1:51 am

    Dear John et al,

    Yes I believe what you wrote that Shambhala is Dzogchen is also the viewpoint of Michael Sullivan further up in this thread where he relates his experience with Trungpa and some other Tibetan lamas in the US.
    He also writes that these teachings on Dzogchen were given openly to all comers which is interesting to think about.
    Still even with Dzogchen, if one takes that to be the case, tho some may not- there is still the form to be considered-how one carries out that practice-as can be seen from CTR’s admonishment on the FAQ on Shambhala on this website that one follows some kind of ‘yogic’ practice in the realm of Shambhala.
    So to me this does seem to open up quite many ways of accessing the essence of the Shambhalian teachings which we have not gone into in any great depth since Shambhala Buddhism appeared on the scene.
    I agree re Shambhala –that Dzogchen is quite something we can get into in exploring CTRs terma but moreso I would also wish to explore the ‘yogic’ essence of the Shambhala teachings again, -so thats a big open field to do justice to.
    In addition Dilgo Khentyse when speaking to Michael Chender re Shambhala did not emphasise the Dzogchen aspect-tho it is hard to step out of ones teachings base-he rather emphasised the notion that one did not have to be a Buddhist to practice the Shambhalian teachings-so we are again into the finesse of semantics re ‘philosophies’ here.
    Hmmmm-did James use the term ‘unpack’-wow-mirror-mirror…ha-ha…..what would be better – I am somewhat stumped about using another word for this-as I am ‘trying’ to see the bigger picture of the Shambhala terma as rfs states—-perhaps readers could suggest some other terms!?

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  35. John Perks on May 23rd, 2012 5:04 am


  36. James Elliott on May 27th, 2012 6:18 am


    I don’t remember using the word ‘unpack’, but will proudly avoid denying it. It’s very useful and indicative when speaking of things that go against the grain and are therefore not given the time needed to explain them…or unpack them as the case may be.

    Isn’t it the case that if one practiced and realized and developed a Dzogchen view, everything would be Dzogchen? If one were raised on Bön, wouldn’t the world revolve around those principles and myths? etc. At some point in the lyrical words of Lauryn Hill, everything is everything, but not sure how that gets us from here to there.

    In the inspiration that to a man wearing leather shoes, the world is covered with leather.

  37. John Tischer on May 28th, 2012 4:29 pm

    Yes, whatever view you propound is the view you wind up with…except, it could be wrong view. Don’t forget the point of Buddhism (Dzogchen is to
    arrive beyond view. Of course, therefore, it is superior.

  38. James Elliott on May 29th, 2012 4:05 pm

    John T.,

    The idea that higher views can be used to outsmart or outclass lower views makes the hair on my neck rise up.

    Higher views are more inclusive, more understanding of the human condition, not more negating, or?

    In the inspiration that “You gotta do something.” (James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause)

  39. John Tischer on May 30th, 2012 12:42 pm

    That’s not what I said or implied, James. You know better, don’t you?

  40. James Elliott on May 30th, 2012 3:58 pm

    Oh, I know John, nothing personal at all. I’m probably reading too much into it, and all kinds of threads/thoughts/confusions come together and create reactions not always apparent from obvious causes, but…

    I guess I’m burnt out on just the idea of right view, wrong view, and ‘this is IT’ kinds of proclamations. It’s exhausting.

    Yeah, OK, Dzogchen is beyond view. I get it. As far as I can tell, if that’s accomplished it ain’t no thing, it’s superiority is only compiled as such by people who haven’t grokked it yet, ce va?

    And… well, why hold out for the ultimate best of best when we’re here right now, and anyway in the meantime are stumbling along doing the best we can… and that can be pretty fantastic too, or?

    In the inspiration of trusting in basic goodness even if we aren’t always exuding it.

  41. John Tischer on May 30th, 2012 4:32 pm

    Well, aren’t we all pretty much responsible for our own path now anyway?
    VCTR trusted us that much….and at some point, doesn’t trust in that develop?
    I’ve seen VCTR’s students, both still in Shambhala, and not…who have developed that kind of confidence…..haven’t you?


  42. James Elliott on May 30th, 2012 6:03 pm

    Now my confidence is in question?
    How did that happen?
    What kind of confidence?
    What’s it based on?
    Confident about what?
    What rights does it give me?
    Am I better for it?
    If I say I have it, what do I have to do to prove it?
    Do I have to?
    If I don’t what bad things will happen?
    Who’s judging and why?
    and so on.
    Absolute statements about views and how it REALLY is, always entail that kind of stuff.

    In the inspiration of “Everybody Knows”
    by Tina Dico

  43. John Tischer on May 31st, 2012 11:51 am

    no no no….I wasn’t talking about you personally….I assume you have that confidence….aren’t i correct?

    I mean, discussions about who’s view is right and who’s is wrong seem,
    on the whole, pretty juvenile from a practitioner’s p.o.v., don’t they?

  44. James Elliott on June 1st, 2012 2:01 am

    I don’t know that I have met people with that kind of confidence, John. Mostly it looks like arrogance, dependent on there being people without it. I don’t believe what the Regent once said, that “The only true happiness is confidence” is actually true.

    But I have met lots of folks, milling about after a feast practice, at various events, but not only Buddhist, sometimes a carpenter or plumber who’s fixing something at home, or at a store who seem to have some kind of spark, I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but maybe it’s a chink in the armor, like they’re not as frozen. It’s like a tgs flash in spite of ourselves. The sun shines a little brighter.

    That’s kind of what tipped me over into applying to seminary way back when. It wasn’t the grand scale absolute reality confidence spiel that seemed to imply we could hot wire reality, even control the gods, it was the people milling about after feasts who seemed to have some spark about them, like a little more awake. Outwardly just as neurotic, but… a little more awake.

    If it’s confidence that encourages that, then fine. Sometimes I think I have it but sometimes, John, I feel like a quivering ball of neurosis (and I thought I’d get to leave that behind) but am trying to have confidence that that too is what it is.

    In the inspiration that “Precise thinking is a limitation to creative freedom.”
    (S.J. Lec)

  45. James Elliott on June 2nd, 2012 8:29 am


    Forgot but wanted to add, as regards juvenility, I think we are dancing around exactly the same fire.

    In a teaching situation with highly dedicated and aspiring students, talking about one view being superior to another might be just the ticket, but that’s a method one probably ought to use judiciously. Trungpa Rinpoche for example whenever talking about the ‘higher realms’ always included the caveat that we not forget the Hinayana, explaining that preceding stages were built on the foundation – not in contradiction – with previous stages. The stages were, he said, not merely related to each other by virtue of being ‘Buddhist’, but were entirely dependent on one another.

    However, in social situations, discussions and whatnot, any thing that smacks of oneupmanship is not only not dharma, it isn’t even polite behavior.

    In the inspiration that “Not everything on the surface is superficial”. (S.J.Lec)