Just Sitting

September 11, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post


What’s emerging for me is that it may be time to collect and point to, as well as study and practice, the classic teachings and meditation instructions of Chögyam Trungpa, and make them available in a clean, simple, accessible manner.

For example, to start with:

  • how to sit (shamatha/vipashyana)
  • how to do a short sitting practice 
  • how to do a day-long sitting practice (nyin-thun)
  • how to do a week-long or month-long practice (I think that Bill Karelis has done this for his “Just Sitting” week-thuns)

This also implies:

  • how to find a meditation instructor
  • how to find others to practice and study with
What do you think?


21 Responses to “Just Sitting”

  1. Michael Sullivan on September 11th, 2008 5:07 pm

    This is very important – it is a key difference between the old and the new teaching systems ( as i understand them – admittedly not too well in terms of the new one…)

    It would also lay the groundwork for new students to learn meditation, in a Trungpa-centric way, outside the existing container.

    Trungpa Rinpoche show so much confidence in his students by giving them instructions that brought together shamatha and vipassana right from the first!

  2. Chris Keyser on September 12th, 2008 1:30 am

    For sadhakas, we can expand “just sitting” shamatha-vipashana meditation practice to mahamudra and trek chod instruction on resting in and recognition of the nature of mind.

  3. James Elliott on September 12th, 2008 2:55 am

    It would be interesting to give a short synopsis, without much twist, as to what the differences actually are. I don’t have an overview but I think there are differences in method, but also perhaps differences in the attitude or view one adopts, and how the aim of the practices are defined, like uncovering the true nature of mind, versus making the mind work for you sort of thing.

    There is also something touched on with this theme with:
    “how to find a meditation instructor ”
    “how to find others to practice and study with. ”

    It sounds very practical and grounded to just get together with others to meditate. But at some point there would have to be the idea of path, something collectively and individually aspired to, that can be understood and contemplated, that others have discovered and have shown us ways to explore, hence meditation and in fact lineage altogether. Without that sense of path from teachings that were given and received, why would a group of people get together at all?

    That leads seamlessly to notions about how the path is structured, how it is taught, naturally, but also what kinds of institutions or organizations one is thereby joining one’s efforts with. And to what extent?

    That leads to other questions about loyalty or acceptance of authority, and so forth. Further, how much of one’s involvement in the organizations or group has to do with one’s own path and understanding the true meaning, and how much of it has to do with supporting the group? Does one’s path and the institutional structures need to be in agreement all the time?

    What happens when they are not?

    In the inspiration of journey without a goal,

    James Elliott

  4. Suzanne Duarte on September 12th, 2008 6:37 am

    These are wonderful ideas – to get back to basics. Many of the early training materials for meditation instructors and teachers would be essential, from my point of view. But the ‘view’ that VCTR presented in his ‘teachers of the lineage’ early seminars, and his early H-M seminary transcripts, would also be important. This sounds like a wonderful project for collaboration. There are probably quite a lot of old Vajradhatu Practice and Study documents that could be gathered and preserved to provide the ‘authoritative ground’ for ‘just sitting.’ These could be scanned and digitized and made available to authorized persons – those who actually received those trainings – who could use them to train others, the next generation. Of course a few copyright negotiations might be necessary.

    Thanks, Mark, for your refreshing idea!

  5. Suzanne Townsend on September 12th, 2008 7:57 am

    Where could we hold practice sessions?
    Maybe some baby boomer who’s kids have left home and don’t want to downsize could offer up a single room for practicing. I could do that… my living room is the right size and the teens are almost never here anymore.
    Public events could be held for free at places like the YMCA, or, much better environment, United Way. Also at high schools and community centres everywhere.
    A long time ago (5 years?) I had an idea that we could have a site (hmmmn) where previously qualified meditation instructors could post their names and numbers for students sign-up. This went along with a grander plan that everyone who sat or considered themselves Shambhalians (membership not required) would receive a small sign for their window (like the Block Parents sign or the No Milk Today sign) that indicates that the home is currently occupied by a meditator available for instruction or practice. Also maybe a sticker for their front door or window, like the current “Smoke Free Home” stickers. My idea went on to include different icons for different “services” — eg all that is available is a free room for meditation; another icon sticker for meditation instruction; another icon sticker for discussion group meetings; etc.

  6. rita ashworth on September 12th, 2008 2:11 pm

    Yes – just sitting would be a great idea………………believe org needs to get back to basics……………….the samatha trust ……..org in the UK (theravadin)is very low key organisation offering samatha instruction by westerners – its quite popular over here.

    …………….you know when you reckon up all the cost of the si levels and programs no wonder people are deterred from being with SI……..you know I think I could have bought half a house with the money I have spent on progs with SI/vajradhatu…………………dont want other people to do that want the teachings to be accessible…………….believe then buildings would just materialise naturally……………….some groups in the Uk have just been given buildings ……………….khandro ling in Macclesfield, cheshire was just given to people to practice the dharma ( you can google it -if you wish)

    …………people in ns would also get a buildings/land I believe……….if groups started forming…………………….outside of si……………………if you dream it – it will come – why wait for SI to make its plans and other stuff …………one could be waiting years……………!!!!!????

  7. Barbara Blouin on September 12th, 2008 3:57 pm

    In the olden days, in places where I lived and practiced, there was always a nyinthun on Sunday, and it was always (or almost) in the shrine room. Makes sense, eh? Lots of people came to sit and it was a community event.

    Even after I moved to Halifax (27 years ago) nyinthuns were in the shrine room. I don’t know when the shift took place, it was probably gradual, but nyinthuns started getting bumped from the shrine room. They were held in the Snow Lion room, on the main floor, which is the second “best” community room at the Shambhala Centre, but it isn’t a shrine room.

    Now (I just found out) nyinthuns have been relegated to the basement — the Tiger room. I’m quite sure there was no intention to cut nyinthuns out of better practice spaces. The reality is that the Shambhala Centre is extremely busy almost all the time. There are all kinds of programs and classes and meetings and other activities, including other kinds of practice, such as Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara feasts and Werma practice, and so on. As far as I know, feasts are held in the shrine room. (If you have never been to the Halifax Shambhala Centre, the shrine room is quite large and very beautiful.)
    I admit that I haven’t been to a nyinthun for a long time, so I don’t know how well attended they are. Maybe attendance is pretty thin. But it saddens me that they are now in the basement, in a room that is a multi-purpose room, where various large objects are stored, in which I have never felt a sense of sacredness. It’s kind of makeshift.
    It would be interesting to hear from others where nyinthuns are held in your centres. There are so many weekend programs here, primarily Shambhala Training levels (which people must pay up to attend) that our most basic, totally free, and, to me, most important practice has been relegated to the basement. It says a lot about the priorities of the leadership, both at our own centre, and the Sakyong and his staff at Shambhala International, which is also housed in the same overcrowded building.
    I heartily second the motion that those who want to do shamatha practice together and offer it to others in a somewhat uplifted environment could put their minds together and offer nyinthuns, as well as shorter sessions of shamatha, in people’s homes and so on.

  8. Aba Cecile McHardy on September 15th, 2008 10:41 am

    Just DO it.
    In Boston some years ago when the old dharmadhatu was sold and a new space not yet acquired Sam & Hazel Bercholz simply invited Sadhakas to celebrate Sadhana Feast days with them in their lovely home. No hassles.
    Not ‘wishy-washy’. To the extent that we have embodied the teachings
    willy nilly we cannot help manifesting it in our ordinary lives.
    Since 1996 as an urban yogi, and an Old Dog, [term comes from HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche] just happen to offer mentorship: keep Open House at my apartment, on Thursdays, all day, anybody, everybody invited as guests, no need for appointments. There is no fee. Am not a ‘teacher’ am not collecting students, organic, word of mouth – auspicious karmic connections with a host of spiritual friends/family. Simple. Ordinary.
    Share books, see films, do theatre, share meals. If folk request it, give refuge, bodhisattva vows etc [its rather like being asked to stand as ‘witness’ to their commitment and trust in their basic goodness, intelligence and sanity]. Am asked sometimes to marry people. Do not hold to any notion of equality, inferiority, superiority but rather celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of beings. According to the time, place, individual[s] involved, ‘ pointing out ‘ the nature of mind happens. Yes!TGS. Give ngondro and other instructions. Reciprocity – listening, hearing, sharing our journeys and our stories.
    There is a danger of reifying ‘practice’ or ‘just sitting’. As Christine K points out – shamatha vipassyana can mature – the mahamudra investigations, trek chod etc. There is no generic answer – one authentic way.
    Listened to Waylan Lewis interview Reggie Ray on the Elephant site and it is as IF Reggie had invented some new ‘weird’ was the word he used. As if it contradicts the ‘corporate’ dicta on HOW TO. When in fact there are umpteen ways – instructions about ‘gaze’, about ‘breath’, obstacles and antidotes so that I don’t care how many pins and assemblies you have to your credit, or which generation of dharma brat you are, its missing the point, missing it entirely, if ‘meditation’ means ‘just sitting’ – your way! And you are not ticking and clicking with AWAKE in the wwworld where there is even a practice, Oh Noh! of NO moh MEDITATION. ha ha ha.

    The wisdom Is not the ‘intellectual property’ of any country or culture, to be protected by ‘copy rights’ – committed to writing some copy ‘wrong’.

    [Black Mamo indulging in a bit of wrathful ranting].
    There are folk who have had voice training, our Divas y’know? musicians skilled in wind instruments familiar with circular breathing, hence profound understanding for example of the ‘ Vase Breath’.
    So ‘ pace’ dear brother Mark who years ago took me out to the Ball Game at Fenway Park affording me my single experience of what that particular religious passion is about :
    please remember the 46 Unskillful acts of a bodhisattva, which applies as well to any shambhala warrior:-)
    fyi quote some: Contradicting:
    the paramita of meditation: [attachment to the flavor of meditation and regarding it as a virtue].
    the paramita of knowledge: [renouncing mahayana and practicing hinayana]
    and of course the special applications for those with siddhis:
    [not striking down those who distort the path] and ha ha ha
    [not using miracles and clairvoyance when they are appropriate in order to teach].
    Jusr do your thing.
    And if being ‘grumpy’ is your thing there’s a place for EEyore. Anybody here ever visit The Worst Horse site. Laughter is a healthy practice.

  9. Mark Szpakowski on September 15th, 2008 10:58 am

    Dear Aba,

    Re baseball at Fenway Park, you’re probably thinking of Mark Nowakowski 🙂

    I very much agree that we have to be willing to meet the person and the situation, which may blow apart how we _thought_ we could relate, or what we thought we could say, or instruct, or not say or instruct. Bottom on the lineage gomden; palm open with the open space of sharing the teachings’ heart.

    My bottom line for this is Prahevajra’s instructions to Manjushrimitra (Wellsprings of the Great Perfection, p 285):

    “Learn to perfection the teachings of my pith instructions.

    Then compose a teaching that is linked with your personal experience.”

    – Mark Szpakowski

  10. Michael Sullivan on September 15th, 2008 12:08 pm

    Home Style Dharma – practice outside of institutions – seems to me to be the way to move forward.

    In Milwaukee, Robin Kornman for a number of years would have essentially an open practice session at his home on a set day of the week. It was easier for him, and also kept him outside of the politics of the local Shambhala Center. he even taught a regular class in a similar fashion, teaching from the dharma he had learned from Trungpa Rinpoche.

    My wife and I have done a similar thing since the early 90’s. With a severely disabled child it was difficult for us to go to any centers, so we did it home style, and invited others to practice with us if they wished. We put pictures of all our teachers on the shrine.

    Neither Robin nor my wife and I presumed the permission / realization to give Direct Introduction, but that issue was solved by creating the “Ad Hoc Rime Committee” and inviting Wangdor Rinpoche to town on many occasions – those of you who attended his teachings in Halifax or Boulder might remember him. Apparently it caused a bit of a stir when he insisted on allowing anyone to attend, regardless of experience. We had to learn to trust in the self-secret aspect of the dzogchen teachings.

    total agreeance on the Prahevajra / Garab Dorje quote from Mark….

  11. Jim Wilton on September 20th, 2008 6:10 pm

    These are worthwhile discussions. I think that the differences in shamatha meditation instruction, while important, are less important than having a connection with community that gets you to the cushion.

    A good meditation instructor can make suggestions for varying aspects of the technique that can create subtle and profound changes in view. CTR gave varying instructions. Sometimes these were instructions to particular students. He also changed the generic instructions for his meditation instructors to use with students at different points in his life. Generally.if a student is sitting regularly — and particularly if he or she has contact with sangha and with a good meditation instructor, the initial instruction (coumting breaths, raised or lowered gaze, eyes open or closed etc.) will be less important.

    Devaputra mara (getting to the cushion) is the biggest obstacle in early years on the path. So creating an environment with regular opportunities for group practice is very helpful. Here in Boston, we have open houses Wednesday nights with 30 to 50 people attending regularly. Our Sunday nyinthuns (mornings only) have eight to 15 people regularly and a well coordinated staff of umdzes, MIs, and greeters/hospitality. We also have evening meditation on other weeknights — although that is newer and less well attended.

    So, if the point is to study CTR’s shamatha instructions, that is great. If the point is to imply that new students at Shambhala centers aren’t getting correct instructions for shamatha, I disagree. And I worry that encouraging isolated individuals to practice some “pure” form of practice without the benefit of sangha does more harm than good. However, if people are practicing, there is plenty of room for mistakes and insights of all kinds.

  12. rita ashworth on September 29th, 2008 10:56 am

    interesting discussion on dharmabrats website about how shambhala should go forward between Gesar and Ashoka and others

    is at ‘Not Psyched on Shambhala. Looking to my future. ‘ thread

    -did not know where to mention it on this website…………so put it here………..interested in discussion of the monarchs power re the ‘peoples power’ ………………..perhaps could start up similar discussion here


    rita ashworth

  13. Michael Sullivan on September 29th, 2008 12:04 pm

    Very interesting. I wonder if Gesar has dropped by here lately. I felt like posting but I am far too old to be a brat…. and I am a first generation student. So in many ways I felt like the geezer going to his kid’s facebook page… vaguely guilty but looking for insight!

    BTW, I am a geezer, but don’t go to my kids’ facebook page!! TMI

  14. Mark Szpakowski on September 29th, 2008 2:46 pm

    Gesar Mukpo has made two comments here so far (more or less dissing, I would say), one on the Namkha Drimed post, one on Slow on the Uptake. He’s been running the DharmaBrats forum for years – age not a barrier to joining there and posting, just as age is not a barrier here.

    The not-psyched thread is at http://dharmabratsforum.yuku.com/topic/1259/t/Not-Psyched-on-Shambhala-Looking-to-my-future.html . He clearly feels the same issues that many people here do.

  15. Suzanne Duarte on September 30th, 2008 3:16 pm

    I just read the thread at http://dharmabratsforum.yuku.com/topic/1259/t/Not-Psyched-on-Shambhala-Looking-to-my-future.html – thanks Rita and Mark for the tip. This was quite enlightening and refreshing, as it seems that the young tulkus – including Ashoka (Whitey Tulku) – and their friends are really wrestling with fundamental issues. Gesar says:

    “We simply don’t need a Sakyong any more. We don’t need a president. At this point all we need is a place for people to mediate and to preserve the teachings of the Vidyadhara. If we don’t succeed at that it’s actually not a big deal. It’s in our hands to be decent, and to remember the heart of seeking the truth of what we are.”

    “It’s a matter of cutting the ties to what presents itself easily and searching for what you want to be. In my case what I desire is a genuine experience and that experience seems to point away from much of what is going on in the Shambhala community. Look I’m sure to get in a lot of %%#* for saying what I am saying but as I stated getting upset at what I am saying runs against the very spirit of being a spiritual seeker. People can have very different experiences and we must respect that.

    In my case my path seems to pull me away from something I am very close to, and that is something worth noting as it is a major shift for me. There is tremendous heartbreak with the situation and a desire for something without question. Maybe we will all wake up.”

    “I think it bears questioning where the boundaries of the kingdom start. I see the boundaries as being the entire world, as opposed to the fringes of the Sakyong’s community.

    From that point of view there is a lot more freedom to question an unhealthy monarch in a quest to bring sanity to the whole world. It’s our duty even. The entire philosophy behind the Shambhala vision is global sanity. We have a tough task ahead of us and we should do it right.

    I’m just making sure I don’t force anyone to support a monarch, who is possibly missing the point, in their quest for self discovery.

    It is very important to take a look at what CTR had in mind, and a good starting place is by examining what he taught that strikes a chord with us.
    For me it is the vastness of a non-Buddhist Shambhala world vision.”

    This gives me hope!


  16. Rita Ashworth on October 3rd, 2008 6:20 am

    this following letter to President Reoch is changing the flavour of this discussion somewhat but I sent it to the Dot and as I cant get the Dot I dont know if it has been published. Primarily interested in what people think re the notion of the Vidyadharas conception of a National Assembly and the present Shambhala Congress -seems from emails that I have had from Richard that he and the Sakyong believe they are the same thing-not so sure about this myself.

    Sort of all my life interested in politics and the expression of politics in forming an enlightened society-perhaps because in the UK I have seen such abuse of power by governments and authorities and how it affects people……………..and also of course the lack of ones own power due to class and environment which is such a waste of peoples feelings and strength……………..even when I lived in Nova Scotia saw such abuses happening-take a visit to the Nova Scotia legislature -saw the speaker practicing favouritism to the ruling Liberal party one time. Plus of course ‘Irving Land’ aka New Brunswick and the hold that rich individuals have on the exercise of the media……………….

    plus politics and just sitting are related -even just sitting who are the people providing the resources – often middle class people who just want to do the levels and advance in their practice…………….sometimes I often thought of the London Shambhala Centre in the UK as the Shambhala Club …….people reinforcing their own egos -very polite and English (hope things have changed!?)
    …………..I thought things would have been different in NS but even with such a large amount of Buddhists/Shambhalians you get group think…….
    when I went to seminary I got a book with stuff in it about the Communist Manifesto and Mary Queen of Scots death -people were really exposed to thinking about forms of government…………………so hope I can hear more about what you picture a National Assembly to be – the following letter to Richard Reoch is a bit mad in places and slightly grandstanding but maybe drama is good sometimes – but on the whole not too bad…

    Open letter to President Richard Reoch

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you again for your brief reply about Chogyam Trungpa Riponche’s view of a National Assembly and the Shambhala Congress being one and the same entity after your discussion with the Sakyong.

    However, your reply still does not clear up the point that Trungpa Rinpoche wanted voting for centre representatives to happen for a National Assembly which is not now happening for the Shambhala Congress.

    Voting for what you may ask – voting in the sense that everyone should have the choice of who they send to the National Assembly or Congress.

    Why am I so emphatic on the question of voting because I like discussions, argument, questioning to occur in peoples minds – the voting process focuses issues one pointedly. In addition we need people to state in a clear manner whether we disagree with what is occuring in the hierarchy. Perhaps at times also we need to say No to the Sakyong as Trungpa said No the Regent.

    On another point my mind has been revolving around the schism and splits re the recent departure of Ray. What does schism really mean and why do people fear the word? In the past schism split people’s world asunder and excommunication in the west meant you were destitute and on the fringes of society. With Shambhala International it now simply means that you don’t get your practice goodies which does indeed still have the tendency to panic some people but it shouldn’t because you are Buddha already.

    I have studied schisms in the west – it all depends on which side of the argument you are on. In the UK the monasteries faded because simply people had access to new ideas through the revolution in the written word – they no longer took the Church as the sole authority in their lives. There was an explosion of new ideas from the ridiculousness of people walking round naked in a supposed new Garden of Eden to the honesty of some monarchs trying to traverse the great religions of Catholicism and Protestantism.

    Recently I have been rereading the Great Eastern Sun – the Wisdom of Shambhala to get some handle on Shambhala governance – in the passage below Trungpa Rinpoche puts himself on the side of one of the UK’s great schismatic’s – George Fox of the Society of Friends:

    “George Fox, the Quaker who lived n the 1600s, in his own way introduced the notion of meditation. In those days, you couldn’t get married with out saying a prayer. But George Fox simply said “there is not going to be any prayer.” The bride and the bridegroom are going to sit in silence and get married in that silence” Isn’t that revolutionary especially for that time in history?”

    So the question is what is really schismatic and what is spiritual renewal. Myself I think the reformation was a tremendous time for the UK with the foment of new ideas – so perhaps Ray is renewing spiritual practice- time will tell but he’s still worth a visit and a listening to for Shambhala.

    The teachings have definately come to the west – schisms abound – the point though for Shambhala like any church is though what they mean for them. Why not empower people to give full ngondro transmission to others – why not have seminaries happening in multiple areas of the world. Even the Catholic Church has Cardinals which have power over their own districts. I believe Trungpa Rinpoche wanted westerners to fully embody the teachings to the point of giving the transmission to others in the west even Milarepa had several main students there was not only Gampopa – the wayward Rechungpa also thrived under his tuition.

    Trungpa’s teachings and transmissions in the Shambhala vaults are our birthright – our Buddha taught with an open heart and an open hand not based on wealth or riches. Myself I believe we need to exclude no-one – why not have a commonwealth of Trungpa’s foremost teachers overseen by a Shambhala Council of Ethics that would be a way forward – we could be different in our traditions but we could also be inclusive.This way people who have the ability and qualities to give transmission could do so.

    I think this all I have to say at the present time. I look forward to your reply.

    Yours in the Dharma

    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  17. Aba Cecile McHardy on October 8th, 2008 6:15 pm

    Salutations to all you lovelies from a gnu who has NPOV. Some of you may know or remember Craig Warren Smith who twice? thrice offered Mudra Space Awareness intensive experiential programs on Fire Island – the venue chosen partly because the NYSC was reticent about hosting a program advertised for GLT’s and PFLAG’s [forgive the acronyms]. Over 100 participants – very diverse – from different schools & traditions – multi multi ethnic meaning you know what:-);
    Share here a link regarding his GLOBAL impact – Spiritual Computing which takes the conversation beyond the politics of SI. What IS the impact of this new technology on consciousness, can it be used for the benefit of beings in propagating awareness of the nature of ultimate reality? His ‘probes’ are wide ranging – Sacred world, Openess, Empowerment, Creativity ..and much more. Commend for your contemplation:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8861921744631693652

    Ashe in Joyful Hopelessness.

  18. Rita Ashworth on October 10th, 2008 8:45 am

    Aka the present financial crisis and the Sakyongs address to the Shambhala community on it – we have in the UK the Archbishop of Canterbury who is able to speak to the country through the House of Lords as an unelected member.(tho I think he is a closet socialist).

    This is interesting I was always impressed by the Churchs defence of the poor in Thatchers Britain in the 80s and the academics at Oxford University who refused her an honorary degree because of her policies.

    What does this mean for Shambhala? It means if we as an organisation are to be taken more seriously we will have to take some stand on these issues as Trungpa did on the use of nuclear weapons when he said he would kill that person who was about to press that button. We can not be vague in setting out a view of how an enlightened society should evolve. We need to emphasise rights for all in regard to education, access to free healthcare and human rights.(and of course meditation which holds the whole thing together!)

    This entry is interwoven with just sitting because when you get up from that cushion you see so much more suffering in the world. Even Karl Springer with his knowledge of Vajra politics emphasised that our centres should have a wider political impact on society. Why not join forces with other religious organisations to foster a different viewpoint than the business model that now predominates within the world and sometimes within Shambhala itself.

    Craig Smiths lecture is a good exposition of how technology could help us in the realm of social issues but we also need a discussion ot how shambhala politics could impact on a world in a most detailed way.

    the website for the Church of England is as follows:

    (there is also an article entitled ‘Archbishop – Protect the Poorest From the Effects of Economic Downturn’ which is interesting to read and extremely crisp and clear and maybe relevant to economic events in Canada.)

    The Church of England | Church of EnglandOfficial site: Covers liturgy (including daily prayers), history, mission, issues, news and links. Also includes a church finder database.
    http://www.cofe.anglican.org/ – 14k – Cached – Similar pages

    Happy reading


    Rita Ashworth

  19. Mark Hazell on October 27th, 2008 2:36 pm

    While I can completely understand that many students of the Vidyadhara would not make a connection with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and furthermore would like to find opportunities for group sitting practice, I have a much harder time understanding the issue about technique or the approach to or view about mindfulness / awareness practice. For some time now I have been contemplating the short text the Vidyadhara composed with Michael Hookham on Maha Ati — it can be found in volume one of the collected works. I have found a remarkable symimetry between the approach outlined in that short piece and the meditation instruction provided in the five levels of the Heart of Warriorship (Levels I – V of Shambhala Training). Some people do seem to be able to go directly to the open technique, but I think many more find a more progressive technique helpful — that has certainly been the case with me.

    If the issue is simply that the shrine room is fully booked for other practices — there are so many of them now — then I am fully sympathetic with your aspirations. I certainly thirst for the simplicity of “just sitting” when contemplating the ever expanding list of tantric practices we have been encouraged to do. I would only say that for many of the younger practitioners those short sadhana seem to be very meaningful, inspiring and enlightening.

    Hoping that I have not missed the point entirely,

    Mark Hazell

  20. Keith P. Myers on May 4th, 2009 2:26 pm

    I realize that this is an old discussion, but I have only recently discovered this blogsite. This discussion strikes a chord with me because I live 300 miles from the nearest Shambhala Center. My practice is essentially Soto Zen oriented, but I really resonate with CTR’s Shambhala teachings and Pema Chodron’s books and CD’s. But I cannot attend the formal Shambhala training because it is too far away. So I read, I listen, I have a daily sitting practice, and I apply what I can. This discussion gives me hope that there is a place in the Shambhala community for someone like me. I’m really not interested the more exotic Vajrayana teachings. Right now, for me, the basic Mahayana path is plenty. If I could find some like-minded individuals in my area I would love to start a small sitting/study group that draws its inspiration and guidance from the Shambhala writings. It sounds like this is what this discussion was about.

  21. rita ashworth on May 6th, 2009 4:34 am

    I would contact Shambhala International in Halifax re possible contacts in your area.

    One way of starting a group would be to have a city retreat day on a Saturday or Sunday where you could invite a meditation instructor to give a session on meditation instruction. I wouldn’t charge much for this – there may be churches, particularly the Unitarian church, which would lend you a room for a day for a modest price and I would also check out the local Masonic Hall and community centres.

    The contacts for Shambhala International (Halifax, Canada) would be in the back of the books by Trungpa and the Sakyong.


    rita ashworth