The Net of Speech

July 7, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Here’s some of what is being said and discussed on the world wide web, that may be of interest to RFS readers. We will periodically share links to other web sites, weblogs and networks. 

Not all these sites offer opportunities for  commenting, so feel free to speak up here.

Before, during, and after feeling this freedom, however…  please rest your mind – in whatever your best expression of practice is – and continue to share that! 

The listings below are in no particular order.

Shambhala Times: Shambhala Vision, Forward Vision
Lisa Johnston describes the Shambhala Vision Campaign. Bill Karelis requests financial transparency of the Sakyong’s Foundation.


Shambhala Times Nourishing the Third Jewel: A Letter from our Guest Editors
Mary Whetsell and Debbie Coats write on sangha and community: Susan Szpakowski and Suzanne (?) respond.


Church of Shambhala Vajradhara Maitreya Sangha
Remember the kid tulku in the movie Little Buddha? This is he.


Shambhala Times: Scorpion Seal Opens
“lifting a mist that has been hanging over the terma for decades.”


Gomde Danmark Sangha: East-West, West-East by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche comments on the recent Is Tibetan Buddhism working in the West article.


Gesar Mukpo’s Tulku trailer.


14 Responses to “The Net of Speech”

  1. Edward on July 11th, 2009 11:29 am

    Susan Szpakowski writes:
    In Halifax our sangha community is deeply fragmented and we’re not talking about it, as a community. Not long ago I asked a Desung, “Do you think our community as a whole is healthy?” He thought for a few moments then said, “The community that gathered (at the then-recent) Garsung was doing just fine.”

    For some reason this reminds me of a book I read once about community. The author proposed that a community can pass through four phases:

    (I have to warn that, if I recall correctly, this book comes from a Christian background, so Buddhists may find these ideas foreign or uncomfortable. lol.)

    The first phase is “pseudo community”. This is where the community provides a sense of security, and seems to be working correctly. You know what to expect, people are agreeable and polite, and there are comfortable reference points. The downside is that no one truly listens to each other, opens up to one another, or learns much from each other.

    Some communities spend decades in this level, but sometimes a community will either quickly or slowly fall into the next phase: “chaos”. I think this is self-explanatory. Disagreements, all that stuff.

    The next dreaded phase the author called “emptiness”. At this phase, everything has fallen apart. The community has “failed”. Often a leader will appear (either here or in the “chaos” phase) to rescue the community and restore it back to the phase of “pseudo-community”, much to everyone’s relief.

    Also, some people will leave– here or in the chaos phase– and find a new community that is doing well, back at the pseudo-community phase. Because in this phase the community is not doing anything to keep you from feeling your own pain, and it’s not even providing the entertainment and stimulation of the chaos phase.

    If people are willing to tolerate the “emptiness” phase, there is the possibility that the next phase could emerge, which the author simply calls “community”. However no leader can lead the group into this phase; an unskilled leader will re-create the pseudo-community phase.

    I found this book fascinating, and I’ve experienced all four of these phases at different times, though the last two are quite rare. I think without full understanding, people can even relinquish the fourth phase and jump back to the first two.

    The book is “A Different Drum” by M. Scott Peck, and it was highly recommended by my old teacher. I remember it being an earthy book full of real-life stories.

    P.S. The interesting thing is that, if you try to bypass the “chaos” phase to get to the “emptiness” phase, or bypass the emptiness phase to get to the final phase… it turns out you end up back in the first phase: pseudo-community.

  2. Edward on July 11th, 2009 5:16 pm

    Susan Szpakowski writes:

    For all our insights into ultimate and relative truth, I don’t perceive that the Shambhala community has ever had a lot of understanding or skill about community itself.

    This is very interesting.

    When VCTR first came to the west, I’ve heard he was critical of the “armchair philosopher” version of Buddhism that he found. You know what I mean? I don’t think anyone sets out to be an armchair philosopher, but I think truths can easily become cerebral and abstract if they are not grounded in our daily lives with other people.

    There was another excellent text that my teacher recommended: “A Place Called Community”, by Parker J. Palmer– a Quaker, I believe. In this small booklet, he describes differences he sees between “true” and “false” community, and describes some popular myths people have about community:

    Another myth tells us that community equals utopia, that in easy access to one another supportive relationships will result and we will find ourselves brothers and sisters again. But community always means the collision of egos. It is less like utopia than like a crucible or a refiner’s fire.

    In this process God wants us to learn something about ourselves, our limits, our need for others. In this process there is the pain of not getting our way, but the promise of finding the Way.

    Wow, that’s well put, I think. But what about leadership, hierarchy? Are you suggesting we throw those out with the bathwater?

    I don’t think so. My old teacher envisioned his community as having a hierarchical dimension– structure, leadership, rules, and so on– but also another dimension that was not hierarchical at all, like a town meeting where everyone had an equal voice, where human agreements could be made, conflicts aired, all that kind of stuff.

    He often said community discipline was one of the places where the rubber met the road, one of the things that separated “talking-school” people or armchair philosophers from people who actually were serious about practice, in concrete living terms, you know, joining your heaven with your earth.

  3. John Tischer on July 12th, 2009 10:03 am

    In the old days it was a community…now it’s an organization. When there were few enough people, eveyone knew each other and there was more access to VCTR. The Vidyadjara would meet with the leaders of each center to work out even small areas of conflict. This was not possible in later years as it is not possible now.

  4. John Castlebury on July 12th, 2009 11:58 am

    [VCTR composed this poem at “Karme Choling, Vermont, 1970” and it’s among Rinpoche’s unpublished poetry:]


    Our common ground is that point where both parties agree,
    which is more significant than signing on the dotted line.
    That point could short-circuit and explode.
    Mutual silence might be regarded as round-table conference.
    But mutual impatience could blow up you and your colleague
    in hypocrisy.
    You know you can’t attend your own burial –
    Victory over hypocrisy is dynamite –
    In terms of eating up your body by the tail.

  5. madeline schreiber on July 27th, 2009 7:05 pm


    I think it is generally understood that people’s views need to be heard. However there are the outer, inner and secret ways of hearing.

    On the outer, one may offer their email address, even their phone number to everyone. One may listen and read everything. One may feel, “Good, that person has been heard. Mission accomplished. Good bye. Hang up. Delete. However that is only one third of the leadership person’s job if s/he is committed to a more enlightened level of communication.

    On the inner, that leadership person has much work to do. S/he needs to contemplate deeply, for as long as it takes, the questions: what is this devoted student telling me, does it sound true or not, could this really be a helpful piece of advice even if it means changing something which I previously believed was right and have already implemented. Since that leadership person has more of an overview of how things are functioning s/he needs to see how and where good suggestions can be implemented, and work on the path of skillful means to do the on the ground work of implementation. And very important, this person needs to respond to the person who has made the effort and often courage to express themselves to hierarchy. I have had the experience all to often, of spending hours of heartfelt contemplation and typing to offer what my intelligence tells me is useful, and hearing absolutely nothing back. Not even a thank you. That kind of silence in our spiritual organization is worse than deafening. It is deadening.

    On the secret, that leadership person needs to feel deeply and genuinely grateful that anyone is sending ideas. Every mind is brilliant, every sangha heart beats mantra and pumps the rigdens’ blood. Every one in our line has been soaked in the love blessings of drala. Leadership people are blessed to receive all this. They need to reciprocate accordingly so that the flow of enlightened energy will not be cut.

    In the spirit that “visualization without implementation is hallucination” (I am quoting somebody here, but I don’t remember who m .).

    m. from
    Nova Scotia

  6. damchö on July 27th, 2009 7:39 pm

    “And very important, this person needs to respond to the person who has made the effort and often courage to express themselves to hierarchy. I have had the experience all to often, of spending hours of heartfelt contemplation and typing to offer what my intelligence tells me is useful, and hearing absolutely nothing back. Not even a thank you. That kind of silence in our spiritual organization is worse than deafening. It is deadening.”

    Amen Madeline. You have said it. My experience too. And “deadening” is the word, absolutely.

    Your following paragraph is just as sharp and true. Many thanks.

  7. John Tischer on July 27th, 2009 9:41 pm

    Yes…very nice indeed….thank you, Madeline

  8. Chris Keyser on September 4th, 2009 2:09 am

    Everyone should read Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s article above: East-West, West-East.
    It’s superb and hits the bulls-eye.

  9. madeline schreiber on September 4th, 2009 5:52 pm

    Recently James Elliot wrote something on the topic of lying which got me thinking. James was looking for dharma teachings on lying, beyond the basic precept against it. I remember some years ago when Thrangu Rinpoche was teaching here, a student asked which category of klesha did fear belong in. He replied: ignorance.

    I think lying is a subset of fear. We are generally experiencing a low level background anxiety which may become a kind of paranoia sometimes. Most of us are ever ready to lie, to put a curve on the truth, in order to protect ourselves from this constant feeling of threat. So, I think lying is an expression of fear and ignorance.

  10. madeline schreiber on September 8th, 2009 4:27 pm

    Book Classes

    I’d like to share the excellent experience I have had with book classes. There is no bureaucracy to deal with in offering book classes; they can be done from your room, flat or home. And a book class does not cost any money.

    I have done three of them: two on Shambhala Sacred Path of the Warrior and one on Training the Mind. Chapters 1-10 of Sacred Path are the backbone of Shambhala Training levels l – V, so this book class was extremely attractive and helpful to the people doing those levels. It provided another format to go more deeply into the material. These classes were all very rich, lively and fun.

    After one of the Sacred Path classes no less than eight of the fifteen participants took refuge! To be sure, they were doing other programs as well, but I know that the relaxed atmosphere and intimacy provided by book class contributed to their decision to take that step.

    I would study the chapter ahead of time, prepare 15-20 minutes of remarks, and then open it for discussion. In that relaxed atmosphere the most brilliant beginners’ mind insights were revealed and shared by all of us.

    I started off the classes myself because that’s what was comfortable and useful for the participants. However, I think if I go further with this format and do it more frequently then a participant may volunteer now and then to take the lead. I hope for that as that will give people the confidence to hold book classes on their own. No permission or credentials are needed for book classes. One may use any book that has been published to get together and discuss among friends.

  11. Michael Sullivan on September 8th, 2009 5:04 pm

    To my way of thinking, this “home schooling” “home-style dharma” or “book club” situation is the most subversive activity there is. The flattest hierarchy you can find in a teacher – student setup, no curriculum guidelines, no vetting as to credentials or lack thereof, just opening your home and your heart to people interested in meditation. It also implies a trust in what you have learned and a certain amount of courage…!

    Doubtless there are many who would be horrified by this…. “How dare they?…. who are you to presume to blah blah blah”. Personally, I think it is brilliant. And about time!!

  12. madeline schreiber on January 23rd, 2010 8:19 am


    Lifetimes after lifetimes
    It could look like that
    Rolling by like mala beads
    Death and birth
    Birth and death
    One before the other
    Then another after
    Now one leads
    Now one follows
    All in their appointed orders
    Good karma, bad karma
    Leading and following
    Tearing up time
    One and the same

    Pleasing sounds of clicking beads
    Holy fragrance of lifetimes past
    Released by thousand year old incense
    Rising on thin streams of smoke
    The discipline of every moment
    Visions of smoke and butter lamps
    The guilelessness of hearts’ simplicity
    Faith is the heart of what we do

    Whose nose is it that smells this now
    Whose mouth and stomach starved for food
    Whose skin burned and whose skin shivered
    Whose eyes cry tears both then and now
    Whose bottom presses rocks for comfort
    Whose sweat washes the fruits for the children
    Whose voices cry for others’ pain
    Many pitches merge in devotion
    Many voices chant with us

    A great ocean of devotion
    Filled with love of many disciples
    Holding together on windy seas
    Praying not to lose their shape
    Cracking up on rocky shores
    Of panic stricken continents
    Not to let the hot sun drink our moisture
    We need the moisture to make our tears

    Where’s the bliss I heard about
    I counted the beads and did the chants
    Where is it? Why can’t I find it?
    Is it before each moment of lonliness?
    I take refuge in crazy wisdom

    To follow the path of crazy wisdom
    Which was laid out for us so clear
    A red ribbon road of endless curves
    Blood red, we have to face it
    We take refuge in crazy wisdom

    Even if the day is lightless
    Even if the night is darkless
    With every being known or unknown
    With every being seen or unseen
    Open to all we do not know
    We have faith in crazy wisdom

    January 2010
    Nova Scotia

    [-Faith is the heart of what we do- is from a
    a recent post from Brian Ali.]

    [I heard the words darkless and lightless somewhere;
    I don’t remember where.]

  13. Andrew Safer on January 23rd, 2010 9:07 pm

    In response to what Madeline wrote about Book Clubs on this thread…

    At the St. John’s Shambhala Centre we have a discussion group every Wednesday night after meditation. A quote from Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa is circulated via e-mail in advance. We read it aloud and contemplate it, read it aloud again, and one by one, go around the circle, saying whatever comes to mind in relation to the quote, then open it up to further discussion.

    The discussion is like the many facets of a diamond reflecting its brilliance.

  14. Andrew Safer on January 24th, 2010 3:51 pm

    The complete reference to the Ocean of Dharma book is:

    Trungpa, Chogyam. Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa. Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, 2008.