Vajradhara Thangka in Boulder

January 27, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

It appears that the Vajradhara thangka in Boulder, which was commissioned by the Vidyadhara, placed by him over the shrine there, and blessed with the handprints of the 16th Karmapa on the back, will be displaced by the “Rigden thangka”, as has already happened with the Vajradhara and Buddha representations throughout the Shambhala International organization over the last few years.

For the story of the “great Vajradhara thangka”, as we shall refer to it now, and a discussion of its unique place in our mandala, please see the article by Clarke Warren, published at the Chronicles of Chögyam Trungpa website.

In 2000 and 2005, when Dorje Dzong was used as collateral to secure large loans for Shambhala Mountain Center, the Boulder sangha was not consulted. Again, the Boulder community has not been included in the decision making process regarding this change, which is so central to our lineage and to our spiritual direction.

It seems important to offer clear, nonaggressive, honest feedback to the Shambhala Adminstration on matters of such importance to our dharma practice.

Therefore, to spark conversation, below are three questions to contemplate.    Please feel free to offer comments.

  1. Do you feel it is appropriate to remove the great Vajradhara thangka from its current position in Dorje Dzong, Boulder?
  2. What is your personal practice relationship with the Karma Kagyu lineage?
  3. Where do you think this kind of change will lead?

Appeal to Prevent the Vajradhara Thangka in the Boulder Shambhala Center from Being Removed

by Clarke Warren

It is highly probable that the Vajradhara thangka in the main shrine room at the Shambhala Center in Boulder will be removed.  It is to be replaced with a painting of the Primordial Rigdin.  I learned this after having spoken with a member of a committee at the Shambhala Center to study and make suggestions for the redesign of the main shrine room.  From what I was told, one option is for the thangka to be rolled up and put in indefinite storage, although no decision has yet been made as to the fate of the thangka.

Yet since the removal of the Vajradhara thangka has not yet taken place, there is still an opportunity to appeal for the thangka to remain.

The Vajradhara thangka is a paramount embodiment of the teachings and activities of Vidyahara the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche.  He commissioned the thangka, and it was painted by his close friend, the renowned thangka master Sherab Palden Beru. The Vidyadhara placed it at the center of his mandala, composing a profound poem of blessing on the back.  The thangka was also blessed by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, who placed his own handprint on the back of the thangka, a rare and powerful blessing.

For more information on the history and significance of this thangka, please see an article I wrote for the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. The follow-up letter from Mark Nowaskowski presenting the Vidyadhara’s poem of dedication on the back of the thangka, and my follow-up to his comments provide further perspective on the “inner” significance of the thangka. The link to the article is:

I am making an urgent appeal to all and anyone who will register their support for the Vajradhara Thangka to remain as the main shrine object at the Boulder Shambhala Center.  Please support this appeal to the leadership of Shambhala Intl by sending in your own words an appeal for the thangka to remain.  Or you can simply cut and paste, or modify, the following:

“The great thangka of the primordial Buddha Vajradhara in the main shrine room of the Boulder Shambhala Center is a major legacy and continuing embodiment of the life, realization and teachings of Vidyadhara the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the Kagyu lineage.  Please permit the thangka of Vajradhara in the main shrine room of the Boulder Shambhala Center to remain as the main shrine object.”   Signed, your name.

As a second approach, please participate in a discussion of the issue of this thangkas removal on sangha-talk, sadhaka talk, or any other site.

Your appeals can be sent to the following e-mail addresses: (I include my own address at the end, as I would like to document this effort):

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, via his secretary David Brown:

The Kalapa Council, c/o David Brown:

The Shambhala Intl. acharyas:

Secretary for the acharyas:

President of Shambhala Intl. Richard Reoch:

The Sakyong Council:

The Mandala Council:

Ulrike Halpern, Director, Boulder Shambhala Center:

Jim Fladmark, Director, Office of Practice & Education, Boulder Shambhala Center:

The Governing Council, Boulder Shambhala Center: c/o Ulrike Halpern:

The Building Committee of the Boulder Shambhala Center Main Shrine Room, c/o of Steve Vosper:

– Clarke Warren:

The summary of addresses for all the above is:,,,,,,,,,

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter,

Clarke Warren


345 Responses to “Vajradhara Thangka in Boulder”

  1. Sandy on January 28th, 2010 8:39 am

    The removal of the Vajradhara thangka from Dorje Dzong seems to me to be another step in Sakyong Mipham’s fulfillment of his own vision. This is not surprising from an organizational perspective.

    What does surprise me is Shambhala and the Sakyong’s reference to Chogyam Trungpa in nearly every statement and press release. It is not possible for anyone to know where Chogyam Trungpa would have led the organization had he lived. The Sakyong claims special insight. I have no idea whether what he says is true, but I don’t think he’s a liar–although a little too politically-oriented for me. But I’m told that’s My weakness.

    That said, I found it surprising that no one asked me if I wanted to be a Shambhala Buddhist. Shambhala assumed that any student of Chogyam Trungpa–including those of us who considered ourselves Kagyus–would automatically “morph” into Shambhala Buddhists. I don’t think it’s that easy. I took refuge and bodhisattva vows under teachers who were Kagyus. How can I be expected to simply cast off all relationship to the Kagyu lineage? That doesn’t make any sense.

    I am curious to know what will happen to the thangka. Thank you.

  2. richard heilbrunn on January 29th, 2010 5:45 pm

    i have no right to a personal opinion, but i think this is a shame. when we speak of lineage and history, footprints have to remain. IMHO

  3. Ginny Lipson on January 31st, 2010 12:17 am

    What??? I knew this was being planned, but didn’t know when it would actually happen. When is this going to happen, soon????

    Of course, my opinion is that it is really sad if it is true that it is finally coming to pass. I have envisioned myself picketing the building, or making a human blockade for example when it actually happened. This action seems sort of like a really big “no no”. going way too far.

    Yes, I am a Kagyu Buddhist. and a Shambhalian in that we have to function responsibly and well in society. I think human goodness is present in all religions and in all beings. But whatever, the thangka should remain. How could it hurt Shambhala Buddhism?…

  4. Ginny Lipson on February 1st, 2010 1:09 pm

    Of course, when I said “action,” I meant removing the thangka.” NOT the human blockade. There should be one if necessary. This seems to be an issue that goes beyond a mere discussion forum. At least, how about mounting an online petition for this??? By the mere virtue of the sacred and primal significance of this Thangka, Boulder should be an exception to the new format for all shrine rooms of Shambhala Centers.

    I am frankly surprised that there are so few comments here. I strongly recommend that people read the essay by Clarke Warren. It is profoundly instructional about the significance of the Thangka. ALSO, I’ve been told by a reliable source that this thangka is WORLD FAMOUS in Buddhist Asia, and it has the ONLY handprint of HH the Karmapa.

    Karma Senge Rinpoche’s brother has just requested a photo of it, long story.


  5. John on February 1st, 2010 1:14 pm

    This move by SMR and his people is not a surprise to me. Infact I wondered why they waited so long to start the true purge.

    I have often wondered why CTR during his lifetime never say SMR as a reincarnated tulku?

    Things that make you go HUM!

  6. Edward on February 1st, 2010 2:12 pm

    I don’t have a relationship with the Boulder center or this thangka.

    However I will say this. I found out a few months ago that my old teacher did not have a good opinion of most contemporary Buddhist teachers but he had an extremely high regard for Trungpa Rinpoche, and also had a strong appreciation for HH the Sixteenth Karmapa.

    I can’t help wondering if we sometimes take great teachers like CTR and HH the Karmapa for granted?

    Sandy writes:
    The removal of the Vajradhara thangka… seems to me to be another step in Sakyong Mipham’s fulfillment of his own vision. This is not surprising…. What does surprise me is … the Sakyong’s reference to Chogyam Trungpa in nearly every statement and press release.

    Yes… I personally would feel better about SMR if he came out and said something like this: “I have good news everyone. It’s become clear to me that my realization has surpassed that of my father, and also that of HH the Sixteenth Karmapa. They did a good job, based on their limited vision, but now I can fix the mistakes they made, and improve on the crudity of their creations. This is actually a good thing.”

    Of course you’d want to use more respectful language– I’m being slightly facetious the way I worded that — but that kind of communication would indicate to me that SMR had confidence in himself, and was trying to do his best in an honest and straightfoward way. The fact that he seems to be systematically dismantling his father’s creations while constantly claiming to be channeling his father’s secret wishes makes me uncomfortable.

    Alternatively, I would prefer it if SMR simply said (using proper language of course) “f@(% my dad, I’m doing my own thing. If you don’t like it, leave. But please know that I will fight you for control of all the resources my dad left behind.”

    But perhaps I’m mistaking words for communications, and maybe the two are not the same at all.

    There’s a saying in the bible: “By their fruits shall ye know them.” I think this means it’s not what a person says but what he does that tells you what you need to know.

  7. rita ashworth on February 1st, 2010 2:22 pm

    I was not going to comment of the Thangka because I thought it was a Boulder thing but the whole situation does exemplify to me the crassness of the way SI is operating nowadays. There should have been consultation on this matter whatever ‘camp’ you were in –so it is a political matter.

    I think shrines throughout history have been an explosive affair in whatever religion you care to think about –the whole thing is fraught with delicacy and that’s the way the present situation should have been gone into.

    Personally I see no problem in having two shrines in Boulder because it was the fount of Rinpoches teaching in America.-so yes it is a big, big and bigger exception.

    Not blaming the artist on the quality of her picture of the Rigden King just the way images are used in the present SI.

    I don’t know perhaps the new shrines that are emerging in the new groups will have to be gone into more with the people who are actually attending the programmes – a kind of people power thing with shrines. Or perhaps even we should have no images maybe even like Muslims and just some writing or scriptural calligraphy –it a great conundrum the whole shrine thing at this time.

    Of course you could put an Acharya on the line about the Shrine -ask one -get a comment out of them publicly-then you would really know whats up and down!


    Rita Ashworth.

  8. Martin Fritter on February 1st, 2010 2:45 pm

    I would be appalled if the Tankha were removed. However, it would be good if this thread were based on something more official than “it appears.” Why has the unattributed originator of this post not produced something better sourced? This is a sensitive topic and I think it’s problematic for the reputation of RFS to ask for comments on such a thinly sourced and unverified story.

  9. Mark Szpakowski on February 1st, 2010 3:38 pm

    Martin, Sakyong Mipham and Shambhala International have made it unmistakably clear that the Rigden Thangka is to be the central image for all Shambhala Centers. I am not aware of any statement that the Boulder Shambhala Center is exempt from this. There is thus a prima facie case that the Vajradhara Thangka in Boulder will be replaced by the Rigden Thangka: it’s only a matter of scheduling. If you have information contrary to this, please share it with us. Likewise, if anyone has “scheduling” information, please share that.

    I am writing from Paris, where I have been observing the way the French create vast public spaces to celebrate their history and significant events and personages. This induces a feeling of being part of the main trunk of French history. In seeking to revise and diminish both the absolute view and relative history from which he arises, the Sakyong’s actions serve only to self-characterize themselves as offshoots off the main root and trunk. Without embodying respect for the trunk, the branches and leaves cannot continue to flourish, including beyond our current imaginations.

    In the warriorship and celebration of nothing to protect,

  10. Ginny Lipson on February 1st, 2010 4:50 pm

    Mark, I know what you mean, but I’d like to go beyond your esoterism to further esoterism: .Protecting the Vajradhara Thangka is not nothing. It is more than a symbol, it is a really important embodiment of the mystical truth of Vajrayana Kagyu Buddhism.

    It would sort of be like when the Taliban destroyed all the Ancient Buddhist statues on the side of the cliffs. I know the Vajradhara thangka won’t be destroyed, but what are the plans for it??? It seems that part of the argument to keep it is that it is part of the sacredness of the Main Shrine room itself, which, apparently is also scheduled to be renovated and totally changed to a new aesthetic design.

    I agree with Martin about the importance of having more concrete information about WHEN this will happen, so that something could be “done” such as a petition or the presence of a “human chain” (I’m actually serious!!!) or an actual CONCRETE discussion… instead of continuing to discuss some eventuality coming from our intellectual and spiritual points of view, with no sense of urgency,

    This is a Big Deal, not just about Boulder. And Rita, (bless your wonderful heart) yes, there are actually THREE shrine rooms in the Boulder Center, A Shambhala Shrine room on the second floor, a Vajrayana Shrine Room in the basement, and what used to be the Buddhist Shrine room at the top level, the LARGE MAIN Shrine room. (It now houses both the main Shambhala Shrine and the Buddhist Shrine.

    This Vajradhara thangka is very large and significan. it goes with the main shrine room and only the main shrine room..

    Please read Clarke’s article. All people who don’t care about Kagyu Buddhism are excused, I guess.

  11. Mark Szpakowski on February 1st, 2010 4:57 pm

    Mark Nowakowski’s comment on that article adds significantly to the history and is very much worth reading.

  12. Tashi on February 1st, 2010 5:00 pm

    If they dont want the Thanka, I`ll take it…
    Ginny- are you sure it is the only Thanka with HHs handprints on? I think I heard about other Thankas blessed by his Holiness in this way.

    best wishes


  13. Martin Fritter on February 1st, 2010 5:48 pm

    I’ve assumed that, owing to its size, the size of the shrine room and the way it’s integrated into the architecture, the tankha would be safe. Plus, I assume it would physically difficult to remove.

    Was the Rigden installed in Halifax an original, or _the_ original assuming Cynthia only been commissioned to do one, or a reproduction?

    There are already multiple shrines in the Boulder space. There could be much more elaborate Shambhala shrine on the south end and its centrality could be established by re-orienting the room along the north-south axis.

    Anyway, perhaps someone from RFS could ask someone at SI what the actual plans are.

  14. Ginny Lipson on February 1st, 2010 5:49 pm


    I got my information from a certain Khenpo from Surmang who is VERY well connected with the Kagyu/ Nyingma lama network, and who just told me about the thangka and hand print earlier today. (While I was sitting here burning away over this issue, he called to ask about the thangka. Coincidence?????) In fact, CTR’s nephew Karma Senge Rinpoche’s brother, was trying to get a photo of this thangka and this particular Surmang Khenpo called me and asked for a photo of the thangka for that reason. After a brief discussion, he said that it was the only thangka with the Karmapa’s hand print.

    Of course, I don’t know anything for certain, only that.

    Thank goodness for Clarke’s article with the great photos and information!!!! It will travel to Tibet.

    (I’ll check out Mark N’s comments, thanks for that suggestion.)

  15. Edward on February 1st, 2010 6:07 pm

    nothing to protect… ? This idea really gets to the heart of things, doesn’t it?

    I think the idea that there’s nothing to protect could be used as rationalization for passivity and irresponsibility.

    I wonder if a dad would say “there’s nothing to protect” if his child were in the path of an oncoming train.

    It’s fun to say that there’s nothing to protect. It’s a huge relief. Whew! But unless we take care of things, who is going to do it for us? If I don’t take out the garbage or water my houseplants, pretty soon I’ll be living in a mess rather than a home.

    Does the dharma need to be cared for?

    Why do people make thangkas or handprints in the first place? Maybe nobody told them that there’s nothing to protect, and that their handprints would not be cared for.

    There’s a saying somewhere that if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. I think that has to do with the trap of worshipping idols and concepts rather than embodying the teachings ourselves, on a personal level. The external Buddha can be an obstacle, maybe.

    But I don’t think we have to actually kill Buddhas in order to embody the teachings. Nor do I think we have to stop protecting things we care about.

    I think the best thing, the safest thing, is to rest in suffering and disappointment. If there’s nothing to protect, we might miss out on a lot of suffering and disappointment.

  16. Clarkefountain on February 1st, 2010 6:12 pm

    These days I am very much an outside observer. Nonetheless, speaking from my own catbird seat, it seems to me that SMR is systematically dismantling and reversing everthing his father taught or created, while claiming to do the opposite. For instance, the Vidyadhara vehemently opposed wholesale Tibetanizing of his sangha, and created a vast array of cultural connections to prevent that from happening, from elocution lessons to encouraging ikebana and tea ceremonies instead. He celebrated Karma Kagyu-ness for his sangha, despite his own very profound (and openly acknowledged) Nyingma lineages. I cannot understand why those who value what they knew at his hands have been so passive in accepting SMR’s pretense of business as usual when in fact it is very much business not as usual (subsuming as much as possible into the Sakyong’s Trust, or labrang)!

  17. John Tischer on February 1st, 2010 6:14 pm

    The situation that’s happening in SI now is much worse than what happened with the Regent. People left the sangha then, yes, but there was still a large core that
    practiced what VCTR had given us, and Shambhala
    Training was still taught in the same spirit as when VCTR was alive. The fact that many people that didn’t
    leave then have left now says a lot

  18. mark a smith on February 1st, 2010 7:37 pm


    The Vajradhara thanka is, in addition to all the very important/sacred matters already discussed above and in connection with the Clarke Warren’s article on the Chronicles website, probably the last major Buddhist marker/touchstone of the Vajradhatu (9 Yana Kagyu or Dzokchen/Ati Kagyu) Path in which the Vidyadhara’s tantrikas/sadhakas were raised.

    Already, in the name of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s Shambhala Buddhism synthesis: a) the shamatha/vipashyana practice has been altered, b) dathuns, which were once-upon-a-time largely sitting practice, have incorporated numerous ‘distractions’, c) the seminary (and related transmission) process has been shortened/split/altered to an almost unrecognizable set of programs bearing that name, d) the Kagyu ngondro has been replaced by the new Shambhala Ngondro and made into an optional ‘elective’ much later on the path, e) similarly Vajrayogini/Chakrasamvara and all other advanced Buddhist practices (Kagyu & Nyingma) has been made elective and delayed (to ‘whenever’), and f) Shambhala Training is being/has been ‘Buddhified’ and KOS closed off to non-Buddhists.

    If we are to rally to the tradition transmitted by the Vidyadhara to us, we need to rally around more than just the removal of the Vajradhara thanka. The entire tradition in which Trungpa Rinpoche has been marginalized (though tolerated to pacify us ‘old timers’), is disappearing in many aspects & is no longer available to new/younger practitioners within Shambhala International.

    As I have stated elsewhere on this site (and on the SI lists), I am, and I beleive many of you are also, samaya-bound to preserve/protect/promulgate the Vajradhatu Path transmitted to us by CTR for our own benefit and for the benefit of sentient beings.

    Let’s discuss these matters and act on them as well.

    Mark A. Smith (303-517-5302/719-256-5329)

  19. Sandy on February 1st, 2010 7:44 pm

    The central argument of all of the changes made is that the changes make the teachings more accessible for Westerners. That is, nobody has time to do the practices the Vidyadhara taught, and so compromises were made. That is, Shambhala Buddhism is not the same Buddhism the Vidyadhara taught–for all the reasons everyone has named. It is the Sakyong’s vision, and he viewed the sangha as his inheritance. His choices are for new students, yes? Isn’t it up to those of us who choose not to participate to find new teachers (Reggie Ray, for example?).

  20. Edward on February 1st, 2010 8:50 pm

    The man known as “SMR” should be free to attract his own students and do his own thing. Absolutely. But I think he should do so starting from scratch, not taking a dump in someone else’s home, or stealing resources from other sanghas.

    It’s not at all clear to me that SMR has the right to systematically dismantle another teacher’s work and help destroy that teacher’s sangha. To do so could be seen as an act of aggression, I think– an overstepping of one’s own territory and a polluting of someone else’s territory. In some sense a “sakyong” is a public servant, an employee, and one with a limited range of power over a limited jurisdiction. If you let your employee get away with all manner of things without reminding him of the limitations of his job and the duties he is bound to, then your employee is going to cause you a lot of grief, and you yourself will be partly to blame.

    When CTR disagreed with another teacher back in Scotland, how did he deal with the situation? In contrast to some of CTR’s students, CTR exceeded the bounds of polite conduct in order to make his communication. But finally he went out on his own and started from scratch. He started out in North America broke and homeless. There’s something to be said for that.

    If the man known as SMR disagrees with his dad on many things, why not strike out on his own and do his own thing? What he’s doing now is like having one foot on a moving boat and the other foot on the pier.

    It almost seems like SMR is a spoiled child whose guardians let him get away with all manner of aggression, to the point that nobody even recognizes that it IS aggression after a while.

    As far as becoming a student of Reggie Ray, no thanks. I met him some months back, and liked him a great deal, but he promised us at an intro event that we’d start reaping the benefits of meditation within the first minute or two, and before long we’d be recovering lost soul fragments. That scared me away. I suspect that it’s partly thanks to SMR that Reggie now operates this way.

    Someday I’d like to find people who just want to sit, without all the extra benefits and marketing and modern ease and so on that gets added to it. Is that too much to ask for?

  21. Chris Keyser on February 2nd, 2010 3:55 am

    Edward wrote:
    “Someday I’d like to find people who just want to sit, without all the extra benefits and marketing and modern ease and so on that gets added to it. Is that too much to ask for?”

    Edward, you sound like a Kagyu yogi. You could have fit right into Milarepa’s cotton-clad mandala.

    Things may actually be worse than people think. When I was in Boulder last fall I heard that the Sakyong wants to completely remodel the Dorje Dzong shrineroom that the Vidyadhara designed and lower the ceiling and shrine. My informant, who is a Sakyong devotee, did not explain the rationale. But that’s presumably the reason why the shrine and Vajradhara thangka haven’t been dismantled yet.

    Can someone explain why the Primordial Rigden thangka is supplanting the Primordial Buddha Vajradhara? Didn’t the Buddha come first since the religion is called Buddhism and not Rigdenism?

    Ginny, if you want to organize a sit-in or blockade please let the rest of us know. The ghost of Allen Ginsberg will surely be there! He got arrested sitting on the tracks at Rocky Flats blockading the shipments of plutonium.
    Best wishes,

  22. Ginny Lipson on February 2nd, 2010 10:43 am

    Chris, thank you. Yes, I was referring to the total overhaul and renovation of the Shrine room, also explained to me a few years ago by a Sakyong student, (who, is a very dear and highly competent person… I respect many of his students very much.)

    My impression was that it was a “feng shui” thing; not the first form created by the Vidyadhara to fall prey to such schemes.

    I can’t really ORGANIZE a blockade, (Conflict of interests.) but would be in one and ask friends to be..This is such a gut level thing for some people,( I would like to hope!)

    Also, I think things should progress in a sensible fashion: first, a serious discussion based on reliable information about real events that we know WHEN will happen, and problem solving, negotiation etc, and the human blockade would be a last resort. .Realistically speaking. Especially, since the building will be renovated, when is a good time to put one’s body on the line?? Many times?? Perhaps.

    A really good compromise would be Martin’s suggestion of reorganizing the Main Shrine room to include both shrines.

    thank you again.


  23. Andrew Safer on February 2nd, 2010 10:50 am


    It’s no secret that the removal of the Vajradhara thangka from the Boulder Shambhala Centre has been under serious consideration for some time.

    In an ideal world, the source for this item would identify him/herself, but this is not an ideal world. There are a number of reasons why people are reluctant to attach their name to a hot-button topic like this.

    In any case, whoever is behind this initiative, I would not want their karma!

  24. Martin Fritter on February 2nd, 2010 11:03 am

    Remodeling the shrine room would be expensive and I doubt much money would be forthcoming from the Boulder sangha, so I doubt the change is imminent.

    The fire stairs were put in at considerable expense at the insistence of the Boulder authorities, which gives the room a somewhat problematic shape and poor sight-lines. The original plans had to be adjusted accommodate it. I don’t remember what they were, although Bob King may.

  25. Chris Keyser on February 2nd, 2010 3:22 pm

    From what I heard the backstairs in the shrineroom are still the main obstacle to remodeling the Dorje Dzong shrineroom and have held up the removal of the shrine and Vajradhara thangka.
    It’s interesting that the discussion of a sit-in or “human blockade” in the shrineroom occurred yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the first sit in by four young black students at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. As a child of the 60s — like most other commentators on this website — the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements shaped my consciousness and were the driving force compelling me to devote my life to Buddhist meditation practice.
    Another interesting anecdote is that during the shrine blessing for the new San Francisco Dzong on Sunday Richard Reoch talked about the importance of sangha and how if we can’t create peace among ourselves how can we hope to do so in the world at large. A good contemplation for everyone on all sides of this divide.

  26. Sandy on February 2nd, 2010 3:39 pm

    Richard Reoch is a highly politically-oriented figure. He may be a nice guy, but that’s not my impression of him. As SI’s chief executive and PR man, he excludes everyone he believes either isn’t a “team player” or doesn’t regard him as worthy of veneration. At one talk I saw him give–when he Her Majesty was first introduced although neither she nor the Sakyong were there–he discussed how the men who met her wanted to sleep with her immediately, because she’s so beautiful. That’s just cheesy. It doesn’t even reach the level of tacky.

  27. richard heilbrunn on February 2nd, 2010 4:38 pm

    “Sometimes we feel that one individual’s action is very insignificant. Then we think, of course, that effects should come from channeling or from a unifying movement. But the movement of the society, community or group of people means joining individuals. Society means a collection of individuals, so that initiative must come from individuals. Unless each individual develops a sense of responsibility, the whole community cannot move. So therefore, it is very essential that we should not feel that individual effort is meaningless- you should not feel that way. We should make an effort.”- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    So how does this lead us to an enlightened society. If it wasn’t for the feudalism and social/political situation in Tibet, would Vajradhara have ever come to the west to cultivate Dharma?? Perhaps it is time to consider rolling up the Thanka and finding refuge for it outside of the confines of SI. Everything changes. Outside of this forum where is the original Shambhala energy. Is there something constructive that can be done?? That is the question I am asking myself.

  28. Mark Szpakowski on February 2nd, 2010 10:43 pm

    Please note the update to this article, which now also includes a letter Clarke Warren posted to the sadhaka-talk mailing list, along with shorter versions to sangha-announce and to colorado-announce.

  29. Rob Graffis on February 2nd, 2010 11:06 pm

    I’m pretty sure the changing of the direction of the Boulder Shrine Room was an Eva Wong thingie (the first time I heard the word “thingie” was during my first private interview with the Vidyadhara. He seemed invent words).
    Anyway, as far as I know, reconfiguring the shrine room was to cost prohibitive, which is why it wasn’t done (thank goodness)..

  30. Chris on February 2nd, 2010 11:18 pm

    From “First Thought Best Thought – Midsummer Day June 1981

    “You Might be Tired of the Seat that you Deserve – written for the Vajra Regent 1981 June.

    If you do not hold the seat,
    Others may take it away;
    If you do not sit on a rock,
    It becomes mushy clay;
    If you don’t have patience to sit on a rock or seat,
    They give you away;
    If you are tired of your seat,
    If you don’t have a throne,
    You cannot speak or proclaim from it,
    So the audience will dissipate;
    If you don’t have a government seat to sit on,
    Your wisdom and command seal will be snatched by others;
    If you run arou nd, thinking that you have a seat to come back to,
    It will be washed away by the turbulent river,
    Like a presidential platform;
    You can never proclaim your command.
    Either it will be disassembled by the cockroaches
    Or the frivolous multitude will take it away as souvenirs.
    It may be hard to sit on the seat,
    But one must endure it.
    Do sit on your seat,
    Whether it is hard or soft.
    Once you sit on your seat,
    The sitting itself becomes truly command and message,
    Then, undoubtedly, multitudes of people will respect and obey it
    As the vajra throne of Bodhgaya where Buddha taught.
    Truth becomes exertion.
    The message of hard fact proclaims itself,
    So you don’t have to emphasize harder truth.
    Offering your seat in order to please others will not give authentic
    They will take the attitude that you are a pleasant seat-offerer.
    So, my son, please don’t move around;
    Assume your seat, and sit, and be.
    If you be that way, truth prevails;
    Command is heard throughout the land.
    So sit and hold your seat.
    Then you will enjoy, because others will admire you.
    This is hard to do, but easy to accomplish.

    12 June 1981

    Prophetic, don’t you think?

  31. Heather Philipp on February 3rd, 2010 12:13 am

    I am not an “old timer”, nor did I ever meet in-the-flesh the Vidyadhara. But I would like to offer that I am very disheartened at the thought of the thangka being removed/replaced and the larger meaning of it.

    In fact, I think that it is in-part because I did not have the good fortune to be with Thrungpa Rinpoche or the 16th Karmapa and many other Kagyu masters that this thangka seems so dear to me – a potent, powerful connection to them.

    For the record, I love Sakyong Mipham and have been to seminary with him, and received and practiced the Primordial Rigden ngondro. I also was given and practiced the Kagyu ngondro from Kenpo Tsultrim Gyamptso for a number of years.

    Even having received the Primordial Rigden ngondro practice, and joyfully practiced it, I do not wish to see the Vajradhara thanka replaced. I think that there is a precious, deep thread of continuity from our sangha’s beginnings to the present that is being set aside, possibly even lost.

    There will be more Sakyongs. There will be more pracitices and more thangkas, surely. I think, and have expressed such to multiple S.I. leadership, that we have an opportunity to honor the beginning and the power and magic it holds by honoring this thangka and it’s precious position in Boulder.

    Personally, I am deeply moved by this thangka every single time I see and feel it. I would sadly and sorely miss it’s presence at the throne position of our Boulder shrine room.

    I want very much to take my children there one day, to have them see the that blue face and perhaps let them feel the same instant awe that I feel from it’s presence each and every time I see it.

    Heather Philipp

  32. Andrew Safer on February 3rd, 2010 8:22 am

    The Vajradhara Thangka, installed by the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and blessed by His Holiness Karmapa XVI, belongs in the main shrine room at the Boulder Shambhala Centre, along with the Rigden Thangka.

    Even if this is not the intent, the subtext of the initiative to remove the Vajradhara Thangka is reminiscent of the old John Wayne movies: “There ain’t room in this town for the both of us.” This is not what the Vidyadhara taught us.

    Duality is not about two things fighting with each other, or even trying to create unity out of separateness. We were taught to accept–heck, celebrate–duality within the realm of non-duality.

    “The notion of duality here is not that there are separate things existing and therefore we can speak of duality. The notion of duality here is that things are one, and a big barrier has been put in the middle, which divides it. The oneness on the other side is called “that”, and the oneness on this side is called “this”. Because of the Suez Canal we built, because of the wall we built, the one is slashed in two. And nonduality is not a matter of the two things melting back into each other, but of taking that barrier completely out. When that happens and the two aspects of the one meet, we find it is quite painful, because we are so used to having separate entities there. Now when we realize that nonduality is being imposed on us, we find it very claustrophobic, very sharp. It is much too sharp and much too powerful to meet this oneness. The “that” does not adjust to the “this”, and the “this” does not adjust to the “that”. Once the barrier is removed, they become one, with no chance for adjustment at all. That’s why the prajna experience is so sharp and immediate and powerful–highly powerful, extraordinarily powerful.”

    –Trungpa, Chogyam, “Illusions Game” in The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa: Volume Six, Gimian, Carolyn Rose, ed., (Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2004),. p. 214.

    Let’s remove the barrier–our own ideas of separateness. Why not build a shrine wide enough to have both the Vajradhara and Rigden Thangkas side by side?

  33. Barbara Blouin on February 3rd, 2010 9:18 am

    You “out there” most likely know that thangkas of Vajradhara have already been removed in a number of Shambhala Centers and practice centers. Here in Halifax, the Rigden thangka by Cynthia Moku has been in place about 2 years (I think … possibly longer). It replaced a Vajardhara thangka that was blessed by the Vidyadhara and many visiting Kagyu and Nyingma teachers.

    In September 2009, Acharya Adam Lobel held an open meeting in the shrine room, inviting comments from sangha. (See “Heart in Palm” on this web site for an MP3 of this meeting.) Many of those who spoke talked passionately about how upset they were over the changes that have been made in the shrine room in the past few years. In particular, they minded the loss of Vajradhara. This thangka is now on the wall to the right of the shrine. One person spoke emphatically about the impact the Rigden thangka had on her: “It’s bad art! Bad art!” There were cheers in response to her heartfelt words.

    I have a friend who attended a dathun at Karme Choling in 2009, where Vajradhara had also been removed. When she asked someone on staff where the thangka had been taken, she was told, “I don’t know. In the barn, I think,” or words to that effect.

    The greatest loss of all will be the loss of the thangka in Boulder — unless we, as a community, can persuade the Sakyong to change his mind. But I don’t think he is listening to us.

  34. Barbara Stewart on February 3rd, 2010 11:55 am

    Can we find out if this is true before excoriating it?

  35. Bill Schwartz on February 3rd, 2010 1:23 pm

    Hey, if you guys don’t want a Vajradhara Thangka blessed by 16th Karmapa please send it to KTC Chicago for the the thirtieth anniversary of his Parinirvana here. Just a thought, from a devoted Karma Kagyu; what are you guys thinking? Storage?. We will gladly take it off your hands, seriously.

  36. rita ashworth on February 3rd, 2010 1:49 pm

    Yes very good comments about the Thangka.

    Myself been having some more thoughts about the situation re religious art in total.

    Obviously the Thangka is not just an object related to Art –it is a means to bring awareness into our lives through practice.

    But it is also more than that. For example I remember having an interview with another Lama and querying how he knew more about me than myself –the mysterious answer at the time was that he had Milarepa in his heart or one could say the Buddha aswell. So Lamas are so acutely living an existence that many of us can only fantasise about.
    Another incidence of this is if you look at Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche on utube you will see that he is continually reciting mantras when blessing people. So yes Lamas are switched on 24/7 365 days a year.

    So yes the Kagyu lineage is in no way separate from the Art that it produces… Art re Buddhism/Shambhala it’s a tricky subject.

    Myself I think we should have left the whole thing re Art and Shambhala to be in the cooking pot a bit longer. I just don’t know the images that will get through to westerners at this time. Of course one could talk about archetypes here that just meditating will reveal a common archetype that we can use that is a possibility but yes I really do think the shift to the depiction of the Rigden King from an ‘eastern’ perspective may be premature.

    Of course in the recesses of my brain I think some images of Kings/Queens are lurking as in all cultures that I have come into contact with in my travels. You just cant get away from the King/Queen concept but safe to say I am beginning to think that I will not take the Shambhala art developing as THE Art of the next few hundred years. Yes I think other forms of Buddhist/Shambhalian Art must begin in the west –maybe it is up to us to put forward images that Lamas can comment on –as Jack Niland did with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

    Yes I don’t know if SI and its conception of Shambhala will survive because it has become so narrow/exclusive in the Arts and other spheres –we need the Shambhala thinking portrayed by CTR in the Warrior book to get its wings back and really discuss how we want to play with this ball politically and artistically.

    Rita Ashworth

  37. rita ashworth on February 3rd, 2010 1:55 pm

    ps I hope people from Boulder will gratefully decline the offer from Mr Schwartz – people the Thangka has to stay there!


    Rita Ashworth

  38. Suzanne Townsend on February 3rd, 2010 2:25 pm

    If the thangka “stays there” what will SI do with it? Isn’t it preferable that it is given away to some other group than mothballed?

  39. Greg Smith on February 3rd, 2010 2:34 pm

    I remember helping with work on this thangka when Sherab Palden came to Boulder in ’78-’79. A number of us who were thangka painting students with Noedup Rongae were asked to help and Sherab was very generous with us, allowing us to work on the thangka and to learn a great deal from him in the process. We were set up at the Dresher’s new Japanese style house in a spacious dining room.
    There was some trouble at first because when Sherab asked for chalk for the gesso someone brought him hot lime. He made his gesso with this and did the design on that canvas which took weeks, but when the drawing was completed and he started painting there were big problems with how the paint was adhering to the canvas. He had to stretch a new canvas and redo the drawing. He was rather unhappy!
    It is a wonderful work of art and Sherab at 94 is still living at Samye Ling! And yes Trungpa Rinpoche came and met with Sherab about the thangka design (it is inspired by the famous Vajradhara thangka of Rumtek, (from Tsurphu) and there was the blessing too of course, though I was not present for that. It was kind of a big deal.
    You can see a detail of the thangka it is modeled on here
    Actually the Vajradhara Iconography and the Rigden are similar in meaning in that they are both sambhogakaya aspects and have the meaning of not abandoning the sense pleasures. They are both wearing the clothes of a monarch. So the meaning is the same.
    Previously we had the Amitabha Buddha thangka, given to Trungpa Rinpoche by the queen of Bhutan in the Dorje Dzong shrine room. People also had some trouble with the switch to Vajradhara at the time. “Who is this blue guy?” (We still have the Amitabha on display and recently re-brocaded at SMC, BTW)
    I think the Vidyadhara didn’t want the Buddha as the central image because it is clearly a religious symbol. Also the mendicant (rather than the king/queen) was not the kind of approach to the spiritual path that he was presenting; so Vajradhara would be more, well Shambhalian. And I believe he was doing something a bit nontraditional – I don’t think the kagyus would make Vajradhara a main shrine image, always the Buddha, in my experience.
    The Rigden, on the other hand, is more accessible to people than either the Buddha or Vajradhara, not being blue for one thing. It’s hard to identify with this blue guy. So I think the switch to the Rigden is very much in accord with Trungpa Rinpoche’s inspiration. It is less strange. And if we want to communicate and help people broadly in this world that’s important.
    All the best,
    Greg Smith

  40. Tashi on February 3rd, 2010 3:50 pm

    Just on a sidenote: us Kagyupas also have Rigden-Thankas, here is a collection of Thankas of the 25 Rigden plus 7 Shambhala Kings that preceded the Rigdens:

    The Thankas were commissoned by Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche on the bestowal of the great Kalacakra-Abisheka in 2005 Benchen DargyeLing, KTM.

  41. Sandy on February 3rd, 2010 4:55 pm

    Well, you all will never be serving on any committees. :)

  42. Sandy on February 3rd, 2010 5:21 pm

    I wonder if the best way to handle all this is to begin guerilla operations against all SI personnel and students except those you like. Pies in the face, dog poop traps on front lawns, bags of flour throw at kasung on duty, stolen thangkas with ransom notes left behind, retreat on uncharted island where we might start a colony called “The Dharma Initiative”…

    Seriously, although a proactive response is probably the best solution–letter writing Before the switch is scheduled–I agree with the writer who said the issue is larger than one thangka. I’m not sure why the Sakyong decided to replace Vajradhara–but this was decided in the early 2000s. SI has consistently ignored all pleas regarding replicas of the V. thangka under discussion. And there have been many discussions about it.

    I’ve come to regard International events as similar to going to an office convention. There’s as much irritation as heart connection. That tells me I’ve changed, along with the community.

  43. Suzanne Duarte on February 3rd, 2010 7:04 pm

    OK, everybody who has an interest in the Great Vajradhara thangka, what if ‘they’ plan to sell it? Wouldn’t that just be the biggest slap in the face to the Vidyadhara and his students? Auction it off to the spiritual materialists of the Buddhist world to pay off some of the SI debt or somebody’s salary? Sorry, but I don’t put it past any of them, including my vajra brothers and sisters who currently occupy ‘positions’ in the SI administration; for they clearly have no shame. So keep your eyes peeled for ads on eBay or Craig’s list, or other internet auction or sale sites that offer a Very Large Vajradhara thangka with golden hand prints on the back by a “very high lama”….

  44. Suzanne Duarte on February 3rd, 2010 7:19 pm

    Tashi wrote on Feb. 3rd: Thankas of the 25 Rigden plus 7 Shambhala Kings that preceded the Rigdens:

    Tashi, all thangkas are not equal. Some thangkas have more power, dignity and blessings than others. With due respect to the painters of those on the site above, and to Tenga Rinpoche who was the preceptor of the Kalachakra abhiseka mentioned, the Vajradhara thangka in the Dorje Dzong shrine room is nearly beyond compare. That is really the reason for all the consternation.

  45. Chris on February 3rd, 2010 11:22 pm


    You are so right. I don’t put it past them at all to try and sell it, to pay off debt. Thank you for bringing this up!!!! Of course that is what they would be planning. They have clearly lost their compasses in some kind of group delusion .

    I don’t know why a concerned group of the Vidyadhara’s students don’t just go and get it before its too late and protect it before it is sold. Consider it a least one last breath of courage, if only symbolic that you are still faithful to the lineage of CTR.

    For god’s sake, wake up. You have disempowered yourselves. Stop with the whimpy letters to the list of “collabos”. . They don’t give a shit about you , or what you think! don’t you get it?

    Stop discussing every nuance of every possibilty. Can’t you see you have nothing to lose , nothing to be afraid of? Take some action, protest something, if this is important. The letters to the enablers will do no good they are too far gone.

  46. Phyllis Murray on February 4th, 2010 9:37 am

    I disagree that “the meaning is the same” (of Vajradhara and the Rigden).
    I have heard Vajradhara described by realized teachers as the Dharmakaya Buddha (even though he has a Sambogakaya manifestation).
    The Rigden is depicted with a Buddha above his head; Vajradhara is not.

  47. Andrew Safer on February 4th, 2010 9:46 am


    Thanks for sharing the story of the creation of the Vajradhara thangka. It’s wonderful to hear that piece of living history.

    What Phyllis just posted resonates for me. Tilopa received the teachings directly from Vajradhara, which I too have always associated with the Dharmakaya.

  48. Greg Smith on February 4th, 2010 11:00 am

    Often in thangkas there is a small Vajradhara, completely identical, above the sambhogakaya vajradhara and that is the dharmakaya. If you google images for kagyu lineage tree you can see this. So which one is depicted in the Serab Palden thangka? Your guess is as good as mine.

  49. Ginny Lipson on February 4th, 2010 11:14 am

    Here is a post by Palden Ronge to sangha talk today:.

    FYI:-Chos sKu rDo rJe ‘Chang (Tibetan) translates directly as Dharmakaya Vajradhara… so I think Vajradhara is dharmakaya and not sambhogakaya. Also If having Vajradhara as the main shrine object is not the Kagyu thing then why would Trungpa put it up with the 16th Karmapa as his accomplice.( by putting his hand prints)
    I don’t see how putting up Sakyamuni Buddha (Nirmanakaya Buddha) would be more Kagyu than putting up Vajradhara (Dharmakaya Buddha.)
    Also I don’t see how The Vajradhara Buddha is “more Shambhalian” than a Nirmanakaya Buddha but if that were to be the case then why would Mipham Rinpoche not be happy to let the Thanka be where it is. You think the Vajradhara’s blue color is its shortcomming? I just don’t see the relevance of that point. I am just trying to make some sense out of what you wrote and not trying to be argumentative.

  50. Greg Smith on February 4th, 2010 11:35 am

    And here is my response to Palden –
    Dear Palden and all,
    That is an interesting point about the Tibetan term. I am talking more from the
    point of view of the thangka iconography where ofter Vajradhara is shown twice, once for
    the Dharmakaya and once for the sambhagakaya. See Sherab Paldens thangka at this link – (omitted here so as not to trigger a spam filter)
    As to the Karmapa blessing VCTR’s actions, I don’t doubt that at all, but in my
    little experience in Nepal and Sikkim I don’t recall seeing Vajradhara as the main
    Lhakang image at Kagyu monasteries. I could be wrong. It is just my impression. And I
    don’t think Karmapa would hesitate to bless even the non-traditional actions of Trungpa
    I think vajradhara is more Shambhalian because he is dressed as a king rather than
    a mendicant. About the color blue, it is just that I haven’t met many blue people
    recently. It is just harder to identify with, I think.
    Thanks for the comments. I hope this is more clear.
    All the best,
    Greg Smith

  51. Chris on February 4th, 2010 12:36 pm

    Here is an excellent paper on the rise of the Gelukpa school, how it consolidated power to influence a religious monopoly , inwhat had been a more tolerant, pluralistic Buddhist world in Tibet. Rather than showing religious tolerance, the geluk school had an “exclusionary club nature” which economized on fixed costs, and, instead of maintaining a variety of “views” and flexibility in incorporating understanding from various schools and sects, which had been the norm up until then, it showed religious intolerance. The Geluk school maintained its “exclusionary club nature, concentrating political power, and economic resources in it’s corporate labrang (ladrang).

    What SI is doing , and has done, is no different than what the Geluk sect did to consolidate power in the middle ages, at a time, similar to now, when there was great competion for resources, patrons, land, and true believers. It had to “differentiate” its religious product from existing ones, while remaining within the popular Mahayana view of the time. We see it repressing all dissent from the orthodoxy view it had developed from the visions of Tsongkapa’s. This view becomes “brand-marketing” of the Gelupa school and was “unprecedented” in the history of Buddhism in Tibet. Ironically this orthodoxy was a direct reaction to criticism b the Sakyapa scholars who questioned the legitimacy of Tsongkapa’s views which he developed out of visions. Labrangs, (ladrangs” were corporate entities, that upon the death of an incarnate, were manged by stewards until the reincarnations was identified. And of course the benefit of incarnates was that they could demand higher prices to perform religious rituals. Of course SMR is not even depending on reincarnates, since the ladrang in this case will stay within the family.

    Anyway, constant bickering, competition, out and out violence and warfare between sects, particularly between the Gelukpas and the Karmapas, became the norm in Tibet as the rise of the Gelukpas and their monopolizing of religion, accumulation of concentrated wealth and lands,created a “second aristocracy” that merged secular and religious power in the hands of one God-King.

    Nothing new happens under the sun, or it behooves us to understand history or we are doomed to repeat it. Or, we can walk away from it all, once we see this, and realize, once again, this has nothing to do with the dharma and all to do with garnering power and wealth in concentrated form.

  52. Chris on February 4th, 2010 1:24 pm

    However, what is unprecedented, is that by “redefining” a labrang (ladrang) which historically was to preserve the wealth of the previous tulku, for his next reincarnation, i.e. the 12th Trunga Tulku, the Sakyong made ” the sakyongs the holders of the wealth and property which would rightfully belong to the the next buddhist tulku reincarnation not a Sakyong of a secular society. Whether this unprecedented refiguring of the meaning of “ladrang” is legal, would of course have to be tested, but that is what SMR has done, call it anything else you wish. So really, the Vajradhara Thanka should rightfully be in the hands the of 12th Trungpa Tulku.

  53. rita ashworth on February 4th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Interesting I was having the same questioning thoughts about Greg’s comments about the Rigden King being more shambhalian over this side of the pond in the UK.

    The Rigden King now in SI more acceptable to people than Vajradhara?

    This indeed goes into religious art and what it is supposed to do for people more. The whole thing in this day and age is a conundrum –will the Art come from revelation or will it come from working with suitable images in our culture …..a very big subject

    However, firstly I don’t think people in the west would find the Rigden King as portrayed ‘more acceptable’ –the flavour of it is still eastern. If you really wanted something ‘more acceptable’ I think the imagery would probably be Christian although you would have to allow for the dimensions of a Buddha because after listening to Jack Niland on the Chronicle Project on thangka art it is the mixture of colours and proportions that have an impact on the meditator.

    Yes Vajradhara is blue but the Rigden King as he is robed in the thangka definitely has an aura of easterness. Personally I thought going with Vajradhara and the forms of Tibetan Buddhism perhaps would lead us into an apprehension of what reality is –so that’s why I am willing for that to be the case for some years to come at least – with Shambhala its somewhat different – I think CTR left the inconography there so vague because he wanted something magical to happen with it in the course of time after people attended Kalapa Assembly ……..and I still do feel that that iconography will come in time as we go on with the teachings.

    And the thing is too lots of lamas have left the door open on the iconography of the Tibetan tradition changing over time anyway – we just have to consult with them as to what we think might be applicable to the west, for example Khandro Rinpoche has stated that the iconography may change over time.

    Of course I am digressing a bit from the discussion re the thangka in Boulder. The prime reason that it should stay there is the connection with the Karmapa who was the Buddha incarnate – if you get rid of the thangka or hid it or don’t display it – you are not connecting with your own Buddhanature or one could even say ones warrior nature –this particular thangka has that power to me. Any Kagyu Centre would give their eye teeth to have it –to think that it will leave Boulder if that is the case would be very sad.

    There must be some place found to house it the Boulder Centre for sure

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  54. Tashi on February 4th, 2010 4:18 pm

    Suzanne- of course your right. It wasnt my intention to compare the vajradhara thankas and the above posted rigden thankas. i just thought it might be of interest in the context of shambhala thankas and kagyu thankas.



  55. John Tischer on February 4th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Vajradhara is a dharmakaya Buddha. He is regarded the same way by the Kagyus as Padmasambhava is by the Ningmas. That’s what the Vidyadhara told us. He is not “more Shambhalian” than any of the other dieties…that’s just another retroactive perspective.,,,like “Shambhala Buddhism”

  56. Phyllis Murray on February 5th, 2010 5:20 pm

    Here is a relevant quote from Ponlop Rinpoche’s book, “Wild Awakening”, (page 29):
    “…Vajradhara, who is the primordial, or dharmakaya, buddha. Vajradhara expresses the quintessence of buddhahood itself, the essence of the historical Buddha’s realization of enlightenment. The skylike dharmakaya nature of Vajradhara is depicted in paintings by his dark blue color. Vajradhara is central to the Kagyu lineage because Tilopa received the Vajrayana teachings directly from Vajradhara, who is synonymous with the dharmakaya, the source of all manifestations of enlightenment. Thus, the Kagyu lineage originated from the very nature of buddhahood.”

  57. damchö on February 5th, 2010 6:39 pm

    I’m glad to see this topic receiving its own thread. The shrine has been altered in a very radical way and for me is the single most tangible symbol of how the sangha itself has changed. Trungpa Rinpoche was in certain respects as radical a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism as there could be and yet it is almost impossible for me to imagine him ever stripping the shrine of all its connections to the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.

    The article asks for our thoughts on where such a change might lead. Along with the other changes that have occurred I see it as leading towards greater and greater exclusivity. A worrying, and very sad, development.

  58. Ginny Lipson on February 5th, 2010 8:32 pm

    I wrote the Sakyong, and many of the others listed on the list provided by Clarke. David Brown told me that he had 23 emails so far. I had hoped for an overflowing mailbox. That low number is just so depressing. (I have no idea how many letters were sent to the other people listed on Clarke’s list.)

    I would hope that people would really feel that they need to do more than merely talk about this. Even if it is a mere futile gesture, it needs to be made. Please, think about emailing these people with your opinions, regardless if you think it is futile. Sitting back and doing nothing seems “not so good.”

  59. Edward on February 5th, 2010 9:28 pm

    Ginny Lipson writes:
    I would hope that people would really feel that they need to do more than merely talk about this. Even if it is a mere futile gesture, it needs to be made.

    As a newcomer to Shambhala, two of the most powerful and effective actions I can imagine you lot taking would be to:

    1) Summarize concisely all of these sorts of issues, all in one place, where people (e.g. paying newcomers) can easily find them,

    2) Help publicize this website more, perhaps by posting flyers outside local Shambhala centers.

    The biggest enabler of all these things– bastardizing dharma, dismantling shrine rooms, etc.– is ignorance, it seems to me. I’ve sat in Level weekends with lots of new people, and I can tell you that they have no clue that their donation dollars are being used to help systematically dismantle the work of the Druk Sakyong.

    If every dollar that Shambhala International took in came from people who were fully informed and aware of all this stuff– not piecemeal but all of it all at once– and if every single one of those people had the opportunity to openly discuss these things in a forum such as this, then I think you’d be seeing a very different picture than you do now.

    Why should SMR listen to any of your feelings or ideas, when he has no (political or economic) reason to do so? The man may not listen to Buddhist or Shambhala elders in his dad’s tradition, but I’m sure he listens to people who wield actual economic power, such as Goldman Sachs bankers. And perhaps there’s something we can learn from that; power is not inherently evil, it all depends on how it’s used. A person can be morally superior and yet powerless– what good does that do?

    As it stands now, this website is a great start, but in some ways it functions as a PR meter for the management of SI and a discussion forum for a small group of old-timers. The liability of this website is that only one issue at a time is ever in the public limelight. Newcomers such as myself only get exposed to a single issue at a time. An issue gets written about, discussed briefly, and then falls away into a kind of group amnesia.

    Maybe that displays a beautiful and romantic similarity and resonance with the practice of sitting meditation, which we could all pause to admire, but it’s rather ineffective from a political standpoint, isn’t it?

    In this way, Radio Free Shambhala duplicates the same limitation that most news media have– yesterday’s news drops off the bottom and gets replace by today’s news, but there’s no ongoing reporting of the central, core issues. This may suit the owners of conventional news media just fine– and therefore be an excellent joining of heaven and earth on their part– but I’m not sure if it suits the owners and creators and contributors of Radio Free Shambhala.

  60. Edward on February 5th, 2010 9:47 pm

    You could have CTR-loyalists steal a thangka, or form a human blockade if you knew when it was going to be removed, but what good would any of that do?

    It would stir up some local attention and awareness, maybe provide a good story to tell over drinks later, but unless it was reported through an effective news medium, it would have no political or economic power at all on a world-wide scale, would it?

    Stealing things and trespassing on corporate land could be grounds for legal troubles.

    I hate to say it, but people like SMR and Richard Reoch are actually fairly skilled in ways that many of CTR’s students and many would-be citizens of Shambhala are not skilled. They are skilled in PR. They are also organized.

    Many of us think we’re above PR, we’re too advanced and spiritual to be concerned with such things! Or maybe we feel that all of this is just an illusion and that there’s nothing for us to protect. Maybe God is taking care of everything for us? Maybe our only responsibility is to passively observe things without getting too emotional?

    With any of those attitudes, it seems we have to reap the consequences of our choices, and hand over our treasures to someone willing to play a more active role.

  61. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 12:18 am


    Clarke’s article (above) provides all the information necessary to at least take action in the form of sharing our views with the Sakyong and those who are near to him via emails. There are many email addresses listed, and two emails addresses in particular to communicate with the Acharyas, whom I would like to think will have to do some soul searching before they just go along with this “thangka removal plan.”

    I feel that Emails to the Sakyong should be sent, regardless if he considers them or not. However, if there aren’t a significant number of them, he may not think it matters to people. Regardless of how he seems to have a vision about having the Rigden Thangka on every single Shambhala shrine in the world, he needs to receive the message from his father’s subjects that there is a serious problem with applying this view to the sacrilege of removing the precious Vajradhara Thangka from the Boulder Shrine room.

    Also, I disagree with you. The issues discussed on this forum are NOT forgotten, and sadly enough, they are accumulating and smoldering and breaking hearts. Applying our Buddhist (and / or) Shambhala Practice to this phenomena seems to be the only way to really work with this situation for ourselves, but at least to make a concerted, and collective effort to make our views known to the “powers that be” on this particular issue just seems like a “no brainer” to me for the sake of others.

    somehow, I don’t think this is a situation that calls for Guerilla warfare. (I appreciate the thought, at least) but if after first (a significant amount of people) writing letters comes to no avail, perhaps at least the human shield tactic could be used as a “last stand” sort of thing to make a more concrete statement. (not for PR)

    I don’t think we really have a choice here that we could do more than that.., Whatever happens, we will be practitioners with vajra pride and a great powerful sadness, yet retaining the blessings we have received within…..not just pathetic floundering people as you describe.

    Reality bites, we suck it up. (a 6 word poem.)

  62. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 1:00 am

    How many Buddhists does it take to………save a very precious thangka??

  63. rita ashworth on February 6th, 2010 9:07 am

    Dear Ginny

    Re sending emails to David Brown -it might be best to have a standard letter/email to send to him that people could broadly agree with. To write a letter nowadays seems a chore for many people -so that is why he is not getting many emails.

    I dont know if you could put the letter you or others devise on rfs plus the email addresses -people seem to be have to spoonfed re these things -so it might be good if you/others could do that. If he got say 500 emails they would I believe begin to be hesitant about removing the thangka or at least not be so overactive in doing such a thing.

    I have done some campaigning in the past with CND,(Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) in the UK, and also political campaigning and of course some dreaded PR and journalism! So I definately know where Richard Reoch is at PR wise…….I know how Amnesty works in this country for example -they use the tactics above I have described all the time – so people use it in this sense to get through to RIchard and the Sakyong!

    Yes a human blockade also would be good if it comes to that -you should notify TV and radio stations…….I did the ring round the fence at Greenham -it was a real joy!

    Yes removing the thangka would be wrong not merely in the sense of it being a brilliant work of Art and so closely connected to the Karmapa but also in sense a politically bad move for all of us because the removal of it would ‘enshrine’ a non-principle to me of non-discussion on these matters which is very bad way for the Sakyong, and Richard Reoch to behave, and it would also diss future discussions about other matters if they got away with it in my opinion.

    So people start emailing David Brown and everyone you can think to the nth degree!


    Rita Ashworth

  64. Chris on February 6th, 2010 10:40 am

    The only thing SI and company will respond to is BAD PRESS EXTERNALLY. Over a decade of giving feedback and keeping it internal surely has shown this. They don’t care what you think, they just want to keep you quiet and go away. But they do care about what the larger public thinks because this affects recruiting new students, (their main concern) and new revenue from programs. Write the letters if you wish, but it will be a waste of time. A physical protest , even if it is only 10 people, on the streets outside, would definitely get media attention. If you write the letters you will just let them stall for time, and put out , what the administration will see, as another tiny fire, instead of what it is: the culmination of decades of disregard and indifference .

    If you want to keep the thanka in the Boulder Shrineroon, you need to contact the media and make it a compelling story for the larger public, buddhist and potential buddhist.

  65. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 10:44 am

    Dear Rita,

    and also to anyone who would write a letter if it were easy:

    Please look at Clarke’s article above, please scroll down, and there IS a form letter paragraph that can be pasted into an email letter. It is as simple as cut and paste. The paragraph is right above the list of email addresses.

    I used to be a “political activist” too, but somehow, I don’t think the PR from this issue would really help all that much, as the reasons for us are more mystical and perhaps not understood by the public, and it also just doesn’t seem right to me in this case.

    It would be nice to just keep the thangka issue pure and simple, and not use it to “attack our church”, so to speak. Sort of a “moral high ground” sort of thing.

    Others may feeel differently, of course.


  66. Chris on February 6th, 2010 10:58 am

    Mystical and moral highground? After the whole mandala has
    been stolen away , with strategics and cunning, and PR, from under your noses?

    Kiss that Thanka goodbye.

  67. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Your gravatar photo says it all. You are sitting in your lawn chairs watching from a distance, making weird comments. I can no longer really take anything you say seriously, sorry to say, your comments seem a bit twisted by rage. This is the only comment I will make to you, and it is against my better judgement, taking the bait as it were.

    Ginny :(

  68. Rita Ashworth on February 6th, 2010 1:34 pm

    Dear Ginny and Chris

    I take both your points….it is difficult to know when to be ‘political’ and not in this world especially in the sphere of a practice path.

    However I was much perturbed by the Adam Lobel interview in Halifax which I felt did not specifically address peoples concerns relating to the diverse ways that Shambhala and the Tibetan Buddhist path could be engaged with in this world hence my feeling that you had to be a tide more ‘political’ in the way you related to SI.

    The thangka issue is one more instance of SI not hearing people -therefore a letter-writing campaign in the most widest sense I think would get through to them. But as with such things people have to be in some way informed of the ‘facts’ of the situation so Ginny it is good that you mentioned to people using the article to write to SI and then yes of course people may want to do things differently which you also leave a way open for.

    Re my last post I was again thinking of the TV station/radio station thingie -perhaps it does not need to go that mega perhaps Elephant Journal could do a discussion on the thangka and if the local stations wanted to cover the issue they could also be invited aswell this way you get a lot of input into the situation perhaps in a less-divisive way and of course Elephant is on the net so people could pick it up if they wanted to. I am sure also there are other ‘reasonable’ stations that you could use aswell

    I also take Chris’s point that if David Brown only gets 23 emails and no more the discussion could falter which I believe would be bad for SI and the Buddhist world in general. Personally I take my stand where I believe that the Shambhala teachings should be for everyone and if people want to debate this in a ‘political’ way they should be allowed to do so within SI and without. To me that discussion has never occurred in SI and thats why things are going amiss in other areas like the thangka issue.

    A society whether enlightened or not is made up of contrary opinions on how to go forward – everyone should have an input on this also in a ‘political’ process – in this respect I dont see how you can get away from bread and butter politics -contrariness is also a position of morality based on ones conscience and awareness of the spiritual path and ones experience in the world. Perhaps this is why I am in love with the rebels of this world like Che, like Ginsberg and Kerouac and many, many others.
    They are all dead now but their inspiration for people lives on and its far and wide in this world and does affect the way I relate to people here and now in a political sense.

    I am so sorry that my posts are so brief and not so definitive as within a conversation but thats the price you pay for conversing over the web + mundanely I am doing this email from a webshop in Manchester – when I get my laptop soon perhaps we could have more personal conversations -that would be good.

    Well best from this side of the pond.

    Rita Ashworth

  69. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 2:53 pm


    Your posts are refreshingly broadminded and fresh and very interesting. I’m amazed to think of you writing these little gems at the back of some little shop or library or whatever!

    I have become really overly heated up over this issue, and don’t want to get into it any more than I have already, especially…mixing religion and politics and all the suggestions that have been made.. Fine with me if someone wants to go there. Meanwhile, all we have so far, is this email campaign and our discussions. If anyone would like to take up one of these stronger more forceful and concrete approaches, great! …Let them do so.

    I will try to let go for a while, having said what I have to say, and written my emails etc. Just watch the various posts come in. (Things have really been hopping on the various talk lists about this issue… by the way.)


    PS I notice that RFS gave me a cool emoticon for my last post. I’ll try again to see what happens!! :)

  70. Chris on February 6th, 2010 4:01 pm

    I always expect the really personal insults and attacks to come from those taking the “moral highground”. The amazing thing is that you never “see this”. . I am sorry that you are so frightened by your passion. Twenty three people wrote, because there are probably only 23 people left of CTR students, disempowered, and hanging on to this thangka, when the whole mandala has crumbled around you.

    It is just the last symbol left of what has already been allowed to be destroyed over decades, because of people taking the moral highground frightened of any passion. And that gravatar, by the way, is actually Richard Reoch pretending to be handicapped in a wheelchair, to “relate;” SI’s politically correct PR, the same year that SI facilitated Rinpoche’s son to be put in state care.

    So you think, after the total destruction of CTR’s teaching mandala, that people have much passion now for thankga?
    I would take a close look at your own gravatar for an image of twisted rage behind a painful smile. It is very hard to look at. . i was happy for you, that , at least, around this thankga, you were getting in touch with your own outrage. Which I know, from personal communcations from others, has been very very much a part of you, , over the years. But, . Fooled again. The moral highground wins again. and “game face” is put back on. For nothing. Its already over. The issue around the Thangka is just symbolic. Its only a piece of cloth. But a stand ,at least symbolic ,could have been taken. Instead , you might get with your letters and emails, a place for the thankga on a side wall. Better another lama and lineage gets it, than that it be put “to the side” just like the older students of CTR have been. It would be a horrible symbol, of what’s happened. Better it doesn’t stay, than to stay like that. Such a constant and sad reminder of winning a small battle and so patheticaly losing the war.

  71. Chris on February 6th, 2010 4:43 pm

    I am choosing to remember the days of the pictures of us in the catalogues that were not all smiling faces.

    I am trying to visualize it again, I can even remember when I saw the first, posed, smiling face in a brochure, the first hint of a small, but BIG change, a red flag that was indicating a different direction.

    That’s when we should have protested.

  72. Jigme Chowang on February 6th, 2010 5:45 pm

    Perhaps posting an appeal about the thanka on Facebook would reach new SI students who are unaware of the issues–this might raise the public profile of the conflict enough that SI’s Image Management Team might re-think their unfortunate “Year Zero” approach.

    Personally, if the Vajradhara thanka is actually going to be removed, I think those higher up in the food chain are either remarkably tone deaf or simply don’t care if some of CTR’s old students are unhappy with their decision.

    You always have the option of voting with your checkbook, as I did 25 years ago and have never regretted.

  73. Chris on February 6th, 2010 8:42 pm

    Twenty-years ago! I am impressed by your immediate clarity of impermanence. That makes it 1985! It could have save us all a lot of, time, energy and money if so blessed, oh fortunate son, but thank goodness its still the same moment, whenever it happens. Still, I am amazed. Who are you behind that Tibetan name? omnicient one? I wish I had used mine sometimes, Tibetan name, it might be more fun and freeing. And I am sure, more skillful.

  74. Ginny Lipson on February 6th, 2010 8:44 pm

    Dear Chris,

    I apologize to you and to this forum for “flaming” you this morning. It was, indeed, a very inappropriate way to respond to your post.

    Also, I just want to say that yes, you are right….I do have rage. It has never been a secret from myself, at least.. but I’m tired of rage. It needs more space, by itself it is quite unwieldy. Strong emotions and deeply held beliefs really are vivid and juicy, but they need a balance of sanity, that I have yet to achieve.

    I guess my attempt to discuss moral high ground has to do with attempting to work with rage, among other things.

    Sorry about flaming you….something just snapped.


  75. Chris on February 6th, 2010 9:25 pm

    Just please dont’ go “somewhere” and beat yourself up for being awake and passionate. It was a relief to see you unambivalently get impassioned and clear about this and my heart sank when I saw it go underground again..The thangka is a symbolic reminder that we are in that lineage stream, ..I think we should let it go, rather than sidelineing it , give it as an offering to a karma kagyu lineage holder, or at least insist that the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche get it, as an offering from SI. If it is magical, it might be very helpful for him. And how could they refuse?

    The thangka is a mirror of us, the living thangka, since we are the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s lineage. It’s just a reminder, until we know it in our bones.

  76. Edward on February 7th, 2010 1:09 am

    I seem to recall CTR said someplace that supressing our emotions, and acting out our emotions, are two of our most popular methods for getting rid of them.

    And we can’t wait even another second to get rid of them, since we feel our emotions are sooooo dirty, like cow dung, and we would like to throw them away.

    Then we’d like to borrow money from the bank so we can buy the fertilizer we need.

  77. Ginny Lipson on February 7th, 2010 1:56 am

    Edward, (Edward #2, right?)

    Good point, and that is, unfortunately what usually happens… but…How about recognizing the emotions for what they are, staying grounded in the moment and CONTAINING the energy? not suppressing it OR acting it out? Paying attention, Using the 4 karmas as a basis for action,, or compassion…or all of the above?? It might work sometimes at least…..

  78. richard heilbrunn on February 7th, 2010 9:21 am

    i have created a group on facebook as was suggested. hopefully it will draw energy from both sides of the issue and we can become sharp on the razors edge again. i have published the link on twitter and on elephant journals facebook fan page. if you have a news outlet that is on facebook please post the link there.

    i encourage you all to contribute and make this discussion more public.

  79. Edward on February 7th, 2010 10:47 am

    Ginny Lipson writes:
    Edward, (Edward #2, right?)

    At the risk of sidetracking this discussion a bit, no, there’s only one person posting here under the name “Edward”.

    Containing the energy? I don’t think it’s as complicated as that.

    I think when we’re willing to BE with our emotions– in other words feel them completely without any barriers or any “gloves”– then we aren’t frantically trying to get rid of them by exploding and kicking the dog and cursing our spouse, nor are we supressing them so we can become passive and anemic and a pushover, and impress everyone with how goddamn “nice” we are. We just work with them.

    If it’s any help, I think that CTR’s teaching relative to emotions might be very different, even incompatible, with that of some other teachers. It’s 100% compatible with my own teacher, but SMR for instance has taught that the purpose of meditation is to attain a calm state of mind, according to what I’ve been told repeatedly at my local Shambhala center. At best, this seems like a misunderstanding of hinayana teachings. Or at least it’s not compatible with my own understanding and would seem very hard to integrate with his father’s teachings.

    In any case, being aggressive toward my emotions has never worked well for me. Trying to contain them seems like it could be another way of seeing them as an a problem, rather than as fertilizer.

    . . . .

    Mr. Heilbrunn,

    Excellent work. I think the more open this discussion, the better.

    Even if the thangka is removed or donated to another teacher, hopefully this discussion can help all of us wake up a bit more.

  80. Edward on February 7th, 2010 11:38 am

    Yesterday I was catching up on my lastest CTR book, when I came across a passage that might relate to some of this:

    When you must engage or attack an enemy, an obstacle, the best attack is based on employing the power of the feminine principle. One of the most lethal weapons arises when the feminine principle turns into wrath. The symbolism of arrowheads, exploding bombs, the tip of a whip, and tongues of flame is all based on the feminine principle, which is deadly….

    The blade is regarded as the feminine principle, which actually cuts through the situation. It can produce blood, and it creates birth and death….

    Without the practice of meditation, it is difficult if not impossible to achieve this understanding.

    – from Smile At Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, edited by Carolyn Gimian (pp32-33).

    Operators are standing by to take your order.

  81. Ginny Lipson on February 7th, 2010 11:39 am

    Richard, I second the “bravo!” to you!!

    Sorry, I thought there were two Edwards.

    Anyway, I think we are talking about the same thing here. I meant fully experiencing the energy of the emotion without acting it out or suppressing it. I think this is a very tall order, by the way, but (I think) that is part of our practice. “Containing” only meaning not letting the emotion rule one’s actions with others or reinforcing one’s own narrow views. Sometimes it is better to just be with the emotion and not act on it if possible. Or if one is more advanced, perhaps things would be different.

    I remember one thing said by Trungpa Rinpoche was, that with anger and the Vajra Buddha family neurosis, there is often: “it’s the principle of the thing.” so I think we’re working with a very challenging situation here. Our projections onto the world often seem to justify our anger, so I feel it is a bit dicey to think we as “beginners” in the humble sense, are experiencing “vajra anger” when we apply our anger to the world. We are still only human, not realized beings yet.

    Personally, I really feel like a beginner in all of this, as anger is one of my strongest traits. But as Shantideva implies, it is good to take such things to the practice of guarding and cultivating one’s awakening mind. Especially with anger.

  82. Yeshe Tsomo on February 7th, 2010 11:47 am

    Hello all,

    Just to clarify, Richard Heilbrunn’s link directs you to a Facebook page he set up titled “Keep the Eastern Sun Rising in Shambhala”, with the description “Promote Enlightened Society of Shambhala, in the tradition established by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche”.

    There is also a Facebook page titled “Appeal for the Vajradhara Thangka of Boulder Shambhala Center to Remain” that lists Melony Sebastian as creator (on behalf of Warren Clarke?), and specifically addresses the thangka issue. Melony writes “Just to be clear, I see both sides of the discussion. No matter what happens I just wanted to give out this information on behalf of Clark Warren. My personal wish is that whatever the Sakyong believes to be best is best, but hopefully the thangka will be able to remain in the shrine room even if it is not at the center of the shrine room.”.

    It can be sometimes confusing finding specific groups on Facebook, so I thought this info might be useful.


  83. richard heilbrunn on February 7th, 2010 11:52 am

    ginny~~thanx for referring to me as richard. edward, although i am married to a european and am quite familiar with formal pronouns, as an american i have never been comfortable with them. besides, i have a feeling i am with peers Here, who all matured in an environment that was ripe for spiritual growth, once referred to as aquarius. certainly this is the field that VCTR left us to cultivate. so as peers, please richard will do.

    any suggestions or postings to the group are more than welcome and highly anticipated.


  84. richard heilbrunn on February 7th, 2010 11:54 am

    theresa~~i can’t find the group you noted. can you post a link here??


  85. Yeshe Tsomo on February 7th, 2010 12:27 pm

    Link to FB group specifically about the Vajradhara thangka.!/group.php?gid=283201548158&ref=mf


  86. Edward on February 7th, 2010 12:36 pm

    Thanks Theresa.

    Incidentally, I really enjoyed meeting Reggie Ray, I just did not feel a karmic connection with him. I do admire his courage.

    As far as working with our emotions, it doesn’t seem like we have much choice in the matter. My old teacher used to say we could take responsibility for ourselves, or not, but there weren’t a whole lot of other options.

    I know the less I’m willing to work with my emotions, the more trouble I get into. It doesn’t seem to matter how much of a beginner I tell people I am. I used to have the most fantastic excuses, but people stopped listening to them.

    But back to the main topic… I was thinking that some sort of wikipedia entry or sub-article might help people become more aware of some of these issues, with this thangka, and other controversial decisions the current sakyong has made and is in the process of making.

    I don’t think becoming fixated on a sense of conflict is the point, but giving newcomers “public notice” seems like a good idea, so we can become more informed about the history of Shambhala and how it has developed over the years.

    I personally think disagreements are one of the most useful and educational situations we could ever hope to find ourselves in. My old teacher had a list of recommended books and videos, but he often put authors that disagreed with each other next to each other on the list!

  87. Chris on February 7th, 2010 1:27 pm

    In thinking about this thangka, I realize that it does have some power, above and beyond the physical object. It has served as a prism to alllow many people who could not look directly at things ,that have been happening in the mandala , to at least see obliquely and through the prism of the thangka what has taken place over the last two decades, i.e. the systematic unraveling of the lineage of Trungpa Rinpoche. Corrupting lineage and toppling it, is not just a small, political matter. Or a matter of emotional kleshas going out of control based on “opinion, if we speak out about corruption. Lineage is the most important thread we have to the teachings and those who have come before us and will come afterwards. To have treated lineage like an inconvenient thing of the past that needed to be “overhauled” is not alright. We know this. We had an obligation and samaya to speak out about this, not second-guessing our emotions about it. We should have been much much more vociferous over the years, instead of “standing back and wringing our hands”.A time that called for a blood-curdling scream. There are times when spontaneous reactions , based on intelligence about these things, is exactly what is called for. It has been the years of second guessing our own wisdom about lineage , fear of speaking out, fear of our emotions, and believing that others know best that we are now at this”zero hour”. This was like the child running out in front of a car, where decorum and fear about what others would think, got the child run over.

    Without lineage, we are disconnected from the blessings..

  88. Ginny Lipson on February 7th, 2010 4:35 pm


    I appreciate your sense of searching for more ways to get the word out about the thangka and to promote discussion, going beyond fixating on a sense of conflict. Also, Richard’s work in that vein. I will have to spend more time looking at that “Keep the Eastern Sun Rising in Shambhala”, site.

    Re: emotions, I think they are really a challenge to us humans, to say the least. During practice, I was thinking about the big SPACE, and how important that is in providing a sane container for emotions. Of course, practice in everyday life seems more of a challenge. How to bring that sense of space into our lives amidst the speed and impulses that arise triggered by the stimuli we encounter. Personally, I am always a bit too “trigger happy.” (Working with our own energy!!! Yikes!!)

    After what you just said, I feel like saying to both you and to me: “welcome to the emotion club!”

    Meanwhile, thank you and Richard again for your ideas about how to widen the discussion re: the Vajradhara thangka.


  89. richard heilbrunn on February 7th, 2010 8:15 pm

    i have been asked by the elephant journal to write an article on about why the Vajradhara thangka should stay, what it symbolizes. as i don’t have the personal relationship or history that any of you have, i am recruiting a volunteer. please let me know if you are interested, and i will forward the information. thanx

    this is what we were asking for, Yes??

  90. Fionna Bright on February 7th, 2010 10:38 pm

    A couple of things. The thangka should not be rolled up and stored. If it is to be stored, it should go to the archives where it can be properly conserved. If removal and storage is what gets decided upon, then a support foundation can be formed to collect money to properly handle it. I can just picture it rolled up and stuffed in some backroom or basement or rafters. We can’t do that.

    Second, I wonder if a petition would be more effective? Perhaps with links to it posted on sangha announce, sangha talk, here, the chronicles, elephant, and/or elsewhere? A simple statement about keeping it hanging in the Boulder shrine room might be the best. It doesn’t have to preclude the hanging of the Rigden thangka at all. Repeated posts might help people remember.

    I don’t know how to do this, to set this up. I’m wondering if there might be websites where one can post a petition– or something? There were many that passed through my mailbox during the 08 election.

  91. Marguerite Winnington-Ball on February 8th, 2010 12:50 pm


    The pending removal of the thangka reminds of the time in the mid 90’s when we walked into the Main Shrine Room in Halifax and the large photograph of the Vidydhara was gone, taken down quietly and without warning. I recall that it was put in the downstairs cupboard. At the time, I knew that this was forboding of things to come but there were many other signs as well that I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say, I remember sounding the cry of alarm and being met with opposition. I used to dream that the senior students would overthrow the King. I dreamed that several times and then the dream stopped.

    Why all of this “intelligent exchange of ideas”. Is this the product of groupthink?

    Rome is burning.

  92. john on February 8th, 2010 4:39 pm

    Bye Bye CTR

    Hello SMR

    Does anyone smell the coffee?

  93. Dan Montgomery on February 8th, 2010 5:44 pm

    Sent to Sangha Talk and all the individuals suggested by Clarke Warren:

    Part 1:

    To the Leaders of the Shambhala Mandala,

    I’ve wondered why there haven’t been more letters regarding the prospect of removing the Vajradhara thangka from the Boulder shrine room. Having heard there were only 23 letters so far, I wonder if perhaps others haven’t written for the same reasons that I haven’t, until now.

    The thought of taking down this thangka creates such a feeling in me of raw desolation that I have difficulty finding polite and well considered ways to express myself. So, I will just request:

    PLEASE do not remove the Vajradhara Thangka from its place of 30 years in the Boulder Shambhala Center shrineroom.

    The Vajradhara Thangka is an object of great power, intimately connected with the visualization and samaya of thousands of practitioners. Please consider the karma of taking it down.

    As the Shambhala mandala has evolved into new forms of practice, many of us have felt an increasing sense of excommunication from a sangha we lived in and devoted ourselves to for many years.

    I’m not actually complaining about that – I think leaving the nest and wandering naked in the wilderness of the world is part of the journey. It’s part of mine. I haven’t been active in this sangha for five years. I’m not one to believe that every old form should be preserved so that all of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students can feel “at home”. Taking refuge is taking a vow of homelessness.

    But somehow, taking down this thangka crosses some deeper line for me. It goes beyond the notion of evolving new forms for these times, and into what strikes me as a blatant and monumental rejection of our heritage.

    For many of us who were students of the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the form of Vajradhara is intimately connected with the sense of root guru. I find it interesting that some have tried to rationalize non-attachment to this thangka on the basis that the Rigden exists on the same level. This logic may be correct according to some standard, but has no meaning for me personally. I deeply identify with Vajradhara as a manifestation of the Guru’s mind and my own Buddha nature. In my mind are combined that picture of Trungpa Rinpoche in that sky blue suit, an image I’ve seen so many times in dreams, always in the suit, not the robes, that blue the color of the sky and of Vajradhara.

    Here is where I cross the line into raw feeling.

    (continued in next post)

  94. Dan Montgomery on February 8th, 2010 5:45 pm

    Part 2:

    Here is where I cross the line into raw feeling.

    There seems to be some notion in the sangha today that “harmony” is important, which appears, in practice, to translate into an organizational practice of ignoring or even actively suppressing diverse viewpoints, viewpoints which were once in fact mainstream. In my experience this fosters disharmony, turns the term “harmony” into some kind of “newspeak”, and severs the connection between Heaven and Earth. What good will this lead to? Can you tell me how this contributes to the enlightenment of sentient beings?

    There have been many polite requests in these posts to observe the very clear, original intention of the Shambhala vision and allow diverse forms of practice to exist within the mandala. All of these requests appear to have been ignored. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche envisaged a Shambhala kingdom in which all manner of contemplative practices could co-exist, including contemplative Christians, Jews, Sufis, etc. Now we can’t even keep Vajradhara???

    I ask that you, as the current leaders of this mandala, deeply consider the impact of your actions, and inactions, on others. Many precious teachings and forms are being destroyed or cast into neglect. This is profoundly confusing and disempowering for many people who haven’t been inspired by the current program, yet retain a deep heart connection to their Guru.

    Thank you,

    Dan Montgomery

    Tharpa Rigom

  95. Andrew Safer on February 8th, 2010 6:10 pm


    Let’s talk. Please e-mail me via Facebook.

    Jigme Lamchen

  96. Edward on February 8th, 2010 6:29 pm

    I think taking down the thangka could be a great blessing.

    If we’re not willing to embody CTR’s teachings and slap SMR in the face a bit until he’s willing to do the same, then what makes us think we have any right to these thangkas? The thangkas are a sham unless we’re willing to embody the wakeful qualities they represent.

    Taking down the thangkas and shoving them into storage could be like someone pouring a bucket of ice-water down our shirt– brisk, cold, bracing, but undeniable and very real.

    I don’t know if this is relevant, but what follows is a passage from my old teacher I came across recently:

    [talking about difficult experiences] You spend your entire life complaining about the very things you should be using as great initiations that made you strong. If you were sitting here in your adult moment, that is how you would be using them… But you always approach it rather infantile. You are refusing to be in the position where it has initiatory force. You stay in the infant position, where it has only threatening force…

    Those blows help to coincide with wisdom– when you get to be a man or woman and decide to use them.

    Till you are ready to get off the tit, all you feel is that “they” have abused you. What if they did? This is [samsara]-land, my dear.

  97. Yeshe Tsomo on February 8th, 2010 7:34 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I wrote all of the people that Clarke Warren suggested to write, regarding the Vajradhara thangka, and this is the first reply that I have received from anyone that has any substance to it. I am surprised at how sad I feel right now.


    Dear Theresa,

    You recently wrote about your wish that the Vajradhara thangka in the main shrine room in Boulder not be removed. Other people have also expressed this wish and asked us to respect its sacred character and the historic importance of this thangka for our community.

    We want to update you about what is happening. Ulrike shared with the Boulder sangha on Harvest of Peace that the Sakyong had commissioned Cynthia Moku to paint a thangka of the Primordial Rigden to go in the Boulder shrine room. It is the only other original Rigden thangka that he has asked her to paint and it has been specially designed to go over the shrine where the Vajradhara thangka now hangs.

    Boulder will then join all the other centers in the mandala that have the Primordial Rigden as the primary image in its public shrine room. The the Sakyong is hoping that Cynthia can complete the thangka this year. He will then arrange for it to be ceremonially installed in the shrine room.

    Last year, the Sakyong spoke about the significance of the Vajradhara thangka and his love for it. He said we would need to be very respectful towards this lineage treasure of Shambhala. He said he would be thinking about how best it could be preserved, and was very concerned that we find an appropriate way to house and honor this sacred image. Our understanding is that he will be giving us his guidance on this once he returns from retreat.

    In the meantime, we will keep all communications like yours so that the Sakyong can be made aware of your deep concerns and wishes as he considers what is best.

    With every best wish,

    Ulrike Halpern, Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center Director

    Jesse Grimes, Kalapa Envoy to the Rocky Mountain Region

  98. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:01 am

    It sounds like it’s all well-planned and well-executed from a PR perspective.

    If you’ll allow me to make an observation, it’s interesting how hard-working, disciplined, and diligent SMR is as a private individual. He seems to spend a lot of time weightlifting, consulting with personal lawyers, meeting with corporate donors, and hiring and training PR staff to promote himself. Many of these things are implements of war, of course (and there’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily). Every corporate leader understands that modern warfare is conducted via public relations and lawyers.

    But as a teacher, SMR seems to say: “Why are you meditating so much? You don’t need to be so disciplined. Also, we are reworking the curriculum to make it easier and more peaceful, calming, like eating soft mush, so that you won’t have to strain your jaws or risk hurting yourselves.” There are plenty of reassuring PR messages to remind me how important I am. I feel like I can just about retire to a nursing home.

    We write letters pleading– no, begging– with SMR to take pity on us, and to realize what a pitiful state we are in, to have mercy on our wretchedness. We’re in the nursing home in our bed, and we’re desperately pushing the “nurse” button over and over. By this time, our legs don’t work from non-use, and we can’t even sit up straight on our own.

    But the nurse doesn’t help us sit up, she only administers another dose of anasthetic.

    . . . .

    Is it just me, or is all this so very, very different from the message I get when I open one of CTR’s books? Seriously, please let me know, ok? Today in “Smile At Fear” (available now from your local bookseller) I read something that was almost shocking, it was so uncompromising.

    Renunciation is willing to work with real situations of aggression in the world. If someone interrupts your world with an attack of aggression, you have to respond to it. There is no other way. Renunciation is being willing to face that intense kind of situation rather than cover it up.

    Everyone is afraid to talk about this. Nonetheless, we have to learn to relate to those aspects of the world….

    This whole discussion is not just metaphoric. We are talking about what you do if you actually have to slash the enemy, if you are in combat or having a sword fight with someone. We shouldn’t be too cowardly. A sword fight is real, as real as making love to another human being. We are talking about direct experience, and we’re not psychologizing anything here. Before you slash the enemy, look into his or her eyes and feel that tenderness. Then you slash. [pp. 60-62]

  99. Dan Montgomery on February 9th, 2010 12:21 am

    I’m aware of at least three other people, including myself, who have received the identical form letter that Yeshe Tsomo copied above. This is the first “official” response that clearly outlines the Sakyong’s intentions. From some point of view, yes, this is great PR. Let the peasants work themselves into a snit without having actually announced anything formally, then let the word out with a form letter as people spill their guts out.

    The message in the letter? The decision is already made. Thank you for your opinion. We don’t care. Have a nice day.

    I wish I could agree with Fionna that a petition would make any difference. I doubt it. Edward’s points above are well taken about how we respond to these situations. It’s foolish to expect any change considering the inherent asymmetry of the power relationship here. It’s worth saying something, if only to bear witness to what’s happening, and I’m glad I did, but the possibilities for truly skillful action elude me, other than the skillful action of pure heartbreak.

  100. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:37 am

    Just to clarify, I didn’t mean to suggest that writing letters isn’t completely appropriate or couldn’t be a first step in an effective campaign. It just sounded like this whole thing had been repeated many times in the past.

    And I wonder what kind of person SMR actually respects. When I was a child, sometimes there was a bully in the playground who got his way with everyone. If you pleaded with him to treat you nice, often it just made him respect you even less.

    But if you had self-respect, dignity, and courage, and were maybe willing to get into a fight…. often afterwards the bully laughed and said you’re not such a coward after all, and you became best friends.

    In the Japanese warrior tradition, a warrior never begs, and if he does, he disqualifies himself from being respected as a warrior by anyone, or having any of the rights that a warrior would otherwise possess.

    If anyone watches Cesar Milan– the Dog Whisperer– on TV, he says that in a dog pack if one dog expresses cowardice or neurosis, the other dogs ignore everything he says and they all nip him, to help instill a sense of courage and warriorship in him. The dog pack only pays attention to what the brave dogs have to say, the ones who don’t back down from a fight.

  101. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:54 am

    Dan Montgomery writes:
    the possibilities for truly skillful action elude me

    I could be wrong, but it seems like there are really only three parties involved in all these issues:

    1) SMR and his staff
    2) Old timers who are uncomfortable with many changes
    3) Paying newcomers who are unaware of the changes, and pay their money to what they believe is the Druk Sakyong’s organization to support his teachings and his Shambhala vision.

    One of the biggest problems as I see it is that the people in group 2 do not effectively communicate with the people in group 3, from what I can tell. This fact could be the entire thing provides all the support and reinforcement and energy that group 1 needs to continue on their course.

    People in group 2 state that they are heartbroken and painfully aware of tons of issues that are highly upsetting.

    I’m sort of in group 3 myself, and I have no idea what fraction of these painful issues I’m aware of, even though I’ve read many articles on this site.

    At the last several Shambhala Levels I took, I can tell you quite confidently that nobody had any clue about any of these controversies. I’m going to guess that that probably includes many of the staff and assistant directors. And I bet even the directors have blocked out some of it from their minds, so that they don’t fully realize the full picture, or want to think about it.

    So the folks in group 2 are effectively shills for group 1. Group 3 comes along and buys the product, thinking that everything is kosher.

    I think you have to begin to see how a newcomer thinks, does that make sense? Where does SI get its money? What human resource pool do SI or regional centers rely on for new staff?

    What information does a newcomer have access to? Do they have a right to know about the things you know about?

    It seems to me that one action that would really get SI’s attention is to create a concise list of SMR’s decisions that make people uncomfortable, and then publish these in a very prominent place. When you speak to a newspaper journalist, you can mention this list of controversies, which they can use as a resource and list in their article.

    Then we can encourage each other to be more courageous in how we deal with these things.

    And finally we can get more publicity and get more disuscussions going.

    At that point, maybe we’ll have done our duty. Otherwise, it’s as though we are accomplices in the crime.

    If you see a crime committed and don’t report it– say, a rape– that’s actually considered a crime itself, because a judge would say you’re enabling the rapist to go out and do it again to another victim.

    And if we don’t figure out how to deal with conflict in this lifetime, we’ll no doubt have many, many, many more lifetimes yet to work on it.

  102. Michael Billingsley on February 9th, 2010 4:14 am

    I am reminded, reading through these many heartfelt comments, of when I went to Sonam Lama in a nearby state to purchase a thangka for our shrine room. He knew something about my lineage and teachers already. “Which do you want?” he asked. “Vajrasattva,” I replied, “Dorje Sempa.”

    “Ah yes,” he said, “I have one. Done by my own teacher in Tibet. You will want this.” He went over into his own shrine room and removed a thangka from the wall of the dimly-lit room, rolling it up and emerging again. We set a price and I took it back to Vermont with me. The next morning I prepared the space and unrolled the thangka to see it… really for the first time… as Sonam Lama’s shrine room was small and I could barely fit in to see what he was doing.

    This was not Vajrasattva (my primary personal practice at the time). Instead, I saw a beautiful blue-green Vajrasattva with consort, surrounded by a pumpkin-orange aura of light. I called Sonam Lama. “I had asked for Dorje Sempa,” I said. “Dorje Chang! Dorje Chang!” he said. “Are you not Kagyu?”

    So… And I have very much come to love this Dorje Chang.

    There’s some “thing” talk here. All of Palden Sherab Beru’s thangka’s are extraordinary things. Behind our shrine’s Buddha here I still have a life-sized photo of CTR’s little Milarepa thangka, only 5.5″ tall, under glass from back in ’73 when I took the photo for him.

    But you can love THIS not as a “thing” but as a pure open transmission of unobstructed vision, into things as they are… as our lineage arose “into” Tilopa, like terma (as I vaguely grasp it) only infinitely more vast and simultaneously clear.

    That is what informs the stream of teachings that IS our Kagyu lineage – one of the two ancient streams of teaching (along with Nyingma) which came to us through the Vidyadhara. His own “mind terma” – such as the Sadhana of Mahamudra, and Shambhala, have the same self-arising qualities. One can take them or leave them, as one must with ANY-thing taught (and screw the doctrinistas).

    Since you folks are all camping on Indian land, why not adopt a strategy from your predecessors on the terrain and just “de-camp.” Getting so comfy in the building over the years may have taken you into sentimental territory, but someone with big cajones seems to be taking over the enterprise and inviting a face-off. Your sit-in or blockade is acting as if those 4-walls and a ceiling are actually some kind of enduring substance essential to the Kagyu tradition in Boulder… but are they?

    Rather, why not just politely (with the understanding that the Vajradhara thangka was clearly intended by His Holiness and CTR for Kagyu lineage inspiration… as top-knot on the lineage tree, so to speak) just go start a Karma Dzong, Boulder somewhere else.

    When the Plains people didn’t like the newly-proclaimed chief they didn’t butt heads – people voted with their bodies. Head for the door and take your obvious emblematic yidam with you… no harm… see who follows. Your statement will be heard, believe me.

    Michael Billingsley, Vermont
    Ngakpa K. Jigme Tönpa

  103. Michael Billingsley on February 9th, 2010 4:36 am

    Slight correction: “Instead, I saw a beautiful blue-green *Vajradhara* with consort…”

  104. rita ashworth on February 9th, 2010 9:32 am

    I take Mr Billingsleys point about the building -but there is something else besides bricks and mortar about what is happening now.

    Supposedly we are going into a dark age and we will need teachings that can reach all of humanity in all its guises – what is developing now in SI is one way of constructing a future society that can get through this dark age thats why the path is so important for people.

    But it is only one way and a lot of people in SI and without I believe know whole-heartedly that there are other ways to be at home in this world and our lives. So Edward what is and was has been attempted with the teachings of CTR is nothing more than the revolution in the concept of society that your own teacher also wanted in Fiji -so this is why the viewpoints in my belief are being so strongly expressed on this site

    The question now for a lot of us not in SI and some still within it is whether we are prepared to see and feel other ways of getting in touch with basic goodness outside of the system developing at present. There is the totality of western culture and art which offers so much and we have not begun to explore it in the context of the shambhalian teachings ……there must be ways found of bringing our own heritage to light in this coming Shambhalian society which will also be full of the established religions aswell. So yes which way SMR turns and which way he does not will affect the whole way of life on this globe.

    Edward read the Fromm book -we are talking about the world and nothing more or less than the transformation of it in every sphere of learning. I think when CTR was reading that book his eyes must have been popping out of his head.

    So yes the thangka is a symbol of the non-allowance of diversity -the shambhala path to me though is rather the allowance of diversity in all its forms. We can work and be with others and in my own opinion we dont need to soldify the whole thing into a fixated path.

    I think inherently I have known this since 1974 when I first glimpsed the possibility of things being different from what was around me ……..yes the reality we inhabit is such a screen to what could be.

    So Edward read the Fromm book -everyone read it -its a revelation and points out to some extent the way forward that CTR tuned into in 1968

    O yeh and tune in and drop out – was that the phrase -yes indeed the politics of ecstasy but without the drugs!.


    Rita Ashworth

  105. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:11 pm

    I personally don’t have a connection to this thangka, but see its disposal as yet another sign of how much things have changed.

    For weeks now I’ve been envisioning a simple timeline to tell the story of the Sakyong lineage, especially for the benefit of new people. Here’s a rough draft.

    The Sakyong Lineage: A Timeline of How Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (CTR) Created Shambhala Training Essentially From Scratch, and Helped Bring Buddhism to North America, and How His Son Osel Mukpo (SMR) Systematically Destroyed Much Of His Father’s Work

    * CTR arrives penniless in North America.
    * In stark contrast to how things were done in Tibet, CTR demands a lot of sitting meditation from his students.
    * “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” is published and becomes an overnight success, with no marketing. The book criticizes using spirituality to to attain comfort for oneself, such as a calm state of mind.
    * Other Buddhist teachers such as X and Y express amazement with the discipline and maturity of CTR’s students.
    * CTR creates Shambhala Training, in the face of many obstacles, and much resistace from his own students and from other teachers.
    * Although CTR is extremely radical as a teacher, he is extremely loyal to the heads of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, and hosts them in North America.
    * “Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior” is published and is hugely successful, with almost no marketing.
    * CTR names his son Osel Mukpo as the next “sakyong”, so that his Shambhala lineage will be forever separate from his own Buddhist lineage. He names a different man as his Buddhist regent.
    * Osel Mukpo announces that he has no desire to be sakyong and no intention of fulfilling the duties of sakyong.
    * Osel Mukpo publicly agrees to devote his life to fulfilling all the duties of sakyong.
    * CTR tells his students how proud he is of them, and when they have doubts, he says “you can do it!”
    * CTR expresses fears that his son Osel Mukpo will not do a good job as sakyong, saying he’s afraid his son would rather be a “rinpoche”.
    * CTR instructs his students what to do if his son Osel Mukpo goes off course.
    * CTR makes sure that the power he personally wields will be shared by a number of different parties after his death, to provide checks and balances. This includes all his students as a whole, his board of directors, his wife, his regent, and the next sakyong.
    * CTR dies.


  106. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:11 pm

    * Osel Mukpo (SMR) becomes sakyong, and soon begins systematically destroying his father’s work, and increasing his personal wealth.
    * SMR publicly announces that all of CTR’s students were bad people who did not serve CTR well. SMR fires them all from their jobs and replaces them with people with backgrounds in public relations management.
    * SMR makes vows and commitments to other teachers.
    * SMR cuts back on meditation requirements for the students.
    * SMR contradicts his father’s most famous teaching, and announces that the purpose of meditation is to “attain a calm state of mind”. This becomes public policy.
    * SMR begins taking bribes from corporate backers such as Goldman Sachs.
    * SMR hires a Phd candidate to rewrite and replace the curriculum his father created.
    * SMR hires corporate lawyers to help solidify his own control over the assets his father left behind.

    I think it would be interesting if someone more familiar with these events than myself could correct mistakes, fill in details, and document sources for these things.

    The idea is that, rather than fuming or raging over certain events, to document them in a very concise, direct way, with complete footnotes, etc. It’s not isolated events that provoke the rage, but all of it taken together. But nobody else can see all of it, I think.

    If this history were a matter of common public knowledge, perhaps published on wikipedia or something, then I think that would be a good thing, and there would be that much less ignorance in the world. I don’t really understand why there’s so much beating around the bush when it comes to telling the plain facts of how Shambhala Buddhism came to be.

  107. Edward on February 9th, 2010 12:31 pm

    The sooner people are willing to “see things as they are” regarding the current sakyong, the sooner we can all get on with the business of preserving CTR’s teachings (in a full, living, human way).

    Who knows, maybe magical things could happen at that point.

    Rather than everything being 100% completely predictable and depressing, things could become much more unpredictable and inspiring.

  108. Jigme Chowang on February 9th, 2010 12:38 pm

    I haven’t kept abreast of all the changes, but just out of curiosity, do SI people still begin a practice session with the Takpo Kagyu lineage supplication, or has that been discarded as well?

    “Great Vajradhara, Tilo, Naro,
    Marpa, Mila, Lord of Dharma Gampopa…
    …”Perfecting the virtues of the paths and the bhumis,
    May I speedily attain the state of Vajradhara.”

  109. ashoka on February 9th, 2010 12:56 pm

    Nope. We do the “Lineage Supplication,” beginning with:

    “Primordial Rigen
    All-Good Samantabhadra
    Great Vajradhara
    Lotus-born Padmakara
    Wisdom Yeshe Tsogyal
    Prajevajra, Shri Simha,
    Holders of the ancient great perfection,
    Tilo, Naro, Marpa, Mila,
    Siddhi-accomplishing masters of Mahamudra,
    Please approach and grant your blessings.”

    That chant has replaced the Kaygu Supplication.

    From what I know regarding this, the Sakyong feels that since the Rigden is the primary yidam of the shambhala termas and sadhanas that arose from the Vidyadhara’s mindstream, it should be the yidam on the shrines in Shambhala centers. Simply placing the Vajradhara thangka onto another wall so that it stays in the shrine room is disrespectful to a practice object with that much drala. Something befitting its importance should be done with it. I have no clue what that will entail.

    Edward, Shambhala Buddhism came to be because of the courage, kindness, and wisdom of the Vidyadhara.

    Happy Shambhala Day!

  110. Rita Ashworth on February 9th, 2010 2:08 pm

    Ashoka nice to hear from you again.

    I think I can see why the supplication has changed because we now have Shambhala Buddhism.

    But I still think its debateable as to the Buddhism part of the Shambhala teachings.As I came to practice them they were open to many people and not just Buddhists, and as far as I know though there are thangkas of the Rigden King the Vidyadhara chose not to use them for practice.

    Plus of course we have had many reports on this site as to the ‘revealing’ of the terma of Shambhala particularly from Mark Szp –so there are many divergent ways as to getting to grips with taking the shambhala teachings forward in my opinion.

    Philosophically and psychologically The King concept is a highly evolved concept in all cultures and reflects the individuals engagement with expressing fearlessness so are we always to be engaged with viewing it from a Tibetan flavour. I think yidam-wise that the King concept will come to be known in many different ways according to the many different cultures on this planet. Of course you may say that this is deviating from the way that the Vidyadhara ‘revealed’ these teachings but I would say that in expressing fearlessness and getting in touch with the practice of meditation the King concept could be revealed in many ways.

    I am not trying to be obtuse but I think what I have stated is a distinct possibility.

    So I think you are being slightly too emphatic in connecting the depiction of the Rigden King now hanging in Shambhala centres as being the only way to connect with the power of the shambhala teachings.


    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  111. Jim Wilton on February 9th, 2010 2:28 pm

    In the Boston Shambhala Center and at Karme Choling (and everywhere else in the mandala as far as I know) we do the Supplication to the Takpo Kagyu everyday. It follows the Shambhala Lineage Supplication (which includes Kagyu and Nyingma lineage figures) and the Seven Line Supplication.

    Personally, I think the Vajradhara thangka should remain where it is –until there is a place to move it to that is significant enough to do justice to the role of the Kagyu lineage in the Shambhala mandala. Uniformity is overrated.

  112. Waylon Lewis on February 9th, 2010 2:40 pm

    I was sitting in the Shambhala Center shrine room the other day, Alex Halpern giving a talk to we Dorje Kasung on kyudo, thinking about this post and all the comments. It’s a tough question: impermanence vs. a tradition (of impermanence). And yet, I personally can’t help but wish that we’d preserve more of Trungpa Rinpoche’s legacy for generations (including my children) to come. My staff put together various letters here, with the update from Mark Smith via my dear friends Ulrike Halpern, Jesse Grimes.

  113. John Tischer on February 9th, 2010 2:50 pm

    Wrong, Asoka, “Shamnhala Buddhism” did not come about because of the actions or intentions of the Vidyadhara. If it was clear that that was the case, this site would not exist. Check your reality.

  114. rita ashworth on February 9th, 2010 2:56 pm

    Waylon thanks for posting this.

    Could it be possible to have a non-divisive discussion on elephant video about shambhala and shambhala buddhism and all the various ideas on how to take things forward.

    I feel the discussions so far have been from on high – I feel both sides need to be heard in parallel in a civilised manner.

    The Sun I don’t think would have such a discussion but I see Elephant as being more radical in the sense that you did the interview with Ray.

    We are supposed to be an open society in the west –we need to debate how to take things forward in an open and unconstructed fashion. No publication in SI is doing that now – I think you could be a link like rfs to foster discussion because to me Shambhala and Buddhism is way too important to not be discussed openly.


    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  115. Edward on February 9th, 2010 3:25 pm

    Waylon Lewis writes:
    It’s a tough question: impermanence vs. a tradition (of impermanence).

    Either people are still being polite for political purposes or there’s an immense amount of blindness still going on, in my opinion.

    As a relative outsider, from where I’m sitting, all of the most beautiful and characteristic aspects of CTR’s teachings will be completely destroyed if SMR has his way. I don’t know how I can say this more plainly. It’s not easy to build a sangha and an organization from scratch– these are not things that can just be discarded and then replaced easily, like snapping our fingers. What did CTR say about fragmenting the sangha?

    People come up with endless pseudo-Buddhist rationalizations to support SMR’s actions. “Well there’s nothing to protect.” “It’s all impermanent”

    Then, in an attempt to appear “balanced” and not taking sides, we settle for expressing our “pain” or our “heartbreak”.

    Meanwhile SMR is working extremely diligently on his own course and ignoring all of you, utilizing (whether knowingly or unknowingly) the cutting edge techniques of “orchestrating consensus”, including

    1. Gradualism (cooking the frog slowly)
    2. The Hegelian Dialectic (common ground, consensus, and compromise)*
    3. Semantic Deception (redefining terms to get agreement without understanding)
    4. Playing people’s loyalties against each other

    *The Hegelian Dialectic is where you propose a problem (“revenues are down”) and get people worried about it, and then announce the solution (“scrap CTR’s curriculum and replace it with something easy and calming which will sell fast”)

    I don’t know how well SMR employs #2, but he’s extremely successful at employing #1 and #3, it seems to me.

  116. Chris on February 9th, 2010 4:55 pm

    Just read the article on Elephant.

    Another PR opportunity for SMR and company.

    First , its laid out by SMR loyalists, i.e. framing it as the new (hip) buddhist teacher, not being caught in ritual,dogma and tradition, ( not true he has actually brought the dharma of CTR back to the Tibetan 14th c), , And SMR, trying to cope with trying to please the traditionalists.and their resistance to “Impermance” that is how Elephant gets to frame the problem. That’s the introduction’s slant by Elephant editor with a bias so glaring I really didn’t want to bother to continue reading . . Then the next paragraph section is the letter of Ulrike Halpern ( wonderful director ed!)and Jesse Grimesthat is the official letter of the “decision has been made” and then , and only after that do we hear what the concerns of the older students are down at the bottom, which could almost be mistaken for commentary and not the article..

    I just cannot imagine what motivates older CTR students to keep beating there heads against a wall like this. Why would you not know that every issue is turned on its head as a PR opportunity for SMR and they will always frame things as such always, always. There is no possibility to be really heard, because it has devolved to a place where they really don’t “get” what we are concerned about, they are true believers and they don’t get why we aren’t. . They are in a “different stream” now that took twenty years to evolve in the direction it did. This generation of totally devoted SMR students have a mission and only one. To covert the world to SMR’s vision. Why on earth would you think this vehicle would be the place to “air” your concerns without this kind of gross bias distorting the message?

  117. Edward on February 9th, 2010 5:19 pm

    Chris writes:
    This generation of totally devoted SMR students have a mission and only one.

    My own experience is slightly different, on an individual level. Many of the newer people I’ve met (who are now helping run the local center– literally– and are assistant directors at Level weekends) are excited to be part of CTR’s lineage, but if you talk to them they are clearly confused or ignorant about some of these controversial issues, and defer to the senior students on hand who were with CTR.

    Trouble is, the only senior students who were with CTR that they ever see or hear from are the ones who loudly proclaim how great SMR is. So they go along with that. Please re-read this paragraph a few times.

    It’s a case of the emperor and his fine clothes. In a mob-mentality, you just agree with everyone else so you can get on and feel loved and accepted. That’s not completely unexpected or unacceptable for new people, for beginners, but when that mentality takes over absolutely everything it seems like a problem.

    The only other CTR students that exist in the world other than SMR supporters are extremely polite and political in how they express themselves. Many of them would never THINK of picking up a samurai sword, or slashing an enemy. I think Mr. Szpakowski referred to them as “dark matter”– they cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled, but we think they exist from the calculations we’ve made.

    Yes, I can “beat feet” and go somewhere else, but will my cowardice and shyness go with me?

  118. richard heilbrunn on February 9th, 2010 5:27 pm

    chris~~i may be mistaken but it is my impression that everything published in the elephant article had already been published in this thread. it was suggested that elephant write an article and bring more attention to this issue that obviously has strong personal connections. how can we expect that if we are not objective???

  119. Chris on February 9th, 2010 6:08 pm


    I agree with you up to a point. I think that CTR students were just as loyal and devoted. However, I think once CTR’s Kagyu-Nyingma lineage stream literally arrived on our doorsteps, it was the realization that it was all one mind-stream, not a special mindstream. There comes a time when students mature, they meet other great masters, and they experience the same “view” with those teachers the style of teachings are different,it may not be the same charge of electricity, it might be just a powerful in a different way, or not as powerful but clearly, undoubtedly , its the same view. For many of us, not only was there no charge of electricity, with SMR, it started to seem like a different view . So it’s not about the thangka being put aside, its what it “represents” being put aside, those great lineage lamas that we actually met, took refuge with and bodhisattva vows with, it really feels like putting them aside. Why would you stay in a situation that creating this kind of “reality” to have to deal with. It doesn’t seem like it would be at all helpful for one’s spiritual journey. The lessons have been learned.

  120. Ronald Barnstone on February 9th, 2010 6:19 pm

    It really irks me when supposedly intelligent people describe the removal of this thangka as part of the process of impermanence.

    This thangka is not being removed as a consequence of the natural dissolution of the five elements of which it is composed, or of some natural disaster such as fire or earthquake. To try to paper over its removal as another example of impermanence strikes me as both fatalistic and stupid.

  121. John Tischer on February 9th, 2010 6:20 pm

    The reason why I continue here, Chris, is so that people who encounter
    Shambhala Buddhism can have some context in which to place it, so that
    they can make a more informed decision as to how they want to relate to it, or not. That is very important and helpful, I think.

  122. John on February 9th, 2010 6:42 pm

    This is a very overt step by SMR and SI to tell everyone that the days of CTR are over and SMR is the boss.

    If you don’t like it you can leave by the front door or back door, just LEAVE!!!

    Remember our beloved CTR is dead.

    Wait a second I just remembered that his reincarnation is alive.

    So what, no one cares about that guy any way .

    Students that don’t want anything to do with the the incarnation of there
    teacher were never truly students in the first place.

  123. ashoka on February 9th, 2010 6:56 pm

    John, I grew up studying the Vidyadhara’s teachings almost exclusively. It was only in my mid-20s that I even considered looking elsewhere for any kind of philosophy or teachings that didn’t come from his mouth. I still read his works much more so than even the Sakyong’s. Smile at Fear is a masterpiece, for example; I find it even pithier than Sacred Path.

    I’ve never once encountered anything in the actual [i]teachings[/i] of the Sakyong that conflict with anything I’ve read of the Vidyadhara’s. Most of the changes seem primarily cosmetic in nature. When it comes down to it, the actual practices and texts that were written by the Vidyadhara are almost all Shambhala practices. Werma, authentic being, lungta, stroke, etc. They, along with the Sadhana of Mahamudra, are all still extensively practiced; so I don’t personally see any gap in the actual meat of the path. It’s hard for me to consider that we’re really “losing the past” when, with the exception of Rigden Ngondro, all of the practices, transmissions, and teachings that students of the Sakyong are receiving come directly from Chogyam Trungpa. I respect that not everyone shares this view.

    As for the thangka… I can see why this is upsetting. But is one yidam really ‘better’ than the next? The Rigden is the ultimate yidam of the Shambhala texts, which to me are the jewel of the Vidyadhara’s mind, and regardless of whether or not the print itself is all that aesthetically appealing, it represents something very precious and unique to our sangha. From an external point of view, at least. The basic goodness that the Rigden ultimately represents is nobody’s property. It makes sense to me that the image of the yidam of our ngondro, werma, scorpion seal, and root texts would hang on the shrine in such an important practice center.

    Not trying to flame, simply offering my perspective.

  124. Chris on February 9th, 2010 8:14 pm

    Dear John Tischer:

    Of course there is that motivation. And that is what is helpful about RFS. Those students who wander in thinking it is CTR’s teachings, or read his books, and because of branding come into the mandala, thinking it is CTR’s view, eventually notice something , and wander over to RFS . That is probably very helpful for them. So really, students who come in attracted by CTR’s mandala, probably enter a revolving door, sooner or later. Those who are attracted by SMR’s teachings stay. I think we have to trust people’s intelligence.

    I think it is easier to be in CTR’s mindstream when you leave all this craziness “doublethink” bind behind. This is SMR’s mandala that he has created and he and his devoted students are “moving ahead,” moving on.

  125. rob graffis on February 9th, 2010 8:17 pm

    If If hear one more
    “Sakyong” student say “if they don’t like it then leave”, I will kick a waste basket.
    The Three Jewels are the Buddha Dharma and Sangha. We are forgetting the sangha. We did take refuge in the Sangha you know as well. Richard Reoch and Lady Diana, are you listening?

  126. John Tischer on February 9th, 2010 8:28 pm

    The brand is tarnished.

  127. Jim Wilton on February 9th, 2010 8:38 pm

    I have great respect for the Sakyong and consider him my teacher.

    I also appreciate his focus on propagating CTR’s terma teachings — since we are the only holders of these teachings in the world.

    My sadness is that there is less and less room these days for practioners of the the Karma Kagyu path within Shambhala. Vajrayogini practice, once the center of Vajrayana transmission in our sangha, with careful and detailed teachings by CTR is now an “optional” path. I attended the Vajrayogini track at the Karme Choling Garchen in 2008, in part to develop my connection with SMR. In 2009, this opportunity did not exist.

    The three year retreat at Gampo Abbey scheduled to begin in 2010 requires completion of Vajrayogini practice by number. Among the few newer practioners who are focused on Vajrayogini rather than Werma practice, most are working to complete the practice by time — and are, therefore, not qualified for three year retreat. As a result, only six practioners applied for the 18 or 20 positions that need to be filled to start the three year retreat. The retreat has now been deferred to 2011 at the earliest — who knows if it will happen even then.

    SMR has issued a proclamation affirming the importance of Gampo Abbey to the mandala. But unless the core practices of the Kagyu lineage are preserved for those who are inspired to practice them (and SMR actually cultivates inspiration for these practices), the proclamation means little. Pema Chodron is still alive. What an opportunity this would be to develop a monastic path in the West (in parallel with the lay practioner’s path) that could be a resource for experienced practioners and future teachers — if we only had leadership that would encourage this.

    The removal of the Vajrahara thangka (without having an appropriate new place to put it) is just an unfortunate and pointed example of the current neglect of the Kagyu lineage teachings in the Shambhala mandala. It is a mistake. It is a mistake that can be corrected. I am hopeful that it will be sooner or later. We’ll see if it is.

  128. damchö on February 9th, 2010 9:40 pm

    Ashoka, I think I can understand your point of view and why it is held by many. I do have a question regarding this thought however: “It’s hard for me to consider that we’re really ‘losing the past’ when, with the exception of Rigden Ngondro, all of the practices, transmissions, and teachings that students of the Sakyong are receiving come directly from Chogyam Trungpa.”

    Glancing over now at my shelf which contains VCTR’s books, I see two volumes of Shambhala teachings but well over a dozen which came out of his training in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages and are faithfully and explicitly indebted to them. So I would say that the full cycle of teachings VCTR gave which rely on the language and imagery and practices of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages didn’t really “come directly” from him, but rather came **through** him along a path which stretches back for centuries. And it is all of this which Shambhala seems gradually (or not so gradually) to be jettisoning. VCTR was indeed a most brilliant and exceptional teacher, but he didn’t reinvent the wheel; he never broke from his own lineages.

    Isn’t it simply the case that all of the more advanced Kagyu and Nyingma practices will now be radically de-emphasized, indeed rarely even given? This is what has been directly stated, I believe, and clearly signalled by the new shrine. So that in fact the Rigden Ngondro you point to as the exception is now the rule.

    Again, I’m not taking issue with your support of this direction, only the view that it represents the preservation of VCTR’s teaching legacy. Within a generation or so, there will be a radical disjunction at the level of practice between Shambhala and literally ALL other Buddhist lineages on the planet. Nearly all students will be doing as their main practice one found literally nowhere else, one which can only be received from one person. **Effectively** Shambhala will no longer be part of either the Kagyu or Nyingma lineages, and I feel this is a profound break with the legacy of Trungpa Rinpoche, whose teachings pointed toward greater and greater inclusiveness rather than the reverse.

  129. Rob Graffis on February 9th, 2010 11:56 pm

    Also, some years back, I was walking through the Denver history museum. There were some relics of Buddhism from Afghanistan. My sister said she was surprised the Taliban didn’t destroy them as we looked at them.
    We aren’t old fogies that can’t adapt to change. Who ever came up with that concept is wrong. Richard Reoch has done nothing to stop this way of thinking. He should.
    Why can’t both paintings be put up with harmony and respect?

  130. Michael Billingsley on February 10th, 2010 12:45 am

    I’m interested is the increasing velocity of rationalisation and justification here – and buzz words whizzing, plus a few ‘just be patient and it will all work out” soothing mollifiers here and there.

    I repeat that the practice of a Kagyu Buddhist lineage practitioner coming up under VCTR is not too hard to figure out… there’s about thirty-some years of material on it, tons of seminary transcripts, lots of still-useful prayers, practice chants, sadhanas and meaningful commentaries, plus oodles of the Vidyadhara’s books.

    If anybody’s at all interested in jumping before the building is sealed and they come and take you away, ha ha (the thugs are at the door, so to speak, with the strait-jackets) then I’m curious how walking out and regrouping in a different space with the thangka-of-choice is such a bad move.

    Action, not speculation and circling around the question like the dog looking for a proper nesting position for the next nap. You were told unequivocably yesterday by SI that the Rigden thangka WILL be installed, the Vajradhara thangka WILL be removed from its present display. Apparently also you (Boulder) have already accepted (as apparent the KC sangha has not) having your Lineage Supplication altered, and may also be still talking when the scaffolding goes up to change the name of the centre. Whatever.

    Get the hell out of there while you still have a chance. Goodness gracious, can’t you see the hammer coming down? The style of control here is obviously to pick of the “weaker” centres first and then to work his way toward the stronger, more certain-of-themselves centres… until it’s down to Karme-Chöling and Gampo Abbey who resist being co-opted into the mind-meld. Then what? Legal action? His changing their locks and forcibly removing everyone with the help of police?

    Wait and see, I guess. From here in Vermont it’s a bit like watching some totalitarian regime rooting out the first the handicapped, then the gypsies, then the homosexuals, and then the Jews… you know? You folks arguing with one another about whether it’s *really* happening; or if it”s really as nepharious as all that; or that maybe he’ll let you keep the Vajradhara up somewhere where he’ll let you at least *see* it from where you’re sitting; or that maybe, just maybe…he doesn’t even actually *mean* it when he says he’s going to take that thangka down and change the centre into HIS kind of centre… well, somehow it has a very depressing, historical ring to it.

    MB – Vermont
    Ngakpa K Jigme Tonpa

  131. rita ashworth on February 10th, 2010 9:17 am

    Chris -how do you see the teachings for Shambhala as in CTR’s teaching stream going on outside of SI -if the break does come. I can see that people will go to other teachers for the Kagyu/Nyingmpa teachings that is already occuring -but what do you make of Shambhala in the tradition of CTR continuing -in this respect should there be also more emphasis on the sadhana of mahamudra that any one can practice

    At the moment I dont think SMR/SI will alter its course as many people have mentioned even though too Pema is seeing DKRand even the Chronicle Project is blasting away with teachings on basic meditation by CTR.

    I hear reports that Boulder and Halifax are more split than Europe -does anyone know in this respect what is happening? Personally at this time I dont want any relations with SI but in the future if we prove ourselves as new sanghas we may have to come to some agreements with SI about CTRs teachings being available for us -is that a possibility – I believe Mermelstein hinted at this on his interview on the CP.

    I really see everything that is happening now not as a progression but as one way only of going forward with the teachings – I believe there are many other ways we can go forward – I think the split may in some ways be for the best although it appears to be unfortunate and unnecessary because of the intransigence of the present SI approach.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  132. Sandy on February 10th, 2010 9:41 am

    I am surprised at the surprise of persons making these comments. How long ago was the Sakyong declared Sakyong? It was at that point that he became the mandala’s King. One thing you can say for his PR–he’s never hidden his intentions. There may have been endless rationalization of his intentions from those who chose disbelief, but I think he’s been quite clear. (See letter above from Jesse Grimes. There is no denial. The Thangka Will Be Removed.)

    It is true that students who don’t wish to traverse the “Shambhala Buddhist” path have been marginalized. It’s true that the Shambhala Buddhist path is helpful to young Westerners. It’s true that I’ve “seen” visiting Tibetan teachers look at us quizzically when Shambhala chants are recited.

    It’s True It’s Not The Path Chogyam Trungpa Laid Out. Why else would the Sakyong have changed the lineage from Kagyu to Shambhala Buddhist?

    I was in my early 20s when I met Chogyam Trungpa. At the time, I didn’t understand him, but the energy of the situation kept me coming back. It was a chaotic scene– if I recall it correctly–but there was also incredible clarity at the same time. I know now that I was extremely lucky, as Mr. Pontius used to tell me.

    For me–I’m with Mr. Montgomery–wandering in the world now seems appropriate.

  133. Chris on February 10th, 2010 11:02 am

    Rita: I think we don’t create a Shambhala world, it manifests when its not conceptualized as “our thing.” “. . I don’t think you can force it or make it happen. It’s a more organic, spontaneous arising than that. I think it is connected more to auspicious arising . To me it has always been connected to the Ati or Dzogchen view. It is all-embracing like space. So having a “missionary” save the world quality re: Shambhala, immediately lost me, that was not my experience ever. There is an excellent teaching by Hookham, CTR’s first Dzogchen student on how pure lands and hidden lands arise , on his site. It is very interesting. How hidden lands, can become a pure land, how a hidden land can become just ordinary again. It all depends on the strength of people’s practice and view. But …. who knows. I don’t think it is somehting that can be grasped.

  134. Chris on February 10th, 2010 11:23 am

    Here is a link to his site:

  135. rita ashworth on February 10th, 2010 12:52 pm

    Dear Chris

    Thank you for your email on the Shambhala ‘concept’ …I was getting a little depressed that people would turn to SI as the only way to connecting to these teachings which I believe should be open to all.

    I will check Mike Hookhams re Dzogchen a bit more because he was closely connected to CTR when he was in the UK.

    Re the missionary thing -yes it could go that way….I see what you mean ….I have been trying to undercut that with my interest in the Arts and environments -hope to get people to come to a course on mudra in Manchester if I can get it together. But I am still interested in politics more in the sense of allowing people to have power and be themselves -so that might have come over as a missionary thing on this board but I did not mean it that way.

    I have read the Bernbaum book and the Fromm book on the Sane Society -very interesting. Who would you say could teach on shambhala more in the Tibetan tradition -would like to know about that. I feel we need to become more aware of different lamas viewpoints on shambhala so that we could teach about it in a more coherent manner in the future.

    Sorry to be digressing from the Thangka but it also is related to people expressing themselves about their connection to it in a powerful way.


    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  136. Chris on February 10th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Dear Rita:
    I wasnt talking about you being a missionary, not at all! It was the “save the world quality of Shambhala as now presented by SI that I I find disconcerting. I find your “politics” refreshing, that politics are local, and agree that we need to appreciate our own Western culture , in the arts etc, and as CTR was trying to teach us to do. He saw quickly our long history of “”orientalism” in the West. Shambhala , as he presented it was trying to get us to do this, i.e. cut this tendency of thinking that an exotic “other” had all the answers. .

  137. Rob Graffis on February 11th, 2010 3:35 am

    I did know the Sakyong wanted to play golf with Tiger Woods (looked what happened to him), but the Gold Sachs thing was troubling. I got killed financially by that whole crash, while the CEOs gave them selves fat bonuses. Is this attracting fame and wealth? No.

  138. rita ashworth on February 11th, 2010 5:35 am

    Dear Chris

    Thanks for your reply.

    Re your previous message I went out and bought some Dzogchen books last night to supplement my knowledge on Shambhala and Dzogchen -happened on to Tulku Urygen’s book Vajra Speech which looks interesting. Part of my thingie with SB is that it is a fixated path and Dzogchen comes out of the blue as you say when you are leaping into things -thats why to some extent I feel that CTR left the whole Shambhala path for all and sort of uncontrived as possibly could be in our day and age -this fits in with the Arts/politics field in my apprehension aswell and the diversity of the whole thing.

    Also looked for more western books on shambhala besides Bernbaum -but could not find any -does any one know of more.

    Take your comment on the pure land thing that is very inspiring to me – and I think should be a jumping off point for a lot of people.

    I can see now why Ray left the Shambhala after the Kagyu path -but here I think he is wrong – I think he should do the training for shambhala in Crestone – I hope he does it like Satdharma does.

    Yeh this shambhala/kagyu thing is definately happening out of SI ……you cant put up barriers on dzogchen and the flavour of dzogchen anyway -it just happens -like opening the door -or as they say curiousity did indeed get the cat!

    Yes who would you say embodies the flavour mostly of Dzogchen in the Tibetan tradition?

    I dont think this post is digressing from the thangka subject because it is opening up more open ground for conversations about Art and politics


    Rita Ashworth
    Stockport UK

  139. Michael Sullivan on February 11th, 2010 9:03 am

    Hi Rita

    Since you are in the UK it is easier for you to get Rigdzin Shikpo’s (Michael Hookham) book “Openness Clarity Sensitivity” which is pretty much straight-up Dzogchen put forward in the style of practice that he was taught by CTR.

    As to Tibetan Dzogchen teachers, there are many that teach dzogchen nowadays – it is quite a buzzword in the West. My teacher Chogyal Namkhai Norbu has been teaching Dzogchen in the west since the late 70’s. He does not self-identify with any of the schools but rather as a dzogchenpa. He will be leading a retreat in London May 28-30.

    Back to the thangka – as someone who took refuge and bodhisattva vows under those watchful eyes, it really boggles my mind to think that an organization would pack up the intrinsic power and the tendrel/connections people have from practicing in it’s presence, all in the name of consistency(!) and then justify their actions as impermanence. Remember, organizations are subject to impermanence as well……

  140. richard heilbrunn on February 11th, 2010 10:51 am


    i just came across this site this morning and though you might find it interesting at least in their approach and the home page


  141. rita ashworth on February 11th, 2010 12:44 pm


    Yes I think the whole thangka debate could have the flavour of opening up things in the sense of dzogchen. Someone did point out earlier that uniformity did not always make it in this world re religious matters. Hence my emphasis on diversity which I suppose too is a very open field aka the magic of Shambhala.

    Why not have the magic of shambhala provoking us again in the sense of discussing the thangka issue……I am not so sure of the words re dzogchen but I do think the thangka issue requires that taste. Yes I am a bit out of my depth here with the terminology.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  142. Waylon Lewis on February 11th, 2010 2:33 pm


    Don’t think you read my introduction fully, I understand you’re passionate about this, as did I…seems you skimmed. If you had read it fully, it would’ve been hard for you to miss that I/elephant are against the removal of the thangka, and are happy to do anything within our (lack of) power to raise the discussion.

    That said, I have great love and respect for the Sakyong, and I’m frequently wrong about many things. So I chose to present this situation within the context of contemplation, discussion of impermanence, rather than simply my pov.

    I met with Clarke Warren yesterday for lunch, and he agreed to write an article on elephant re the significance of the Vajradhara thangka as a manifestation of Trungpa Rinpoche’s presentation of the Buddhist teachings to we Westerners.

  143. Waylon Lewis on February 11th, 2010 2:35 pm


    Yes, we were happy and proud to interview Reggie re “that” situation…it’s always strange to me, as a second generationer, that we aren’t more open and uplifted about discussing these sorts of situations as a sangha. I do think Shambhala Sun Space would be happy to host such a discussion, however.

    Not sure what we’d do for a video…interview Clarke about this? What was your idea?

  144. Waylon Lewis on February 11th, 2010 2:39 pm
  145. Sandy on February 11th, 2010 2:45 pm

    Edward, or others —

    Edward wrote: “SMR begins taking bribes from corporate backers such as Goldman Sachs.”

    Who, what, where, when, why? What do you mean by “bribe”?
    Goldman Sachs wants to control how the Shambhala dharma is presented in the US?

    Is Goldman Sachs a sponsor? Of what? Who are the other corporate sponsors? Rob do you know?

    Forgive me, but one of the “problems” we have communicating is that words like “bribes” are used when “sponsor” is more accurate. You could argue that Shambhala should make its investment decisions based on principle–but I’m not sure I even agree with that sentiment. Goldman Sachs? What happened? For the record, yes, I think the US-government screwed us by bailing out the banks at 100-cents on the dollar.

  146. Rich on February 11th, 2010 3:47 pm

    As an outsider with no allegiance to SI or the RFS crowd, my gut reaction to the “history outline” was that it was so negative and confrontational in tone that any credibility would go out the window. Any pretense of objectivity was eliminated right from the start. If the goal is to educate “new poeple”, that tone is a complete turn-off to anyone that hasn’t already bought into the point of view that the writer obviously has. And if it IS directed at folks who already bought into that view, then what’s the point? I think the writer forgot to add the bullet that said SMR grew horns and tail and and spent the sangha’s money on drugs and whores. To be fair, the writer asked for corrections to factual errors. I would suggest that the writer start again by objectively communicating the facts without the obvious judgmental conclusions.

  147. Chris on February 11th, 2010 4:55 pm


    I read the article you linked. What I gather from it , as usual, is that you and others believe that SMR is doing something very SPECIAL. Something extraordinary. Thats the message you communicate by tone. . He’s convinced you of that. Youv’e all convinced him by mirroring this back . It is a seamless, impermeable insular world that allows no feedback. A recipe for disaster in all living organisms. It is another utopian venture bound to fail.

    I would suggest you read “Words from Me to Myself” by Patrul Rinpoche. You can find it in “Mudra.” CTR’s book.

    It’s a wonderful poem about giving up religion, politics and group think:

    This is the line that the Sakyong should have memorized before he reconstructed and reinventied lineage for himself to make himself SPECIAL:

    “Your as low as the lowest
    So you ought to be humble.
    There’s a whole hierarchy above you
    So stop being proud”

    This refers to lineage . SMR is is the ONLY teacher I have ever experienced, except for charlatans and lunatics, who seems to put himself above lineage. Says what he is doing is SPECIAL with a whole group of devotees echoing this back. Special, special, special, special special ad naseum. wasnt there even a dharma poem by the sakyong about how special dharma brats were? Special , special special is what is heard, no matter what is written . It’s the sign of a being in a cult.

  148. Edward on February 11th, 2010 6:49 pm

    Hi Sandy & Rich,

    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I’m afraid I was careless in that “historical outline” I posted here– I whipped it up in about 15 minutes and was not being careful enough. I apologize.

    I read elsewhere on this website that SMR had met with people from Goldman Sachs, but when I look now I don’t see any reference to taking money from them, so perhaps I fabricated that part in my mind. Please accept my apology for that. Also, the word “bribe” is obviously not the best choice of word.

    Was I being too “unbalanced” overall? Well, my idea for a chronology of the sakyong lineage was to show things about that lineage that make me happy with how it began and uncomfortable with where it is now. The idea is to create a possible thesis (something with actual teeth to it, not something watered down) and include details that support that thesis, and then open things up for discussion and correction. Through such a process, the validity of the thesis could become more apparent. The discipline of course is to craft the timeline it in such a way that everything is accurate and documented, which I didn’t do.

    My purpose was not to provide all possible details, nor was it to provide a “balanced” view of things. A “balanced view” can sometimes be achieved if we listen to people having a disagreement– we can hear multiple sides of the story, and form our own conclusions. If we rely on being spoonfed information from one source alone, that could be problematic. Plus, it might be much harder to find out the core issues that way– the core reasons for “heartbreak” and discomfort among many senior students.

    As it turns out, I’m not a good source of information on any of these things as I’ve never met CTR or SMR and am more or less brand new to all this, and was just repeating things I’d heard second-hand.

  149. John Tischer on February 11th, 2010 7:22 pm


    Not exactly ordinary magic,
    standing behind a special wall….
    not an absolute…all walls fall.

  150. damchö on February 11th, 2010 7:23 pm

    Chris, I too see this sense of exceptionalism a lot, and it is what troubles me the most about where Shambhala is these days. Well, the sense of exceptionalism, and then certain kinds of behaviour which are fostered and strengthened by this. I really appreciate the poem you quoted from–a very powerful message.

    Having come to the West, Tibetan Buddhism is necessarily and properly undergoing certain kinds of development. To my mind, at the core of this process is a deeper look into what “Guru” means. How, on a very practical level, do Westerners understand and work with this idea, given our radically different cultural and psychological situation from that of medieval Tibet?

    It seems to me that Shambhala has been moving in quite a different direction from all the other sanghas. It is actually **expanding** the reach of “Guru” in the lives of practitioners to include notions of political and social loyalty. “Religion” is stronger than ever before. This kind of process is always very, very seductive.

  151. Edward on February 11th, 2010 7:30 pm

    Chris writes:
    It is a seamless, impermeable insular world that allows no feedback. A recipe for disaster in all living organisms.

    Not only that, it’s similar to one of the core concepts in the Shambhala teachings: cocoon.

    Is it only a cocoon or a cult when other people do it, but not when we do it?

    I still remember the day that I took Shambhala Training Level I. I remember being so, so, so excited, so very happy. I remember thinking to myself: “These teachings about cocoon are so simple, they could not possibly be corrupted or misunderstood! This is a great gift for humanity.”

  152. Yeshe Tsomo on February 11th, 2010 8:14 pm


    I read your article, “The evolution of an American Buddhist lineage” and appreciate your efforts at bringing some “fresh air” into the dialogue among and regarding the community of practitioners that practice in Trungpa Rinpoche’s lineage. I would say the Shambhala community, but the truth is, there are those of us who practice in CTR’s lineage who are not members of Shambhala International and who do not practice the Shambhala teachings. Furthermore, there are those students of Trungpa Rinpoche who practice the Shambhala teachings but have left the sangha and have not accepted, nor will they accept, the Sakyong as their teacher. Here I am particularly referring to “old dog” Trungpa students who have left the fold as well as students of Reggie Ray (and Dharma Ocean’s senior teachers) and Patrick Sweeney (I don’t think he has “authorized” other teachers?). I am also referring to those students of Trungpa Rinpoche who have no formal connection to any of the sanghas mentioned above. I know they are out there because I was one of them for quite a while.

    I wish you could have found the article with the “more controversial” quotes. In my opinion it is much helpful to risk stepping on peoples’ toes or even risk fueling some already smoldering fires rather than shove all of these conflicts under the rug (excuse the mixed metaphors.)

    I do not necessarily want to be disconnected from the Shambhala community or from my dharma brothers and sisters who hold SMR as their root guru. We are all connected through our ties to the Vidyadhara. However, I have to take issue with your analysis about the changes at Shambhala International. First of all, you admittedly trust the Sakyong’s intentions even as you acknowledge he has removed many of the defining characteristics of his father’s teachings, particularly in relationship to the Kagyu lineage. You write, “And the Sakyong, his son and heir, is no mini-me—he is his own man, and guru, choosing teachings and forms for his students now. And while Trungpa Rinpoche taught that maintaining our critical intelligence is essential, the changes that occur are, from my experience, not only well-intentioned but conceived with a vision in mind so far beyond what I can see, that it’s as if I were second-guessing a master chess player’s decision to move a single piece.”

    As for me, I think it is fine, and even right, that the Sakyong choose teachings and forms for his students, but not to the exclusion of the original teachings and forms of the founder of the Shambhala lineage. Trungpa Rinpoche is very much alive in the hearts and minds of his students. There are many students of CTR who will never be students of the Sakyong. But it is my opinion that the Sakyong, as ruler of the kingdom of Shambhala, has a responsibility to include and support the students and practices of CTR in the Shambhala mandala.

    However, I think it is insulting to CTR’s students, particularly his older students, for you to have implied that they are simply uncomfortable with or resistant to change. (continued)

  153. Yeshe Tsomo on February 11th, 2010 8:15 pm

    You wrote: “All these questions—and many others—have the same answer. Change. The cosmic joke is that what we now view as Trungpa Rinpoche’s legacy—a legacy designed with painstaking efforts over 17 years, a legacy designed for the ages, and not merely for the ‘80’s—was an ever-evolving situation.” These are people who gave their hearts and lives to a teacher who constantly turned everything upside down. Do you think that these students are just so stuck in their ways that they are not open to change? Rather they are challenging the intention of the people who are planning and instituting the change. They are asking questions in the spirit of Trungpa Rinpoche who encouraged his students to question everything, particularly spiritual materialism in all of its insidious forms. They are asking questions in the spirit of Trungpa Rinpoche who challenged all forms of blind faith and idiot compassion. But I will not continue in this vein b/c it is not my story to tell.

    I don’t necessarily trust the Sakyong’s intentions. Neither did I inherently come to this mahasangha mistrusting his intentions. After some investigation, I have quite a few questions about his intention left unresolved. For instance, I would be much more open to trusting his intention if he were to hold space, personally and institutionally, for those of us who are practicing in his father’s lineage but do not hold him as our teacher. I would be more open to trusting the Sakyong’s intentions if he made space for all of the practices that the Vidyadhara gave to his students. I am not suggesting that the Sakyong teach those practices if they do not resonate with him, but rather that he support other senior teachers to lead those practices. This, of course, would mean he would have to recognize the inherent authority of those other teachers. Tricky situation since it would acknowledge the possibility that he is not the one true lineage holder.

    For the record, I am writing this letter as a student of the Vidyadhara’s who never met Rinpoche in his human form. Rinpoche came to me in a life-changing dream a number of years ago and my relationship to him has unfolded before my eyes. It is more like Rinpoche has been revealing himself to me. For a number of years I read CTR’s books and I kept my eyes open, looking to understand my connection to him and what that connection was asking of me. I read some of SMR’s writing. I looked at many pictures of him. I listened to some of his teachings on YouTube. I felt nothing. I talked to students involved in Shambhala International and again, nothing resonated for me. It is not that I didn’t like him, he just isn’t my teacher. You must know what I mean. When you have a karmic relationship to a teacher, you just know. I have two living teachers in my life now. The first I was looking for and I found him. The second I never wanted and resisted we found each other anyway. Upon meeting each person, my life changed unalterably. I recognized them and they, me. (continued)

  154. Yeshe Tsomo on February 11th, 2010 8:17 pm

    In interest of full disclosure, Reggie Ray is my second teacher. (My first teacher is a Tibetan lama holding Nyingma and Kagyu lineages.) However, I do not speak on Reggie’s behalf, nor have I ever spoken with him about any of these matters. I am not interested in promoting or defending him or bringing him into this discussion in any way. I am just acknowledging what some might see as a bias on my part.

    The Sakyong is not the only teacher in CTR’s lineage. He might have legal rights to the whole enchilada of CTR’s organizational legacy, but that does not give him ultimate moral rights, if you will. He is not the only teacher in CTR’s lineage. CTR asked him to be the King of Shambhala not to teach the Vajrayana. Did the Regent’s behavior and death make for a “hiccup” in the Vajrayana (Kagyu/Nyingma) lineage? Yes. But is widely acknowledged by CTR’s senior students that he asked all of them to teach; he expected them all to teach. He recognized that not all of them would do so formally, but he trained them to teach.

    At any rate, CTR asked his son to preside over a kingdom that was meant to recognize and foster the basic goodness and sanity of all people, am I not correct? And isn’t the entire Shambhala path meant to be open to all people regardless of religion? However, according to the Sakyong’s changes a Shambhalian must now take Buddhist refuge vows (and accept the Sakyong as their teacher?) in order to complete the entire Shambhala path. How is this inclusive and true to the vision of Shambhala? It is my understanding that the study and practice of the Shambhala path and Buddhism can really enhance each experience, but Shambhala is NOT Buddhism. Then why Shambhala Buddhism? I will even give you that, perhaps, there is value in combining the two paths, but not to the exclusion of the original Shambhala path that CTR set out to be accessible to anyone regardless of religion. One day, I would like to study the Shambhala teachings as VCTR laid them out. For now, the Vajrayana path is often more than I can handle. (cont)

  155. Yeshe Tsomo on February 11th, 2010 8:18 pm

    But I am not willing, at least at this point in my life, to take the Sakyong as my teacher in order to traverse the whole of the Shambhala path.

    I must wrap up here b/c the rest of my life beckons. I wrote this letter in a rush without much time to craft it into a cohesive summary. Hope you will bear with it and continue to engage in and foster dialogue. In spite of all left unsaid and all said poorly, I write this with the sincere hope that all of these questions/issues/struggles/hopes and fears will be brought into the light of the entire community of Trunpga Rinpoche’s students.

    Theresa Luttenegger

    I am always happy to talk about these issues privately, if anyone prefers to do so.

  156. Yeshe Tsomo on February 11th, 2010 8:42 pm

    A note to all,

    I was never really interested in the Shambhala path until I found this community on RFS. I came here trying to make sense of the Tibetan cultural container and the true essence of the Vajrayana. I came here with questions about how to deal with doubting one’s teachers and even the teachings themselves. I read your words for many months until I was brave enough to join the conversations in any fashion.

    Your experiences, your passion, your anger, your grounded-ness, your willingness to surrender as well as fight, have helped me to hold my humanity as precious and integral to the path of awakening. In the process, you have all discussed and lived the Shambhala path and principles in such away that it finally resonated with me.

    Thank you.


  157. Jim Wilton on February 11th, 2010 8:51 pm


    Acknowledging Accusations in the Name of Devotion

    Remember, O Tusum Khyenpa!
    Remember, O Father Karma Pakshi!
    Remember, O Tilopa!
    Remember, O Naropa!
    Remember, O Milarepa!
    Remember, O Marpa Lotsawa!
    When I remember your kindness and your power,
    I am left in the midst of the dark-age dungeon.
    When I taste your great bliss
    It is as if for the first time,
    As if no one had tasted honey before.
    When I realize your devotion,
    It makes me so lonely.
    When I see and experience anything good and wonderful,
    It reminds me of the Kagyu wisdom and what you have sacrificed for us.
    When I put on good clothing or see an attractive maiden,
    When I handle gold or diamond,
    I feel great pain and love for your wisdom and exertion.
    I can only cry,
    Your beauty and exertion and footprints make me so sad and full of longing,
    Because we are left behind, nowhere,
    Unable even to see your footprints in the dust.
    How could you do such a thing?
    Any mark of elegance or imprint of goodness,
    For that matter, anything wicked and raw, confused or destructive,
    Anything we see makes us feel so sad.
    We will cry after the Father Kagyu.
    Whether we are attacked or praised,
    We do not follow the conventional pattern of hope and fear.
    Nonetheless, you left us alone.
    We feel so sad and lonely.
    We want to taste you, smell you–
    Where are you?
    We cry and we would like to threaten you and say:
    Show us your true face, to help us never give up!
    In this very bed, on this very cushion, in this very room–
    If you don’t show us your face and tell us,
    We will perish in tears and dissolve in misery!
    Please come and be with us.
    At least look at us the way we are,
    Which may not be the best you expect of us,
    But we have the greatest devotion,
    Beyond your preconceptions.
    We will cry and shed our tears until our eyeballs drop in the sand dune
    And we drown in the ocean of our tears.
    O Knower of the Three Times, omniscient,
    We have tried and practiced after your example:
    Please don’t give up.
    When we iron our clothes, it is for you.
    When we shine our shoes, it is for you.
    When we wear jewelry, it is for you.
    We do everything because of you;
    We have no personal concern.
    If we do not realize your dignity and wisdom,
    May we rot and dissolve into dust.
    We do everything for your sake and because of you.
    We are so sad because of you.
    We are so joyful because of you.
    Father, if you have strength, this is the time to manifest.
    I am about to die
    And be reborn in crying and laughing at the same time.
    Father, please have consideration for us.
    We do not do anything for our own sake.
    We do everything for the sake of devotion to you.

    — Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

  158. Ginny Lipson on February 11th, 2010 9:06 pm


    Wow!!! what a beautiful long series of ideas and expressions that all was!!! Thank you so much. There was so much there, and I really appreciated the “guts” and “truth of spirit” of it all.

    I just wanted to add an anecdote that your writing inspired in my memory:

    Many years ago in Boulder, I attended a group Audience with Trungpa Rinpoche. One young woman, (during her “turn” to ask questions) said that she had been struggling with the issue of whether or not she was connected to the Buddhist path. Then, at some point, she had an opportunity to go to seminary. She said to Rinpoche: “After I decided NOT to go to Seminary, I began to actually feel like a “grown up for the first time.” Rinpoche smiled warmly at her and said: (something like) “now you are thinking like a real Buddhist!”

    I’ve always loved that. HIs heart and mind were so big!!!!

  159. Rob Graffis on February 11th, 2010 10:07 pm

    I was at a group audience too where a young woman decided not to follow the Bodhisattva path anymore. Rinpoche seemed adament that she should. This was pobally 1978. Pema and David Rome was there.

    That Goldman Sachs thing made me nervous. I was wondering for a while on if this was part of the “How To Attract Wealth” philosophy. Look at what happened to Neal Greenberg. He was a major sponsor of the Sakyong, and his organization went belly up during that whole Bernie Maddoff (sic) scam, and another pyramid scam artist as well. He, like every one else, had too much faith in Wall Street.

  160. Sandy on February 11th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Rob, you wrote:

    “That Goldman Sachs thing made me nervous. I was wondering for a while on if this was part of the “How To Attract Wealth” philosophy. Look at what happened to Neal Greenberg. He was a major sponsor of the Sakyong, and his organization went belly up during that whole Bernie Maddoff (sic) scam, and another pyramid scam artist as well. He, like every one else, had too much faith in Wall Street.”

    I’m sorry I’m not in the loop. What is the “Goldman Sachs thing”?

  161. Rob Graffis on February 11th, 2010 10:26 pm

    Edward wrote about it, and he said later he was wrong. Ask him where he heard it.
    It is the Don season, so I’m going to lay off a bit too.
    BTW, Happy Losar.

  162. Sandy on February 11th, 2010 10:35 pm

    Happy Losar, Rob.

    Edward–Can you share what you heard? I am curious. Thanks.

  163. Edward on February 12th, 2010 12:09 am

    Ok, now I’m beginning to really regret my carelessness.

    If you google “Goldman” there’s a comment that SMR met with people from Goldman Sachs or spoke to them or something. I don’t know anything about it, I was just in a hurry and completely misrepresented it. I will greatly appreciate it if people can forget what I said and forgive me for bringing it up.

    I guess in my defense I was trying to provoke people a bit, or to get people with more first-hand info to step forward and fill in details that I was referring to.

    On a different note, the story that Ginny shared reminded me of something I heard on one of my CTR audiotapes. CTR was giving a public lecture on the “myth of freedom”, I believe, and someone in the audience asked if Buddhism was also a myth.

    CTR replied “Yes, but at least it tells you that it is one.” I think CTR chuckled and the audience laughed.

  164. Rob Graffis on February 12th, 2010 3:26 am

    I did say I’d stay off of Internet before Losar / Shambhala Day (Happy Valentine’s Day Every Body), but when I usually say “I’m not going to do this”, I usually do. I almost died last September from septic shock, which made me have a different perspective of things. I did and did not get anrgy at certain things. If people remember me at RMDC in 1992, I was beginning my interferon treatment. I looked terrible.
    I noticed Waylon’s article tonight. It wasn’t bad. I was at Vajra Vidya when the Sakyong got married, so I could not make tails or beans about it.
    To Sandi, I will have to get back to you on Dr. Reggie Ray.

  165. Rob Graffis on February 12th, 2010 6:50 am

    I thought this was interesting. It was about leadership. Daniel made friends with me a long time ago in Denmark.

  166. rita ashworth on February 12th, 2010 9:06 am

    Dear Waylon

    Re the video interview –

    Obviously on this thread it was the thankga issue which was highlighted, but as the discussion has gone forward other matters have arisen such as lineage etc, etc. So yeh the thankga issue is a spark to go into other issues aswell.

    So yeh my idea for the interview was to have two people pro SI and two people iffy or opposed to the changes on a video debate. If you did this you would be going further than the Lobel exchange with people at HSC which I think needs to happen in a ‘public’ fashion. But also I am not so sure how public you can be with such a ‘debate’ in Boulder -you would probably know the social temperature there re these issues.

    As Mark Szp and others started this debate off on rfs it would be great to have him there speaking on his view. I dont know who should moderate – I dont know if it should be you -could you remain ‘objective’ (I am usually against objectivity but in this instance I think you would have to observe that journalistic form)

    Re your article -interesting- yes there is change – it can be good, bad and I would add another category here indifferent -in this instance the healthcare system in the UK has instituted change but it is a change that camflouages patient attendance due to meeting targets -so change persay is a many-headed hydra.

    Personally I can see that Westerners might have to do a shorter form of ngondro that is a possibility – we would have to discuss that with Tibetan lamas. As to Shambhala I think things have become fixated too early

    To me as a Shambhala citizen and a firm believer in the belief that these teachings can be spread to the whole of humanity as Dilgo Khentyse said also I think to Michael Chender way back – the debate on these teachings has to go on..

    Also personally if I had all the power that the Sakyong has I would allow these debates to go on and for other paths to arise in the west – with Ray I would leave the decision up to Kagyu Lamas as to whether he is qualified to carry the teachings on as other people who decide to set up parallel paths. If all this would occur the shambhala teachings would spread round the globe like a knife going through butter.

    Lastly the debate should include people of other religions and their attitudes to the shambhala path -they could be our allies in spreading these teachings -at the moment we treat them lamentably.

    Well over to you Waylon.

    Rita Ashworth
    Manchester UK

  167. rita ashworth on February 12th, 2010 12:42 pm

    o yes i forgot -cheerful shambhala day from manchester…….the chinese are going to be whooping it up in the city on Sunday……best to all from the other side of the pond.

    Lets make it good one as our esteemed friend John said!

    Best Rita Ashworth

  168. Ginny Lipson on February 12th, 2010 1:19 pm


    thank you for offering this Trungp Rinpoche poem (above). It is beautiful (of course).

    I just read it after a practice session full of crying a great deal, and do so appreciate the poem, from at least, my limited understanding. There is this profound appreciation for the Kagyu lineage, and the dharma heart and background of it… and how it all comes through Trungpa Rinpoche, our teacher…and the emotionality of devotion and appreciation, yet profound emptiness. It is indescribable.

    This poem is really a treasure. thank you!!!

    However, I’m so wrapped up in my own personal appreciation of this poem that I’m not quite sure what you meant about “acknowledging accusations in the name of devotion.” I see it as a sort of reminder of the existential angst about what is happening, and the inability to really do anything about it that is truly skillful.

    Perhaps you just meant it as a simple offering, no strings attached!

    Anyway, Thanks!!


  169. Sandy on February 12th, 2010 1:26 pm


    I am sorry to hear that you nearly died. I can imagine that it would change your perspective. That was my experience when Ben died. Many things that had been important, are no longer. I’m glad you’re in better health now.

    You know Daniel Goleman, eh? I read his book “Emotional Intelligence” and found it very helpful. I’ll have to read the article you shared.

    As for Dr. Ray, I would appreciate hearing your view. As I said, I’m out of the loop on everything–maintaining a little daily practice, and that’s all.

    All the best.

  170. Phyllis Murray on February 12th, 2010 4:29 pm

    Jim, I want to second Ginny’s thanks to you for posting that poem. I found it deeply moving. It has been quite some time since I looked in “First Thought, Best Thought”, and had forgotten that particular poem.
    I think it is worth noting that this was written in 1980, after the Shambhala teachings were well established.

  171. Phyllis Murray on February 12th, 2010 5:20 pm

    Here is a link to an account of SMR’s visit to Goldman Sachs.
    Doesn’t sound like anything too nefarious

  172. Jim Wilton on February 12th, 2010 5:40 pm

    The phrase “Acknowledging Accusations in the Name of Devotion” is the subtitle of the poem. It is in the original. I’m not sure what it means.

  173. Sandy on February 12th, 2010 6:10 pm

    Yeah, they were meeting at a really poignant time in Goldman Sachs history. Who knows–those executives might have had to give up one of their homes, or–god forbid–send their kids to public schools.

    This is the epitome of the kind of crap that turns me off to Shambhala. I asked for an interview once in my lifetime as a student and I was told the Sakyong was too busy to see me. Yeah, he had to hang out with the large donor who was later sitting next to me answering his cell phone in the shrine room. (Yes, I know I’m being petty.)

    In other words, the Sakyong–and his President, and his Acharyas are too rich for my blood. And then they have the nerve to tell students they need to work for a social service agency for a few years. In DC, people like that are called “limousine liberals.”

    Plus, there are the numerous times he’s sat on his throne-servants surrounding him–complaining to students about how hard his job is. How difficult his life is. He doesn’t see the irony of the situation.

    Yes, how many times do we need to hear he knows Queen Noor?

    And by the way–the last chapter of “Ruling Your World” read like a management tome. Give me a break. His father saw Congress for the ridiculous situation it is. Reoch and the Sakyong want to be political players.

    This stuff literally turns my stomach. The only question is: Where is his bottom line? Is it the bottom line? How many compromises will be made to mainstream the dharma? Are we Calvinists? Apparently.

  174. Ginny Lipson on February 12th, 2010 6:25 pm

    Re: the poem, Perhaps it was a “lover’s complaint,” as I think I remember Rinpoche using that term.

  175. chachki sanderson on February 12th, 2010 10:29 pm

    ’tis a silly site [sight]. every time they take-a-dons, site goes crazy.
    lotsa shamatha in this house. very new year. May you live a VERY long life.

  176. Sandy on February 12th, 2010 11:05 pm

    Gee Chachki, that doesn’t sound like a real name. It’s ridiculous to say all of the comments are the product of don season; although I wonder if it isn’t related to the Sakyong’s retreat. Your comment says that there is no intelligence here. You should rethink that.

    As for me, sorry for ragging on the Acharyas. They try to be helpful, but I don’t have a relationship with any of them. After 30 years it’s time to turn on the music.

  177. Rob Graffis on February 13th, 2010 2:35 am

    Googling Queen Noor, she defends Iran, and yet very much is concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. How come America isn’t concerned about Israel’s nuclear weapons? Then there is Pakistan and India aiming nuclear weapons at each other. It makes me wonder if Gandhian practice works. .
    Vajradhara belongs in the shrine room. Shambhala was meant to preserve Buddhism as a container. Save it actually.
    Kudos to President Obma for his saying directly to the Chairman of China (which I saw at 5 am) a few months ago he wanted to protect Tibet’s heritage. He will now in defiance of China because he will meet H.H.
    I will have give credit to both th Bushes for meeting the Dalia Lama. Did Clinton do the same as well? He may have.
    Once again, Happy Losar.

  178. rita ashworth on February 13th, 2010 8:35 am

    Dear All

    I had a thought last night re the Shambhala teachings going forward in the world and accessing CTR’s teachings.

    Why not have the ‘new’ Dilgo Khentyse Rinpoche ‘caretaking’ the ‘old’ way of giving the teachings to everyone – I dont see how the Sakyong could object to that as DKR does have the transmission of the werma sadhana aswell – I think this could be one way of accommodating everyone in this sphere. It would not I think undermine the Sakyongs position in a political sense of a King of Shambhala but would allow people to follow their hearts in propagating the teachings. This way everyone could do the teachings up to Warriors Assembly perhaps on a ‘contract’ basis from SI and then choose who they want to go with when they reach the werma stage.

    Yes and as the Sakyong was not deemed the lineage holder for the Kagyu/Nyingmpa teachings – we could have an advisory Board of Kagyu, Nyingmpa lamas deciding who was fit enough to be a Vajra master and here the Sakyong could also be brought into the discussion aswell but he would not have the deciding vote. At a much later stage down the road perhaps hundreds of years westerners would be able to recognise who was a vajra master themselves.

    I am trying to think of ways around systems politically that would allow all of us to go forward in maybe not a ‘united’ fashion but at least a comradely fashion.

    As to the National Assembly that CTR wanted in his will Dilgo Khentyse (the new one) could have a role in an advisory capacity on this board of elected and unelected officials.

    I know this is digressing somewhat from the thangka issue but in a way it does relate to it also in that peoples feelings towards dharma have to be accommodated in some way for the practice situation to flourish.

    Well again best

    Rita Ashworth

  179. Chris on February 13th, 2010 12:01 pm

    “What leadership does,” he said, “is create an environment in which we face up to our problems and recognize our own role in having constructed the very falling apart we are experiencing.”

    a Rabbi Kula quote during this panel discussion.

    The biggest irony of the Goldman Sachs panel on “Leadership” during the financial crisis, is that if Queen Noor and Rabbi Kula and all the audience of Goldman Sachs executives had done their homework, they would have known the third panel member’s own leadership has resulted in his own mandala “falling apart”, divisive at its core, his profulgate spending had resulted in the biggest financial crisis ever within the organization ,according to his own president,, and that this “leader” is impervious to feedback, and he refuses to “face his own role in the falling apart.”

    Or how about Queen Noor’s quote about a good leader should be able to feel other people’s grief, other people’s concerns, which Queen Noor feels is the most important aspect of leadership, when the sakyong makes sure that all concerns, anguish and grief of others never ever penetrates his view of himself and his leadership? His minions’ job is to make sure he never hears or sees anything that would be “”painful” for him.

    Queen Noor and Rabbi Kula should have done there homework about SMR’s real “leadership style” before they got on this panel with him. It made them look very foolish. It shows you can fool anyone, particularly if you just put someone up there in “robes” i.e the Dalai Lama syndrome. Then everything out of their mouth seems “wise” and “spiritual, even if its inane, and even untrue. i This was a very informative panel discussion about how easily people are duped when they want to be, and how much currency is given to someone, unquestioningly, if they put on Tibetan lama robes.

  180. Alison on February 13th, 2010 2:31 pm

    Hello All –

    Rob – I’m not seeing Gandhian practices in the situations you listed (except Obama).

    “One has to speak out and stand up for one’s convictions. Inaction at a time of conflagration is inexcusable” – Mahatma Gandhi.

    This is about the latent power of the masses to effect change on a global scale, not elites making deals, yes?

    Rita – DKR is one umbrella we may be able to stand under as things continue to flesh/flush out I think. Others may yet come to light. And – one of the things my mind keeps going back to is the fact that Diana Mukpo holds the copyrights to Trungpa’s texts – including the Terma texts.

    Re: SI’s Goldman Sachs article and the video link provided. –

    Though the heavy-handed build up to the panel discussion footage was rife with iconic NY imagery (the Plaza hotel, NY stock exchange/ enormous American flag, etc.), the video was carefully edited (more than once – I’ve watched it before). The panel discussion footage it contained was not from NYU (one of my alma maters) as the link advertised. I was there. It was not the NYU auditorium; at NYU the participants on the stage were seated in a different configuration, etc. Also, at NYU the Sakyong appeared agitated, nervous, and barely engaged in the discussion. When he did, one of his first comments was – pretty much verbatim – “I used to be Jewish, but then I met Rabbi Kula and I converted” (WINCE). The three times I’ve been in an audience with SMR there were examples of this searing sarcasm (literally “tearing flesh”), the first time DKR was the target. I attribute this to some psychological squiggle. I highly doubt he is aware of the effect on listeners.

    Another edit from the original “NYU” video – when the black SUV’s pulled up to the building and the VIP’s got out and walked to the door, the Sakyong was directly in front of Queen Noor (like less than a foot). He marched in the door abruptly in front of her (WINCE). The door almost hit her. This was edited out. I’m guessing the protocol faux-pas was pointed out by someone. (Queen Noor may be among those [including myself] receiving a more complete education about who the Sakyong is, and is not.

    As far as Goldman Sachs, I would also add that – as pretty much the premier private wealth management firm on Wall Street – it does not take on ANY clients who do not have LARGE (HUGE) sums of disposable cash/liquid assets. Real estate equity, 401K’s, etc. don’t even register. Further, in the Goldman Sachs culture, the firm would NEVER take the risk of associating itself publicly with a religious, political, or any figure unless there was a very weighty relationship in terms of their business. They are extremely secretive about their associations with clients around the world and only a nod from a very heavy hitter could have precipitated such an overt association. Not just any regular old millionaire. Someone with major connections. My guess would be overseas. He is not too rich for my blood – he is too poor, in the ways that matter.


  181. Alison on February 13th, 2010 2:33 pm


    While I’m getting things off my chest – research over the past year has made it clear that the Sakyong’s father-in-law has become the driving force behind the scenes of SI. The pope of his church. A financial cash cow of sorts (as is the CTR legacy over which he and the Sakyong currently have control). These dots are connected with facts. When the Sakyong characterized Shambhala as a “family lineage”, I was never quite clear on what “family” he was referring to, though intuitively I knew the view did not include me (or the beautiful, crazy, humanly flawed, American family into which I was born). Research has also made clear that the Sakyong is relating to the current Karmapa strategically, as his “competition”, not the head of the Kagyu lineage (WINCE). Also based on facts.

    And why did the Sakyong “change” his birth date? There was a description from his camp this past year referring to a divination his mother had done on his behalf about the significance of this year relative to the age his father was when he passed. It caught my attention because the Sakyong’s birthday used to be in December, and now it’s in November ???? I know this because I learned a few years ago that we are almost the exact same age – 1 or 2 months apart, depending on which of his birthdays you use. Are they trying to fool the stars? If all of this weren’t so tragic (if the world were not in such great need, or so many of us suffering from these games), it would indeed be laughable.

    I have never met Reggie Ray and bear him no ill will. Several years ago in a full page ad for his sangha in the Shambhala Sun – with a picture of his face and the the glorious mountains peaks of Colorado in the background – there was a quote describing Dr. Ray as “ The Father of Buddhism in the West”. I was a new-ish Shambhala Training student at the time, but I winced nonetheless. (Who says stuff like that about themselves?) Over the past year of research, I came across this quote again, but it had been used in a different context – to describe CTR years ago. So, what had at first appeared to be an issue of vanity in the name of the Dharma looked more ominously like another case of a student relating improperly to a root teacher/Guru (I don’t know how Reggie Ray characterizes his relationship to Chogyam Trungpa). I have also come across this “quote-grafting” with CTR and Namkha Drimed. Is anyone NOT picking at the corpse?
    Best to all –

    Down but not out –

    p.s.: The best idea I’ve heard about the Thangka is to send it to Surmang – a perfect home for all the blessings and years of human effort it represents. And a mighty link in a chain that extends both west to east and east to west. Now THAT is a Gandhian non-aggressive petition I would sign and circulate with glee.

  182. Suzanne Duarte on February 13th, 2010 4:23 pm

    From my vajra brother Paul C. Kloppenburg in Crestone, CO:


    Some reflections from an old timer ….
    even though I feel quite up to date .

    We worked damn hard !
    We recorded his every word !
    We took miles of film !
    We tried our level best to carry out yet
    another outrageous idea !
    We mutually created a dynamic environment
    where both Paths could flourish .

    There was NEVER a feeling of personality worship .
    Substance means inner realizations …..
    Phoniness means believing too much in outer form ,
    and following spiritual feudalism .

    Vajradhara thanka or not ,
    The Bonpo’s are celebrating all the way up to
    Kailash mountain peak .
    Let’s have a happy Rigden !

    In skillful continuity there’s always some overlap
    between the old and the new…
    This requires maturity and big view .

    But in today’s world, so eager to discard…. with
    techno-speed you’ll lose your mind !

    Disturbing and conflicting clouds hang over
    otherwise mirror-like ocean …
    The father’s and son’s boats have collided .

    Adopting lofty titles does not mean
    one can handle the waves .
    It’s painfully apparent .

    It is not either one path or the other ,
    The fearless limping Siddha always said …
    they’re mutually complimentary .
    To diminish one you destroy the other !
    What will be left eventually ?!

    Continuity has innate maturity and inclusiveness ,
    This understanding would be helpful for both
    old and new folks in the Shambhala world .

    Because also your turn will come —
    when once again a definitive change will come forth….

    And as is said , what goes around comes around —
    Your face then will also be wetted by tears ….. as is mine ….
    shaking your head …..
    How could it happen ? !

    Paul C Kloppenburg
    greetings from crisp, sunny Crestone

  183. richard heilbrunn on February 13th, 2010 7:48 pm

    Thanx Paul. Finally a Crack, that lets the Sun Shine again~~~~~

  184. Jigme Chowang on February 13th, 2010 8:06 pm

    Alison said–
    “While I’m getting things off my chest – research over the past year has made it clear that the Sakyong’s father-in-law has become the driving force behind the scenes of SI. The pope of his church. A financial cash cow of sorts (as is the CTR legacy over which he and the Sakyong currently have control). These dots are connected with facts…Research has also made clear that the Sakyong is relating to the current Karmapa strategically, as his “competition”, not the head of the Kagyu lineage (WINCE). Also based on facts.”

    This last is particularly sad, given the effort that CTR exerted over the years into protecting his students from being contaminated by Tibetan dharma politics. Sectarian competition and protecting one’s market share is a leap into the past and represents the unattractive shadow side of Tibetan Buddhism which inspired teachers from Kongtrul Lodro Thaye through the present Dalai Lama have worked to eradicate.

  185. John Tischer on February 13th, 2010 10:13 pm

    I just think Jigme’s photo is hot.

  186. yeshe tsomo on February 13th, 2010 10:20 pm

    Ginny: Thanks for your kind words and for sharing the story about the young woman who decided not to go to seminary. I really identified with her story and have felt CTR’s presence in my life, encouraging me to think for myself and listen to my own voice.

    Jim Wilton: I am grateful for your courage to post on RFS even as you hold the Sakyong as your teacher. I admire your ability to hold your respect for your teacher as well as your sadness that he is making less and less room for the Kagyu lineage within SI. Thank you, too, for posting CTR’s poem so full of longing and devotion. It is particularly moving for me to read after spending the last two years working to emotionally and cognitively dismantle my patterns of blind devotion/devotion based on the notion that what I am looking for is outside of myself.

    Rita: I like the way you are thinking about “ ways around systems politically that would allow all of us to go forward in maybe not a ‘united’ fashion but at least a comradely fashion”. I don’t feel like I have enough understanding of SI or the sangha in relationship to the larger Kagyu lineage to make suggestions. But both you and Alison have written about reaching out to Khyentse Yangsi and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, respectively. It seems to me that with a clear goal in mind, a small but united group of folks approaching other politically powerful lamas with heart connections to this sangha, makes sense. Has anyone tried it?

    It seems to me that otherwise our little group of dissenters/questioners has no political power to make changes within SI. Your other idea is to bring these issues into more of a open, pubic debate and raise consciousness. I for one think this would be useful as well. If the Sakyong doesn’t’ listen, which clearly he doesn’t, why not bring the issues up in an organized public way. It seems that the start to this is, as Edward mentioned, creating some sort of timeline or concise history that most people can agree upon. I really liked Charles Marrow’s summary of where Vajradhatu/Shambhala should focus its energy.

    What was this National Assembly that CTR wanted created? I have heard people speak/write about the CTR making arrangements to ensure that his vision for Shambhala/Vajradhatu be carried out or at least have checks and balances?, but besides the Vajra Regent dying (I don’t mean to minimize the impact his behavior and death had on the community) I am not sure what else “went wrong” so to speak, that all of the power is concentrated in the Sakyong’s hands. So it must be that Lady Diana owns the copyrights to all of CTR’s written material/untranscribed talks? And clearly she is supportive of the Sakyong, but I guess I am asking how has this all manifested? If there is a short version on RFS that I missed or some version of Cliff notes somewhere and someone would direct me to that part, I would appreciate it.

    Rita, I also appreciate your brave heart, writing from across the pond, hanging in there tirelessly, offering so much.

    Suzanne Duarte: Thanks for posting your friend’s poem.


  187. John Tischer on February 13th, 2010 10:39 pm

    I just think…..

  188. El Herrero Viejo on February 14th, 2010 1:19 am

    A year ago or so, one of the major lineage holders, who is known to most of us, spoke off-the-cuff to his sangha one day about lineage and “impermanence”. While this may have been an off-the-record talk, I think it’s important for people to know that there is wide-spread concern amongst other highly-respected Rinpoches about what is going on with the eldest son of VCTR.

    The following are notes, taken by a member of the audience, of what he said:

    Basically he speaks about his
    life work here in the West being solely to honor the
    name and life’s work of (his predecesor), which he was
    given to do as his root teacher had instructed.
    Point blank he looks at the camera and says

    …” whatever happens in the future, no matter what
    changes happen in the culture or temperament of future
    generations, no one, not even my own son, the Dharma
    heir, will have any authority to change or alter in
    any way the practices or teachings that have been
    established, or names given to any centers or anything
    that I have spent the last 18 years creating. This
    will not become like what has happened in Vajradhatu,
    where everything has changed, only 20 years since
    Trungpa Rinpoche has passed away; and now look at
    what’s left. No one knows where his incarnation is, he
    isn’t recognized, there is no contact, and no one knows
    what he is doing.

    “Just look at the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul , the young one
    who died; he died so young and yet his entire vision,
    all what he wanted to happen; just one man, his bursar,
    has carried it all out since his death, and now
    Pullahari is such an amazing place, and there is so
    much of his blessings around today.

    “It’s not about preserving my teachings, or me as a
    teacher, it’s about the entire legacy and lineage of
    (my predecesor) that I have been entrusted to uphold.

    I don’t care what happens to my consciousness after I
    die, but I want to make sure the lineage of (my predecesor)
    is preserved for as many generations as
    possible. And i know that Dzongsar Khyentse feels the
    same way; he isn’t interested in his own thing, he is
    concerned with carrying out the vision of Jamyang
    Khyentse Wangpo.

    And the responsibility of students to
    that vision doesn’t just end when I die, they have to
    carry out their responsibility and roles, they can’t
    just drop it and shy away with their fingers clenched
    in their palms.”

    And along these same lines, this is a discussion with the
    Rinpoche who gave this talk. ______, a student of
    Trungpa R, who was always asking this Rinpoche to help guide the
    Vajradhatu sangha, said that this Rinpoche told
    him he has offered the Sakyong help on numerous occasions.
    The last time was an offer to help them (SI) introduce a
    study and practice program, which he has done for both
    Khandro Rinpoche’s sangha, and Sögyal Rinpoche’s, in
    Europe, where they now have over 300 people doing 3-year retreats,
    most of them at home, and they are
    studying the traditional texts in a way relevant to
    Western practitioners. The Sakyong sent back some
    vague letter, evidently, about their mothers being friends, but
    totally not addressing the issue…

  189. Sandy on February 14th, 2010 3:04 am

    Cheerful Losar!

    Chris, Jim, Paul (via Suzanne)–thank you for your poems.

    El Herrero Viejo I am grateful to you and to everyone else who participated in the discussion so far. It is hard to be confused about lineage and personal experience and to be told one’s concerns are invalid.

    Yet, clearly there are very many fewer vibrant Vajrayogini Feasts than when CTR was alive. Those were better days.

    Thanks again.

  190. John Castlebury on February 14th, 2010 8:48 am

    Losar Aspiration

    Let the better nature of beings re-awaken!
    Let our inconceivable pains be alleviated!

    Let great miracles of coincidence ripen us!
    Let bullies of habit surrender to awareness!

    Let there be a worldwide outbreak of love!
    Let sudden insight infect our lives with joy!

    And let that joy be contagious as a cold!
    Let there be a global pandemic of pure gold!

    Let the germ warfare of samsara no longer
    Sow influenza of paranoia nor virus of misery!

  191. Rob Graffis on February 14th, 2010 9:06 am

    What is the Dalai Lama Syndrome.?

  192. Sandy on February 14th, 2010 12:25 pm

    Some beauty surpasses all others/Ancient chords writ large/My heart awakens in joy!

  193. Ginny Lipson on February 14th, 2010 1:32 pm


    That was truly amazing. Do you have any idea who made it?????

    thank you so very very much for posting this….

    Also, of course, just in case anyone wants “more”…we do have recent photos of the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche from last September when he was 20. He is so beautiful. Sorry to say that our website technology has not permitted me to get a really good quality of the 2 recent photos up there, but the photos themselves are brilliant

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart of sharing this!!
    with love,

  194. John on February 14th, 2010 4:04 pm

    Hello Ginny

    Thanks for the photo information.

    Do you know if the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche is receiving any of the teaching of the 11th Trungpa?

  195. Andrew Safer on February 14th, 2010 4:42 pm

    Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing Paul’s poem, and thank you Paul.

    “The father’s and son’s boats have collided .”

    Even if there is collision
    Not end of story
    Ocean is guru’s mind

  196. Ginny Lipson on February 14th, 2010 5:57 pm


    good question!!

    I think that Surmang has several texts by the 11th Trungpa Rinpoche, but they are in English.

    I certainly hope that at some point he will be able to study works by his predecessor, the Vidyadhara, and learn English as well. I really don’t know for sure what to say here about how much if any he has studied already …..or heard about informally from others so far, or when he will study these things in the future. I would certainly think that he would want to at some point.

    Other than that, he is receiving a very good classical Tibetan Buddhist education at Serta, with the background of a Surmang traditional education; Such as the Chakrasamvara Dance.

    I can try to find out more as soon as I next hear from Khenpo Tsering.


  197. Sandy on February 14th, 2010 6:40 pm


    Music from the video I offered is called “Offering Chant” (Unplugged) by Lama Gyurme accompanied by Jean Philippe Rykiel. Lama Gyurme is based in France, and you can find out more about him and his collaboration with Rykiel by “Googling” them.

    As for the 12th Trungpa: The Konchok Foundation, named after the Sakyong’s mother, helps to support the 12th Trungpa and see to his education. Unfortnately, this is not well publicized. Here is information from

    Chokyi Senge, Trungpa XII Rinpoche is currently 20 years old. Once the shedra at Surmang Dutsi Til is completed, which includes living quarters for him, he will assume his seat and begin teaching there.

    “I wish our shedra was open right now!”
    –Trungpa XII Rinpoche (in a recent comment to Khenpo Tsering Gyurme)

    Trungpa Rinpoche has spent most of his time recently at Serta Institute in eastern Tibet. Serta is a great institute of dharmic learning established by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. It is a university for all schools of Buddhist thought in Tibet, with more than 15,000 students. Serta has 40-50 khenpos, including the highly noted Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro and Tulku Tenzin Gyamtso.

    Along with studying and receiving transmissions at Serta, Trungpa Rinpoche also spends time at Surmang. He continues to learn the dharma traditions particular to Surmang. In September/October of 2009, he studied the Chakrasamvara dance, and will be participating in the annual Chakrasamvara Dance on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days after Losar (Tibetan New Year). Traditionally, the Chakrasamvara Dance at Surmang is led by the current Trungpa Rinpoche, once he has mastered the intricate steps. In addition to performing practices and spending time with the Surmang monks, Trungpa Rinpoche accompanies the monks on visits to local villagers, doing prayers for those who are sick or dying.

    Trungpa Rinpoche also spends some time each year with his family in Derge. Sadly, his mother passed away in 2006.

  198. Ginny Lipson on February 14th, 2010 7:32 pm


    thank you for all this information. I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but I am the chief “worker bee” at Konchok Foundation , do the books, manage the data base, send out the letters, manage the website, help plan fund raising gigs, etc etc. “Surmang Khenpo Tsering,” has lived with us whenever he is in the USA for the past 11 years. (a LOT!!) So, I’m really at the center of these things, and know a great deal about most of the basics. I even wrote (with the help of Khenpo Tsering) part of the article you quoted. (so funny to get it back to me like that!!) I also own the CD by Lama Gyurme.

    Sort of humorous for me to get your post just now!!! thank you for going to all that trouble. I hope you are a fan of what we are doing.

    I am sorry to hear that you feel it is not well publicized, as I have made about a zillion posts within this sangha on Sangha Announce. If you have any good ideas about this, please give me ideas of how to better publicize our work!!! It would be of great benefit!!!!!

    My original question was, who made the You tube video??? I was impressed at some of the photos, one of which I had never seen before of Khenpo Tsering and Trungpa 12 looking at some written information together,.. It MUST have been someone who had access to all those photos… like the thangka we had made of the Vidyadhara, specially designed with personal iconography for him. That has only been publicized by KF. I was not only moved by the beauty of the video, but flabbergasted at the existence of the intimacy of it. Like seeing one’s family photos in public.

    ALSO… We (KF) have 3 short videos on You Tube “site:” it is quite old, but here it is:

    Thank you!! How auspicious this is.


  199. Sandy on February 14th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Hey Ginny —

    The company that made the video is called “One True Media”–

    It’s wonderful that you have such a marvelous job. I really like your Web site. I am not tuned in to SI these days. I’m not on Announce, etc. I’m on Facebook, and that’s all! :) The only idea I have is to create a Facebook page, although you probably already have one!

    Thanks, Ginny.

  200. John Tischer on February 14th, 2010 10:15 pm

    Senor Vijejo,

    Yes, i Know abput that…and it was a teacher close to our sangha.

    what to do…… because it’s true…….

  201. Edward on February 15th, 2010 12:00 am

    El Herrero Viejo,

    Thank you for posting that. It is very interesting. Except for journalistic requirements, it could almost be an article of its own here. This part was interesting:

    [After first speaking about his son and dharma heir]

    And the responsibility of students to
    that vision doesn’t just end when I die, they have to
    carry out their responsibility and roles, they can’t
    just drop it and shy away

    . . . .

    Regarding “father and son’s boats colliding”… let’s remember that the son had no boat of his own, as far as I’m aware.

    It’s more like the son hijacked his dad’s boat, threw most of the crew overboard, and then started using the boat to make fame and fortune for himself.

    When we talk about boats colliding, it sounds accidental, as though “God” or the Rigdens or some dralas blew some wind and caused some impermanence to happen.

    . . . .

    The original article on this page posed the question: “Where do you think this kind of change will lead?” Interestingly, I came across a video of SMR that reminded me of this question:

    In the video SMR was speaking at NYU (?) with Queen Noor and another chap. The first thing SMR said about the dietary situation in Tibet and compassion didn’t make any sense to me. But another thing he said stood out:

    If you’re a leader that does not have patience, you will not survive the long haul.

    There’s more than one way to interpret this, but to me it conjured images of a leader patiently carrying out a long-range plan, step by step. Not rushing and trying to achieve everything all at once, but being content to achieve things in a stepwise fashion.

  202. rita ashworth on February 15th, 2010 9:47 am

    Dear El Herrero Viejo ,

    Thats certainly an interesting post about this Rinpoche giving his views on SI – I was wondering if that was happening stateside- quite a development in this arena. I am not sure what to make of it at this time -do you think any other lamas will make any further comments and will it be fruitful anyway because of SI’s attitude?

    I sort of want this debate to happen because it engenders ideas about how the dharma/shambhala teachings should be transmitted in the west which I am greatly interested in. Perhaps this calls for more articles by prominent lamas about how they will pass the teachings down in the west to a mainly householder tradition.

    I am not against change but I agree with Paul K. that it should be done in the context of an established tradition and it should also seek to be inclusive and not exclusive.

    Theresa the National Assembly is discussed briefly in the will of CTR on the Chronicle Project website. CTR’s comments in this will reflect to me a balance of powers between the sangha and the Sakyong. In fact I believe CTR might have in some way envisaged what was going to happen because he put this ‘advisory’ role in the will and also he did not mention who could advise.

    So much like in the UK a monarch takes advice not only from her official advisors but also that bugbear to monarchs ‘public opinion’ which can come from many sources ie the millions of people in the UK!

    Also within this National Assembly there was a provisio made for people voting on certain issues which is not now happening.

    As to the Goldman Sachs affair I take Alison’s points about the meeting -how did the Sakyong manage to get an invite that is a question in itself which has not been gone into. Anyway if you read the Erich Fromm book Sane Society which CTR was much attracted to -you get the feeling that CTR would not have gone to the Goldman Sachs event because this book advocates a communatarian socialism based on the wage deferentials in society not being so vast between classes.

    Fromm for example argues that you could have millionaires but may be not billionaires as we now have because it is and was deleterious to the flourishing of common society. Yes people need to read this book. Then we would have a handle on where CTR was coming from with the establishment of an enlightened society which I believe is a revolutionary stance.

    Mark Szp -hope this post is not too digressing from the thangka issue but yeh re an enlightened society you have to diverse art also! Hey had an idea re the Rigden thangka could Cynthia Moku refuse to continue with the Rigden painting until everybody debates the issue in Boulder. A political stance for an artist an interesting position to be in!

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  203. Suzanne Duarte on February 15th, 2010 10:15 am

    A friend sent me this from sangha-talk, where this thread on the Vajradhara thangka (Thangka wars) is also being discussed, with many digressions. This one is on music.

    From: Nick Wright on Sat, 13 Feb 2010 19:23

    … I can’t remember where I heard or read this, but he mentioned-I believe in the context of appreciating devotion in other spiritual traditions-weeping when he first heard Bach’s Matthaus Passion (St. Matthew Passion) when he was studying in England as a monk. I even flatter myself that I have identified one or two of the parts he might have been referring to:  Part 39, the aria Erbarme dich may be one (I have the Helmuth Rilling version, with Ingeborg Danz singing a heart-rending alto).

    Part 39:  Aria: Erbarme dich

    Erbarme dich,
    Mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen!
    Shaue hier,
    Herz und Auge weint vor dir

    Have mercy, Lord, on me,
    Regard my bitter weeping,
    Look at me,
    Heart and eyes both weep to Thee

    I also heard him say that he thought some of the great composers were “misplaced tulkus.” He mentioned Bach, Mozart and Beethoven as examples…. [end of Nick’s quote)

    There are many versions of Erbarme dich on YouTube. This is the one I found to be most soulful and poignantly beautiful:
    Bach – Julia Hamari – Matthäus Passion – Erbarme dich

    Just substitute Vajradhara or guru for “Gott”

    I have always been moved to tears by St. Matthew’s Passion, and especially this aria, so I was delighted to read what Nick said. I played this aria over and over, and then I realized that this clip expresses exactly what I feel about the planned removal of Vajradhara from the Dorje Dzong shrine: heart and eyes weep bitter tears over the disrespect with which my beloved guru and his beloved Kagyu lineage are treated by SMR. And then I realized that the Kagyu lineage, with its emphasis on devotion, is the soul of Tibetan Buddhism. At least that is what it represents to me.

    We prostrate to Vajradhara, who represents the guru. He is the primordial Buddha who witnesses and receives our bitter tears. He can take anything we present to him, offer to him, throw at him, and he remains in compassionate equanimity. He is the image of our own Buddha nature. Because we have practiced with this image for a lifetime – an image so lovingly created and blessed – its proposed removal from our teacher’s seat strikes at the heart of our devotion to Trungpa Rinpoche. Our tears over the injustice and sacrilege are bitter.

    Others have said that we are still grieving the death of Trungpa Rinpoche. Yes, I am, and that grief is evoked by the plan to remove Vajradhara from the shrine in Dorje Dzong, where I practiced and worked for many years. It’s like the final blow to remove CTR’s memory from SMR’s mandala. It tells us that SMR doesn’t and never did carry devotion in his heart for the man from whom he inherited – and has squandered – everything. For shame.

  204. John on February 15th, 2010 11:35 am

    Hello Ginny:

    What would it take to set up a computer and webcam in Surmang Monastery.

    It would be wonderful if the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche could give teachings to his sangha around the world.

    Translation should not be a problem.

    We could look at setting up a special fund for this worthwhile project.

  205. Ginny Lipson on February 15th, 2010 12:23 pm

    John, I really appreciated your idea. I will ask Khenpo about this. So far, although there is (photo voltaic) electricity in Surmang, there is no internet service. (Surmang is still in the Boonies.)

    I promise I will ask Khenpo about what is possible re: your idea. He is still at Surmang, that is why I haven’t heard from him for a while.


  206. ash on February 15th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Vajradharic Musings

    What a thread!

    Just knowing that Martin Fritter is still alive
    Makes me realize
    How much sadder a world it would be without his presence.
    And his comment touched to the realistic quick of the matter.

    The lovely blond mademoiselle
    Who never met Him
    Explained as well as anyone
    Including the eloquently detailed Warren
    Why moving that thangka
    Is important to so many
    On so many levels.

    My take?
    It is not enough to put another in its place
    Until its place is determined first.
    Taking it down without a better place prepared already
    Would be a manifestation of ignorance,
    Wanton destruction,
    In short,
    A pity.
    Why not both? It’s a big room. There have always been two shrines, the Vajradhara/Buddhist shrine, and the Throne/Shambhala shrine areas.
    Just put the Rigden up where the throne is.
    When the Sakyong comes to sit there,
    The Rigden thangka comes down
    Because his Living Ambassador is there.
    N’est-ce pas?

    So many hot and bothered reactions.
    So much disappointment married with devotion
    Both past and present.

    Am I disconnected now because I broke the samayas?
    If I had kept the samayas would I now still be connected
    As in days of yore?

    Or is Montgomery’s wandering the way of the sampannakrama yogin?
    Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini: the form/utpattikrama;
    Followed by six yogas, the sampannakrama, in which there is no shrine.

    I live without a shrine.
    Without practice.
    Without protectors.
    Without hope of fruition.
    Anticipating an empty death.

    Is this good?
    Or setting sun?
    Or bad?

    I do not know.

    One thing I know as I look at the Sakyong picture
    With Him in a tuxedo and sash,
    Looking down sternly at me in the bedroom
    Esconced in a fancy gold frame:

    If I were to utter the
    Criticism of his Son
    He would not approve.

    That one
    I find hard to get around.
    Which is why I won’t send an email
    Even though I am no longer connected
    Or ‘active’
    Nor yearning to be
    Nor think moving the thangka is a great idea
    Nor feel (based on my last visit in ’99)
    That Boulder is much of a living mandala any more
    (no disrespect intended to anyone).
    I have never felt so sad as my three months there.

    Death is real.
    This body
    And all bodies
    Will soon be a corpse.

    Apart from that,
    I am not sure of anything any more.

    Finally about group action:
    Individual letters to the email addresses are fine;
    A group petition organized via the internet is better
    With signatures and ongoing count included;
    Better because it’s a group manifestation
    And to organize against central power
    The masses must organize.
    Something involving live physical group at specific place and time
    (shrine room of course)
    would be even better.
    Talk alone is probably more harmful than helpful.

    I live without sangha or close neighbours
    In promised land of Cape Breton
    Near lakes and ocean
    Surrounded by weeping reminders of ancestor forest
    Manifest now as clear-cut unnatural but still wild
    Neither in civilization urbanically speaking,
    Nor even a millimeter away from it
    Either visually, practically, geographically
    Or environmentally.

    We are all interconnected;
    We meaning people,
    Or moments in time.

  207. ash on February 15th, 2010 8:27 pm

    The old ones
    Are bound together under the gaze
    Of Good Old Blue Vajradhara.
    Whether he is there

    Ashley Howes,
    French Road
    Cape Breton
    Feb 15 2010.

  208. ash on February 15th, 2010 8:45 pm

    PS. Couple of points after above spontaneous pseudo poetic offering:

    1. I always thought that the ceiling ( black-painted suspended squares) was a budget-based compromise of sorts. Not exactly finished.
    2. Before HHK’s 2nd visit, I watched as VCTR carefully placed some of the little ornaments on the ‘Vajradhatu-Orange’ painted ‘fence’ around the main shrine. So even these little things are dharma tulkus worth preserving in the place where they were made manifest.

    Change is inevitable everywhere all the time. Thangkas will rot; pine fences will rot; gold-leafed ornaments will rot. But whilst they are still in the full prime of youth, as these objects are, at the least they can be both appreciated and treasured and cared for lovingly. They are a living repository of manifest blessings/good intentions/drala/interconnectedness. And as such, they continue to contribute actively to ongoing dharma transmission, i.e. they are still living and as such still so precious.

    Coming or going
    I hope they are enjoyed
    and continue to transmit the dharma
    through their own being
    and the mindstreams
    both historical and still living
    (same difference)
    of those involved in their
    creation and ongoing expression
    dharmic service.

  209. Alison on February 16th, 2010 10:56 am

    “… next time i’m in church, please, no photos….”

    – Kanye West on Jay Z’s ‘Blueprint 3′

    in the spirit of total disarmament –
    may it come to pass soon –


  210. mark a smith on February 16th, 2010 7:44 pm


    thanks for the ‘vajradharic musings’ and the points that follow…mark

  211. Mark Szpakowski on February 16th, 2010 10:21 pm

    The Vajradhara Thangka issue is a part of a larger evolving context, but sticking, perhaps naively, just to the question of whether this Thangka can remain in its current central position in the Karma Dzong Boulder main shrine room, the only face-saving move I can think of is that the “Vidyadhara Sangha” buy back or regain control of the building*, and the Sakyong put up another, perhaps larger, shrine room with Rigden Thangka somewhere.

    Perhaps this is just a thought experiment.

    Perhaps good old blue Vajradhara is just a thought experiment.

    Are we still experimenting?

    *I believe the building is collateral for a loan to SMC, so that would have to be resolved.

  212. rita ashworth on February 17th, 2010 6:47 am

    Mark – I can see your reasoning here – re the thangka -it is a subtle religious one ie is the building just a building or is it the ‘home’ of Vajradhara.

    Its weird I can now understand why people are iffy about religious images and their placement after being such a secular person for a long time.

    On a practical level who owns the centre in Boulder -could ‘the Vidyadhara Sangha’ afford to buy it or at least the thangka. And also whats happening – is the sangha split down the middle -people dont know in Europe whats happening.

    Yes things are thought experiments but some have more power than others I believe hence the contortions over the thangka.


    Rita Ashworth

  213. richard heilbrunn on February 17th, 2010 7:56 am

    Mark~~ I personally think that is a great place to exercise change. is there actually a “Vidyadhara Sangha”?? if so is it domiciled in Boulder?? Does it have 501 c status??? These are all things that could help raise awareness and money if needed.

    The elephant journal has written an article. Is there anyone in Boulder that could interest the mainstream media??

    Wandering and Wondering


  214. Alison on February 17th, 2010 10:46 am

    I’m not a big fan of nostalgia but ….. While packing up to move from a house I’ve lived in for ten years or so, I came across a small leaflet the other day (a letter sized printed tri-fold) titled “Shambhala Training. The Heart of Warriorship”. It must have been the material provided when I first inquired about Shambhala Training. The impetus for the inquiry was the recommendation in the book “Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior” to seek out one-on-one in-person meditation instruction. No more, no less. The leaflet is stunning in its simplicity. No pictures, no grand scheme. A quote and a few paragraphs.

    It contains the following:

    “Shambhala Training was founded by the renowned Tibetan mediation master Chogyam Trungpa. Until his death in 1987, he was perhaps the most important teacher of Buddhism to come to the West. He also felt the need to present the wisdom of meditation and basic human goodness in a non-religious, non-sectarian context. As an important lineage holder of the ancient Shambhala teachings, he created the Shambhala Training program so that many people could practice this path of gentleness, fearlessness and precision. This lineage is carried on today by his son, the Sawang Osel Rangdrol Mukpo.”

    Following that is a list of Levels I-V, each with its title and a one sentence description.

    No nostalgia. I know “things” have never been “perfected” here or anywhere….

    Was this leaflet bait? A “gateway drug” to hopefully deliver me one day to the REAL Buddhist path ?

    And, in my corner of the laboratory, I juxtapose this leaflet with the proclamation made by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa that empowers Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as a “Vajra Holder of The Karma Kagyu lineage”.

    And, with the fact some pretty high lamas offer refuge like a drive-thru ! (drive by?)


  215. Ginny Lipson on February 17th, 2010 2:02 pm


    Thank you for your very provocative post, perhaps in response to the sense of outrage and helplessness people may be feeling to the brick wall we face about making any changes??

    Interesting Quote from Alison’s Shambhala Training leaflet:

    ‘”Until his death in 1987, he (CTR) was perhaps the most important teacher of Buddhism to come to the West.” My first thought was “Yikes!!!! Say what?!” He still and most definitely IS the most important teacher of Buddhism to come to the West.

    I’ve been pondering about the notion of what I think of as “Vajrayana mysticism.” I don’t really remember enough about the higher Shambhala Teachings to compare, but from feeling such a close connection with Chakrasamvara practice, and from the sense that “Vajrayana is literal” (Whatever that really means,) I feel that perhaps the new wave caught up so enthusiastically in what the Sakyong is doing consists of people who do not understand or appreciate “Vajrayana mysticism,” yet I have come to feel its core importance to what we have received from the Vidyadhara.

    so NO the Thangka issue is NOT a thought experiment, although all things must pass and in history all kinds of atrocities have occurred… like the heads of all the intellectuals piled up outside the gates of some ancient city in the Middle East after the conquest by the Turks or whoever. (Pardon my lack of historical memories)

    Ginny Sorry if this shows up twice, computer tech problems

  216. Rob Graffis on February 17th, 2010 7:51 pm

    What kind of Tangka do they have presently in the Halifax shrine room?

  217. Rob Graffis on February 18th, 2010 12:08 am

    I dreamed last night Naropa University lost it’s basic Buddhist flavor, and there was a big Mickey Mouse poster on the left side of their Shrine. Seemed ominous.

  218. ash on February 18th, 2010 1:03 am

    Rob re: “Seemed ominous.”

    I think that is spelled: onimouse!

  219. Rob Graffis on February 18th, 2010 1:09 am

    Oops? I rely on spell check too much. As you noticed, I’m a lousy speller, in part because of spell check.

  220. James Elliott on February 18th, 2010 2:38 am

    In response to Mark’s suggestion, and the question who owns the building.

    The prospect of purchasing the building is probably off the charts. Aside from funds, the logistics of getting out from under the debt loaded on it in order to allow a change of ownership would be difficult even if all parties were in agreement.

    But control may be another issue. Wonder if Mark Smith would want to venture into these waters.

    I don’t know this first hand, but… I heard when the name changing was going on, it was attempted to change the name of Vajradhatu to Shambhala. Sounds straight forward enough, but… I heard that because Trungpa Rinpoche had made efforts to make that designation vajra-like this was not possible. The name of the legal entity called Vajradhatu could not be altered or dismantled.

    So the organization Shambhala International, the legal entity, was created separate from and beside that. It didn’t replace it. Legally it could not. So technically, on a legal level, the name of the organization was not changed to Shambhala. It couldn’t be. And Vajradhatu, as a legal entity anyway, still exists.

    I have no idea of the legal implications, but think there must be some. If the Vajradhatu entity actually still exists, what was in it’s documentation indicating what was owned if anything, who owned it, and how was it to be cared for, what sort of entity or body was supposed to take care of it, even before his death, but after as well? Was it seen as a church owned by its constituency or owned by the preceptor? Was it a family business? Was it supposed to be regulated by a board? Who was to be in the executive body or how was it to be gathered or formed? What specifically does the legal entity “Vajradhatu” actually designate?

    Wouldn’t these kinds of considerations be part of such an intentional and concerted effort to preserve the Vajradhatu entity into future generations? Just for the name? Hardly seems worth the effort.

    Maybe there’s nothing to this, and I certainly don’t mean to imply anything about succession of teachers and lineage etc. which I consider to be something else altogether.

    But it may be worth looking into the details of what has proven to be a rather airtight legal procedure protecting and preserving the legal entity Vajradhatu that was perhaps one of the first obstacles when all the changes began.

    What did that legal entity, in terms of property and copyrights and all other things involved with Vajradhatu include? Was it in fact only about the name? Even it if were only about the name, what is the status of that name? What is it preserved for? How is it supposed to be tended to? I mean in terms of the legal entity and how it was written up by Trungpa Rinpoche, John Roper, and whoever else was involved.

    What specifically were Trungpa Rinpoche’s intentions with that? We wouldn’t need to speculate too much, that one’s in black and white.

    In the inspiration that earth is part of the equation that’s very hard to manipulate.

    James Elliott

  221. rita ashworth on February 18th, 2010 9:06 am

    I did get a copy for the Vajradhatu organisation when the Regent situation occurred because some one sent it to me from the states because I wanted to look into the whole organisation thingie more acutely i.e who had legal power in Vajradhatu.

    So I think there will be copies out there still – the Vajradhatu constitution is worth investigating -perhaps its filed at some public office in Boulder and is open to the public to investigate. Some one should look on the net or google it.

    From what I remember it basically set out the various official capacities of people on the Board – but its worth putting up on rfs for people to mull over it.

    I dont know could you use the name Vajradhatu again -interesting. If the office was in the UK – I would definately be getting my hands on it! Dont know where my copy disappeared to.

    Of course later realised that the Regent could not be removed because of the oaths taken by various members on the Vajradhatu Board -particularly David Rome -check out the comments on the will on CTR Chronicle Project -so yes there is the legal thing and then there is the oath thing. Religion/Dharma/world dont always mix acutely well! Ho-hum!

    Still the whole thing is worth an afternoons investigation at least


    Rita Ashworth

  222. Andrew Safer on February 20th, 2010 10:48 am

    This post is directed to the folks who are OK with the Vajradhara thangka being removed from the Boulder shrine room.

    Let’s leave aside the question of what the Vidaydhahra would say, since that’s speculative.

    Will someone please explain how removing the thangka from the shrine room is *not* a repudiation of this sangha’s connection to the Kagyu lineage, and how it’s *not* an overt sign of disrespect to His Holiness Karmapa XVII?

  223. ash on February 20th, 2010 11:36 am

    Simple. We have established a new lineage essentially and have determined on a particular setup for our Centers. Vajradhara is the Kagyu equivalent of Samantabhadra so having him up is a ‘repudiation’ of the Nyingma lineage in our stream. And it can go on forever. Having HHK on the very top is a repudiation of HHDKR, or maybe it should have been HH Penor and having HHDKR the elder would have been a repudiation of HH Penor and so on. It is endless.

    This way, there is one basic setup. On personal shrines there can be no end of choices. For example on my personal shrine years ago I had:

    HHK on top because that was the official recommendation.
    A central image which changed based on my practice (i.e. VY, CK, the Dharma Sagara etc.) then I had 4 pics (no room for six):
    Top left Khenpo Gangshar or Sechen Kongtrul
    Bottom left Gesar Mukpo
    Top Right HHDKR
    Bottom Right CTR

    Sometimes it was Khenpo Gangshar top right and CTR bottom right. etc.

    To me this expressed some sort of continuity of lineage. Later on I put the Sawang/Sakong there under HHDKR and moved CTR beneath Khenpo Gangshar. And so on. No end of possibilities. But for the centers, I can see why it is better, both in terms of external and internal politics, to simplify the whole thing and just have one basic lineage, which is ours at this point. Rigden, CTR and SMR.

    In the case of Boulder though, I don’t see why there can’t be an exception made that only changes if the sangha moves out of the PIC building. Especially since it is a rather large room (as well as awkwardly proportioned) and we are used to facing all either one way (towards the main BuddhaDharma shrine) or the other (towards the Shambhala-Throne zone). Perhaps the problem here is the throne and there is a sense that it should not be moved around in which case there is no room for a large Shambhala Shrine at that end along with the throne. If that is so, then you really need to have just one shrine in which case, good ol’ Blue has simply got to go.

    Part of the problem has to do with the dimensions of the room due to the regulatory need for two staircases. A real pain.

    Suggestion: Move the Vajradhara Shrine to where the Shambhala zone now is. And put the new Rigden shrine up in the Buddhist zone along with a Sakyong throne next to it and hopefully also room for lesser thrones for visiting teachers. (Personally I think it best to use the thrones only for abhishekas and the rest of the time use chairs as CTR did but..) But this way there would be room for everything and it would work fine.

    Suggestion 2: Build 2 external fire escape staircases somehow and return the main hall to original rectangle proportions making it larger and easier to have all these shrines and thrones!
    But that’s all just personal opinion of course.

  224. Chris on February 20th, 2010 1:52 pm

    Well, I guess it has been finally clearly stated:
    “Simple. We have established a new lineage essentially and have determined on a particular setup for our Centers”.

    After reading the latest Budget breakdown for the new “OUR FUTURE” campaign, its clear that SI has now redefined the meaning of words, and the meaning of lineage:
    This 14- center, one month tour is touted as a chance for “dialogue” about the future of Shambhala. So while the community is in dire financial straits, the sangha is confused and divided, The Sakyong has “beat feet”, SMC and Halifax are down to bare bones staff, SMR continues to fundraising for himself and his pals and calls this “dialogue” with the community.

    Expenses for Sakyong’s so-called deep retreat, which is really traveling around Asia and N.A with his pals, he needs $263,000 (expenses); $144,000 (annual income, distributed monthly) This so he won’t lose any income, while he is on “deep retreat.”

    NEW MEANING FOR PAYING MORTGAGES, EXPENSES: So it doesn’t have to come out of the above $263,000 and $144,000:
    $ 9000. (attendant support for extra salary for his wife); $77,000 (Boulder and Cologne Courts);

    $100,000 (financial stabilization)

    $26,000 (transcriber); $54,000 (salaries for acharya Adam Lobel, and part-time staff member) Adam Lobel will be “transcribing” the terma that drops from the Sakyong “continuously” ,as he discovers more, “commentary” (meaning changing everything to suit the Sakyong’s “vision” ) on the Druk Sakyong’s Shambhala teachings .

    “ First, we aim to meet the target previously set for the end of year campaign for 2009 ($85,000). Second, we aim to meet the target previously set for Shambhala Day 2010 ($130,000). Third, we are seeking to raise sufficient funds to restore the shortfall in previously planned donations for 2008 and 2009 ($170,000)”.

    So, a million dollar fundraiser, in one month, fourteen center campaign , calling it “dialogue” with the community, when this community is broken. I can’t think of a bigger slap in the face and insult to students and the community.
    And oh yes, The Sakyong wants all of you to offer your practices “to him” ( not what every lama on retreat usually does, which is to keep his students in his heart and offer his prayers for them while on retreat). And of course you can send money as a “devotional” offering in addition to the practices you offer to him while he is on ”deep retreat”.

  225. Sandy on February 20th, 2010 2:04 pm

    Hey Chris —

    Too funny! I’m probably a student of the Sakyong, but I never thought he “got” me, you know? I pay the fee, I hear the teachings, I go home. Ben had a heart connection with him.

    I wonder why nobody understands that he isn’t connecting at heart level? Or is he? I don’t know anymore. The constant fund raising has blinded me to whatever message SI is sending.

    How many million dollar homes does one guru need?

  226. Jigme Chowang on February 20th, 2010 2:04 pm

    Andrew, as I remarked in an earlier post, I perceive the proposed “retirement” of Vajradhara as calculatedly disrespectful toward the practice lineage and, by extension, those of us who were trained by CTR in the Kagyu dharma. Either that or SMR and his Image Management Team are remarkably tone deaf to the implications of their decision.

    To amend my previous post ever so slightly, the Translation Committee have always remained above politics and I’ve gladly supported their work over the years; likewise the stupa, when that was in progress. Otherwise, I’ve chosen to direct a share of my paltry retirement income to teachers and centers who use it toward better ends than supporting an opulent personal lifestyle.

  227. ash on February 20th, 2010 2:15 pm

    The last part is not clear, at least to me: “4. Putting Shambhala on a firmer financial foothold and use this year to experiment with taking a step towards a more integrated approach to fund-raising for the mandala as a whole. Thus, Shambhala will not conduct a separate fund-raising appeal at the end of the year, nor on Shambhala Day. Both these occasions will be rolled into the integrated campaign for “Our Future”. The funds to be raised to stabilize the Mandala Services at the centre of the mandala in the course of this campaign will be used in three ways. First, we aim to meet the target previously set for the end of year campaign for 2009 ($85,000). Second, we aim to meet the target previously set for Shambhala Day 2010 ($130,000). Third, we are seeking to raise sufficient funds to restore the shortfall in previously planned donations for 2008 and 2009 ($170,000). ”

    Isn’t the first $85,000 the 2009 shortfall and thus should be deducted from the $170,000 combined figure? oder?


    It also looks like the $263,000 expenses for housing and travel are different from the :

    2. Strengthening the ground for the lineage manifestation during and beyond the year of retreat. This involves improving the salary level for the Tibetan attendant to Khandro Tseyang, raising funds that will help to maintain the lineage residences in Boulder and Cologne, and generating a significant sum that can help to stabilize the financial strength of the lineage at this time of change.

    Estimated: $ 9000. (attendant support); $77,000 (Boulder and Cologne Courts); $100,000 (financial stabilization)

    The $77,000 for the Courts in the same section as the undefined ‘stabilizing the .. strength of the lineage’ is a bit confusing. Also, is the $77,000 ongoing mortgage expenses and if so what is the first $263,000 for? Or is it for improvements, or paying off some of the equity or what? But on the surface it looks like there is $263,000 + $77,000 for housing and other expenses = $340,000. Plus $144,000 salary which is quite reasonable by today’s standards in comparison with what doctors and stock brokers earn etc.

    $344,000 + $144,000 = $484,000; divided by 5,000 people (?) that comes to about $100 per head per annum = about $9.00 per month. From that perspective, not so bad. If most people can manage $20 a month and about half that goes to their local center, I suspect overall the financial situation would be quite healthy.

    Ideally, the Courts should be owned by the sangha and the mortgages paid off ASAP so the sangha has assets not liabilities. However it looks like the Ladrang mechanism will allow the Sakyong’s family to hold control of certain assets via a non-profit trust which can also be supported by donations with the usual tax benefits. I did not read the fine print on the Ladrang so maybe this is mistaken view. In any case, it would be a shame if such assets are also mortgaged ( for cash flow needs or down payments on additional assets) and then ongoing funds/donations from the general population are supposed to pay those mortgages (and the related banks). At the very least, we should have our own (little) bank for all this!

    I does not seem right, though, if indeed this is the case, that sangha donations go to paying off mortgages earning income for banks for properties that eventually will not be owned by the sangha since again it means the sangha is continuously servicing liabilities and unable to build up assets for the long-term.

  228. Sandy on February 20th, 2010 2:20 pm

    I, for one, hope the Sakyong gets all the money he wants. I hope he wins the lottery for a billion dollars. I hope he gets more money than he can use, like a rock star, like Queen Noor, the the King of the Arab Emirates!

  229. Sandy on February 20th, 2010 2:21 pm

    Why? Because he wants it. And I think everybody, including the Sakyong, should get every little thing they want.

  230. Blinz on February 20th, 2010 2:35 pm

    “Ode to Nausea”

    Our Lustrous Leader’s Fart,
    Cascading over our very expensive breakfast,
    Provided by cultists,
    Awoke deep-seated gratitude to ourselves
    at the glory of being Alzheimer Achyaryas.

    Robert Chandler

  231. Jigme Chowang on February 20th, 2010 2:42 pm

    I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but the only time I visited my teacher’s quarters in his Kathmandu monastery, his sole personal possession was an ornate windup clock on his bedside table that had been given him years ago by a student. I’m just sayin’…

  232. Ronald Barnstone on February 21st, 2010 4:21 am

    My old friend Ash wrote

    “Simple. We have established a new lineage essentially and have determined on a particular setup for our Centers.”

    What do you mean “we”?
    Did you and a couple of your friends establish a new lineage?

    I think the Sakyong has declared some such new lineage.
    But he is the only one to have done so. No one before him has declared a combined Shambhala/Buddhist lineage as he has, therefore he is the first lineage holder of this lineage if lineage indeed it be.

  233. Ronald Barnstone on February 21st, 2010 4:43 am

    Another thing.

    A lineage cannot be suddenly established.
    A lineage is a succession of gurus passing on a particular teaching or particular sets of teachings.

    An interesting question for the kempos:
    can there be a lineage of one?

  234. Michael Sullivan on February 21st, 2010 9:51 am

    Mr. Barnstone – thanks for reminding us about that particularly large elephant in the room!

    I would add that although existing lineages can fork – look at all the various Kagyu lineages – I would venture that CTR felt no need to do so. At any rate, if you look at the charts of that sort of thing, the forks all start with the person who declared them – never retroactively.

    My personal take: all the “new lineage” stuff is Marketing 101 all dressed up in a chuba…. “New! Improved! ”

    …..combined with a power play to consolidate control by eliminating separate governance for Buddhist and Shambhalian parts of the organization.

    And the thangka removal combines branding strategy with exerting control.

  235. ash on February 21st, 2010 11:38 am

    Greetings Barney!

    First: my use of the pronoun ‘we’ was basically supplying an answer to the question, i.e. it was not necessarily ‘my’ answer but ‘an’ answer.

    Second re: “”A lineage cannot be suddenly established.
    A lineage is a succession of gurus passing on a particular teaching or particular sets of teachings.”

    a) this might be the beginning of a new lineage (looks like it) but also
    b) might simply be the consolidation of a preexisting organization in order to streamline various legal, corporate, and journey-related issues. i.e. a restructuring because
    c) there doesn’t seem to be any obstacle to various lineage streams such as Kagyu, Nyingma etc. continuing to be practiced and studied under the Shambhala-Buddhist dharma canopy.
    d) it might over time develop a clear identity as a unique lineage.

    The main concern seems to be that a blending/fusion of Buddhadharma and Shambhala doctrine and method in some way compromises one or both ‘lineages’. But that said, if Shambhala is a lineage then what we have of it is, more or less, a lineage of one, now two – or several thousand if you count us and don’t focus on the head honcho(s).

    The lineage issue is a transmission issue and the transmission issue is mainly a vajrayana issue because Hinayana and Mahayana level awareness does not depend upon transmission and is still more or less based in conventional reality/dharmas. Furthermore, such sanghas can endure for centuries as they have done in various Theravadin countries which only in the past century have really suffered more attrition I believe as the industrial revolution has finally swept through that part of the world as well. But they can continue for a long time without any real need for various transmission lineages, tulkus and so forth.

    Along with the debate about Shambhala-Buddhism being two or one I think it would be helpful to have greater clarification both historically and currently as to the differences between these outer level ‘lineages’ so to speak, and the inner/secret ones because in many ways, functionally speaking, they are quite different animals. Put another way: the difference between the lower yana mandala and the secret/upper yana mandalas is no less great, in many ways, as the difference between Shambhalian yanas and Buddhadharmic yanas.

    We do not acknowledge such differences administratively nor in most discourse. I think this relates to this sneaking suspicion I have that part of the long-term systemic problem has to do with the lack of build, so to speak, of the basic Mahasangha principle, i.e. Nyen, in our official governance structures as well as general perception.

    In other words, if we looked less to the authorities to answer all questions and provide most of the leadership and strategy (something which I think both CTR and SMR did and would welcome), maybe there would be less sense of their being too much of a top-down feeling.

    Example: in 2000 there was an Assembly in New Brunswick (Mt Allison?). Marty asked me for some advice/feedback about it and I suggested one main thing: own the organization ourselves and don’t keep going to SMR to ask should we do X,Y,Z but just do most of it and offer it up and then ask for any suggestions. That way SMR would relax much more and end up not only enjoying it more but also participating more. After it was over he wrote me saying that it was a very good suggestion and worked pretty much as I had suspected.

    Also as a Kusung helping in travelling situations I took the same approach, i.e. with organising Refuge Vows. Rather than go back to the principal with every little thing, just set up the main logistical and scheduling parameters, provide an overview to the Principal along with opportunity for suggestions etc., then just do it. This included even little things like ordering up lunch when it seemed the right time during the calligraphy phase. Rather than wait for a discussion about when to have it, what to have, I just had something brought in at what seemed the right time without a word being spoken about it. I don’t think it was just SMR’s personality particularly, but my impression was that this is clearly a much better way to operate rather than continuously reporting back for orders on every tiny little thing. Must drive them nuts!

  236. Christopher Huck on February 21st, 2010 10:55 pm

    In an interview this past week in the Israeli business daily, “Globes”, Peter Lynch, the “legendary” portfolio manager of Fidelity Magellan Fund fame, said: “”The most important organ in the body as far as the stock market is concerned is the guts, not the head. Anyone can acquire the know-how for analyzing stocks.”

    There is SO much written on this site by some that has so much to do with “the head”, while much of what many of us are experiencing has to do with what Lynch calls “the guts”. And that is what is real, what is the truth. THAT is critical intelligence.

    Dispense with the “head”. Go with “the guts”.

    It leads to success, and contentment, not just in the stock market…

    If I may say so.

  237. Tara Tears Part 1 on February 24th, 2010 1:22 pm

    It might be helpful to look at the roots of SMR’s particular neurosis. He never had the rigorous formal training that tulkus receive in the shedra from a very young age, where they are strictly sheltered from negative influences. As a child and teenager, he was ignored by the sangha, while Gesar was constantly being fawned over, because we didn’t know that he, too, was a tulku. He was a lost, lonely kid who didn’t seem to have a home anywhere. His parents were too busy to pay him much attention….Diana with her horses and CTR with his teaching and various penchants.

    After the ceremony that confirmed him as the future Sakyong, the kusung groomed him for stardom. He stepped out of his shell, donned shades, learned how to drink and get laid. By the time he received any formal training, his ego was set. The shedra would never have taken him. They would have considered him “spoiled”. But politics and the need for an heir to continue the Mukpo financial stream forced him into a persona for which he was ill equipped. His teachers may have trained his intellect, but it was too late to develop his compassion or heal his childhood wounds.

    Now we are suffering the fallout. Everything he does has vast political implications…his appearances, his marriage, his image. Does anyone see a resemblance between him and George W. Bush? Wanting Daddy’s approval, walking in his footsteps, never getting past the need to satisfy that childish hunger with money and accolades. SMR is a corporation unto himself…another corporate thief intent on stealing wealth and power. He and his henchmen are the Goldman Sachs of Buddhadharma, plundering tradition and sensibilities while feeding their entitled egos.

    It makes me sad, because I remember him as a kid, coming into the Finance Office at Dorge Dzong to sell raffle tickets for September School. None of the suits, from Stubbert on down, could be bothered. They waved him away. Only the secretary took the time to purchase a $1 ticket. He slunk away…an invisable, unimportant nuisance. I was there as a volunteer. I bought one, too, because I had children and when a kid shows up with raffle tickets, you buy one. It’s the right thing to do. Makes them feel important. Noticed.

    And now we wonder why the Emperor has no clothes? Perhaps awareness and the willingness to finally speak the truth is the answer to the coup he has been staging. Problem is, when you speak up in a cult, you get shunned. How many are willing to risk that…to leave the comfortable cocoon of our beautiful centers and spoon fed Happy Meal teachings?

    (see part 2 next)

  238. Tara Tears Part 2 on February 24th, 2010 1:27 pm

    (continued from part 1 above)

    CTR made an unfortunate error in judgement when he chose his Dharma and Shambhala heirs. The Regent crashed because of his huge sense of entitlement. Now we are watching the arc of SMR as Icarus, flying too close to the Great Eastern Sun on wings built by his father. Those wings are melting, but few will admit it. His arrogance and coldness are becoming more apparent. That lonely child is acting out his frustration and no one has the power to stop him. We can only watch as he saws off the limb that connects him to the lineage tree. Sadly, SI’s self-serving denial will cushion his fall in order to maintain their narcissistic egos. He will never wake up to the habitual patterns that were set in his childhood. He remains a tragic figure, blindly leading an organization that, ironically, preaches awareness as the cornerstone of its teachings.

  239. John on February 24th, 2010 1:47 pm

    Does the reincarnation of CTR the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche not mean anything to anyone?

    I read all these messages on RFS about CTR and no one ever mentions the 12th Trungpa.

    Could someone tell me why everyone is still clinging to the 11th Trungpa Rinpoche and absolutely ignores his new incarnation?

    I have spoken to Tibetan Lamas about this very situation and all they do is shake their heads and reply, “sad, very sad”.

    Please tell me because I really want to understand this.

    I truly belief that this is a topic that needs to be addressed openly and in a frank,honest and raw naked manner.

    Does the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche matter to we the followers of the beloved 11th CTR.

    Thank you

  240. Martin Fritter on February 24th, 2010 2:01 pm

    Tara – you call out people by name, but don’t use your own. Why?

  241. John Tischer on February 24th, 2010 3:23 pm

    Here’s the unthinkable: maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Shambhala (in
    the current guise) fails. All it really has going for it is a large, invisible carrot on a fragile stick. (I mean Scorpion Seal), If it fails, the current and future Sakyongs will have to take that into account. It would certainly be a humbling experience….the way the Regent debacle was for the board of directors at the time….maybe it’s really needed. I personally feel the Shambhala project is impervious to the vicissitudes of relative phenomena…..even a complete collapse of the organization. It’s a long term project. What did the Vidyadhara say? 100 or a thousand years? No matter what happens to the organization, SMR will be taken care of and have an heir. VCTR’s teachings will survive what’s going on now.

    I can’t see how SI can be successful in it’s current direction. The problems are more glaring and transparent than ever. By marginalizing the older
    students, SI has marginalized itself. Anyone interested in following the Buddhist path can see for themselves what’s going on, and that has
    put off a number of people.

  242. John Perks on February 28th, 2010 3:04 pm

    I was dazzled by the ray of opinions expressed by this colorful flock of parrots, with whom I count myself among. Concerning the removal of the Vajradhara Thangka from the shrine room in Boulder, I do think that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche should take it down because it does not reflect the curent teachings of SMR and his vison.

    SMR stated early on that it was his intention to create a lineage of Sakyongs. And I think this could benefit many beings. I have met some of SMRs students and they are quite wonderful young people. For myself personally I would not wish to live under the rule of a family monarchy,
    unless of course it had an extremely strong parlimentary democratic legislative body, which of course the present situation does not have.

    So the situation seems perfectly clear, at least in my mind. If the monarchy wants to take down the Vajradhara Thanghka and replace it with a new thanghka expressing a new vision for the lineage of Sakyongs, then that’s what it does. I suppose a broader question might be, “What is Shambhala vision?” I suggest that the lineage of Sakyongs is just one branch of an enormous tree, with leaves and flowers and birds and nests and all the rest, on its evolutionary course.

    I think that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is doing just fine and should continue with his vision, because like all of us in that great boiling pot that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called the sangha, he is cooking away. Perhaps an onion, perhaps a carrot, perhaps a turnip. Jumping the gun, I suppose, is popping out of the stew pot. And those other vegetables left behind sometimes complain about their own cooking.

    Well, I wish each and every one of us a hearty Vajrayana feast.

    Lots of love,

  243. Blinz on February 28th, 2010 6:08 pm

    Dear John:
    You wrote:
    “What is Shambhala vision?” I suggest that the lineage of Sakyongs is just one branch of an enormous tree, with leaves and flowers and birds and nests and all the rest, on its evolutionary course.”

    Yes, but this little branch is acting like it is the whole tree, and has totally lost its sense of humor, and it believes that it “really exists” and is doing something very important.

    So it would be like a corporate theme park , saying that it was “building upon Trungpa Rinpoche’s lineage, and was representing him and his teachings, both his Buddhist lineage and his Shambhala lineage.
    We would know this was a big fib, for marketing value, and some would say was breaking samaya with CTR because it was no longer really manifesting BASIC GOODNESS, meaning “everything is already perfect as it is” and there is nothing to do, but these busy , busy little administrators, and busy busy little serfs and slaves Have Enormous Ambition, and that is just silly, particularly when it comes to the essential teachings of both Buddhism and Shambhala.

    Chrambhala was not serious, it was very much humorous, and like a delightful and vivid appearance arising always spontaneously and never codified and canned, and never earnest and important and SPECIAL. You could say it was an antidote for all the arrogance, entitlement, solid, and mean-spirited elitism of the upper classes. CTR’s way of keeping that nonsense in check.

    Soooo , John, it is true, that as a true anarchist, who believes in Basic Goodness, and Tao and Rigpa, one would certainly not what to “resist” an imperialist-version, elitist, SPECIAL manifestation and false interpretation of Shambhala, because that would mean making it solid, and actually resisting it OUT THERE and giving it energy , and why do that, of course? But……. It’s something about spreading a false presentation of something, exponentially. I don’t think that would be creating enlightened society, do you?

  244. Chris on February 28th, 2010 6:32 pm

    mrsny yo dihn iy snobr vottrvyly.

  245. John Perks on February 28th, 2010 7:04 pm

    no one that I know in or out of history has created enlighted society there have been many including mr hitler who thought it might be a good idea to try,it always fails,and that is the point

  246. Chris on February 28th, 2010 7:27 pm

    Yes, since you can’t “create an enlightened society” which is a utopian dream , destined to fail, and you can’t “cultivate” basic goodness, which exists primordially, and can neither be created nor destroyed, this utopian, cultivated version of Shambhala/Buddhism out to save the world, and aligning itself with coporate America, i.e. Goldman Sachs, would be rather a perverted version, ( although yes, yes anything can manifest in the mirror) an interesting and odd “reflection” in the mirror, calling itself the mirror itself . It really doesn’t sit right.

    But, as you say, it will evolve, it will “cook in its own stew”.

  247. Rob Graffis on March 1st, 2010 12:36 am

    Yes, you can cultivate basic goodness. Milarepa had to. Dzogchen didn’t work for him. Dzogchen doesn’t work for a lot of people. It has a hasn’t for me. You can do both.
    Re-read Zen mind Beginner’s Mind.

  248. James Elliott on March 1st, 2010 2:57 am

    I appreciate John Perk’s jocular and positive approach, but feel he glosses over some of the reasons concerns have been raised.

    It isn’t so much whether the thanka should be removed to reflect what SMR is doing; Mr. Perks makes a good case for that. It is more that what the Vajradhara thanka represents and indeed is, is not being represented appropriately in the sangha that Trungpa Rinpoche founded; the teachings and practices within the Kagyu tradition which Trungpa Rinpoche put a bulk of his efforts into translating and westernizing to make it available for so many.

    If a suitable vehicle for that had been maintained, prepared and nurtured, over the years, many things would be different in Shambhala today, not only with the question of the thanka, which is only the symbolic tip of the iceburg. When the fate of the thanka is still in consideration (“Hmmmm what can we do with this thing now?), one can’t help but see a lack of concern for that branch of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings which has allowed things to come to this point.

    As such it is emblematic of how some? many? members who have spent decades supporting the community in all kinds of ways, including following that path, feel about how their efforts, experience and understanding have been respected.

    The concerns about the thanka and other issues within Shambhala are not primarily due to philosophical reasoning, like ‘the need to preserve what was’ or due to problems with how an absolute monarchy or hierarchy functions, any flaws one may perceive in one path or the other, or where the thanka should be.

    I started focusing on these issues, and I doubt I’m alone, because of what was obviously corrupt and detrimental behavior in appointed officials. I don’t expect perfection by any means, but all attempts I, and numerous others about various issues, have made to communicate with responsible parties failed, sometimes catastrophically. People I had otherwise thought of as reasonable and sane reacted to things they knew were not on the up and up and sometimes harmful, in ways that predictably made situations worse.

    So because of those kinds of problems and the disheartening effect I saw it have on others as well as myself, I began to wonder about why that was happening and why it was/is so bloody intractable. Along with some interesting psychological discoveries, I also came to understand the issues of, for example, separation of church and state, or confusions between politics and dharma, or issues of social engineering as compared with practices which aim only at realization, and so forth.

    My point is, those issues were never the driving force. They were the result of asking “why are we being treated this way?”

    Perhaps enlightened society is an aspiration that will never be reached. And perhaps universally humane treatment of others within a society is also such a fish. But in an organization which claims to be teaching compassion, it is not only natural that we expect something exemplary from appointed officials and leaders. It is a duty.

  249. damchö on March 1st, 2010 3:54 am

    James, my path through all this has taken very much the same trajectory as yours. First being startled, or rather deeply shocked, once too many times by behaviour. Then trying to understand how this could come about. And being led to all the same causes and conditions you raise.

    The vajradhara thangka indeed is only the tip of the iceberg. I understand the resonance it has for those who have lived in Boulder and spent many many hours in its presence, and of course I agree with the view that it’s a spiritual treasure of the community and should remain in an honoured place. But even if some special exemption were somehow to be made for that particular shrine, it would scarcely change anything about the direction and values of SI today. Still an issue worth pursuing for its own sake though, absolutely.

  250. John Perks on March 1st, 2010 5:33 am

    Well you know I love this Sakyong,CTR Said “students are like ticks you let them get very fat then pop them out into space” then he left a very big tar baby in the room,still I love this Sakyong and his followers,perhaps I am stuck on that,or perhaps its my briar patch, I am not of much help but I would like to say hello I love you

  251. John Perks on March 1st, 2010 8:24 am

    O .K.Fuck all this mouth flappin,if you want the fucking sacred Vajradhara picture so much why dont you go and steal that puppy right off the wall,where the fuck is barnstone!!jerking off in some mexican whore house drinking tequila I expect,anyways ask him he knows how to plan such an operation…and the best of fucking luck to you vajra warriors

  252. Rob Graffis on March 1st, 2010 9:44 am

    Tara Tears and Blinz is most likely Chris. It is really bad form and bad netiquette to dominate a space by hiding behind false names. Looking at the language and spelling structure is pretty much a give away. Is there anyway to keep this listerve more honest?

  253. Michael Sullivan on March 1st, 2010 10:00 am

    Rob – the admins can often determine identity by IP address and some stealth cookies, but failing that there is really no way to do this. Someone can go to a wi-fi location or library and assume a whole new persona quite easily – especially if they use another computer. With no register / email response mechanism there is no formal “joining”, and that is also trivial to spoof.

    A bit like multiple personality disorder….. and then, there are sometimes very different personas manifesting under one identity – evidenced by Mr. Perks’ series of posts!!

    Entertaining though!

  254. Chris on March 1st, 2010 11:34 am

    I am not Tara Tears. Blinz was a mistaken name left on before I could correct it, but my gravatar was easily identifiable. I wrote a nonsense post right after with my name to correct this. I have never tried to disguise my posts to prevent those waiting in ambush everytime I write. That pattern is easily identifiable here too.

  255. Michael Sullivan on March 1st, 2010 11:42 am

    just to clarify, I am not suggesting anyone here has “multiple personality disorder” but rather – in regards to absolute control on multiple identity posters / postings – that wishing it away or legislating it away or forcing it away is essentially futile.

    and part of the charm (and power) of this site is the open – ended aspect!

  256. Ash on March 1st, 2010 12:49 pm

    It’s so nice to have a veritable Lord here in the thread, especially one so well-endowed with good old Vajradhatu ‘f-you’ vernacular! I am sure Vajradhara is chuckling right now – if anyone is looking – and perked up to realize (yet again) that although many things change, fundamentally they remain the same.

    PS. As his ex-CO, can we take that as your command to Barnstone?

  257. Tara Tears on March 1st, 2010 12:56 pm

    Waiting in ambush, indeed. I posted once under this name. Whenever I have more to say, I will posted under it again.

    It would be good if people could get beyond their fortress mentality and have an honest debate. Are they so threatened, they’d rather chastise anonymous posters than address the subject? I use a pseudonym to avoid these condescending attacks. It’s not safe to identify yourself around a cult mentality.

    Look at Fritter. He didn’t have a word to say about my post. Just wanted to know who the heck I am.

  258. John Perks on March 1st, 2010 1:16 pm

    Well you know I do have multiple personality ,good of you to spot it,there is one in a cage in the basement we keep locked up when we are playing Buddhist,other wise the meditators who are also playing Buddhist would all run away if we let it out,It’s very hungry fer blood but we keeps it passifided with Irish whiskey….as for that wild mexican like all of us he is on his own…lots of love JP

  259. John Tischer on March 1st, 2010 1:40 pm

    I believe you can have enlightened society…that it would take the form of
    “orderly chaos”, and that when VCTR was alive, that’s what we had, because he was enlightened. The sangha was hard to swallow, but no matter how pissed off I got, there was that enlightened center that I couldn’t deny. I suspect many olders had a similar experience. When you don’t have enlightenment at the center, that kind of chaotic order just flies apart because there is no strong center….which I feel is exactly what we’ve seen.

    I agree that SMR should continue, and we’ll see what happens. But, because of what I just wrote, I have no interest in being involved in it,
    except in this way as an observer….we’re kind of like the UN here…
    good intentions but no real power. We’re only debating on what we feel
    we see is happening…which is not really a debate….more like discussing amongst ourselves. If Mr. Karelis’s formations manifest, then there might be occasion for debate.

  260. Suzanne Duarte on March 1st, 2010 2:59 pm

    Tara Tears, I was sad that no one had the balls to confirm your insights in your February 24th posts that begin, “It might be helpful to look at the roots of SMR’s particular neurosis.” I sent those posts to a few friends, saying that you were saying things that I’ve only said in private emails and in my living room. So I want you to know that some people – CTR students – do talk about SMR’s neurosis and wonder why more people don’t see it and state it.

    You said a lot of things in those posts that seemed spot on to me: “Does anyone see a resemblance between him and George W. Bush?” Yup!

    “His arrogance and coldness are becoming more apparent. That lonely child is acting out his frustration and no one has the power to stop him. We can only watch as he saws off the limb that connects him to the lineage tree.” Yup! Good one – about sawing off the limb that connects him to the lineage tree!

    Re: “He will never wake up to the habitual patterns that were set in his childhood.” Well, I pray that he will wake up to the residue of his childhood traumas, I really do. It’s really the only thing that could redeem sanity for him and his mandala (which is no longer our mandala). I’ve said that if he were to do a REAL, solitary one-year retreat, it might happen. I have my doubts about whether this current one-year retreat is a real, yogic-style (ie, solitary, do-it-yourself) practice retreat, but I don’t want to exclude the possibility that he might wake up. Whether it will be “in time,” however, seems dubious.

    So unless and until he wakes up to his own wounds and motivations, I agree: “He remains a tragic figure, blindly leading an organization that, ironically, preaches awareness as the cornerstone of its teachings.” As some have observed on RFS, SMR’s drama is Shakespearean.

    I also understand why you are choosing to remain anonymous: “I use a pseudonym to avoid these condescending attacks. It’s not safe to identify yourself around a cult mentality.” I have been the target of such attacks myself, and I know of others who have also been targeted, but I’m so far away from SMR’s cult, psychologically and geographically, that I have no reason to hide my identity.

    Pleez keep posting, Tara Tears. Your insights are refreshing.

  261. Rich on March 1st, 2010 3:21 pm

    Ah, how compassionate (and productive) to declare that another is neurotic and suggest that such neurosis needs to be talked about and explored! Indeed, all the non-neurotics who obviously know it all should show him the way out of his dismal George Bush-like state. I hope he sees the genuine wisdom and compassion behind such remarks but he’s probably too dim to wake up from his Shakespearean drama.

  262. Edward on March 1st, 2010 3:55 pm

    Part of the way out of neurosis is to listen to feedback. Feedback from the phenomenal world, or from respected friends and elders.

    It’s not easy to do. But if extraordinary willingness is there, much progress can be made in a single day.

    Unfortunately, people often aren’t willing to listen to feedback until the negative results of our actions become so enormous that we literally can’t stop ignoring it.

    It’s essentially an addiction. The addict turns away from all possible sources of feedback, away from human intimacy, and turns toward things he can control. Typically the addict becomes surrounded by “co-dependents”; people who support the addiction, in exchange for some reward of their own for looking the other way. Often the process continues to get more and more exaggerated until finally disaster strikes and interferes with all these arrangements.

    So the compassionate thing is not to attack or “judge” the addict*, but to apply tough love, love which encourages the person to put down the pipe of self-glamorization and isolation, and listen to feedback from others. Even our enemies can give us useful feedback– often they do it the best of all.

    * though perhaps we can and should judge the addict’s behavior

  263. Edward on March 1st, 2010 4:18 pm

    This probably has nothing to do with this discussion, but here’s how NOT to intervene with an addict:

    The addict in this scene was doing stuff that would not have been tolerated from anyone else, but because he had a special family relationship with the boss and was the chosen successor, they tried a different approach.

    I’m not sure the guys in the video clip had enough compassion or discipline or humility to do what they needed to do properly…

  264. Rob Graffis on March 1st, 2010 5:34 pm

    Most Utopian attempts have failed, though they meant betterment for mankind. This goes anywhere from Marxism, the QUAKERS, THE sHAKERS (SEX WAS FORBIDDEN WITH THEM, SO ALL THEY COULD DO WAS CONVERT PEOPLE, NOT GIVE BIRTH TO THEM, AND OTHER 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY aMERICAN MOVEMENTS. tHE ONLY aMERICAN ATTEMPT TO AN uTOPIAN SOCIETY THAT i CAN THINK OF THAT WAS SUCCSESSFUL WAS mORMONISM. tHEY had lots of children and wives. Also THEY HAD A LOT OF OLD FASHIONED GOOD LUCK. THEIR SETTLEMENTS WAS RIGHT ON THE PATH OF THE OREGON TRAIL (damn. forgive my high caps) as well as the gold rush trail A lot of people decided to just settle down in Utah instead of going further, or going back home. The Mormons made a lot of money selling goods to passer byes as well. Then of coarse, the first railroad ran right through Utah. It still runs through Utah. Location. Location. Location. I think an attempt to create an enlightened society can work. There must have been some reason the Vidyadhara picked Nova Scotia. However, we didn’t have the same luck as the Mormons did, and we suffered some setbacks to boot (bad luck) The Transcendentalist Meditationalists are still trying to create their own version of an enlightened society, but choosing Iowa as there place to create it probably won’t work. It’s not exactly in the crossroads there. We may have to start from square one all over again. It maybe lifetimes from now. I think the removal of the Vajradhara Tangka pushed a lot of buttons because a lot of us did put our hearts and souls (I know Buddhists don’t believe in souls, but you know what I mean) and lives into creating and further propagating an enlightened viewpoint. To try to convert everybody into one religion would be impossible, but having sentient beings getting at least a limps of their own inherent basic goodness (a term many Buddhist teachers using now) is very powerful. More powerful then conversion. Also, we as Buddhist can learn a lot from other traditions. We can’t pretend we know more then others. Many people feel their efforts are being disrespected by taking down the Tangka, and not even having a plan on what to do with what is a relic. If there was mutual respect on both sides, I’m sure there would be room for changes, but it hasn’t happened (yet). It may not happen. Also, the point that was bought up on that change was normal when it’s not in some cases was a good one (I’m thinking about the letter from Baltimore where high murder rates is considered normal) An extreme example would be what the Taliban did to the giant Buddhist carvings in Afghanistan (where they blew it up). Is that considered normal? Of course not. It was out right wrong. Not just a sign of impermanence. Kudos to those who are trying to hold the sangha together, but one may get hurt very badly by trying to do so. At the very least though we (meaning very much me as well) have to stop getting so angry at each other all the time. It turns into a lose / lose situation. We should feel safe though that we won’t get hurt by questioning what’s what.

  265. John Perks on March 1st, 2010 6:36 pm

    not bad Rob on the right track keep it up ,the writing that is..JP

  266. John Perks on March 1st, 2010 6:52 pm

    well thank you all so much I had fun playing with you ,but now my wives children and students all want me to cook supper,I am realy happy to be in touch with you no matter what your opinion that is the color of your energy thanks so much for that,true color CTR would be happy if everyone,just had joy in playing together that might even create enligtened society,”god for bid”love to you JP

  267. ninja on March 1st, 2010 7:11 pm

    I like turtles.

  268. Sandy on March 1st, 2010 8:29 pm

    I don’t think it’s helpful or accurate to write silly analyses of anybody’s so-called neuroses, especially Sakyong Mipham’s. I’d like to point out that whatever disagreements one has with Shambhala International, the Sakyong has practiced/practices much more than anyone on this list. In addition, he’s spent countless hours with his father, with Dilgo Khentsye, and with other prominent teachers I can’t name.

    I have never found any language or teaching of the Sakyong to be remotely close to speeches from George W. Bush. In addition, while the Sakyong is accused of coldness, Bush was “elected” twice in part for his personable style. Folksiness.

    As far as personal experience: I was one of the few people I know who supported the war in Iraq. The Sakyong never did–and announced that at a public talk in Halifax in 2002.

  269. Tara Tears on March 15th, 2010 2:02 pm

    To Suzanne Duarte,
    Thank you for your post. I was out of the country and hadn’t read it until recently. I always enjoy reading your messages, because they come from a depth of kindness, clarity, maturity and compassion that is rare in these discussions.

    I agree that we can’t say SMR will never wake up, but as long as he surrounds himself with sycophants and lackies, he will be immune to the self awareness necessary to face his shadow.

  270. John Castlebury on March 16th, 2010 9:29 am


    Extinction has always
    Lurked in the shadows
    The coming apocalypse
    Comes as no surprise –

    Catastrophism is my forte
    And getting used to that
    Futility of writing poetry
    For a futureless future –

    There will be no posterity
    And no literature either
    Up against Armageddon
    It’s all the more apparent –

    And all the more ludicrous
    To posit futuristic readers
    It’s an absurdity to bother
    Absurd as talking to a cat –

    And it’s even more absurd
    To be talking to a deaf cat
    Nevertheless I still do talk
    To my geriatric deaf calico –

  271. John Perks on March 16th, 2010 3:59 pm

    Who cares,Just say “NO” to SMR and let him put his painting some where else,…put me on the list saying NO,put up a web site saying NO….JUST SAY NO….not even NO thank you ,JUST NO

  272. John Perks on March 16th, 2010 5:18 pm

    SAY NO these are our ANCECTORS hand prints His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and Chogyam the Fearless Warrior,REMEMBER THEM?say NO to corporate Dharma,say NO to big business high payment Dharma,working off the backs of the poor,Say No,Chogyam gave us the dharma,he gave us this Vajradhara Thangka,everyone paid their blood sweat and tears,we are the Shambhala Warriors,Say No to the selling of our Ancestors,SAY NO,I am selling my sword for an axe,that says NO

  273. John Perks on March 18th, 2010 7:18 am

    Say NO,in this way you can connect to SMR,not his ministers,but himself,
    on this issue ,just say NO,then look up Big No of CTR.
    This Ancestor Thangka which is also Ancestor Thangka of SMR and of all of us ,is not going anywhere

  274. John Castlebury on March 24th, 2010 10:17 am

    If you know “Not” and have discipline,
    Patience will arise along with exertion.
    Then the ultimate “No” is attained,
    And you are victorious over the maras of the setting sun. [VACT]

    [The verse above accompanied a “No” calligraphy which accompanied the following poem, composed at The Kalapa Court, Boulder, CO, January 1, 1980. This verse as given here differs from the skewed version in CWCT, volume 7, page 516, but accords with the original as it appeared in First Thought Best Thought, page 166, and in Great Eastern Sun, page 146.]


    There was a giant No.
    That No rained.
    That No created a tremendous blizzard.
    That No made a dent on the coffee table.
    That No was the greatest No of No’s in the universe.
    That No showered and hailed.
    That No created sunshine, and simultaneous eclipse of the sun and moon.
    That No was a lady’s legs with nicely heeled shoes.
    That No is the best No of all.
    When a gentleman smiles, a good man,
    That No is the beauty of the hips.
    When you watch the gait of youths as they walk with alternating cheek rhythm,
    When you watch their behinds,
    That No is fantastic thighs, not fat or thin but taut in their strength,
    Loveable or leaveable.
    That No is shoulders that turn in or expand the chest, sad or happy,
    Without giving in to a deep sigh.
    That No is No of all No’s.
    Relaxation or restraint is in question.
    Nobody knows that big No,
    But we alone know that No.
    This No is in the big sky, painted with sumi ink eternally.
    This big No is tattooed on our genitals.
    This big No is not purely freckles or birthmark,
    But this big No is real big No.
    Sky is blue,
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    And therefore this big No is No.
    Let us celebrate having that monumental No.
    The monolithic No stands up and pierces heaven;
    Therefore, monolithic No also spreads vast as the ocean.
    Let us have great sunshine with this No No.
    Let us have full moon with this No No.
    Let us have cosmic No.
    The cockroaches carry little No No’s,
    As well as giant elephants in African jungles―
    Copulating No No and waltzing No No,
    Guinea pig No No.
    We find all the information and instructions when a mosquito buzzes.
    We find some kind of No No.
    Let our No No be the greatest motto:
    No No for the king;
    No No for the prime minister;
    No No for the worms of our subjects.
    Let us celebrate No No so that Presbyterian preachers can have speech impediments in proclaiming No No.
    Let our horses neigh No No.
    Let the vajra sangha fart No No―
    Giant No No that made a great imprint on the coffee table.

  275. John Castlebury on March 24th, 2010 11:08 am

    For the record: This text of HOW TO KNOW NO was sourced from Great Eastern Sun [1999]; however, I now see that it’s different from the original as it appeared in First Thought Best Thought; it has been sanitised…

    In the FTBT text, the fifth line from the end, following “No No for the worms of our subjects”, reads:

    Let us celebrate that our constipated dogs can relieve themselves freely in the name of No No.
    Let us have No No so that Presbyterian preachers can have speech impediments…

    So we have the definitive version of HOW TO KNOW NO in First Thought Best Thought [1983]; but then in 1999 in Great Eastern Sun there is this sanitised version; but then in CWCT [2004] the original language is restored.

  276. John Perks on March 24th, 2010 1:00 pm

    Thank you John,for your “NO” information,Lots of Love John

  277. John Castlebury on March 30th, 2010 9:54 am

    [In honor of the coming parinirvana anniversary
    on April 4th may this sentimental reminiscence
    invite many many more reminiscences…]


    Even the goldfish knows, he floats near the surface
    all day still behind a yellow note stuck to the glass,
    moved and unnerved.
    Bewildered his eyes seek mine and hold them fixedly,
    sensing the incomprehensibility.
    The sky is a ceiling of cirrus with no caesuras like a
    river passing swiftly over.
    Birds sing with a sad twist when at all.

    Your living being a palpable lack in the world
    when I got out of bed.
    I stood by the door and heard nothing at all,
    tears fell off my cheeks.
    The earth sobbing, trees weeping silently,
    the elements in shock.
    All my thoughts were of you,
    inseparable and atmospheric.
    All I felt was you, white crosswalk stripes
    so white and shining.

    At the stove preparing a cooked meal
    I forgot what I was doing, what to do next,
    my mind a cloud floating back in time.
    Rain dropped on my face, the air calmly pregnant.
    Things emanated, fluoresced sharply resolute.

    At aboriginal Bald Mountain you permeate
    the scenery, the coarse soil, ringing snow
    mountains, canyon wedge of Boulder and beyond.
    Your favorite tree, with its knot of eternity,
    great orphan ponderosa pine in dancing posture
    with sweeping gestures on needle carpet.
    Small deer herd lets us waving crackers come closer,
    then bounds away like kangaroos…

    A finch comes to the branch and commiserates.
    Aquarium I am in that is all of phenomena,
    the lucid present now without you.
    Your picture seems to blink when I do,
    your lips seem to move…
    I look for signs: rainbows, extraordinary clouds,
    a dream, but losing you is like
    losing mother and father at one stroke.

    Orphans, all.

    Dawa Chöga [April 5, 1987]

  278. John Castlebury on April 4th, 2010 7:42 am

    For Parinirvana Day

    [from 2 Legs in the Afternoon
    Lancelot Press, 1993:]


    Knowing the imminence
    Did not soften the shock.

    The news was telephoned
    Minutes after the fact.

    Knowing made all the difference.
    What was the difference?

    One world one moment,
    Another world the next?

    Only grief of information.
    Nothing changed.

    A spell was broken.
    Childhood was sloughed.

    I woke as from a dream
    Dreaming that I was dreaming.

    My heart was like a missing tooth.
    My tongue kept at the hole.

    [April 4, 1992, Pembroke Shore, Nova Scotia]

  279. yeshe tsomo on April 4th, 2010 9:47 am

    4 April

    I guess I could say that Brent channeled you. That’s how I met you. He imitated your limp. He walked into the room clutching his left arm to his body, shuffling his feet along the floor. The hair on my body stood on end. I was electrified by your presence and was soon swept away in his stories about you.

    About how you would fall and flail and your kasung would scramble to break your crash or pick you up. The stories were outrageously irreverent and I felt terrible laughing because you were permanently partially paralyzed for god’s sake; but I laughed until I cried and my gut hurt and I couldn’t laugh anymore.

    I started hearing stories about you: about how you fucked all your female students (“I think he even fucked the Regent,” someone whispered), drank profusely, flew into rages. Compelled and repulsed all at once, I kept asking your students, “How were you able to stay?” I would have run screaming.

    I was so thick. You kept presenting yourself again and again and I couldn’t acknowledge you. Even when you came to me in the dream, smiling like a Cheshire cat, I was shocked and confused and happy to see you only because I was so relieved to have climbed out of the dark abyss.

    The truth is, it has been years and I am still not out of the abyss, but I am so close I can feel you and this time I know it is you.

    The world is alive, fucking alive. The grass is greening, the air is cool, the Sun penetrates my skin. I want to smell everything—onions, moss, shit and piss.

    It has been twenty-three years since you died. I am getting squeezed through my mother’s birth canal and, damn, if you aren’t winking at me.

  280. John Perks on April 4th, 2010 9:56 am

    HE would say “PASSION” slowly to us meditators,then again “passion”softly…reading all your writings,I think we got it!
    How wonderful to be part of that,
    Thank you passionately.

  281. Karma Dorje on April 15th, 2010 8:28 pm

    I really don’t understand why modern Western buddhists, possessed of all of the liberties of liberal democracy would want to invest so much energy and money in an invented aristocracy. Is this what the teachings of Lord Shakyamuni have come to? Preening mandarins on high seats?

    It perhaps is best that the Vajradhara thangka is removed, because the feudal organization that is being created is surely an embarassment to the tradition of Milarepa. As a wise lama I know remarked, the Sakyong is perhaps a protector of his own land holdings but to say he is the Protector of Earth is nothing more than hubris. I feel very sad for all of the older students that have lived to see Trungpa Rinpoche’s work undone by empire building.

  282. George R. on April 15th, 2010 9:11 pm

    Can we all acknowledge for a moment that perhaps if we shun this profound lineage because we feel the teacher is neurotic, then we are in fact doing the same thing that people who didn’t agree with the Vidyadhara’s drinking and sexuality did?

    A lot of people hated the Vidyadhara. A lot! I know we’ve all heard the horrible things people have to say about him. It is so clear when you hear these things that they are the sayer’s projections. How is this different?

    Are we really psycho-analyzing a Rinpoche? Really?

    That is fucking ridiculous. Some of the most amazing practitioners and teachers I’ve met are students of both the Vidyadhara and the Sakyong. People who do not stoop to the level I am right now, involving myself in ridiculous, egoic, harmful, self-centered, ignorant drama which only provides a stronger foundation for the setting sun.

    What ever happened to the broken heart?

    Love to you all, and may that thing in your chest break without reaction.

  283. George R. on April 15th, 2010 9:42 pm

    PS- All of your devotion to Trungpa Rinpoche is so beautiful. It breaks my heart. I just wish we could all feel more space around this situation.

  284. damchö on April 15th, 2010 10:14 pm

    “Whatever happened to the broken heart?

    Dear George, there’s a lot of it on this site. And if you haven’t had a chance to read Ellen Mains’ contribution to the Chronicles website, I can recommend that highly.

  285. Edward on April 15th, 2010 11:22 pm

    George R. writes:
    It is so clear when you hear these things that they are the sayer’s projections. How is this different?

    This is an interesting question, thanks for raising it.

    I think this goes back to the question of aggression, and territory. If CTR drank a glass of sake, who’s territority was he invading? Who was he being aggressive toward?

    I’m pretty sure the answer is: no one.

    Whereas, if I made a commitment in front of thousands of people to do a certain job, to protect a certain lineage, and then I turned around and dismantled that lineage, and ignored the older people in that lineage, I might be committing aggression toward other people, yes? And I might expect that aggression to start bouncing back on me at some point.

    You asked how it was different for people to question SMR, compared to reacting to CTR’s lifestyle. Does this answer your question?

    When CTR was criticized for his teaching style, back in Scotland, he eventually walked away from the situation, and then started over in North America, starting essentially from scratch. Because of this, he was free to teach in any way he saw fit.

    Has SMR done this? Can anyone imagine SMR sleeping on sofas, and doing all those things?

    Sometimes when you accept money from someone, there are strings that come attached to the money. Expectations. Duties. And so on. You know? People who pretend that’s not the case, and spend and spend and spend, and don’t do the duties, often get themselves into more and more and more trouble.

    It seems like the trouble is coming from outside, but is it?

    Perhaps we can all learn from this. Confucius once said: two men walk down the street. From one, I learn how to behave. From the second, I learn how not to behave. In this way I can learn from everyone.

  286. Dorje on June 7th, 2010 1:18 pm

    Ash: you said that Vajradhara would be a repudiation of the Nyingma strain- however that doesn’t seem quite accurate. Actually a simple search on the website reveals Nyingma thangkas in their collection that are from the 16th century up to the early 20th with Vajradhara as the central Yidam . There is a Longchen Nyinthik refuge tree painting with Vajradhara at the center, not Samantabhadra. In some instances Guru Rinpoche is portrayed in Vajradhara form. Or Vajradhara is considered an activity emanation of Samantabhadra. I’d be curious other understandings of these relationships as well, since I am a Nyingma yet have an antique Vajradhara statue at the center of my shrine which I received as a gift. I don’t see a difference between this and Guru RInpoche or Samantabhadra, but after reading your comments am I supposed to think I am repudiating my lineage? This doesn’t make much sense to me, it seems very dualistic and sectarian actually.

    Best, D

  287. Ash on June 7th, 2010 2:36 pm


    what you say makes sense. Just for the record, what I said was in response to A Safer’s:

    “Will someone please explain how removing the thangka from the shrine room is *not* a repudiation of this sangha’s connection to the Kagyu lineage, and how it’s *not* an overt sign of disrespect to His Holiness Karmapa XVII?”


    “Simple. We have established a new lineage essentially and have determined on a particular setup for our Centers. Vajradhara is the Kagyu equivalent of Samantabhadra so having him up is a ‘repudiation’ of the Nyingma lineage in our stream. And it can go on forever. Having HHK on the very top is a repudiation of HHDKR, or maybe it should have been HH Penor and having HHDKR the elder would have been a repudiation of HH Penor and so on. It is endless.

    This way, there is one basic setup. On personal shrines there can be no end of choices.”

    I am not defending my statement in any way. It was a personal attempt to answer Andrew’s question in this ongoing discussion as if from a party line point of view. (As someone far removed from such decisions, this was just a guess of course.)

    I think the root issue is whether or not it
    a) makes sense for all centers to have the same formal shrine and
    b) what scope is there for exceptions, esp. in the case of
    c) the precious Vajradhara Thangka in Karma Dzong, Boulder & so
    d) what input can local centers have in such decisions?

  288. Dorje on June 9th, 2010 5:10 pm

    Thanks for the reply Ash. From my understanding, there is a long history of hybrid lineage practitioners, called Ka-nying who practice and hold both Kagyu and Nyingma lineage. There are even some double incarnations, such as Dudjom Rinpoche’s son Shenpen Dawa RInpoche, who is both a tulku of a Nyingma master and a separate Kagyu master in one. Then of course there are the great Rime masters like Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye who practiced both Kagyu and Nyingma as well as all the other lineages. . Dilgo Khyentse himself was one of the prominent Rime masters of our last century, and I don’t think he should be invoked as a specifically Nyingma lineage lama of Shambhala to support a seemingly sectarian type of purge. And of course there are Karmapas like the 3rd who were great Dzogchen practitioners, and the current Dzogchen Ponlop who leans more towards teaching Mahamudra because of his close discipleship to the 16th Karmapa and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. Then there are even monasteries that are founded on practicing both, like the Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling in Nepal founded by 16th Karmapa and overseen by the Tulku Urgyen, Chokyi Nyima and Chokling Rinpoche among others. If all these great masters and communities can handle assimilating both lineages without conflict, and if that was obviously CTR’s own approach and vision for the establishment of his communities in North America, why wouldn’t this continue to be honored? It seems that there aren’t very meaningful explanations coming from the upper tiers of the Shambhala organization which is why this is such a hot topic. On the one hand, it is absolutely true that one shouldn’t be attached to anything, even / especially shrine objects or statues. . but this seems like more of a symbolic issue that confronts the purging of the Kagyu stream of lineage within CTR’s communities, including prayers and ngondro texts, etc. I wonder what the benefit is in homogenizing everything, and it seems like a multidimensional, complex, lengthy and eloquent explanation at the very least would be in order especially for elder students whose heart practices lie in the Kagyu stream. Anyway I wonder if the coming of age and continued visits to the west of the 17th Karmapa and the approaching Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi will have any effect on these politics of the Shambhalian world to come.

  289. Gary Allen on October 9th, 2010 1:11 am

    My relationship with the Vajradhara thangka began 30 years ago. I’ve seen few if any thangkas that can quite compare with it. Something special happened there, such that I always feel in its presence that it’s kind of a lama in itself. It’s been my teacher all these many years, and inevitably it will be sad to see it go.

    That said, it is going. The reason for that has to do with centralizing the Shambhala teachings (apparently not considered the Vidyadhara’s teachings by some people above), which encompass rather than share center stage with the Kagyu and Nyingma already built up in the past. As the Vidyadhara said himself at one of the Kalapa Assemblies, the Rigden King symbolizes the ultimate for Shambhala, just as Vajradhara does for the Mahamudra lineage (and Samantabhadra for the Ati). So they are in effect symbolizing the same thing through different conduits.

    I don’t think this is a rejection of Vajradhara. He’s not being subjugated, or the Rigden king would be standing on his corpse. Instead, Shambhala is being centralized as the essential antidote to the suffering of our era. This is a long discussion, but briefly, terma arises for a particular era, and the Shambhala terma arose for our era, to create an environment that would protect vajrayana practice, not displace or crush it out of existence, as some people seem to think. Practically alone, Trungpa Rinpoche saw the necessity of transforming the whole environment and making it a place where vajrayana could flourish. The Sakyong has made these decisions to centralize Shambhala in order to concentrate our energy such to develop KOS. There was no project closer to the heart of CTR than that.

    It is indeed a hard slog to read through the paranoia of many bloggers here, wallowing in discursiveness, doubt, and alienation, and treating Sakyong Mipham like he was George Bush. It’s probably somewhere in the comments above, but I have it on the authority of the Boulder Sh. Ctr. director, who had wanted to put Vajradhara on another wall in the main shrine hall, that the Sakyong intends it to go in a central place of honor appropriate to it in a shrine room somewhere else. Most likely, I’m guessing, in a sadhana shrine room for Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara. SMR practiced his way through several cycles of Kagyu ngondro/Vajrayogini/Chakrasamvara. He’s bound in samaya to those yidams and that tradition. The Vajradhara thangka is being replaced to heighten the focus and development of KOS, not in any dishonor to Trungpa Rinpoche, the Karmapa, or the Kagyu lineage.

  290. TaraTears on October 9th, 2010 12:19 pm

    Sorry, Gary, but your “authority” doesn’t cut it, nor does it mitigate your condescension and arrogance about “paranoia” and “discursiveness” on this subject.

    Since when is expressing one’s feelings “discursive”? Oh, right, that’s the ultimate cultish put-down.

    Back away from the Kool-Aid and open your heart to the fact that there are many shades of gray in the changes that some of us do not see as benificial to the sangha.

  291. Mark Szpakowski on November 24th, 2010 1:02 pm

    Comments have re-opened on the Vajradhara Thangka thread.

    Please ensure your comments originate from the state of mind the thangka represents.

  292. Rob Graffis on November 24th, 2010 2:59 pm

    It is about two VERY different viewpoints, where no compromise was offered, accept to “gas” the present historical Vajradhara, and put it away until further notice or forgotten.

    I’m not allowed to post anything on Boulder Announce or Shahambhala Announce anymore. Always looking for a benefit of a doubt side, it could be a tech problem.
    The Great Varadhara Tangka does go down soon.
    Ceremonies by achararas will be done before it goes down by various acharyas before it goes down, patched up, and gassed, then taken to a location to a future un known. Sounds like a funeral.
    Various people have made it a point to remind us of the historic significance of the tangka. I’m surprised how wimpish our new “Shambhala Buddhists”, who know little of this tangnka, as well as those senior students who have been there are doing nothing now.
    I guess the present “View” has been mandated.
    Our Future.
    And to think the 16th Karmapa put 5 palm priints on back of the great Vajradhara,; the founder of the Kaygu heritage, on this..
    Thanks to those who did speak up.

    Feel free to leave a comment…
    and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

  293. Mark Szpakowski on November 24th, 2010 9:53 pm

    Written in six languages on the back of the Vajradhara thangka, the blessing by Chogyam Trungpa:

    The hundred-family mandala actualization
    Is the illusory dance of the wisdom of That,
    The dharmakaya which is free from the complexities of departing and changing,
    The vajra holder, vajra primordial brilliance,
    May you alone always remain in this representation:
    Please grant the coemergent siddhis.


  294. John Tischer on November 24th, 2010 10:50 pm


    Do the people making this change know this?

    so much more, but why?

  295. rita ashworth on November 25th, 2010 4:09 am

    Dear Mark

    Thanks for that quote from Trungpa Rinpoche on the back of the Vajradhara thangka. I did not know of that.

    The “hundred family mandala actualisation”, I think may be one of the main points to say the least.

    What can that indeed ‘mean’ –are we talking about something “esoteric”, or something that is actually going to be manifested in our samsaric realm?

    I think the thangka should still remain in Boulder for what my opinion is worth, even if the Rigden thangka takes precedence in the hall. You could have a room where it is housed in the building or you could even build a separate building to house it much like in the sense of Catholic shrines.

    Anyway Vajradhara is in my living room and its staying there.

    Thanks again for the verse I am going to put it on my shrine with my picture of Vajradhara.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  296. Rob Graffis on November 25th, 2010 12:25 pm

    Many of us wonder that.

  297. Kevin Frost on November 26th, 2010 5:00 am

    I get the idea it’s all about money, nothing particularly esoteric. I could never understand why the Shambhala people didn’t just set up shop somewhere else and leave the place be what it originally was, a Buddhist temple. Property that has been dedicated to the Three Jewells should basically be taken out of the realm of commodities. It shouldn’t be bought, sold, or used as collateral for loans and such like purposes. Everybody knows this but … . But on the other hand I’m not sure it’s such a wise thing to throw money away with refits and all this. Not long before Trungpa died he told his students (according to Frank Berliner) that a time would come when fundementalist Christians and reactionary forces would take over the country and make everything we are trying to do impossible and that we should all get out. He said this. Many went with him to Nova Scotia. But not everybody liked it. This is understandable. But still, he really did say that. Moving is hard, not easy. But if you have assets to cash in, I’d say now is the time to do it before this reflated market goes down again. Go north or go south but go if you can. I guess that from this perspective it’s just as well that this unique thanka will go into storage, hopefully in a safe place. Frank Berliner’s esaay is over at the Chronicles and is entitled ‘turn it yourself’. It’s worth reading.

  298. Rob Graffis on November 26th, 2010 12:49 pm

    Most of us were trained and raised (and yes, even born) within the Karma Kaygu school (context) of Buddhism, a sub-sect of the Kaygu Lineage. There was no Vajradhatu Buddhism per se. Later, we were exposed to other teachers (including Maizumi Roshi) (I mention the latter because Sazuki Roshe was considered by the Vidyadhara as somebody who planted the footsteps of Buddhism in American soil..his picture was on our shrine), H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche who gave us Nygma Empowerments, and of course H.H. Holiness The 16th Karmapa, who blessed Vajradhtu’s activities (as awkward as we still were then). One such blessing is the Tangka in question.
    To remove it with the logic that the radial elements of society my take over, and perhaps it should be removed in hidden is like saying “”Lets hide our protection boys. The enemy is coming”.
    The tangka, at least many of us feel, was commissioned and blessed with Boulder or Karma Dzong in mind. Yes? No?
    To many of us, it’s our protector and reminder, and remember, know plans have been made for it yet.. HOw come a happy medium has never been proposed?.

    Also, no compromise seems to have been made as what the appropriate thing to do with the Tangka .

  299. Damema on November 26th, 2010 5:52 pm

    I have long pondered upon the ongoing editing of all things Kagyu, the mother tantra, out of the Shambhala stream. Gone the EhVam seal, symbol of the Trungpa tulkus. Gone are many of the chants and protectors. And now, this powerful tangka is to be banished into the black hole of the archives. This is, I think, a kind of cultural cleansing; a way of dis-empowering the energy of the Kagyu lineage. It is the reverse of “if you build it, they will come; it is “if you remove it, they will go.” The red and gold is being whitewashed, usurped, vanished. It is a conscious, deliberate process of removing and de-energizing the power of the mother lineage. Why? I can only think that it is because of spirituality being turned to political ends. A lineage’s teaching is seen to be a threat, an opponent. In order to create a new lineage, with a new kingly head of that lineage, it’s best to diminish and eliminate the old-hat Kagyu. How covenient that the old ones have died off — the 16th HHK and Mr. Universe, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
    With them and Choggi safely dead, one can set up a throne of equal height and proclaim one’s thoughts equal in wisdom and compassion, while removing all reference points as fast as possible. The new students will never know the difference. Out of sight. Out of mind.

  300. John Perks on November 28th, 2010 9:43 am

    Yes what Damema says is true,time of the vision of CTR is ending,now is the vision time of SMR who does not walk in fathers footsteps,but says “If you want to come along welcome if not,you do not have to”
    so some can stay with CTR and teach his vision,others happy at SMR vision,still others seek vision as CTR showed,never-the less my heart sad about putting away of Ancestors beautiful vision of Vajradhara who has seen much,but remains in our hearts

  301. John Tischer on November 28th, 2010 10:21 am

    There was no reason the vision of VCTR had to change…
    it worked fine in spite of the Regent, and it worked fine for 10 years before SMR’s “new direction” ….it worked fine without SMR doing anything.

    Now, the whole thing don’t work so good.,,,,tradition turned to fad.

  302. An Observer on November 28th, 2010 12:03 pm

    I’m sure it has nothing to do with pre-emptive religious politics, but the de-Kagyu-ification of Shambhala does seem to anticipate and mirror the ascendancy of the 17th Karmapa and coming of age of the Trungpa Tulku. Kagyu religious politics is a very messy and very hardball business. Steering clear of it and ‘blooming” Shambhala Buddhism” can be seen as a means to maintain a certain kind of independence going into the future. Marginalizing older students who never cease going on about how Trungpa Rinpoche would have done it would be a side effect, or benefit depending on how you feel.

  303. Damema on November 28th, 2010 12:14 pm

    I think the vision that is being altered was one in which the “ground” of VCTR’s teachings was the cosmic cervix of the coemergent mother, which accommodates samsara and nirvana both. The mother tantra, the jewel of the Kagyu, works with transmuting the world of desire into compassion. From this frame of space, palaces and kingdoms of emptiness can arise. When you cut out, edite out, the firey cervix of emptiness as an energetic principle and groundless ground, what do you have left? Kingdom of Rudra perhaps?
    Must these teachings and pith instructions, even commands, like “Lust for emptiness,” be slowly erased out because they are too inconvenient or uncomfortable or exposing to ego’s?

  304. John Tischer on November 28th, 2010 1:29 pm

    SMR’s “vision” is that of an ad exec. surrounded by
    yes men. He’s re-packaging Shambhala vision the same way a record company repackages to protect it’s assets.

    Reggie Ray re-packages vase breathing and calls it “meditation of the body” Keith Dowman re-packages
    Dzogchen and calls it “Radical Dzogchen”. In both cases, the teachings haven’t changed …there’s nothing new there…it’s just to attract students. Calling it Shambhala Buddhism
    doesn’t change what each path teaches…trying to put them together, however, has created a lot of confusion.

    Instead of Shambhala warriors, you have SMR, RR,
    and Adam Lobel….the Three Marketeers

  305. rita ashworth on November 28th, 2010 2:32 pm

    Dear All

    Yes I think SMR is going his way and that is that, however, I still think CTR’s older students who have left SI should have some say in the way the Vajradhara thangka is housed in the future because they were instrumental in creating the whole mandala.

    On the other side of the coin of leaving SI after practicing today I thought wow I am still connected to this rich Kagyu lineage and I dont have to follow any strictures from any orgs. now about relating to the whole thing so there is quite a lot of freedom in that aspect. And also I can relate to older and newer students who feel the same way about the dharma.

    So yes it is a ripe time not just for SI but for all of us as to how we are to proceed with the teachings both Buddhist and shambhalian in the widest sense in the future.

    Best Rita Ashworth

  306. Francis on November 28th, 2010 4:09 pm

    Actually John T. there is a big difference between Dzogchen and Radical Dzogchen. The former refers to a Dzogchen that is “compromised” by a lama overlay of vajrayana. This Dzogchen is taught usually in combination with Mahayoga and a graduated path relying on devotion.

    Radical Dzogchen, in contrast is a recognition in “direct experience” of natural awareness. It is an existential experience , And even if fleeting, or a flash, one has conviction that resting in natural awareness and stabilizing this IS the path . Some people understand this immediately and that is what they “practice” they have conviction ,after the “view is pointed out that to i.e. familiarization oneself with the spaciousness of “pure presence with nothing to modify and nothing to do will lead to “confidence” . It is not a graduated path. And one’s commitment and samaya is to the “inner guru”

    The “Dzogchen” that we are taught today, by most lamas, has passed through many permutations, and has been presented in the vehicle of the Vajrayana because that is the way the monastics teach it, primarily because most people’s response to hearing these teachings is one of awe, as something far away.They bask in the presence of the lama, and then need that “fix” over and over to experience natural awareness. They don’t believe that it is possible to rest in the nature of mind as the ONLY practice and they see realizing the nature of mind as something far away and in the future , after many lifetimes.

    But, if one wants. because of propensity, the Radical Dzogchen, one without the monastic, gradual path overlay , which is contradictory in itself to the view of radical Dzogchen, then one has to go “back to the roots” that’s what “radical” means in this context, back to Garab Dorje’s teachings, such as the Three Words that Strike the Vital Point, or the Flight of the Garuda, and find a teacher that is committed to not compromising Dzogchen teachings. .

  307. Karma Dorje on November 28th, 2010 4:58 pm

    Why do we see this thoroughgoing tendency towards fundamentalism amongst a certain type of Western Buddhist? Whether it is people who hearken back to some “pure Buddhism” before the Mahayana teachings were expounded or now a “radical Dzogchen” that claims to extract the Dzogchen teachings from tantra, how are we not picking and choosing Dharma based on what we ourselves believe rather than what the guru instructs?

    I profoundly disagree with your summation, Francis. In fact, amongst most Nyingma lamas you could say that they teach vajrayana from within the view of Dzogchen. The view is introduced early and often and other practices are introduced merely as enhancements or to overcome specific obstacles. Moreover, how is having more skillful means ever a bad thing? The greatest expositors of Dzogchen such as Longchenpa always taught the highest view from within the context of nine yanas. Not everyone can grasp the Dzogchen teachings immediately. Milarepa in a perfect example and I don’t think that you can question his realization.

    “Radical Dzogchen” should really just be called “Macho Dzogchen”. It is hard to see how such a view is not a denigration of the other yanas and a grave fault.

  308. John Tischer on November 28th, 2010 5:28 pm

    Yes, Francis, the p.o.v. of “Radical Dzogchen” is that Dzogchen has been compromised by the Tibetan institution, but that does not mean that it is “new” or that it hasn’t been taught in this form before. Milarepa tried Dzogchen but wasn’t a suitable student, so his Dzogchen master told him to go study Mahamudra with Marpa. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it “Reformed Dzogchen”, but that doesn’t sound so good does it? In any case, the way it is taught by K.D. has elements of the gradual path included. There’s nothing new or different about it…..except in the name.

  309. Rob Graffis on November 28th, 2010 5:31 pm

    Well if his Holiness Dilgo Khyentse was a Dzogchen expert, why did he spend 12 years in retreat(s), and practice quite regularly to the end? Because he didn’t get it?
    Same goes for the late Tulku Urgyen.
    In fact, a sign traditionally to look for in a true Dzogchen master is if they practice daily.
    I’m sure there are exceptions, like anything else, but realizing “it’s all here, why bother”, is definitely missing the point, as it was mentioned,concerning Milarepa’s original understanding of Dzogchen..
    What does this have to do with the Vajradhara Tangka anyway?

  310. John Tischer on November 28th, 2010 6:16 pm

    Getting rid of the tangka is a small detail of the over all market strategy…to put it simply.

  311. James Elliott on November 29th, 2010 3:08 am

    First, Dzogchen may be surrounded by explanations and preparatory practices of all kinds, but when the transmission is happening, when the student grocks it, Dzogchen is aaaaaaaalways radical. John Tischer’s label ‘macho Dzogchen’ kind of sums it up well.

    Second, Mr. Perks frames the thanka and the issues of the divided community as if it were as simple and gentle as two paths, you can follow either one. If only it were so. The marginalization of so many of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students says something different. There have it seems been efforts in the last year or so to make some effort to relate to those students, but really the fabric of the community has been so dramatically meddled with, that one would have to be somewhat isolated from mainstream Shambhala Bhuddism not only to feel fine about focusing only on what Trungpa Rinpoche transmitted, but would I think find very little help or support in terms of a realized master giving direction and taming sentient beings so-to-speak.

    The fact that ideological stands have become something of a norm in Shambhala is not entirely the fault of membership neurosis, but rather of how on an institutional level one ideology, including all the cultural symbols and norms, teachings and rituals and the various forms of education and preparation, that built up to a great extent organically around what was going on in Vajradhatu for decades, have been intentionally usurped and replaced by central decree with something ‘new’.

    It isn’t about whether one is better than the other, my guru is better (or as good as) yours. It is quite simply that the culture which is really intrinsic to who people are, has been changed so radically by central decree that cohesive and intrinsic involvement with that culture has been disrupted. An organic development would have accommodated many more people and perhaps many of the changes that have occurred.

    So the thanka is like a big symbol of how the culture developed and worked on for decades has been swept away, in order to present not new teachings as such, but as an experimental attempt as SMR implies in his letter, to change the entire social structure. Can that be done in any context by central decree? I doubt it and so far it doesn’t look promising. A return to Tibetan theocracy?

  312. Dan Montgomery on November 29th, 2010 11:43 am

    Although I’ve withdrawn my name from any official Shambhala lists, I did get a personal form letter :) from Ulrike Halpern, Boulder Center Director, about a series of practice sessions being held to mark the “transition” that is occurring. The shrine room is being closed for renovations. The thangka will be repaired by Ann Shaftel, sent to Halifax and stored. In my letter to the various people Clarke Warren originally suggested, I had recommended that they give the Thangka to someone within our lineage who actually wishes to continue the Kagyu tradition in the flavor of how VACT taught us – Reggie Ray. But obviously no one’s giving anything up here, just hiding it away. May it re-emerge as terma in some future time! Hopefully without disintegrating into mold in Nova Scotia.

    I include part of the letter Ms Halpern sent me below, just because I find the language interesting. The need to establish our “unique identity” is particularly intriguing. Federal trademark, anyone? The other message = petitioning is futile.

    “Earlier this year you wrote about your wish that the Vajradhara Thangka in the main shrine room in Boulder not be removed. ….
    We wanted to communicate with you individually to let you know that these concerns were shared with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He emphasized the importance of respecting this lineage treasure of Shambhala and asked that great care be taken in removing the Thangka (please see the below letter for details) and that there be a strong practice container around this transition.

    He feels strongly that as we evolve as a community, it is important that we have iconography that serves to clarify our unique identity and aid our path as practitioners of the Shambhala dharma…….”

    In any case, I did attend the practice session last Tuesday. The “staff” included an acharya, a shastri, two kasung, and an assistant. For all that, only 5 practitioners showed up, 3 of whom were not yet born when the thangka was put up. The session was blissfully unconditional, just sitting and walking, with only about 90 seconds of rap about changing times and SMR knows best. There’s another, last session, this evening at 7 – if you’re in Boulder, please consider witnessing this. That’s likely all that can be done at this point. Visualize the Guru of luminous space on your head and take it with you.

    Good luck, all!

  313. Rob Graffis on November 29th, 2010 5:13 pm

    I don’t doubt anyone’s feelings in a positive sense, but beyond gassing and moving the Tangka to Halifax, but the pragmatic question is, what are the future plans for him?
    If the Mona Lisa was to bve restored, I’m sure they would have future plans for her already (I know, I shouldn’t compare the two.

  314. Dan Montgomery on November 30th, 2010 1:33 am

    Rob et al,

    I ventured back into the Lion’s Den this evening, the final night to see the thangka. Bigger crowd tonight, maybe 12 people, all seemingly motivated by tremendous sadness about the situation. We sat, walked, did tonglen, and ended with a “council”. To her credit, Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown refrained from lecturing us, and asked us each to speak from our hearts. Most people couldn’t speak, teared up, and handed the talking stick on. A couple of us did speak. I said what I had to say, and realized, as I listened to the words cascading out of my mouth, how irrevocably DONE I am with this cultic retro-Tibetan new and improved Sakyongism passing itself off as dharma. The first thing I ever learned from the Vidyadhara was that negativity can be wisdom if we don’t edit ourselves, and I didn’t. I’m angry. And I know I have no power in this situation, so the best thing to do is withdraw and seek wisdom elsewhere. It’s been a fine ride. Goodbye.

    Rob, to answer your question, though, the Thangka, according to Judith, is to be given an honourable place in the Kalapa Centre in Halifax. Please bear in mind that the Kalapa Centre has been on the drawing board for at least 20 years, and does not, in fact, physically exist. So, Vajradhara will likely spend at least a few years in storage.

    The thing that troubled one of the younger people there, someone who had grown up in the community, was that, evidently, the shrine room is to be completely redone color-wise. She talked about how much she loved the deep orange of all the window frames, and how they were all going to be painted white. I found myself envisioning some insipid, unearthy, sexless, cold, pastel, neo-confucian chinese aesthetic, like the Rigden thangka, no longer the lusty, hot, red/orange/gold/black we’ve lived with and practiced in for so many years, punctuated with the deep sky blue of Vajradhara.

    Aesthetics matter. That’s another thing I learned from the Vidyadhara.

    Over and out.


  315. rita ashworth on November 30th, 2010 5:06 am

    Dear Dan,

    Thanks for that heartfelt report from Boulder.

    Yes I feel somewhat the same way about the removal of the Vajradhara thangka from Boulder even from such a distance as the UK, primarily because the whole change has not gone through a thorough consultative process and no accommodation has been made for people who want to practice in a different manner than is now taking shape.

    But more than this the whole thing about the actual Art itself which we use in Vajrayana practice. For me to actually root a vajrayana artistic tradition in all our various countries the Art has to connect with the people there and the introduction of the ‘new’ Art as in the shambhala lineage tree somewhat disturbs me because we are not relating to our own connections to religious/secular Art.

    I am particularly buoyed up in this viewpoint by the chapter on Introduction to Tantra in The Lions Roar where in the Q and As there is quite a detailed discussion of Art in relation to iconography. Here Trungpa states:

    “Personally I am more for nativising –for making American Tantra American Tantra rather than imported tantra, as the Tibetans made tantra into Tibetan tantra. I am all for it.”
    Page 157, Chapter 6,The Lions Roar, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (Shambhala Publications)

    And also on the following page there is a discussion of Christ as King as imagery too. Reference is also made to actually changing the Tibetan seed syllables in to the Roman alphabet but he does state that that should be up for discussion by Lamas from several traditions in Japan, Tibet and Mongolia.

    Of course as to Protectors there is much discussion because western religious imagery has not been totally into that. But to me here I somewhat connect the practice of the shambhala teachings in revealing the protector principle because it is so connected to drala or environment. To
    tell you the truth I do indeed think the proctectors will arise in this way –this is why I am interested in all the new groups forming and their encounters with new environments in Nature and generally in the world.

    Well I hope this small digression on Art but also somewhat stemming from the discussion on the thangka will show that iconography is a huge area for debate at present in the west.

    If anyone wants to email me re ideas on Art Mark has my email address.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  316. Suzanne Duarte on November 30th, 2010 8:54 am

    Bravo, Dan Montgomery! I’m completely with you in what you express. Thank you very much for your on-the-scene-of-the-crime reporting.

    In the DHARMA, Suzanne

  317. Kelley Lynch on December 1st, 2010 7:34 am

    Thanks for your absolutely on-the-scene-crime-reporting, Dan. How shameless of the Sakyong. Is he this threatened by Karmapa and his father? Obviously. I wonder why Namkhaí Drimed hasn’t guided him more wisely. He’s his father-in-law and a student of Rinpoche’s. I suppose, if we don’t view this as an interior design scam, we could view it as the Sakyong behaving out of jealousy. I think his authentic presence will permanently wither and that is his problem. He should head on over to a psychiatrist – Freudian preferably.

  318. Anonymous on December 1st, 2010 11:33 am




    “When we were in Scotland at
    Samye Ling, we slept in the same room. Sometimes we
    ended up sleeping in the same bed. It was kind of tight.
    He was a very good father, I guess. He didn’t get mad at
    me too many times. Once I was playing with matches or
    something, and I started a fire in our room. One corner of
    the room was pretty badly damaged. I almost burned the
    place down, and he did get mad about that”

    Sakyong in an Interview with Maron Greenleaf about his memory of CTR, for the Dot Spring 2007

  319. Phyllis Murray on December 1st, 2010 4:33 pm

    Does anyone know if there are any plans for the three dimensional Chakrasamvara mandala made by Tenga Rinpoche?
    Will that continue to stay at the Boulder Shambhala Center?

  320. Suzanne Duarte on December 1st, 2010 9:16 pm

    News Flash!
    01 Dec 2010 – Vajradhara Thangka to reside in Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

    The Sakyong and the Druk Sakyong Wangmo, Lady Diana Mukpo, announced today that the Vajradhara Thangka, commissioned by the Vidyadhara Chogyam
    Trunpga Rinpoche, will be hung above the main entrance within The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya and preserved for use by vajrayana practitioners.

    In a letter to the Shambhala community, Lady Diana Mukpo describes the thangka as “an important and precious part of our history as a community” and says that both she and the Sakyong “wish that it be honoured and appropriately displayed.”

    In order to accommodate the large thangka of the Primordial Rigden which has been commissioned for the Boulder Shambhala Center, the shrine room there is being remodelled.

    “The Sakyong and I have worked hard to find a way for the Great Vajradhara thangka to remain in the shrine room,” says Lady Diana in her letter. “After exhausting all the possibilities, we decided that the best place for the thangka would now be in The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. This felt to us to be the most appropriate place for such a sacred part of our lineage so closely connected with the Vidyadhara. I hope this will provide the right environment for those of you who wish to continue your practice with this thangka.”

    For the full text of Lady Diana’s letter, please

    Her letter also describes the significance of the Primordial Rigden thangka and the Shambhala Lineage thangka now being painted by master artist Noedup Rongae.

    “Throughout his life, starting in Tibet, the Vidyadhara worked tirelessly to manifest his vision of the Shambhala Lineage and the Kingdom of Shambhala on this earth in his lifetime,” she writes. “These two new thangkas represent a further fulfillment of his wishes. The Shambhala Lineage that he lovingly nurtured and propagated, is growing and becoming recognized as a force for goodness in the world around us. As we evolve as a community, it is important that we have iconography that serves to clarify our identity and represent to the rest of the world who we are and our path as practitioners.”

    (This announcement was from the Shambhala News Service)

  321. John Perks on December 2nd, 2010 8:04 am

    Thank you Suzanne,
    What great news “rejoice the great eastern sun arises”

  322. Dan Montgomery on December 2nd, 2010 10:44 am

    Sitting on my cushion, with the dawn spreading golden light across the land, clouds swirling around the high peaks, I can see way off to the sky above SMC. Imagining the blessings of this great thangka, at home there, fills me with happiness.

    Thank you Lady Diana for this decision.

  323. Anonymous on December 2nd, 2010 12:31 pm

    The Peasants Rejoice!!!.

  324. Mark Szpakowski on December 6th, 2010 10:17 am

    FYI, there is a short video of the installation of the Vajradhara thangka in the SMC stupa at

  325. Dan Montgomery on December 6th, 2010 5:58 pm

    One needs to be Greg’s “friend” in order to view this, actually. Mark, would you consider getting a copy and posting it?

    Considering that I was told less than a week ago that the thangka was going to a not-yet-built facility in Halifax, the speed with which this was executed, once the decision was made, is amazing!

    There’s hope for us yet.

    – Happy Peasant

  326. anonymous on December 6th, 2010 7:37 pm

    Whose “hope”? SI’s hope that the incredible level of “self-anesthesia” that has been necessary to cope with the destruction of a whole mandala will continue unabated?

  327. John Tischer on December 6th, 2010 8:41 pm

    Anon…….you may be right….but you don’t have to be afraid to tell us who you are….There would be more hope if you were more obvious, less afraid.

  328. Anonymous on December 6th, 2010 9:20 pm

    Dear John:
    You are very much mistaken if you still believe openness or honesty is tolerated in ANY part of this community, including here. It is just a matter of degree, in terms how far “in” this cult one still is.
    We have been abused, our spiritual journey hijacked by a bunch of money-hungry kleptomaniacs, who will bleed everyone left dry, and then walk away without a backward glance.
    Anonymous is what we are, nameless to those “true believers”, just a border tribe.
    The endless intellectualizing, and conceptualizing , and idiot compassion, (CTR’s negative negativity) when ACTION IMMEDIATELY was called for, has assured that we are all anonymous now.


  329. Rob Graffis on December 7th, 2010 1:24 am

    I was wasn’t t to re post this, but heck, I read this in the newspaper last year.
    The person in question, as far as I know, is still on the Board Of Directors Of The Shambhala Trust. He was last year.


    “Greenberg’s unsuitable recommendations and misrepresentations deceived his advisory clients into believing their money was safe with him.”

    Donald M. Hoerl
    Director, SEC Denver Regional Office

  330. Rob Graffis on December 7th, 2010 1:26 am

    PS I did get off the topic here, and violated to the one post a day rule, but I did want to respond to autonomous.
    More on this later.

  331. John Tischer on December 7th, 2010 12:51 pm

    Dear Anon,

    Since you feel the way you do, why do you care what they think of you?

  332. bindutheclown on December 7th, 2010 12:56 pm

    The secret was secret not because it was somehow sleazy or shameful.

    The secret was a secret because it could be taken the wrong way.

    But now the secret is out, it may attract the lunatic fringe who have taken no pre-requisites.

    The symbol is now the institution.

    In the eyes of Joe Schmidt, KOS is a laughing stock.

    Who’ll be magnetised to a sect ruled by His-and-Her Majesties?

    What next, mass arranged weddings and past-life regressions?

  333. Mark Szpakowski on December 7th, 2010 1:14 pm

    Greg Smith’s video of the Great Vajradhara thangka being installed in the Stupa is at .

  334. Dan Montgomery on December 7th, 2010 7:00 pm

    To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, “If we’ve lost Joe Schmidt, we’ve lost the War!”

    Is Joe still with Jane Doe, by the way? Haven’t seen them in years….

    And, by the way, by “we”, I don’t mean “me”, I mean them, if you know what I mean.

  335. John Tischer on December 7th, 2010 7:37 pm

    Well….might as well post it here as any where else…

    And I don’t want to add anything to it. You have minds. make them up.

  336. John Tischer on December 7th, 2010 7:51 pm

    We have seen the future, and it is us, to misquote Pogo

  337. Gordon on December 7th, 2010 7:56 pm

    “John Tischer
    Well….might as well post it here as any where else…
    And I don’t want to add anything to it. You have minds. make them up.

    Well it’s nice to see that we’re getting back to our posting-Hitler-Videos-on-the-internet roots.

  338. John Tischer on December 7th, 2010 9:11 pm

    Oh, come on…
    Or do you think we’re all children??

  339. Lodzin on December 13th, 2010 6:35 pm

    From the perspective of a Shambhala youngster (only been practicing for five years), you people are insane. In a philisophical community that practices non-attachment you’ve managed to create a schism over a picture. Granted, it’s a beautiful painting with a rich and incredible history, but it’s still just a picture. The message stays the same, Vajradhara or Rigden presiding over it. If you don’t like the direction that SMR has taken, you have plenty of other options for practice communities.

  340. Karma Dorje on December 13th, 2010 7:07 pm

    From the perspective of an outsider watching who has been practicing for 25 years, you are insensitive. Many of the people here are the ones that have built the infrastructure you are now taking advantage of with their blood, sweat, tears and money. A ‘Shambala- Love it or Leave It’ approach may make you feel righteous, but it is not compassionate.

    This has never been about just a picture. This is about a legacy and a lineage of teaching. If you can’t understand the valid concerns of those that are writing here, why don’t you at least keep your mouth shut and feel some gratitude for what they have built for you.

  341. John Tischer on December 13th, 2010 7:41 pm


    Everybody talk!

    do you wanna wrestle?

  342. Tara on December 13th, 2010 11:39 pm

    Your youthful ignorance is showing. The practice of non-attachment does not preclude discriminating awareness. To follow your logic, one could be so detached that they would have no judgement about right or wrong action.

    Don’t fall into the trap of being a junkie to transcendence. That’s not what AWAKE is all about.

    Cults tell dissenting members to leave if they don’t agree with the party line. We’re trying for a dialogue here, not knee jerk superiority. It’s really rude to call your elders insane. You are talking to people with a 35-40 years history in the community. For us, it’s not just a picture. It’s a symbol, with layers of innner , outer and secret meaning.

  343. James Elliott on December 14th, 2010 2:34 am


    With the establishment and enormous expense of building the Stupa, we can see some things within the tradition are of value and worth great effort to preserve. The reasons for that go far beyond ego’s schemes. And of course some things are best let go of. In Buddhadharma, in any case, when speaking of letting go the basest level of material objects is virtually never what they are talking about. That’s a new age version of anti-materialism which Trungpa Rinpoche spent considerable effort and time speaking about.

    In general if all vestiges of a previous generation are replaced, there can be no lineage and the development of culture becomes retarded, caught up in reinventing the wheel often in worse shape than it was before. Symbols, very much in Buddhism but also in secular vernacular culture, is very much an integral part of lineage and culture. Wipe those away and one can effectively lobotomized culture. For large scale examples look at the cultural revolutions in China or Russia. For gentler versions the New Age or hippie movement.

    Lodzin, what exactly is it you are letting go of?
    What is it you value?

    Ladies and gentlemen, it is not only newer students who hold such views.

    A classic example of the ‘new’ community spirit. And a demonstration of exactly why people are concerned about some of the directions Shambhala International has taken.

    In the inspiration that loyalty cannot be measured by degree of agreement.

  344. anonymous on December 14th, 2010 4:13 pm

    Bindu The Clown wrote:

    “Who’ll be magnetised to a sect ruled by His-and-Her Majesties?”

    Well here’s the answer:
    (Newser) – Even Prince Charles got a taste of how angry British students are over a big hike in university fees. Protesters smashed a window of the prince’s Rolls Royce and splashed paint on the car as he and Camilla were being driven through London. The prince’s office confirms, in style: “Their royal highnesses’ car was attacked by protesters on the way to their engagement at the London Palladium this evening, but their royal highnesses are unharmed.” They arrived at the theater looking unruffled.

  345. John Perks on September 21st, 2011 10:46 am

    ” Who does the grail serve”
    ” the king and the land they are one”