Vajradhara Thangka in Boulder
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.
- Do you feel it is appropriate to remove the great Vajradhara thangka from its current position in Dorje Dzong, Boulder?
- What is your personal practice relationship with the Karma Kagyu lineage?
- 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: email@example.com
The Kalapa Council, c/o David Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shambhala Intl. acharyas: email@example.com
Secretary for the acharyas: firstname.lastname@example.org
President of Shambhala Intl. Richard Reoch: email@example.com
The Sakyong Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mandala Council: email@example.com
Ulrike Halpern, Director, Boulder Shambhala Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Fladmark, Director, Office of Practice & Education, Boulder Shambhala Center: email@example.com
The Governing Council, Boulder Shambhala Center: c/o Ulrike Halpern: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Building Committee of the Boulder Shambhala Center Main Shrine Room, c/o of Steve Vosper: email@example.com
- Clarke Warren: firstname.lastname@example.org
The summary of addresses for all the above is:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter,