James Rita Ash Table

April 25, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

James Elliott, Rita Ashworth, and Ashley Howes can often be found in conversation at this café table.

Cafe Table


59 Responses to “James Rita Ash Table”

  1. Ash on April 25th, 2010 6:33 pm

    rita ashworth on April 25th, 2010 6:55 am

    Dear All

    Hmmmmmm-so people are following the thread – I wonder how many(?!) –seems to be a difference of opinion in whether we should carry on or not?! I agree the thread is getting unworkable to a degree as some conversations do – the main thing that made me carry on was the triad concept re monarchy, democracy, communism –big subjects –not something that I am academically trained to go into in great detail but that I am working with from my college days, my own experience and research on the internet. But within this triad concept I think there are areas that could be gone into in greater detail and more fruitfully in fact I was going to post on the democracy aspect this morning because I thought we had exhausted the monarchy principle somewhat. So I dont know the theme of the triad is an intriguing one it needs to be explored in more depth.
    Re democracy persay and the monarch principle I think it is a dynamic relationship thats why ultimately I think it undermines the one way in SI, one only has to look at western religious history to see this with the multiplicity of takes in Catholicism of all the diverse colleges there re Franciscans, Dominicans, etc and also within the state of Israel aswell –are they all following one rabbi-certainly not. No I think Trungpa wanted there to be many ways into the Shambhala Kingdom.

    What are we going to do for example when the Margarets that Ash wrote about on the Chronicle Project who almost stepped into the Kingdom come back to us and say well I have found ‘the way’ to Kingdom and you do it this way –are we going to say she is barmy, a fruitcake like Ray-can we keep saying this to people as time passes? We would be come very intransigent conceptions of the human species if we did. So also from a moral view point I think one has to a degree to stand outside of the present state of SI.

    So heres a suggestion start a thread on the triad concept and go into each factor as much as you can perhaps having 2 months on each and then may be a thread on the whole thing together –in this way you would be approaching it much in the way of philosophical debate. My own feeling is that when I read stuff on rfs is that people dont like being corralled into the one way approach –thats why there is interest in this thread so people do really want to explore democratic principles in a shambhalian Kingdom.

    Finally re one of Ash’s posts on Art –I dont think it is a little thing on the edges of the Shambhalian Kingdom. I think this because of Trungpas interactions with thinkers in the Arts in the 1970s particularly Peter Brook who sees theatre as a universal way of relating to society. A good book to read about this is the Conference of the Birds about Brooks travels in Africa where in the 1970s African society was much more communal and artistically based away from the fripperies of theatre in the west. So yes I think Brook was trying to get back to seeing Art as being within all our interactions both politically and religiously -did not Grotowski think the same way in the end with his conception of theatre as a ‘religious act’ in the most widest sense (even hints of secularism here too!)

    Well will leave it up to Mark Szp on how to proceed re the triad concept but then perhaps he can also suggest some other way to tackle it as well with another heading as he is a very clever boy as they might say in Monty Python!(was it the Parrot sketch!)


    Rita Ashworth

  2. Ash on April 25th, 2010 6:34 pm


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Revolution_%281917%29 re Nicholos II: “… out of touch with the needs and aspirations…a vast majority…were victims of the wretched socio-economic conditions…Tsarist Russia stood well behind the rest of Europe in its industry and farming…widespread inflation and food shortages in Russia contributed to the revolution.” and so on.

    It may have been the wealth of the nation, Ash, but when I read he was the wealthiest man on the planet, his personal wealth over 10 billion, and the state of the nation was as described… then it wasn’t anymore. I’ll bet the wedding didn’t come out of pocket.

    Sans evidence to the contrary, I will trust what I glean from various sources, rather than a nostalgia for something that probably never was as imagined. I hope projection of our inspiration onto situations that were actually disastrous, is not a basis from which to formulate what is possible.

    Of course there were small kingdoms we would agree manifested Shambhala principles. Not at issue. We could also find Communist enclaves in China, companies in the US or tribes in New Guinea that do as well. We probably need to define that, because pomp and circumstance mixed with high decorum and luxury are surely not the defining factors.

    Anyway the question is how that comes about, and what role government has in creating it, if any. My argument is that, as far as my state of mind and how I may choose to work with it, government has no jurisdiction. I don’t think faceless administrators should ever have authority to judge who has broken samaya, as has happened.

    And I think the issue of proper socialization is a red herring. People are socialized with common educational systems and credentials are recognized internationally as never before. It may in fact be this overwhelming commonality that has younger people, when intelligent and inquisitive, instinctively seeking other ways of expressing themselves or being. Does not Buddhism provide just such an alternative?

    You point out we touch on sacred outlook during events like birth, marriages, funerals and death. Agreed. The list could be longer, but those experiences are profound epiphanies because of what they are, not because of any attempt by anyone to make them so.

    I would suggest the same is true of any government or monarch. They are what they are. If capable of manifesting some form of enlightened government, any impression of sacredness would grow out of how well they deal day to day with the things any ruling class is undeniably responsible for, not from ceremonies and aloof examples we can project onto.

    Clearly all group experiences are not sacred. I would argue most don’t come close or even try to experience the nature of mind. Most are organized events meant to tweak primitive instincts – a need to belong, a sense of power, mutual recognition – with little or no intelligence involved. (Student/teacher relationship, devotion, sangha, satsang etc., a tooootally different thing.)

  3. Ash on April 25th, 2010 6:34 pm

    What I have been referring to is not an attempt to deny emotion. (Abhidharma has the same rap, btw.)

    It is more a wish that whatever the form, government or administration is not in the first order, a way to handle control or engender specific emotional reactions to an image that is also manicured for that effect. I feel fairly sure, and I think history bears it out, that when a government is trying to control the emotional content of its citizens with pomp and circumstance and religious authority, rather than by doing the right thing (which would actually engender a more enduring and wide reaching inspiration) then you can be fairly sure they are up to something which is either incompetent or based on fallacious models of human beings and society, self serving or detrimental. Whichever, I don’t see how that could engender enlightened society.

    Gross National Happiness (GNH) illustrates perfectly why our emotions, happiness or our spiritual paths ought not be handles for governing. GNH is classic double-speak propaganda, its only purpose, its only purpose, polishing the image of the ruling class.

    If we do not put our emotions aside when examining these things, the ‘happiness trap’ will feel good even when it is a blatant lie. Our ‘feelings’ cannot be how we examine things of this nature. Can they for anything?

    The only alternative to a god realm like monarchy that calls our emotions from on high is not animal realm. To discriminate dharma from administration or government is not animal realm, it is human realm. Go back to basics. Dharma has its upayas and a long lineage of experience and wisdom. We don’t need to meddle with that. But in terms of governing or administration, look at what are basic essentials for any cohesive healthy society without which harmony is just another sour note. And examine openly whatever system is adopted, including and especially problems that arise. It can be boring and dull, uncomfortable and difficult with little thanks, lacking in grandeur and glory, but it is the small steps made properly that make any grand gesture meaningful.

    Ash, with ‘mutual conspiracy’ I was referring to your calling it that. I don’t follow the logic entirely, think humans and society work differently, but you said: “So what makes a leader Royal is that somehow society has mutually conspired to make itself capable of generating sacred perception which manifests in the mutual sacredness of both ruler and ruled.”

    Somehow?… That is where aaall the work is.

    In the inspiration that we do not change or create the world anew by imagining it to be other than what it is.

  4. Ash on April 25th, 2010 6:34 pm

    James, Rita, and Ash, please follow the waiter to the Sunshine Café, and to the table specially prepared for you.

    Any other bystanders are of course also welcome to join in the conversation there.

    I would suggest that we refrain from further comments on this thread, unless they are exactly on topic, and remain on topic.

    To discuss this idea in general, use the Sunshine Café table. ( http://radiofreeshambhala.org/2010/04/sunshine-cafe/ )

  5. Ash on April 25th, 2010 6:47 pm

    Well, ‘we’ have been bumped over here. I personally have no great desire to continue this conversation but I do find when a response is given that I usually have a reaction and reply accordingly. I am not sure if there is anything in particular being discussed, actually, or perhaps I am just unable to read/listen attentively enough.

    In any case: GNH: do you mean Ron Coleman’s (sangha member in NS) system adopted by Bhutan? Or is this something else?

    I know the general narrative of the Russian Revolution etc. (though have forgotten most of it), but a year or two ago spent a little time reading some alternative/revisionist versions, some of which were written in the 20’s soon after the events, some more recently. Now I am not saying these sources are correct necessarily, but I do believe that the received narrative is largely self-serving, deceptive and thus highly questionable, and Wikipedia is well known for providing ‘politically correct’ passages on highly inflammatory subjects like this.

    Small tidbit about Nicholas: at some point several communes of peasants petitioned him to accept them in his personal fiefdom as serfs. Apparently his serfs did better than most others.

    Re is personal wealth: again,viewing the person and role of a monarch through the lens of contemporary notions of personality, or rather the individualistic view we all share, is somewhat meaningless. I don’t know if Russia’s gold was regarded as part of his personal fortune, but in any case, within a few months it went out of Russia and into the hands of the bankster and other interests who had funded Trotsky and Lenin for years, able to function somehow seamlessly in both America, UK, France and Germany despite many of the host countries being locked in a terrible, bloody war at the time. This aspect of the story is generally not told because it undermines the neat little narrative about how the oppressed people overthrew the selfish rich royal tyrant, aka ‘the peoples revolution’. The whole thing was an enormous fraud, and then millions of people were executed for years thereafter, including boiling priests alive and forcing the witnessing monks to drink the stew etc. Ghastly stuff. So whatever such people say about Tsar Nicholas is simply not credible. That does not make him some sort of saint or ideal Sakyong principle exemplar necessarily, but again, I am leary of most of what has been written about him posthumously.

    It is also interesting that he still has a considerable following in Russia and I suspect as Christian Orthodoxy is re-established after several generations of often cruel and bloody suppression, that reverence for the Tsars will also being to resurface. Again, not because of their personal characteristics (they are no longer alive even!), but because Royalty fills an inherent need in society to express the best and most sacred in human realm existence.

  6. Ash on April 25th, 2010 7:03 pm

    Get it about conspiracy etc.

    About dharma and administration etc.: basically I think it is not a question of sacred Royalty versus a more systemic approach (such as democracy or whatever).

    Rather I think that most administration should rest mainly in a sort of Nyen level, hierarchically speaking, above which are more timeless, longer-term authorities such as Church, Military, and Monarch/Leader. Each is interconnected and there have to be mutual checks and balances, but I really don’t think it works to think one can have a benevolent rule by ‘experts’ (the Fabian / Russell ) type vision. Nice idea, but completely unrealistic. That sort of thing ends up becoming totally unaccountable to everyone with the wicked elements ruling the roost – sort of what we have today in the West.

    In daoist terms, we could say that administration helps to join Heaven and Earth, but you do need Emperors to focus the link with Heaven without being overly involved in the multiplicity of detail that administation in no end of local particulars necessarily involves. Someone or something has to maintain awareness above and beyond that, providing over-arching continuity to the larger whole. Which one could call the Heaven principle. So then administration is more like the Man principle. The populace is Earth. And then the Emperor is the Emperor/Man principle, or Maha-Man principle who continuously accesses Heaven (Lha) on behalf of the subjects and shares that connection with them, and of course they include the administrators. But if you only have experts/administrators and nothing above them, it is like Nyen without Lha I guess is what I am suggesting. Rule by Middle Class, in old-fashioned British parlance (though still accurate in this context).

    But again, when society has lost its sense of collective ‘we’, a royal or monarchical system is much harder to pull off in anything other than a ceremonial way. That has its value, but its not enough.

    Appreciate what you say about manipulating emotion but I think that’s a little too reductionist. For example: one could argue that the entire thrust of a tantric text, such as Vajrayogini Sadhana, is to form and shape consciousness of the practitioner along a journey. Or any dharma teaching for that matter, just as with any speech on some level. The issue then is not manipulation/influence per se, but whether or not it is aligned with and thus fosters dharmic perception, or furthers basic goodness. This can be done consciously, deliberately, artfully, joyfully, sanely. And a society can be structured/managed/lived in ways that also further this, just as a society can be managed in ways which engender mutual hell.

    Which gets back to how basic forms of speech, dress, ‘manners’ and so forth are transmitted, some cultures promoting sanity and egolessness, some the opposite

    In any case, no matter what the system, everyone is involved in the end result, not just the leaders who are empowered, one way or another, by society as a whole.

    The key issue is indeed harmony. For when one faction is allowed to rise too far and exert too much influence, and especially if that faction is wicked, then all sorts of terrible things can happen (like the Russian Revolution) which can then take a long, long time to correct, if at all. But a society that allows such wickedness to predominate is one that lacked sufficient grounding in sanity and goodness to begin with. And so it goes…

    In the S.I. context, there is a potential inverted risk in that if the Nyen is too weak and the Lha too strong, so to speak, i.e. the structure becomes top heavy, then the link between Heaven and Earth, or you could say Lha and Lu, becomes tenuous and especially in a group that needs to keep adapting and changing, as nearly all do, far too many won’t be able to ‘keep up’ and then you get greater schisms between insiders and outsiders and so forth. I think that is what we might have going on now in S.I. Perhaps things are as terrible and wicked and perverted as some on this board feel ( although I don’t ) but my suspicion is that it is more natural symptom of serious disconnect, and this disconnect has arisen mainly because we lack nyen-level administration, not just in terms of running offices, but managing communication, discourse, controversy etc. without everything being a dynamic in which the people wait for the Dear Leader to pronounce guidance on every little dynamic that comes up or more importantly being unable to come up with their/our own dynamics ourselves without having to check back to Dear Leader every time. Just won’t work.

  7. Ash on April 25th, 2010 7:30 pm

    PS Comments #2 and #3 were by James, but I neglected to paste in that part of the posts.

  8. Carl Mcfadden esq. on April 25th, 2010 8:24 pm

    Ash, it would have been funnier had you left out your last post, then it would seem you were arguing with yourself online. It would be quite a stitch.

  9. rita ashworth on April 26th, 2010 12:38 pm

    Dear Ash, James

    I was just wondering Ash where the comment about the triad, monarchy, democracy, communism came from-was it from the Kalapa Assemblies and did CTR elucidate on the triad format himself?
    Re the Monarchy principle –yes may be I have been focussing on too much of an established tradition of monarchy in regards to the British monarchy and monarchs in Shakespeare, although the plays are more a basic way to look at monarchy than Brit history persay.
    Re the monarchy principle in action I was listening yesterday to the Regent on Mahamudra on vrot.org and although he was not designated the lineage holder of Shambhala I think you can get hints about the monarchy principle in action from these talks, of course I realise the Regent admitted to his flaws somewhat and even now there are terrible doubts about him, but nevertheless within these talks you get the sensation that he was taming peoples minds with the knowledge of the dharma. So perhaps maybe we could consider the qualities of a monarch –is there anything written on that from Tibet, China wherever. I think discussing the qualities of a monarch would tie in more from where James is coming from in that I get the sense that he is trying to ‘humanise’ the triad more to fit where your ordinary bod is coming from and relating that to the concept of the triad.
    Re the democracy element of course here we are talking about ‘enlightened society’ not only shambhala Buddhism and to me society if we are talking about it in great depth has to encompass a world view(like Trotsky!) otherwise the whole thing wont work so we do indeed need to have some ways of fostering shambhala principles into society as a whole, and to me the focus now on SB wont do that. Of course we have talked about form in the relation to the Rigden King and specific practices etc but to me these are not the main issues rather it seems to me that we should foster the sense of fearlessness for all people with these teachings and if we are to do that people have to be allowed to go further without the guru principle holding them back for whatever reason. So its the ‘going further’ processes which are being held back by the present conception of SI. So yes the ‘going-further’ process is at present in the Sakyongs court and if we are to let the Margarets in –something does need to happen within SI and now perhaps without aswell.
    Communism well I am sure CTR meant something different to the communism we have had in our own world! If I take it back to the Regents talk and perhaps talks given by CTR there is certainly a ‘communal thingie’ happening there when the Dharma is being spoken and exchanged –so the question is maybe how would this connection then transpose itself into the workaday world.
    Well at the time of the Buddha himself it seems that he had a lot of support from the various echelons of society –so that there became maybe a levelling of resources out to people. Today, however, that approach would not work entirely! So in some way the economic system would have to change to reflect a connection to ‘enlightened society’ in this respect perhaps the Islamic notion of not charging interest would be good one to follow as it would take the heat out the money-making processes in our world which is just credit upon credit upon credit. So yes there is the psychological aspect of the communism principle and its manifestation in the world.
    As to proceeding with the discussion may be others would want to jump in and we could explore each aspect in turn and then summarise it at the end.
    Re Tsar Nicholas-was it me that brought him up? I think I did but it seems we can not resolve whether he was a good or bad monarch due to lack of concise academic research. So perhaps we should consider the monarch principle in may be more abstract terms at first. I suppose one monarch that we could discuss was Ashoka because he is in the chants –so may be we would be alright discussing him.
    Sort of laughed when I saw the coffee table but then may be its a good thing because its a great concept to go into more depth with queries – so more coffee tables and everyone can dip into them.
    Well it’s very hot in the UK for a change not used to seeing the sun!

    Rita Ashworth

  10. Ash on April 27th, 2010 10:37 am

    I think I brought Nicholas up in the context of the mandala aspect of a royal/monarchical structure, just remarking on the display of the thing, so many people, heart connection on some level etc.

    As to Trotsky, given he was sponsored by some of the worst criminals of this era, many of whose heirs are still at it today, I just can’t get behind crediting him with all that much, nor do I think Russia ever ‘enjoyed’ communism, if such a thing truly exists.

    Where the triad came from? I don’t know. I remember hearing about it a long time ago, or perhaps read it somewhere, but no precise references, sorry.

    I definitely have been coming at this from an abstract pov, not tied to contemporary or historical events necessarily.

    My main point, I think, is that monarchy per se is the most direct expression of how natural hierarchy spontaneously manifests in human situations. You brought up how a theatre group can work without a formal leader, a good point and example, but even there is some sort of form that must first be understood, and that form is itself a type of monarchy principle. Furthermore, it would be hard to run a society in all its aspects, mundane and spiritual/artistic, with that form alone, including things like running farms, building roads, waging war, maintaining spiritual lineage over time etc.

    Even if one cleaves to democracy, there has to be some over-arching set of principles and values in the society which provide a sane ground upon which it can function well. Otherwise it will tend to devolve into the sort of mess we see all around today, barely a century or so after it became a more established form, and with most countries using it, even less. Rule by committee involves rule by factions, and factions involve conspiracy, basically, whether of benevolent or malevolent ilk and especially when a higher authority is not there to lead the process, even if only by atmospheric/spiritual influence. Which is why I call it a middle class solution.

    Conversely, in the Shambhala mandala, we might have the opposite problem: extraordinarily sophisticated Lha, but insufficient Nyen channel to disperse and ground it thoroughly in every day society.

    Personally, I am not so concerned about how it is made available etc. since I suspect that once the basic mandala/sangha is well established, that will happen automatically. Or the sort of thing happening in situations like those described and initiated by John Baker will tend to proliferate naturally over time and that in turn will inform the central structure, hopefully allowing it to relax a little more without in any way losing its seat or fundamental role.

    And that fundamental role is crucial in terms of anchoring the society both to a discernible, transmittable lineage over time, but also, I suspect, to a core place, in our case NS.

    I am beginning to repeat myself with all this and suspect I have little more to say so hopefully Rita you will get your wish and others will chime in. Otherwise, perhaps this topic is ‘done’ for now. It’s a bit complex for this medium.

  11. Ash on April 27th, 2010 10:40 am

    PS Rita: I have been following the UK election a little and stumbled on the Telegraph’s ‘who should I vote for’ interactive quiz. 1. BNP. 2. UKIP. I was surprised since I hadn’t bothered to find out anything about either party given there is no coverage. Can’t say I like the look of either of them personnel-wise, but clearly their thrust is more in line with my sense of national priorities. I think this whole EC business, or ‘one world order’ thrust is ghastly.

  12. Ash on April 27th, 2010 11:26 am

    Sherab Chödzin Kohn writes[1] of Trungpa Rinpoche’s 1968 discussions at Taksang of political consciousness and the delek system:

    Kunga [Dawa] describes the discussions at Taksang: “… the best thing would be if there was an enlightened ruler who ruled his kingdom but there was also a form of democratic governance so that the people would have a say and would be able to communicate with local leaders. […] So the basis would be communities on the local level… and there would be meditation happening. Rinpoche came up with the idea of the knot of eternity, saying that this would be the banner of our revolutionary activity; I suppose because it represents the continuity of the meditative state without beginning or end.”

    Society as a whole was to be imbued with a sense of meditative openness. […] The seal of meditation, the knot of eternity, is on the activity of both the delekpa and the king – insight is anonymous (which is why the meditation knot has no faces).

    Comments and next steps welcome.

    – Mark Szpakowski
    [1] The Delekpa and the King, Kalapa Journal, Number 2 (1999)

    From this site at :


    I don’t recall ‘the Kalapa Journal’ unless it was the newsletter put out by the Shambhala Lodge.

    But I find it interesting that the basis is local communities. That really should be the basis, but I don’t think we have ‘grocked’ this yet.

  13. rita ashworth on April 27th, 2010 3:07 pm

    Dear Ash,

    Yes read that piece on the ordering of society previously but I thought there might be extra references to it so I thought I would ask you.

    Re the theatre group the ‘leader’ was called the ‘the Joker’ in Forum Theatre –thats interesting why Augusto Boal called it that – I think the role of a Joker was more a medium of interaction – a joker monarch in the question of clear seeing. Yes I think you have to have a director of a play but the dynamic between the actor and the director re silence and discussion has the sense that sometimes you can not see a discernible difference between the two but I think its there slightly until it gets crushed by open space –as all good plays must if they are to shine.

    Re transferring this discipline of Forum theatre to the building of roads etc –yes its being used to solve social problems in fact Boal devised it to engage with politics to the nth degree. Where I think it slides in nicely in to the Shambhala teachings is the cosmic mirror aspect because invariably a play is somewhat of a cosmic mirror playground-so doing the workshop made me think that the monarch principle is much more interactive than I thought originally-thats why I was trying to understand the subtle links in the triad.

    Myself I think SI is focussing too much on the Monarch out there and not the Monarch down on the ground-and I believe if we were focussing on the monarch on the ground in the sense of power, yes power and I suppose gesture as given in Plays then perhaps we would have more of a handle on the whole thing and here I believe the one way of SI would slowly dissolve –that focus on appearances of monarchy maybe is too much disturbing us all into constructing the ‘right way’ to do things. Why do I say that because within Forum theatre the audience has the ability to step in and alter the dynamic of the flow of the play –so here we have the ‘democratic’ element stepping in. Also too the Director/Monarch allows this democracy to take place –why? Because usually you get a ‘better’ play this way –better in the sense of bringing the group (communism aspect) together.

    Jesus yes Ash –theatre is really powerful and Boal seemed to me to really get it and transposed the whole thing to politics aswell! I wonder if he had meditated would he be receiving terma –probably so! Any way I am not so miffed about not being SB because I would not want to be in a one way fixated world when I could be in a world that was interactive and shiny and also too I am not hooked up on the thought that one way of reaching Shambhala will be the only way-I know there are other path ways into this Kingdom and being a student of CTR and others I know I will discover some other paths besides the ones I have already encountered into it in time. So bye-bye to SB!

    So I suppose with this post I am leaning more to James conception of the monarch and the relationship with a teacher –so this way the whole thing becomes more earthy but I have also transposed the whole thing to society with the medium of theatre and brought in its connection to the Shambhala teachings – I dont know it seems to me a more grounded way to approach it in this manner than positing a monarch with ‘the’ teaching that he/she is going to spoonfeed to you as is now happening with SI. I think people are more capable of touching into stuff in a better way than this in our 21st century.

    Re the election the Scottish National Party is taking the BBC to court because they are not in on the debate –they raised £50,000 to do this –theres democracy in action for you!

    Re the EC –never been to Europe – I should go-most Europeans I have met said their governments are pretty corrupt – I never thought of the Brit government as being corrupt but may be a tad profligate in regards to expenses but on the whole I still think there are some politicians around that I would vote for. I think this virtue comes from connection to literature in some sense because the Brits are always arguing about morality so there is that class thing still there re honour.

    Well looking forward to James posting and others.


    Rita Ashworth

  14. Ash on April 27th, 2010 3:36 pm

    Well, if you’ve never been to Europe, let me heartily recommend Italy as first stop. 1) better weather 2) fantastic food that makes you healthier the more you eat it (unlike French restaurant fare) 3 large and small cities you can spend months just walking around. I spent a month in Rome (with SMR) and we didn’t take a cab once. Personally, I like Florence better but…

    Had a sudden open day today and have spent a while reading some of the previous threads from 2008-9. My what excellent stuff.

    On this thread from Kevin Frost’s post therein:


    So for example, after Trungpa’s death in 87 I discovered that I didn’t really have a community anymore, and that was a blow. As an anti-Regent man I found that my views put his students too much on a spot where they couldn’t stay and talk. Impossible. Samaya problems, which I accepted and indeed, supported. So my first glimmer of light was to reflect on the appropriate form of community authority. For a community centered around a guru you could only be in or out, no half measures. Thus I came to appreciate the dharmas of royal governance which were much more flexible and human actually. On the container principle here’s one of my favourite anecdotes, taken from a passage in the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the Ming Dynasty (I’m sorry I can’t reference this properly, don’t have the book anymore). During the middle decades of the Ming in the lovely old city of Kai Feng the magistrate was on a tour of inspection when he came upon the sight of an old dilapidated temple which had plainly seen better days. Upon inquiry he discovered that it was actually a synagogue which belonged to an old Jewish community which had been there for centuries, like 6 or 700 years. All were completely sinified. Looking further into the matter the magistrate at length ordered the reconstruction of the temple, exhorting the descendents of this old community not to forget the ways of their ancestors, and to honour them. End of story. That is how Shambhala accommodates the myriad traditions of this world. It’s about ancestors basically. Our traditions are as varied as can be but we all have fathers and mothers, like it or not (or at least until recently). They gave us our body, our speech and probably most of what we might refer to as our minds, they gave us a lot for which we should be sensibly grateful. We could at least understand that we are not a purely self generated creation, autonomous and monadic. We could appreciate the past, recognize all the hardships and generosity, for our sake, and inspired by this we could commit ourselves to follow suit and work for the generations to come (a sore point for so many of us, myself included).
    But that is how I understand the sacred path of the warrior. It is very sacred and inspired and genuine. It is what we human beings all have in common and is therefore universal. So we don’t need yet another overarching heaven principle. We’ve already got hundreds of these and indeed, this is a bit of a problem. What we need is more like an underarching principle and I believe this is it. The Dorje Dradul taught unconditional goodness. What I’m describing here is more relative level, but literally, completely literal. A world of relatives is indeed a world already well ordered and good. We realize our goodness in the cultivation of these natural relations which in fact ‘create’ us. Therefore the primary form of authority in the Shambhala world is family lineage. It’s not because father knows best or because patriarchal and matriarchal figures are more caring than say, ‘the State’. That may be so but it’s a question of the fundamental natural order. The king is simply the head of his family. The royal family is the family of families, the ‘all dressed up’ version of every household in the kingdom. Monarchy actually governs not by issuing imperatives accompanied by the fine print of what’s going to happen to you if you don’t go along with things. Monarchy governs by upholding the relations generally speaking and above all the relation of father and son/daughter, and mother and son/daughter, this stuff, that is the ‘essence’ of things. There are others: husband and wife, elder and younger brothers, the relation of friends, the relation of ruler and minister. These are the conventional five, the big five of the Chinese tradition. Of course there are more: teacher/student, preceptor/patron, uncle/nephew, aunt/niece and so forth. There are plenty of these and each is really a law unto itself. But the meaning of royal government is all about upholding relations and harmonizing relations. Absolutely crucial. When relations are harmonized then community arises spontaneously, without ‘government’ actually. Very important. This form of governance is capable of providing ground for all traditions to carry on their business. The umbrella above is an even handed rulership which demands a certain filial piety, but that’s about it. That’s pretty open ended and systematically empowering. There’s no reductionism going on here.


    So I’ve posted on this again even though it is such a seemingly marginal topic. But that said: it seems to me that this site is about a serious fault line in the Shambhala mandala, one core-key aspect of which is how the community, and thus also its leadership, is structured, and therefore contemplating the nature of monarchical and other systems is not beyond the pale, far from it.

    Also in that thread was a strong speech about how much of the problem is due to being fixated on a church-style mandala – which we have all created – versus being more pro-actively engaged in the real, relative world, including actual politics. I think this is true and why what makes many uncomfortable here – the union of monarch and guru – is also something which we ourselves have created due to our own limitations and fixations.

    In short, it’s just up to us to go out. Nobody is stopping us.

    Are they?

  15. rita ashworth on April 27th, 2010 4:13 pm

    Ash – thanks for that post – hope Mr Frost can take a seat at this coffee table.with further thoughts on the Shambhala kingdom.

    Shambhala concepts, stuff cant get them out of your head when they enter in.

    Just today walking round town envisaging people actually making a connection to these teachings how the environment itself and the people themselves would be so different – so thats why I am still doing stuff with others. I am thinking of going along the Naropa Inst., way –if anyone could give me some info on how people were attracted to Trungpa initially in the 70s that would be good.

    Also funny today saw a young man meditating in public office –he was just sitting on the floor – Manchester new hippies resurfacing –was good omen.

    Just a thought I have been to Europe –went to Eire(?!) –will try Italy may be –also fancy USSR –maybe Moscow (European flavour there at least).

    Well best to you Ash


  16. James Elliott on April 29th, 2010 4:26 pm


    We’re just talking about various possible ways a so called enlightened society might be governed… or not. Nothing more solid than that. But not meaningless either.

    GNH… yes, sort of. But it is not a system Ron Coleman invented which Bhutan adopted. Another case of history being rewritten?

    The term was coined in 1972 by Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in response to external pressures, shortly before they set out on a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

    There was a seminar on GNH a few years back which Shambhala co-sponsored and at which the Bhutanese royalty were hosted like honored dignitaries, at which Ron Coleman made a presentation of GNH, in which it he also said that Bhutan was a partner of Shambhala in showing the world what enlightened society looks like. (It used to be available in the Shambhala site.)

    His premise in that talk was that what we measure, we value, so therefore we should measure happiness instead of wealth, and we would then be happier – because if we’re measuring it, we’re valuing it. (?) Preposterous.

    We don’t measure inches because we value them more than, I don’t know, square meters? trees? liters? decibels? or something else. It is a tool. That’s all. It isn’t a reflection of inch-centric-ness.

    GNH would not replace GNP as GNH proponents claim, because that is a tool that would still be useful… unless we get rid of money. GNH is simply putting a new meter in the dashboard of the same old car and claiming to have invented a way to change how people think. It doesn’t do anything about the exhaust, the motor, fuel consumption, wear and tear, bad breaks or any of the down sides the auto itself may have. Nothing. It is only a way to collect information about things that are already being done to present them collectively and openly to show the public their government is concerned. Propoganda pure.

    Please tell me that’s not what enlightened society looks like.

  17. rita ashworth on May 1st, 2010 8:08 am

    Dear James

    Yes I too dont think you can measure society in terms of happiness –its a little too manufactured for me and particularly for sometimes morose Northerners ‘suffering’ under buckets and buckets of rain! (I just lost my umbrella for the umpteenth time!)

    But I seem to recall from reading the newspapers that ‘they’ the researchers are doing the same thing in measuring cities round the world as to quality of life which comprises of several levels ie housing, environment etc – I think Vancouver came up trumps one year in this kind of poll –so maybe SI is drifting in with this way of measuring stuff because thats the done thing now – or as my philosophy lecturer would say its the fashion now to do such things in this way. Actually I consider most of the communications within SI to be similarly in this vein aswell aka the Times and the various blogs…..its kind of bland stuff they are reporting on ….theres no beef there…sort of no angstiness –hence my bolshiness on rfs.

    Anyway I have been again thinking of this triad trying to see it from all angles –something that just popped in to my mind was a poem that CTR wrote where he mentioned communism –it was in First thought Best thought – in this poem he did lambast Marx and Engels but he also did speak of the true communism asking where is it? Hope therefore someone could post the poem if they can find it.

    I dont know though for myself I have read that the younger Marx was more of a romantic and his thought when he was younger was much freer –obviously we have to consider the time he was living in re industry in the UK in both London and Manchester. Myself, I experienced the latter stage of industrial north when I was a child – it was bad with chimneys belching smoke and I also remember going on a bus ride and seeing for miles and miles back-to-back houses being pulled down –so this was the atmosphere even more so when Marx was living in the 19 century.

    I also had another thought re Trungpas time in the UK for example did he visit loads of place here or just Oxford and the embryonic Samye Ling. I think if he spent most of his time in these places he would have got a sort squiffy view of the UK –certainly the greater north of the UK might have been more receptive to his teachings than the South and ‘country’ Scotland because of the communal basis of life here which is somewhat like Cape Breton. Also this is why maybe he went more on the road in the states because he realised he had to go to people and for them not to come to him.

    Anyway back to the communism aspect I begin to think that the links in the triad can not be separated so in some ways you can not highlight the monarch as being the apex of the whole thing –just had a thought is the the triad coming out of the Cosmic Mirror –hmmmm they just popped out-so its also an in thing aswell aka psychology-yes re the mandala also which has to be interactive-anyway nuff shambhalising I am more interested in the practicalities.

    Re good communism if you could have it in this world are we saying that it would have to come from a Monarch persay – I think SI is thinking this way but I dont think this could happen totally because we are in a world that is diverse and therefore if you were to have true communism you would have to have a unified way of working with the money supply in this case you would have to have all religions/politicians/artists working together for this to happen-could this be why CTR wanted the whole path way open for everyone? Certainly when you read the Fromm book the Sane Society the communities in France described are multi-religious, multicultural and multi-political in the sense of people following their own political alleigences. So what are we to do with the democracy aspect which stems from diversity and the singular figure of the King which ‘seems’ to oppose democracy and communism? I dont know perhaps the King could be the King Allower instead of the King Forbidder in that the King is a source of energy and says yes, yes all the time –well if things were in harmony you would get allowance-maybe we have the total misconception of King in our heads – re him and I of course mean her aswell in being Authority figure.

    Re the emphasis now also in SI about manifesting aswell – well I think if we are truly manifesting we will all have to take risks and one of the risks might be leaving the ‘strict’ guru aspect out of the whole caboodle of the shambhala teachings aswell, – for to me SB is taking just as much as a risk re this aspect as I am somewhat stepping out of it. Thats a perception risk assessment for you –in the world of no-gurantees! Thats a nice turn of phrase.

    Well looking forward to discussion may be on the communism aspect more in the ‘realms’ of true communism.


    Rita Ashworth

  18. Ash on May 1st, 2010 8:44 am

    James, I think Ron invented the GPI (Genuine Progress Index) which is now being used by the NS govt. He is/was, I believe, a Professor of Political Science or somesuch. Here is a brief overview paper from his website:

    I did not go through it all, but if memory serves me well, Bhutan took his GPI as the basis for their later developed GHI. It is my impression, though, that Ron’s work was original. Perhaps that is incorrect. In any case, I think his contributions to NS governmental policy represent an excellent and visible Shambhalian contribution to the Maritimes and my hat’s off to him.

    Rita, I regret my unclear remark about the arts workshops – clearly it hit a nerve. I was talking originally – many comments back – about forms that deliberately express whole society dynamics (such as coronations, parliamentary gatherings, royalty roles etc.) and mentioned that arts workshops were more peripheral, i.e. on the mandalic fringe – in that regard. And the fringe is not an inferior thing, just a certain zone of affairs in the overall mandala, sort of a border between formal/established and informal/experimental.

    I don’t have the time or interest right now to go into it, but without reading more about communism in theory and practice, I just don’t know much about it. I suspect that what happened in Russia bears little resemblance to the ideology in any case, and if it does, clearly it’s a terrible idea. But perhaps the Chinese were closer to it for a while. My sense of it is that one of the basic principles is no private ownership of property but also it was developed as a way to overthrow the established order by riling up the lower classes. Perhaps this is unfair.

    A parallel and earlier system, which also I have not studied but which often pops up as a good model, is the Code Napoleon, which some historians have said is perhaps the single greatest contribution he made to France and is largely still in effect today. All small communities in France are legally called ‘communes’ and they have a big say on all land use issues and I have read that this distribution of power to local communities is a big reason why the French countryside is so ‘heavenly’ as many have remarked. It did not prevent Paris becoming an overly influential behemoth that has sucked far too many small towns, and thus rural areas, dry the past century, but that is probably a case of overly strong federal/central power being allowed to grow unchecked, meaning that there is no intermediary (provincial) government principle in the middle (probably because after the feudal era aristos were guillotined nothing took their place except the overly limited – geographically – local communes.) But the communes might be closer to sanely manifesting certain aspects of communism the way VCTR meant it – and in that quote I noticed he did not say ‘communism’ per se. Just a thought.

  19. Ash on May 1st, 2010 8:58 am

    re: “the best thing would be if there was an enlightened ruler who ruled his kingdom but there was also a form of democratic governance so that the people would have a say and would be able to communicate with local leaders. […] So the basis would be communities on the local level… and there would be meditation happening. ”

    During the period when the deleg system was introduced up until the parinirvana, it developed into more than just communicating with local leaders, although that always remained the basis in the form of deleg meetings and having a dekyong in each deleg. Then there was the dekyong council, obviously, but then I think two(?) of the dekyongs attended Vajradhatu Board meetings. Also, there were informal reports of CTR recommending that the Dekyong Council function like more of a parliamentary body with national governance/policy responsibilities which implied to me that the democratic element would have a far greater say in ‘the administration’ versus the then current Ministerial model, which worked fine for a small population, but would indeed lack back-and-forth efficiencies with a larger and more dispersed population.

    My personal feeling about them is that without larger populations they sort of don’t work. But also maybe there could have been better education in terms of how to get them to work, including how the elected representatives would link with the executive, how the whole thing is funded or not, which policy levels the dekyongs are most responsible for, which the executive and so on. It was all very vague. I think this is one of those things he left up to us but since it was just starting when he died around the same time there was a sudden influx into Halifax of many of the senior sangha, there was just too much change and confusion to develop this element properly.

    SMR is now promoting Shambhala Households as a local base or bedrock. Given that all members outside those in Gampo Abbey or practice centers or Marpa House live in non-homogenised conventional neighbourhoods, i.e. we don’t have actual Buddhist or Shambhalian districts per se, this seems to me to be a first step in reviving this impetus and makes a lot of sense – albeit it seems less of a political thrust as a means to more formally and effectively meld everyday life with meditative discipline on both the domestic front, but also in the context of conventional, actual neighbourhoods. Clearly if it is all overly centralised it could become deadly, but there is no reason why that should be the case.

    In any case, there were Shambhala Households formally acknowledged by CTR in Boulder, with unique names, a calligraphy and so on, usually with one or more families sharing the same large house, but I think also some individual families as well if I recall. This new initiative seems essentially the same sort of idea but expanded to more formally promote the practice. Again, seems very good.

  20. rita ashworth on May 1st, 2010 3:54 pm

    Dear Ash

    Thank you for your further comments. Re art I would say that you cannot separate it from a shambhala society –it has to be totally integrated into it because it is a means to integrate the ‘stability’ of the individual within a greater society. Think this was the appreciation of Art that Augusto Boal was pointing at –he also became a politician I believe in the Sao Paulo district –there is a utube video of him in the city chamber if people want to watch it.

    I say the stability of the individual because I was recently watching a documentary on utube also relating to autistic children putting on a stage production which was fascinating not only in regards to the autism aspect but also how the play was constructed in societal terms –hope people can watch this too (might be on a channel 4 download).

    Re Napoleonic Code –yes my history teacher was a fan of Napoleon and his ‘rule’ of Europe but then again there was the unfortunate aspect of him making himself Emperor which is the antithesis of revolutionary society. I also think this Emperor concept in France also opposes the triad because the triad has a harmony and interactive aspect not a top-down approach. So then again we are into discussing how the whole thing can work for everyone in this world.

    It does seem to me that if we are talking of true communism we are talking of world view as Trotsky did indeed forecast and that Marx describes also. So true communism would have to be diverse because it encompasses the world not nation states so the King/Queen aspect would have to be open in a political sense to divergence, to peoples conceptions and connections to the shambhala teachings that in a philosophical sense is only logical to me.

    I slightly agree with your thoughts on form for people who want to follow the form that SMR is establishing but to make that the only way is still limiting because of course forms change re culture and religious experiences and culture and religion cannot be legislated out of the enlightened society motif unfortunately for SI! So yes say I received some terma or someone else did that also would have to be interwoven within the shambhala society. Of course at present Ray seems to be the only one saying that he has had a vision of a protector –this is feasible if we are talking of religious experience in ‘history’ but I mention it not for its metaphysical aspect but its societal aspect in that other forms have influence and of course impact on religious teachings in a greater shambhala society. So all these forms would have to be included in this society that is only logical to me if we are talking of a world view with the shambhala teachings.

    Re reading Marx – the Communist manifesto I read it because of teachings in the original Shambhala teachings sourcebook that I got at seminary in 1986 (perhaps Karl put it in). So yes its an easy read and a short one so may be people could read it and post what they thought about it. I think there is some true aspects of communism in there – I did quote the ten point plan for society that is in the manifesto but may be people could buy it as communism is part of the triad according to CTR.

    Re the shambhala households and first steps-dont think it will work only if its a communal touchy-feely thing – in my own appreciation it has to have a political aspect and of course I mean politics in the most widest sense –perhaps in the sense of co-ops and supporting people –so then perhaps we are into tithing and no-interest aspects of Christianity and Islam. (And regards too to Islam I have been impressed by the Muslims I meet who regard each other as brothers and sisters in the religious sphere –so yes its a great religion.)

    So this is a wide-ranging post to your last post but I think I have covered most of the points that you have raised. At the moment my mind is turning to Art because now I think it is more revealing than conventional politics about how you would construct a society and also it is a more earthy approach then sometimes dry stats of western politicos. Re politics also there is also another interesting post of Peter Brook on utube and him working in London about the evolution of society- it is based on a story from Africa about two tribes that split because one says a chant 11 times and another says it twelve times – I wonder if someone could invite Brook to do the play in Halifax!

    Well best from this side of the blue waters.


    Rita Ashworth

  21. rita ashworth on May 1st, 2010 4:07 pm

    sorry Boal took a seat in the district of Rio and not Sao Paulo as I said-
    hope you can check the utube interview with him -its very good.

    best again


  22. Ash on May 1st, 2010 7:01 pm

    Well, I never discussed Art in general. I was talking about workshops in comparison to national rituals in relation to the monarchy principle. It was a small point, probably poorly made so I apologise for the confusion. And as I kept saying, I was discussing this in the abstract, i.e. not related to your current interest in working in the arts in England.

    Maybe I’ll look up the manifesto. But if you are right that it only works if the whole world follows the same system then I think it’s just tyranny in fancy dress.

    Also, in terms of Napoleon, I was only talking about the legal code, not the military campaigns. I have always thought, though, that the greatest irony was that although he was trying to tear down the old order, he ended up having to make himself Emperor in order to get all the other Emperors and Princes etc. to take him seriously!

    Well, though they got him in the end, I gather much of his legal code remains in place to this day in France and one of its key tenets is the power of the ‘commun’ (replacing that of the aristos).

    Marx: summary paragraph in the wikipedia overview page:
    “In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
    The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. ”


    The manifesto itself:

  23. rita ashworth on May 3rd, 2010 4:08 am

    Dear Ash

    Thanks for that post –great that you put up the communist manifesto so people can read it easily –we seem to be developing a resource guide for people to look at re the concept of the triad.
    Are we becoming the open university on rfs! Yes well I do think the manifesto should be there as maybe it will help us to discover the ‘true’ communism given in the triad.

    Well re resources also I found a documentary on channel 4 download on democracy on its creation in Greece which people may also want to look at –its quite long but gives people an overview in western terms of the democracy concept.

    Re your mention about world view in relation to Trotsky –here I was trying to emphasise more the economic set up of the world –not the religious or ‘defined’ political framework-I mean could leaders in the world agree to a liberal economic viewpoint on affairs, well it seems re globalisation that it is something they will have to consider doing –if the whole thing is not to go mega nuts again! So they might be forced somewhat into working out an economic theory for the betterment of human society. In some respects you can see this happening in conventional history with the Marshall plan after the last war in Europe. I dont know too much about the IMF I think it has got a lot of bad press –so perhaps someone could jump in on this one as I am not an economics buff.

    In relation to this also I was thinking about world views re Ashoka the Great in India, though he was a Buddhist he had an open society and all religious persuasions were respected –so here we have a practical example of an Emperor though not a teacher who did have somewhat of an enlightened society-so we can see from history that such a thing is possible and that the Sakyong principle could fulfil that role to a degree if we are talking of the ‘old’ way of creating Shambhala and for me the shambhala concept has also to have practical applicability aswell. So yes to reemphasise here you would have an empire but a multiplicity of views/religions within it. Yes the concept of an Emperor here would be in providing resources and also in a religious sense just being a concept of energy which sanctions multitudes of teachings.

    Also in this context too I remember on the Chronicle project there was an interview with Jean-Claude van Italie, the playwright, where CTR gave him the meditation instruction of just being like an Emperor and observing his thoughts ie having somewhat of an incredibly open vision to what was happening in his world and his mind. Could indeed this openness in relation to going forward generally be more prevalent in SI? Thats the question I would pose to people following the teachings of CTR.

    Getting back to Ashoka though he did not have a world empire but he did rule most of India which must have seemed like the world to a lot of people back then! But I agree the view that one emperor could rule the whole world is I think not on because that seems the way that empires collapse because they take on too many responsibilities and too much land as was the case with the Roman empire(they never got the Scots!) –the world itself defeats the notion of Dictator in this respect. So logically if this notion defeats the Dictator aspect it lends credence to an enlightened society being diverse.

    Of course this is talking on high about an enlightened society but I think it is useful to do to may be close off certain aspects of what an enlightened society is and is not. I definitely think it cannot be a dictatorship as I have stated but we also have to consider that society in sociological terms has to encompass institutions at some stage for it to function well and I think this is in no way detracts from discussing the local level aswell –you could have discussions on how the local for example fits in with metalocal in a harmonious manner.

    Also to re the creation of enlightened society – if you look at religious history in west it has tended to come from the grassroots and then later to be taken up by the grandees in society for primarily political reasons I am thinking of Christianity in this regard so to transgress that conception of society building I think the triad would undermine it because it is interactive and almost an ‘alive’ concept indeed one may say that one has to ‘do’ governance much in the manner of a warrior.

    So wrote these few paras to mainly explore the ‘world’ viewpoint of the shambhala teachings re your comment about Trotsky.

    Well best again

    Rita Ashworth

  24. Ash on May 3rd, 2010 9:40 am

    well, I didn’t read it all yet, but the first third I found remarkably fresh given it was written in the 1840’s before the railroad had really got going, let alone cars and telephones. And it reminded me about what ‘proletariat’ originally meant, i.e. wage slaves versus location-based peasant/slaves.

    Re dictatorship: CTR often put monarchy together with benevolent dictatorship (if I recall correctly). In any case, they are structurally the same in terms of authority flow viz. it comes back to one individual seat/throne holder; the main difference is both religious and that in most systems royalty is sanguilineal whereas dictatorship tend to arise out of some sort of crisis. In North Korea I suspect you have a dictatorship that seems to have set up a new monarchy of sorts.

  25. rita ashworth on May 3rd, 2010 11:26 am

    Dear Ash

    Yes I am aware of CTR’s discussion of benevolent dictatorship but I think he was talking more about this aspect in terms of the teacher/student relationship in the close manner and not transposing it on to the ‘enlightened society’ motif where there is more talk in shambhala about the power of the warrior in a society open to differences. So in an enlightened society though you could have benevolent dictatorships in the realm of student/master roles you could not have an overarching dictator laying down the way because we can see from history that Ashoka did not do this –he was an Emperor for all people not just Buddhists though he of course was a Buddhist himself. So if indeed he had been a dictator I dont think the kingdom he ruled over would have been as productive and harmonious as it was. So I think we are talking about two different conceptions of monarchy here –literal and religious. Also too I think the triad concept has more of an alive fluidity I might hint at –so I think here the monarch would not just be dealing in one way also but would be in the world and acting differently with different students as did CTR.

    Re your other comment about the etymology of the word religion on the celtic buddhist thread just looked it up on wiki and it is as follows:

    “Religion is derived from the Latin religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure. One possibility is derivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare, an interpretation traced to Cicero connecting lego “read”, i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of “choose”, “go over again” or “consider carefully”. Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the derivation from ligare “bind, connect”, probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect,” which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius. However, the French scholar Daniel Dubuisson notes that relying on this etymology “tends to minimize or cancel out the role of history”; he notes that Augustine gave a lengthy definition of religio that sets it quite apart from the modern word “religion”

    So although you have defined it with the concept of binding I would still like to state that this notion of binding is up for debate aka Dubuisson who it looks like I will have to read also now to carry on with the argument! So after I have read the article I will get to you on this. Briefly though I think he might be talking about how the individual has ‘progressed’ in society and how she/he has come to understand themselves in a pyschological sense. The Dubuisson article is on the web but I dont know how you make a link to it but perhaps you can as it indeed does look interesting.

    Well best from bank holiday Britain


    Rita Ashworth

  26. Ash on May 3rd, 2010 12:29 pm

    Well, I decided to invest 10 mins in investigating the word online (since I have misplaced my old etymological dictionary written decades ago) and got nowhere. I wanted to see if it was an active word in Roman times or something that we cooked up later on around 12th century which then took on life of its own. Augustine had an interesting take on it, I read (but couldn’t find out that take) rather stumbled on this little piece which is actually quite close to the kuntu zangpo notion, also more or less non-theistic in the sense that ‘God’ is Being beyond space and time, i.e. not a fixed individual existens or concept.


    “Augustine distinguishes among understanding, which is “always without fault,” belief, which is “at times faulty,” and mere opinion, which is “never without fault.” Belief is “blameworthy,” according to him, when it is “too readily held” or when it attributes to God what “is unworthy of Him.” Otherwise, belief is without fault, so long as it is held with the honest realization that it is not rational knowledge. Mere opinion is objectionable because it stifles the incentive to gain knowledge and involves the rashness of acceptance without foundation. True understanding, by contrast, must be of the truth and on adequate grounds. “What we understand, accordingly, we owe to reason; what we believe, to authority; and what we have an opinion on, to error. But everyone who understands also believes, and everyone who has an opinion believes, too; but not everyone who believes understands, and no one who merely has an opinion understands.”

    Fideists and sceptics are both enemies of truth. Those who attack faith without understanding would undermine parental authority since children must believe and obey their parents, even before understanding why they rule as they do. The utility of belief is that it gives the soul access to truth prior to rational knowledge and prepares it to attain understanding.

    Augustine maintains that God, being all-good, never does evil. On the other hand, God does cause some people to suffer evil as punishment for their wrongdoing. We should conceive of God as supreme, omnipotent, the immutable Creator, and the most excellent of all beings and just Ruler of all creations.

    Augustine argues that everything real is good insofar as it is real: “For every nature is either corruptible or incorruptible. If it is an incorruptible nature, it is better than a corruptible nature, it is undoubtedly good, since corruption makes it less good. Therefore, every nature is good.”

    Augustine advises us to conceive of God “as good without quantity, as the Creator who lacks nothing, who rules but from no position, and who contains all things without an external form, as being whole everywhere without limitation of space, as eternal without time, as making mutable things without any change in Himself, and as a Being without passion.”

    Afraid we just disagree about dictators. As far as I understand the term, it means giving power to an individual to run the affairs of state. This is essentially the same as the powers of a monarch. Dictators are considerably weaker since they have less dynastic lineage (and thus institutions) to support them when things get tough. So although dictators have ‘complete power’, they are also the easiest to overthrow since their power depends more on wide scale popular support than any other system.

    As to the threefold formulation: even in a dictatorship or monarchy it sort of exists in that when the State owns all property this is basically the same as no individual property ownership.

    I think the real issues involve the criteria used for determining chain of command or power flows (between classes/groups/sectors/regions), i.e. are they based mainly on military power, geographic situation, ritual, spirituality, populism, blood or whatever. There are always higher and lower, center and fringe in any social mandala (which means that a Marxian notion of a classless society, even if well intentioned, is an impossible, unworkable, not to mention dangerous, absurdity). It is how they are worked that matters, and the systemic labels often don’t reveal very much as to what the priorities actually are, i.e. are often more rhetoric than substance.

  27. rita ashworth on May 3rd, 2010 1:04 pm

    Dear Ash,

    Thanks for your next post –been looking on line for stuff by Daniel Dubuissons stuff –the articles quoting briefly tell that he thinks religion persay is a western construct and he prefers the term ‘cosmographic formations’for spiritual/secular experience in the world –very French!

    Anyhow he has written a book called The Western Construction of Religion, Myths,Knowledge and Ideology which looks very interesting and shambhalian so I will have to purchase it or get my library to get it so I can read it. Maybe helpful in discussing the religious/secular debate within SI/Shambhala areas and relevant to debate on this thread and others –hope you can read the book also.

    Re Augustine I dont know enough about him to argue about his status in Christianity but I have been influenced by Matthew Fox’s lectures on utube which are somewhat dismissive of Augustine and his arguements for Original sin.(Read a book recently on Original Sin just to see what it was all about and it described that it was a levelling process for everyone both rich and poor in that we were all in the same boat with the Original Sin concept-so a sort of reverse basic goodness but of course connections with universal aspect)

    Yes I think we do disagree about dictators because we both have different conceptions of the Monarch principle or may be how the monarch principle acts in the world in relation to the Other in an existentialist sense.

    So hope you can check out Matthew Fox –hes really good and knows his stuff (but incidentally he was defrocked by none other than Ratzinger the present pope when he was in charge of ideology at the Vatican).

    So yes will have to read the Dubuisson book mainly because now you have brought up the concept of what the term religion actually is…..so I will have to unpack it somewhat with these Frenchies!

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  28. Ash on May 3rd, 2010 1:55 pm

    In one place it says that the earliest known reference in English is 12C, but that doesn’t mean much since only a few things were written in English before then. That said, my sense is that religion refers to a national belief system/church etc. and basically does have something to do with a common binding factor.

    Also, the root of the word legere = to read is the same, meaning ‘collecting together’, i.e. assembling letters together to create words. So it all comes down to the same root, but it’s not like the root in Greek was used in the same way as the modern word religion which I suspect was cooked up.

    No matter the historical truth there, clearly the adoption of the word has something to do with binding/bringing together/deriving meaning, even if there are other aspects to it as well since that is what the people using it thought it came from – and they were more familiar with written Latin than written English in those days.

    Small point either way since it matters most what people think it means today and I can’t even remember where it came up in this conversation!

  29. James Elliott on May 4th, 2010 1:39 pm

    The poem Rita referred to is called “International Affairs of 1979: Uneventful but Energy-Consuming” From “Timely Rain”. The poem seems to be ironic descriptions of the hypocrisy of most political events at that time.

    There might be some copyright problems if I put the whole poem out there, but the communist lines are:

    “Where is the spirit of communism?
    Marx, Engels, Lenin-
    If they returned and saw what a mess they made in the universe, they would be horrified.
    We find nobody is practicing true communism.”

    (the poem ends with:)

    “The state of affairs of the world is somewhat better than a male dog pissing on an appropriate bush.”

  30. James Elliott on May 4th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Rita, it isn’t just that it’s too manufactured. The problems are with the results. Some phony stuff is a harmless waste of time, but when we believe the state is responsible for our happiness, we make them responsible for something we must be responsible for. If the state thinks they are responsible for our happiness, they will try to get involved in our approach to spirituality and meditation and so on, things in which distant autocrats ought have no jurisdiction. It’s a very unhealthy approach from both directions.

    And you are right, there are independent groups that have been measuring different cities and even different countries, measuring civil liberties, various costs of living, PPP, jail populations, geographical beauty, heath standards and so on. This has been going on for decades. From that I think we can see it might help you or me decide where is best to take a job or move, but it doesn’t, hasn’t up to now, had any real influence on policy. If politicians start to try hitching a ride on that star, it’s fairly obvious how it would become more a propaganda tool than anything else: “Our city has the best standard of blah blah blah.

    I have to say I don’t get the triad thing at all: monarchy at the top, democracy in the middle, and communism at the bottom. Is top middle and bottom class or level of government? Is it in each individual? I don’t get it.

    As far as communism, I agree with Ash’s remark that it goes against human nature. He says because it denies hierarchy. That’s certainly part of the problem, though clearly the denial of hierarchy by communist regimes is not renunciation it is denial, because they all have hierarchical structures just like the Vatican’s, always resorting to deifying their leaders.

    Communism or any ideology by definition will deny certain aspects of human nature or reality. Communism ignores not only hierarchy, but a number of other basic drives in humans that may actually be more important than whether they are part of a hierarchy.

    I don’t understand how democracy in the middle makes sense either. Democracy by definition includes all people. I just don’t know what it means.

    And monarchy at the top? Well isn’t monarchy always at the top? Would monarchy accept any other position?

    I understand Ash’s pointing at monarch principle as the highest form of social expression. I don’t agree entirely but I know what he means. I think I’ve had some glimpses. But I have also had experiences that were perhaps more inspiring, more personal and which had more lasting impression when hanging out with other practitioners at times when hierarchy dissolved completely and we were truly just experiencing space or something along those lines. I’ve also experienced democratic situations in which decisions were debated and decided based on a census that we worked to achieve. I don’t think the latter two are any lower on any scale than what I have experienced in monarchical situations.

    I don’t get what that triad means, honestly. Maybe Ash could unpack it?

  31. Ash on May 4th, 2010 2:48 pm

    Well, not sure I can unpack it. Have lost my old zerox of CTR’s ‘The Political Treatise’, but in any case don’t recall that all that much was said. Suspect there are a few old political dogs who could recall more. But going back to the quote:

    “the best thing would be if there was an enlightened ruler who ruled his kingdom but there was also a form of democratic governance so that the people would have a say and would be able to communicate with local leaders. […] So the basis would be communities on the local level… and there would be meditation happening. ”

    I do seem to recall – but this could be just my interpretation when first contemplating/reading this years ago – that the reference to communism was more in the sense that local communities would work somewhat along those lines, and I imagine the key element there is common property, i.e. no private property. Also in the quote above he implies that the basis of a society, the ground, is the local community. My sense of the democracy element was that it was sort of the parliamentary role in terms of coordinating the administrative functions of a country comprised of many local communities. Then the monarch principle would be a living ruler presiding over the whole thing providing some sort of ultimate authority (to keep the parliament in check for example), but also, since this whole vision presupposes a nation of people practicing meditation which is the ultimate common bond, the ruler presumably embodies the heart of wisdom of compassion as well, the heart being something that is both deeply personal and transcending individual personality at the same time, so this influence pervades the civic relationships throughout the society as well as being influenced by them – the heart knows no outer boundaries ultimately. But in terms of physical boundaries, aka property, the Monarch also would have final say as in any feudal setup. So there might not be an extensive ‘baronial’ class with large property holdings as in days of yore since the communities would hold their own property (in common). That’s a bit of a twist, historically speaking. I am not sure if that has ever happened as such.

    The parliament provides access from the local communities, each with their own particular views and logistical concerns, to a democratic assembly whose purpose is to balance all those things and present them to the monarch who in turn remains in touch with all those issues from the local communities whilst providing guidance and his/her own type of influence to the parliamentarians in terms of the policies and executive functions they administer.

    Even if you don’t have a formal monarch embodying the principle and just stop everything at the level of an elected parliament, there will still be something above them, either a concept, a religion, a book of rules (aka US Constitution) or whatever. It just seems to be the nature of how mind works. (The Shambhala Monarch, for example, has the Rigden up there who also, as it happens, each practitioner subject invokes in various ritual practices.)

    Put another way, assuming a country were only one village large and communist, there would still evolve a leadership principle and no doubt in short order a ‘headman’ would emerge and that headman would rely on a cadre of people to receive input and then disseminate commands, along with regular open assemblies. Sort of inevitable. The key is not the system but the underlying virtue and wisdom quotient.

    I personally have always believed that in vertical hierarchical terms there are always three basic ‘classes’, upper middle and lower. It is a threefold logic, if you will, and unavoidable.

    Upper is leadership. Lower is the majority of the population. Middle is the mediation between the two. So CTR’s suggestion is that quintessential Upper is embodied by a Monarch; quintessential Lower is embodied by people living as equals in their local communities; middle – in governance especially – work in committees (soviets) essentially balancing out the various issues that emerge from the lower as best they can. In a way, he is sort of stating the obvious, but what is interesting is that he doesn’t make any one element the only one, i.e. it is ALL communist, or ALL democratic, or ALL autocratic/tyrannic whereas unfortunately in most political discourse that is how it is conceived and perceived. The result is usually something far too ideological and rigid to pass practical muster.

    I didn’t follow it closely and am not sure what it indicates necessarily, but I found it fascinating that the Bhutanese people (if I remember correctly) voted AGAINST democracy but the King forced it through anyway against their will. They wanted to continue with the Monarchy as it was. Since CTR was his tutor, I suspect he studied his Political Treatise but of course have no idea…

  32. James Elliott on May 4th, 2010 6:23 pm

    Well, that’s beginning to sound a little more reasonable, Ash, especially the notion that whatever setup, it would not be all one system. That was sort of the same thing I was getting at with the idea that any ideology always ignores some aspect of human nature. If it were enlightened and served all the levels of human experience that a government could be reasonably held responsible for, it would have to be different things for different people and different situations.

    People are phenomenally complex creatures and any simplified assumptions of how we even think or are motivated, much less how to coordinate social interactions on micro or macro scales, exponentially more complex than individuals, can only be erroneous and misleading.

    But I suspect that the set up described which is pretty much a feudal system would only be possible in small scale situations that haven’t been ‘corrupted’ by modern living, you know things like education, equal rights, wealth redistribution systems like taxation, welfare and unemployment benefits etc., choice of profession, privacy, ownership, things like that.

    In older cultures in which feudal systems were the norm, weren’t there vast differences in education? These days as low as I may be in the pecking order, I can be quite sure I am more intelligent than a good number of politicians. The ruling class is of course existent, but it is so permeable and changing and frankly sometimes insane, that it is much harder in modern cultures to see it as a solid entity worthy of tribute.

    I don’t think the idea of commun is as strongly ‘no private ownership’ as it is common responsibility. Take away any idea of ownership, and the wind will be taken out of most people’s sails. But there is work on steady state economies, limiting poverty but also wealth, that might offer some ideas in this area.

    I don’t think a plus of monarchy over democracy is that it prevents factions and conspiracies. Pretty much any drama or history about any monarch is rich with conspiracies. In those cases one king or the other often lost their lives, not just a legislative battle.

    I think you would really have to delve much deeper into Bhutanese culture to understand why they voted to keep monarchy.

    I tried to find it, can’t right now, but one author if not more has said there are three prerequisites for any form of democracy. 1. enough wealth spread throughout the society, i.e. not wide spread poverty. 2. a high level of education throughout the population, reading writing rithmatic, and 3. a working justice system.

    1.Bhutan is listed as one of the poorest countries in the world. 2. Their education system can’t be far from that statistic. 3. The royalty have been practicing ethnic cleansing for over 20 years now with impunity.

    I’m not saying that nails it down, but there are a whole bunch of reasons they may have voted down democracy, and it isn’t nearly as simple as liking a monarchical system as compared with a democratic system (something they’ve never experienced and probably know very little about.)

  33. rita ashworth on May 5th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Dear Ash, James

    Yes re the triad I am beginning to think of it more in terms of art and psychology.
    For example at this Boal workshop we did one session where people did not speak but just made certain noises until the whole group started to coalesce round a certain noise-it was really weird what makes people gravitate to certain sounds so it was sort of natural gathering around a principle i.e. a monarch you could say at a stretch.

    So from this experience also beginning to think in wider terms of the triad being quite fluid –i.e. as in where the first move (monarch) goes in interaction with others i.e. democracy and communism –and of course this is prevalent in literature and plays with the protagonist.

    I also am beginning to think that the triad might be natural in the way that certain structures exist in Taoism as regards land formation, exercise, the practice of war etc –so it’s an overarching thingie.

    Also wanted to mention the Janitor! Well if you check utube someone has posted CTR’s talk on enlightened society in New York City where he mentions the janitor in connection with natural hierarchy in the sense that if there was a fire in the building the janitor would be the one to show you the way out – so yeh here the people in the hall would be the community and the spurt to forming a democracy would be the fire! Is fire why we have democracy – does it come about in relation to crisis-certainly from watching that documentary on Channel 4 download thats one way you get democracies.

    So yes may be the triad is quite natural….re the communism angle I would want to put in a word for communism before it got stretcher-cased by the politicos and here I mean the artist communists like Eisenstein, Mayakovsky, also have you seen the film Reds that Warren Beatty did –there is some really good scenes in that film –it gives you an idea of what really happened at that time when people were really thinking about stuff.

    So in conclusion re the Janitor example and the idea of the Sakyong principle being in everyone all the time and forever I would still like to say that all those janitors and janitoresses I just dont know what they are going to come up within the future in regards to practices – so the one way is again undermined because tension provokes fearlessness which provokes open space which is the monarch principle. So yeh still willing to look at present Sakyong as symbol of power and authority but not as sole provider of teaching for all.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  34. rita ashworth on May 8th, 2010 4:28 pm

    Dear Ash

    Take me to the leader – the martian might be saying in UK now! Ooops no-one there!

    Ash, just had to tell you about the GB election though expect you have read about most of it. Tories in consultation with the Liberals about forming a government –might be a poison chalice for Cameron and the liberals too because of course of the influence of big business on Tories-so maybe Labour could regroup under a new leader.

    I thought Brown would just get through he was picking up slightly as the debates went on but contending with the Tory press, Blair’s disaster in Iraq and of course the expenses scandal when I thought there would be revolution in the streets, I jest somewhat, proved too hard for him. Plus I think we are going slightly more European –for example Caroline Lucas has been elected as a Green MP for Parliament that is truly historic in the British context and might bode an interesting turning point for them in the future.

    What is the relevance of GB election to Shambhala politics –well one could say nothing because CTR was not totally in favour of a parliamentary democracy but a Triad as we have been discussing. But the thing I think it does show is that you have now in politics to have a broad church background in the make up of government. So I suppose one could argue that if SI had a similar set up governmentally it might command more allegiance in the sense of seeing the Sakyong principle in terms of being a symbol of unity. For unity I suppose read allowing having everyone to have a say in the coming enlightened diverse society and for not one view to predominate.

    On the thread about finance and the future fund I would say also that the budget of any organisation that predisposes to govern should be put to an Assembly that would be one way of ensuring that financial responsibility is ensured. So here I am arguing for more input of the democracy element in the practicalities of running a society –this seems to be the only way to go with the financial aspect if you are not to get more arguments re money. (What happened to the Privy Seal(?) aspect in the way CTR ran his kingdom perhaps some discussions could be gone into about the way Trungpa used money in his kingdom because nowadays it is a bone of contention.

    Re generally about bringing about a Shambhala society I am thinking more that it could be started nowadays without so many rules hedging it about – I dont know I think the Naropa Institute way could be again a way that people could be engaged with more simply because I now detect in UK itself a kind of shirtiness to people not following standard rules. Certainly I think in different areas of the world according to the locality principle one would have to gauge about how best to get people to hear the teachings. Here again I think the Naropa way would suite Northern people more because nobody follows any rules here anyway! So here I would argue for more freedom in passing down shambhala teachings around the world –so another angsty point against the one way principle which I do indeed think SI might have to contemplate aswell in some respects.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  35. Ash on May 8th, 2010 5:27 pm

    Well, it is worth remembering that KOSFEF and Auto-Commentary Ashe etc. all occurred within about a year of each other. So although general meditation practice can be taught far and wide, the Shambhala cultural container, per se, needs one particular place on which to be based. I don’t see it, therefore, as a one-world-culture vision, rather a one-particular-world (or country) vision.

    That presupposes, at some hypothetical point in the future, a population composed largely of practitioners.

    My beef with current developments is that there seems to be a great emphasis on the secret/tantric level; and this is now true with the official Shambhala Path whose logistical platform leads students, via structured, progressive weekend seminars and weekly courses laid out from one step to the next, linear fashion, after which – progressing by levels being the paradigm – it is assumed the journeyer on this path will proceed with Shambhala ngondro – a purification practice – and various potent sadhanas and so forth. Here the emphasis is on a central organisation as the principal container with the individual journeying along a prescribed path provided by that central organisation.

    It does not return to the local community ground of the individual journeyer rather that individual enters increasingly rarified, non-local, spiritual containers/mandalas designed to heighten personal development. If there is a societal development it is not based on building up a particular local/physical/societal situation, rather the overall gestalt of the spiritual community mandala.

    So it is a spiritual journey in every normal sense.

    I don’t see any way ‘Shambhala’ can become a general Way, including political way, for mainstream populations in a variety of different countries. Leaving aside the arrogance of such an aspiration, it simply does not provide the tools in that its current disciplines tend to separate one from conventional, immediate society by emphasizing intensive spiritual development as the main focus and means offered. I mean: that’s the ground, offering spiritual programs. The path is taking spiritual programs with others taking the same programs. So the fruition is a society of those who have completed spiritual programming separate from their immediate, conventional cultural situation.

    As to the election, I have not studied PR/electoral reform etc. but if the LD’s are serious about this – and they should be – they should seize this once-in-century opportunity to insist on a referendum within 6 months, form a coalition with the other progressives to ensure it is resolved and executed, and then a new election is called within 12-24 months following a system devised following the referendum.

    Whether it will make any difference to anything I am not sure. I doubt the political leadership has more than about 30% input into any of the larger, long-term decisions. In Canada and US that quotient is probably lower, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK is the same. Indeed, the problem with PR is that it will reveal democracy as essentially unworkable. Better to have the belief in a strong stable government. Keeps the masses happy.

  36. rita ashworth on May 9th, 2010 4:38 pm

    Dear Ash

    Yes a very considered reply to my post. You are pushing my thinking about Shambhala very far.

    I dont know – what am I talking about – may be seepage of shambhala teachings into conventional society. How would you do that? May be one has to be king as the actor on stage.

    Another image that came to mind after I read your post was just people in crowds listening to St Patrick on the Hill of Tara at Drogheda –suppose you went up on the hill when you were in Eire –so yes saints can draw people to them.

    So yes when do people gravitate to the point instead of being enticed by prospects of enlightenment through the prog-suppose we are back to the sixties and maybe just being together in total joy. Grand gestures needed maybe – amphitheatres of liberation and happenings.

    Yes I believe something has to happen on a grand scale re opposing the forces that are crushing this world environmentally and economically. Sometimes it just takes a shift in consciousness for this to happen as happened after the last war in the UK when Churchill was ousted.

    Are we talking about the magnanimity of placing the first dot here-thinking about that –just going totally out. Maybe it will just require 100ers of ex SIers to do that to create sort of a momentum in the world.

    Also myself just cant leave anyone out-its impossible for me to do that personally-just cant do that-my conscience would shrivel up if I did that. Yes, I think Shambhala comes out of just being there passing ones own internal psychological monsters and going forth.

    And yes that could be the monarch principle manifesting from being in touch with people totally and just seeing the suffering surrounding you –therefore you have to be a communist –you can not not be a communist. So then out of that magnanimity you get a ‘working’ democracy.

    Re practicalities GB –its very weird all whats happening with the election –its like the whole nation is saying everything is shifting…..whats happening…..so this election is a grand gesture –people wanted to vote –they queued up to vote –they are all slightly rattled by whats occurring in this world and the green thing thats mad in the Uk context.

    Yes I dont know if SI progs are going to contain things in the containers that have been built already –dont know have a feeling something bigger has to happen. So yes if we talking of enlightened society under a universal ruler(chakravartin) like in India we are talking world view and I think the shambhala politics would have to have by necessity that world view but this in no way disparages the local if you consider it under the banner of ‘true communism’ founded on practice/democracy.

    Yes it does still seem to me that all the arguments ‘defending’ SB are still coming from a level of faith in one persons view of the shambhala teachings and for me personally I still think you cannot put that limit on the teachings for them to manifest appropriately and completely in this world. I think there will be other interpreters of these teachings manifesting in the world.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  37. James Elliott on May 9th, 2010 6:51 pm


    It sounds like you are referring to Ash’s take on VCTR’s suggestion of a government with monarchy at the top, democracy in the middle and communism at the bottom (the triad) as being analogous to heaven, earth and man (HEM), or body, speech and mind (BSM), or ground, path and fruition (GPF) or even more generally hierarchical organization of any activity.

    However, when we consider any of these principles, as contrasted to the triad they describe dynamics of material, nature, human activity or perception, regardless of whatever systems we may find ourselves in.

    We can use these principles to examine relationships of anything we can perceive or think about or do. There is a HEM to how one prepares eggs, a BSM approach to work, a GPF description of any dynamic.

    I am reading the Communist Manifesto because you guys brought it up. There are some interesting paragraphs and a lot of things that unfortunately get pushed aside; like the description of how social cohesion is torn apart by rapid development without regard for tradition. This is apparently a superficial concern for Marx, because it is completely forgotten in later ideas of revolution.

    And the idea of no individual ownership was not in any way a strike against materialism, quite the contrary. That idea grew out of the view that ownership of property encourages eventually an inevitable concentration of wealth and ownership in an elitist class. As they could conceive of no other end to ownership, their thought was to simply abolish it altogether, an entirely materialistic solution to a problem that has at least some spiritual roots.

    But one point apropos for this discussion: Marx claims the German petty-bourgeois emasculated Communist literature by avoiding ‘French one-sidedness’. Instead of addressing real needs of an oppressed class, they instead framed the issues in terms of a universal truth or ‘human nature’, of ‘man in general’, thereby referring to an amalgam or abstraction “who belongs to no class, has no reality, who exists only in the misty realm of philosophical fantasy.”

    My point here is that we may avoid risk by getting abstract, but we also don’t address any real problems. The descriptions of government that Ash gave are just that. I don’t think they are descriptions of possible approaches to everyday life. I mean we can talk about the monarch principle like ‘we are the monarch of our world’ sort of thing, but… Shambhala International is apparently formalizing a monarchical organizational approach, now, and if Barbara’s reports are only half right, rather opaque. It isn’t just theory, and it isn’t only a view one adopts or an approach to life.

  38. James Elliott on May 9th, 2010 6:51 pm

    As mentioned to Ash, the reason I got into these discussions or even began thinking about these issues is because of witnessing Shambhala officials who are implicitly given spiritual and to a certain extent temporal authority, who were dishonest manipulative and bullying or who ignored obvious problems, disheartening members and having other detrimental effects. After various attempts it seems there is no systemic accountability within Shambhala International, so I felt compelled to think about why that is so.

    Maybe that has to do with a specific intent from one or more individuals, I have no idea. But after much consideration it also seem more than likely that a highly centralized structure with no accountability in effect protects and so encourages that kind of detrimental behavior, rather than exposing and working with it in anything we might agree is an enlightened way. OK.

    I think Ash and I agree completely a key point to any system is conflict resolution that happens in a timely fashion. Otherwise problems foment; only the slightest of problems go away when ignored.

    So if we are talking about a triad, which as described by Ash looks like a feudal system which would depend on rather inflexible class structure, I want to know why such a system makes any sense, why that would be any more accountable than what Shambhala Int. now has. I understand the point Ash made that no system will correct all flaws. OK. Given imperfections in any system, why is a monarch beholden to its subjects in only an abstract or symbolic way any better than some form of modern representative democratic government?

    We have a plethora of historical examples that give rise to reasonable doubt. We can talk abstractly about principles and dynamics, but for me they have to relate to how it actually works, so historical precedence is not a complete waste of time.

    I don’t believe the answer is to go back to an outmoded absolute monarchical system of government that, as the Communist Manifesto rightly described created it’s own ‘grave diggers’ or its own demise (because of the inequities and necessary suppression such systems depend on to maintain a hold on political power).

    If there is going to be an enlightened society that can serve modern culture, it will probably be something we haven’t seen yet, maybe an amalgam or hybrid of things we know, but it will probably function in ways we may not yet have conceived. Maybe this triad is such an idea but Ash’s description sounded like a feudal lord system with good communication skills. Hasn’t humanity been there done that?

    In the inspiration that even abstract ideas can affect people’s lives directly.

  39. Ash on May 9th, 2010 10:42 pm


    well said, esp. viz. the probable uselessness of mainly abstract discussion.

    In defense of which (not my contributions though necessarily!):

    a) I think trying to get a larger picture of the overall view can be helpful since that view is what, ultimately, creates the ongoing dynamic – including anything in the specific S.I. realm of interest
    b) I have often offered things that I think are directly related and pragmatic, albeit of a paradigmatic nature versus specific suggestions in response to specific issues. Why? Because I don’t have specific issues at this point, having largely withdrawn from the situation though still being involved on some sort of level. My main suggestion has been to emphasize working with the immediate local situation. Not only does this make sense on the individual/personal level, but I also feel that the entire organization would benefit from perceiving this as a core view.

    In terms of the triad, I can’t remember where it came up, but I think it was in response to something Rita said a while back and she was very curious about it.

    In any case, I note – not for the first time – that it presupposes two key points, which I think are relevant to your concerns:

    a) the whole thing is based on local communities
    b) those communities are based on meditation practice as the common ground.

    Too often when discussing systems like ‘communism’ or ‘monarchy’ we immediately reflex into a top-down ‘systemic’ view, ignoring the ground. At that point it is indeed far too abstract. Personally I try not to go there. Even my theoretical/fantastical musings about various royal regimes was done with the contemplation of what it felt like as a member of such a mandala on the community level.

    I had similar reactions to you on reading Marx though confess I only got a third of the way through. Resistance. What I read was interesting and surprisingly relevant to what is going on today. Hard to believe it was written (1848-ish) before the railroads were really up and running (very few lines in place), let alone telephones, automobiles, radio etc. Yet how he describes the over-development of modernisation seems spot on. I shall try to persevere and read through the rest though my intuition is that, along with the lines you articulated so intelligently above, he is going to leap towards a one-size-fits-all (thus abstract/conceptual) solution and use communism (or whatever) as a way to transcend the ordinary bond that exists between person to person in immediate, daily (local) cultural situations. What one might call a disembodied monarch principle, i.e. the no-monarch monarch principle.

    I suspect a bizarre blend of nihilism and eternalism, all with a materialistic thrust. I found your remarks about that aspect admirably expressed and suggest you might consider trying to put together an article about materialism in both the historical political/social context and the S.I. mandala. You have something quite valuable to contribute there, I trow.

    Lastly, am very encouraged by the thrust of the Vajradhatu thread’s sharing of various accounts of people just going ahead with local groups. Not a grand notion in the abstract, but in reality of great pith.

    The past two days, like a mantra, the thought from the AutoC:

    ‘Realities are meaningless; practicality is all-penetrating.”

  40. rita ashworth on May 11th, 2010 3:09 am

    Dear James, Ash

    Thanks for your posts.

    Yes the triad I am interested in it –yes I know it can apply to all situations as James has written about but also I am a political animal so I like to know how things go in society proper probably psychologically wise because of my background in the north of the Uk aka Manchester where in the past people were disempowered politically. So that disempowerment does have a reflection on my affiliation to a religious/secular organisation that is in the process of creating an enlightened society. So yes a Shambhala Congress never really hit it for me – I am more into the National Assembly with concrete powers over budgets and planning with the input of the sangha.

    As for the Monarch principle I think CTR was hedging his bets on this in the sense of a real monarch because on the utube excerpt on the shambhala teachings in New York City he did not come down either way on the creation of a monarchy –he just said he would create a monarchy if he had to. So re this and other matters regarding shambhala art I still think there is an openness about the spread of the shambhala teachings much as in the case of the spread of Quakerism in the UK and US.

    Re the communism and democracy aspects –yes well I believe we have to understand them from the western side before thinking about them in regard to the triad. So good to read this stuff and watch the democracy download on Channel 4 which anyone can do.

    Re Marx himself I was impressed about his theories on over-production and the new American emerging market –that is some prophecy about economics. And his ten point plan thats so modern listing stuff that way. I dont think he was against religion but merely the abuse of the people through the religious institutions and hierarchy. Though I am not a Marxist I do admire his eloquence in writing and his detailed perspective on economics. Plus some of the favourite people who I have read have been Marxists such as John Berger, the art critic, so I have to have some knowledge of him in deference to these writers.

    Yes the triad I was curious about it as Ash said because I think it is clue into the exercise of power in this world and power is something that many of your ordinary bods in the street dont have so I was just thinking how the triad concept with meditation of course could empower people to their best qualities and may be kind of clue into basic goodness.

    Of course regarding the exercise of power I remember attending a talk at seminary in 86 given by Karl Springer on vajra politics where he described the centres as being the basis for ‘political’ awareness in the most fundamental sense and he did indeed equate vajra politics with the ground, path, fruition aspect –so ever since that lecture I have been interested in politics from a Buddhist/shambhalian angle in the sense of empowering just your ordinary citizen with a full gamut of political knowledge(maybe in the sense of old trade unionists in the UK?).

    So yes people have to know about the triad and discuss it and indeed where the monarch aspect comes in –myself I think if the democracy/true communism aspects were working properly –the monarch would just be a final yes person or perhaps ‘unified mind’ aspect in the sense of the Founding Fathers in the states or as in the manner of a director in a play who sort of have 360 degree vision. So these are some suggestions about how the monarchy aspect could be embodied but I would welcome James thoughts on future expressions of the monarchy aspect in our current western world –perhaps here I am hinting at the more psychological expression of the monarch principle aswell but indeed I would welcome all discussions on this motif.

    So yes the monarchy in SI –well thats one way to go –not my way though, coz dont like the guru aspect, the congress aspect and the art aspect of the whole thing. Could work with symbol of Sakyong as King, could work with national assembly that had voting powers for all diverse groups and could work as members of diverse SI with different perspectives on shambhala teachings. But this one way approach just does not hit it with me. Its not logical Dr Spock might say because we have all been infected with CTR’s dharma and shambhala teachings and I think we all got a piece of the action with him so I think we need to go with the piece of action in this 21st century world.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  41. James Elliott on May 13th, 2010 5:46 pm


    Thanks for this reference. I’m assuming you meant this six part file in you tube of “Creating Enlightened Society”?

    I’m posting the links because I think it’s so relevant to this discussion, and is anyway delightful. I downloaded them so I could watch all at once without internet stutters. Wonderful.

    Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOnY2iMvVAg
    Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF4RczoXMSc
    Part III: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9q9XdAM8oA
    Part IV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSxz3fw-jS0
    Part V: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGjNvbJLdQY
    Part VI: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-O-c–GEtg

    His description of Karl Marx and the origins of communism are pretty much what we’ve been talking about.

    He says there may have been problems with monarchies, but you can’t say it’s total rubbish either, except maybe from Karl Marx’s view, which, he explained, comes from chaos, the decline of empirical cultures, the industrial revolution, and other problems that cropped up including the corruption of the church.

    But, he goes on, “I don’t need to teach grandmother how to suck eggs or teach you the past. Your history you must know already.” (lol)

    He also makes fairly explicit here how his intention was that Shambhala be quite specifically a secular approach to enlightenment. That one does not need to become religious in order to attain enlightenment, or that we are not going to be saved by religion alone, which is where, he said, Shambhala comes in. This is the idea which seems to have lost currency of late.

    I loved the reminder that a main point of Shambhala is loyalty, which is based on a sense of trustworthiness, and all the qualities that arises from.

    Refreshingly almost nothing about political systems until the Q and A.

    Q: “Sir, are you proposing a monarchy of enlightened vision for the Western world?”

    VCTR: “Am I proposing?”

    Q: “Yes.”

    VCTR: “I’m not proposing particularly. Even if I did it would be quite difficult to recreate a Napoleon era and other things like that.”

    (and) “The Shambhala principle is not necessarily restoring monarchy particularly… but if necessary we will. On the whole everybody has to have basic sanity altogether. We have to know the workings of man’s mind and their intelligence, their basic goodness altogether, so that seems to be the point; look back and not just accept things on a historical value alone.”

    (and) “Communists have much more hierarchy than in the free world. They act more like kings and queens… strangely.”

    You were right that he didn’t say that was how it must be, and made clear he understood very well the flexibility of hierarchal systems, with the janitor remarks for example.

    Loved watching him again. His depth and breadth on almost anything he talked about was, I see once again, pretty much phenomenal.

  42. James Elliott on May 13th, 2010 5:54 pm


    Sure, bigger picture is essential, but basically, government is a means to an end; no one really cares what kind of government they have, only whether they others and posterity are served well by it. That is perhaps the only good reason to work with these ideas, and the ground we do well to touch back on now and again.

    Your suggestion regarding local focus is one of the most practical suggestions on this site, coming not only out of theory but from experience. Apropos Trungpa Rinpoche once remarked that a problem with modern governments is they control too much territory. That says the same sort of thing from the other side. There are logistical as well as visceral reasons I believe local focus would be an essential element of any enlightened government.

    It was tried to some extent, wasn’t it? For a number of years after Trungpa Rinpoche’s paranirvana, the Regent debacle and SMR not yet in charge, all groups and centers were encouraged to do whatever worked. There was some effort towards networking to share what was effective, but there were virtually no restraints.

    Why didn’t it work? Or was it working but not as some thought it should? Or did that cause some other problem or vulnerability?

    Which leads back again to the question if things are locally based, how is community identity engendered and nurtured? Even if primarily local, there must be something that would bind all the various centers and groups all over the globe.

    I’m betting you will say that is the monarch principle, but… don’t we have that now and aren’t there apparently divisions within the community?

    It occurs to me we could try developing, as we meander along, a list of essential elements of any healthy form of government, as we slowly see points that make sense from all angles. It may illuminate something.
    For instance and to start and not at all written in stone:

    1. a connection to and respect for local culture, particularly important when proposing development, changes, decrees, requirements or anything that effects individual connections to their local culture.
    2. a functioning and visible system for conflict resolution and justice
    3. an ability to work openly with the principle of hierarchy, intrinsic to people and any social organization, in a way that is not dis-empowering.
    4. a contemplative basis, probably meditation, that everyone has had some formal introduction to.
    5. an economic system that does not impoverish some while enriching a few beyond any reasonable measure (this is a very big theme, but there is work being done in this area.)
    6. a system of communication that carries information in all the directions necessary.

    In the inspiration that not everyone on board can steer the bus, but it wouldn’t hurt if everyone could read the map.

    (Will consider your idea of an article. May get in touch privately about that; I’m not sure what approach you imagined.)

  43. john perks on May 14th, 2010 7:05 am

    Dear Ash,
    I don’t know if you were around for this- but here is a small story about corporate religion and corruption:

    In the early 1970’s on one of the Dalai Lama’s 1st visits to the US, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was going down to NY or Washington, with a small party of students, to greet him. But, before they went, Trungpa Rinpoche had an extraordinary meeting with the party of students. The Regent Osel Tendzin was there, along with Micheal Root, David Rome, perhaps Carl Springer, and a few others. I was a server at the meeting, so I was able to listen in on parts of it. Trungpa Rinpoche was absolutely adamant in saying that the Dali Lama did not represent OUR Buddhism. Trungpa Rinpoche was so adamant, I remember he was banging his fists on the tables and making everyone present take a vow not to become involved in the corruption of Buddhism that had followed the Dalai Lama from Tibet. On leaving the meeting, the Regent was visably pale and shaken from the intensity. Before leaving to meet the Dalai Lama, Trungpa Rinpoche had me tie his dorje around his waist over his hara point which he wore under his suit. And I might add, that every meeting he had with the Dalai Lama he had that dorje tied there next to his skin.
    This story certainly can be collaborated by Micheal Root, David Rome and maybe Carl Springer.
    but certainly Micheal Root would know the details. I think that this would be worth exploring and every one should know these particular stories that Shambhala International has been diligent in suppressing.

  44. Ash on May 14th, 2010 11:43 am

    James, re your list etc. Am thinking about it….Thanks.

    John: not sure if this should be too widely known. These sorts of things get spun out of all proportion by those who cannot combine realpolitik with spiritual idealisms of all sorts. But personally I am glad to know. I was not around then, but was for the visit in the early 80’s in Boulder; as you might recall, a very rough time, of which that visit was just one element of many after which ordinary mind morphed into a maritime eating establishment!

    It does bring up the larger issue of corruption/disagreement. There is no easy way with these things. I suspect ultimately it comes down to very simple things: people either follow a leader or they don’t or they are enslaved or they are banished.

    Looking forward to reviewing those videos. Also because my reaction to James previous post was a sense that before getting into lists – which are helpful in terms of putting definite things out there in black and white – it might be good to review overall view. For example, for myself personally I don’t find notions like ‘communism’, ‘capitalism’ or ‘monarchy’ all that helpful since
    a) they all presuppose views which may have little to do with our own, generally speaking (i.e. society based on sanity and goodness of contemplative disciplines), but often such views are injected into the discussion as unacknowledged a prioris making any such discussion muddled since such views have not been acknowledged, let alone examined;
    b) they are variously interpreted in common usage to the point of being almost meaningless; or put another way: they are often unhelpful in discussion because how they are interpreted by parties other than oneself is unknown. Furthermore, when pressed, I would have to confess that I don’t really know what I mean by those terms!

  45. John Perks on May 14th, 2010 4:25 pm

    Ah yes Ash and as the boss used to say “when in doubt tell the truth”
    lots of love

  46. rita ashworth on May 14th, 2010 5:09 pm

    Dear Ash, James and Mr Perks

    Thanks James for posting those videos – I think they are relevant to the discussion we are having.

    Re Tibet and the religious tradition there –yes they have preserved the dharma and shambhala teachings very well but I think now things are going to change very much in the coming years from the established tradition. So the whole thing could morph into many ways of relating to an enlightened society, one way could be the SI way and now yes I do believe there will be others-thats how the ‘new religion’ aspect that CTR mentioned goes in historical process –that seems self-evident to me if you study religion and just read all the debates that were going on at around the time of Christ for example.

    Yes and sorry to bring my philosophy lecturer into it again but hey he described the same thing back to me in 1978 and hammered it home over three years of doing philosophy with him(he looked like Sigmund Freud but had sort of west country accent and told jokes all the time in the lessons – we decided as a class the ‘I think therefore I am’ was an intuitional statement –yep what is a statement really?!)

    Ash, a priori –before sense perceptions –is that correct? Well faith –always in the eye of the believer and the thing is some people have faith in the Sakyong and some want to explore other avenues –so that should be the case also in enlightened society-so no-ones going to be kept from it, however, many teachings we dont get. So zzzzzzz still think the whole thing is up in the air and like Wittgenstein said we all have different pictures in our head in relating to the spiritual.

    Re Tibet also I saw a documentary recently where I think a relative of a high lama gave some very important information about why Tibet went down –she said that in Tibet itself there were people who wanted to make more contact with the outside world but other influences in the country were not into that so yes I think moves could have been made to form closer relationships in the world before the Chinese went in but they did not occur – if some one could enlighten me on the political situation also before the Chinese went in that would be great. Why for example was not a closer relationship with India not established?

    The Triad yes there it is –yes I agree the terms monarchy, democracy, communism are terms that have to be studied historically, psychologically and every which way you can think of – so thats why I zeroed in on them because they related to the establishment of a society in the world to me particularly coz this ol GB and my GBmind ‘has’ to explore them because they relate so intimately to all things English in the sense of the madcaps in our history aka Blake, Wordsworth, Berger, Virginia Woolf –just add your favourite author here.

    And yes I have to have something to ‘hold’ onto in terms of vajra/English pride after the disaster and horse-trading of this recent election which is the pits of nothingness for your ordinary bod in the street. Brought down Uk again by those parliamentary boundaries in our dear south. Ash when will the revolution ever happen!

    O well I am really looking forward to James article –make it a long one so we can discuss things to the wee hours and make everyone nuts so they begin to ask questions about the whole thing again and dont remain silent.

    Well best from the ol gb – lets hope the Tories fall within the next year.


    Rita Ashworth

  47. Ash on May 15th, 2010 12:35 pm

    a priori: relating to or derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions;

    In casual usage such as this it mainly means that certain arguments or theories are based on presuppositions; and often they are not articulated because they form part of a belief system, basically.

    For example, the theory of evolution as described in loose terms by Darwin presupposes an objective reality with time as a non-subjective constant (and also distance/place for that matter). This view is widely held by most ‘scientists’ in the modern era and is held despite many of the quantum crowd having rather convincingly debunked it. As such, it is an ‘a priori’ given in any study or discourse.

    In discussions like this, words like ‘capitalism’ and ‘communism’ might not necessarily be a prioris, rather just vaguely defined terms that mean different things to different people. But also when discussing monarchy, for example, we look at the issue through the lens of a contemporary world view that has all sorts of givens (or a prioris) about the nature of human being, society, reality and so forth within which view terms such as communism and capitalism are used – since they depend on such views for their relevance and meaning – without the underlying presuppositions being clearly spelled out, just as hardly any scientist would feel the need to spell out the view of objective reality each time he or she conducts a study, say, on climate behavior in the stratosphere, or ocean currents during El Nino years.

    In terms of monarchy again, my suspicion is that people of a thousand years ago, although being essentially the same as us, were in a different cultural mandala, just like young people in the early 70’s in the US were in a very different world than young people today, let alone tribal people with bones in their noses in the Amazonian jungle. Fundamentally there is little underlying difference, perhaps, but on the cultural level it is huge. My sense is that people were born into the world with basically no sense of privacy and far less sense of ‘individuality’ than we have today. In that context, a monarch was not just an individual, but basically somebody who belonged to everybody in the realm, a totally public person and persona whom they shaped as much as he/she shaped them. We just don’t have much of a concept of personality that way today, which is probably why we project so much onto leading figures such as SMR, Cameron, Obama etc. as if they are individually crafting their role and destiny rather than being the product of a group mandala that has evolved over centuries and over which they have essentially very limited influence, let alone control. Of course individual initiative – such as that shown by CTR or any other leader for that matter – is of paramount importance, but most moderns tend to take that as the main story, as it were, and totally disregard other aspects which are no longer perceived in our particular cultural mandala today. That individualistic view is our ‘ a priori’, if you will; rarely acknowledged and so deeply embedded it is hard to perceive as such.

  48. Ash on May 15th, 2010 12:55 pm

    James, back to your previous post. I have been vaguely contemplating all this in between long cement-pouring and other construction efforts (building a brick oven).

    In abstract terms (again, as is my wont!) let us imagine an ideal S.I. mandala as a tree which, simply put, has roots down below, a trunk and branches, and many leaves. As with all analogies, it breaks down at a certain point, and this one begins with some big contradictions which, I suspect, well illustrate the nature of the beast we are contemplating.

    In a sort of Petit Prince way, visualise the planet Earth with a large tree growing out of it whose leaves encircle the entire globe. NS is where the root structure is based. Trees do not walk around – except in Fangorn Forest – they are rooted in one particular spot, otherwise they are not trees. But the branches can grow and spread and the leaves can be limitless in number albeit all connected to and dependent upon the main trunk and root structure.

    In this way I would view Shambhala local communities on some level, although here let’s switch from a tree to a forest. S.I. is a forest composed of many individual trees. Each tree is rooted in a particular place, but the canopy of leaves links with the canopies of other nearby trees, the overall combination creating a forest. But each individual tree has to have its particular root system in a particular place.

    This is a poor analogy because hierarchically speaking the central authority is more like the root structure – the source of lineage and wisdom and the individual students/citizens are the myriad leaves.

    But the point is that just like with a tree, the leaves are part of an organism that includes a single trunk going into a particular place.

    The roots are a bit like leaves in that they end up with myriads of capillary-like tentacles that blend with the soil. Here I think we get some parallel helpful in contemplating local communities. Each of us lives in a particular place and time and thus culture, usually in a particular town or village or city, whatever. Perhaps we could say that such situations are akin to the soil from which the roots derive nutrients, from which the tree derives its ability to function at all.

    But at the same time the tree needs sunlight, air, rain, coming down from heaven, as does the soil for that matter. So there is always a Heaven and Earth principle in operation.

    In S.I. terms, there is always a similar dynamic between the Heaven of lineage and Earth of particular beings in particular times and cultures.

    My suspicion is that the Shambhala mission, so to speak, is to influence the nature of the cultural soil in which the trees of the forest population are rooted. Meanwhile, there is a Heaven of basic goodness, radiance (‘glowingness’) which is somewhat beyond particular culture or time. The Sun today shines the same as it did thousands of years ago, same for wind, air, rain etc.

    This is a confused post, insufficiently thought through with a problematic set of analogies. But that’s all that came up right now so anyway…

  49. rita ashworth on May 16th, 2010 5:22 am

    Dear Ash

    Thank you for your post.

    As I was primarily studying religious philosophy the a priori concept related to first cause or God for want of a better word. The wiki definition below just about covers my reference to
    a priori concept as being outside of experience (we studied logical positivism, falsification, first cause, all the usual philosophy conundrums.)
    “The terms a priori (“prior to”) and a posteriori (“subsequent to”) are used in philosophy (epistemology) to distinguish two types of knowledge, justifications or arguments. A priori knowledge or justification is independent of experience (for example ‘All bachelors are unmarried’); a posteriori knowledge or justification is dependent on experience or empirical evidence (for example ‘Some bachelors are very happy’). A priori justification makes reference to experience; but the issue concerns how one knows the proposition or claim in question—what justifies or grounds one’s belief in it. Galen Strawson wrote that an a priori argument is one of which “you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don’t have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don’t have to do any science.”[1] There are many points of view on these two types of assertion, and their relationship is one of the oldest problems in modern philosophy.’’
    What struck me re philosophy was just the practicality of ‘seeing’ first cause when the lecturer lit the match to his pipe and said where is the first cause – and actually when you just look with an open mind at these things you can’t see it even though people ‘think’ they can, so western philosophy is good in wiping away misconceptions about reality on a mundane level. But when you get on to religious experience we are in a different ball park because the religious ‘believer’ lives in a totally different world from your ordinary bod with concepts of devotion, faith which seem to me to be a priori thingies. So then we are back again to faith which is really a matter of ones own connection to reality and I suppose in the eastern context interaction with the teacher to a perhaps greater magnitude than the west. In this context I was thinking of St Paul who just had a revelation about Christ on the road to Damascus and then came to Christianity –how would the east look at that experience –perhaps Karma –think thats the way they would deal with it.

    So this does tie into your discussion of individuality because I think from the very beginning of western thought and also its connection to democracy the individual has been more emphasised than in the east. So this is again why the SI model sort of clashes with our almost inherent thinking –its really not synching with our cultural accretions about how society is constructed.

    So yes to me the triad as a fluid, open, dynamic concept would be more getting back to your tribal notion – I could work with that but then again the monarch aspect would have to be fluid as well. For example what happens when we have our own revelations in the greater mandala –Ray has said definitively that this has occurred with his apprehension of a protector at Crestone and yes personally I think that could have happened. So these things are going to happen continually in any religious community and if we are going to chuck people out and say they are nuts all the time I dont think this enlightened society is ever going to become what it should become on this earth. So there has to be some leeway for just things to materialize without a kneejerk reaction to the whole thing.

    Re your tree analogy for SI –maybe you used it to identify it with monarch principle in a more natural way –but this is of course is what Christian religious apologists did in the time of Newton in defining a ‘natural’ religion – a more ordered universe one could say and they transposed that to the running of society aswell.(very English!) but the thing is if we really look at the world it is chaotic, change is the only ‘constant’ and even if we bring in karma here aswell you would have to be a Buddha to ‘understand’ it all at least! So to me the triad if it is anything whatsoever has to be fluid and almost unordered (is that the yin/yang aspect?).

    So yes the King/Queen principle to me has to sanction things differently for different people because you are working with so many variables as to culture and locality. So yes again must say that the only way SI could possibly work is to bring in all those variables in the manner that the catholic church did in some ways do with the establishment of various colleges.

    As to politics –did someone mention that CTR said western politics did not work because of over-identification with territory –well that is certainly relevant to the English context where the country is still cut in two with the north-south divide…so he was right there…so yes would welcome more discussion on how you could have good government that would not favour particular territories at the risk of disempowering others.

    Well best from a sunny UK

    Rita Ashworth

  50. Ash on May 16th, 2010 11:37 am

    well, without knowing the full context, my take on that quote is that he might have been saying that we emphasized property/territory over people, i.e. that the tribe comes first, it’s location is a secondary matter. Just a wild guess.

    OK, you are being advanced on a priori. I was being colloquial. Perhaps better to use terms like presupposition, assumption, (unexplained) premise, preconception etc.

    “so western philosophy is good in wiping away misconceptions about reality on a mundane level.” Not sure about that. Philosophy depends greatly on the articulation of a particular philosopher and the ability of the audience to understand that articulation. It’s extremely subjective except perhaps in fields of logic. That said, I never studied it and perhaps what I am saying is total BS.

    In any case, I do think ‘scientism’ is riddled with preconceived fallacies about the nature of reality and as a discipline it is now falling apart. GM, climate change, vaccines, drug therapies, herbicides, pesticides, fluoride, pasteurization, anti-germ prejudice in food production and in general etc. etc. All based on ‘science’ and nearly all deeply flawed and more or less unresolvable, so vague and subjective is the so-called objective ‘fact-based’ scientific model. Increasingly it is being revealed as a belief system. On the practical engineering level it is one of the great wonders of human achievement, but that is not quite the same thing.

    Fluid-flexibility, yes. That is why a person-based ‘system’ is better than a system-based system: the human/intuitional/responsive factor. That is why monarchy, in abstract terms, can be the most responsive structure because from top to bottom it is based purely on people-based convention rather than rules-based codes or ideology. I think this also reflects a truth: even rule-based codes are subject to personal interpretation ad infinitum which is why there are so many disagreements in legal and constitutional issues, let alone ‘book-based’ religions. Endless. Same with global warming: the scientific method, supposedly ‘fact-based’ cannot even agree on what facts can be established, so many are the variables involved in terms of both data collected and nature of data, let alone its import.

    Yin-yang is a great analytical system that fully embodies CTR’s ‘orderly chaos’ postulate. I spent some time studying the daoist medical systems and they are astonishingly insightful whilst being logically consistent, albeit the logic is dependent upon detailed subjective perception of qualitative factors. Truly a different form of science, but definitely a science. Worth reading just to appreciate a highly evolved branch of human learning with practical application tested in the laboratory of experience for over two millenia at least. A fully trained daoist doctor (rare thing these days) can walk in the fields and woods in a foreign country and immediately identify the medicinal properties of all therein simply from their characteristics – color, shape, location, smell, taste, along with how they interact with any other substance, and the entire method, though grounded in human perception/experience, is based on yin-yang theory from top to bottom. Personally, I think it’s one of the most significant developments of human knowledge in our era, although it is no longer all that fashionable, even in China.