RFS Shift and Decorum

October 28, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Welcome back from the weekthün – and to being in that kind of thün, no matter the time!

I think this gap was good to have, and to be in. And it continues in the question of what RFS, the Radio Free Shambhala website and community, is about, and of how it manifests that intention day by day, activity by activity.


One area to consider is the tone of articles and comments, which really is a matter of decorum. As the late Beverley Webster, who compiled the Shambhala Decorum Manual, says:

Shambhala Decorum is not to be regarded as a rigid set of rules or fixed code of behaviour, but as a flexible system of signs, symbols and signals, ceremonies and social gestures, in a continual process of adapting itself to the evolving needs of our evolving society.
We would like to encourage more article submissions. Articles for RFS go through an editorial process, with particular scrutiny for aggression, but also for presentation style and for clarity.
Comments, on the other hand, are totally at the discretion of the commenter, and have been allowed to remain exactly as written except for the most extreme cases. This doesn’t seem to be quite enough. The quality and quantity of comments is turning off many people who otherwise feel the site has something valuable to offer.

There are two problem areas with comments:

  1. Toxic comments. These use inflammatory or aggressive language. They are somewhat easy to spot: I notice a physical reaction in my body when I encounter such comments. It’s clear that strong language can come from the author’s personal pain, or their meeting a sharp edge of perceived truth. We do not want to blunt experiencing the sharp edges, or deny the energy that arises at that point. However, what you do further with that, which includes _how_ you express it, is very much your doing, your creation of further karma, and your responsibility, and this affects others. “I hurt” is an important communication to make. This can be stated forthrightly. Bringing drama and sharp pointy gestures into the mix is unnecessary and, often, aggressive.
  2. Lengthy, multiple, and off-topic comments. Often these end up bouncing back and forth among just a few commenting regulars. They constrict the quality of the space, and drive out other people.  There is ignoring the quality of the common space, and there is ignoring one’s personal space and its awake openness, which allows subconscious voices to eek out. Such comments often have good nuggets buried within them, but these get lost in the noise. When writing a comment, include the context: “am I dominating the space?”, or “am I using this topic in order to further my own new topic?”

Both of these problem areas call for us to manifest, moment by moment and in detail, the “enlightened society” we talk about. The medium really is the message: if we don’t talk about such a society in a sane and considerate manner, there’s little likelihood of actually manifesting it.

Critical Articles and Forward-Looking Articles

There will probably always be a need for critical, discriminating articles, such as regarding the setup of Shambhala International and its relationship to Chögyam Trungpa’s Shambhala Vision and to the greater Chögyam Trungpa sangha. However, what we are about is manifesting this vision, which includes supporting the emergence, community, practice, and study of the Vidyadhara’s sangha.

So this is one focus area for RFS: to provide resources on practice and study, meditation instructors and teachers, and sangha and programs.

We will tighten the commenting guidelines and software regarding length and frequency of commenting, and also explore moderating comments. Moderation basically means that comments go into a queue, and are only actually published when okayed by a moderator. This has upsides, but also significant downsides, including the time commitments required of moderators. It also calls for more explicit “right speech” guidelines that both commenters and moderators can refer to.

As part of a site redesign and refocus, we will be adding some new functionality, including groups and discussion forums. Joining groups and discussions will require registering with the site, and providing a verified email address.

Comments on this article are welcome: respect the floor as you take it.

Several more articles will appear in the next little while. We are particularly interested in contributions regarding study and practice resources, and ways that the Shambhala vision of Chögyam Trungpa can be found and shared in this world.


67 Responses to “RFS Shift and Decorum”

  1. rita ashworth on October 29th, 2010 4:51 am

    Dear All

    Thanks for the thought you have put into how rfs should go forward.

    On the whole I would prefer more emphasis and articles to be put on how we should take Shambhala vision forward as the critical articles about the direction of SI no longer interest me. I think they have decided on their way of doing things and ‘we’ are just beginning to explore our many ways of relating to the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings.

    I still do not know the ins and outs of Vajra Politics that were taught in the 1970s and 1980s so I would welcome some articles on this subject.

    I probably was remiss on going off-topic discussing wider ideals of ‘politics’myself but I think this was because I dont know too much about how the Vidyadhara saw this subject thats why I was exploring this theme just to get some nuggets of information on it.

    Yes as to moderation it is an art in itself – I hope it will tend to include comments that are also perceptive though they might ‘appear’ unagreeable to some readers. In this context I am thinking particularly of the take of Matthew Fox on the stance of Christianity in the present age. Yes ‘dissenters’ can create closer connections to the teachings aswell as the ‘official’ organisations. So having the badge of a dissenter or critic for me is no problem as I believe this is one of the many ways that religious and secular thought develops in our society.

    In addition I would like to hear more on Shambhala teachings generally. For example Changling Rinpoche has mentioned on the Nalanda Translation newsletter books by Rinpoches in Tibet on these teachings. One such text mentioned is the ‘Ornament of the way of the Sakyong: the Treatise on the Way of the King’. Yes I do hope rfs can interview Rinpoches like Changling when they pass through Halifax and create some great articles on further interpretations of Shambhala Vision.

    So I look forward to the new discussion groups and forums in the redesign of the site and I do hope they will foster real critical debate on ways forward also . But in the realm of critical debate I think you will also have to offer some concrete ways that this can be done legitimately so as not to exclude the ‘nuggets’ as you describe them but include.

    So it will be great to see what you develop as the ‘new’ rfs site. I really am looking forward to this.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  2. Chris on October 29th, 2010 5:34 pm

    Dear RFS Editors:
    Decorum vs. Telling the Truth
    Or Foucault on “Discourse and the Truth.”
    http://foucault.info/documents/ parrhesia/foucault.DT1.wordParrhesia.en.html
    Definition of Parrhesia:
    “Parrhesia” is ordinarily translated into English by “free speech” (in French by “franc-parler”, and in German by “Freimüthigkeit”). “Parrhesiazomai” is to use parrhesia, and the parrhesiastes is the one who uses parrhesia, i.e., is the one who speaks the truth”. (This was Radio Free Shambhala remember?) To begin with, what is the general meaning of the word “parrhesia”?…..Etymologically, “parrhesiazesthai” means “to say everything – from “pan” (everything) and “rhema” (that which is said). The one who uses parrhesia, the parrhesiastes, is someone who says everything he has in mind: he does not hide anything, but opens his heart and mind completely to other people through his discourse. In parrhesia, the speaker is supposed to give a complete and exact account of what he has in mind so that the audience is able to comprehend exactly what the speaker thinks. The word “parrhesia” then, refers to a type of relationship between the speaker and what he says. For in parrhesia, the speaker makes it manifestly clear and obvious that what he says is his own opinion. And he does this by avoiding any kind of rhetorical form which would veil what he thinks. Instead, the parrhesiastes uses the most direct words and forms of expression he can find. Whereas rhetoric provides the speaker with technical devices to help him prevail upon the minds of his audience (regardless of the rhetorician’s own opinion concerning what he says), in parrhesia, the parrhesiastes acts on other people’s mind by showing them as directly as possible what he actually believes.

    “So you see, the parrhesiastes is someone who takes a risk. Of course, this risk is not always a risk of life. When, for example, you see a friend doing something wrong and you risk incurring his anger by telling him he is wrong, you are acting as a parrhesiastes. In such a case, you do not risk your life, but you may hurt him by your remarks, and your friendship may consequently suffer for it. If, in a political debate, an orator risks losing his popularity because his opinions are contrary to the majority’s opinion, or his opinions may usher in a political scandal, he uses parrhesia. Parrhesia, then, is linked to courage in the face of danger: it demands the courage to speak the truth in spite of some danger. And in its extreme form, telling the truth takes place in the “game” of life or death.

    It is because the parrhesiastes must take a risk in speaking the truth that the king or tyrant generally cannot use parrhesia; for he risks nothing.

    When you accept the parrhesiastic game in which your own life is exposed, you are taking up a specific relationship to yourself: you risk death to tell the truth instead of reposing in the security of a life where the truth goes unspoken. Of course, the threat of death comes from the Other, and thereby requires a relationship to himself: he prefers himself as a truth-teller rather than as a living being who is false to himself”.

  3. Edward on October 30th, 2010 3:13 am

    I think these rules of decorum are excellent, if they are enforced by moderators. Which, of course, takes time and energy.

    Chris, can you rephrase your comments in simple, direct language? You know, I find that when I’m polite, simple, and direct, people are much more likely to listen to what I want to say.

  4. Chris on October 30th, 2010 12:02 pm

    Dear Edward:
    This was a quote from Foucault on Discourse and the Truth. This is his voice,not mine.

  5. Mark Szpakowski on October 30th, 2010 12:46 pm

    Foucault says

    The one who uses parrhesia is someone who says everything he has in mind: he does not hide anything, but opens his heart and mind completely to other people through his discourse.

    This is exactly the right point to discuss regarding decorum. In my mind it relates to the famous “first thought, best thought.” “First thought” is not “next thought” – it is not the next thought that pops into your mind. It is the thought that is “first” because it does not come from anywhere but openness: unborn is one term that might apply.

    The most important thing to not hide is how you’re holding on to the “everything [you have] in mind”. That stuff needs to be self-exposed and openness connected with; then there’s some sort of confidence from which voice can arise.

    And that relates very much to opening your “heart and mind completely to other people”. As you open yourself to allow your own stuff to be there without immediate reactivity, you can open to a space with others that’s less reactive. And have more confidence in just that space.

    That’s my sense of what decorum is. You can be fearless with the truth, and brave with opening to yourself, so precision, not hiding, and gentleness are all there. That includes attention to form. And you do that in public, with others.

    The “Quotations” article is a good example of a spare, clean form within which “the proclamation of truth is fearless” – it doesn’t hold back – while at the same time an offering is made to readers to a) look, and b) come to their own senses and conclusions. Both a) and b) might be difficult for people, but the gesture is to give them an opportunity.

    It says above the Comment box: Before u write, pause 9 secs. B4 u send, pause 9 secs. Let yr words be the pause.

    Any other forms for awake decorum for this site?

  6. James Elliott on November 2nd, 2010 3:09 am

    Docorum goes from detail of clothes worn up to general rules of engagement in any field. Without rules and limits, there can be no decorum. If Oriyoki rules were optional, one could pull out a plate a knife and a fork and chant Grateful Dead songs, generating not only mayhem; it would be meaningless. Trungpa Rinpoche once made a pleading remark we shouldn’t be so naïve as to think we can do without rules and laws. They are necessary for society to function. Having now seen some of the best contributors on RFS leave due to a ‘lack of decorum’ the need for a moderator is clear and obvious.

    Because we are here discussing issues and themes which delve into the core of how we create meaning, this need for rules and enforcement (however gentle) is all the more imperative. Assumptions that we are all basically good and therefore all try to do the right thing, are well meant but neither helpful nor true. Sometimes the emotional reactions people have to pain, ego, a perceived threat, are demonstrably not aimed at contributing to meaningful discussion. In extreme cases some have intentionally disrupted discussion, saying as much, some with anonymity dishonesty and insults.

    The very least that can be done is to remove anonymity. If there is reason for it, one should request to send their message through a moderator.

    As to length, a simple change of format might also help. Comments could be listed with only the first 1 or 2 sentences visible, and then one could click on messages to open them, rather than listing all messages in the current open format. I’ve seen this in various sites, making it much easier to scroll through. It’s also possible to rank messages in terms of who they respond to, creating branches of a tree, rather one stream. There are a number of possibilities, but as graphic designer, I know that format in how writing is presented, can dissolve many perceived problems, in exactly the same way proper decorum can. In fact that too is decorum.

    Further, if we want to accomplish anything beyond open ended discussion, as was hoped in the constitution/declaration thread, proactive moderation will be unavoidable. With issues like these, nothing of substance will be allowed to gel without it. There are in fact forces that will go to some lengths to prevent it.

    In the inspiration of practical solutions that won’t depend on a collective level of realization

  7. rob graffis on February 20th, 2011 11:14 pm

    I had put the following website in my Facebook site.
    It’s about the documentary called CRAZY WISDOM about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
    It presents a far more earhier presentation of VCTR as opposed to how they present him today in a PR manner.
    In one scene, he is telling Allen Ginsberg why he doesn’t like Rock and Roll, but appreciates Jazz.


  8. John Tischer on April 3rd, 2012 2:23 pm

    I noticed that Jules Levinson was made an emeritus acharya….didn’t he drop out years ago….about the time of the dust up in South America?
    A little revisionism happening…I wonder if they’ll make Reggie an emeritus….

  9. John Tischer on April 3rd, 2012 7:16 pm

    April 4, 25 years after parinirvana of VCTR

    April Flower

    I was one of your worst students….actually,
    I was one of your best students…
    actually, I was a bit of marmite on the edge
    of the English muffin that was your mandala….
    just a little smear, a slight taste in the feast…
    the ginormous meal of every moment of your
    life for the people around you. Even many that
    met you didn’t understand you were and are
    the Buddha.

  10. John Perks on April 4th, 2012 6:33 am

    AH YES,how strange after all these years,an me thinking John Tischer is the Buddha,
    Story..we were stting in a diner,and himself says to me “see that woman over there she is enlightened” turning around I see quite an ordinary middle age house wife,but then I could not see,”how can you tell “I asked,”by the way she smiles” he said.
    It became a joke him always saying “look there’s another enlightened person”
    in desperation one day I said “how many Buddha’s?”
    “billions” he answered,
    Love to you Buddha

  11. Mark Szpakowski on April 4th, 2012 6:19 pm


    himself says to me “see that woman over there she is enlightened” turning around I see quite an ordinary middle age house wife, but then I could not see,”how can you tell“, I asked,”by the way she smiles” he said.

    That’s it, isn’t it – we’ve all seen those smiles, maybe lots of them, but CTR was thoughtful and kind and sweet enough to see that it’s all already there in that smile.


  12. John Perks on April 5th, 2012 7:42 am

    Hello Mark,
    Yes very much so,and when you have an attendant who is as dumb as a brick,who can only see “middle age housewife”it was Rinpoche’s constant skillful means to direct the brick to the smile,over and over again,and perhaps the brick might see a glimse of Buddha Nature,must have been hard work…so many bricks so little time…what great good fortune we had,and have…love to you JP

  13. Ash on April 5th, 2012 12:52 pm

    JP – in case you missed this recent contribution, inc. picture of you, Dr. Death and Himself (not to mention huge, native-hewn ‘brick': http://shambhalatimes.org/2012/04/01/encounter-in-ireland/

  14. John Perks on April 5th, 2012 2:00 pm

    Hay Ash,
    AH yes I remember that brick,thanks for the information,we also have that photo…great to hear from you…every time we buy bread I think of you,at the C.B.center here we do a ceremony connecting to the lineage,of drinking whiskey out of a reproduction of the Derrynaflan Chalice,and eating barley bread,the blood ,and body of the lineage,another chap from the middle east had the idea first..and it works for us…apologies to Mark…love to you john

  15. John Tischer on April 6th, 2012 12:42 pm

    So what is the “tribute gift” of the stained glass four dignities, and how actually does it honor CTR’s students? I don’t get it.

    I’d rather have a tee shirt that says “We built Shambhala and all we got was this
    measly stained glass plaque.”

  16. John Tischer on April 6th, 2012 2:12 pm

    I have to say, I’m not honored by the little plaque…I’m really insulted.

    After 20 years of disenfranchising, ignoring, disempowering and marginalizing Trungpa, Rinpoche’s students, now SMR wants to honor them?

    This seems to me to be the definition of hypocrisy.

    And what benefit will such an honor mean?
    It certainly won’t make the older students flock to SMR….no, the only benefit would be that it helps make SMR look good.

    If SMR wants to honor VCTR’s students, he should make all of them honorary Shastris. That would be an “Event” that might have some meaning. Why no “event” to honor the older students?
    Who would go?

    The plaque belongs right above SMR’s bathroom mirror.

  17. John Tischer on April 6th, 2012 2:54 pm

    shall I put this on sangha talk?

  18. Dawa Chöga on April 6th, 2012 4:57 pm


    What is His Majesty’s view of the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan which is threatening our brothers and sisters in Boulder and Denver [11% increase in mortality in Denver in 2011] and threatening all life on earth? Surely this is a game-changer? How does Shambhala address this new reality?

  19. John Perks on April 6th, 2012 5:42 pm

    What the heck is a Shastris anyways?is it one of them new Korean electric cars?,I dont see how he could give all the old students one of them,most o them is to old to be driving anyways,maybe walkers would be more helpful….I would like a pink one,one with rubber washers on the leggs so it wont scratch the floor..as for the newclear disaster,I’m agin it……………….

  20. John Perks on April 7th, 2012 5:22 am

    PS,anyway a stained glass window is a very traditional way to honour a group of hero’s ,and heroine’s,and I think it’s the thing that “The Boss”would have done himself.SMR is also an “Old Student” like us.
    Many of us are not Shambhala Buddhist which is OK,but lets respect each other for what we are,perhaps dare I say it love each other.
    Thats why I say John Tischer is “The Buddha” like all of us…sometimes its OK to all pull together,and celebrate our differances under the Shambhala banner…as an American gentleman once said “if we do not all hang together we will most certainly hang separately”
    someone else said “lots of love to everybody”

  21. Rita Ashworth on April 7th, 2012 7:21 am

    Yes they do have stained glass in English churches to celebrate heros/heroines –thats true –had not thought of that….but then again may be its a public relations move….I wonder about all these things now when I did not before…..anyway re the ‘shastris’ etc etc….some religions have defined roles for ‘teachers’ –others do not –the Quakers in the UK seem to be the most slimmest in this regard having no paid ministers but only people who work in their centres. In America I think there are paid ministers…its interesting to contemplate if one did start up a centre for meditation again after leaving SI –how you would deal with positions in an open-dojo way – I am beginning to think in our present age it would have to go more UK Quaker way because people are fed up with people telling them The Way to being fully what you are. So perhaps the best thing would be to provide the space, the cushions, as down-to-earth teaching as possible and just let the whole thing mature organically….well best for the easter period….cheers from the UK rita ashworth.

  22. Dawa Chöga on April 7th, 2012 8:09 am

    Let us hope that His Majesty has a better way than to pretend that what is happening in our very lifetimes and before our very eyes is not really happening. The sky is thick with purple clouds of sickness. The world needs more than a stained glass window.

  23. John Castlebury on April 7th, 2012 1:24 pm


    Now our world is a cooked egg
    Nothing can undo that cooking

    It’s like how could spilt milk or
    Burnt toast be unspilt or unburnt

    What good comes of being blue
    If whatever occurs is inevitable

    No matter what else happens so
    We might as well save our gasps

    Get a sponge and mute the alarm
    We might as well open a window

    Now it’s a virtual fait accompli
    A dropped egg just keeps falling

    No anxious wish can stop an egg
    Hitting the floor even if we gasp

    As if sucking egg back in space
    Back in time before a falling egg

    No matter how much we grasp
    No gasp can cause egg to pause

    And neither shall a gasp uncook
    The hard-boiled egg our world is

  24. John Tischer on April 7th, 2012 3:57 pm

    John: I agree with your sentiments. it’s interesting listening to the interview with Meg Wheatley on Chronicles. She also expresses a sense of “fait accomplis”….that instead of trying to change the world, it’s more repeating the message of the dharma to those that still might be able to hear.

    The truth has to be expressed….even if no one can hear it.

  25. John Perks on April 7th, 2012 9:01 pm

    Dear JT,
    yes ,and it means stepping out without official empowerment,and teaching from your experience the dharma of whatever,learning from your mistakes,confessing the mistakes,and moving on relentlessly,as himself always said “never give up” we are Shambhala which is not a static state,we are the inheritors of Shambhala,it is us!!! there is no one else,officials will always make a fuss when we teach without credentials that is their job,good for them someone has to hold the line,but for us outcasts our mission is to work with the cast out,not to bring them in but to move them out into Vajra Space to operate from no mans land………..lets drink to that love John

  26. judy on April 7th, 2012 9:44 pm

    Mr. John Perks – you have grown a lot of wonderful wisdom in that head and heart of yours. I enjoy your remarks so much. 😉
    John C. and John T. – don’t lie down and give up yet! It ain’t over till its over!
    Re: the world being a cooked egg, and the milk spilt and toast burnt: speaking of spreading the open dojo dharma about compassion, (and *being* living manifestations of compassion..) there seems to be a huge international movement towards veganism and vegetarianism. Jampa Chophel and James E. touched on it in previous posts.
    A huge percentage of the world’s environmental devestation comes from the ever-growing impact of factory farming – where we get our animal products. If we all stop eating animals – it would help the planet so much! And factory farming is so cruel. We treat the animals we eat with zero compassion. My husband and I went vegan this year along with several neighbours. It feels good!

  27. Rita Ashworth on April 8th, 2012 3:49 am

    Dear Mr Perks

    Thanks for your brief remark about the position of the ‘outcast’, and teaching without credentials or the official stamp of approval because for me those statements resonate highly at this present time.
    It is true that the history of religion is overwhelmed by ‘outcasts’ who have succeeded in creating movements that involve themselves with greater society. The London Shambhala Centre itself is indeed housed in one of those buildings built by the outcasts of the Anglican church, for it was built by a Methodists sect, I believe in the early nineteenth century.
    I much admire these and other dissenters in the English Reformation who changed the course of society and religion in the UK. One could also mention that the ‘religions’ of the sixth century BC were founded by outcasts one of which is the Buddha. So yes who is the outcast? Who is the opener of the many doors to true existence? The Outsider, the outcast all highly debateable terms from history and in the present context. I also agree that you can not state the Kingdom has been arrived at –it is dynamic and belongs to no-one.
    Furthermore I agree with your premise that our mission is to work with the cast-out –this in essence is where religious diversity finds its true flowering not in the institutions of the great and mighty but in the liveable, earthy work we do ourselves. I also feel in the present age this connection to the ground, the grassroots is where the real Kingdom will evolve and where its future brotherly and sisterly ‘leaders’ will be born.

    Best again Rita Ashworth

  28. Jane Doe on April 8th, 2012 7:11 am

    After many many years of contemplating again and again on death, my guru told me to stop thinking about death, and I did stop, on the spot. But now this unfolding tragedy adds a whole other dimension beyond my personal death. Now I can see I’m still very attached to the welfare and continuity of this humanity and all the other species after I die. I mean I’m so attached to the idea of a planet Earth and a human world to reincarnate back into. The sky is thick with purple clouds of sickness.

  29. John Perks on April 8th, 2012 7:28 am

    Thank you,you are more than kind,it would be an honour to be a student of anyone of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s students,because HE is in their blood,and bones….perhaps they add a little colour that used to be them selves…some times students of SMR come to visit me,they like to look at relics..they are wonderful people,and are devoted to Shambhala,and SMR.
    and Dawa its up to you to clean the stains off of that window….I am hunting eggs…..love to you…….

  30. Dawa Chöga on April 8th, 2012 9:49 am

    i agree perks’ denial and clowning can stain the glass and drown out the truth for a while, but ego takes so much repression of basic intelligence, it must be exhausting…okay, the window looks clean now, no stains!

    and jane, i wonder too will we transmigrate to another world to carry out our vows where there is intelligent life, or will we start evolution all over again in this world, as bodhisattva centipedes and salamanders! as Trungpa Rinpoche used to say, your guess is as good as mine. in the mean time we live by our vows i guess. it reminds me of building the shedra even when the red army was in the next valley. it reminds me of Rinpoche finding humour in the clinking sound his icy robes made as he led a party through the frozen himalayan winter mountains…love to all…….

  31. Rita Ashworth on April 9th, 2012 8:03 am

    Well practically speaking re ‘shedra’ building this might have to be done with other allies in other similar disciplines. Been mulling this over over this easter weekend. Yes in essence when CTR said he wanted shambhala centres on their own –what did he mean? If shambhala vision is vast the teachings at these centres would some how have to encompass connections to disciplines in our western way of life-so very much open centres in the spirit I think of open dojo. So maybe if one worked with others one could get these centres off the ground-anyway I am exploring such moves here with others in the republic of mancunia….what is everyone else doing in Canuckland and the US…..well best rita

  32. Ash on April 9th, 2012 9:27 am

    Sir John says it all: “there is no one else,officials will always make a fuss when we teach without credentials that is their job,good for them someone has to hold the line,but for us outcasts our mission is to work with the cast out,not to bring them in but to move them out into Vajra Space to operate from no mans land………..lets drink to that love John”

    About barley bread… is it 100% barley or what else is in it. I just bought some barley. I make sprouted loaves with it for a couple of uber-hippy customers. Just found out there is a 5 star restaurant only an hour away from me, one of only a handful within a thousand miles. I met their young master chef at my local market and he told me they are having an Irish night so I’ll be getting all Irish again.

    OK, a small ‘out there’ story, nothing profound or heroic but fun. I stayed at the Netterville place a few months after that photo was taken at Newgrange. I spent 6 weeks there finishing up prostrations and going out to the local pubs competing with local IRA recruiter types who, along with their more masculine-oriented mission, were also trying to pick up local Catholic girls at the surprisingly large discos they had everywhere in Ireland in those days, even in tiny communities. Anyway, my last night there I was supposed to finish up around 6 pm and then Dixie, the caretaker, had kindly arranged to have some singing at the local pub in my honour (really just an excuse for them of course). He told me that up until about 10 years ago they would sing at least once a week, if not every night, but after television came in, they weren’t singing any more, so this was a special event getting people to show up to do it. (Same thing now in Cape Breton, they don’t spontaneously sing like they did only 10-20 years ago…) Unfortunately, being hung over from my (unsuccessful) exertions in late night Dublin the night before, I didn’t finish up until 11 pm at which point a thoroughly frustrated Dixie rushed me to the pub. It was a magical night, starting off with someone in his 80’s or 90’s singing something in Gaelic I think, and then gradually everyone joining in, then lots of songs unto the wee hours. Somewhere amidst the drunken comraderie and instant sense of community I remember lurching into the realisation that it was thanks to Rinpoche that not only did such an event happen – Dixie had been warmed up by your recent visit no doubt – but also that I could enjoy it so much, feel so at home. It was quintessentially Shambhalian, without any such concept or label. A night I will never either clearly remember or possibly forget.

    Pure powerful non-thought!

  33. Joe Schmidt on April 9th, 2012 9:47 am

    Hi Rita,
    What about hosting silent and non-denominational vigils as a way of galvanising the village? We could offer a quiet room and chairs like a refuge or sanctuary for people to rest and compose themselves or even gather their thoughts if that’s what they want to do or pray or even space out, why not, in the company of others. Then people can come to their own insight. At times of great strife such as these, it seems instinctual that we bond to our neighbours and offer solace. I am old and my days are numbered. I wish I could be younger and stay longer and stronger to help in this calamitous time. Eventually there is going to be so much grief-stricken people when the reality dawns. There has to be a community for spiritual comfort. People will be panic-stricken and their minds will be racing and agonising. It will be like starting all over. It seems like the simplest common denominator is silent vigil. And in silence people at least have a chance to discover their inner core of basic goodness or Buddha-nature which is the ultimate coping mechanism in this crazy world. May it be harmonious!

  34. john on April 9th, 2012 10:44 am

    Blind leading the blind into vajra hell.

    Group mind – group teacher – group of talking monkeys.

    Teacher’s back but WHO REALLY CARES.

    No samaya anymore with CTR.

    Shame, shame, shame on you.

  35. John Perks on April 9th, 2012 10:55 am

    Dear Ash,
    we make Oat or Barley cake,
    spoon of pig fat,
    oat meal or barley can be a mixture,
    warm water or beer,
    make dough,roll into small paddies,
    bake on stones around the fire,if they burn we call them Alfred buns,
    either way very good with whiskey.
    have also made them with sheep fat,very nice strong flavor…..
    love to you John

  36. John Perks on April 9th, 2012 11:01 am

    Dear John Tischer,
    did listen to the interview by Marty Janowitz of Meg Wheatly on Chronicles,very good thanks for the recormmendation,

  37. Jane Doe on April 9th, 2012 11:41 am

    You know, “john”, many or most of us feel we carry on the vision of Trungpa 12’s predecessor, our beloved Trungpa Rinpoche, and by carrying out that vision we are indirectly serving Chokyi Sengay. That is our samaya. Many or most of us have offered cash in lieu of labour to Dudtsi-til. And that is our samaya. To do pilgrimage is too much for many or most of us. You should mind your own samaya. Be careful, only a fully enlightened Buddha can say who keeps and who breaks samaya. Are you fully enlightened? Give up this anger! You would be better off feeling that the others whom you accuse are actually above your reproach and they are exemplary. Then you could follow their sterling example. You would be much happier…

  38. Ash on April 9th, 2012 12:22 pm

    JP, thanks. I’ll be roasting a leg of lamb soon. Will save the fat and play with barley-oats. For Easter I made sweet loaves with freshly ground oats, barley, Red Fife (heritage) wheat, spelt, then also butter, cream, bananas, chocolate, local honey, ground vanilla, spices etc. Very good! But definitely not as hard core tribal as meat fat, barley and whisky!!

    John, I don’t know why you have your knickers in such a twist but since you are being so doctrinaire/fundamentalist about the whole thing you should at least get your facts straight: there is no automatic transfer of samaya from one person to another. A sixty year old vajra master is not immediately your vajra master when morphed into a drooling six month old infant. People running institutions like monasteries (for whom the institutionalized tulku system mainly functions) definitely do transfer loyalties to the newly appointed heir, but that is a very different kettle of fish.

    Also, you should know if you do not that the ‘blessed tulku’ is not regarded as a direct incarnation of the previous one, i.e. the new King Edward I is not regarded as having the same ‘soul’ or ‘personhood’ as the previous George I, or put another way, Edward is not regarded as being George in a new body, a childish misunderstanding about the tulku tradition that most Buddhists (not only Westerners) unfortunately still entertain. That being the case, any notion of tantric samayas being automatically transferred is a fine example of ‘blind leading blind’ type of religious fundamentalism which, in the words of that great and controversial Shambhalian, Sir Winston Churchill, (responding in an inter-office memo to criticism regarding his having ended a sentence with a preposition) is ‘the sort of nonsense up with which we shall not put.’

    One way it can be described is that it’s more like what happens when you are made President of the U.S.A. and sit behind the Oval Office desk for the first time. As you take that seat, you find your view is suddenly transformed from ‘John’s habitual view’ so to speak, to ‘The President’s View’, and you can feel continuity in this View with all the previous Seat Holders. In a way, this dynamic is going on with deity visualisation practice. Or even simple sitting – we are all (and always are) Buddhas.

    In any case, nothing is stopping you from moving out to Tibet and serving CT XII diligently. With any luck, they will serve chang and meat fat with the barley tsampa and then you will merrily sing out your samayas whilst all the Kampas laugh at you (and with you) enjoying how foolish you truly are (as are we all), and all will be well.

  39. John Perks on April 9th, 2012 2:33 pm

    There are so many “John’s” here we could start a house of ill repute….

  40. Ash on April 9th, 2012 3:51 pm

    Oi t’ink we already did, Sor!

  41. John Perks on April 9th, 2012 4:17 pm

    Hows about “The House of the Rising Sun” sounds Shambhalian,and even has its own anthem…there was a house in New Orleans……..
    But perhaps to much mirth is fiddling while Rome burns…O my what is a John to do….could be a place for untwisting knickers…love the W.C. quote

  42. Rita Ashworth on April 10th, 2012 1:51 am

    Dear Joe(S)et al,

    Yes I am contemplating a lot of moves since the split both philosophically and practically. Posting on rfs and a few other places has revealed a more variegated viewpoint about the way CTRs teachings could be taken forward than those now promulgated by SI. I also would have thought in the spirit of enquiry that CTR fostered in the US there would have been more discussion of the various ways to construct enlightened society and take forward the teachings than is going on at present.
    Yes over the last few years from reading the Sane Society, hearing about CTRs relationship with Thomas Merton, various concepts of Shambhala Art from people, and knowledge of the report that discussed the role of the Sakyongs position in 2004 by Dan Montgomery one has indeed found out that things are not so clear-cut as people in SI now want to posit. In addition we also have Mark Smiths report on how CTR wanted to emphasise the role of the dharmic heir not going through the Tulku method –so that is highly interesting aswell.
    So how do we take things forward- even the actual structure of how we would construct an open dojo environment is up for discussion –do we indeed want to go the more hierarchical way that SI has constructed and sort of imposed on people at the present. Perhaps we need to elect leaders of groups locally, much in the spirit of electing delekpas-that could be on the cards too…so people outside of SI need to discuss all these issues.
    Anyway for myself I am beginning to look more closely how I could work with others to create a space that is offering meditation, maybe this would be the way to go forward than completely creating a space on ones own which would cost many people more to do financially. But I have also considered being gung-ho and just getting a space and then hiring it out to others –so many things are going on in my mind about this at present.
    Yes also as to silent vigil –an excellent suggestion and much in the spirit of open dojo ‘concept’. I will have to do some research on that in a philosophical context –I think it might stem from Catholic practices.

    Well best Rita Ashworth

  43. John Perks on April 10th, 2012 6:26 am

    Dear Rita,
    I think it would be wonderful to offer a space for meditaion,
    let me know how it goes,

  44. John Perks on April 10th, 2012 9:04 am

    PS,also Rita,I would be interested in joining a group of students of VCTR,who teach or want to teach meditaion,and share materials ,and experiances….

  45. Rita Ashworth on April 11th, 2012 2:53 am

    Dear Mr Perks

    Thank you for your kind comments. Yes it is good that we share experiences about what we are doing to further the dharma and shambhalian teachings on our respective continents.
    Primarily I turned away from SI from the reasons given in my last post and on reflecting on my own meditative experiences and reading from my involvement with the dharma from the 70s.
    I think the reading of Edwin Bernbaums book on Shambhala kind of crystallised my present thoughts re Shambhala vision so I would recommend it to people posting on rfs.
    Shambhala vision has been going on for millennia in many cultures and is not the property of any one lineage –we must really get back to seeing the whole thing like this before anything turns for the better in our present world.
    At the present time involved in the Buddhist convention which I have mentioned before-but I am also contemplating inviting more Tibetan lamas to my own area-this could be done with the aid of my contacts here-could you also not ally yourself with others in your own neighbourhood to do similar visits. For example I am interested in Changling Rinpoche who seems to have a grasp of the shambhala teachings and has commented on the role of a Sakyong to the Nalanda Translation committee I believe.
    So yes onwards and upwards in all our various homes –joining heaven and earth can be done by the most humble men and women on the planet –let us not forget this -that Shambhala is the possession of no-one person or organisation.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  46. John Perks on April 11th, 2012 7:25 am

    Dear Rita Thank you,
    Shambhala is in the wind,many beings are now dreaming of it,
    our beloved teacher did see it and dream it,he knew we would as well,
    I do not want to say to much on line,not that it is secret,but could be misunderstood,Changling Rinpoche is a very good idea,
    we are inviting small groups of people to talk,and sit together,
    vegan food very good idea as well Judy commented on this,
    we eat this way,sometimes road kill meat in winter,but spring summer,and fall we eat vegan,also have big gardens,bee’s and chickens,many many other people in our area doing this as well,sharing infomation,
    carried on the wind,
    love to you

  47. Rita Ashworth on April 12th, 2012 2:18 am

    Dear Mr Perks,

    Yes well there is definitely something in the wind re change/shambhala that is what I am finding with my interactions with just your ordinary citizens on the streets and in my interactions with people at larger events that I am helping to organise.
    It could be the knowledge that everyone is at risk re the present financial crises in the world-hence the long lines to get your precious money back in the UK even when Northern Rock Bank collapsed. So people are looking for change I believe and that is coming from fear and also inquisitiveness as to what might be possible re ordering of our society(s).
    In essence myself I believe change happens from below and then leaders of every kind come forth –this has been borne out by what is happening in Occupy movement and in various other branches of philosophy and politics developing in the world. Now whether as meditators we can offer any perspective on these events is highly debateable at this time – I think the best we can do will be to provide spaces for reflection and civic community which is not allied to any one lineage. Hence I believe Mark(s) views on ‘Open Dojo’ theory –could act as a very credible spur to what we as citizens want to work with in our lives.

    Well best Rita Ashworth

  48. John Perks on April 12th, 2012 6:07 am

    Dear Rita,
    Yes I think this is so…and then there is …it seems Shambhala is in the psyche of all beings,before meeting Rinpoche I was sailing a schooner from Black Harbour N.B.Canada to Bar Harbour Maine,at night we were following the line of coastal light houses down the coast about 4 miles out,it was one of thoes nights where you cannot tell where brightness of star sky,and phosphorescent of the sea mix,one seems to be sailing through timelessness,we were playing Handel’s water music on deck,and there out in the timelessness of the moment appeared a Crystal City,I was able to see buildings,canals,people,in detail,I felt euphoric,with great longing,then the vision vanished in the sound of the night…Some years later I asked Rinpoche about it he said that it was Shambhala…many people have seen this as well…it dwells in our hearts…my mother used to call it “the land of her fathers” where this realm and others meet…so now I am off to make tea..
    love to you

  49. John Perks on April 12th, 2012 7:11 am

    PS ,as to SI ,what SMR is trying to do ,and what CTR wanted,was to build a society where Shambhala beings could land so to speak,or as we say be reborn,the problems arise when people take the map to be the territory,or as Gregory Bateson used to say”they eat the menu thinking it is the food”….

  50. John Perks on April 12th, 2012 1:09 pm

    Outcasts or incasts,it really does not matter as long as we can all do our best to keep the vision,then thats as they say “as good as it gets”

  51. Rita Ashworth on April 13th, 2012 1:46 am

    Dear Mr Perks

    Ah –the visionary experience –it does come in religious, secular and one could even say literary instances. I have met people who have been forewarned about events by saints myself –and actually I have no reason to doubt the validity of their claims for I know them quite well.
    But really most importantly religious and secular practice in this everyday world stems around ones moral behaviour and how one is compassionate to people in this earthy world. I think to be a strong religious or secular person one needs to be on no ground philosophically….what comes to mind is very much the sense of open door –open door in the willingness to let every one and everything in –this to me is shambhala. So it is a question of approach in the sense of engagement with the stranger and a kind of deflating of the ego.
    As to the founding of enlightened society more people in the UK in a matter of fact way both from the Buddhist and secular angle are exploring the same issues as SI-how you create community in these crisis times. So again I must state that for me discussion re the creation of this society(s) could come about in many ways and the discovery of it could even come more from the Christian tradition- yes I dont know what is going to happen in this regard.
    As for ‘shambhala beings’ landing as it were in a coming enlightened society I think that might happen in many places in a kind of natural karmic fashion –one is almost seeing this happen in Mexico right now. But I dont think we need to get mega-mythical about these societies evolving as it were on the basis of this or that teacher or this or that sadhana, I think the decay of our capitalist society will bring more people to seeing the world and their behaviour in it more profoundly. So all we can offer as meditators is for those spaces to be created for contemplation and reflection without boundaries or that many ‘rules’.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  52. judy on April 13th, 2012 7:41 am

    I profoundly agree with and share your vision, Rita.
    I would only add that “religious and secular practice in this everyday world stems around one’s moral behaviour and how one is compassionate to people”.. *as well as* how one is compassionate to other creatures besides humans, and the environment.
    It was only after I forced myself to watch the movie “Earthlings” and started reading about it, that I found out how most of us obliviously base our entire livestyles and cultures on horrific cruelty towards, and utter disregard for, non-human creatures.
    Hundreds of billions of creatures’ lives every year are nothing but pain and terror from birth to slaughter, to serve us humans and our whims.
    I think it is a complete sham to imagine that we can build a “compassionate” and “enlightened” society on such a base of violence and abuse.

  53. Jane Doe on April 13th, 2012 6:08 pm

    Well, bear in mind John darling that when Rinpoche said it was Shambhala, Rinpoche was talking to you, John Perks, in a certain context of your euphoria and great longing. You know what they say about experiences, they are like patches that sooner or later fall off. To someone else describing the same seemingly supernatural perception, Rinpoche might have said something very different – like that it was an optical illusion, or that it was light and that if you had been blind you wouldn’t have seen it, or anything…

  54. John A Perks on April 14th, 2012 8:15 am

    Thank you so much for your replies,which I very much appreciate ,I am away right now but will be back early next week ,and would love to continue this discussion…Love always ..John

  55. John Tischer on April 14th, 2012 12:59 pm

    Rita, what was that reference to Mexico about? I’d have to say, I’ve met some people here who are more grounded than the average rabble, but the main bliss here is ignorance….as it is elsewhere. Mexico’s still trying to figure out if it’s a country or not…and 85% Catholic.

    Besides, discussion at this point, seems almost moot. If the containment pool at reactor 4 at Fukushima collapses (you people been following this?) life on earth is over for a “while”. Mayan calender? looking better all the time.

  56. Rita Ashworth on April 14th, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hi John,

    Yes the Mexico ref.-I was thinking about the Chiapas region and the Zaptistas again – I believe a lot of Mayan people are involved in this movement and I am interested in what they are doing moreso than the GNH debate about Bhutan, because it seems to me that Chiapas is very grounded and communal. So in Latin America there seems to be a general and philosophical awareness that things will have to change not only from the indigenous tribes but from the politicians too. And of course Latin America has produced some fine thinkers like Freire in education and Boal in the theatre.
    Re politics in the UK it is kind of limping around like a lot of European countries are –so there is a kind of calm before storm atmosphere I think here.
    Yes re Fukushima I have not been following this matter closely so I really must read up on it. I think all these environmental disasters are making just your ordinary citizen realise that there has to be fundamental change. I expect from what I am reading on the internet re demos that the US is going to face calls from Occupy for more freedom and civil rights when the summer and spring gets into full swing.
    Now how all this desire for change will affect peoples responses to meditation I am not so sure, but the discussions about ‘politics’ do seem to be emphasising a need for community, a horizontal way of governance by assembly and workgroups, and an emphasis on sustainability. So all these issues were discussed in the Sane Society that CTR read most thoroughly when he was in India-so perhaps we are approaching an age when we could open the doors more wide in the greater shambhala sense and for people to have more fluid discussions about what is going down on this planet we briefly inhabit.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  57. John Tischer on April 15th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I saw somewhere that Sam Berkholtz is now Emeritus Acharya….(no picture on Shambhala web site). I heard he had a heart attack about the time that Acharya Simon Luna died, and they thought that was too much bad news all at once, or something….I don’t know…they’re all so screwy. Anybody know?

  58. John Tischer on April 19th, 2012 12:50 am

    I apologize for posting so much here lately, but I really am curious if anyone inside or outside SI, for that matter, has any interest in the status or where abouts of Sam Bercholtz, Acharya and publisher of VCTR’s books? That seems kinda like, Wow, to me. It reminds me of a line from the Sicilian
    poet, Salvador Quasimodo:

    “Even my sadness, perhaps,
    has changed…..forgotten,
    even by me.”

  59. John Perks on April 19th, 2012 6:32 am

    Hello John Tischer,
    I am going to a birthday party in Saint Johnsbury Vt for Newcome Greenleaf I will ask about Sam…will let you know by Sunday..

  60. John Tischer on April 19th, 2012 1:17 pm

    Thanks, John….Say hi to Nuke for me and happy birthday.

  61. Ash on April 22nd, 2012 3:59 pm

    Maybe it’s the recent excess of sunshine and the shock of today’s sudden return to more typical Maritime April Fog, or maybe it’s the onset of ‘spontaneous, unplanned sobriety on Sunday’ syndrome, but I think a thread on decorum needs more poetry, so here’s one I just spontaneously composed an hour ago. Appropriately, it’s about listening to Pucini, which is without question one of the West’s more universally acceptable ways of practicing authentic decorum which must always, de rigueur and of course, be infused with bone-deep levels of inner delight. Anyway:

    On Listening to Pucini

    (Pavarotti, Vincero, Vincero, Vincero…..)


    Father Sun

    Glory Moon

    tears glistening on silken cummber bund

    days of valour and plenty

    of the small opera houses in Tuscan small towns

    bustling farmers markets

    well-burgeoned tables

    olive oil glistening on naked finger nails

    of elegant Italian lady

    catholic roman pastry-plentied well bedded dowager virgin princess lightweight

    gossamer lace-ridden sumptuous lemon tarted

    full-Barolo’d chianti-claroed clarinet calling pollo arosto

    not to mention oregano

    or jugged jiggling hares chuckling in the pot

    as baker prods all-too-eager-teenage testosterone-laced sourdough dough

    before plunging headlong into the fetid heat of all-fertile oven bloom

    across transubstantial fields of errant poppies singing the cosmic refrain

    of irrepressible all-victorious all-joyful tender-hearted good-drenched bounty,

    sadness, joy,

    each note a drooping burden of sun-drenched moisture dew-drop at dawn

    plucking the bended pistule and stamen to seducing bee drone

    dredging nectar into all-consuming honeysuckle embrace

    entwined forever into endless outbreath

    dying at last in endless sunset glory

    birthing at last in unending dawn delight

    each note an eternity

    each violin the heavens sobbing

    each aria a symphony

    each woman an angel

    each man an Archetype

    each life so very well worth living.

    Grazie, Grazie, Mille Grazie, Signor Pucini!!!

    From the wilds of fog-bound South Shore Cape Breton,

    the French Road community, pop 23!

    Spring 2012.

    A glorious year.

    (Especially in China. Especially in Toscana!)

  62. John Perks on April 23rd, 2012 5:49 am

    How wonderful,Tischer,and Ash…in love with what is called just Brilliance
    just love,from here our agent’s tell that Sam has left with Minjure Rinpoche,keep baking,keep drinking,keep singing,how wonderful such love that poet’s sing of,with morning’s sun rise is stll there………………….

  63. Sue-Donna Moss on April 27th, 2012 9:50 am

    The great world is dying…but this truth isn’t even allowed to form as a thought at all. As soon as the thought begins to form we make a loud noise of some kind as a diversionary tactic. We call this positive thinking and looking on the bright side, and we keep hoping for a miracle…

    Most of us haven’t even really come to terms that inevitably we may at any moment drop dead. We keep that truth hidden in the back of our minds out of dread. The truth is simply unthinkable. But even so, the truth remains in the back of our minds, and we keep hoping for a miracle…

  64. John Tischer on April 27th, 2012 2:09 pm

    The miracle is we were never born
    so no grief in dying
    this beautiful world will someday end
    but our pursuit of the dharma is forever.

  65. Jigme Lingpa on April 28th, 2012 7:27 am

    Seven Essential Points

    In the depth of your being, have no fear –
    Be more peaceful than the king of swans.

    Rely only on yourself, taking advice only from a true teacher –
    Be like a wild animal escaping from a cage.

    Never break your commitment in retreat practise –
    Be like a stake planted firmly in hard ground.

    In bad circumstances, do not panic –
    Be like an oblivious madman.

    When with others, don’t let mindfulness stray to ordinary things –
    Perceive all phenomena as infinite purity.

    When meditating on prana and sampannakrama, never lose your
    concentration –
    Be like someone threading a needle.

    At death, even if unexpected, have no sadness or regret and
    nothing unfinished in your mind –
    Be like a vulture soaring through the sky.

  66. Ash on April 30th, 2012 7:26 pm

    Thank you Jigme Lingpa. Certainly that is a very clear expression and beautifully put. I think you should hang out a shingle somewhere as a teacher. You never know, you might help a few people along the way to their solitary death.

    Personally, I try to always have enough dry wood stacked out back so my neighbours can do a quick cremation with minimum of fuss when the time comes.

    But thinking about it and accepting it intellectually is not really the same as really KNOWING that one will die. My suspicion is that for most of us it’s a bit like getting married, or having a baby. In both cases you know it’s going to happen – and for real – at some point, but only when it is really actually happening to you really actually get it.

    I heard about how Theo van Heukelom left us (Dutch student of VCTR). At a banquet in his honour at some point he took a deep breath and then, still sitting up, he died in front of everybody.

    Assuming that’s a true story, I say that is pretty marvellous. I am sure the Vidyadhara was on the other side of the River of Timeless Emptiness ready and waiting with a nice warm glass of Sake, not to mention a set of new marching orders, some off-key songs to sing (groan!) but some very pleasant, not to mention pleasantly feminine, companionship to boot!

  67. e.e. cummings on May 2nd, 2012 10:01 am

    Trust your heart if the seas catch fire…