Open Dojo

December 4, 2011 by     Print This Post Print This Post

by Mark Szpakowski

Practice room at Juniper Lodge, Windhorse Farm, Nova Scotia

An ongoing question for various types of Buddhists, especially those who have been in a relationship with someone they consider “enlightened”, is how to carry on in the absence of such an individual. This certainly affects the Vajrayana students of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, with whom they were in a student/master relationship, and whom they considered the authoritative center of an enlightened mandala.

Trungpa Rinpoche’s first teachings on mandala referred to it as society. It is not surprising, then, that the Shambhala [1] students of Trungpa’s secular manifestation as Shambhala King feel the same issue: if you had some glimpse, through his leadership, of what an enlightened society could be, how can you carry on and realize that vision in the absence of such a figure? Is enlightened society possible without an enlightened leader?

In both cases these are profound and edgy questions, and also deeply disturbing to those for whom democracy is the best answer yet to the question of how to govern.

One venue where this has been explored, whether willingly, wittingly, or not, has been at the Alia Institute. Alia – Authentic Leadership in Action – originally the Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership, was founded by a group of the Shambhala students of Chögyam Trungpa, who felt that the vision of a society that acknowledges and embodies both the secular and the sacred – beyond religious affiliations, including Buddhism – was worth realizing. The Institute welcomed those who, in technical Shambhala vocabulary, were warriors: those with a strong personal discipline of awareness, openness, and care, without aggression. Beyond welcoming, the Institute discovered such individuals already out there, who also welcomed the Institute back into their own spaces. Over the course of a decade, the Institute grew to not just include, but also to be coming from these individuals and their particular roots. Program after program, the participants built and held a container which felt open yet precise, not ignoring but kind, to the point yet playful. This was done as a cyclically recurring, and somewhat nomadic, community, with several programs a year, many in Nova Scotia, but also throughout the world.

The Open Dojo is one term that has emerged from this. It refers to a space of group practice that does not belong to anyone. It is no man’s land (to use a phrase Trungpa used in this context). It is a practice ground of listening, communicating, and acting. At the same time it is uncompromising, not swayed by wishful thinking and the sly fudging of ego. It is authentic – and its source and guardian is not one central figure, but a community of diverse practitioners. The Dojo is a container for practicing the way. The amazing thing is that it is possible for people, coming from various contemplative and leadership traditions, to recognize each other, and to recognize ground cultivated and allowed by them individually and collectively, held without ownership. This is a challenge – including and especially for those who feel they are holders of an authentic practice DNA that needs protection.

From this point of view, the Open Dojo is the heart of enlightened society. This is true for those who experienced that possibility through the presence of what seemed to be an enlightened being manifesting as leader. It is also true for those who never had such an experience, and may not believe it is possible or desirable, but who nevertheless have aspiration for and experience of Open Dojo.

Does that mean that the idea of a society ruled by a monarch – who, classically, joins heaven, earth, and man – is passé? Looking around us, we certainly see lots of anti-open-dojo patterns in a parade of dictators, kings, powerful individuals and their family dynasties, not to mention elected rulers. But that suggests something further.

How is it that so many smart, tough people in a two decade span late in the 20th century were willing to see Chögyam Trungpa as an enlightened leader? Sudden rememberance: because that person embodied the Open Dojo. He was embodiment of no man’s land: he lived the space where any trace of pretence and ego was obvious, and could not survive. If you thought you knew him, you quickly learned different. This is a scary, yet magnetic, place. Unblinking, yet nakedly genuine – and also attentive and kind.

It comes down to the same thing. At the heart of enlightened society is the Open Dojo, whether held by the group or embodied and held in a single individual. If the erstwhile ruler is not an Open Dojo, the people sense that, and ultimately he or she can neither command nor rule. The inner and personal space of the ruler must itself be no man’s land. To re-coin an old phrase, no man’s land and king are one.

It goes further, of course, because individuals must also hold themselves that way: otherwise, they cannot recognize the presence or absence of the Open Dojo. Before you can consider an external king, you must be king of yourself [2]. And to recognize open space that is genuine yet not owned by any one individual – a group Dojo – you have to a) recognize such spark in yourself, b) recognize it in others, and c) gradually realize that it is b) more than a) that is the path and the goal.

Something interesting opens up here: if the citizens or subjects are not themselves kings and queens of themselves, then even with the most enlightened leader the vision of an enlightened society will not be realized. We cannot get away from it – it is our ground that must be first cultivated and realized in its own open nature.

The Open Dojo is not mythical. It is not the extraordinary of long ago fable or Hollywood movie. It is the extraordinary of the ordinary, whether at an Alia Institute gathering, or at – can we dare – an Occupy the Future gathering, or your next get together. It is necessary for monarchy as well as socialism as well as democracy. It is more essential than any of those forms, because it is the heart of their success, if any.

A final note, in Buddhist language: In 1968 Chögyam Trungpa gave a talk in which he said that Maitreya, the buddha of the future, would not be an individual, but society. For both the religious buddhist, looking up to a “master”, and the secular enlightened society advocate, yearning for enlightened leadership, this is provocative. It says something about how we think, and hints how future society can shape itself.


[1] I am using the term “Shambhala” here in the way Chögyam Trungpa used it, pointing to the idea of an enlightened society that brings together both secular and sacred outlook, inclusive of but not dependent on any one religious tradition. This is not to be confused with “Shambhala Buddhism”, in which Shambhala teachings distinguish a particular form of Buddhism. For an excellent concise summary of Trungpa’s Shambhala vision, see the just published article Ocean of Dharma,  Shambhala Sun (January, 2012]).

[2] Paraphrase from an attendee’s interchange with Trungpa at 1973 “Nine Yanas” seminar in San Francisco.


1,249 Responses to “Open Dojo”

  1. Edward on December 4th, 2011 10:11 pm

    Interesting article. I love it when students of Chogyam Trungpa write about this kind of thing. Reminds me how wonderful it was to do some Shambhala Levels led by students of CTR.

    But what exactly is the point of this article? Is it an invitation or a call to action of some kind? Or just a sharing of a beautiful experience, a kind of storytelling?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. :)

  2. John Castlebury on December 5th, 2011 12:40 pm

    Are you saying that the religious Buddhist and the religious Secular Enlightened Society Advocate [SESA] are the same in that they are both based on irrational devotion?

    And so then you’re contrasting that with hinted-at rational devotion of the ir-religious Buddhist and ir-religious SESA?

    What would the rational devotion of the ir-religious SESA be like?

    And what is beyond-rational devotion like for the ir-religious SESA? Thank you.

  3. David Adolphe on December 5th, 2011 12:43 pm

    Thank you Mark -pithy clear and heartfelt.

  4. JimWilton on December 5th, 2011 1:07 pm

    Mark, your use of quotes around “enlightened” in the first sentence of your article and and “seemed to be an enlightened being” in the sixth paragraph seems either to indicate substantial doubt on your part about enlightenment being real — or else deference to the opinions of readers who have these doubts.

    The wonderful thing about Buddhism, of course, is that enlightenment becomes more real and apparent the more it is immersed in and viewed from the perspective of ego and samasara. Enlightenment is given up in stages on the path — and perhaps from a view of the highest yanas you could let go of the idea. But that doesn’t mean that it is helpful or accurate to adopt a deconstructionist approach and say that all views and all doubts are equally valid.

    I also get the sense from your musings on society and enlightened community that you are uncomfortable with the idea of a guru — now that CTR has been dead these 25 years. I recall that CTR spoke quite a lot about guru principal and the importance of there being an actual person to relate with. This is consistent with everything I have ever read about the Vajrayana.

    I expect that your enlightened society / community idea with no guru necessarily excludes the Vajrayana. Not that that entirely invalidates the idea.

  5. Suzanne Duarte on December 5th, 2011 2:36 pm

    Thank you, Mark! In answer to Edward’s question, “what exactly is the point of this article?”, of course I can’t speak for Mark. But I would say that it speaks directly to some of the discussions about politics and monarchy, etc., that have been going on in the ‘Differing Views and Paths’ thread. Mark says, “if the citizens or subjects are not themselves kings and queens of themselves, then even with the most enlightened leader the vision of an enlightened society will not be realized. We cannot get away from it – it is our ground that must be first cultivated and realized in its own open nature.”

    This is what the Vidyadhara tried so hard to get us to realize. Until that happens we’re just entertaining ourselves with speculation.

    On the other hand, I find the insights in this article, born of Mark’s own observation and experience, to be very relevant for anyone who aspires to create an ‘open dojo’ in any situation – whether a ‘dharma study group’ for studying and practicing VCTR teachings, or a self-sufficient and sustainable, land-based community that intends to make it through the turbulence of this century. Or anything else.

  6. John Tischer on December 5th, 2011 8:37 pm

    I love what you’re saying ,Mark, and, I feel you took many words out of my mouth.

    But I still don’t grok the “open dojo” concept. Maybe there’s a leap there I’m not getting.

    help the simple minded like me.

  7. John Tischer on December 5th, 2011 8:37 pm

    I love what you’re saying ,Mark, and, I feel you took many words out of my mouth.

    But I still don’t grok the “open dojo” concept. Maybe there’s a leap there I’m not getting.

    help the simple minded like me.

  8. Mark Szpakowski on December 6th, 2011 12:37 am

    Well, there’s certainly a variety of responses, evidently coming from different places that you who responded are at. Thank you! Perhaps that’s what “Open Dojo” is about. To respond in detail would be a huge discussion, but we could start and do our best.

    Re John T, I see Open Dojo as a practice space, that is “held”, not just by one practice tradition, but by a number of these. Depth practitioners of different kinds, being able to create an authentic and deeply shared space together. I’m not talking just of peak moments, by the way: if it’s not mundane it’s not real. Edward, I’m sharing some of what I, and some others in a number of contexts, have been learning, and as Suzanne says, also the questions that have been arising around politics, society, monarchy, etc. Jim W, I don’t discount the doubts or questions others have about things like “enlightenment” – and that questioning is also a place where meeting is possible. Maybe you and i take a lot of concepts for granted. CTR didn’t first approach us with his enlightened or whatever credentials: the presence and the experience came first. After that those kinds of words had some real meaning. No less is required of you :-) and I :-)

    John C, the rational vs irrational question is posed by you, and not something I’ve felt. I suppose it could be parsed out. I’m really just repeating what CTR said about the nature of things not being the intellectual properly of anyone or any religious ism, and that you can approach it directly through inherent human intelligence and sentience. It’s sentience – intelligence with care – more than rational/irrational. Secular sacred outlook, not “owned” by anybody, is the ground and the atmosphere of “Open Dojo”: that’s where we can meet about things that matter. That needs to be brought into the secular realm, of governance, economics, eco-systemic-care: it can no longer be abstracted away or relegated as the property of “religions” only. It can’t just be sunday school – it has to be part of financial and business bookkeeping. Literally :-)

  9. Suzanne Duarte on December 6th, 2011 10:48 am

    What Mark said about the nature of things not being the property of anyone, and that secular sacred outlook is not owned by anybody, reminded me of the conversations going on among ‘secular’ groups about “the commons,” an idea whose time has come AGAIN. Look it up at But one of the ways to understand the opposite of the commons idea is suggested in this line: “the process by which commonly held property is transformed into private property is termed “enclosure”.” Well, we could do a whole other thread on that subject as it relates to what’s happened with the commons that the Vidyadhara left us!

    The commons in England – or I suppose among some Native American tribes – had to do with the common endowment of Nature, the land, the forests, pastures, rivers, etc. Nobody ‘owned’ it because it was bigger and older than any humans or human generations and was the legacy that responsible humans left to future generations. (I’m trying to explain sane attitudes that preceded the mania for private property and “privatization” that we were born in the midst of. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the outcome of the privatizing mania is not turning out to be so healthy for the common good.)

    Now what’s all that have to do with the Open Dojo? Mark said, “The Dojo is a container for practicing the way. The amazing thing is that it is possible for people, coming from various contemplative and leadership traditions, to recognize each other, and to recognize ground cultivated and allowed by them individually and collectively, held without ownership.” “For practicing The Way.” What is The Way? That’s something that is probably discussed at length in the Open Dojo.

    I just got a book off my shelf titled “The Way: An Ecological World-View” by Edward Goldsmith (signed by him on Earth Day 1993). The Way is a secular sacred topic of conversation and practice among many different disciplines, spiritual traditions, and movements. It’s a term in Taoism for correct human behavior in accordance with the way of Nature, the cosmos. An equivalent term in Sanskrit is Dharma (a term not owned by Buddhism). The Way as an ecological worldview is the conversation and practice within the Deep Ecology movement, for example. (I taught it at Naropa for 12 years.)

    How do you ‘practice The Way’? Long discussion!

  10. John Tischer on December 6th, 2011 7:51 pm

    Just a thought as a stab at trying to understand this “open dojo”

    To my way of thinking, if the center is not an enlightened person,
    (for however long a time span) then the Regent, or other appointed
    holder of the tradition merely continues the (hard word to choose)
    “program” of his predecessor. Dzigar Khontrul Ribpoche made a
    statement saying that that was what he was doing to uphold his
    teacher’s tradition. So, it seems that there is at least one way that the
    “open dojo” could continue without an actual “enlightened “ leader,
    although, the “Regent” has to have…some…”credential” ….that that
    person is acknowledged as a valid “holder” of the tradition…

    But they don’t go hog wild and change everything suddenly….

    Oops! slip of the keyboard!

  11. John Tischer on December 7th, 2011 6:24 pm

    As a Buddhist, I’ve seen things that would make you crap a book on how to puke.

  12. John Tischer on December 7th, 2011 7:22 pm

    OK….so…is this the open dojo too?
    Or am I simply making a fool of myself?

  13. Joe P. on December 9th, 2011 2:49 pm

    Could we say that open dojo refers to a practice atmosphere of non-ego, created by either a teacher or a group of practitioners? So you’re saying that any healthy society or practitioner needs such an atmosphere created? OK. But then you jump from there to define a pan-traditional social group, in which cleaving to a specific path/practice is suspect. (“This is a challenge…for those who feel they are holders of an authentic practice DNA that needs protection.”) That’s tantamount to saying that this healthy atmosphere of non-ego cannot happen without a sort of Unitarianism.

    You see open dojo as “a shared practice space”. Practicing what? Warriorship? Non-ego? The [implied] inclusive meta-paradigm of the open dojoites must remain vague to remain inclusive. As Jim W. pointed out, even enlightenment is a questionable sectarian premise under such a scheme. Doesn’t it just end up being a way to avoid being stuck within the real parameters of an actual path? And why do people of different faiths really need to share, anyway? (Isn’t that sort of well intentioned sharing why the Shambhala Sun is such a milquetoast bore of a magazine, after all?)

    Would the open dojoites share a tastefully non-sectarian Authenticity Room, as implied by the photo accompanying this piece? What would they do there once they’ve cleansed their spiritual palate of “bias”? How would it be different from past episodes of retail self-development psychology co-opting spirituality to sell vague ideas and trademarked terminology? From what I can gather at the Alia Institute website, it seems to be some sort of blend between Shambhala practice, pop psychology and business management psychology — charging some $500+/day to teach people “leadership”. Leadership is an odd term that you partner, inexplicably, with “contemplative” in your presentation. In business management circles “leadership” is a euphemism for “how to make more money and be more important through exploitation of your underlings at work”. The Alia website sets a more noble tone than that. They seem to mean well. But do you really think that this latest repackaging of pop psychology and spirituality is a step ahead of real spiritual path? People don’t pay $500/day for no-man’s land, and leadership is not a synonym for spiritual practice.

  14. rita ashworth on December 10th, 2011 7:21 am

    Dear Mark et al

    I have been contemplating this ‘conception’ of an open dojo for about a week now…it reminded me of the Polly Wellenbech story on the Project where Rinpoche meets a Hare Krishna devotee on campus and states to him that he has Krishna in his heart….its an amazing story and kind of shows to me the depth of Rinpoches practice in that he can be that open to other faiths and people. Likewise it seems that Thomas Merton was that open too in that he contemplated having Tibetan rinpoches as his instructors in meditation –so yes these men are really ‘depth practitioners’ as you have pointed out.

    However for the rest of us out there who are not so accomplished –how do we begin to connect with each other. Perhaps it would be useful if you could actually describe or fingerpaint the practices that you undertook at Alia and the discussions that went on.

    Myself re some bottom line I am rather holding to the basic meditation practice that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave us because I feel this is a genuine practice to work with. How would you in an open dojo group get that sense of genuineness re peoples many engagements with the meditation process. Indeed why many of us turned to the east was because there was a loss of such traditions in the west-so yes there even has to be a discussion about that quality of openness too.
    In addition there are a growing number of New Age movements out there too –some of them more open than others – how would that fit into an open dojo –how could the participants discern what was mere fascination and gung-ho-ness with meditation and genuine connection and practice?

    Of course those of us who did many of the levels in shambhala thought the open dojo would flourish there as a wholistic body of teachings and practice –so are you saying that now that the forms re shambhala have been established for some that we outside of that dimension have to somewhat re-establish a much broader connection to practice? If that is the case I too am considering ways that could be done in a western context at first.

    Also for me democracy is very, very, very important …….so I am returning to the study of left-wing thinkers who seem to embody aspects of many secular practices of engagement with the world which includes Art and dialectic process which in some instances could be equated in a Buddhist sense with the openness of zen

  15. rita ashworth on December 10th, 2011 7:22 am

    I also feel the respect for democracy in the most widest sense that we have in the west may be why the more profound thinking about practice is happening here because we have somewhat experienced the limits of materialism and are now foundering on what to do next which will succeed here.

    Well hope the discussion goes on apace because whatever we devise in the future re our own paths or perhaps even ‘new’ paths that await to be ‘discovered’ I think will have to embody the qualities of an open dojo that you are describing.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  16. Mark Szpakowski on December 11th, 2011 12:59 am

    Jim – my use of quotes around “enlightened ” is simply to indicate that the perceived meaning of that adjective varies termendously. People have different implicit understandings of it (even within the same tradition), and I’d like to acknowledge that and leave open a space within which those understandings are let be, and maybe even let go. If you have met people of practice traditions other than your own, who are as much true “warriors” (again, there’s a very special meaning I give to this term) as anyone you have met within your own tradition, then the space where you meet is completely open, and un-owned by you or them. That is both humbling and inspiring. I, and others, have had such experience, especially (for me) in the last decade or so.

    I am not at all saying that all vews and doubts are equally valid. I can insist on those being genuine and as truly held as are mine. I have pretty high standards – I am a direct student of Chögyam Trungpa. He is a strong bullshit detector. But further, like him, I can acknowledge others in their most enlightened aspect – I am at least challenged to do so. And, to my delight, I have found, and do find, others I can relate with like that. This is 100% at the heart of where I’m (and you are?) coming from: you may recall that CTR put Little Joe’s picture on the Karma Dzong shrine. (Little Joe was a Native American Church leader). That’s quite a statement.

    I think it is important to have a personal spiritual practice and discipline, so you can work and rest with the mirror of your own mind/heart. From that you can meet others, rest with them, and dialog, play, and work together. That is a further practice, and mirror. These other people have their own forms of practice. What matters is that they are “yogic” practitioners, actually working on themselves.

    I am not at all uncomfortable with the idea of a guru: I have personal, daily practice and understanding of that. But you and I, within the same sangha, certainly have different personal practices of that, and probably somewhat different understandings. And those vary even more in the wide world. The forms of our personal practices are not our meeting points, not where we meet others. They are important for us, and essential to enable the authenticity and openness of that open space within which we do meet others. (continued… )

  17. Mark Szpakowski on December 11th, 2011 1:02 am

    The forms of our personal practices are not our meeting points, not where we meet others. They are important for us, and essential to enable the authenticity and openness of that open space within which we do meet others. That is the open dojo, of and for a world which is teaming with people and their religions and practices, a tiny percentage of which are Buddhist. As CTR expressed it, “Shambhala vision applies to people of any faith, not just people who believe in Buddhism… A kingdom should have lots of different spiritual disciplines in it.” Creating the forms for and of such a secular society (not of a religion) seems to be an essential task of these times. I’m suggesting “open dojo” as a minimum form or pattern for governance, whether by an individual or by a parliament. That’s actually a very high standard.

  18. Joe P. on December 13th, 2011 1:55 pm


    “the perceived meaning….varies tremendously…”

    “People have different implicit understanding…”

    “I’d like to…let go [of those understandings]…”

    Then what is lamrim about?
    And the bhumis?
    And the 4 yogas of Mahamudra?
    And the oxherding pictures?
    And Buddhism?

    They all describe enlightenment in great detail. Are they just so many colorful sophistries? (VROT once voiced an apropos, emphatic warning: [paraphrase] “Don’t mistake these teachings as theoretical. They are practical.”)

    Don’t we need to differentiate between levels of View as opposed to just differences of opinion or “perceived meanings”? (I’m harping on the lack of definition in your meta-paradigm again. :)

    My understanding is that you set up this website to discuss Buddhist and Shambhala practice, yet you repeatedly seem to define those as just two of a myriad of choices in something more important: a well adjusted society! If the cart of enlightened society gets a position in front of the horse of Dharma, how is that anything more than worldly politics, or worse, Utopianism? Is that Shambhala Vision?

    “I can acknowledge others in their most enlightened aspect…”

    ?? So you do have a definition for “enlightened”?

    “there’s a very special meaning I give to this term”


  19. James Elliott on December 16th, 2011 2:58 am

    This seems to be to an attempt at a short description of what ‘enlightened society’ might feel like, the defining factor being open space rather than any particular structure as such. Good start, still much unclear.

    All points of contention (and smarmy remarks) seems to orbit around a misapprehension Shambhala Buddhism seems to foster, that our spiritual path: student/guru relationship, devotion, surrender, overcoming ego, requisite beliefs and specific practices on the one hand, and on the other whatever form or system is adopted for organizing society or group activity, are the same thing. It’s not true even within a single school.

    In the statement: “If the erstwhile ruler is not an Open Dojo, the people sense that, and ultimately he or she can neither command nor rule.” is easily enough understood, however, any thoughts on what to do if the ruler isn’t Open Dojo, how citizens might improve it, correct it, checks balances that sort of thing, or what effect that has on society are undefined. There’s a reason absolute power over society is no longer in vogue. That is where spiritual practice has little power and the logistics of governing become critical.

    The next paragraph puts the onus on the governed to be developed enough to recognize that in oneself and so in others; that in fact that is the path and the goal, brings us back to the unfortunate concept that spiritual path and forms of government are the same. I think it is crystal clear that government and its role in education, creation of group identity, laws, legislation, justice and finance is in a clearly more responsible position. Or leadership is a principle only lauded when things are going well, and individual responsibility the buzz word when leadership fails.

    One ought not judge a spiritual school by the level of inspiration students have alone. There has to be something else more substantive going on. In the same way it would be a poor measure to determine the ‘enlightenment’ of a society by the level of emotional commitment or its vision.

    In the inspiration that if you want to determine whether a society is ‘enlightened’ or not, don’t settle on inspirational chatter, instead discover how they approach and solve problems. That’s the level at which society will manifest any enlightenment it may have, because that’s what government’s about.

  20. Charles Marrow on December 16th, 2011 10:16 am

    Speaking as an old fashioned Buddhist person I feel like I am supported in my dharma study and practice by internally affirming a clear lineage connection. So (at the risk of boring readers!) the basic dharma, as taught by Buddha, advises us that developing shila, samadhi and prajna will help clarify and tame our minds. Then, with a calmer mind and maitri towards ourselves, we can expand our vision to take the bodhisattva vow and to practice with the view that the welfare of others is more important than our own welfare. This is because we have the compassionate attitude. Finally, we have the skilfull means of vajrayana by which enlightenment can be reached in one lifetime.

    As we know, the effectiveness of the three yana approach has, as its foundation, the connection to an authentic master and his lineage. So in this may, we can work with what is genuine and further our dharma path.

    In Halifax, as an example, we have a number of small, but commited and stable dharma groups that practice and study together within this traditional framework and in the context of having explicit relationships to well known Tibetan lineage holders. I, myself, have for the last half year enjoyed participating in two of these groups, (In the midst of a very busy work schedule).

    Maybe these remarks are a little bit helpful.

  21. Suzanne Duarte on December 17th, 2011 7:02 am

    Dennis Rivers, cyberfriend of mine, has created a website that seems to embody the Open Dojo concept and vision for both living on the Earth and living with one another. The site says:

    The Earth is an island in the vast ocean of interstellar space.
    How will we care for our beautiful island? How will we care for one another?

    Earthlandia is a virtual country in the ocean of cyberspace devoted to exploring more sustainable and compassionate ways of both living on the Earth and living with one another. Our vision is to create a sheltering space where people can explore how to become better citizens of the Web of Life. Earthlandia is a creative exercise in both thinking and feeling outside the box of the current person-as-consumer-only thinking that is ascendant in the world today, is making us miserable, and is killing the planet.

    Every actual country consists not only of its physical territory, but also the agreements people share about how to live, how to care for one another, and how to care for the land on which they are guests. These agreements are not physical objects, they are shared understandings that exist in some sort of “mental space” not so different from cyberspace. Every actual country is partly mental. Earthlandia! is a country in heart-and-mind-space, in which people can clarify what kind of world they actually want to nurture, and what kind of people they want to become.

    See Earthlandia! a place to explore the kind of world we want to make together

    Is this not an invitation to an Open Dojo that is as vast as is needed at this time in human/Earth history???

  22. John Tischer on December 17th, 2011 2:22 pm

    “There are no games without holes in them.” Keith Dowman

  23. rita ashworth on December 18th, 2011 6:56 am

    Dear Suzanne, James

    Many thanks for the earthlandia website – I will explore it. It looks really good re the articles that he has supplied.

    I have myself have been checking out the Zapatista movement because of Holloways involvement with them–they seem to embody for me aspects of democracy that dovetail with the enlightened society ‘concept’ very well in that people are acutely involved in the ‘political’ process in a communal manner. Of course they might not practice formal meditation as we do but because they are primarily of Mayan descent in Chiapas I expect they are following some form of ‘religious’ ceremonies both Catholic and of Mayan origin.

    In addition they are actually governing areas of the Chiapas region which is amazing aswell in a country so much embroiled in being exploited by the US. Also their notion of ‘obedient authority’ is an interesting one to contemplate in that it unites both the people and the ‘officials’ who are temporarily employed to help run the areas.

    Here is a post from utube about the Zapatistas which highlights the work they are doing ….. very interesting….. also maybe John (T) might be able to comment on them as I believe he is living in Mexico.

    James –good post -yes I am for the separation of state and ‘religion’ but I still feel the political class in both the west and the east have to go beyond the idea of just being managerial types devoid of the values of seeing people and the world in a wholistic fashion. So then we are again into a difficult area in denoting the qualities a public civil servant should have in regard to their interactions with people – if they indeed had that old-fashioned virtue of dignity which could be equated with basic goodness the political process would go better I believe.

    Well just some thoughts re ‘politics’ and enlightened society because I believe the ‘open dojo’ must also be about the flow of power back and forth.

    Best from the UK


  24. John Tischer on December 18th, 2011 12:27 pm

    I don’t know much about the Zapatistas per se, but in general, there are many areas in Mexico which run semi autonomously from the Federal government.
    I read an article comparing Thailand to Mexico, saying there is more freedom because the central governments are weak, so experiments, like the Zapatista movement here, can flourish.

  25. Suzanne Duarte on December 18th, 2011 2:06 pm

    Thanks, Rita, for the mention of and the link to the Zapatistas. Subcomandante Marcos, ‘spokesman for the Zapatistas,’ is my favorite revolutionary hero – far more appealing than the slobbering Zizek. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on him here
    My favorite quote by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos:
    “I’d rathe die on my feet than live on my knees.” 😀

  26. JimWilton on December 20th, 2011 1:28 pm

    That quote has been attributed to everyone from Euripides to Ronald Reagan to the Tea Party. It is nothing more than a very versatile pretext for aggression.

    I prefer the Tibetan aphorisms — “One should live in the circle of dogs” or “Humbleness is the dwelling place of the forefathers”. No one is lower — no pride — no ambition. Then there is the possibility of peace.

  27. Suzanne Duarte on December 20th, 2011 2:30 pm

    Jim Wilton, actually, I think it was Zapata – the Mexican revolutionary after whom the Zapatistas are named – who was famous for that quote. To die on one’s feet rather than live on one’s knees does not have to be interpreted as aggression, unless one is so cowardly that the idea of standing up for what one believes, and being willing to be shot down for one’s confidence, seems like aggression. I guess that is the point of view of those who think living on one’s knees as a slave is more virtuous. In any case, it’s silly to compare aphorisms in this instance, as if quoting a Mexican revolutionary disqualifies one from also being fond of, for instance, “Humbleness is the dwelling place of the forefathers.” Don’t you remember how the Vidyadhara deplored cowardice????

  28. James Elliott on December 21st, 2011 3:10 am

    I was surprized too, Suzanne.
    Macho statements struggling against the shackles of the enemy and injustices… one has to intentionally ignore how such statements have been used historically to believe it is not meant in that way.
    Weren’t all the men in that video wearing masks?
    I mean what’s that about?
    One might be able to justify it if you hold your head just so… but the long and short of it is people with power who do not want their identities known, even small children know that’s not right and won’t end well.

    The Zapatista movement looks to be a revolutionary or reactive form of government, defined primarily by its defiance or autonomy from a corrupt and probably inept central government (or weak as Jon pointed out). That’s all well and good, a revolution may be the only way to break a corrupt established power, (I support the #ows movement as such) but… let’s call the Zapatistas what they are: an attempt to create an infrastructure within which people can survive in spite of bad weak government, not because of good government. I’d need a lot more convincing before I accepted that it might be anything like enlightened government or something expressing ‘open dojo’ principle Mark described.

    In the inspiration that the path helps us to stop the struggling against our projections

  29. Suzanne Duarte on December 21st, 2011 10:59 am

    James, I’m not an expert on the Zapatistas, but my limited understanding is that Zapatista men, women and children were wearing masks to hide their identities from paramilitary assassins, and to symbolize that they are all in it together – in solidarity. Subcomandante Marcos wore a mask because he was a target for assassination, and the people joined him in wearing a mask – as if to say, “Are you going to shoot us all?” Where did you get “People with power who do not want their identities known?” How about people without power whose identities are submerged in their solidarity?

    If you know anything about indigenous struggles against imperialistic domination, you might recognize that “Dying on our feet” is a statement of defiance against an oppressor – a statement that echoes the Native American saying, “It’s a good day to die.” When under attack, the Samurai had a similar attitude on the field of battle. Defiance is not the same as aggression. Even the United Nations recognizes that.

    Yes, the Zapatistas are attempting to “create an infrastructure within which people can survive in spite of bad weak [cruelly indifferent, corrupt] government.” But given how little they had, their attempt to create a viable democratic alternative – in which power is shared, the children are educated, the land is protected, and justice is sought – seems an admirable alternative to defeat, despair and substance abuse, which is often the state in which oppressed people find themselves.

    I see the ‘open dojo’ principle operating in the Zapatiistas’ attempt to bring their basic goodness to bear in governing themselves with mutual respect. I’m not claiming it is “enlightened government.” However, instead of looking down our Shambhalian noses at such an attempt, thinking we’re above all that because we are so ‘civilized,’ we might be wiser to realize there are lessons we can learn from such people, and that those lessons might be useful if and as conditions in the world deteriorate (further). Are you paying attention to conditions in the world?

  30. James Elliott on December 22nd, 2011 3:20 am

    My nose is Shambhalian? You haven’t been paying attention, Suzanne. Or is it a compliment…

    I’m not at all sure.

    My point isn’t that whatever the Zapas are doing is wrong or bad, defiance against oppressors is necessary, you won’t get any argument with me there. Again, Viva la #OWS movement in all its guises.

    However, if a system of organization, a government, is defined by its resistance to a larger central government, then struggle will be the defining dynamic. (In Shambhala it has been said we are trying to change all social paradigms, which I find just as aggressive and disrespectful towards vernacular culture and wisdom, but that’s for another thread…)

    You can talk about the necessity of hiding their identities, no doubt there’s some truth to it, but it’s a slippery and steep slope to something else when everyone’s wearing masks to hide who they are. Open dojo it is not.

    I think we’re on, once again that cusp of spiritual practice versus political process. On one hand, there is something to accomplish within the spiritual path. One does attain something we call realization or perhaps just wisdom. There’s something to figure out, and when one has done that, one is considered accomplished.

    On the other hand, the poitical process is swimming in impermanence and will never be ‘accomplished’ as such, it is not the same as a human being who can be. Politics is about responding to an external and changing world appropriately. But in political systems we should see the seeds of futures past.

    Just saw an interview with Chris Hitchens, who was as a young man an idealist who moved to Cuba to join the revolution. Upon his arrival they gave him his first frozen daquiri (which he greatly appreciated), and then they took his passport away saying “We’ll give it back when you leave.” That’s when he started to feel creepy about what was going on there.

    In the inspiration of seeing the seeds of karma before they become kudzu infestations.

  31. Madeline Schreiber on December 22nd, 2011 4:05 pm

    Hi everybody, glad to be checking back in here. I think I have some sense of the open dojo concept. I think I saw it in action in so many of the OWS videos. I felt it in a small way here in Halifax. It was amazing to me how fluid peaceful and unified the crowds were able to function and in a sense govern themselves. Also I saw, to my amazement, the best examples of spontaneous insight – gone wild ! Truly, this made me happy.

  32. Rita Ashworth on December 22nd, 2011 6:24 pm

    Dear Suzanne, James, Mark

    Many thanks for your comments on the Zapatistas…..yes the main reason I mentioned them was in connection to John Holloways theories about capitalism being ‘cracked’ open by the various world crises in the environment and social affairs….so yes it was that sense of things, life as we know it, being less defined by what we consider as ‘normal’. Holloway is intriguing ….he strikes me as being very open to the general disquiet that people have about our present ‘political’ structures, much as Fromm was in the past-so hes quite a deep thinker.

    Zapatistas and the masks I had not considered the ramifications of them-you can I believe associate the wearing of them with the exercise of power as they do in theatre-so thats also something that passed through my mind.

    Anyhow I did see some of the connections that Holloway was making about ‘social’ affairs in terms of the general sense of waking up to life and being on open ground in that at present much of our lives are embedded in the capitalistic dimension and the consequent alienation of that state.

    So yes how would that tie up with the ‘open dojo’ concept-well for me it would be a process of removing a kind of habitual pattern we seem to slip into in the west of viewing our relationships with the world and people with a very acquisitive and protective eye. So here Holloway is clearing away those kind of materialistic motives in a dialectical sense. So yes maybe in an intellectual sense thats good to do aswell in conjunction with formal meditation.

    I think there is also a sense of vulnerability to his thinking, lectures and writings which kind of jives with the way I myself experienced my own brief meetings with Trungpa in the 1980s and at seminary…..yes for me the quality that Trungpa most embodied was his kind of wide open vulnerability to people and events even as to the risk of his life.

    So yes reflecting back to the ‘open dojo’ –if there was a practitioner in there and maybe he/she was practicing martial arts you would have to be very vulnerable and open to win over your opponent. And taking that idea of a samurai with it you would have to have also a notion of how power worked in the world aswell I think both intellectually and in a decisive manner of actually being in the world… yes ‘open dojo’ I believe has to be connected to power in some way especially the way where the many will also inhabit it through dialogue as Mark envisages.

    Well just some thoughts…..hope the discussion goes on.



    Ps –there is a longer film on the Zapatistas on the wiki article that Suzanne supplied – yes Marcus is an intriguing character –hes been in Chiapas for 12 years I believe and he does have the support of the Mayan people –so yes a great film to watch aswell.

  33. Suzanne Duarte on December 22nd, 2011 9:38 pm

    I don’t want to monopolize the Open Dojo with talk of the Zapatistas, who were probably the furthest thing from Mark’s mind when he opened this discussion. However, a strange bit of synchronicity today encouraged me to dig out the lovely, insightful article on the Zapatistas by Rebecca Solnit that was published on TomDispatch almost four years ago, and which I’ve never forgotten. Rebecca Solnit is a respected environmental writer and activist. She went to Chiapas to experience the Zapatistas for herself. Her article “Revolution of the Snails, Encounters with the Zapatistas” may help to correct any misconceptions about them that still linger among RFS readers:

    The somewhat amusing synchronicity that led me to dig up Solnit’s Zapatista article is that a new article by Solnit was published on on Thursday, Dec. 22nd. Its title is “Compassion is Our New Currency: Notes on 2011’s Preoccupied Hearts and Minds.” Guess what it’s about! Yes! The Occupy movement – and the larger socioeconomic context of it. What Solnit says here about the Occupy movement does relate, perhaps, with the Open Dojo idea:

    “Occupy has also created a space in which people of all kinds can coexist, from the homeless to the tenured, from the inner city to the agrarian. Coexisting in public with likeminded strangers and acquaintances is one of the great foundations and experiences of democracy, which is why dictatorships ban gatherings and groups — and why our First Amendment guarantee of the right of the people peaceably to assemble is being tested more strongly today than in any recent moment in American history. Nearly every Occupy has at its center regular meetings of a General Assembly. These are experiments in direct democracy that have been messy, exasperating and miraculous: arenas in which everyone is invited to be heard, to have a voice, to be a member, to shape the future. Occupy is first of all a conversation among ourselves.”

    Solnit goes on to talk about a “contagious virus of truth-telling.” To read more, go to

  34. Mark Szpakowski on December 23rd, 2011 12:21 am

    A couple of references that may be useful:

    – Re Joe P’s questions about Alia Institute, perhaps the best expression of what Alia has been about is my wife’s Little Book of Practice (a free PDF download; I’ve also made ePub (iBooks) and mobi (Kindle) versions).

    – We also wrote an article, Occupy Yourself: Lessons for Mindful Democracy (also in Spanish at the dharma|arte site).

    Interesting that the Guy Fawkes masks have become one of the icons of #occupy. Also that “dignity” is so often the first word used, by the participants (not necessarily by the commentators) to describe what these movements, now reaching even into America, Russia, and the Middle Kingdom, are about. Occupy feels like a touching the earth gesture of finally acknowledging what is really happening (the “contagious virus of truth-telling Suzanne mentions), a self-witnessing to real global injustice, as the skyscrapers of finance, uncaring greed, and phoney hierarchy collapse. The occupy locales over time become charnel grounds of smart idealists, ordinary ground-down 99 percenters, and damaged, drug-addicted, street people – which our current forms of governance have not been able to deal with. Neither we nor they can be naive about democracy, dear leaders, or too big to question institutions. To that I think it’s important to contribute our best ideas and practice, in the spirit of finding not ourselves, but others, exceptional.

  35. Suzanne Duarte on December 23rd, 2011 3:24 pm

    Thank you, Mark, for sharing your and (your wife) Suzanne’s writings that reveal more of the thinking behind the Open Dojo idea. I appreciate having these resources for other situations. Of the Shambhala Summer Institute, Suzanne says, “I have been in awe of the level of coherence that seems to “show up” of its own accord, in spite of the great diversity of people, cultures, and methodologies that come together for that short week. This coherence seems to exist between or beyond the parts as if something bright and powerful is able to shine through.”

    To me, Suzanne is reflecting or echoing systems thinking, the slogan for which is, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” I believe a number of leaders in systems thinking have been involved in the Shambhala Institute, so the Open Dojo concept makes sense to me in systems terms.

    Thanks also for pointing out that “the Guy Fawkes masks have become one of the icons of #occupy.” This observation immediately reminded me of the suspicion voiced by some people in this thread of the ski masks and kerchiefs that Zapatistas wear. So it’s OK if white people wear the mask of a white guy while protesting injustice, but it’s not OK for brown indigenous Mayan peasants to wear ski masks and kerchiefs?!?

    A couple of other ideas you mention in this post resonate strongly for me: “The occupy locales over time become charnel grounds of smart idealists, ordinary ground-down 99 percenters, and damaged, drug-addicted, street people…” And: “I think it’s important to contribute our best ideas and practice, in the spirit of finding not ourselves, but others, exceptional.”

    I think this latter is the way the Vidyadhara taught in the West: contributing “best ideas and practice in the spirit of finding not ourselves, but others, exceptional.”

  36. Joe P. on December 24th, 2011 10:31 am


    [ Re Joe P’s questions about Alia Institute, perhaps the best expression of what Alia has been about is my wife’s Little Book of Practice ]

    But…I wasn’t asking about Alia. I was attempting to bring some clarification to your proposal.

    Perhaps your response is a lesson in leadership? From your wife’s inspirational missive:

    [ Framing is a primary leadership act….
    When we encounter a frame different from our own, we can either so-
    lidify the boundary between us or be open to the possibility of creating a
    new, larger frame together. ]

    So critiques could be re-“framed” as questions from students, thereby asserting leadership in a “non-aggressive” manner? …I think I’m catching on. :)

  37. Madeline Schreiber on December 25th, 2011 12:02 pm

    Psychopaths In Everyday Life

    I think this is educational and important.
    It’s long so get comfortable and plan to
    spend some time if you decide to watch
    in its entirety.

    Sangha-talk policy: one post per day.
    More at

  38. James Elliott on December 27th, 2011 2:58 am

    Madeline, will be watching that video tonight. Peter Coyote narrating. Very cool.

    No I’m not racist, Suzanne. I haven’t expressed an opinion about #ows and their purported mask fixation, so assumptions I think it’s OK for white people to wear them while denigrating non-whites for that is uncalled for and baseless.

    And because those dice have been cast: Given the mixed nature of American society, how can anyone be sure only whites wore Guy Fawkes masks? Are they American participants? And out of the tens upon tens of thousands of demonstrators not only in America but all over the world, how many wear that mask? Is it in any real way a representative icon for the vast majority of participants, or of the basic aims at all? I think not.

    I support the #ows movement, but find the GF mask one of the creepier manifestations of that, a magnet for aggression, not at all expressing the heart and intelligence that has spawned this movement, so it isn’t particularly surprising mass media has glommed onto it. We don’t need to follow suite.

    My thinking is the GF mask has become the #ows’ icon in main stream media in exactly the same way serial killers get catchy names, not because the movement itself is saying that’s what it’s about, but because journalists want a catchy hook. The movement acquiesces or enjoys that to the extent it raises the issues onto a public platform, but at some point I think that will need to be corrected.

    Guy Fawkes was only the trigger man for a back-room plot to assassinate King James I and return a Catholic king to the throne… or whatever nefarious intents lurked. We can be sure control of wealth was key, but I just don’t see a popular uprising for a common cause. It was an attempted putsch or coup d’état to remove one figure in favor of another. In England with Guy Fawkes Day it is the victory over such conspiracies, not the spirit of violent revolution, they celebrate.

    While I understand the frustration the mask’s theatrical and ritualistic threat may express (which is quite another thing than hiding one’s identity from authorities), it is not the intelligent or relevant part of the movement worth focusing on.

    In the inspiration of doing better than mass media in perceiving #ows and other people’s motives, methods, and meaning.

  39. James Elliott on December 27th, 2011 3:05 am

    I don’t agree with Mark and Susan’s essay making the connection with shamatha’s power of breaking habitual patterns via mindfulness practice, with the #ows or any political movement. Mindfulness practice helps dice out egoistic tendencies in oneself and our projections of others. But the intelligent relevant part of the movement is not non-conceptual or born from mindfulness practice. It is happening because the suffering and injustice have become not only intolerable, but for many literally un-survivable, and a critical mass of people understand why that is so, and imagine alternatives already.

    Rather than a sudden gap or break with the status quo, over a long time, decades at least, a lot of thought and work on a cultural level has occurred: essays, lectures, debates, examinations, journalism, science, books, scandals, film, education, reports, env. and political disasters, exposés, the internet and its contribution to communication systems, etc. have been accumulating and creating a general awareness. When society comes to an impasse like this, we have examples throughout history, eventually, and this is what I think we are witnessing, a critical mass of people will have a good enough grasp of systemic problems, not just “this sucks” but “this sucks because of… “, and then revolution of one kind or another is virtually inevitable.

    The #ows movement, rather than a sudden gap, was predicted well over a decade ago, even within Pentagon reports about the results of climate change. The PTB have known this was coming, they just didn’t know exactly when.

    Mindfulness practice will be helpful for the things it does (relating to the nature of mind, projection, ego etc.), but without the kind of intelligence generated by thought, general education, science, open debate etc., such a movement would a. never achieve popular support and b. would only be about frustration and destruction. (i.e. the GF mask…)

    Mark rightly pointed out the vision of what comes next is essential.

    On one hand mindfulness practice. On the other the need and responsibility to explore, examine and define our situation. The first might help dice out P.A. and I. The second will provide the intelligence for sane proactive involvement in the political process.

    In the inspiration that clearing the decks is not a matter of aesthetics, but rather to get ready for action.

  40. Rob Graffis on December 29th, 2011 5:57 pm

    A good homework assignment might be to look and observe other Buddhist Centers, and see how they suceed (or not suceed) in preserving their lineages.
    Our lineage has gone thrugh so many changes since the Vidtdhara’s Parinirvana, it is mind boggling.
    If I knew back then what I know now about the changes that would occur within Vajradhatu / Shambhala and our sangha, I probably would hesitate from becomiming a Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche student. On the other hand, it was Rinpoche, not Buddhism, that made me discover and become a Buddhist.
    I hope to not ever go through such a period of transitions in one lifetime ever again. what is the point of tradition if you don’t know what changes will be made from one year to the next?
    The idea of lineage is to preserve tradion (and hopefully be flexible).
    Yes, the world is changing quickly, which is why we should presrve our tradition(s) more. We want to pass on to future generations not just what we know, but what previous generations taught and practiced as well.
    Otherwise, it would be like relearning how to tie our shoes everytime we tie our shoes in a different manner (which would be interesting, but somewhat pointless)…

  41. Rita Ashworth on December 29th, 2011 7:01 pm

    Dear James, and Rob

    James I take your points but I think there is something bigger going on re the formation of an enlightened society which is somewhat beyond the cultural level. One only needs to look at the Arab spring in this regard and to see how the people there were also united in their practice of Islam

    Revolution also I do think does not only come about through culture it comes about through faith in the widest sense aswell –in Europe we can look to Luther to embody this dimension and in our own era I dont see how you can separate those most profound philosophers Freire and Illich from their ‘religious’ upbringing.

    I think the problem with our secular age is that we dont know how to see, feel the sacred in our world so therefore we are hunting for definitions as to how this enlightened society can come into being beyond the ethos that the present SI organisation has constructed. However in many ways we will have to explore this seeming division in the coming years whether by the meditation process or deep analysis.

    Of course I do agree with the division of state and church thats what the Enlightenment gave to the west and that should be protected at all cost, but I also think we need to go further in exploring how the sacred can be manifested in our lives and that I happen to believe at this time in history has to be somewhat a western venture because we are so holed up in materialism.

    I also think revolution is not inevitable –it has to be worked at ….the occupy movement has been somewhat crushed in the states and now I dont see that many people taking to the streets-hopefully in the New year this may change and people again may feel more empowered. Taking all these thoughts back to the open dojo ‘concept’….we have to have bigger minds to encompass what could take place if mindfulness truly clicked with the exercise of clear power.

    May I also say that I agree with Rob re the rapid changes in SI –there indeed has been little accommodation for everyones different connections to Trungpas teachings and in the west I do not think that is how we are built in relation to connecting to religious and secular practice –there must be left oceans of room to examine ones own personal relationship with the teacher and the practice. Our own philosophical tradition starting with the Greeks does indeed emphasise the individuals priority in seeing and being in the world from his/her own cognizance of it and this attitude is redolent in our history through the democratic process. This connection to democracy I also believe is inherent in the open dojo way of thinking and being.

    Well just some thoughts from this side of the pond.

    Best for the New year in 2012.

    Rita Ashworth

  42. Joe P. on December 31st, 2011 8:24 pm


    I got a kick out of your description of the numerous changes. I can sympathize. But I don’t think the point of lineage is to preserve tradition. Rather, the point is to transmit realization in spite of tradition. The teacher is the teachings. The teacher authorizes his/her heir. (In that vein: The Sakyong is the authorized family heir. It’s not clear to me how he was authorized as the Dharma heir to replace the Regent.)

    I’ve been following some of the links from the Alia website: The Presencing Institute, Reos Partners, Alia Institute, Otto Scharmer… Am I the only one here who finds it worrisome that a significant number of the sangha seem to have shifted their efforts to what appears to be a trend of “Dharma-tinged New Age self-development psychology meets Fortune 500″ — teaching high-priced workshops to CEOs? Did I miss something? In my online meandering I find strikingly opaque jargon like “multi-stakeholder process”. (Which means “people talking”, in case you’re curious.) That jargon is peppered repeatedly with buzz words like leadership, process, change, future and Theory U, the diagram for which looks like something that could have come out of a 70s self-help book:

    Yet Mark is proposing this stuff as literally a replacement for Dharma practice. He presents his proposal in the context of being an answer to “how to carry on in the absence” of the Vidyadhara. And since he’s passed on all requests to explain, expatiate, discuss, or debate, I’m guessing that he’s regarding himself as a teacher of this New-Age-meme-set-for-the-white-collar-world in posting his proposal.

  43. Mark Szpakowski on January 1st, 2012 11:19 am

    The context here, for me at least, is that of how to make for a more “enlightened” world and its society of humans. I have found the concept of “open dojo” helpful in clarifying some issues. This context is secular: “dharma” in perhaps the root sense of that word (how things are), but not specifically in a “buddha” dharma or other religious practice sense. It is not a replacement for “Dharma practice”: I think it’s appropriate to insist that secular “warriors” each have a deep and ongoing non-trivial personal practice, which usually has some flavour of religious basis. My own tradition does not own the space of authentic practice and being and understanding. This happens to be how my teacher, Chögyam Trungpa saw things, and he expressed this quite openly and publicly (as well as, in my case and that of others, directly one on one re this exact specific point).

    A question is how we can come from our individual traditions, to discover and present and offer an open space that is civic, civil, not superficial, not ignoring, and not separate from effective action. There is a sense of practice in such a space. It depends on each person’s individual practice of how they hold themselves, but its character and vocabulary and symbolism needs to be an open umbrella, held in common, not bound to any one person’s religious proclivities – including mine and yours. This is a challenge and open experiment. We need to regain our own lineage of humanity, as CTR says in the Sacred Path book, last paragraph of last chapter (titled “The Shambhala Lineage”):

    Over the centuries there have been many who have sought the ultimate good and have tried to share it with their fellow human beings. To realize it requires immaculate discipline and unflinching conviction. Those who have been fearless in their search and fearless in their proclamation belong to the lineage of master warriors, whatever their religion, philosophy, or creed. What distinguishes such leaders of humanity and guardians of human wisdom is their gentleness and genuineness – on behalf of all sentient beings. We should venerate their example and acknowledge the path they have laid for us. They are the fathers and mothers of Shambhala, who make it possible, in the midst of this degraded age, to contemplate enlightened society.

  44. Joe P. on January 1st, 2012 3:39 pm

    “This context is secular… I think it’s appropriate to insist that secular “warriors” each have a deep and ongoing non-trivial personal practice”

    I can see the appeal of what you’re talking about, especially for Shambhalians with enlightened society in mind. But you started by saying that both Buddhists and Shambhalians have had difficulty finding direction since Rinpoche’s death. Then you proposed that ideas like open dojo might fill that perceived gap. You also define open dojo as an idea in a secular context. And in fact you indirectly assert that Rinpoche taught that sangha is synonymous with [secular] society.

    You say it’s important for people to have some kind of practice, but that that’s mainly a private issue. The overarching View is open dojo — which defines a responsible citizen, practicing humility, mindfulness and openness, in a healthy, well-oiled society. Spiritual practice only serves that goal or ideal.

    It’s quite radical to include Buddhists in such a View-shift, because by implication you’re redefining the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice as a secular/worldly one.*You redefine Buddhism itself by proposing a secular umbrella over it*.

    This topic is made murky by vague terminology: spiritual/religious vs worldly/secular. In Buddhism there is path. Worldly issues are interpreted in the context of path, which is spiritual/religious View. You say that you’re addressing a worldly/secular context. No matter how well-motivated and refined a secular View might be, it’s still defined in terms of relative goals within the operation of human society. From Buddhist View, whether we’re active in the world or not, to practice a secular/worldly “uber-View” can never be more than merely redecorating Samsara — and in fact losing sight of the path altogether. Which is why I find it worrisome that not only never-Buddhist Shambhalians, but also older Buddhist sangha, would be getting involved, apparently en masse, in what’s essentially nothing more than self-development psychology.

    (I suppose I’m getting at a point similar to James Elliot’s: that path shouldn’t be seen to be on the same level as social structures. The former context can encompass the latter, but the latter cannot even perceive the former.)

  45. Mark Szpakowski on January 1st, 2012 8:47 pm

    I’ve been speaking primarily in the secular, societal context, but it is true that I think the open dojo concept can also be useful in a strictly religious context, in particular regarding the issue of identifying and working with someone you consider a realized being, or at least someone on the way there who is, relative to you, a teacher or master. Specifically, “open dojo” describes the way of being, and even the state/non-state of mind, that such a being ought to have, ideally. This is based on my own understanding and practice, and on having met at least one person who embodied such a state of mind. So the term “open dojo” is one vocabulary for articulating a quality that seems to characterize a more enlightened being.

    On the secular side, I don’t think I’m saying anything that isn’t said in the Shambhala teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, such as in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Buddhism is its own container, with its own “ultimate goal(s)”, over which buddhist teachers may argue. In our world of local and national societies and countries, however, we live with many other people who are not buddhists. I don’t presume that they cannot be authentic and even fully realized beings. And if there is to be political consciousness and discourse that includes all of us, it needs a larger container that allows but does not require specific religious practices. Your personal practice is your own business, though I would go further and say that being a participant and leader in the public sphere demands such practice on your part, so you may better dialogue and recognize open space with others. So your practice is personal, but not a private issue: it affects how you are in the world. Being able to work with your own mind, heart, and perceptions is essential. That can be done in a religious way, but can also be done in a non-religious, though sacred, way (eg, mindfulness/awareness to start with). That’s what Shambhala is about, is it not?

    In our time the purely secular as non-sacred bottom line is in visible meltdown, and becoming obsolete. There is widespread realization that dimensions of value, of the good, of excellence, need to be part of our everyday governance and business life, down to the bookkeeping: cf Umair Haque’s Betterness, for example. (… continued…)

  46. Mark Szpakowski on January 1st, 2012 9:24 pm

    As to whether such a view of open dojo as societal practice is “merely redecorating Samsara”… As a buddhist, I recall that “emptiness is not other than form”. Samsara is not the same as the phenomenal world, and practice does not obviate “meditation in action”, including the moving mind of attention, intention, and being in the world.

    As a shambhalian: drala is an opening in the phenomenal world through which the cosmic mirror manifests. Paying attention to the details of the phenomenal world, including our family, business, and societal details, is the path to bring down such drala into every moment of our lives. Buddhism does tend to have a slight anti-phenomenality bias, varying with school and teacher. CTR himself obliterated such distinctions: “this very world is the mandala of all the buddhas.” But this is probably a minority view among buddhists.

    Re “that path shouldn’t be seen to be on the same level as social structures”: I’m talking about the sacred path of the warrior. That warrior could have a buddhist, hindu, moslem, christian, jewish, or whatever religious path. If they are a true yogi of their tradition, then they could also have a secular/sacred warrior’s path (of “immaculate discipline and unflinching conviction”), and meeting ground, and “archery range”, where they could meet and dialogue and play and govern with other warriors. Such meeting ground is not the religious tradition they hold, but the openness they allow.

    Summary: separate church and state, but join secular and sacred. The confusion is in considering the sacred to be purely the province of the church, and the activities of the state (including finance and business) to be purely secular and value-neutral. We are perhaps discovering that the latter is one of those primitive beliefs about reality.

  47. James Elliott on January 2nd, 2012 2:37 am

    Martin Luthor’s an excellent example: that revolution was not his plan, it wasn’t an ideological shift, an awakening, or some other ‘mind first’ sort of thing. It was due to systemic amassing of centralized wealth and power, leading to a critical mass of people adversely affected no longer able to ignore its effects. It is incidental the power was controlled by the Vatican.

    His ‘95 These’ nailed to a church door in a small German town echoed throughout Europe, not because of religious insight, but because of fertile ground, made rich by many people talking over years about injustices and what could be done. There were centers of liberalism, but witnessing and discussions were all over Europe, in pubs and houses, town squares and villages, and among sympathetic (or scared) monarchs and dukes etc. If that were not so Luthor would have been burned at the stake and forgotten. It was in no way organized. In some areas there was anarchy and violence. Though Luthor tried, there was no leader to reign it in, no common communication avenues, so it split up, if ever united, into various experiments. (With internet etc. we might see something else on that score.)

    That his revolution, or any other, was religious or ideological in nature is in my opinion false. Revolutions are inflamed by the fact that current religious or social dogma and the PTB are blatantly destructive and evil, again, to a critical mass of people. Evil here referring to calculated suffering and death, not heretics. That in turn causes people from all levels of society in grass root ways to rethink things. This is proof of basic goodness, not that religious upbringing produces compassion. It was the critical mass of so many people already having gone through that, which set the stage for Luthor to become a catalyst for literally changing the world.

    The Jasmine revolution: “Democracy Now” is my main source currently. Following interviews and discussions about Egypt by people who are there as the dust settles (or is kicked up anew), while some fought corruption, some were involved because they thought Mubarek was too liberal. (!?) If so then it was the untenable suffering that united them, not religious views. In the same way you don’t have to be Islamic to support that movement. There’s something more fundamental or vaster or more universal than religious views at play.

  48. James Elliott on January 2nd, 2012 2:37 am

    My point was it is education, open discussion, a look at reality unfettered by religious dogma and denial, on a fairly wide social spectrum that brings about paradigm shifts. Ideologies or dogmas that individuals try to instill won’t stick unless they are anyway already intrinsically there (BG, if it isn’t just a political tool, is not “Brought To You By…”).

    What I agree with in Susan’s essay is that a break from the status quo is essential. I just don’t think it comes about on a socio-political level through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice is something we as individuals work with to cut through our own egoistic instincts and projections, but it isn’t the cause of paradigm shifts nor a way to educate people about what is going on politically, scientifically, culturally, environmentally, legally re injustices and corruption etc., which is the only way such change happens; i.e. when a critical mass knows in their bones, beyond risk to life and limb and career, that political social change must happen.

    The question remains, and what is missing in Mark’s essay, is what it is that actually generates Open Dojo environments. Mark, our current systems are NOT free of religion, or purely secular. At all. Whatever the problems may be, that’s simply not true.

    As long as we avoid political controversy and gather to work within a common understanding of contemplation with somewhat abstract concepts that don’t really impinge on each other, no problem, but as soon as something needs to be accomplished and there is disagreement, we seem to have nothing to offer. Harking back to medieval styles of governments is not a solution in these times, and we have done zip in exploring any other possibilities.

    I’ve experienced the kind of open space Mark and don’t question its value, but see no method for engendering it, other than… we experienced it around Trungpa Rinpoche. That’s not enough. That individuals have to be developed enough to grok such things comes closer Buddhist approaches, but still leaves all dynamics about leadership, government and conflict resolution untouched.

    In the inspiration that ‘we’ are not going to make ‘them’ find or acknowledge BG. The problems, on a socio-cultural level lie in any case elsewhere.

  49. Rita Ashworth on January 2nd, 2012 5:48 am

    Dear James

    Thanks for your comeback on by post.

    I am not a qualified historian of how the Reformation happened and my knowledge of it is principally based on Owen Chadwick’s book on the Reformation, as an aside I had to study the history of Christianity because I needed it to get into college. But reading this book yes its true there was much disagreement in the way the Catholic church governed Europe especially in the way of selling of ‘indulgences’ – a means of forgiving sins to the general populace. Luther rejected this practice and placed his Protestantism not on works only but also faith. Yes the history of the Reformation I find really intriguing as there were so many attempts to create ‘new’ societies under the auspices of ‘religion’ similar to what we are encountering today. So I still feel that in the realm of the political ordering of society we can not exclude the ‘religious’ dimension totally – this is what I have gathered from my reading.

    As to Islam I am not totally familiar with all of its tenets – I only know that when I mix with Muslims in the UK there seems to be a palpable sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that comes from them practicing their religion together much as we do in a sangha and I do believe that their faith does go out much more than Christianity into the ‘political’ realm.

    In addition perhaps by default as time passes I am finding myself that what once started as a personal practice to ‘attain’ whatever I thought enlightenment was years ago –has now become a more outer and other-directed engagement with society and people….that Mahayana quality of practice does seem to happen naturally even we dont want it too! So yes there seems almost a visceral desire to stem suffering that develops and in our western context here I think the political dimension enters into this ‘desire’ to provoke engagement/unity. So it is this way that I am seeing the connection between ‘politics’/practice which does connect with the open-dojo concept because I can no longer slice people into groups of who professes dharma and who does not. Everyone is suffering –and it does hit you more and more as time goes on.

    As to creating open dojo environments I hope to have many more discussions about this through rfs and other means and principally this is why I am engaged in helping to promote the Buddhist convention in my local area of 300 to 400 hundred people. I do think we need to go into the area of enlightened society more deeply in an analytical sense than we have done before so it is not only SI that is considering these deep questions in large gatherings. Indeed when I glimpsed Marks article I thought wow they are having an Open Dojo thingie in Halifax at last and was quite elated by that rushed thought at first!

    Just also as an aside to Suzanne I have been researching the environment more on the internet and I can see now that we are definitely more up the creek than I previously thought-so yes in terms of our discussions of politics we are perhaps being naive but I still believe we shall have to have more connections with others in seeing what is possible to stem our naivety and inevitably this calls for association with the ‘political’ realm and theoreticians of social affairs in my opinion –thats why I am reading left-leaning articles etc etc.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  50. Joe P. on January 2nd, 2012 11:50 am

    [As to whether such a view of open dojo as societal practice is “merely redecorating Samsara”… As a buddhist, I recall that “emptiness is not other than form”.]

    Then why does the form need to be changed? Isn’t it all about View? If our View is worldly then how can our actions not be samsaric?

    [Samsara is not the same as the phenomenal world]

    Even if you’re trying to improve phenomena?

    [and practice does not obviate “meditation in action”, including the moving mind of attention, intention, and being in the world.]

    Is meditation in action somehow different from non-action?
    I was trying to clarify the View issue, but I’m having a hard time saying it clearly and simply. The point being that there’s a difference between action as expression of awareness and action upon other in a worldly context.

    [Buddhism does tend to have a slight anti-phenomenality bias… CTR himself obliterated such distinctions: “this very world is the mandala of all the buddhas.”]

    Isn’t that basic Vajrayana sacred world View? In other words, again, it’s not making a statement about the value of the phenomenal world. It’s offering a View to help one fully enter into Nowness without being hooked by sacred/profane value judgements. I don’t see anything there that’s actually about phenomenal world per se. It’s about how to practice with one’s experience.

    So, I’m not so much questioning open dojo as an activity. And I’m not questioning attention to worldly detail. Rather, I’m questioning open dojo as a View to be adopted, stressing social action in a worldly context. If it goes to that level then isn’t it a samsaric View by definition? With such a View we amplify the apparent solidity of selves and — as has been seen — we eventually end up descending to the level of the quasi-scientific mess that is the Western self-development psychology marketplace.

  51. Mark Szpakowski on January 4th, 2012 9:58 pm

    Political Consciousness

    This is a one page fragment that Trungpa Rinpoche wrote down from a larger text. It’s short enough that you can get all of it (one page) on Google Books (click the link above).

    I thought of it, and realized that it has basic definitions of key insights, and that it communicates an awake stance.

    From the point of view of this article, “Political Consciousness” is the awareness cultivated through the Open Dojo. It is also what the individual participants cultivate.

    Definition: Politics

    Politics is the ability of all reflections of political situations to arise in the mirror of discriminating awareness at once.

    The entire text is worth reading and discussing, line by line. Having known CTR in Action, so to speak, I can say that this is not just theory, but simple and direct. And it meets the discovery of that that is happening all over the place:

    As for the political attitude, it is the uncorrupted awareness that takes pride in the dignity of human beings.

    Political Consciousness, The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Vol. 8, p. 419

  52. Rita Ashworth on January 5th, 2012 6:03 pm

    Dear Mark

    Thanks for this ref…will get Vol.8.

    Re the posts up above seems we all seem to think that Occupy is fine so at least that is a basis for discussion. The methods they use in the General Assemblies could be somewhat a foundation for discussing politics in an ‘enlightened society’ with some adaptations.

    Reason I put up the Zapatistas was the methods of governance they were using- they seemed to correlate a little with deleks to me and the ‘Z-eers’ were running their own areas quite well.

    Been watching a video of Luther –broaching my lack of knowledge –much more in awe of the man now…as a monk for five years he went through so many austerities. He also came to his conclusions about his faith by reading the bible in Latin, Greek and Hebrew –such a linguist!

    Re Holloway ‘Crack Capitalism’ nearing the end of the book –main thesis is to have real democracy beyond the institutional level –seems to think when we create institutions we get trapped in our own nutty creations –works a little with the sense of ‘open dojo’ in that power would have to be fluid and kind of never-ending in its circularity. Perhaps also in Marxism they are coming too to the end of the State creating change as a body. Such thought has repercussions about how we will eventually ‘construct’ governance in enlightened society-seems to be imbued with the notion of us all being leaders/warriors. So yes power can not be fixated at any one point….has to be power that is continually under questioning – hmmmmm-could also put here ‘awareness’. Could one refine a Shambhala Declaration in terms of power being of no-fixed abode-interesting.

    Looking forward to further discussions….think we do not need to explain to others re this notion of ‘Open Dojo’ any more -we need more to put some notion of its operation out there that would make the discussion go further and not get stalled.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  53. James Elliott on January 16th, 2012 4:30 pm


    You’re on to something with the idea of power structures themselves in flux; not inevitability impermanent, but immediately, intentionally as circumstances and needs change. Might be an element of systems capable of organizing modern societies.

    No reason or way to eliminate hierarchy, the most efficient way to organize anything, but it’s equally true when a hierarchy becomes too static it develops anomalies or sicknesses, an inability to respond or various corruptions leading to collapse or disruptive change. That’s biologically as well as politically true. VCTR seemed to infuse his mandala, somehow, with some kind of uncertainty or groundlessness that mitigated individual tendencies to solidify. Can that be done systemically?

    FYI, deleks at inception were for a social network independent of particular careers positions or agendas within the mandala. It was a way to de-centraliz or ‘de-hierarch-orize’ the social network. There may have been some feedback loops added on, but that wasn’t the main idea. Deleks were not in any real sense a political structure; one could argue they were by intent NOT that. However, they were also very clearly an adjunct to something larger, everyone’s inspiration and involvement in that, and hence an expression of a unification. Deleks mirrored, ideally, the need for an open communicative social network.

    The Zapatistas on the other hand are specifically about NOT being part of their larger government. That may be what’s best for them now, I never said they were ‘wrong’, but what they are doing is marked by separatism and struggle, and so is a questionable model of enlightened government if there is such a thing. The same can be said about some expressions of OWS though there is an understanding of these things to be found as well.

    To my eyes, the Zapatistas, as only one example, have encountered the failure of nation state government, and have gone a step backwards to more local agricultural styles of government. With End-Of-Oil that may be what we’re all eventually in for, but maybe we might look for ways to organize within modern society, rather than emulating systems that are in part reactions against, or due to the collapse of, central govt..

    In the inspiration that we’re all in this together.

  54. James Elliott on January 16th, 2012 5:29 pm


    With: “Political Consciousness” is the awareness cultivated through the Open Dojo.- I hear what I think a quirk of Shambhala Buddhism, that our milieu isn’t a result of practice, but rather the thing itself which will make others good. Maybe it’s subtle, (I don’t think so but…) in this way we generate the notion that the system itself is the aim of one’s practice, changing ‘it’ or the ‘social paradigm’ in order to bring about a deeply personal and individual enlightenment as well as the happiness of others. Government IS responsible for some very specific things, but not that.

    No system will itself generate enlightenment in citizens. Ever.

    I have trouble with how Trungpa Rinpoche in that link describes democracy as creating a sense of entitlement. That critique is a little too fortune-cookie, and certainly not what ignited the OWS movement.

    I could understand when he at other times critiqued democracy for pandering to lowest common denominators, but ANY government by virtue of its existence will have expectations placed on it: a fascist regime that knows best, communists demanding adherence, socialist universal care, or a monarchy that promises happiness. It either works or it doesn’t and citizens respond accordingly.

    His description is also akin to the protestant work ethic, which I don’t have problems with, but on a purely logistical level there are social contracts and interdependencies in modern society which cannot be circumvented with calls for more self-reliance. See Moore’s documentary “Roger and Me” for an example of how complete self-reliance in modern complex society is as mythical as the freedom in “The Myth of Freedom”.

    In general, I find Trungpa Rinpoche’s descriptions, as they almost always were, a prescription for how the individual works with mind. On that level I have no argument, but I don’t see anything that gives any clues about systems of government or organization.

    I think we are probably on our own there, and as mentioned before something new that hasn’t yet existed will probably have to evolve, capable of organizing a society that is more complex than anything that has existed before. Or we wait for collapse to throw us back a few centuries.

    In the inspiration that having expectations of others, leaders, or governments is deeply intrinsic to human nature and important for society.

  55. Rita Ashworth on January 16th, 2012 6:16 pm

    Dear James et al,

    Interesting to read your comeback on my post re structure and your point about the deleks as de-hierarchical system or network is quite profound. It sort of chimes to the philosophers that I am listening to on the net particularly Michael Hardt, an American, who has written a trilogy of books called Empire, Commonwealth and Multitude.

    Hope people can take a look at Hardts lecture at the European Graduate School which goes into these ideas

    He is also kind of edging into Shambhala territory I think with his further lecture in 2007 at EGS on Love which he allays with politics as an allied concept. To a certain extent in this lecture he is merging the sacred and the secular- well at least I think that is the case.

    I have not read his books but hope to read ‘Multitude’ -but from listening to him on the web Multitude has that sense of a dehierarchical system and refers way back to English history at the time of Civil War where the Multitude was the people who held no property and could not vote but also had immense power in the way that they could affect the war. The Multitude later became the more lefties of that time namely the Levellers and the Diggers.

    The Multitude in our present age I take somewhat to be the occupiers and those people who are saying no to the established systems as much as they can under a capitalist domination.

    I think the point of the Zapatistas and why Holloway is so interested in them is not that they are separate from the national government but that rather they are saying no to capitalism, to a ‘defined structure’. He sees them as an example of autonomous collective of people providing a new vision of power and how to use it in Mexico. Both Hardts and Holloways thinking to me kind of resound with the way Trungpa used politics and to the sense of the Open Dojo that Mark is describing.

    It would be interesting to hear Hardts views on the sense of groundlessness/uncertainty that Trungpa talked about….. as a social theorist he might be able to meld this with politics as he as somewhat done with Love.

    Well best and hope the debate goes on.

    Rita Ashworth

  56. James Elliott on January 17th, 2012 3:28 am


    Will look into Hardt.

    Two short things.
    One, hierarchy is the best way to organize anything. We see it in nature on all levels, and in human activity, even in sentence structure. Without hierarchy we wouldn’t be able to understand each other and nothing would happen, not in the sunyatha heart sutra sense, but literally. The idea isn’t to get rid of hierarchy, that’s impossible, but to stop it from solidifying into one particular view, stance, ideology, approach or whatever.

    Perhaps this is key to Open Dojo, that there has to be some space where hierarchy does not reign. That may be the element that creates the magic. We need a space at least within us, and perhaps ‘out there’ if we can afford it (and why couldn’t we?), which is not locked in to a particular hierarchy. If we instead solidify that then our center becomes externalized, and we run into all kinds of problems. Whatever Trungpa Rinpoche said or did could usually be seen in various ways, but I think this may have been one of the inspirations of the Deleg system.

    Second, and not unrelated to this, I loved what Trungpa Rinpoche described in the Q and A from Mark’s link:
    “I think the notion of a group is very misleading. There is no such thing as a group, actually, but putting individuals together is what makes a group.”

    If this is really understood, embodied, then it would go a long way in de-solidifying and de-centralizing whatever hierarchy may be genuinely useful for the task at hand.

    In the inspiration of Milarepa’s suggestion that we try to be like quicksilver.

  57. Rita Ashworth on January 17th, 2012 6:07 pm

    Dear James et al

    Thank you for your reply.

    Here is Hardts second lecture re Love which plays with the notion of hierarchy in ‘politics’. Its amazing how close he is to the shambhala teachings in my opinion. Really going to have to get that book Multitude.

    I am even considering sending an email to him re the Shambhala book to see what he makes of it.
    Yes of course there is hierarchy but what also makes the whole thing work too is that sense of relaxation/amenability that groups have when people work well together. Conventionally Hardt talks about this in relation to his joy in being involved in revolutionary activity.

    So I dont know we might even have to unpack the notion of hierarchy much as Hardt is trying to do in standard politics.

    Well best rita

  58. Dawa Chöga on January 31st, 2012 7:26 am

    A Glimpse of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, 16 July 2004

    On a bright and breezy summer afternoon I was circumambulating the Puja House at the top of the hill that overlooks Always Joyful Noble Park, while practising Vajrayogini. And just like that, Rinpoche was suddenly stepping out of the Puja House very slowly and very close to me, whispering toward the sky, saying I should practise nicely. Behave normally. Inside can be – what Rinpoche said “inside can be” escapes me now. But outside should be natural or else other people could have conceptions and confusion. Some may say John is a good practitioner. Others may say that he is a phony, he is pretending. Rinpoche doesn’t think this way but others could. Rinpoche can understand but others may not. Not this life’s reputation but fully enlightened buddhahood.

    Then Rinpoche sent me past him around the Puja House to continue doing khorwa. I was crushed. Though Rinpoche’s whispering was kind and gentle, it stung like a scolding. What is behaving normally? What is unnatural? I walked on stunned that my behaviour could still be disturbing to others.

    Rinpoche left the Puja House and took the grand khorwa path that goes all the way around the park, and I followed Rinpoche. Leaving the path, Rinpoche went toward the lower house. A few minutes later I too left the path and went toward the lower house, and just as I was about to reach the corner where the house and barn are close together, the canopy of Rinpoche’s sun umbrella appeared.

    Meeting Rinpoche coming toward me, verging on tears I said that I don’t mean to be phony or to be pretending, and I don’t mean to be causing conceptions and confusion or harming anyone. I mean to be normal and natural. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. Anyway there is no me.

    Rinpoche asked me where I was going and sent me on my way into the barn. Once inside, I burst into tears for an instant because of the futility of always displeasing and never pleasing Rinpoche and of after all these years to be still hurting others.

    Then I sat calmly on a chair a few feet from and facing the door, sensing Rinpoche’s presence remaining nearby outside. Rinpoche’s umbrella appeared in the window of the door. Rinpoche called my name and I opened the door and knelt down eye-level with Rinpoche standing at the foot of the steps…

  59. Dawa Chöga on January 31st, 2012 7:30 am

    Rinpoche said I was feeling good about how my practise was going, and said we Vajradhatu people like to call this “vajra pride” and are boasting. But this vajra pride can be penetrated by something like Rinpoche’s criticism saying I am phony and pretending. Rinpoche asked me what I thought vajra pride is; but just then, I couldn’t say.

    You say, There is no me, yet you are defending “me” saying you are not a phony and not pretending. Then Rinpoche spoke of confidence, but except for the word “confidence”, the rest escapes me.

    I’m not saying that I’m not phony or not pretending. If Rinpoche says I am then I am. Rinpoche can see better than me. What I meant to say was that I don’t mean to be phony and pretending and harming others. And that I have nothing to prove to anyone.

    There you are still saying I – I have nothing to prove.

    Or then I should say this manifestation has nothing to prove to anyone.

    That’s not how you said it before, Rinpoche said.

    Then Rinpoche said that since I attacked Rinpoche, Rinpoche attacked me, and that was very good. It shocked me to hear Rinpoche say I attacked him – but Rinpoche gave a thumbs-up, and sent me to the library above the Puja House to pray to Vajrasattva, Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Padmasambhava with this emotion and to abide indivisibly, not visualising but just praying to them.

    Rinpoche said that it is hard to be a teacher, and that Rinpoche cannot liberate – liberate to the path – for me. Rinpoche may also have spoken of the ideal that is beyond concept. Then Rinpoche told me to write this down, and save it, forever.

  60. John Tischer on January 31st, 2012 1:41 pm

    Thanks. I wish I had met him.

  61. Rob Graffis on February 13th, 2012 1:56 am

    Wouldn’t it be safe to say tat Shambhala is about accomadating change yet being focused?

  62. John Tischer on February 13th, 2012 10:52 pm


    That would be safe to say. I don’t see Shambhala doing that.

  63. john on February 25th, 2012 12:28 pm

    Open Dojo – blind leading the blind?

    To blind to see that CTR has reincarnated, but who really cares as long as we have an “Open Dojo”.


  64. Rita Ashworth on February 27th, 2012 3:32 am

    No,- can not be the blind leading the blind –we all have basic goodness, buddhanature whatever –you dont lose that by not belonging to an organisation of whatever ilk.
    The sangha can embody the teachings.
    As for the present reincarnation of Trungpa Rinpoche in Tibet I am sure he would accept many invitations from people to come to the west but then again some could teach without his stamp of approval here I am sure. Its up to us now I believe how we carry things forward.


    Rita Ashworth

  65. john on February 27th, 2012 1:05 pm

    “No,- can not be the blind leading the blind”.

    Let’s open up a swimming pool to the public were the life guards can’t swim.

    That’s your open dojo.

    A real dojo has a head instructor with a real black belt.

    The white belts don’t run the DOJO.

    If ‘It’s up to us how we carry things forward” why this website that bleeds
    and bleeds agains “Shambhala”.

    Your old dojo is now run by SMR.

    Your “Open Dojo” has no one to lead it.

    Blind leading the Blind.

    It’s up to CTR to lead this dojo not a bunch of white belts who are black belt pretenders.

    If you can’t follow the new incarnation of CTR you have BROKEN YOUR SAMAYA, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!

  66. John Tischer on February 27th, 2012 4:07 pm

    “If you can’t follow the new incarnation of CTR you have BROKEN YOUR SAMAYA, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!”

    john: Where did you hear Sakyong Mipham say this?

  67. Dan Montgomery on February 27th, 2012 9:55 pm

    I get the impression that john is referring to the new incarnation, i.e. Trungpa XII, rather than SMR. So of course SMR would not have said this. Nonetheless, I would argue the whole question is moot. Samaya is not a transferable commodity, much as some would like to simplify it. The idea that “If you can’t follow the new incarnation of CTE you have broken your samaya” is absurd. This is not some medieval system of inherited feudal vassalage, this is about recognizing awake mind, and the potential for one awake mind to enliven another awake mind, like fire being passed from candle to candle. You don’t legislate that. And, in any case, the whole tulku system may have possibly been a skillful means in the Tibetan cultural system, but is rapidly deteriorating on contact with the modern world. Even the Dalai Lama thinks the system will not continue.

  68. john on February 28th, 2012 9:01 pm

    Yes Dan I was referring to Trungpa’s new incarnation.

    Sorry to say but samaya is transferable but don’t believe me ask a lama or khenpo.

    If you had samaya with CTR. your samaya to him and his samaya to you still continues.

    If you turn your back on his incarnation then you have broken your samaya and that means VAJRA HELL.

    Blind leading the Blind into Blindness.

  69. Rita Ashworth on February 29th, 2012 2:37 am

    oh-hum – I thought he was going to be a Japanese scientist this time! Yes where is he really?…..Gone to the fjords some say as in the Monty Python Sketch about the blue parrot……zzzzzzzz…..rita ashworth

  70. john on February 29th, 2012 11:51 am


    No wondering why the Tibetan’s are giving up on the west.

    Samaya vows broken “oh -hum”.

    CTR reincarnation has returned , “zzzzzzzzzzz”.

    Blind leading the blind.

    Just ask a real Khenpo or Geshe and they will tell you all about samaya and what happens to those who break it.

    Trungpa’s back “oh-hum” off to my yoga class.

  71. Rita Ashworth on March 1st, 2012 2:55 am

    John hope u enjoy yr yoga….zzzzzzz-exercise!?….I seem to be wallowing in the vagaries of TV CSI Miami(what a plastic place) which seems to me to be very vajra-hellish but interesting– O America!

    Anyway getting back to Open Dojo I do believe that there is a call for this way of relating to practice after my last few years out in the sticks of the republic of Mancunia, but its still quite hard to see how this would come about and how it could be radically inclusive, as the ‘concept’ of enlightened society means. It is tentatively approached in the Fromm book that CTR read The Sane Society, but in our age of ‘new-ageyness’ I think we would have to have some parameters as to its evolving….it would be useful if other people besides Mark could tell us what they have experienced re their attendance at the events he mentioned at the Alia Institute. As I will be involved in helping to organise a Buddhist convention myself I am very much interested in discussing elements of the definitive open dojo experience that people had in Halifax….somehow our inherent knowing of basic goodness has to be beyond merely uttering the words and spacing out/in as has recently occurred.

    Also too does anyone know what is going on with the Inner Chronicles? Re Ellen Mains comment about this on the Chronicle Project –people seem to really want it to happen…yes can someone really interview Ms Mains –a ‘proper’ journalist….she has much to tell us about her own feelings about things re dharma and shambhala.

    Well back to earth with meditation and our openness to the diverse world out there…..rita ashworth, uk.

  72. Suzanne Townsend on March 1st, 2012 11:09 am

    Oooo! The first Fundamentalist Shambhalian! Yet another sect in formation!

    Seriously folks, the Open Dojo is great and spacious, and if we are to meet in it, don’t we need to create a space of mutual respect for all practitioners? How about the United Nations of Shambhala, in which each sect(or) holds a seat? Even fundamentalism has its place. I loved the book Wild Ivy for example; I’m betting Hakuin Ekaku was about as popular in the Zen circles as “john” is here.

  73. Suzanne Duarte on March 1st, 2012 5:04 pm

    Suzanne T. wrote: “[T]he Open Dojo is great and spacious, and if we are to meet in it, don’t we need to create a space of mutual respect for all practitioners? How about the United Nations of Shambhala, in which each sect(or) holds a seat? Even fundamentalism has its place.”

    I like the United Nations of Shambhala idea. But there ARE some basic principles of decorum that would have to be observed, so that the various fundamentalists would have to draw in their self-righteous horns in order to participate in the celebration of Shambhalian sanity. These principles were well emphasized by the Boss himself, the one who brought Shambhala to us in the first place – you know who.

  74. Rita Ashworth on March 2nd, 2012 3:43 am

    Ok…how would fundamentalism be in the open dojo…there is that…I expect that there wld still be some kind of parameters that would have to be devised to work with it…open dojo seems to be suggesting a new fundamentalism –fundamentalist democracy where the fundamentalist proper wld have to hear the words of the Other-how would that work for open dojo society….could there be that? If no parameters at first how wld u not have crazy society for some time….has to be some guiding stuff at first I think…. but not so tight as in the past setting them…I think group consensus is evolving ….its the times…open dojo suggests more group to with the notion of Cosmic Mirror….so yes I am breathing in ……ho-hum and I am saying that magic word acacadabara and there u have it society…..zzzzzzz….can we not do better….zzzzzzzzzz… from the UK rita ashworth.

  75. Suzanne Townsend on March 2nd, 2012 9:17 am

    Open Dojo to me is more of a congress, an event rather than a single group. It can take place anywhere, at any scale. Yes I guess there must be members, but I imagine the goals, activities, decorum, ground rules etcetera being developed through principles of enlightened democracy (consensus rather than majority-rules, for example).

  76. Suzanne Townsend on March 2nd, 2012 10:00 am

    More on this…. Open Dojo to me is Shambhala culture. Can you call that a group? Who belongs and who doesn’t? Everyone belongs. It is all-inclusive.

    We in North America live in a Christian culture now. When will we actually start to bring Shambhala home again? The Congress or United Nations aspect would be a gathering of that culture.

    It’s my feeling that we need to restore the term Shambhalian to its rightful place. Shambhala vision, Shambhala culture, is not a church or an organization. To ban others from using it is as absurd as trying to make everyone call Kleenex “tissue.”

    We are the tissue. We are the culture. All of us together.

    Shambhala International is just one of the tissues. It has its place. Some of us don’t like it now, can’t relate to it now, but we might again next lifetime or the one after that. Osel Mukpo is doing what he can do for Shambhala: “stabilizing” as he put it. For this lifetime that must mean contracting it and compacting it. He can’t do it all. We need to help in our own way, by creating a greater society for Shambhala International to be a part of. Is this “either/or” going anywhere but around and around?

  77. Rita Ashworth on March 3rd, 2012 4:53 am

    Aha –the greater society….something that we must indeed investigate a la Shambhala and this we have not begun to do so in great detail.

    Stabilising, compacting shambhala –well he or others may want to do this but historical process does tell us that this is not what happens with religion/practices/societies . Many have tried to contain ‘traditions’ within society as whole but they have always broken out as far as I can see from studying religion. So this whole ‘enlightened society’ thingie is still a conundrum at the present time….it could in our own times come about in a much more organic way….much as popular culture has done –perhaps this is why some emphasise the shamanistic quality of Bonpos in regard to Shambhala.

    Also if one just looks materialistically at the world right now –it is not into compacting fashion……it seems to me that is almost in continual fluid motion as regards economics, fashion, culture/s. Take a walk around any city –people speak –then they check their phones-they are having multiple conversations about everything under the proverbial sun –how any one can compact this is really a great mystery to me sociologically.

    Also synchronistically re Johns comment about the blind leading the blind I have been seeing a lot of semi-blind and blind people recently. One lady on the train had her eye right up against the print on the book –fascinating –the length that people go to get knowledge/interact –the phenomenal world is truly amazing ……zzzzzzzz……..

    ….so yes again I think open dojo should be about exploring freshness with the aid of meditative process….yes what I am calling for is more freshness, experimentation – therefore for the time being we could be – ‘either’- I think –we need the time to explore and not be defined –this I think is what the times are telling us re the upheavals in society generally-it also means being true to your own touching into basic goodness….well best rita ashworth.

  78. John on March 3rd, 2012 10:26 am

    Shambhala – ah yes.

    But which Shambhala?

    How about the Kalachakra Shambhala.

    After a world war in the year 2424 the Buddhist Shambhala army has killed billions to conquer the world.

    Then you will have your United Nations of Shambhala, but first billions of people must die.

    Blind just Blind.

  79. Suzy T on March 4th, 2012 6:39 am

    OK. Whatever. For what it is worth, I was talking about now not the future and I was talking about a simple way to advance the dialogue not some world domination plan.

  80. john on March 4th, 2012 11:52 am

    “OK Whatever”

    That is the core of both Shambhala and the Kalachakra teachings.

    They are a road map of the next 412 years for the followers of Shambhala and the Kalachakra.

    Ever hear of the Shambhala army.

    Not the Shambhala peace core or the Shambhala United Nations of Dialogue.

    No, its a “ARMY” for a reason.


  81. damchö on March 4th, 2012 3:57 pm

    Just personally speaking, I’m into the peace corps and united nations of dialogue idea.

    Sorry for my blindness, one does one’s best…

  82. Rita Ashworth on March 5th, 2012 2:58 am

    Suzanne….ditto…I think people inside of religious/secular orgs. are thinking in the same manner from my own interactions with them…they can see that the structures of our society’s norms are weakening their hold on how we live…hence open dojo/occupy and the revival of interest in anarchism.
    I also believe that there is cross-cultural dialogue taking place now more in the political/ philosophical context than in the religious/meditational realm –check the occupy movement on utube-people across the globe are working on political action. Methods used in this movement could be used in our dialogues as well – why does not Alia Institute get radical and start inviting people from the Zapatistas, Occupy and other movements to its sessions and weeks –we need to learn from the experiences they have had on the ground.
    Now how you are going to do this dialoguing re meditation is quite complex as people seem to fixate themselves in religious bubbles when they enter this realm of thinking/being so to some extent people will have to step out of these bubbles but with forms that are not too extreme or then things would break up in quick fashion. So I am kind of looking for the forms that this could be done in-thats why mainly I still post on rfs.
    In addition to dialoguing no one group could hold the balance of power in debate so there would have to be ways devised of all the followers of a teacher/practice having representation. I was thinking back to the convention on the Regent that was proposed in the 90s where even then people were going to load it with people from their side of the fence.
    Yes and at the present for myself and perhaps for others it’s good to somewhat distance myself from hierarchies that impose their structures from the top-up approach because there are aspects of these systems that lead you into outdated modes of thinking which are fast disappearing in our present connected world. I need to think for myself on these matters yet again and begin to see what I could work with and what I could not.
    But I do think we need more dynamic processes to interact with each other – yes although the co-operative Christiana community in Denmark is debunked by some – I did see a video where a young mother was describing her life growing up there –she stated she had to develop a kind of collective mind about being and working with others-so yes that was highly interesting to me in relation to practicing meditation itself. So yes to some extent even by default –people in intentional communities do develop deep awareness of the Other….now how this could be transposed into a ‘United Nations’ approach could be discussed in tandem with ideas of societal change aka communities developing in our western world…well just some initial thoughts on yr posts. Best rita

  83. James Elliott on March 6th, 2012 3:21 am

    There’s something I’m uncomfortable with in the idea that various groups or factions need to be ‘represented’. I don’t think the need for representation is a solution for what I see as problems within Shambhala, for a couple of reasons.

    First representation has no meaning if there’s no corresponding political clout. Congresses, work groups and all the rest of it, but the organization is set up as a dictatorial mandala with all permissions or blessings coming only from one center, then ‘representation’ is merely theater intended to qualm dissent.

    Second, although I think representation is important for any non-dysfunctional society, I’m not stuck on that happening in a specifically democratic form. Even a monarch, if he’s compassionate and skillful, collects information from all around about the welfare of the people, and in a real sense that is representation. Democracy merely has advantage in that if things go awry one can do something, but as we can see in America or modern democracies, we are still very much ruled by an elite.

    And lastly, it feels too political. I’m not anti-politics at all, but the notion that whatever we are doing in the realm of politics is either ‘Shambhalian’ or not, is I think a form of judgment which ultimately and inevitably leads towards a more abstracted and intractable form of religious judgment, for or against whatever agenda based on a feeling? or that it’s like more Shambhalian? because of how it makes me feel? I don’t know exactly, but am certain that the glowing clean or relaxed feeling one gets from meditation practice, is not a basis for judging external reality.

    We can’t judge our political aims, goals, actions needs and so on based on that sort of emotion. Watching the GOP debates, not to say we are the same, but as an example of how well emotions steer the bus, I had to agree with Fidel Castro that it was the biggest display of ignorance and stupidity in the entire world. Because they are all arguing on an emotional level, and with total disregard for realities more fundamental than ideology. Like children.

    The reason for these complaints, John, is that something more basic than ideology is being neglected. I would also bet the repetitive nature of it all subsides when one relates to what actually needs attention, rather than propping up or shooting down ideologies.

    In the inspiration of clay pigeons

  84. Rita Ashworth on March 6th, 2012 7:03 pm

    Dear James et al,

    Actually in my last post I dont think I mentioned democracy once but I am interested in searching for forms of engagement where all views and experiences could be heard if you do not trust the term ‘representation’. So to me this does fit the idea of the open dojo which Mark is throwing out for us to discuss. So yes it is quality of being heard which to me at the moment does seem to be more at the forefront in the ‘political’ sphere outside of conventional politics. There is much about the inchoateness of the occupy movement that is refreshing and I think it does call for us to examine our own politics in the broadest sense in terms of the shambhala teachings.
    Of course we could go round and round discussing definitions of politics but I think there has to be some practical element of people discussing and deciding on how they are to run their society ….it still seems to me that some form of this ‘experience’ will have to embodied in an enlightened society for it to get anywhere and then of course melded with this would be meditation.
    I do think ‘collective mind’ comes about with others –listening to people in the last few years and seeing and reading stuff on the web and doing theatre – I am convinced that aspects of this sensation can be transposed into the practical ‘political’ sphere. So open dojo first does have that quality too of mind meeting mind devoid of labelling and then…… so I dont know…. perhaps first we have collective mind and then we have politics….for we are living on this earth…so maybe thats the heaven, man, earth thing. And to me I just can not hedge it in to an ultimate defined form initially –thats whats too defining about Shambhala Buddhism….if we are to get back to the inclusivity or collective mind aspect of the teachings….so maybe the United Nations metaphor came up because Suzanne was trying to glimpse a kind of bigger way of relating to Mind/governance than is happening at present. Just a thought.

    Re propping up or shooting down ideologies….was trying to think more deeply than that to get to the sense of what could be the case re the notion of embodying principles of meditation/mind in governance… very much interested in forms that ‘create’ some sense of unity/cosmic mirror from both western/eastern perspectives. However, now with the proviso, more as I go on thinking that we shall have to use more western aspects than eastern because we are so materialistic in the west.

    Well best rita.

  85. Dawa Chöga on March 17th, 2012 3:56 pm

    Dear Open Dojo:

    A star is born on earth, her name is fukushima, meaning “end of time”
    Sky is tsunami, hot dust floods the hemisphere, science betrayed us
    Invisible volcano belches constant invisible plume of nuclear particles

    Machinery fails, the truth of impermanence is that everything fails
    Reactors only work as long as the matrix of conditions are perfect but
    Now the natural world is wrecked by the impermanence-deniers

    Now this world system is toxic waste, as much an extinction event
    As the impact of an asteroid of ignorance, time of living hell on earth
    Now the mission is palliative in nature, let us help comfort our planet

  86. Suzanne Duarte on March 18th, 2012 12:30 am

    Dear Dawa Chöga, Ah, yes, resonate I do with the truth of what you say. You’ll get no sarcastic backbiting from me, only thanks for raising the bar for our contemplations. Yes the mission at this time is now palliative in nature, but methinks that comforting our planet means relating much more intimately, nurturingly and sympathetically with all wild things than our culture has conditioned us to do. Getting other life forms to stick around is going to be the challenge if humanity wishes to survive. We have turned the tables on ourselves. Now paradigm change is imperative, no longer a choice. Om Mani Padme Hum Hrih!

  87. jampa chophel on March 18th, 2012 12:16 pm

    I appreciate the way you expressed that, Suzanne.
    One of the things we can all do to help is to stop our fellow creatures.
    If we stop supporting the factory farms, there would be no market for the billions of animals suffering horribly, and it would help slow down climate change tremendously. Vegan diets are healthier, too.
    We could also stop supporting the exploitation of our fellow creatures for sport, clothing, research experiments, entertainment, etc.., and instead, just honour them and care for them.

  88. jampa chophel on March 18th, 2012 12:17 pm

    typo correction from last post – I meant to say that we can stop *eating* our fellow creatures.

  89. John Tischer on March 18th, 2012 1:24 pm

    The world has gone from “progress” to “sustainability” to “survival” in 60 years…

  90. James Elliott on March 27th, 2012 12:20 am

    I was responding to the general notion of representation as a solution towards or as an element of open dojo.

    We need representation for participation in society; fairness, rules of engagement, business, laws, justice, conflict resolution of all kinds and so on. But I don’t know that it makes sense or is even possible for representation in politics for my particular beliefs, whatever they may be in the moment… which is a major crux of the problem. Beliefs change not only due to neurotic caprice, but as a result of one’s personal and individual development in worldly or in spiritual matters. One might even say spiritual work is about changing or unfreezing beliefs, not about locking them in to a certain structure with a particular result in view.

    My interest in this particular thread, is to eke out any practical ways to engender ‘Open Dojo’. I know what Mark’s referring to, have experienced it and not only on Shambhala premises, a sort of unity in spite of whatever hierarchy is happening for whatever reason. And which is also not beholden to special interests; like if you agree with us you are good, if you don’t you are bad’. That is fairly easy to engender when like minded people gather.

    The challenge is to be able to do that when people don’t agree about everything. We can see within Shambhala International there is a polarizing tendency to religious beliefs, in my opinion due to beliefs being used in political ways, which is the case when beliefs become the litmus test to one’s involvement in any way more involved than paying dues.

    As well meaning and as good as advice is that we heal the planet or become vegetarian may be I don’t see what that offers in a practical way to how you or we or they can engender Open Dojo. Is it based on a hope or wish that it will come about through magic, or when we all believe the same sorts of things (ditto)?

    I don’t trust that anymore. There has to be practical real world ways to engender Open Dojo, to care for each other whether enlightened or not, or are we simply talking about another epiphanic religious experience accessible only for the select few who have set their sights on genuine absolute complete enlightenment, but which seems to have little or no political value?

    In the inspiration that unity is never engendered through exclusivity.

  91. john on March 28th, 2012 2:49 pm

    How about unity under the incarnation of Trungpa Rinpoche or should we forget all about him and only think about an “Open Dojo”.

    Talk , talk , talk about everything under the sun except the return of your “Beloved Teacher?”.

    Vows Vows Vows

    All broken but who cares anyway.

  92. Rita Ashworth on March 29th, 2012 2:01 am

    Dear James,

    Thanks for your post….the forms that are interesting me now re ‘Open Dojo’ motif seem to be theatre, particularly Augusto Boals work ‘ Legislative Theatre’, which does engender at times a ‘sense’ of unity-so re theatre and the fundamental experience of dynamic space perhaps this is why Trungpa taught Mudra initially when he went to the states to get that sense of getting beyond ‘beliefs’. And consequently maybe out of that brimming space comes a sense of connection with fluid power. So the King element would have to be a very much 360 degree force –reacting in space to what is.
    Yes, Mudra was much concerned with the group working together so you could not call it a sole epiphanic experience, but maybe something deeper as regards unity did happen-would be interesting to hear from people who partook in those early sessions with Rinpoche. Perhaps even then when he taught this discipline he was thinking of enlightened society-just a thought.
    Re the Occupy movement yes I agree at times it looks like a floundering mass of people going towards some Notion of the Good, but what in essence interests me about it is the sense of questioning and use of space that is going on-such questioning is more outer-focussed than is usual for an acquisitive society as the States – so I dont know could there also be some sense of quasi-unity developing there –its all quite intriguing this kind of thought movement that America is flooring as a nation –it must be quite shocking and unsettling to a lot of people –so very much a cutting of habitual thought patterns. I imagine this notion of The End of ‘US’, is why SI maybe getting loads of people to its huge ‘gatherings’ –they must think that some one has The Answer to the way out of all this Mess-sadly myself – I think culture does not turn like this…it comes out of more an engaged process which challenges the emotions and the Mind so that the Observer is drawn out of his/her own subjectivity into the greater world out there….so yes very much the existentialist position (perhaps another reason Satre wrote plays also).
    Agree practicality is important re the structuring of a society, but the practicality must be dynamic I think from what I am reading in western philosophy at present –this is why I think Holloway and Hardt, who seem to me to follow on from Fromm, are interesting figures in positing the end of the state and institutions -anyway have ordered Hardt’s book ‘Multitude’ to get a sense of where he is coming from in regard to a large grouping of people using power in a different manner- and of course the Multitude in those days of the British civil war were composed not just of the standard religios of the times but many people questioning the status quo. In addition I am also just visiting areas in my own locality to see where the co-operative movement was born –this may aka Fromm also have implications about how you could construct a ‘practical’ enlightened society.
    Well I do hope some other people can step into this debate aswell re the notion of inclusivity because this to me seems to be the essence of the Shambhala teachings, in fact it has to be the case because you can not bind power in certain forms as SB is trying to do – Power/Drala seems to me to be more transformative, malleable, dynamic a thing-than the ‘precious’ limited notion of King displayed now in the centres-yes not my notion of King/Power – I definitely have other ideas about all that due to my past/recent experiences.

    Well best,

    Rita Ashworth

  93. John Castlebury on April 14th, 2012 6:02 am

    [An excerpt from Talk 2 of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s “The Chicken and the Egg”, teachings on karma and cause and effect given in Los Angeles, CA, August 19-21, 2011]:


    Right now people like us have no tolerance or patience for the fact that everything is emptiness. We cannot tolerate the emptiness; basically, we shun and have an aversion to the truth. We like the comfort zone of illusion, and why? It is because of a lack of understanding or only partial understanding of cause and effect.

    Not understanding makes us so naïve and easily tricked. Ordinary people and religious people alike can accept that certain things that appear such as a dream, mirage or rainbow are illusions; this much we can accept. But it’s harder to accept that not just some appearances but all appearances are illusions.

    Most worldly sciences and philosophies make the error of reaching a conclusion or thesis or answer; in other words, choosing to believe either the chicken or the egg came first, in effect. It doesn’t matter whether it is an almighty god or an almighty atom, almighty chicken or almighty egg: we always end up believing in an almighty view.

    So then the ultimate truth beyond views and beliefs is simply ignored. We just don’t want to let go. It’s so difficult, understandably, to contemplate giving up all views, especially since we rely on a view of self as proof to justify our belief that we exist. So clear understanding of karma is crucial to understanding the Buddhist wisdom of emptiness.

  94. John Castlebury on April 16th, 2012 8:16 am

    DJKR on beliefs, ibid.

    The most essential technique of both mahasandhi and mahamudra is to let go of every conclusion that we cherish. As long as we cling to any temporal or spiritual conclusion or decision, we are on shaky ground. Do you know why? Because every belief we have about the ultimate truth is no more sure or secure than a house of cards.

    A belief is a compounded phenomenon, and whatever is compounded can’t be trusted as an undeceiving object of refuge. That a belief is compounded means that it is composed of the causes and conditions that the belief depends on. This means that beliefs are subject to change since whatever depends on conditions is inherently unstable. If the conditions change, the belief changes. Compounded phenomena like beliefs may appear to be strong, stable and permanent. But they are neither strong nor stable nor permanent. A belief is as insecure as a house of cards. If even one reason for believing in a belief changes, a belief will collapse instantly.

  95. Ash on April 22nd, 2012 3:48 pm

    “If even one reason for believing in a belief changes, a belief will collapse instantly.”

    Not so sure about that one. Seems to me that most of the time, belief trumps facts, in that no matter how much evidence one might be shown to the contrary, usually a belief holds and that evidence is diminished, then quickly relegated to a cognitive filing cabinet somewhere never to see the light of day again.

    Indeed, I think the main purpose of conventional religion is to channel the cognitive-emotive predisposition to fashion mind into a belief system of sorts so that we all share one with similar experiences and vocabulary, thus creating a more well knit society. If leadership and followership are intelligent, sincere and mean well, a good time is had by all, and life’s many purposes, promises and blessings are enhanced, wisdom and virtue increase etc. If not, then the opposite, but in any case, when one or more are gathered together under any tent with any name, beliefs are in their too, in every fold of fabric, cut of cloth, turn of phrase, wink, joke, sermon, flirt, command or bowl of soup. Beliefs wink at you whether you think you have one or not.

    That’s what I believe, anyway!

  96. Rita Ashworth on April 23rd, 2012 4:18 pm

    Dear Ash & John(C),

    I am not sure about this ‘belief thing’….think for myself religious ‘experience’ goes beyond belief in that it is immediate, uncontrolled, and dynamic.
    It is only after religious experience, for want of a better phrase, that one has some sense of how to follow ones path, maybe this is why you then get the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path which are more codified matters. So yes the Buddha is awake then he has to some how relate that to people living on this earth so then we get the various teachings.
    In Religious Studies there is very much a debate that has been going on for ages re beliefs/believing – I somewhat remember reading about it at college in a book called ‘Religious Understanding and Religious Belief’(I think by Braithwaite tho I am not sure completely of the author).
    For today generally in terms of modern religious understanding beliefs persay are heading out the door and the emphasis does seem to be on experience and spirituality in Christianity and Buddhism. So again re the open dojo –the main point would be one would have to relate to it somewhat without conventional beliefs religious or otherwise….so yes the open dojo would very much have to be seen in terms of ‘experiencing’ space itself.
    If you could offer a deeper meaning of belief perhaps in terms of devotion that might fit a somewhat emotive connection to practice.
    As for ‘followership and leadership’-not terms I would use ‘follow’ is a little distant….one would have to be even closer to the teacher than these terms allow…so again devotion comes in here again which is not exactly following.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth.

  97. Ash on April 30th, 2012 7:12 pm

    Well, I think belief can go very deep. For example, most of us ‘believe’ that the three-dimensional world interpreted through our cognitive-sensorial intelligence is real and solid.

    When all is said and done, no matter how powerfully self-evident it seems to be, ultimately it is just a ‘belief’. That is perhaps an extreme and also, understandably, debatable. But the same type of faculty that knits together how we perceive ‘reality’ is at play as the same one that perceives/tells/hears stories, narratives, explanations, ideas, visions, dreams, explanations, relationships, customs, cultural mores and all the rest of it.

    You cannot walk in a tribal jungle without seeing your belief system mirrored back in the eyes of various animals, in the cries of various birds, in the bites of various insects. Similarly, our urban world is peopled with reflections of our own perceptions, aka ‘beliefs’, including shared sense of time, mundanity, role and function of human life, role of machines. The labelling on a package of cereal trumpets various materialist, utilitarian and commercial belief systems which are instantly transmitted and received by most of us, often without our either noticing or knowing.

    Which is why ignorance is the most difficult of the kleshas to transmute, and why tantric types for millenia have preferred the more controversial, but also more colourful, passion to work with, with aggression a close runner up for all those who refuse to learn how to have a good time.

  98. John on May 4th, 2012 7:11 pm

    Just saw the movie “Crazy Wisdom the life and times of CTR”.

    Did this film show that CTR was a great teacher or that he was the head of a CULT?

    Was this film done by SMR and his Shambhala organization?

    I showed the Youtube documentary to a retired federal intelligence officer who worked cults.

    He saw the doc. five times and stated that in his expert opinion that has be accepted up to to the Federal Court of Appeal that CTR was a CULT leader.

    He asked me if the person(s) who did this film was in fact secretly exposing CTR as a CULT.

    He also saw the dvd, “Tulku” and said he would have to research the laws in Scotland to see if CTR engaged in the act of “Statutory Rape” by having sex with a girl under 16 years of age.

    He stated that it appears that Diane Mukpo was under the legal age of consent and that CTR could have committed the crime of “Statutory Rape”.

    Things that made me go HMMM!!!

  99. John Tischer on May 4th, 2012 9:41 pm

    Yeah….great…go ahead and get nowhere…..

    That movie is going to prove Trungpa Rinpoche’s mandala was a cult ?

    Wow…that’s really beyond absurd… Any amount of money you want to bet…any odds.

  100. John on May 4th, 2012 10:28 pm

    Did Trungpa engage in “Statutory Rape” of an under aged minor girl?

    Yes Or No.


    Well John Tischer is it Yes or is it no or are you just going to duck that question?

    Is it OK for a Catholic Priest to seduce a 15 or 16 or 17year old girl???

    Is it OK for a Catholic Priest to seduce his female followers?

    No its not.

    So is it OK when a Rinpoche does it?

    Sorry, I forgot that “ENLIGHTENED ACTION” by any “ENLIGHTENED MASTER”.

    Sounds like a CULT, walks like a CULT and certainly talks like a CULT.

    So did CTR engage in “Statutory Rape”?????????

    Is Trungpa just another Catholic Priest is Rinpoche’s Robes?????????????

    Are you, all of you in a CULT????????

  101. James Elliott on May 5th, 2012 4:39 am

    I’ve experienced it enough to have an inkling that anyone who’s accusing others of breaking samaya, (March 28) wants only power or control; they want to lord it over the people they accuse in some way or other. Samaya is a relationship, a vow, a bond between a teacher and a student, with a very specific aim. Any other uses of it are at best beside the point.

    In the inspiration of discriminating wisdom.

  102. James Elliott on May 5th, 2012 4:40 am

    Ash wrote:” the main purpose of conventional religion is to channel the cognitive-emotive predisposition to fashion mind into a belief system of sorts so that we all share one with similar experiences and vocabulary, thus creating a more well knit society”. So see a majority of religious and political leaders their task, but that’s also why so many have left the church in dire straits and why politicians have the reputation they’ve earned.

    Ash is right that religion, if it is a genuine contemplative tradition, if it has any real and lasting value works with our tendencies and emotions in some way, but he’s wrong that the aim of that ‘work’ is our all thinking in sort of the same way. A lot of us groked what that’s about, and is one of the main reasons many of us found refuge with Trungpa Rinpoche. That is not what he was doing.

    There are so many studies in various disciplines about the instinctive and deep rooted falicies of group think, it ought to be common sense. Rather than harmony (or the security of numbers) an attempt to engender or maintain ‘sameness’, even within mindless biological systems, instead breeds weaknesses, vulnerabilities, limitations of independent thought and action, a kind of stupidity or even pathologies, a dearth of creativity, honesty and ultimately instability in any group that demands it.

    With a note that our cultural milieu and beliefs are not identical, I agree with the quotes John C. posted. There’s more to it all than whether we believe our beliefs or not, but beliefs are inherently unstable. They shift like the proverbial feather in the wind dependant on advantage or danger we encounter, on our mood or last meal, whether we are in love or stressed, friends or enemies and so on.

    Big beliefs can change too: when a parent who is anti-gay discovers their child is gay, when Trungpa Rinpoche renounced his robes, when the Ronin’s brutality became a search for truth and that dissolved too, when a parent sees their newborn child the first time, when a parent dies or we encounter firsthand the suffering of others. If in certain situations we don’t let go of certain beliefs, if there is no change, then we aren’t paying attention.

    In the inspiration that awareness and transformation, regardless whatever conclusions or beliefs one employs for the moment, is much closer to the dharma Trungpa Rinpoche taught, than crowd control.

  103. John on May 5th, 2012 6:04 am

    I’m sorry but was that a Yes or a No to my question?

    Most people would say yes or no but people in a cult can’t.

    Well how about was CTR a drunk , an alcoholic who died an ugly death at 47 years.

    No no no , our beloved CTR wasn’t because if he was then we followed a lie, we were in a cult.

    If the person was a Catholic priest the answer is simple.

    Yes or No.

    Yes or No.

  104. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 12:01 pm

    Drink, yes, which you can’ understand….sleep with his students, yes, which you can’t understand…rape? No.

    Also, people were free to leave the sangha whenever they wanted….no one ever harassed anyone who decided to drop out….and many did. John, you’ll never be able to be close enough to what happened to be able to see it clearly…and you can label it a cult or what ever…means absolutely nothing at all. Nothing.

  105. John on May 5th, 2012 12:21 pm

    How about quity of “Accesory to Murder”?

    A Catholic Bishop finds out that his second in command has HIV and is having sex with both male and female followers.

    He tells his second in command to do 10 hail marys and 10 our father before having sex with them again and they will not get HIV or AID.

    Followers get HIV and AIDS and one dies.

    Should the Bishop go to jail for counsel to commit a felon crime and aiding and abetting and accessory to murder.

    Not if he is Charle Mansion Rinpoche or Jimmy Jones Rinpoche or Trungpa Rinpoche.

    No CTR is a living Buddha.

    Please this is a cult leader plain and simple and your are in a cult.

    But if you admit this your must admit that your life was lived in a cult.

  106. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 12:30 pm

    I admit that you are an angry person whose anger is based on rumor and innuendo of a subject you have no personal experience of and is therefore
    to be completely discounted. What you’re really doing here is making yourself look like a fool. All the best, John

  107. Joe Schmidt on May 5th, 2012 12:32 pm

    Dear anonymous “john”:

    Suppose you’re right and you are some kind of genius who has figured out the insidious roots of this cult. And suppose that everyone who has a heart connection to Trungpa Rinpoche is a victim of brainwashing, including H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa XVI and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s whose judgement of character you must feel is inferior to your own righteous indignation. Where does that leave us?

    What exactly is your motivation here? Do you wish to deprogram the hapless victims of this mass brainwashing out of a wish to liberate them/us from confusion? Is your motive a compassionate motive? If so, then you’ll have to change your method because your rage against the guru and sangha only alienates the very people you are supposedly trying to enlighten.

    You are so worked up. You seem to be seething and looking for the cause of your terrible suffering. And you have fixated on the corrupt guru and the corrupt disciples as the cause. But in the end you are still suffering the pent-upness of your anger, and the victims of brainwashing are still suffering the effects of brainwashing.

    So who actually benefits by your expression of rage? If your motivation is truly compassionate, you will have to find a more skilful way to gradually remove the scales from the eyes of the clueless disciples.

  108. John on May 5th, 2012 12:39 pm

    Do CTR and his Regent Osel have the BLOOD of that dead follower on their hands?

    You call me a fool.

    Did Charle Mansion Rinpoche and Jimmy Jones Rinpoche have sex with their followers?

    Were Charlie Mansion Rinpoche and Jimmy Jones Rinpoche addicted to alcohol or drugs?

    Do Charlie Mansion Rinpoche and Jimmy Jones Rinpoche have blood on their hands?

    Do they remind you of anyone.

    I BET they do remind many ex followers of CTR.

    Do you want to have your bet with all of us that this is a cult?

    If I am a fool what does that make you.

    A man in DEEP DENIAL.

    Having sex with a person under a certain age is called “Statutory Rape”.

  109. John on May 5th, 2012 12:47 pm

    Joe, its called “Wrathful Compassion”.

    I don’t believe in “Idiot Compassion”.

    But you can’t de cult and person in a cult until they come to their senses.

  110. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 12:48 pm

    You have no idea if what anything you’re saying is true…..your just a sorry
    ranter…you provide no proof…what do they call people like you? Troll?
    stewing in your own juices….. I really feel sorry for you….

    You don’t seem to be making it as a human very well maybe you should get down on all fours and try to make it as a dog…there are plenty of dogs here in Mexico that howl all night…no one knows why, including the dogs…you’ll fit right in!

  111. Joe Schmidt on May 5th, 2012 1:03 pm

    dear john,

    my questions are not rhetorical! i expect 5 answers if you dare! and re so-called “wrathful compassion”, beginners like us should only practise gentle compassion and leave wrathful compassion to realised beings.

  112. John on May 5th, 2012 1:04 pm

    How did Osel DIE?

    How did Trungpa DIE?

    How did his now dead follower die of and from whom did he receive this special AIDS BLESSING from.

    How many followers received that special HIV blessing.

    The more you write the more you show the world that you are in a cult.

    I really feel sorry for you TOOOOOOOOO.

  113. John on May 5th, 2012 1:14 pm


    You are engaged in an old act of not making the question about the message the only issue.

    The old trick is to start asking questions about the messanger.

    An old trick.

    Stick to the message and not the messanger.

  114. Joe Schmidt on May 5th, 2012 1:29 pm

    there just is no talking sense to a drunken unrepentant baby-shaker who tells himself it is wrathful compassion to make the baby stfu…

  115. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 1:40 pm


  116. John on May 5th, 2012 1:57 pm

    There are still followers of Jimmy Jones Rinpoche.

    There are still followers of Charle Marsion Rinpoche.

    There are still follewers of Trungpa Rinpoche , 25 years after he died from drinking himself to DEATH.

    Want to know the SECRET Mantra that Trungpa gave to Osel so he would or is that wouldn’t infect others with his HIV?

    Its the same SECRET Mantra you use when you put a load gun to your head and pull the trigger.

    One Mantra works faster then the other but the results are the same.

    Sorry Joe for being so unskillful but what have you done to help these people.

    I am trying are you, or is your thing to just watch a train wreck.

  117. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 1:59 pm

    little john,

    When people try to respond to you rationally, you come out with the same ridiculous club and try to head people over the head with it again….you
    need a soap box and a street corner, boy….you don’t listen….Arrroooooooo!!

  118. John on May 5th, 2012 2:05 pm

    What mantra did Trungpa give you.

    Hopefully not the same he gave to OSEL.


    Sorry have to go and wash out this silly diluted mind.

    Hay its Jimmy Jones Rinpoche at my door with his special KOOL AID.

    Lets all have a drink in Trungpa’s memory and his great successes.

  119. John Tischer on May 5th, 2012 2:10 pm

    You’re having fun, john, that’s all….I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say this whole play here is for your entertainment….Arrrrrrooooooo!!

  120. Michael on May 5th, 2012 3:07 pm

    John’s rants have been a bit rough. Then again, so were some of the responses he elicited. Not quite sure what he expects to accomplish. On the other hand, the things he’s said are not wild allegations. Pretty much public knowledge. Perhaps it’s easy to dismiss someone who comes across as an angry ranter (a “troll”?). If the criticisms were communicated in a less wrathful tone, what would the response be? I’ve never seen a coherent logical response to the things he (and others) said (i.e., the drinking, sex, HIV, etc.). And I never thought that silence or chalking it up to “crazy wisdom” were meaningful responses. Anyone can do that. As much as those who were there might not like it, that does indeed give the whole thing the appearance of just another cult. If it walks, talks and quacks like duck, then… Trying to be skeptical, non-judgmental and objective can be a challenge. I’d love to see a well-thought out response from one or more of his followers (instead of “I was there and you weren’t.”). Maybe nobody cares. Maybe some do. No big deal.

  121. John Perks on May 5th, 2012 4:20 pm

    Well thats interesting,and it is a problem,but it is one that each being has to work out,some times beyond logic,which cannot be spoken,or heard as logic…that is why it is recommended that one should find a teacher,a teacher that you have a Karmic connection with,you will have to trust your mind,and heart about that……CTR is a teacher for really stupid people like me,but perhaps not for John,which is ok,if john see’s a cult that is ok as well for him to see that,if beyond that then the big'”NO” is proclaimed…but sometimes the big “NO” is beyond logic….I am sorry I cannot be of help,sometimes I could not explain my teachers actions he was not mine alone his messages where to others,he taught me the meaning of love for all beings,I might say a hard lesson,but then I was as dumb as a bag of hammers,perhaps I still am….love remains…as for cults could not care less

  122. damchö on May 5th, 2012 5:44 pm


    I agree that these are important topics. I wasn’t around in VCTR’s day but for what it’s worth (probably not very much), here is my contribution to answering your question.

    Firstly, about the Regent issue: all of that very much disturbs me. That’s all I can say, since I wasn’t there and don’t know anything first-hand. But it definitely raises important questions surrounding the nature of power in Tibetan Buddhism and Shambhala.

    Beyond this, re: drinking and sex, I think it’s important to keep both “sides” fully in view. I personally don’t think Shambhala is doing a good job of that today; it seems to me to have become rather puritanical and suspicious of enjoyment, especially ecstatic enjoyment, anything outside the “average” “norm.” Confucianism’s increasing influence I suppose, Taoist and Vajrayanic energy in decline. ?

    I can’t say I understand why VCTR drank *that* much, and I do understand how, from the outside, it certainly can appear that he was addicted to alcohol. I don’t feel I can comment on that with regard to someone of his stature. All I can say is that if we have divested ourselves of the view that intoxication is a “bad” thing in any way, all we are left with seems to be the question of whether or not he “did his job” as a teacher, as a guru, and whether or not he caused anyone any harm through his drinking. It seems he shortened his life (and we could debate whether or not longevity in and of itself, from the vast perspective of innumerable lifetimes, trumps this or that other value), but beyond that? I don’t happen to drink even remotely to that extent, but so what? There are others who don’t drink at all and would view the three margaritas I put away last night as excessive. Again aside from the question of harm, it seems to me an entirely relative matter, certainly not a moralistic one.


  123. damchö on May 5th, 2012 5:56 pm


    Ditto for sex. Will our culture ever shed its collective hypocrisy about it? I feel we’re actually getting even more confused by the decade… VCTR’s sex life does not strike me as a “moral” issue. Personally, I wish he’d have embodied in that area the teachings on non-duality, non-preference, one taste etc and slept with males as well as females sometimes. I think that would have been a powerful teaching. Beyond this, I can’t comment. Sex in and of itself is good and pretty much everyone knows it–it depends solely on what we do with it obviously. It can be harmful in the usual ways. And in far less commented-upon ways too: people can be warped through *not* experiencing any physical closeness and warmth for too long while having to live within a culture in which it is constantly exhibited all around them. Sometimes people can harm through flirtation, through withholding any intimacy. We could take a bigger view.

    So my (unprofound) thought about sex is just: don’t hurt anyone; enrich with the best of what you are; always be kind; try and give something sometimes to people who might benefit; try not to take refuge in an égoïsme à deux etc.

    What do I know? But this I have always loved and often quote (VCTR, “1111 Pearl Street (Off Beat)”):

    In the clear atmosphere,
    A dot occurred.
    Passion tinged that dot vermilion red,
    Shaded with depression pink.
    How beautiful to be in the realm of nonexistence:
    When you dissolve, the dot dissolves;
    When you open up, clear space opens.
    Let us dissolve in the realm of passion,
    Which is feared by the theologians and lawmakers.
    Pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck the wild flower.
    It is not so much of orgasm,
    But it is a simple gesture,
    To realize fresh mountain air that includes the innocence of a wild flower.
    Come, come, D.I.R., you could join us.
    The freshness is not a threat, not a burden;
    It is a most affectionate gesture–
    That a city could dissolve in love of the wildness of country flowers.
    No duty, no sacrifice, no trap;
    The world is full of trustworthy openness.
    Let us celebrate in the cool joy
    The turquoise blue
    Morning dew
    Sunny laughter
    Humid home
    Images of love are so good and brilliant.

  124. Michael on May 5th, 2012 6:03 pm

    Thanks Damcho. (I’ll drink to that!)

  125. John Perks on May 5th, 2012 6:36 pm

    THANK YOU,thats it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  126. John Perks on May 5th, 2012 7:08 pm

    PS he did sleep with males

  127. john on May 5th, 2012 8:01 pm

    Thank Michael for your words.

    Trungpa’s actions lead to a man dying of aids.

    They were criminal in nature and if he and Osel were alive they would have been arrest and sent to prison.

    Trungpa estate should have be sued and he should have lost everyrthing.

    Did he engage in criminal acts.


    When you really start from there the true healing starts.

    A healing we all need, you and I.


  128. James Elliott on May 6th, 2012 9:33 am

    John (No Last Name: Nln) has an extremely vitriolic view and demonstrably inaccurate picture of what happened within Vajradhatu, but he’s also right when he says there are issues we are not dealing with properly, as a group. That’s something that IS relevant to ‘Open Dojo’.

    I never heard Trungpa Rinpoche said a mantra would prevent infection. That’s absurd. The Regent did say something along those lines as an excuse, but later admitted that was not what was actually said. At the time we were told at meetings chaired by Board of Directors members that Trungpa Rinpoche, after having himself admonished the Regent to desist without affect, had pleaded with Board members to help him stop the Regent. He himself was mostly bedridden and passed away in the midst of the Debacle. The Board failed, largely due to the hierarchical structure of virtually any religious organization, and the sub-culture milieu it operates in – we don’t have real police. They did request and got help from High level officials of the Tibetan Buddhist church, who did their level best to stop the Regent.

    The Regent refused their suggestions or ways to work with the situation, and instead withdrew to Ohai, California setting up his own enclave, estranged in all meaningful ways from Trungpa Rinpoche’s sangha, no longer welcome in Boulder after having created a gaping split in the community by trying to excommunicate members who did not transfer their loyalties from Trungpa Rinpoche to himself, and knowing that if he ever went to Halifax the headquarters of Vajradhatu, or anywhere in Canada he would have been arrested for murder. In America, at that time at least, sleeping with someone and infecting them with AIDS was not an offense prosecutable as murder, or Kier’s relatives would probably have brought charges against him there, as they promised they would do if he went to Canada.

    That Trungpa Rinpoche or the Regent did or did not make mistakes is one issue, not at limited or defining of cults. Again, every organization is prone to and has experienced mistakes and abuses of power. How it was kept hidden and handled after the fact by all responsible parties, including members then and now is another issue, in which John Nln has some leverage.


  129. James Elliott on May 6th, 2012 9:37 am

    I have heard of another spiritual group that experienced similar problems, a high level official deemed later as having a ‘borderline personality disorder’ who was highly manipulative and misused their position, abusing members. The lineage holders there worked with it by first removing him from all responsibilities (he moved on to more fertile pastures), and then collecting all information about what had happened, what signs had been missed or ignored, the damages incurred and what could be done to prevent it in future.

    Anyone now being promoted to teacher level must read these notes and is interviewed about it. It is an open and detailed account in effect immunizing the group from such a problem ever reaching those dimensions again.

    In this Vjdh/Shambhala abjectly failed. Is this due to some of those involved still holding high level positions? Who can say. In any case it has been treated as something that will heal or fade with time alone, as if we have the brains of chipmunks, or as if humans haven’t yet invented writing. The Debacle is a part of Vjdh/Shambhala history, and disowning it makes it all the darker.

    And too we can see how this tactic is still extant, for example trying to quell the split in the community around those who disagree with specifics about the Sakyong Mipham’s direction or are still loyal to Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, and on the other hand those who have transferred that same kind of relationship to Sakyong Mipham, waiting it out till those in dissent give up, go away or die.

    In general, my view is that this is a problem born of basing the administrative and political structure of Shambhala on the vajra-master teacher/student relationship. Within that theocracy, and again this is in no way a definition of cults, but rather a quirk of any human organization that is too highly centralized, from the PTA, to the CIA, from prisons to the Catholic Church, from China’s Communism to Rupert Murdock’s organization, corruption is inevitable. Show me a highly centralized organization and I will show you a hotbed of corruption, scandalous sexual relationships, and damaging secrets. There are no exceptions.

    In the inspiration that in this multifaceted world, black and white thinking about complex issues is probably a form of pathology.

  130. Suzanne Duarte on May 6th, 2012 11:18 am

    Bravo, James Elliott. I largely agree with your version of our history, as well as your view of highly centralized organizations. My personal view is that our failure to deal with the Regent Debacle in a sane and healthy way, not to mention a dharmic way, is the basic cause of the dysfunctions within our sangha.

    I know from documents on the Chronicle Project site, and from private conversations, that HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and HE Jamgon Kongrul Rinpoche were fully apprised of the crisis in our sangha surrounding the Regent. I have heard from a reliable source that HE JKR’s view was that the Regent should stop teaching altogether, and go into seclusion (retreat) for the remainder of his life. If that had happened, much suffering in our sangha might have been prevented.

    As it is, the karma of our situation continues to ripen in malodorous ways.

    As for John Nln, it might be more effective for you to seek a trauma therapist to deal directly with any personal wounds that have their root in our sangha. Accusations of crime have no teeth at this point.

  131. John Perks on May 6th, 2012 7:19 pm

    there is no situation that can be inproved,karma actually works,.the regents karma is his own on the path to liberation,just like us,if that effects you because of your attatchments,thats ok,then you work with that,because it is your karmic attachment,one cannot blame one’s karmic attachments,we work the situation, also CTR gave each of us spercific instruction because he loved us all,his actions were always to that end there is nothing else,he wanted us to become enlightend beings… happy continuation..sack of hammers,blameing others for your pain is not working with the situation,the Regent has his own path so do you,can you help others on there path? thats the work

  132. John Perks on May 6th, 2012 7:43 pm

    PS and suffering cannot be prevented by logic action,suffering is life,thats how you know you exist…because of that you love all beings on the path,the Regent is the Regent CTR is CTR,what a magnificet display…………….thank Anu for wiskey

  133. John Perks on May 6th, 2012 8:29 pm

    PPSS,You cannot save beings,thats the problem with therapy,it only brings you back to your imprisonment,you can show the way,what ever that means,otherwise its almost a crap shoot…beyond LOGIC…..

  134. John Perks on May 6th, 2012 8:33 pm

    PPSS,You cannot save beings,thats the problem with therapy,it only brings to you back to your imprisonment,you can show the way,what ever that means,otherwise its almost a crap shoot…beyond LOGIC…..

  135. John on May 6th, 2012 10:57 pm

    We have all been actors playing out our roles in this royal Dharmakaya play.

    All good little actors dutifully carrying out our lines and resulting STAGED

    CTR and the Regent played out their lines and roles
    Now it is our turn to continue this royal FARCE until our lines and roles come to an end.

    To ACT and to DIE and to ACT and DIE until this UNIVERSAL STAGED PLAY
    comes to its glorious end.

    Good night my sweet actors.

    Sleep well, dream well for the curtains go up at this THEATRE of the ABSURDS again tomorrow.

  136. John Tischer on May 6th, 2012 11:29 pm

    Hey, Dude! I agree with Suzanne….
    but I’d put it a different way….

    DUDE! Yer totally FUCKED!

    yer not really talking to anybody…this is just a place
    where you can put your words….like another commodity
    I will have the decency to refrain from identifying….

    really…DUDE….there’s no hard feelings…there’s no way
    I could ever take anything you say seriously…welcome
    to pinataville!

    (YES! yes!! this is a way part of the sangha was sometime….or some of the sangha was part time….the way I’m being right now….like it? )

  137. John Perks on May 7th, 2012 5:53 am

    Dear Suzanne and James,of course you are right about organizations,It seems when the Buddha made up the Vinaya rules he also stated “this is where the corruption starts”,and with or without rules its there…so I suppose we are stuck with that,where nothing really works,some times its like Hercules cleaning out the Augean stables,,and of course the joke is we all know the horses are going to shit again,perhaps thats why Hercules is laughing while he is shoveling…perhaps that is why jumping in for no reason is interesting?…I find I do not have any answers just alot of questions.

  138. John Perks on May 7th, 2012 6:25 am

    Gesar speaking of his fathers work,on the Chronicles Yonten expedition,says some thing very interesting “without the sacrifice ,and choice of countless others to plunge in full heartedly with no apparent good reason he would have been stopped in his tracks”…I think we just loved him simple as that…

  139. Ash on May 7th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Reading through this thread must needs confess that am almost overwhelmed by the glaring irony that the individual whose number and caliber of medals outshine probably the sum total of all the rest of the contributors put together is at the same time not only the most profound, brilliant, powerful and eloquent, but clearly doesn’t spell very well.

    I guess that what comes of getting too close to those foreign-born cult leaders from remote medieval mountain regions…..

    To tell the truth, I have often contemplated about cults, what they are, what the meaning of the word is. has a little bit on it, naturally, and in fact does a good job of demonstrating how often certain types of words, especially those dealing with cultural issues (almost-pun not co-incidental btw), are hard to pin down.

    My favorite use of the word, which I think captures the modern usage in the essentially derogatory way John NN is using, comes from Bubba Free John, who later morphed into someone with a far more glorious name which I don’t recall (Adida something?), namely: ‘the cult of the couple’. He was discussing unhealthy relationships. I think of it as ‘bubble mentality’ and I believe that all associations, from a couple to a country, can fall into such traps. They are society’s equivalent of the meditator’s nyam, which is a form of temporary fixation.

    That said, the relationship of tantric master to student is that of a ‘cult’ in both the quintessential and cautionary sense – it transcends the bonds and bounds of contemporary realities and instead promises a mutual commitment of the utter destruction of conventional egotistical patterns of perception and behavior. Such a bond between two or more, although provocative, even dangerous, and often possibly also illegal, is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed it can be a splendid, heroic exercise in engendering wisdom and compassion.

    That said, there is nothing inherent in a ‘tantric cult system’, so to speak, which necessarily prevents it from becoming a mutual admiration society that leads one to lead followers to commit mass suicide with poisonous gas in underground trains. Except authentic lineage, which still is no more than a judgment call, when all is said and done.

    Ultimately it’s about taking personal responsibility for one’s life and actions, i.e. we are not talking about children here but mutually consenting adults.

    As to various legal accusations and labels being thrown around, seems to me the points made have been more inflammatory and rhetorical than substantive – or at the very best, no more than hearsay.

    As to accusations of murder and suchlike, such matters really shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. I spent time with the young man in question very shortly before his end and he certainly never spoke that way, nor did he manifest any such feelings, though some of his relatives were indeed (and understandably so) upset. But that is all something for them to work with, and not something to be hashed out on a forum (imo).

    For example, I suspect that Lady Diana might have a thing or two to say about rape charges, but then she is far too wise to say a thing or two about it here!

    PS small point to Jamie about religion from above: I did say ‘conventional religion’ and was not intending to imply that the definition quoted applied to yogic/tantric/mystical/contemplative schools. That said, one of the functions of ‘dharma teachings’ surely is to provide a means whereby practitioners of the same ilk can both transmit and communicate shared experiences and views. I guess the real rub here is the degree to which individuals are willing to surrender their own intelligence under the guise of laying down their ego. There is no easy definition or process for getting this right. Ultimately, I think the safest and most reliable course is to avoid over-centralisation and to maintain social structures featuring a plethora of linked but essentially autonomous sanghas. Which brings me back to my personal fascination with local energy, local communities and so on. Or to put it another way: as soon as you have a Pope or a multi-sangha Throne Holder for that matter, you are going to have problems. Which is also why I disagree with NNJohn that we should all be genuflecting to young Tibetan lamas in China right now.

  140. john on May 7th, 2012 1:40 pm


    Statutory rape is when a adult has sex with a girl under a certain age.

    It would appear that if you are under the age of 16 you can NOT give LEGAL

    Learn the LAW first before you comment.

    John Tischer

    Like a little child you must us the “F” word to show your little dirty mind.

    How many decades have you sat on a meditation cushion and alI you can say is “F”.

    You silly little boy.

    Go wash out your mouth and your computer.

  141. Ash on May 7th, 2012 2:02 pm

    NNJ: as I said, you remarks are hearsay at best and thus both legally, lawfully and morally irrelevant. (Further, I confess that I haven’t studied up on Scottish Statutes in the 1960’s, but doubt that you have either.)

    Your main point though, I take it, is that because his followers don’t want to admit that he was guilty of murder of a young man because one of his followers disobeyed explicit instructions to stop exposing people to the disease (which was illegally tested for on his instructions), and possibly guilty of the (statutory, not emotional) rape of his future wife, therefore anyone who studied/worked with him is a brainwashed cult follower.

    Now that is a strong point. But I find it puzzling that the man making that point is also trying to get all these hopeless nitwits (here in a far-flung dissident wing of the fractured empire) to bow down religiously to young lamas in Tibet. Surely only totally brainwashed cult members would do such a thing?

    Unfortunately, it is beginning to sound like you are one of those types who wants the government invulved [sic] in everything, which is another way of saying that you want somebody else to tell you what to do all the time, which is another way of saying that you are, practically speaking, still a child. For an excellent, and disturbingly pithy analysis of this unfortunate tendency afflicting contemporary Americans, which I presume you are for some reason, I warmly suggest you study the following audio-visual presentation: .

    Now I know some people might find this video funny, but as an arch conservative Royalist myself, I am deeply disturbed that young ladies of an erstwhile ‘conservative’ (albeit admittedly anti-Royalist, republican) bent have the irreverence to discuss their private parts in such a shameless fashion and would prefer that the Authorities overseeing Media would clamp down on such expressions forthwith.

    No doubt, dearest No-Name John, you wholeheartedly agree with me on that?

  142. Joe Schmidt on May 7th, 2012 4:44 pm


    Since 1 December 2010, the age of consent in Scotland is 16, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender. Before that date, it was 16 for girls (under a statutory offence) and 14 for boys (the common law age of puberty). However, consensual sex with a girl aged between 13 and 16 is NOT rape, but a lesser offence; on 1 December 2010 this has been given the specific name of “having intercourse with an older child”.

  143. john on May 7th, 2012 7:52 pm

    Where talking 1970 not 2010.

    Different times and laws.

    The local newspaper reported that Diane (16 yrs old) had been engaged in a secret romance (???) for a year prior to her marriage to Trungpa .

  144. Ash on May 7th, 2012 8:34 pm

    “The local newspaper reported that Diane (16 yrs old) had been engaged in a secret romance (???) for a year prior to her marriage to Trungpa.”

    As I said: hearsay. I don’t know about you, but any time I have been in the newspapers or have read about something about which I have first hand knowledge, they have gotten just about every fact wrong. It’s a siddha journalists seem to have perfected.

    But as John P said earlier in his own way: ‘so what?’

    The point is not whether your hearsay accusations are true or false, nor whether or not you are a legal expert and everyone else is a blithering idiot as you seem to take pride in pointing out, but this business about cults on the one hand (we were in one and this is a bad thing), and on the other hand your admonishments about how Trungpa’s followers on this board are samaya breakers for not serving a young Tibetan Lama living in modern-day China etc. and thereby disobeying cult laws (which is also somehow a bad thing), etc.

    Let us grant that questionable things were done, even statutorily prohibited ones: what is your point apart from trolling, literally, for specious argument?

    More importantly, how did you like the video assignment you were given? Any lessons learned?

  145. john on May 7th, 2012 8:47 pm


    My hearsay comes from the Documentary “Wild Wisdom- The life and times of CTR”.

    Its on Youtube and you can see it their, the actual newspaper article is proudly displayed. Not hearsay Ash, Not hearsay.

    What’s my point nothing.

    A 29 year old Catholic Priest has a (secret romance) with a 15 year old girl in his church.

    Nothing wrong Ash.

    What point are you pushing. That what a Rinpoche does is Enlightened Action and when a Catholic Priest does it its a CRIME.

    What my point Ash. To a woman who care think like this, NOTHING.

    If it walks like a cult, talks like a cult and thinks like a cult itssssss?

    A CULT Ash, a CULT.

    Father Mike loves me because he told me that Jesus told him.


  146. Ash on May 7th, 2012 9:00 pm

    j, hearsay is what a third party says about something of which they don’t have first hand knowledge. It’s a legal term. Anything in the newspaper article is simply hearsay, not actual evidence from a sworn affidavit of truth. As a legal eagle I presumed you understood the meaning of the term. In any case, and to sum up the argument: in terms of hearsay your reference to the newspaper article self-evidences that this is all hearsay in a classic, not to mention classically ironic ‘quod erat demontrandum’ way. Or in more contemporary parlance: ” ’nuff said! ”

    Again, your point about cults is well taken, as I mentioned above. I share those concerns as I suspect do the majority of people on this forum. But the way you are making the point is sort of fanatically fundamentalist in itself, not to mention somewhat intensely snarky, not to mention downright rude, not to mention obtusely without any humor at all which makes it downright unacceptable in polite society and therefore essentially non-dharmic and thus probably……

    It appears you didn’t enjoy the video, either as something amusing or as something to righteously deplore (as I do, both sincerely and in jest). Oh well. As I said above somewhere, the preferred klesha for tantrics to work on is passion. Probably you’re more in the aggressive camp. Let us pray for your sake that ignorance isn’t the main one because then your anger will get in the way of the long periods of doing absolutely nothing year after year that buddha family enlightenment requires. And if you enjoy posting on a forum such as this, you are going to find that hard.

    No, my bet is that you are passion-person in disguise but need someone to tickle your funny bone a little more.

    Maybe you should channel all this fundamentalist ire by attending one of John Perk’s famous Celtic-Buddhist Dolmen-shifting workshops. Good exercise, great barley bread, and extreme effort at utter futility which has the extraordinary virtue of arousing both libido and humour at the same time. Powerful stuff!

  147. Ash on May 7th, 2012 9:21 pm

    On a more serious note, I think the issue of cults etc. does relate to the original theme of this ‘Open Dojo’ thread in that the open dojo notion and practice has to do with providing space without dogma or specific allegiance. Now I am not sure how one could make a lineage with any longevity out of this, but it is an interesting, as well as most worthy, thing to contemplate.

    Politically speaking there are a few things swirling around all this: one issue is that in order to have a group there has to be hierarchy – both vertical and horizontal, which mean there has to be form, rules, authority and all the rest of it. In other words, it’s not all just free-form.

    Another issue is that the tantric discipline involves entering into a profound, paradigm-bending cult. The secret tantric mandala is a cult par excellence. No point denying it as long as there is room to allow that the word – as explained in Wikipedia – doesn’t always and only refer to bad cults (of which there are many). This also means that our own cult can be bad, just as our own actions as a student can be bad (aka breaking samayas etc.) so clearly there are no guarantees in tantra, nor do I believe has it ever been portrayed as a safe and thoroughly dependable path. Things can go wrong. Hell is real.

    Another issue is the co-existence of different levels of awareness, commitment and function in a full-blown Shambhala-Buddhist society. By S-B I mean our modern type of buddhist community which is not only buddhist per se but also includes conventional communities within society (closer to the Christian version of a faith than the traditional buddhist one, interestingly in that there are both secular and religious strands).

    There are no doubt more. But I think much of the concern, arguments, doubts, questions and so forth involve various confusions, not to mention possible administrative and conceptual mistakes, made around how these various strands are handled together and/or separately.

    One small example: the purity of the tantric cult needs to be protected as such. If it stops being a cult it will no longer be tantric. Almost by definition.

    But does that cult dynamic automatically work with the outer level organisation including how a Sakyong is presented in the wider world, including the larger sangha? And if there is a difference, what is it? Or rather: what is the outer (non-tantric and non-secret-mandala) definition of how a sangha and/or a separate Shambhala Society operates?

    I don’t think we have done a good job of clarifying these things and instead are left with a sort of pan-generic mishmash of Tibetan-Western-cultish-spiritual hoo-ha which the Zen-like clarity of the open dojo concept is designed – quite deliberately – to boycott.

    I personally think there must be ways to include the outer, inner and secret Buddhist lineages within an overall Shambhalian/Secular umbrella, but that is self-defeating if we try to make the Shambhala path into yet another secret mandala. This is a very tricky and pithy issue for there have been strains of that (secret mandala element) from the very, very beginning after the Ashe Stroke terma was first received and transmitted (and kept secret even from most tantrikas), so this secret/esoteric aspect is part of its seed syllable genetic coding as it were. And yet, and yet, and yet…. the idea was to have something self-standing in the public domain free from all this cultish hoo-ha.

    Obviously I have no clarity or solution to offer. But I do feel strongly that getting angry about all this doesn’t really help. This is not an easy thing to discuss, actualize, figure out. Clearly there are problems. But also perhaps it’s not nearly as bad as some people think and they are mistaking their own laziness or internal obstacles and neurosis for wicked leadership, and/or simply unable or unwilling to strike out on their own without the crutch of friendly community support and friendship.

    Lastly, I believe SMR bravely addressed much of these concerns by very quickly going public with his Sakyonship in Nova Scotia in a manner which his predecessor had not seen fit to do. This was no small move on his part.

  148. john on May 7th, 2012 9:30 pm

    So Ash when a 29 year old Catholic Priest has a secret romance with a 15 year old girl from his church it’s what?

    I was never in World War 2 does that me that it would be here say to say it happened?

    That same newspaper article is shown in the Documentary “Tulku” which was written and directed by Gesar Mukpo.

    It too is proudly displayed in this National Film Board of Canada Documentary.

    Rant and Rant and Rant.

    This newpaper article us “QUOTES” in their story. The quotes are from Lady Diane Mukpo.

    The quote is form her and the newpaper story was from January 1970.

    It was Trungpa and Diane talking to the press.

    Do you get my point now. ASH.

  149. Ash on May 7th, 2012 9:49 pm

    Finally in terms of cults I would like to revisit a point ably made by the worth John P again, namely (to paraphrase) that one man’s cult is another woman’s enlightened path.

    Language is tricky. Built on accessing fourth skandha cognitive fabric using the needle and thread of fifth skandha language and emotion, we rush to all sorts of judgments (or ‘beliefs’) as soon as a word is placed in front of us. (It’s like not actually needing to eat or even smell food, only seeing it, but that being the case, is what we are experiencing really ‘food’?)

    What I mean here is that ( in relation to ‘cult’ or ‘dharma’ or ‘spiritual path’ or ‘sanity’ or ‘confusion’ or ‘wisdom’ etc. etc. ) one person’s relationship to the mandala, or the teacher, or one teacher’s relationship to one student, might be creating a samsaric mandala whereas in other situations/moments/contexts those same individuals might be creating enlightened mandalas.

    Things are not written in stone. To one person in the Assembly Hall, the Buddha was holding up his hand; to another they saw a luminous flower therein; to yet another he illustrated with impeccable clarity and grace the ineffable glory of Buddhahood (as per the Surangama Sutra) whilst discussing the actions of Ananda with a prostitute – if I remember correctly.

    Which is why one of the siddhas is being able to leave footprints in rock. Given the solidity of physical rock is fundamentally illusory – as quantum physicists have proven even using deductions based on originally materialist observation in the realm of conventional-dharma ‘science’ – how much more illusory are things like relationships, the existence or not of cults, or rather negative cults versus positive cults, of samsaric moments and perceptions versus enlightened moments and perceptions.

    And of course we might really in fact be dealing with actual one taste or coemergent situations where sometimes ‘sliding down the razor blade of life’ (to quote the Bodhisattva-Comedian Tom Lehrer of 1950’s fame) seems wisdom, and sometimes it seems obstinate, pig-headed and wicked confusion whereas in fact it is neither one nor the other nor both nor neither, in which falling into the extreme of judging our self or others as being totally without merit or solidly right or definitely wrong is missing the point, aka ‘falling into the fallacy of an extreme point of view’. Not for nothing was Buddhism known for the first few centuries after Lord Buddha’s parinirvana as ‘Madhaymika’ or ‘the Middle Way’, meaning the Way between or beyond any extremes.

    How does it go? ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

    Well said.

    (Especially since ‘sin’ is not necessarily sin, and ‘stones’ are not necessarily any harder than flowers. Etc. etc. ad infinitum. Tantra is sort of baroque, isn’t it?!)

  150. john on May 7th, 2012 10:03 pm

    So your answer is YES???

    Its OK for a 29 year old Catholic Priest to have a secret relationship with a 15 year old girl.

    You can’t answer YES or NO.

    Write thousands of words in response to a ONE WORD ANSWER.

    You CAN,T, you CAN’T give an answer .

    YES or No Ash

    YES or NO.

    Can’t you see what’s happen to yourself.

    How you are in a state of massive denial.

    Please ASH answer the question

    YES or NO

  151. Michael on May 7th, 2012 10:08 pm

    It’s funny to observe this. John Nln ranting and raving. Recipients of his wrath point out his anger, his being “narly”, his need to seek therapy, his inability to spell, his being out of it. Even throw in the F-bomb and call him DUDE. Powerful stuff indeed. But he keeps coming back at them with more of the same. They bob and weave and condescendingly dismiss him, but still can’t help responding to his rants. Talk about defending fragile egos!!! Did their guru react with such defensiveness and insecurity when he was criticized directly, as I’m sure he was? Maybe. I don’t know. Heck, I can’t figure out where John Nln is coming from. Maybe he’s serious and sincere. If so, for what it’s worth, the responses to his accusations are generally weak. Their tone and content, for the most part, confirms rather than refutes his accusations of cultishness. It’s more likely I think, that John Nln has his tongue firmly in cheek, laughing his ass off at the responses he solicits simply by saying the same things over and over again, working his audience like an abusive comedian. Keep calling him a clown while you proudly display your glowing red noses and size 25 shoes. Funny stuff!!!

  152. Ash on May 7th, 2012 10:09 pm

    I did answer: it’s hearsay and as such not for me to judge.

    Or I could answer another way: maybe it’s not okay for a 29 year old Catholic priest, but what about a 30 year old, or a 28 year old Protestant priest?
    What about a 21 year old girl in either case?
    Or what if it’s not secret in any case and we are in Ireland in the 12 century when 12 is the age of consent?

    I have already granted you SEVERAL TIMES now that statutorily incorrect actions may be involved by some of the characters involved.

    And pointed out that the truth or falsehood about that is not really the issue, rather the postiive/negative culthood is the issue.

    Why don’t you answer how you can resolve the fact that
    a) you are accusing the ( tiny – and largely disgruntled – handful) of people here of being mindless cultists with
    b) your pompous admonition that we should all bow down to a young Tibetan out of some sort of medieval honor code to whom your on-high Tibetan Authorities (whom you obviously bow down to for some reason) have told you we are somehow bound, and
    c) your approach is entirely without humor and therefore
    d) has no place on a Vajradhatu-Shambhala Board!
    e) im(not so)ho!

    If you don’t like the words, don’t read them! There’s lots of other stuff on the internet.

    But again, I STRONGLY recommend Perks’ dolmen-lifting workshops. I can tell you are potentially a TERRIFIC dolmen lifter, and Lord knows, we need more Dolmens in North America!

    Furthermore, I think I have sufficient Authority here as a Trungpa-Empowered PooBah in his own right to declare that until you do complete such a program you simply lack the credentials to lecture anybody and therefore also lack the credentials to make all sorts of weird, fundamentalist demands on a thread whose supposed subject is ‘Open Dojo’.

  153. john on May 7th, 2012 10:17 pm


    See the documentary “Tulku”.

    Lady Mukpo talks about being 16 years old and 3 months when she married CTR.

    That’s not hear say and neither are her quotes in the newspaper article.

    Read her own words in her book about her life.

    Will her own words by hear say.

    Statutory incorrect action- is that another way of saying STATUTORY RAPE”

    I murder your mother is that “Statutory incorrect action”?

    Is that what you call it, Ash?

    So it may NOT be OK for a Priest but OK for a “Wolf in Lama’s Robes”?

  154. Michael on May 7th, 2012 10:21 pm

    I apologize to John Nln and the other participants if this all was actually meant to be serious dialogue. But in this theatre of the absurd (I think John Nln actually used that term earlier), it’s pretty funny stuff for an objective observer looking in from the outside.

  155. Ash on May 7th, 2012 10:28 pm

    j, for the fourth or fifth time, I have granted the point. Even though it is hearsay what a newspaper says that Diana said (could be a misquote) and even though I don’t believe the exact nature of their relations was precisely described.

    Again you seem unable to understand the meaning of the term ‘hearsay’ since you obviously cite film and print media as fact. (I find that amazing, frankly.)

    I have not bothered to look up the meaning of Rape, but in my book, there is a difference between consensual and non-consensual relations. Now the rule-books (statutes) have deliberately defined the age of consent because the idea is that under a certain age one is not qualified to give consent, i.e. if a six year old girl ‘consents’ to sex with a 60 year old man, this is not valid consent.

    I refer you to the basis of law, one of the first Common Law Maxims, namely:
    “Consent makes the law.”
    “A contract is a law between the parties, which can acquire force only by consent.
    The agreement of the parties makes the law of the contract.”

    In this particular case what is being argued (I think) is not whether it was consensual (clearly it was since later they were married and for many, many years), but whether such consent was legally valid (which on the surface at least it appears it was not, but again, this is hearsay unless we are given the exact date of any full-blown sexual relations and the exact age of the younger person involved etc. which I don’t think is the case here yet to be niggly about it). But yet AGAIN: I have conceded that legal point that yes, it was statutorily illegal. I do not concede ‘rape’ and the meaning of this term has not been discussed nor do I really care to go that far. I am quite happy that you can call it such if you like, and I can not think of it as such as I like. I do not feel obliged to kow-tow to your characterization of events about which you have NO FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER. As someone who lived with the people involved, I am entitled to my own opinion, wrong as that may be of course, but certainly I feel under no compunction to bow to yours, based on watching videos and newspaper articles and so forth. Probably you cannot even imagine that some people actually knew these people in the flesh and that those people’s opinions are no less valid (as well as being no less prone to being delusory) as the journalists and film-makers whose view you seem to accept so unquestioningly.

    As it happens, I am currently prosecuting an Appeal against the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia based on the premise that they have violated all three of the above fundamental Maxims of Law between Parties and moreover outrageously maintained that such Common Law maxims have no place in contemporary jurisprudence, which I will now have to argue is a violation of fundamental Dharma/Truth/Law established in the Magna Carta (and long before) and never contradicted by more recent conventions such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and so forth.

    Now I may very well be wrong and/or very well lose even if right, but in any case, please forgive me if I find these legal niceties of interest! I am going to have to go up in front of an imposing panel of Supremes (since I cannot afford a lawyer) to literally put my life and liberty on the line with all this.

    (No doubt inspired by SMR’s exortation last year to be ‘brave’!)

    (That last line was a joke!)

  156. john on May 7th, 2012 10:44 pm

    You have not bothered to look up the definition of rape.

    I don’t know any woman who would need to look up the definition of what it means to be RAPED.

    Sorry Ash I really didn’t know you would need to look up a definition of RAPE.

    You can RAPE a girl even if she thinks that she is consenting. The law says that she is to young to form the act of CONSENT.

    That statutory rape ASH.

  157. Ash on May 7th, 2012 10:57 pm

    j, I bungled an edit designed to clarify, so here goes again:

    I concede statutory – even though I personally insist this is all hearsay and therefore moot at best. But characterizing it as “rape” I don’t concede, nor do I grant your rhetorical hyperbole in the form of: “I murder your mother is that “Statutory incorrect action”?” This is just childish world play.

    And again, inappropriately humorless.

    Rape is a form of violence basically. I don’t think that Lady Diana has ever maintained that this occurred and frankly won’t believe you if you say otherwise unless you can provide a precise and verifiable quote to that effect. Any other third party inuendo or rhetorical sleight of hand is not acceptable – in my book at least.

    And also – to be technical – I am not sure that violating the age of consent statute is in any case the same thing as ‘rape’, which is what you are maintaining without any citations, and personally am not interested in researching it since I lived with the two parties involved and trust the evidence of my own senses more than any arguments made by third parties such as yourself or others.

    Michael: what’s it like being an ‘objective observer’. As far as I know, that’s an impossibility. At least it has been ‘objectively’ proven impossible by ‘scientists’…..

    That said, a good example of a ‘nyam’ is the continuation of this argument without a sense of humor. And if therein I have strayed, then your little (contentless) comment is (nevertheless) welcome!

    Well, in the words of the great Puccini: ‘Buona Notte!”

  158. Ash on May 7th, 2012 11:07 pm

    j, okay, I concede again but will maintain that there is a difference between consensual but underage and therefore statutory/statuary rape and non-consensual and thus also essentially violent rape.

    You are cleaving to the legal use of the term whereas I, being sort of British and Shakespearean by upbringing, am more interested in the inner emotional meaning.

    In my book, statutory rape is legally wrong, but I leave it to each person to decide whether or not that equates necessarily to its being morally wrong, which not matter what your opinion is in that regard is not the same thing.

    This is key in terms of our discussion – if you can call it that given your passion for insult without furtherance of any truly interesting and enlightening/helpful argument.

    And since Lady Diana decided to stay with CTR and have children with him, and later her mother and sister both chose to live nearby in Boulder, I am not overly concerned that rape of an unpleasantly violent – or otherwise immoral – nature took place. Again, if you have a precise quote by Diana indicating otherwise, please put it up (or shut up). Otherwise you are just playing word games, whilst avoiding to address my (more interesting) challenges as to what is really being discussed, namely our cultishness and (unfortunately) your fundamentalist boorishness.

    I can see you will come back again in some way with this so will try to head you off at the pass: I am totally FINE with statutory rape having been committed as long as it was not actually violent rape and even if it was, as long as Lady Diana is fine with it, that is fine with me, and in any case, it is not really my business since I wasn’t there and don’t know and will never know what happened. Now if you want to characterize this as inappropriate or terrible in some way, that also is fine by me. Truly. As long as your argument or statement is clearly made.

    All best (and again – PLEASE sign up for that Dolmen-shifting course),

    Lord Happy Life.
    PS I highly recommend this radio station. It will help you let go of your concerns about all this. Basic Westerners figured this all out years ago:

  159. Michael on May 7th, 2012 11:12 pm

    “Michael: what’s it like being an ‘objective observer’. As far as I know, that’s an impossibility.”

    It means not being so emotionally wrapped up in the issues pertaining to this dialogue that I can step back and observe what’s actually being said, the tone, the content, the vitriol, the anger, etc. and express an honest reaction without any predetermined bias. Impossible? I think not.

    Contentless? Wah! You hurt my feelings. After reading your latest dissertation, I suggest you add a big bow tie to match the clown nose and big shoes. So you’re a “Shakespearean!!!” Now THAT’S humor. Well done! LMAO

  160. damchö on May 7th, 2012 11:45 pm

    John P. (from only May 5, which seems like 2 weeks ago, thread-time!)–thank you, I didn’t know that and it has made my day, or possibly year (!)

    Ash–well said.

    James and Suzanne–it’s good to hear further information about this. Learning the lessons of that time seems very much a part of Open Dojo…

  161. Suzanne Duarte on May 8th, 2012 6:10 am

    Ash: “I think much of the concern, arguments, doubts, questions and so forth involve various confusions, not to mention possible administrative and conceptual mistakes, made around how these various strands are handled together and/or separately.

    “One small example: the purity of the tantric cult needs to be protected as such. If it stops being a cult it will no longer be tantric. Almost by definition.

    “But does that cult dynamic automatically work with the outer level organisation including how a Sakyong is presented in the wider world, including the larger sangha? And if there is a difference, what is it? Or rather: what is the outer (non-tantric and non-secret-mandala) definition of how a sangha and/or a separate Shambhala Society operates?

    “I don’t think we have done a good job of clarifying these things and instead are left with a sort of pan-generic mishmash of Tibetan-Western-cultish-spiritual hoo-ha.”

    Well said! Especially the last sentence. 😉

  162. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 11:48 am

    Well I do not know where to start,as I have just come in from the field where we was juggling Dolmens,which Ash should know are pre-Celtic,being a toffie nosed charter house public school swat them that talks like they have a clothes peg on their nose and we takes ash-sunption to our spellin taken into question,which we was carving into stone,but because of some of them long words,we decided to stick to spirals and crosses,not our fault that we did not know the rule ” no e before c unless after p” for us secondary school boys rules was made to break…anyways I would like to ask our “John” a question if thats ok…Why was it that no one brought charges against Trungpa Rinpoche?

  163. john on May 8th, 2012 11:53 am

    No follower of Jimmy Jones Rinpoche ever charged him with a crime.

    No follower of Charlie Manson Rinpoche ever charged him with a crime.

    No follower of Trungpa Rinpoche ever charged him with a crime.

    What do all three Rinpoches have in common.

  164. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 1:46 pm

    ” what do all three Rinpoche’s have in common”
    well thats easy,
    the answer is YOU John boy………Your Fixation owns you………….

  165. Joe Schmidt on May 8th, 2012 3:12 pm

    People’s Republic of China

    In the People’s Republic of China the age of consent for sexual activity is 14 years, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.[16]

    [16] “2009 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)”. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2012.

  166. john on May 8th, 2012 3:15 pm

    What’s the age of consent between a Priest and a GIRL to have a secret romance?

    What did they have in common these three rinpoches”

    Sex with their teenage followers.

    We can start from there .

  167. Joe Schmidt on May 8th, 2012 3:24 pm

    The age of consent depends on the particular culture and its cultural norms. In Scotland, it is one age; in Tibet, it is another. There is no absolute age of consent.

  168. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 3:34 pm

    SO,John can you answer the question?”WHY was it that no one brought charges againts Trungpa Rinpoche ?”

  169. john on May 8th, 2012 3:38 pm

    To John Perks

    I already answered that at 1153 am today.

    You can do better John Parks.

    Your question does not make you shine, does it.

  170. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 4:27 pm

    John Can you answer the question? it starts with WHY do you think?………….?You did not answer you made a statment…so why do you think that is so?

  171. john on May 8th, 2012 4:43 pm

    Most victims of a CON or FRAUD never report the crime to the police.

    Their just to ashamed to report it and the con artists know it.

    I actually know people who were in a cult and once they left they were in a state of shock and depress for years.

    Most want to forget the entire experience that they lived and in some cases for decades.

    Con artists can come to your door as a guy selling a vacuum cleaner to a guy in red robes selling you enlightenment.

    Hopefully you were just sold a fake vacuum and not 25 years of slavery to a cult leader .

  172. John Castlebury on May 8th, 2012 4:53 pm

    [excerpt from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Calling the Guru, a commentary on Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye’s Crying to the Gurus from Afar, in Menz, Germany, 2010]

    One way to encourage our trust in cause, condition and effect, especially on a subtle level, is to actively discourage our trust in our fallible point of view, and encourage mistrust and suspicion of our limited logic. We can withdraw from our usual biased perceptions that are calculated and rational. After all, logic and perception have proven to be untrustworthy many times.

    Last year, for instance, it was an accepted fact that egg yolk raised our bad cholesterol level, whereas this year it’s not an accepted fact. Science has proven undependable many times. So-called facts are not that factual.

    Facts change all the time. One doctor says that it’s a fact that with no gallbladder, certain foods cannot be eaten. The next doctor says that it’s a fact that any food can be eaten, no problem. And the next doctor says that it’s a fact that, in particular, sausage has to be included in the diet.

    So we need to call our customary trust in so-called facts into question. And suspending our belief in accepted facts will create a space in our logic. Then heartfelt trust in karmic cause and effect can have a chance to infiltrate our minds.

  173. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 5:14 pm

    Thank you John,I understand that is very painful,I am sorry,what do you think might help?how can people help?What should we do?

  174. John Perks on May 8th, 2012 5:17 pm

    P.S. I have to go to work now but will await your answer in the morning,
    you talked about healing?…good night,all the best John.P

  175. Michael on May 8th, 2012 11:29 pm

    John keeps hurling inarticulate bombs. The respondents, in their well-worded responses, swing and miss. They scramble to either dodge his statutory rape accusations on technical grounds or pose the “no harm, no foul” argument. One asks “Why didn’t anyone press charges?” Gee, that’s a tough one. Seriously? Catholic priest pedophile victims are only coming out decades later. Most probably will be silent forever. Enough already. Give it up and throw in the towel. With your defensive responses, John without a last name is making you all look like cultists he accuses you of being. And you can’t help but continue to respond and prove his case. Hilarious!

  176. damchö on May 9th, 2012 12:56 am

    Michael–huh? I found Ash’s response quite to the point, dodging nothing.

    And John P.’s question about charges just points to the reality of the situation–that there is simply no evidence of impropriety, and that Lady Diana is highly capable of speaking for herself in any event. That’s it!

    I don’t quite understand why John has chosen as his “cultists” precisely the people with, it seems to me, some of the most well-rounded perspectives on the community, given that they have been both inside it and now, to varying degrees, outside it, and have offered much in the way of critique. (I don’t speak of myself–I wasn’t around back then.)

  177. Ash on May 9th, 2012 7:17 am

    Well, Michael, I now regret throwing down the gauntlet on this one, mainly because this is too tricky a topic for this medium.

    I think raising the issue of whether or not Vajradhatu/Shambhala was then or now is a ‘cult’ is not unworthy, but how it is raised and discussed is where it gets tricky.

    For example in this current case we have someone hiding behind an anonymous identity pot-shotting out rather serious allegations. On some level this too is fair but consider this: many of us on this Board (perhaps unlike yourself & NNJ) know the individuals involved including, for example, the children of CTR and Diana, including, for example, Gesar Mukpo. NNJ is accusing Gesar’s father of having raped his mother. I wonder how he would feel if his family were discussed in so public and cavalier a fashion, newspaper articles notwithstanding.

    Now there is no way this is not sensitive issue. Yes, one can argue that being sensitive about it is a clear sign that one is in a cult. But at this point, such lack of basic decency and consideration has, I believe, gone beyond the pale for in his zeal to expose cult members for the deluded fools he believes them (us) to be, he tramples on all semblance of human decency and decorum.

    He has also declared on this thread that CTR was directly responsible for murder. Again, this might be something worth discussing, but again it can only be done in a serious, sober, mutually respectful fashion and I don’t think a casual forum like this is the place for it. Actually, CTR himself might well have agreed. For example, I know that he disliked taking calls from distressed students asking for ‘advice’ about whether or not to abort a recently conceived child, for – as it was explained to me – the request was not so much an intellectual question (even if the questioner thought of it as such), but an attempt to ‘transfer the cow’s load to the ox’, or in other words get Trungpa Rinpoche to take on the karma, because of course once he advised ‘yes’ or ‘no’, for most students who respected his judgment this was as good as a final decision. And some might argue – not without good reason – that abortion is akin to murder.

    Moreover some others might argue – also not without reason – that students acting on the teacher’s mere words that way is a clear sign that they are cult members. Again, this is not entirely without merit and might be worth discussing. But at the same time, this sort of thing happens in any relationship where there are levels of hierarchy, which includes simple respect from younger to older, more foolish to more wise; such is the currency of human relations. And just as with actual physical currency, even if at one time or another in its history it has passed through the hands of a brigand, using it now does not in and of itself constitute evidence that one is a thief. In other words, there are perfectly good reasons why such advice might be followed, or why someone might feel comfortable requesting and taking advice from an elder. Especially in matters whose decisions depend upon judgment calls that often seem beyond the ken of those making them. That is why elders are so often respected in society – all societies. Often they can see the situation better than the one going through a particular challenge for the first time.

    Is being uncomfortable about discussing such things a sure sign that we have an unhealthy cult on our hands? Possibly. But it can also be a sign of other things too, like a natural reserve about discussing sensitive personal topics in public.

    Lastly – though hopefully this is not throwing down the gauntlet again – the actions of mahasiddhas have often outraged conventional morality. Remember that the first Trungpa was the tulku of the mahasiddha who rode away from his parents house in a huff (on the back of a tiger with his consort) because the former objected to his throwing wild parties on their roof! Tilopa worked as a pimp. And so on…

  178. Joe Schmidt on May 9th, 2012 8:22 am

    It seems so peculiar that even as the fallout of Japanese radiation still continues around the globe 24/7 14 months later, lodging in our hearts and lungs and guts, and even as young children in japan are dying of cardiac arrest and cancer, and even as the wrecked Fukushima meltdowns and melt-throughs have burned into the earth down to the water table, and even as we are all bio-accumulating ever-greater radiation ~~ this nonsense about who did what to whom seems completely insane…life on this planet is actually in dire straits. The same media that hyped a so-called secret romance in order to sell more newspapers is the same media that is censoring your news at the behest of the nuclear industry…

  179. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 8:38 am

    AH Ash,well spoken,but how many gauntlet’s do you have anyway,you are begining to look like Avalokiteshava so many hands ,looks like every one has been willing to talk about or been open to John’s comments,I expect it has run its course,unless John is willing to talk rather than shoot one liners…… on we go,cult no cult does not realy matter,We have the great fortune to have known a Mahasiddha if that is slavery in others eyes,to bad for them,we wish them jolly good luck……………..

  180. Joe Schmidt on May 9th, 2012 9:33 am

    What was ash going on about before he had a second thought and deleted his last message, that bugs will eat all the radiation and poop out non-radiation…really, but where does the radiation then go? Does the toxicity just become inert in the bugs’ stomachs? But they would have to consume all the food and water and air on earth in order to purify everything, wouldn’t they? And this boast of having composed 30 legal-size pages in one hour…let’s do the math…30 pages x 42 lines per page = 1260 lines in 60 minutes = 21 lines per minute = one line every 3 seconds…ahem…glad you thought twice about raising that boast. Now maybe ash can turn his mind to less frivolous subjects, we hope…

  181. Ash on May 9th, 2012 11:30 am

    Somehow I doubt that there were 42 lines to the handwritten page. But it most certainly was 30 pages or so in 3 hours. Also, it’s not a boast since EVERYONE taking the exam did it. We were trained from about 8 years old to write long essays as homework; several a day basically. In between flicking ink at each other from the inkwells provided in our three-hundred year old oak desks using our feather-quill and/or steel-nibbed pens! That is why English schoolboys wear black or dark blue blazers – they absorb the ink stains best! We also varnished our straw boaters so the ink could be more easily cleaned off, but that’s another story…

    I deleted two separate links because it flags the post for moderation and instead put in one link to a blog post that had them all anyway.

    Microbes don’t have stomachs by the way. At least I don’t think they do! In any case, if you read some of the accompanying scientific study links, one of them explained a little bit of how it worked, but basically it’s very simple: they feed off the energy and in so doing it turns into something else, at some point no longer being toxic for us. That sort of thing goes on all the time with all energy forms. The best text in the world for how this works scientifically also happens to be the oldest we have on the planet, namely the ‘I Ching’ or ‘Classic of Changes’ or ‘Living Energetic Process Theory’.

    (You say this is frivolous. A poster before was saying that the other discussion was frivolous in the light of more serious matters such as the world-wide toxicity entering the food chain from the Fukishima disaster. Don’t worry, though, my injury time is coming to an end very soon and I won’t be posting so much! Meanwhile, for the sake of your own health, I suggest slightly less complaining and slightly more original, creative input! Think more like a fungus and less like a frump, Mr. Safely Hidden by Anonymity Joe Schmidt!)

  182. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 12:45 pm

    I like your upper public school stories Ash,how the other class lived seen it on PBS BBC,we had slates and chalk,and I was waring USN sailor pants from me sisters boy friend,and yellow shirts made out of body shrouds by me mum,she was in the NFS ,on my feet ex-home guard boots 2 sizes to big with rags stuffed into the toes to make em fit ,no socks,gave me blisters on me ankles.we had some masters from the upper class,with war wounds,and shakes,they treated us very well,reading stories to us,for some reason the world seemed to me to be black and white ,anyway come and visit if you can,we will drink and tell stories…….cheers JP

  183. Ash on May 9th, 2012 1:30 pm

    Ahoy JP: when next Down East, will do utmost to visit for some yardarm hoisting. Your shoes too big: mine too small since nobody noticed I needed new ones, so toes are now as curled and gnarly as poncy nose is overly straight and snooty!

    I know how well read you are, but if you missed or have forgotten some of Tristan Jones, one of his earlier books was about being a (press-ganged?) lad in the lower decks, I trow you would much enjoy a dip in those waters.

    Toffs like me have no idea what life was like, nor do most modern Westerners. We treated people like that (working classes basically, both urban and rural) far worse than most slaves (and this was true of ‘white slaves’ in the Americas though few know of it today) and really despite all the shenanigans going on with the Banking Boys these days (what else is new?), things are much sweeter than they used to be.

    (Except butter, eggs, bread, cheese, wine, beer, etc. etc. !)

    Oh well, I’m buggering off now to totter over to my little birthday bash….

  184. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 2:57 pm

    ASH great,and a cheerfull happy birthday,with many more to come,have read Tristan Jones,life was hard I like what Bill Cosby us’ed to say,”he had to walk to school bare foot 12 miles uphill both ways”…happy birthday again love,and cheers…John

  185. john on May 9th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Diane is Ashoka mother who is the real birth father?

    Why did CTR adopt Ashoka?

  186. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 4:31 pm

    It is not worth answering this low grade smutt dealer,it happens to be a hell realm being,it goes by the name of john small j ,we say to it WATCH OUT !!! Pog Mo Thion, Suas Do Chu…and then there is silence

  187. Suzanne Duarte on May 9th, 2012 4:49 pm

    Thank you, John Perks. Enough with this low-grade-smut-dealer-hell-realm being. Let us not entertain it further.

  188. john on May 9th, 2012 5:03 pm


  189. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 5:13 pm

    Hey Suzanne,Thank you,great to see you love to you always JP

  190. Suzanne Duarte on May 9th, 2012 7:01 pm

    Love to you too, John Perks. :-) I like your logo a lot.

  191. John Perks on May 9th, 2012 7:22 pm

    O my goodness I am humbled by your grace,the logo is the great Easton Sun from a celtic prospective,we are all family in the Shambhala tradition……I love your work…in that aspect..faithfully yours John P

  192. Ash on May 10th, 2012 5:38 am

    Funny, I also was thinking john small, but the full form from that great unwashed American Classic Buckaroo Bonzai: john small berries..

  193. Suzanne Duarte on May 10th, 2012 6:30 am

    Ah, John P, no wonder I love your logo, the GES from a celtic perspective. Which reminds me of Paul Sandford, an interfaith minister in Great Britain, who initiated the Pagan Buddhist Network on FaceBook. On that page Paul mentions Celtic Buddhism. If you don’t know Paul, you might want to check him out on FB. He says: “My own psycho-spiritual path sees much inspiration and support from both my engagements with Vajrayana Buddhism and at the same time learning about the depth psychology of Hillman’s ecological and animistic polytheism, which has influenced my practice as a Celtic inspired Druid.”

    There’s some conversation and sharing between Paul and me on the Pagan Buddhist Network page, based on the influences I have incorporated in my Dharmagaians website. So perhaps there is a common link between you and Paul and me. In any case, as you say, “we are all family in the Shambhala tradition.”

    OXOXO Suzanne

  194. John Perks on May 10th, 2012 12:56 pm

    Thank you so much,well this is interesting the common link!!! who would have thunk it,perhaps the Prince himself.
    we could work together,we have been working on translating Tibetan practices into english and Irish gaelic which is going very well,we have over one thousand practitioners,and perhaps you know Billy Burns has been painting the Celtic deities for us you can see them on our website,do you have our email?because we could talk about doing programs,and other things .I do not want to say to much on this site as Ash will pick it up he is a Norman you know,and will tell the Romans.
    Anyway thank you again,much love John,also interesting to think small “j”was the trigger so to speak.

  195. John Tischer on May 10th, 2012 3:21 pm

    tiny john….you are really having fun, you little sociopath…I’d really like to meet you in person.

  196. JOHN on May 10th, 2012 4:35 pm

    I love all the little shoots at me.

    Mental migets.

    Tiny johnny tischer

    I am talking about your mind or your ……..


  197. John on May 10th, 2012 5:33 pm

    CTR has been dead for almost 25 years.

    I asked what are historical questions about him.

    You can not give me any answers to my questions.



    Simple questions like—

    Age and cause of death.

    He was 47 years old and was an alcoholic who some could claim comment an act of long term suicide by drinking himself to DEATH!!!

    He had 2 sons with diane but he was NOT the father of Ashoka.

    Gesar had no problem saying this in his documentary “Tulku”.

    Gesar said that they had the same mom but not the same dad.

    Who is the true father and why did he give up his son to CTR?

    LADY Diane???

    Made up title?????

    Armed bodyguards??????

    Crashes car in store with a yong lady in his car. Destroys the left side of his body. Was alcohol involved???!!!

    History of SEX, drugs and violence???

    Twenty nine year old CTR has “secret romance” with a fifteen year old female follower?

    CTR has sex with his female followers.

    CTR has sex with male followers????

    While CTR was fucking young girls, getting drunk and doing drugs where was his first son SMR. In a refugee camp???

    Simple historical questions with no answers.



    Cult shame?????

  198. Ash on May 10th, 2012 8:29 pm

    Not exactly Norman, J. Am reading that biography of 17th Earl of Oxford who probably was the real Shake-speare. Whether that’s true or not, it’s fun reading about one of the most respected aristocratic lines in Europe (goes back to Romans and before etc.). BUT one interesting little factoid not well explained (unfortunately like too much in this generally excellent book) is that one of the main ancestors of the Oxford / de Vere line came over on the boat with William the Conker by way of Amsterdam. Which is mildly interesting for myself since that is as far back as knowledge of my (totally minor and middle class!) family line goes, namely to X de Huys (don’t remember 1st name) from Amsterdam, also on that same boat in 1066 when your lot got terminally screwed it seems….

    Now probably that means my ancestor was in service somehow to the de Vere, already of ancient pedigree (Merovingian etc.) which means if there was any upstairs-downstairs fun and games in that or successive generations, there’s a remote possibility that am related to the Bard and thus AM a real toff!

    You big-shoe-hand-me-down wretches can take some (admittedly small) comfort from this though: I read years ago (and since I read it it must be correct of course!) that anyone whose ancestors go back 300 years in England is related to anyone else whose ancestors go back 300 years. So we are related!

    But not to little john. This is human realm lineage we are discussing after all, not hell beings!

    Seriously, though, little john: the root of all cults in the negative sense is obsessive-compulsive fixation in the context of a social mandala. Now a positive cult I suspect works with essentially the same type of mandala in very similar ways but manages to pop ego fixation – for most if not all of its members – rather than solidify it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating; of course there are no guarantees. And that is why tantra is so dangerous, because in order to pop the ego, first you intensify it. In other words, to become enlightened you first become immersed / stew in confusion. Nobody said this was as easy as watching a samsaric sitcom, or living one for real for that matter!

    Speaking for myself: I am quite willing to accept that probably I was a cult member in the negative sense, and if so it took me 10 years (at least) to (somewhat / maybe) let go of it. But if so, I regard that mainly as my own failing and I don’t need (like you seem to do for reasons that you will have to come to understand for yourself) to project or blame everything on one or more leader figures. Nobody is responsible for my own fixations other than my own fixating self. That said, perhaps I just wasn’t able to go the whole way with the discipline given I sort of ran out of steam practice-wise in the early 90’s when I was supposed to be doing new ngondros and/or 6 yogas basically on my own and the mandala seemed weird and fractured. Now if I can do sitting practice once a week I feel that is a major victory and the most elaborate shrine I can deal with is two candles and a stick of incense. Forget about liturgies or mantras!

    Clearly you are quite disturbed, angry and surprisingly hostile given that you probably don’t actually know anybody here. And if you do, your choice to remain anonymous is tedious, cowardly, and unhelpful.

    Valium might help for 2 days to take the edge off. Then sit every day for one year!

  199. Ash on May 10th, 2012 8:56 pm

    Young cult member makes it on cover of Time. Given the level of spelling, I wonder if this is a picture of our beloved John Small Berries? (the photo of mother and son) inc. series of articles:

  200. john on May 10th, 2012 9:32 pm

    Thank you all for your answers.

    I was engaged with you as part of a Masters Thesis on Cults.

    Since this is a public forum there will be no copyright infringements in using all your comments in my Thesis.

    No consent is required to reprint your comments.

    Yours, I hope will be the first true study of Cult leader and cult activity in the West involving Tibetan Buddhism as the foundation of the CULT.

    Thank you all again for your help.

  201. Michael on May 10th, 2012 9:51 pm

    Way way back in this thread I said the following – “It’s more likely I think, that John Nln has his tongue firmly in cheek, laughing his ass off at the responses he solicits simply by saying the same things over and over again, working his audience like an abusive comedian.”

    Funny. I notice that “no name’s” last response, preceded by childish name-calling and put-downs (and his mother wears army boots!), didn’t have the typos that his earlier posts were laden with. Perhaps (most likely) it’s all B/S, but the level of anger, condescension, and defensiveness in the responses to his accusations pretty much tell the story. And all it would have taken was simply “I don’t worship the man, but notwithstanding his faults, I believe in what he taught.” Was that really so hard?

  202. John Perks on May 11th, 2012 8:18 am

    Ash,I knew you would bite on that one “Norman” ,and I must confess we was in the same boats pulling on the oars I expect,settled in Warwickshire,Hampshire,and ,Kent,but then there was a lot of shagging going on in thoes days {not like now},so the interelatedness is very likely.
    Michael, you say,”I don’t worship the man,but notwithstanding his faults I believe in what he taught”
    That is not how I feel about Himself,worship no,faults no,believe in what he taught no,thats not what he wanted,he loved us unconditionally,for all our faults,our wanting to worship,our wanting teachings,we loved him the best we could but always wanting something in return,he was is a force of nature,which wanted us to become realized,and to help others,most of us failed all the time,but he did not give up on us ever,we are still trying!!! and that is hard

  203. ashoka on May 11th, 2012 11:12 am

    LOL “i showed this video to a federal agent as part of my masters thesis”

    wasn’t it more fun when I used to troll this place instead of dudes like john?

  204. John Tischer on May 11th, 2012 11:57 am

    yes, Ashoka, because you are not a psychopath…like john tiny berries.

  205. John Tischer on May 11th, 2012 2:17 pm

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

  206. John Tischer on May 11th, 2012 4:40 pm

    Rigidly righteous little johnny tiny pebbles could just be an
    iconoclastic Jimmy Swaggert confused wannabe…we know nothing about him or what sick clubs he might belong to.

  207. Rita Ashworth on May 12th, 2012 7:53 am

    Dear James et al,

    Yes getting back to your point of 6th of May about centralising power this seems to be the bugbear that all religious orgs somehow fail under…so I imagine this is why Mark (Szp) was suggesting an open dojo with perhaps a variegated ‘power structure’ –perhaps of checks and balances in the ordinary sense. This is also why I think at some point we will have to return to a possible Declaration about how we are to conduct ourselves as some in the Zen community are doing at the present time.
    Also within the context of open dojo of course is ‘enlightened society’ as a universal relationship mode, which would have to be very much seen in these terms of applying to All without barriers…(this somewhat chimes with conventional thinking about political structures that Michael Hardt is talking about when he talks of the Multitude of humanity exerting its power on situations/events.)
    Now how you posit the vajrayana relationship within the open dojo concept is quite a fix but I think it will have to be done somehow because of the structure of western society which favours the democratic –perhaps it calls for some kind of new vajrayana practitioner or guru in the sense of open dojo type qualities…..Trungpa indeed did begin this involvement with a western style of doing things somewhat -perhaps now it is the task of the many to begin to examine the qualities that a new type of guru would embody in the west…..or then again some may posit that this is not possible to do….so all very much in the mix of how we are going to go forward -these interminable questions of authority, open dojo, and politics in its most widest sense

    Well best.

    Rita Ashworth

  208. Jake on May 12th, 2012 7:18 pm

    The less theory the better. This internet seems to lend itself to weird energy and anger, and attacks. Better probably to set up groups and organize and report on concrete successes and issues.

  209. Ash on May 13th, 2012 1:35 pm

    JP- as I recall we always had sails on our boats. Maybe you had oars on yours?! That said, coricle races were enjoyed for centuries by members of all classes, though mainly conducted in rivers. Too much loss of life in the ocean races because of the coricle’s lack of any consistent propulsion or rudder principle. Little better than aquatic bumper cars, really.

    I don’t think you can maintain and transmit vajrayana lineages within an open dojo container. That’s mixing solid with liquid and ending up with neither. But of course anyone can do anything within an open dojo.

    Suspect the main antidote to over-centralisation is to develop structures with strong quotient of localised autonomy. This is as true in permaculture farming/gardening as in urban economic and cultural development, as in many other things (unity in diversity principle), and since this concern is about the societal dynamic of a so-called religious community (rather than being concerned with the doctrinal content or contemplative method), thinking in terms of the local community structure versus the national/international is apropos.

    Again, I think this is the real issue, and it is easier to discuss quasi-logistically than philosophically/theoretically but we tend to think and discuss things like Shambhala, Vajrayana, Hinayana, in abstract terms, or mainly only insofar as they are spiritual practices and teachings. But only thinking of them that way misses the point.

    That in a nutshell is my personal ‘beef’ with ‘Shambhala’, that it has become yet another high-falutin’ esoteric yogic/tantric/deeply transformative – not to mention closed/secret society – beast. Maybe it’s a fantastic, glorious unicorn and I am too jaded to perceive it as such.

    Logistically speaking, the Shambhala-Vajradhatu Mandala was conceived and structured for a population of hundreds of thousands, not a handful of thousands as is currently the case. We didn’t succeed in making that happen. Presumably the current Sakyong is working more immediately with what is actually feasible whilst also not rejecting that original aspiration. In any case, the structure as was is entirely way too centralised for such a small population. And that brings me back again to my personal conviction that unless and until our model fosters locally autonomous groups with self-reproducing and expanding populations, including their own leadership, it just ain’t working on the logistical level, no matter how worthy the lineage.

    That, by the way, is a Hinayana level model, and since the Hinayana deals with the outer level of dharma, i.e. does not reject most conventional views of everyday reality, that is the level on which most local sanghas should mainly function, but probably in a more complete way than we have been fostering. And similarly most of the Shambhala teachings should remain firmly esconced within conventional, practical realities, including existing societies, rather than being arcane means of transcending such realities. In any case, local communities based primarily on Hinayana and Shambhala energies is, I think, the only possible long-term foundation upon which the houses of enlightened Shambhalian society can be designed and built, and along with them more extended community structures, all within the context of wider society which in turn varies from place to place, country to country.

    If ever we manage to help foster and establish such healthy, self-sustaining local community cultures, it is within such an outer mandala container that the more esoteric inner and secret mandalas will be found, but discussions about them should and will happen only when they are formally gathered together as such.

    Perhaps we simply lack the training and vision to set up bona fide outer mandala groups and so we keep undermining them by orienting their members as soon as possible to get into our juicy (and authentically profound) inner and secret stuff.

  210. Ash on May 13th, 2012 2:22 pm

    Just to clarify a little: what is meant by Hinayana going along with basic conventional views of reality, there’s an old saying I don’t recall precisely but goes something like this: In the Hinayana a table is a table. In the Mayahana, thanks to sunyata etc. we understand that it is not that simple, that indeed one can prove that a table is not a table (nor both nor neither etc. etc.). Then in the Vajrayana it both is a table and is not but more importantly it is as good a place as any other for co-emergent consort practices, sometimes with self on top, sometimes with other, but ultimately both enjoying the union of inseparable bliss and emptiness.

    In terms of local/central: am reading nice little book which purports to be tourist guide of 1300’s England. Fun. Acres vary in size because they are measured by time, i.e. how long it takes man to plough. 3 hours in Devon is about one hour in Surrey sort of thing.

    But in this pre-industrial age, you had both highly powerful ‘central’ powers such as monarchs and Church, but also highly evolved local powers as well, with no end of various strata.

    But let us imagine a different Shambhala Mandala – one with hundreds of local community groups all over the world. In each group, various strata/classs/functions naturally evolve, but also they are firmly wedded and rooted to a particular place. With such evolution one will always find, whether in older or modern societies, some people who remain firmly focused only on immediate local situation (housewife and neighbours for example, or children and neighbourhood), and others who relate with representatives in other groups, or travel there for trade, exchange of ideas etc. In other words, naturally some people become local-only locals, so to speak, and others deal with many non-locals though still very much a member of Local X themselves. Now it is these para-localites, as it were, who develop the cultural infrastructure along which the lines of communication travel both to and from the lineage. But the lineage alone does not create and support these local entities.

    I believe that we currently have a model in which is visualised that it is the centre which is fundamentally responsible for our local ‘Study Groups’, and that Centre is basically the lineage as especially embodied by the chief Leader/Sakyong/Guru.

    That form of centralisation is flawed.


  211. John Perks on May 14th, 2012 4:18 pm

    Ash,Aye there you go again,how would you know you thugs that came over with willie the konk was all drunk on wine,they dinot call him the “bastard” for nothing,and after Harold had mached almost 300 miles from having beaten the northmen at standford bridge,and your chaps were about to run off when by mistake someone shot Harold in the eye,then you claims victory,when you could not even catch Hereward the Wake even after many years ,I know cause I saw the movie with Victor Mature and Rosaline Russell,and Bella Lugosi playing the Konk,…anyways you also in mistaken about curricles,there is one in Brazil with sails called a “jangada” iffin you was not always reading Beno and Dandy in school you might know that,now I expect you will say because you was a toff you only read Classic Comics…about Shakespeare there is a very good BBC 2 disc DVD called “in seach of Shakespeare” you will like it very good research..cheers..JP

  212. John Perks on May 15th, 2012 6:23 am

    PS Thats Jane Russell not Rosaline,plays the Konks mum,she was the daughter of Sid the leather worker at the castle in France,Sid was played by Stanley Holloway if I remember,or it could have been George Formby,because it was partly a musical………A silent musical in black and white,but in the theater some one was playing with their organ,and everyone sang along so to speak….very historical..don’t you think it was great that CTR said we should have a sense of history?

  213. Ash on May 15th, 2012 7:42 am

    My chaps didn’t ‘run off’ as you put it. We found a nice castle with wine and then were seduced by the friendly serving wenches (we didn’t charge them for drinking their master’s suddenly liberated stash of FRENCH wine mind you which HE had first stolen which is the real reason we came over – to get OUR wine back so we could serve it once again to our own damn wives, not foreign serving wenches) and then, frankly, we succumbed to the charms not only of aforementioned – and of course fully clothed – serveuses, but also, strangely, to the heady perfume in the wild and woolly English gardens, whose strange, rugged beauty bewitched us. In the case of my family, clearly Mr. de Huys did something very wrong (called him a Bastard to his face?) and ended up – or his progeny did – in Northumberland, about which I know nothing at all, having grown up in London and not being able to understand a word of people up there – or should I say down there? – except the aforementioned George Foreman, the only Northerner (except the Beatles) whose record I purchased in the Sexy Sixties, of which my favorite track went something like this:
    ‘I’m leaning on a lamp post at the corner of the street
    Until a certain little lady walks by;
    Oh me.
    Oh My!
    Til that certain little lady walks by.

    I’m leaning on a lamp post at the corner of the street
    Until that certain little lady walks by!”

    Come to think of it, maybe Harold’s gaze was directed at the ancestor of ‘that certain little lady’ when our lot whacked him with that arrow and the whole battle story is a myth. Indeed, mayhap the whole ‘battle’ was just a drunken brawl amidst the heady perfume of aforementioned, but now more or less undressed, wenches, honeysuckle, lilac, roses, Shambhalian Peonies, and all the rest of it, and Harold lost his eye when he got wacked by the Bastard’s flailing, albeit still armoured, fist and their publicity agents both agreed, negotiating amidst the billowing flora of said wenches undergarments whilst coming up for air, as it were, to proclaim the whole thing a battle, and then, when Harold lost the throw of the dice because of the pain in his eye caused him to miss the table they were supposed to land on (and my ancestor was tickling the wench who was holding the table), he forfeited ‘the win’, the Bastard got it, and the rest, as they say, is history!

    True history can never be understood properly and fully by the attentive scholar until such very real factors including the wine, women and song quotient specifically involved in any particular event, are accurately taken into account!

    Most younger people, whose history unfortunately comes from Hollywood back lots, have no appreciation for such niceties and unfortunately jump to all sorts of mistaken conclusions. They call it ‘samsara’ in Buddhist circles…..

  214. John Perks on May 15th, 2012 10:15 am

    Well and as to that we better be history before we bore everyone on this good baking JP

  215. Joe Schmidt on May 16th, 2012 6:50 am

    Go ahead and dredge up all your cherished subconscious gossip every time someone brings up the truth that radiation is now engulfing the earth. It is so predictable. For example, if right now somebody mentions Fukushima, some will commence a whole new round of song and dance. That is the pattern. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Okay, I understand the impulse to not want to even think much less speak about the new horrific reality. Lots of common people by which I mean non-meditators rather go to their place of distraction than face the nitty-gritty of the truth of what is happening at this very moment. But even some so-called meditators it seems would rather not acknowledge much less face the sad truth. They rather jump up on the table and shout Look at me. But aren’t we trained to really look reality square in the eye? I don’t mean in a morbid way. And isn’t the present moment of our collective human exposure to massive levels of radiation worthy of our awareness? True meditators are fearless warriors who do not take refuge in distractions such as the nonsense some people like to bandy about.

  216. Mark Szpakowski on May 16th, 2012 7:51 am

    Ash wrote: “I don’t think you can have vajrayana in an open dojo container. That’s mixing solid with liquid and ending up with neither.” This needs clarification. If you are a vajrayana practitioner, that’s what you bring to, and perhaps makes it possible for you to see and enter into, the open dojo. It is not something you push into or present as a practice for the open dojo. Others who may be with you in the open dojo may have their own, very different forms of individual practice.

    I think this is what CTR’s Shambhala view is: in his eyes the Shambhala view pointed to a society in which all kinds of religious practice views were accommodated (in which sense yes, you can have vajrayana in an open dojo container, but the latter is just that, a larger container for not just your form of practice), and the open space “held” by that society could be described, in buddhist or other religious terms, or in its own languages (every perception is an opening to the cosmic mirror).

    At the same time, I do see vajrayana as one way to practice and celebrate radical openness – the kind CTR made so apparent. It wasn’t the buddhism that attracted me, and probably you, to him. At the centre of a vajrayana mandala is just open space – “the completely pure samadhi”, surrounded by the retinue of the four foundations of mindfulness. That is one skilful means formulation. That centre is the open dojo, but it actually doesn’t belong to you. Recall how CTR described vajra-dhatu as indestructible space, in which any ego thingling becomes vividly apparent and cannot hide or survive (“this is the great graveyard….).

    As part of our individual practices of warriorship we may have our religious practices, but it’s the result of those that allows us to perceive and share open space. From the point of view of society, that is civil space – which demands the best of us, and so, from each of us, our individual practice.

    I don’t think this is mythical or anything. I myself experience at least two contexts in which “open dojo” (not named that, but nevertheless that) is a central part of the community experience. And most of the participants in these contexts are not buddhists, let alone vajrayana buddhists. In there, the question is how openness meets openness.

  217. Suzanne Duarte on May 16th, 2012 1:49 pm

    Thank you, Mark, for again clarifying the principle of open dojo. I agree that this is what CTR’s Shambhala view amounts to: open space in the center that can accommodate all sacred outlooks and practices.

    Joe Schmidt, yes, the present moment of our collective human exposure to massive levels of radiation is worthy of our awareness. And so are quite a number of other imminent ecological catastrophes, all of them due to human ignorance and carelessness. Catastrophic climate change, the death of the oceans, massive species extinctions, loss of topsoil, fresh water shortages – all these and more, on top of the economic chaos created by a greedy elite class, beg for our awareness. Yes, we have been trained (and exhorted) to really look reality square in the eye. But, believe me, chastising and bullying people will not do any good. (I’ve been a professional activist for 25 years.) You can name any issue and the greatest obstacle to addressing the problem is apathy and denial. In the case of Fukushima, Joe Schmidt, what is there to do about it, anyway? Do you have a solution or a cure?

    My suggestion: find the people who are paying attention to whatever issue you want to address, learn as much as you can, make friends, get involved. At least you’ll be too busy to browbeat others who seem to be frivolous, and you won’t be lonely anymore.

  218. Joe Schmidt on May 16th, 2012 3:18 pm

    Taking refuge in any concept – such as the concept of “open dojo” – is just grasping and fixation in action. Taking refuge in distraction is an expression of ignorance, and therefore it is suffering. Is this “open dojo” practise of distraction and immersion in conceptual mind – which leads to suffering – really a helpful response to reality? Where you see clarification I see only obfuscation.

  219. John Tischer on May 16th, 2012 4:58 pm

    I don’t care what Joe S, or J. B.S. (I mean S.B.) or R.R. or any Anon. thinks: R.F.S. has been a good public forum for airing many issues, and I think it has contributed to some of the older VCTR students going out on their own an teaching, as they should.

  220. John Perks on May 16th, 2012 5:37 pm

    Mr Schmidt,
    warriors,taking refuge,grasping,fixation,open dojo,obfuscation,clarification,are these not fixations that lead to suffering?
    it seems Ms Duarte gave you some good advise,can you only write in an aggressive manner ?{another concept leading to suffering}.
    Why do You not explain how you would go about helping with the situation in Fukushima?many of us here in Vermont have been working for years to close Vermont Yankee,which we hope we are about to do this year,we would appreciate your advise,and expertise in this matter,can you do that?

  221. Joe Schmidt on May 16th, 2012 7:45 pm

    When the mere asking of a question draws charges of chastising and bullying and browbeating — such charges are themselves the real act of chastising, bullying and browbeating against “Joe Schmidt.” Clearly somebody’s taboos got stepped on… Perks, of course, you are welcome to take refuge in nostalgic stories and puppet shows, if that helps. You are welcome. And fare thee well. Au revoir. Love to everybody!

  222. John Tischer on May 16th, 2012 8:44 pm

    You don’t get the last word, my frenami…, your type needs a little:
    :”Don’t let the door slap you in the ass as you leave…”

  223. Rita Ashworth on May 17th, 2012 2:54 am

    Dear Mark, Jake et al

    Mark I welcome your further explanation of the open dojo ‘concept’ which fits nicely with allowing space for both disciplines, but we are still left with the concrete level in how this should go forward in the world-how ‘openness can meet openness.’
    To me that suggests that any physical space that was set up to house CTR’s teachings would in some way have to embody this relationship –then we are again into the notion of his of having separate Shambhala centres (or whatever we would like to call them) and perhaps having rooms within these buildings for other practices –so the emphasis here would be at source or ground level on basic meditation.
    To a degree this is what some of the older students are now doing i.e. emphasising basic meditation….of course Andrew Safer has constructed a website offering just such practices in Newfoundland and has succeeded in running courses with other students of CTR-so he is one person who is forwarding a situation where ‘openness can meet openness’.
    It seems to me also in these situations there is a flatter hierarchy which kind of chimes with what is happening in general society re politics and the open dojo concept does reflect this too-but I would welcome your reflections on how the open dojo concept reflects natural hierarchy.
    In addition there is the added practicality of the open dojo concept being somehow promulgated or forwarded in a society in a teaching sense –why indeed would people lend their affinity to it-in any organisation that we belong to in a religious or secular sense I think we do hope ‘to gain’ some insight or teachings that can ‘forward’ our own path. So yes I believe an open dojo sense could be forwarded – yes the Quaker movement in the west seems to state that this could be achieved practically.
    Jake –yes practicalities-good idea- would welcome knowledge of what people are doing out there. I do think also that you do have to have some theory or study element to what you are doing out in the field that is traditional in most Buddhist circles. And of course even the Buddha himself had to use language to transmit his experience to people. So I hope you could give us your thoughts on what is working for you – in I believe Salt Lake City –from what I remember of your posts.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  224. Suzanne Duarte on May 17th, 2012 8:20 am

    I was thinking about open dojo in relation to what Rita said about ‘practicalities,’ and the excellent work that has been going on in the ‘secular’ sphere, where group processes have been developed that enable communities to evolve and sanely solve collective issues.

    Synchronistically, I remembered an email I received from Tom Atlee, who has been right in the middle of these group process developments for decades. Tom’s email led me to a new tool for group work that embodies the best practices in the field in a pattern language on group process. This “Group Pattern Language” has been made into a card deck and booklet. You can read about it and also download the card deck and booklet at

    Mark Szpakowski may know about this, as it is very relevant to his work with ALIA (Authentic Leadership in Action). In any case, the point I’m trying to get at here is that I can see where the Open Dojo concept could also apply to secular group work of the kind that the Group Works site addresses. It could be the space in which people come together to deliberate in a disciplined manner on shared concerns, on things that matter in a particular community – and I don’t mean only a particular sangha, I mean the whole local community in a particular place.

    Of course, RFS could be an open dojo if the people who came here were willing to be disciplined and to practice right speech. At this point, it seems obvious, we do not have a strong enough boundary. But my personal longing is to have a physical space where both the secular and the sacred could be hosted in a sacred manner for the benefit of the whole community, if not for all sentient beings. I suspect that Halifax might be the only place in our sangha where that is happening, or that has the potential for practicing open dojo. Am I right?

  225. John Perks on May 17th, 2012 10:13 am

    Dear Suzanne,
    You are right “disciplined manner” is a good key,CTR called it “container” that is why we had Kasung and Kusung,many times on RFS we have some people who seem to just want a soap box,without any discussion on their issues,or outright slander of other persons…its no right…perhaps Mark has an idea,perhaps comments would have to be edited?also people like me need to stay on the issues,although humor might be acceptable?..Mark dear what do you think?…John

  226. Suzanne Duarte on May 17th, 2012 10:49 am

    Thank you, John. The container principle has been a point of discussion, but so far it seems that nobody wants the job of ‘moderator’ – understandably.

    Anyway, I just came across a good article in Tricycle that Joe Schmidt might appreciate:
    Allegiance to Life: Staying steady through the mess we’re in – An interview with Joanna Macy,0

    Here Joanna, one of my mentors in environmental activism, answers questions about the application of Buddhadharma to the challenges of activism. She says. ” Feeling alarm or devastation can guide us to a deep sanity, reminding us of who we are and what we need. It can remind us that we belong to this larger body and that we care for it. Our power to act, our power to take part in the healing of our world, our power to bring things back into balance, comes from the same source as that [feeling of] devastation. Our pain for the world, and our power to take part in the healing of our world, both come from the same place.”

    Joanna also addresses how to approach activism in an egoless way, or from “beginner’s mind.” She says, “We have to find a way to live in mutual respect in a field of uncertainty. We must relieve ourselves of having to have the answer. We can do this by linking arms with each other…. So you can look at this [mess we’re in] and sort of feel a kind of solidarity or bond with other people and say, “Gee, look at this. How are we going to respond to this?” You’re not telling people necessarily, you’re not dictating what they’re to do. But you’re asking them to look. But you can know that you want life to go on. That knowing is basic to your very existence.”

  227. Ash on May 17th, 2012 12:04 pm

    Mark, thanks for your contribution to this meandering thread (which you started)!

    Instead of “”I don’t think you can have vajrayana in an open dojo container” I wish I had now written: “I don’t think you can maintain continuity of a vajrayana lineage in only an open dojo container.” That is really what I meant.

    From my impressions of your description, it feels to me that indeed a well hosted ‘open dojo’ might be the Shambhala space/feminine principle in which no end of different lineages/dances can arise, flourish and evolve.

    Again, though, the background issue, or a question begged, is how lineage continuity works in the context of open dojo. My best guess is that some threads weave lineage continuity (vajrayana teachings, vajra masters and mistresses and so forth) but other elements work more on container principle per se, for which there are in turn specialised lineage elements which require work outside open dojo type gatherings per se. So I guess I am saying that the open dojo mandalic expression can only be part of a larger whole, or cannot alone provide a complete social mandala.

    My understanding of open dojo is that, pretty much by definition, it is open, i.e. anyone can participate. That makes it also an outer mandala expression containing a complete ground, path, fruition if you will. i.e. it’s complete and perfect on the outer mandala level.

    Naturally people can bring in other threads and weaves, including any level of meek, perky, outrageous, inscrutable, bodhisattvic, tantric, shamanastic and Celtic, but the container itself is neither allied to nor is responsible for maintaining the continuity of those types of lineage-engendered cultural inputs.

    I think we have been treating Shambhala overmuch as a spiritual lineage stream on a par with a vajrayana lineage stream and in so doing it has lost its fundamental role as container principle. I think it is better thought of and discussed as a societal model rather than a spiritual discipline school. If that were to happen, we might be more overtly using your open dojo but then it would get further layered into different types of dojo/container: blue-style, red style, political meeting style, poetic expression style, Celtic/Polish/British/Japanese etc. style, party-hearty style and so forth. In each case, the container is not there to promulgate or protect a particular school or doctrinal stream, rather to accommodate awareness and its expressions/sensations in various precise, but essentially open-ended, ways.

    Tangentially, I think this means we need a return to more traditional, conservative mores wherein the inner and secret mandala remain essentially hidden from public view, not because there are dirty secrets to hide, but in order to preserve the strength, depth and spontaneously/autonomously evolving dynamic on the outer level.

    The point where they join is, as has been explained in seminal teachings in the early 80’s, is in the person / being of the Sakyong principle. So this is both a secret, inner and outer mandala role. However, finally revealing that role to the public at large (a very good thing) does not necessarily mean that the secret mandala has been revealed.

    But I think we are systemically confused about this and fallaciously assume that because that role has been revealed, that the secret mandala has also been revealed. What this does is compromise the purity and strength of all of them – outer, inner and secret. Furthermore, it seems to have encouraged a general view of Shambhala as being an alternative path, but it looks almost the same – culminating in years of advanced specialised yogas, retreat practices, oaths and so on. This is not outer level mandala stuff at all, and as such is perhaps no longer Shambhala. But maybe it’s the stuff that needs to be going on secretly behind the ‘open dojo’ outer mandala scenes, so to speak, and we have lost the ability to distinguish between the two, both conceptually and in terms of societal / public expression.

  228. Suzanne Duarte on May 17th, 2012 2:43 pm

    Thanks for this, Ash: “I think we have been treating Shambhala overmuch as a spiritual lineage stream on a par with a vajrayana lineage stream and in so doing it has lost its fundamental role as container principle. I think it is better thought of and discussed as a societal model rather than a spiritual discipline school.” Well said.

    As for your last paragraph above, maybe. I’ll have to think about it. But I appreciate your being gently provocative. (I would tend to qualify the “we” that you use.)

  229. James Elliott on May 27th, 2012 6:08 am


    You seem to be coming around.

    Many of us still make the perennial mistake most of us Trungpa Rinpoche students do, in discriminating between the structure/government of what we imagine an enlightened society might have, and the structure of a vajrayana mandala or a sangha. I think we particularly have this problem because Trungpa Rinpoche was our teacher within the vajrayana matrix, so-to-speak, and then introduced the idea of enlightened society ala Shambhala later. Many of us seem to think the two are the same thing.

    To make the distinction that Open Dojo (OD) isn’t capable of containing a vajrayana mandala is a case in point. The role of enlightened society or of the government thereof, is not to maintain a vajrayana mandala or a particular approach to spiritual work. That would be outside the purview of any government responsible to a complex society if it’s not a totalitarian state. It would be the government’s job, in regards to spiritual paths, to get out of the way, to remove obstacles, and to maintain a stable civil society regardless what path and stages various people are at. If any kind of government makes adherence to a particular path or view a prerequisite to participation, well, then… I think I’m talking in circles about something that is pretty obvious to most of us by now.

    In terms of environmental degradation, radiation poisoning, end of oil, overpopulation and so on, there is much to be said, but the basic notion that is unfolding as it is, is because people are basically fucked up, is for me a no go, in contradiction with all I know about how decisions are made and how our current complex society has developed, and in contradiction with even an abstract idea of basic goodness. The problem lies more in our systems and a dearth of proper education as regards sciences and systems, which have not matured as rapidly as the population has grown. Not because we are all egomaniacs.

    The job of any enlightened government would not include directives to follow any particular path or be damned. That is what theocratic and highly centralized power structures do. It is not an enlightened approach to modern society.

    I don’t see a ‘model’ as such for social structure in the Shambhala teachings. Please explain.

    In the inspiration that spontaneous searches for intuitive solutions fail often enough that it should give us pause.

  230. Ash on May 28th, 2012 7:22 pm

    I don’t understand all you say, James, but first a quote from the lead post:

    “How is it that so many smart, tough people in a two decade span late in the 20th century were willing to see Chögyam Trungpa as an enlightened leader? Sudden rememberance: because that person embodied the Open Dojo. He was embodiment of no man’s land: he lived the space where any trace of pretence and ego was obvious, and could not survive. If you thought you knew him, you quickly learned different. This is a scary, yet magnetic, place. Unblinking, yet nakedly genuine – and also attentive and kind.

    It comes down to the same thing. At the heart of enlightened society is the Open Dojo, whether held by the group or embodied and held in a single individual. If the erstwhile ruler is not an Open Dojo, the people sense that, and ultimately he or she can neither command nor rule. The inner and personal space of the ruler must itself be no man’s land. To re-coin an old phrase, no man’s land and king are one.”

    With this as referent, I should backtrack on what I said earlier in that perhaps what Mark is describing is in fact what I was referring to as the inner and/or secret.

    In any case, my quibble – if it was one – is that the open dojo form depends upon other lineages for continuity of content. Or put another way, it is an outer level form which can accommodate/contain inner vastness, but which on its own cannot sustain a lineage.

    Then we have the Shambhala-Buddhist business which he addresses but which – as always – thoroughly confuses me. In the context of the lineage-related quibble was then the suggestion that thinking of Shambhala as a spiritual lineage akin to Vajrayana makes nonsense of them both and it would be more helpful to consider Shambhala as a societal model rather than a spiritual lineage per se, i.e. with meditation techniques, teachings, special practices, stages of development, levels of commitment and oaths, insiders, outsiders and all the rest of it.

    I’ll try to answer your query about model later but first a couple of specifics:

    Re: ‘You seem to be coming around.” Don’t understand what you mean.
    Re: “To make the distinction that Open Dojo (OD) isn’t capable of containing a vajrayana mandala is a case in point. The role of enlightened society or of the government thereof, is not to maintain a vajrayana mandala or a particular approach to spiritual work.” Keeping in mind previous sentences before that quote, I don’t think you understood my point about containing a vaj. mandala, so hopefully the remarks above put them in clearer context. That said, I was neither conflating nor confusing Open Dojo with government or positing it as a government model. If I understand Mark aright, he is using it as a model for how people can be together in a manner that is both non-denominational, so to speak, but no-holds-barred enlightened, and further identified the underlying dynamic there as some sort of primordial no man’s land, aka ‘egolessness of self and other’ in Hinayana parlance.

    To repeat: my quibble is that I am not sure if there is a lineage principle being articulated and therefore it is not a complete model, either for a spiritual lineage or for a secular governance lineage.

    For governance needs lineage too, or to use secular language: continuity and stability which themselves are the principal characteristic of what in the West we call ‘civilisation’ in a sense that is so close to being ‘enlightened society’ as to make only a split or two’s worth of difference.

  231. Ash on May 28th, 2012 7:49 pm

    [with plenty of grains of salt kept handy:]

    The purpose of Shambhala is to protect and maintain a sane culture aka ‘enlightened society’.

    Shambhala has some essential characteristics which have been communicated via terma texts and practices whose symbolic and contemplative (aka practices) expressions promulgate amongst ts member citizens some sort of shared vision, experience and vocabulary.

    Put another way, Shambhala highlights how shared form amongst groups of people gathered together communicate wisdom. Whether it is a Christian Mass, a Buddhist dathun, a family’s dinner ritual, a school uniform, how one slices a sandwich properly, or, to use DDM’s trenchant language, how one (aka The King) handles one’s sword, brush or the queen’s clitoris, all are powerful cultural forms which create reality, society, shared experience on the spot. That is part of it. The other part has to do with content, which is a genuine human heart. The main thrust about Shambhala is not rocket science, abstract philosophy, animal realm survivalism or materialism. It is about good-hearted, sane, uplifted and confident society.

    In other words, form creates culture, or put more simply: how we behave, what we do both simply and symbolically. On the spot. Instantly. Unavoidably. Culture is the key thing. It is experienced by all but yet has no independent, let alone solid, existence. We all know it but it is invisible except, like images in a mirror, we get flashes on the surface via various expressions – food, dress, language, art etc.

    Governance, in this context, is one expression of such culture. When you go in front of a Supreme Court Judge in Nova Scotia, you are supposed to bow and address him or her as ‘Your Lordship’. This form creates instant mandala, instant culture. That dynamic is at the heart of what is different between the spiritual lineage model and the Shambhala model.

    The Shambhala model is based upon how living culture functions via societal behaviour, speech, dress, ritual, customs etc. As such, it should be discussed on its own terms and indeed we have considerable vocabulary in the West (and Asia) but generally fail to use it so habituated are we to thinking and discussing it as a spiritual path alone.

    It is not all airy fairy either. That same power exist to create setting sun society. They are two sides of the same blade. You can walk from a sunny street with charming, sane people laughing and chatting away into a dangerous dark dive, with naked sweaty dancers writhing in the dark, with learing, ghastly tattoos, bottles being broken and blood shed over trifles. That too is on the spot, instantaneously transmitted culture. That too is open dojo principle in action on some level. Just not the sort of atmosphere that Shambhala would like to foster and protect.

    So Shambhala form, or society or culture will reflect underlying principles, norms, values. Many of those might well develop from within an open dojo experience, formal or informal, but how they are transmitted, ordered, maintained, formalised and so forth is the domain of governance.

    And that is a whole different kettle of fish.

  232. Rita Ashworth on May 29th, 2012 2:57 am

    Dear Ash et al

    A small interjection from the Mover-Right On movement…if we are looking up the thread Mark answered all the points u are making about vajrayana/lineage in the context of open dojo on May 16th post by him.

    Can we not get into the practicalities of Open dojo set-up for indeed I am going to suggest this as a title for our social issues and Buddhism workshop at the Manchester Buddhist Convention at our next meeting.

    Also to some degree I think we need to get into more constructive discussion about going forward re establishment of Shambhala, or whatever we deem to call it, to a much wider group of people than is now being done. Read the papers Europe is on fire -25% unemployment in Spain and Greece hitting the depths of life and we are arguing about sadhanas, lineages and fairy-tale eastern kingdoms……the ordinary citizen reading this stuff might think we are not living in the same world as they are.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth.

  233. Ash on May 29th, 2012 9:57 am

    Fair enough Rita. Some of us aren’t as quick on the uptake as others so apologies on my part for holding you back.

    That said, there is nothing stopping you from contributing your ideas of how to implement. Why not float a few things and see what comes back?

  234. James Elliott on May 29th, 2012 3:53 pm

    This is a little clearer, but I’m siding with Anne. The abstract can be spun one way or the other, and lord knows it has been. It’s where bone meets rock, where practicalities and how governance is carried out, the logistics, requirements, necessities, rules of engagement, including problems that arise and how they are dealt with that matter. (the latter being the real test of enlightenment, not the shaktipa inspirational stuff that makes people melt – any number of ideologues have had fanatically inspired and devoted followers. Without that practical relationship to logistics, without both feet and maybe a hand too on the ground relating to things that happen compassionately regardless prevailing ideologies,we end up relying more on an adherence to a particular ideology for common ground, rather than a universal ground of basic goodness.

    With: ”open dojo experience, formal or informal, but how they are transmitted, ordered, maintained, formalized and so forth is the domain of governance.” We have again a case in point. The underlying assumption (or over-arching as the case may be) is that a. people don’t create culture, some kind of centralized authority does. And b. that this central government has to disseminate the ‘proper’ culture, because without that guidance we would have setting sun culture. This is to my ear reminiscent of British Colonialism. (I’m reminded of a talk by a ‘ranking Mukpo family member’ in which that person expressed sympathy for the soldiers stationed in India before Lord Mountbatten dismantled that colony, because they had to endure sometimes years with no real kulchaa. The soldiers, it was said, had their newspapers and magazines to tide them over, but really, there was no kulchaa to be had, because the natives of India, you see, had none. ( !)?)

  235. James Elliott on May 29th, 2012 3:54 pm

    As much respect as I have for meditation, and really I think these two are not as necessarily parallel as you describe, there are some wildly enlightened things afoot, and they will likely not be recognized by such a centralized authority which has a predefined if vague, and by virtue of not including the entire populace in not only the creation but the substance of culture itself, a rather narrow set of criteria for what constitutes proper culture.

    I don’t see culture as an externally imposed set of behaviors, but rather as a living constantly evolving matrix of which we are all intrinsically part – each of us – a matrix so complex that any central and consciously driven attempt to control and steer it, has virtually always negative repercussions. This is why Buddhism 101 works on this instead of that, because changing ‘that’ is simply not possible; not because it’s not a good idea, but because it is far too complex and as a whole beyond the comprehension of any one individual.

    In the inspiration that getting more and more people to wake up is one thing. To assume that means everyone will or should see everything the same way is a kind of madness.

  236. Rita Ashworth on May 30th, 2012 1:31 am

    Dear Ash, James et al

    Thanks for your posts.
    Well as to the convention –there is going to be a workshop on politics/social affairs and Buddhism –its been much floated in our local gatherings.
    One thing that I might be taking to this gathering could be the idea of deleks and a Delek Council –tho of course we might use another word for it-this also has been rooted in that we should develop closer alliances between ourselves and become a kind of permanent body. This way we could share resources, ideas, accommodation etc, -there is even going to be some monks attending these sessions on social affairs and I am looking forward to see what they say about these matters.
    Of course too the convention is taking place in a Christian chaplaincy which is huge about 4 times the size of the Halifax Shambhala Centre -so heck knows maybe other faiths will be in our session too – I really hope this is the case because I am inviting them all and then we can really discuss where we are all coming from re meditation.
    Yes we need to get awareness of how people out there are thinking about our communities being under pressure by social crises and to see how we can provide some notion of how to proceed in an enlightened manner. The recent riots in Manchester showed that even locally British standards in society are somewhat under threat from social breakdown.
    Of course I am still clued into the enlightened society ‘premise’ –that is my heritage, however, many other views and practices develop regarding the envisionment of KOS. Lineage – well perhaps my lineage is my kind of pure and utter disbelief about how this world has turned out to be under its misguided rulers-thats a good enough start and angst for the whole exploration of enlightened society to go on for me.

    Well best,

    Rita Ashworth

  237. Ash on May 30th, 2012 7:03 am

    “I don’t see culture as an externally imposed set of behaviors..”

    Well, although I suppose it could be, as in North Korea seemingly, I wholeheartedly agree that it shouldn’t be.

    At the same time, you cannot have long-term stability without governance which itself depends upon rules or norms or mechanisms – something. Otherwise it’s a ‘barbarian hordes’ model, most of which depends upon finding more peaceful groups to rape and pillage otherwise they would be eating each other for sustenance and entertainment. Hell. I very much doubt there is a truly uplifted free-for-all model without hierarchy and various formalities that works. If you watch a few episodes of BBC’s ‘Tribal Women’ (av. on You Tube) you see that all over the world primitive societies share one thing in common: they are very structured in many ways. Such structure is the grammar that allows the vocabulary of human intercourse to have meaning. Just as language requires grammar to be meaningful, so also societies require rules and norms as their own behavioral patterning, or language. And this does not have to be centralised.

    I was unable to express clearly what I had in mind which means that I should have taken longer to think it through for which my apologies. The point I am groping to articulate is that both the power and language of Shambhala is in the terrain of what we call ‘culture’, perhaps mainly the speech realm. It is primarily a social thing rather than primarily a spiritual thing.

    To boil down my quibble with the open dojo as described – and it sounds like a truly excellent approach – what happens in the dojo is largely dependent upon who sets it up and who participates, and those inputs, as it were, are entirely dependent upon other lineages/backgrounds/happenstances. For example, take 30 people off the street and put them in an empty room for an hour and you won’t necessarily get a good cosmic mirror thing going down. So it’s not entirely free-form and depends upon some structure, some agendas, some prior background. My discussion has been a poor attempt to address that background issue.

    Finally, I believe that the way culture works – which as I described it was not centralised at all and am surprised it was read that way – it is indeed transmitted 24/7 all the time by everybody. But just as with mandalas, there is global culture, regional culture, national culture, local culture and the culture between two lovers in private or two siblings in the playground.

    Shambhala is the art of promoting enlightening cultures on all these levels. It sounds like the Open Dojo concept and practice is almost certainly an excellent exemplar of a Shambhalian approach to seminar gatherings. That said, it is probably not all that appropriate for running town hall meetings, School Board meetings, work meetings, school classes, military pre-op briefings, court rooms or a restaurant kitchen, or a dinner party, or a date, or an orgy (and so on ad infinitum) all of which are equally valid mediums (media?) of Shambhala culture. So I am reading it principally as a spiritual seminar tool, and if this is wrong then again, apologies, but my point is that Shambhala is better thought of NOT as a spiritual lineage/thingamebob but as a societal/cultural thingamebob.

    SMR’s recent initiative on the household is a good case in point. That is one of the bedrock mandalas of any culture/society.

  238. Dawa Chöga on May 30th, 2012 7:21 am

    [Excerpt from DJKR’s commentary on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara, The Way of the Bodhisattva, the “Wisdom” chapter, from Talk One, in Vancouver, B.C., June 1-9, 2001:]

    Only the Prasangika Madhyamikans say that ultimate truth is something that cannot be perceived by intellect, by this mind that distinguishes things as existent, non-existent, black, white, short, long, all kinds of distinctions. And why is this so? This is a big statement. It’s because the moment there is intellect, the moment there is fabrication, then that is relative, dependent, changeable, conditional, completely impermanent, all of that.

    According to Shantideva – slightly different from Chandrakirti – anything that is beyond expression, beyond our thinking, is ultimate truth, and anything within this boundary of thinking expression is relative truth, including even nirvana.

    See, when we say form is emptiness we are deconstructing or dismantling form, so to speak. This deconstruction, form is emptiness, is the fabrication of mind, not the absolute ultimate truth. “Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness.” All four of these but especially the last three – emptiness also is form; emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness – Shantideva is slowly going to explore.

    As long as our mind can define something, as long as we can express or construct something, all that which we construct can be contradicted by another construction of ideas. Therefore, this is not ultimate but in the category of relative truth.

    Buddha himself in a sutra says that the ultimate truth is beyond. One has to have this daringness to proclaim that the ultimate truth is beyond even the omniscience of the Buddha because it is not an object that can be perceived.

  239. Ash on May 30th, 2012 8:43 am

    could you please link that content to the thread discussion so we can understand your point? i.e. please provide additional commentary to better contextualize the material cited.

  240. Rita Ashworth on May 31st, 2012 1:56 am

    Dear Ash et al

    Well I am sure Mark (S) will glad he got it right on the Shambhalian seminar gatherings theme re his open dojo ‘concept’–you never know what people will come up with across the pond. Wondrous!
    But yes as to the Shambhala household theme –do you think he could get some assistance from the House of Windsor? A la

    Now theres a real household for you… the spirit of summer British madness and loopiness of Her Majesties cracked, and nutsome subjects.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  241. Dawa Chöga on May 31st, 2012 6:33 am

    [DJKR, ibid., from Talk Two:]

    We may wonder, if everything is like an illusion, if everything is emptiness, what is the point of actually entering the Buddhist path? Why should we go to the market and buy an illusory horse?

    The answer is – If you analyse, you’re right, there is no point. But when you do not analyse for the sake of a goal such as enlightenment or buying a horse, during the time of unanalysis, it works.

    Here the purpose is explained more. Samsaric appearances that we meet all arise from dependent nature. As long as our delusions are present, our deluded mind does not cease to exist. So all these samsaric appearances do not cease to exist. This is why it is very important to enter the path and then destroy the delusions of this totally deluded mind and so be released from all deluded perception. The whole purpose of why we are practising is not because the path and the result are truly existing. It’s not because of that. The whole purpose of the practise of Dharma is to understand that not only your self but even the path and even the result such as enlightenment are all illusory.

    My job here is to tell you this: Whatever you do – everything you do – all of it is relative truth. But by saying that whatever you do it is relative truth does not mean that relative truth is inferior or useless. I’m not devaluing relative truth. I would never make such a judgement. But I have to say that if we do not hear the Wisdom chapter, there’s a tendency – not only a tendency, there’s a standard classic problem for practitioners like us – to fall in love with the path itself. In that way, a bodhisattva’s activity becomes very limited. If the bodhisattva’s activity becomes very limited, the bodhisattva will lose courage and then try to find some compromise. Do you understand?

  242. Rita Ashworth on June 1st, 2012 2:05 am

    Dear Dawa et al,

    Taking your thoughts back to the thread…aka Open Dojo I dont think we on the discussion board are kind of embroiled in creating another form –more I think we are ‘trying’ to some degree to unfreeze form.
    Recently I have been looking at some pictures of a present Warriors Assembly and I can see from this form that nothing much has changed in the way it has been conducted since I took it in 1992 and I dont know but there is something a little naff about that because our own world has changed re politics, re structure, re the way we even practice in ‘religious’ society.
    So I think with Mark(S’s) comments on Open Dojo –he is entering into some highly interesting important territory re discussion of form/forms.
    If we are to get back to the shambhala teachings in essence the idea was originally as far as I can see to include all kind of forms when working with what we call relative reality-so if we are to begin to again get to grips with this –perhaps some of our once cherished forms will have to change/expand etc in some ways that we have not even discovered/discussed yet.
    I do like the idea of Suzanne Duartes of having centres where all these forms could be experienced in a more expansive way than is done at present—–so yes if we are to get back to the main theme of this thread of Open Dojo I think Mark (S), is asking us again to look deeper at own society and practice, reflect on it and come back with what we have experienced and discovered.
    Discovery re form is what is happening in general society now aka Occupy if we in the dharmic community do not heed this too in a relative sense – I think we are definitely sunk.
    So I am really into hearing about how people begin to experience more the primordial ground of the Open Dojo –as an English woman for example this is what intrigues me –because many of the forms of the UK are excruciating and I have just about done with alot of them.

    Well best,

    Rita Ashworth

  243. Ash on June 3rd, 2012 3:03 pm

    Speaking of ‘UK forms’ we had a blast the other night in Sydney, being graced by a visit by no less than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself. All military officers present were in full dress with medals, and those of us now in civvies who had medals wore them too. My neighbour had the Medal Of Honour from the German Air Force, whilst I had the Medal of Confidence from Shambhala ‘by attachment to the Royal Court of Bhutan’. (Would have come in full dress military uniform but could not fit into it – it was measured over 30 years ago after all!) To my left sat Wlma X, aged 93, with a hat resembling the plumage of a Tahitian cockatoo, red white and blue who moved to Sydney from a farm in Bay St. Lawrence in 1943 during the War. We had a lively discussion with those at our section of the table as to whether or not Sydney would once again function as the busiest port on the North Atlantic seaboard as she did the year Wilma moved down.

    Then we were graced with a speech from the newly appointed Premier of Cape Breton who read out Her Majesty’s proclamation to the effect that after enjoying sub-provincial status since 1842, against the wishes of the good people of Cape Breton who had petitioned mightily against such amalgamation at the time but were rebuffed by the Good Queen Victoria, Cape Breton was now recognised as its own independent country, albeit under the general Dominion of Her Majesty as part of the Commonwealth, after which proclamation mighty cheers were made.

    Later on, we had a chance during the ensuing Pageant to witness a polite but oh-so-slightly strained family get together with HM Elizabeth II, HM Victoria, HM Elizabeth I, an honorary appearance on the dias of Sir Winston and, best of all, HM Boadicea herself, who was a great hit as she strode mightily up and down the stage waving her fearsome sword in all directions.

    Such was the uplifted drala of this event in the United Baptist Church of Sydney, that the cranberry-flavoured 7-Up (served instead of wine because of barbarian provincial government regulations (unfortunately still in effect before the proclamation of independence had been ratified by Her Majesty!) was more than sufficiently intoxicating.

    In short, it was fun to see how the principle of Monarchy still works on a deep, symbolic level, to add depth to a community identity (with very good humor I might add, albeit some – the military types – were a tad over serious imo), also to see how DDM borrowed many of these forms from both Britain and Nova Scotia when developing them (along with Perks and others) in libertine Amerika of the 1970’s.

    Of course they can change and evolve. But the main thing is that they do what needs to be done, in this case celebrate 60 years of one particular Monarch’s reign. Jolly Good Show!

  244. Rita Ashworth on June 3rd, 2012 7:10 pm

    Dear Ash, James et al,

    Well re form I have recently seen a great movie called The Birdwatchers which is about the Guarani Indians retaking land from white European settlers.
    It’s an amazing film and is another one of those reflections on how culture is formed through ‘rituals’ and continued in the present. The whole of the movie is on utube –so people can watch it if they like.
    But in this clip I believe the ‘leader’ of the group steps into open space with his eating of the physical soil –kind of showing to the Europeans that he is at one with the Earth itself. Somehow I dont think Europeans can fully understand this action–they somewhat are still in hock to the machinations of money, pomp and circumstance.
    So yes in watching this clip in the main film I was completely startled by the Indian’s actions of eating the soil, but reflecting on it one could see it as a stepping into open space – no separation between Nature and Man/Woman…..yes a truly magnificent film-and I think a tad relevant to the subject of Open Dojo.

    Heres the clip.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth.

  245. John Perks on June 5th, 2012 6:56 am

    Rita Dear,
    I know this chap who made the birdwatcher movies,Roberto Tino think it was made in 2008,anyway most of them are not real indians,at the start of the movie Roberto has them doing a version of “do the hokey pokey” which if you watch they get it mostly all wrong,and the actor Carlos playing the indian chief is not eating the earth but ground up co co puffs…Roberto made these movies so he could talk young ladies into becoming movie stars in his productions,you know the line “I can get you in the movies” when all the time thinking of playing hide the sausage….but interesting clip..lots of love from this side of the pond..JP

  246. Rita Ashworth on June 5th, 2012 11:17 am

    Dear John et al

    The director of the movie is Marco Bechis –a Chilean-Italian film director. I have been looking for some interviews with him on the net in English but I can not find them. There are some in Italian if people want to check them out.

    There is also this Guardian article on the film, which is great:

    Of course there are also many reviews on the net about the film both from a critical and well-received angle. Some say the issues discussed in the film are too simplified an ‘us versus them’ approach-others see the Guarani Indians as indeed proposing different and less materialistic ways of life than we do in the west.
    Of course it is a drama –so many fictitious scenes, but the actual story of the film is based on some Guaranis taking over some land in real life –so these battles are going on in Latin America.
    As for the main protagonist in the film he is a Guarani Indian himself-hes a very good actor in this film and has I think received more offers of employment in other films. The rest are first-time actors –mostly I think of Indian stock.

    As for the scene that intrigued me –re him eating the earth-it is a quite powerful scene with different attitudes surfacing about how one sees the world and the use of land from an Indian and western perspective. So yes its a great image to make these questions surface….thats why Bechis used it. So the actual image, action of the whole thing, though it does startle one, is not the main point rather it is the questions that come out of the scene that are intriguing as to the question of how we in west relate to our environment/lives… questions/films/openness-open dojo –dare one say –thats why the film attracts me.

    (Also just found out that Guarani means warrior and they also have a ‘myth’ about a land where people are imbued with good qualities-interesting).

    So best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  247. John Perks on June 5th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Dear Rita,
    I am sure you are correct,the chap I knew was Roberto Tino I expect not related to Marco Bechis,yes this eating the earth thing is quite starting,my sister when she was about 4 years old ate earth from the garden,perhaps a reincarnation of a Guarani? she did speak in tongues,still does living in rural Tennessee and going to the speak in tongues church in her town of Cheekville,I did notice also in the film many fine young ladies in small swim suits,must be filming in hot weather,by the way great doings in London with the Diamond Jubilee lots of Drala,jolly good show…and I understand a conference on ” the role of Monarchy in the modern world” could be of interest to Shambhala,perhaps you could send us a report..cheers JP

  248. Rita Ashworth on June 5th, 2012 2:24 pm

    (‘scuse the 2nd post wont post one tomorrow but its holiday time today in GB!)
    Dear John et al,
    Ever the jester….ho-hum…

    Hope you can see the film and the scene mentioned and check the longer article out-it does pose some more interesting questions on how societies evolve.
    As for British upper monarchical ‘culture’–woe deadums… so myself wont be writing that article!
    It did also cross my mind that the Kasung should dissolve aswell as it seems to me to not fit this present age which is communal and collective. So yes maybe time to put those uniforms in the charity shop-in fact do any of the newer groups evolving from CTR’s teachings have Kasung? I dont think this is the case-so maybe we need to search for some other ways to develop a manifestation of the protector principle. Another question for the Open Dojo to contemplate.
    Yes I think people in the intervening years from Trungpas nirvana have somewhat grown up and all that Brit stuff can be detonated-in fact create an Open Dojo and have a bonfire of all those clothes. I have moved on… come the other 8,000 are still in hock to that kind of show? I dont really get all that now-we should be freeing the whole thing up.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  249. John Perks on June 5th, 2012 4:39 pm

    The conference,is at Kensington Palace June 6-8th,the name is ,
    “Making of a Monarchy for the modern world”,
    will try to find out who is going to present papers,
    should be interesting.

  250. John Perks on June 5th, 2012 4:56 pm

    OK here we go site…
    Keynote speakers,
    Sir David Cannadine….Princeton
    Maya Jasanoff…………….Harvard
    Aileen Riberio……………..Courtauld institute of Art,
    check it out could be interesting for Shambhala

  251. Mark Szpakowski on June 5th, 2012 5:28 pm
  252. Ash on June 5th, 2012 6:44 pm

    “As for British upper monarchical ‘culture’–woe deadums”

    well, that’s the interesting thing:

    What you see is a monarchy that DDM rightly characterized to me personally when we were chatting about this as ‘antiquated’. This is true. But the underlying need for it is still there in principle as reflected in the truly stunning outpouring of national grief at the untimely death of the unkindly treated Princess Di, ‘the people’s princess’. And again with this Jubilee. One might argue that it’s just an excuse for a national street party, and there is no doubt some truth to that. But try throwing a national street party on the scale of this without the binding factor of celebrating 60 years of an actual living monarch’s actual reign, her actual living presence in the lives of all subjects since 1952, weekly meetings with every single PM, having personally shook the hand of more living Brits than any other human in history, etc. etc. and you see that something REAL is going on, which reality creates the need and then actual manifestation of the symbological communication, or form, which we call, in shorthand, ‘the monarchy’.

    There is no point in arguing about it on this open dojo thread except to point out that Mark’s initial thrust is to demonstrate how a concept-dogma light approach can still engender cosmic mirror level awareness, which is basically sacredness, which is basically ‘royal’, which is primordially ‘real’. Reality is sacred is symbolic / awareness. Royalty is a cultural language developed over centuries wherein various individuals learn how to channel group – nowadays mass or national – energy (known in daoist circles as ‘dzong chi’) into sacred awareness. The monarch is the object of attention akin to the breath in sitting practice. The monarch’s luminosity and radiance is the awareness of the population and thus realm which thus becomes a vehicle, within society, of promoting wisdom and compassion. Why? Because of the fundamental nature of basic goodness which we all share.

    So even though monarchy and open dojo might seem antithetical as Rita seems to be suggesting (throw it all out, she urges), I doubt this was Mark’s thrust.

    The trick, I suspect, is to use Monarchy to communicate humanly manifest sacredness in such a way that all can emulate it in their own person, aka locally. It isn’t a guru/monarch-only thing.

    I was thinking of this during the Sydney Pageant and looking at some of the newspaper coverage in the British Dailies. One popular photograph showed two charming young girls dressed up as Queens. And all over England there were local pageants, I believe, with others dressed up. And then there are those dressed up ‘for real’ as it were, military officers in full dress (as was the case in my little local pageant), ceremonial officers, Judges and so forth. But in our little Shambhala world, most of us would not feel ‘authorized’ to dress up as a Sakyong in our local community because perhaps we have over personalised the role, or perhaps simply we are still too young, too unproven, too small in numbers. In any case, having and using forms that allow gatherings to engender deep space awareness, whatever you call it, is the thing. And ultimately that has to be possible anywhere on Earth, not just when a particular individual is there.

  253. John Perks on June 6th, 2012 12:07 pm

    Dear Ash,
    And that hits the nails as Jesus said “on the head,”and the heart,
    So everyone is “Authorized”,
    lets have BIG Shambhala,GREAT Shambhala,
    Sunrise Shambhala with transit of Venus,
    dot on the sun,
    Beginning stroke,
    for flowing blood ink,
    of true heart,
    Thank you ,

  254. Rita Ashworth on June 6th, 2012 4:22 pm

    Dear Ash et al

    Thanks for elegy…..zzzzzz…yikes…the Daily Mail one of the most conservative papers in the UK!
    Anyway getting back to thread the main point of Open Dojo is ‘Open’….something that we have not had in the Buddhist or meditational world for a longggggggg time. And of course interspersing this sense of Open is enlightened society ….whether ‘ruled’ by a monarch, not ruled by a monarch or not ruled by Pooh Bear or the like.
    So yes as Mark writes in his piece this society is open for everyone, everywhere and at all times. So whatever way you wax it ….its there for the ordinary bod on the street who does not give two hoot-woots for courts in the celestial or non-celestial realms. And actually even if they did why would they need a monarch to get there, ……in my opinion, Blake, the poet, very much got there and there is no way I would call him a royalist.
    Lets face it chaps this court/King/Queen thingie is over for many of us in the west -so if you are going to be in the Open Dojo you will have to sit with the people who think it is all baloney…..and the dzong-chi –whatever that is- to my turn of mind is mainly happening in the Occupy movement-thats where people are actually talking and thinking about how an ‘enlightened society’ can be envisaged-jeez they even have meditation groups!!!
    Yes also stand by getting rid of the Kasung –so old hat….and yes would make a great bonfire for those epaulets and ribbons. And yes too the military is on the way out –who can afford to wage war anymore-that whole thing is crippling the US and could be one of the deaths of that once great continent. And afterall lets remember the message was ‘Victory over War’-not the dressing up in uniforms. So yes lets get back to the thread and consider the theme of the openness of Open, I can not be more open than that?
    As to the Jubilee ……heres my comment on that –would make a great new national anthem for the UK and its sung by a Canuck!

    Well best,

    Rita Ashworth

  255. Sandra on June 6th, 2012 10:57 pm

    Totally off topic, but this thread seems to be very active…

    Does anyone know why the current Vajrayana Seminary/Sacred World Assembly is now priced at over $3000 to attend?

    I heard they additionally require an suggested offering of $3000 during the program.

    I find the cost of the Shambhala programs high. Was this the case also when CTR was teaching?

  256. Suzanne Duarte on June 7th, 2012 4:09 am

    Sandra, thanks for letting us know the exorbitant cost of current advanced SI programs (and teaching gifts), and for your question about the cost when VCTR was teaching. With CTR the cost of programs was ‘bare bones,’ just enough to cover expenses. If people couldn’t afford that low fee, they were given ‘work-study’ opportunities. People were not turned away from the dharma due to lack of funds. That, at least, is the way I remember it. I’m sure others, such as Mark Sz., who was comptroller at Karme-Chöling, can provide more detail.

  257. Rene on June 7th, 2012 1:37 pm

    I thought this site was defunct because the topics never changed at the top! Surprise! Is it alive and well? Wondering how to stay connected with the sangha announce change and more precisely how to stay in contact with the “old dogs.”

    Thanks, Rene’

  258. Ash on June 7th, 2012 9:12 pm

    More quasi-Shambhalian form out of the UK and nothing to do with the Jubilee hoo-ha, this time an old village dancing custom being revived.

    Although the focus of most of these shots is – properly and understandably – on the ladies, note how the ladies and gentleman are separated. None of this ‘everybody is the same’ diversity gobbledygook thank you very much! More importantly, separating them that way makes everything more energetic in a human mandala. Everyone knows this instinctively, though modern people today are being brainwashed to find this somehow weird, including it seems too many ‘Shambhalians’.
    Note also how this is an entirely voluntary event. People are not being forced from the top down to don their top hats, rather they are taking pleasure and pride in ‘stepping out’ together.

    When they celebrated the 2000 year New Year’s in Ingonish, Cape Breton, all the teenagers showed up for the dance in formal dress (which they had had to purchase the previous summer for their graduation). The Dorje Dradul would have had such fun with them that night. No resistance to Shambhalian-style form that some seem to want to get rid of now, far from it. Rather they are hungering for it. Just as these villagers in Cornwall are recreating for themselves as their ancestors did. In fact, many of them are no doubt direct descendants of dancers from centuries ago who took the sense of joy and celebration into the bedroom, or perhaps in the nearby woods, on Flora Days of yore!

    Anyway, looks like they are having fun with their pageantry. It’s a form. It takes effort and discipline but it main purpose is to celebrate the goodness of being alive together in a community. Talk about communism, capitalism, and other isms pale beside the simple, timeless expressions of societal form such as these. To my mind this is really what Shambhala is about. And again, that means it’s not really about a spiritual program with doctrine and techniques, although that can be a small part of it and experiential vocabulary builder. But it’s not the point any more than studying cuisine replaces the obvious need and pleasure and enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

  259. Ash on June 7th, 2012 9:42 pm

    Idea: the Shambhala Foundation could support an international foundation whose goal is to support enlightened community cultural forms (such as Flora Day). How such a thing could be done is moot since by definition an international / global initiative is perhaps antithetical to such local forms, but still, wouldn’t it be nice: ‘the shambhala international local community culture foundation’ or some such.

    Maybe that sounds too officious. How about: ‘how to propogate enlightened local cultures (and pregnancies) properly, and how not to be sidetracked by globalist sterilities of no end of diverse formlessnesses!

  260. Rita Ashworth on June 8th, 2012 1:56 am

    Dear Ash et al,

    Sometimes I dont think you watch too much news. Take a look at this from a recent demo in Egypt-very much form I think:-

    And wheres the Kasung organising it –where is the protector principle? I can not see many people in uniforms here. But people are acting in unison….tell me where is the monarch principle here? Perhaps in the people themselves? What fundamentally made that occur without people writing loads of governance procedures like many religious organisations we know of are doing?
    The same goes for political structure in the west…its beginning to somewhat disintegrate and become more communal and collective-and it seems to me that however much people want to impose any kind of structure on it people wont let that happen. I am reporting on what is the case not on what was the case and if this change in peoples consciousness is not taken heed of in meditational circles I think the whole thing could be on the skids. Like I said in my previous post we need to free up form.
    I also think you should reread Marks original post where he posits that this Open Dojo will contain people who dont believe or want to take part in the monarchical set-up. If we are truly to ‘help’ people in this world we will have to be very non-biased about a lot of forms in the new kind of structures emerging. There are so many academics also positing theories on what is happening structurally –here is a longer view of what is occurring:

    This discusses the global street and the new forms emerging re structure-it is quite a long lecture but is worth listening to in terms of having some idea about how you could construct an Open Dojo-which incidentally we will be having at the Manchester Buddhist Convention when 400 Buddhists discuss governance in the region. Just been asked to write a brief on the Open Dojo ‘concept’… really into hearing more about the practicalities of what we could do on the day.

    Well best for the day –sorry to be so brief this time but I think the vids are somewhat self-explanatory and I do hope people out there will begin to more experience Open Dojo form by actually going out there with others and doing stuff with all of the precious teachings that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave us.

    Well again yours.

    Rita Ashworth

  261. Ash on June 8th, 2012 8:04 am

    You are right. I NEVER watch the news because I refuse to pay for the privilege of being ‘programmed’.

    As to where is the Kasung principle in the Egyptian uprising vid, I refer you to the first line of the blurb on the link you sent: “Tens of thousands of protesters Friday filled Tahrir Square in Cairo to demonstrate against the continuing military rule.”

    Since they are protesting military rule, it is hardly surprising that the military are not featured in the protest!

    That said, most of the participants (though note not a monolithic all) are observing a Muslim ritual, which is a form, and seem generally quite at peace with each other and relaxed.

    As to the other piece, will try to listen today, although all this stuff is not my cup of tea. Also, I fail to see the connection between ‘Open Dojo’ and street politics – which I don’t believe in as it happens since I think the only influence that can really arise from the street is violence against authority; nothing else has the slightest effect except to give people the illusion that marching around waving silly signs is of the slightest interest to those in power. If you threaten to kill them and their families in bloody uprisings, well then they will wake up. But then also they are quite likely to shoot you, as history has shown repeatedly for kalpas!

    As to Mark recommending a new democratic Shambhala without Sakyong principle, well I missed it. Democracy has its place, but since there are very few honest examples around, and since in any case it really only makes sense for populations in which most of the individuals know each other pretty well (i.e. medieval size populations not modern ones), the whole thing is very theoretical. Unless you think that UK, Canada and US are democracies. But that is another discussion which I do not wish to have, lacking either expertise or interest.

    What you are about to do in Manchester sounds really neat though. Hopefully you are getting helpful and wise input from Mark S and can give a report on how things went afterwards. I agree with you that that sort of discussion/communication is much more helpful than theory alone.

    But the Flora Dance in UK was not theoretical. It actually happened. Just a few days ago. I offered it as an example of form in the local cultural context which, to my mind, is the main territory/mandala in which ‘Shambhala’ should operate. I think nation states are already passe, though most of us today fail to realise this (watching too much ‘news’ perhaps?), and the real fault line in contemporary politics is drawn around the increasingly vanishing local community culture. If that was revived somehow, then theories about social structure, including national governance systems (monarchy, democracy, fascism etc.) would be very different. But that is a world in which we do not live. Still, it is a fault line that exists since people still exist in particular places. It’s just not acknowledged in the public discourse or political theory.

  262. Ash on June 8th, 2012 9:52 am

    Rita, thanks for the link to Prof. Sassen. I found it interesting to listen to in the background whilst working at my little home-based business. I am not sure what, if anything, she suggested practically speaking, being more interested in defining various terms in her own way as academics are wont to do, but I certainly enjoyed the view she was contemplating, esp. since in this lecture she was emphasizing the potential for political activism in the urban cultural terrain (mandala), which is something I have been away from now for a couple of decades and indeed have very little sense of any more. That said, cities exist symbiotically within a larger territory which includes a countryside, which is until recently where most national familial, communial/ societal bedrock cultures are rooted, without which roots urban culture becomes merely ghastly. As is happening these days all over unfortunately.

    Manchester, I gather, is a bit of an exception thanks to the renewals that were undertaken in the 90’s. I was hoping to organize a study with some of the principal community leaders here using Manchester as one of the prime exemplars, perhaps with one of their designer-planners being flown out to give us some tips, but the Feds squashed the project first by saying they would support it – at which point all private funding possibilities dissipated, literally within minutes after building them up for a year – and then taking over six months to finally decide to do something completely different and with different people. So it goes.

    Please let us know what you come up with in Manchester using Open Dojo.

  263. Madeline Schreiber on June 8th, 2012 1:37 pm

    @ Rita

    Dear Rita,

    Thinking back to recent experiences I have had at the YWCA in Halifax, I have the impression that the people at the Y across the pond might be good partners in your style of social action. I recommend that you continue your initiatives with your local Y there in North London. I think you may meet with people there who might appreciate your orientation and performance.

    Madeline aka Madeline from Nova Scotia

  264. Rita Ashworth on June 9th, 2012 4:11 am

    Dear Ash et al,

    Well re the news first –dont think I can be programmed a great deal–one uses discrimination about what you watch and anyway, probably through my mother, have kind of been usurped in thinking in a programmable way-thats the Liverpudlian aspect –they are always arguing the toss!
    Re me including the Tahrir Square and the lecture vids –they complement each other –one the actual space of Occupation and then the theory about all that.
    If you closely listen to the lecture she states that the occupations are not like demonstrations –they are different in that they ‘make territory’ or civil society (i.e. enlightened society possibly also –or else the glimpse of that in some cases). They also construct as she says a semantic space where meanings that we once held so dearly can be diffused and again speculated upon-so these are some of the reasons why I find Occupy so intriguing because it is edging into the realms of what CTR taught about society itself.
    Of course too the vids kind of rhyme with Mark S’s Open Dojo ‘concept’ and Shambhala Vision which is a vision which plays with semantic space in that it can not be defined to the nth degree socially, politically and philosophically.
    So yes I have heard all the arguments about ‘compacting’ the Shambhala Vision into Shambhala Buddhism, the need for the monarchy etc on rfs and elsewhere, but it still seems to me that you can not do that because SB is too defined a space-it is not ‘open’ enough in character, and all the alternative politics in the world that is happening now seems to be reflecting that open-typeness of quality, and the lack of holding on to ‘the leader’. One of the ways though that I have been contemplating ‘leadership’ is in the terms of Augusto Boals Joker Director –so this is a position which allows the space to open up….thats as close as I get to the King motif. Yes, perhaps Dilgo Khentyse and Trungpa were somewhat less moreso inclined to ally the whole thing with Buddhism because they could have intuited what was about to come in terms of people working in a more open manner in these transition times….that is of course a conjecture of mine.
    But it is all very curious about what is occurring, even though people are being practical in their Occupations around the world–it also seems that there is something of a change in consciousness with the many discussions happening in these groups. People are thinking in a collective manner and it almost seems it might be affecting how relationships are formed in society. For example, recently I saw a video of children in Egypt ‘playing revolution’ reflecting what they had seen in Tahrir Square where they formed themselves into a circle to mimic the adults there-so quite amazing-yes so how will these events affect the children? Perhaps we are indeed witnessing the formation of individuals who will be more adaptable to communal society-fascinating.
    So also re the Kasung and the protector principle how would that manifest in an Open Dojo-perhaps we should begin to see the Kasung more as facilitators-so there would have to be less emphasis on the militarial aspect because the Kasung in a diverse society would have to be more impartial than they are now in SB-they would be more like kind of public guardians/civil servants.
    Lastly have heard of the National Occupy Gathering in Philadelphia over the web….would be good if some people into meditation stateside could go and see what they are getting up to –yes incredibly exciting what is occurring stateside….heres a clip for the event:

    (ps hope some one also could invite Ms Sassen to Alia –shes great!)

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  265. Ash on June 9th, 2012 5:42 am

    “So yes I have heard all the arguments about ‘compacting’ the Shambhala Vision into Shambhala Buddhism, the need for the monarchy etc on rfs and elsewhere, but it still seems to me that you can not do that because SB is too defined a space-it is not ‘open’ enough in character, and all the alternative politics in the world that is happening now seems to be reflecting that open-typeness of quality, and the lack of holding on to ‘the leader’

    I was not considering Shambhala-Buddhism because I have no idea what it is having no first hand experience, but my impression is that you are correct in describing it as ‘too defined a space… not open enough in character.’

    I part company with you in terms of the openness quality of alternative politics, mainly because I think there are multiple cross-currents, many false flag or infiltrated movements, propagandist or deliberately false reportage and so forth. There is nothing particularly new about street protests – they have about one a day in China. I think they are valuable to the leadership class in giving them a sense of how far they can push/exploit, and/or which messaging systems succeed or fail in fooling the most number of people effectively. That Philadelphia one looks far too slick in this regard for my taste, but perhaps I am wrong. looked like a ‘real’ peoples
    movement type thingy for a while seemingly (though again personally I had little experience of it), but of course it wasn’t. Most of these things aren’t. Like the part of the uprising in Egypt that was Twitter-coordinated. What’s happening now in Egypt is probably a real uprising but it’s too late: we have our military-dictatorship installed and it will be very hard to get them out. Probably the same in Libya, which was one of the most progressively run countries in the world (contrary to our propaganda) using basically a national deleg system for governance, Iraq is radioactive toast though no democratic uprising there even though we used pockets of resistance to overthrow Saddam and then immediately betrayed them, and soon to happen in Syria.

    If Occupy Wall St. has the effect of lessening the grip of the banking cartels on modern society, then I will be proved wrong (and gladly so). But for now, I suspect the whole thing is a false flag type operation, albeit many in the streets are willing dupes.
    If there is an effect, it will probably be a story involving how they put such pressure on Wall St that we now need a global system, not nation-state based variegated, and the whole thing will become even more centralised and this will be trumpeted as proof of the power of the people or some other similar drivel.

    As to programming: watch out! You absorb a certain world view immediately, a sense of reality immediately. It is entirely false.

  266. damchö on June 9th, 2012 12:08 pm

    Ash: “More importantly, separating them that way makes everything more energetic in a human mandala. Everyone knows this instinctively…”

    Guess I’m not anyone then–ah well!

  267. Rita Ashworth on June 10th, 2012 4:02 am

    Dear Ash et al

    Hmmm-we shall see,I am not as defined as you about what is happening ‘politically’. Sassen does point to developments in this project of examining territory which chimes with the enlightened society theme, so I would not totally fall for your sense of the false flag orientation. In addition the Occupy movement ticks all the ways that CTR said we should voice our thoughts re issues in society i.e. it is non-violent, and uses non-violent communication to diffuse situations, its communal and it cares both physically & socially for its participants.
    Re global governance, I agree it could be usurped by elites but if we look at it from the other angle it could materialise across the world informally as has been shown by Occupy –which is a phenomenon worthy of discussion in religious, academic & political spheres. This is why I am checking in on what most lefties think about it.
    Yes, just think it took Rinpoche 17 years to establish his network in the states and Europe–this Occupy movement has sprang up in perhaps a year-or 2 at the most –so ideas/movements are being created and thought about at incredible speed-who really knows what will happen with them. It is this aspect which is quite fascinating as to change in consciousness & ‘territory’. So I think there should be an exchange of ideas between them and people who are into meditation in Philly –it is a question of exploring what is out there –something that Trungpa Rinpoche also did in his forays into politics and his artistic exploration with artists.
    Re SB aka Open Dojo-yes I think Mark(S) has definitely hit on something with his article in that we need to be thinking in a diverse manner about the actual space we come into when we organise our lives and work with others…so I am still examining the Open Dojo ‘concept’, especially in relation to protector principle. Boal to me as said is the closest person I can think of in opening up space dramatically –a kind of “leader-king of the dance’’ and very humorous too!
    Programmable-me, not double thinking on that–my conscience kind of infiltrated with living with parents whose perspective goes back about 200 years and then there is the Liverpool connection -Ha-Ha(!?),which is a cross&humour we have to bear at times,akalike-
    Mr Lennon: many twisting and shouting times ahead.

    Well Best from the UK Rita Ashworth

  268. John Perks on June 10th, 2012 3:52 pm

    Transforming To A New World,
    Slow Living Summit…
    “Sacred Economics” Charles Eisensteins blog..
    “Humanizing the Economy” John Restakis,
    “Slow Money”…
    “Ideology triumphs when people can’t see alternatives,break apart belief systems of an out of control capitalist paradigm.
    “We are not crazy the old logic is falling apart!!!!

  269. John Perks on June 11th, 2012 5:53 am

    From slow living conference,Brattleboro Vt, May 30th June 2,
    Eisenstein said,”at every juncture when “modern” people could choose between working less or consuming more “we chose to consume more”
    The problem, he said lies in the money system itself money is created as interesting bearing debt,there is always more debt than money This dichotomy fosters a feeling of never enough money or time.
    The current money system only works if supported by endless economic growth,and production……How can we learn to enjoy living slowly if money is zooming around the planet investing in things we don’t understand or believe in ? CHECK OUT SLOW MONEY SITE THANKS JP

  270. John Perks on June 11th, 2012 1:44 pm

    Cost of Becoming a Shambhala Subject,
    What we need here is Slow Shambhala Buddhism,
    rethinking the way programs are taught,paid for,and administered,
    Perhaps a flat tax of $50.00 per year per subject to support the Monarchy?
    ask questions are large centers substainable ?
    is a corporation model the best plan to follow for an enlightened Kingdom?
    should teachings be free but subsidised by the Kingdom,and by the individual subject ?
    what else can be done to move forward towards a Shambhala Kingdom?

  271. John Perks on June 11th, 2012 6:40 pm

    Is a family corporation big enough to establish Shambhala?
    what are the roles of the subjects?
    just to follow or inplement the vision together?
    or is this just a one man show?

  272. Rita Ashworth on June 12th, 2012 3:04 am

    Dear John et al

    Thanks for the refs to the websites –very interesting.
    Aka the shambhala queries –well alot of them dont interest me now being from the mover-on movement which I thought we were discussing with this Open Dojo concept –that is somewhat removed from Shambhala Int and its ideas on governance.
    Open Dojo means Open, inclusive, vast –so some are going to have alleigence to the Sakyong in terms of teachings and some not-we must really get to grips with what the more bigger ‘concept’ of enlightened society means.
    Aka re the expense of doing SI programmes-quite expensive 1980 euros for doing the once known European Vajrayana seminary in a little under of a month-so I think they are charging too much definitely-so many lamas out there who are offering programmes at a less cost. In merely commercial terms not on in my opinion.
    Re large centres –yes definitely on the skids-people can not afford them as they used too-I would go the Naropa way and work with others to get courses off the ground-in Boulder this is the way people were magnetised to the teachings, and in addition much easier to set up than a land centre at first as you could use other peoples buildings. In fact you could do this with people of a like mind in Vermont. Well just some initial thoughts after reading your posts.


    Rita Ashworth

  273. John Perks on June 12th, 2012 6:14 am

    Dear Rita,
    Thank you for that,The problem with my concept of Open Dojo,is of course the concept open,vast,inclusive,or bigger concept,
    I am not much interested in SI as such,thinking when CTR died we all ran to our corners with the teaching we had been given.
    Pierced with arrows of devotion,and longing,
    But Shambhala is a way to come together in my thinking,I do not think chucking the Sakyong baby out with the bath water will help,but there is a way for “Shambhala Subjects” to form a Government ?of the “PEOPLE”?
    The vision of CTR was a Monarchy,he was not much inclined towards Democracy as we are told,but I remember talk about Parliament?
    This is more boots on the ground than Open Dojo,and not where I belong ,
    being an old knight in a new day, Cheers JP

  274. Ash on June 12th, 2012 12:04 pm

    As per your last, John:

    Am not sure about your ‘running to corners’ in that it didn’t have to be that way. It is impossible to know because of how things played out with the Regent, and so many worms in that can, each with own particular wriggle (or is it foxtrot?), that no point discussing it.
    My take on that is (pedantically) the same and relates tangentially with your remarks about Parliament: I maintain and am convinced from period of two years at Kalapa Valley with dreams/insights etc. (despite being a Roman!) that your questions about corporate/family etc. models have SIGNIFICANT MERIT, and moreover our inability as a community to discuss these things intelligently has relegated us to cult status. Not because we should be or want to be but because in the absence of proper peer-level leadership, that’s what you get.

    People complain about SMR, but let’s face it: our ‘sangha elders’ (i.e. you and me and all of our generation) FAILED to manage our sangha after the death of its founder Sakyong, presented a new Sakyong with an unholy mess of our mutual creation supplicating him (impossibly) to clean it up, and now blaming him for our own collective failures. I still think he made a fundamental, historical error returning to us in 1990 and should have insisted upon a Parliament – or somesuch – being formed before his assuming the throne.

    But we lacked the means then to discuss such things. I believe this is because the original core senior student group was overly fixated on their own relative territory/standing, i.e. they were habituated to playing the ‘who is superior/closer to whom’ game and couldn’t go further, and that being the case, when the Regent tragedy unfolded, things quickly devolved into various camps of interest and the historic chance to create a peer-level sangha governance system – which ideally should have been the Regent’s great gift to Western Culture – was squandered.

    I believe that the current Sakyong was given a decidedly GHASTLY hand to play and that we are responsible for that.

    Most importantly, I believe fervently that many of the questions you raised in the last few brief posts are the sort of thing we as a community should have been intelligently discussing for years now but in fact we have been unable to do so, again because of leadership failures on our end, not the guru lineage end.

    My criticism of SMR is that he failed to insist on strong Nyen/Peer level leadership from the elder sangha and continues to fail to create that, preferring some sort of federal/central model which I personally find deadly. Maybe this is an idiosyncratic view that is off, which is why I have chosen to simply absent from the entire thing and am prepared now to die alone without any sangha principle, indeed on many levels have abandoned even Refuge level commitments (which I don’t feel good about). At the same time, though, remain true and loyal to my sense of the original inspiration, which includes Monarchy and Kingdom and all the rest of it.

    Which is why I cannot go along with calls for You-Tube based democracy etc. no matter how sincere and well intentioned.

    Bottom line: I hope that at some point this site becomes a place where slowly, gradually, people can find a way to discuss governance-related issues intelligently and without fear, but ideally the participants are not just drop outs (like myself) but active, dedicated members.

    At first, it would be best if this were more of the old guard who are still active in the extant mandala. But they are so endeared to simplistic modes of ‘loyalty’ and ‘devotion’ that they would be terrified to express themselves here.

    And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem right there. As long as that remains the underlying climate, we are a petty cult.

    Not for the reasons John Small Berries provocatively garbaged in above, but because of the shameful level of fear that exists in the senior sangha.

    Such cowardice cannot engender to warrior society.

  275. Ash on June 12th, 2012 12:20 pm

    Edit: last sentence should read: “Such cowardice cannot engender warrior society.”

    But to revisit what you said about retreating to corners etc.:

    there is some wisdom there in the sense that if more people felt confident and empowered to simply ‘set up shop’, somewhat a la Christian parish model, i.e. if we didn’t feel that only one central figure (Sakyong/guru etc.) was ‘the real deal’ and everyone could branch out, then I suspect the governance issues discussed somewhat woodenly above would sort themselves out.

    In this spirit gifted people like Mark S have developed things like Open Dojo. It is great. But it doesn’t confront some of the core issues (nor does it pretend to) which ultimately come down to developing an articulate, intelligent society in which discussion of such things can take place articulately and intelligently and without fear.

    We have never created such a society.
    And that was our job, not Trungpa Rinpoche’s or his son the current Sakyong. This is supposed to be a Western lineage, and the West has had an incredible influence on world history and culture and has a lot to offer. First, we are generally uneducated in these things because second we are currently in a period of marked decline which is so advanced that most of us are unaware that it is even ongoing. So not only within the Shambhala community but also in the West in general there is an absence of intelligent, informed discourse.

    In any case, I remain convinced from my time at Kalapa Valley that both for our own Shambhala Society and for western societies in general, the key fault line remains learning how to work within local community contexts, which involves local and individual leadership/empowerment. More specifically in terms of Shambhala we simply HAVE to find a way not only to have a viable Parliament/Deleg system which takes on much more of the responsibilities that we passed onto the heir, but also promotes local leadership with local sanghas with their own authorities, traditions and suchlike. If we don’t do this, nothing will come of the Vidyadhara’s great transmissions, and his sons’ great devotion and hard work. And this is up to us, not them.

    And thus far, we have done a piss-poor job!

  276. Ash on June 12th, 2012 12:48 pm

    In terms of larger/general society, again ways have to be found to devolve governance/taxes down to a more local level. Some moves have been made in the UK along these lines but they came about largely through the regional development policies of the EU initiative, one of whose goals is to supersede the nation state and create some sort of Orwellian super state which is contrary to all fundamental European cultural norms.

    Bottom line though: the problems we have as a bona fide Shambhalian community in putting down local roots whilst remaining a para-national, or rather international, community, are pretty much the same as conventional society: there is truth behind the movement to perceive things in a ‘global’ context. We are all one on some level. But if we set up centralised governance without proper locally-empowered checks and balances, then the asuras – who always exist in any mandala – will take over such a weak structure and inevitably turn it into a totalitarian police state nightmare. This story is as old as the human realm and it is only because our education is so disgracefully shoddy that most of us don’t definitively know and understand this.

    At Kalapa Valley I came to realise that the needs of the Shambhala Community internationally and the needs of the Ingonish Community locally were FUNDAMENTALLY identical. Which is why I felt then and feel know that the single best thing we could do, which would unite the enlightened maverick Perks and Romes of our mandala with the new (and old) dedicated ones and (like me) disaffected ones, would be to have an annual Mukpo Clan Gathering in the living community of Ingonish, Cape Breton, using the entire community with about 600 hotel rooms as the ‘venue’, and Kalapa Valley as the ‘shrine’ space. In this way our gathering would take place within an actual, living, secular community, and moreover that living, actual community of Ingonish would not only teach us a huge amount about local community culture but would at the same time be enriched by an international population in its midst, year after year, not to mention they would learn to meditate.

    In this way the teenage Ingonishers who so vivaciously celebrated the 2000 New Year in formal dress, would become the vanguard of Shambhalian Society world wide whilst remaining rooted in their place-based livelihoods of fishing, farming, hotel operating, and volunteering, including running a 500-member Roman Catholic Church community in a population of about 1000. They are all worthy.

    And have as much to teach us as we them.

    But up to now, we have been so involved in pushing our own little esoteric super-special agenda (which is valid, real and precious) to appreciate the secular jewels on display in Nova Scotia, which jewels being DDM’s last and greatest gift, and whose existence I have no doubt inspired him to create the deleg system, or Perk’s ‘parliament’, because he knew that without it no authentic secular enlightened society could function, and moreover function within the context of bedrock western culture, moreover specifically in that culture of the Maritimes in Canada.

    Kalapa Valley is important and has much to offer. It is like a master acupuncture point. The universe is holographic. All particular points connect with all others in the universal fabric; but some do this better than others. Kalapa Valley is such a point. But the key is relating to the local community of Ingonish.

    Frankly, the Chinese fung shui person has no clue about such things.

  277. John Perks on June 12th, 2012 1:04 pm

    Dear Ash,
    Well spoken,”Loyal to my sense of the original inspiration which includes Monarchy,and Kingdom”
    So don’t die without any sangha principle,
    Here I is,making wine,
    can eat your bread,drink my wine we have communion,
    other places other times will arise,
    We will be there,until then,what we have is yours,
    love remains,the sangha principle,
    Ronin warriors…jewels in the garbage,charnel ground………I drink to you,
    by the sixteen men of Tain,

  278. John Perks on June 12th, 2012 1:14 pm

    Sign us up for rooms the CelticBuddhist Clan will be there for this shindig
    “The Mukpo Clan Gathering”,
    Now to organize,
    IDEA’S Anyone ????????????????????????????

  279. John Perks on June 12th, 2012 3:20 pm

    OK Ash,we have 2 volunteers,to help organize,
    Dr Sister Gryphon CB Nun,norhern Maine,
    Dr Richard Johnson Episopalian,and CB priest Bangor Maine.
    Anyone else out there?

  280. Rita Ashworth on June 13th, 2012 1:52 am

    Dear Mr Perks, Ash et al,

    Thanks for that brief discussion re monarchy and Parliament yet again, but we have what we have now, and hardly anyone seems to see the surrealness of it in SI with a central Authority ruling the whole thing. Yes, how do you really expect modern Westerners to go on with that? To my thinking it just wont work in our present age of democracy-even if you think democracy is not the way to go forward. Yes where are the supposed millions coming from!?!
    Yes to me it is no way to construct an enlightened society. So can we get back to the thread and discuss the Open Dojo for real? We need to seek for something else now on our own.
    So yes Mark (S) has offered the Open Dojo which encompasses all shades of opinion and is open to all, thats ‘true democracy’, thats ‘true communism’ another one of the Vidyadharas epithets for the construction of an enlightened society-so I think it is worthy of much more in-depth discussion.
    Cape Breton-Clan gathering!?! Well I reckon most of the people that I know from that island would not be into such Tibetan-American, southern-English twee parochialism –they are much more grounded in reality that that. I reckon Ash should just get his 30 people to the Open Dojo thingie, even if he thinks its just a tool for a ‘seminar gathering occasion’ and just try things out for real-thats what I am trying to do in the UK, and then experiment –wise we could compare notes?
    Well best from ol gb. & heres to the spirit of the Revolution, for now after the return of old Tibet in SI –we do need another one in spirit and for the calamitous times-yes another well-intentioned vid –ha-ha!!

    Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton are amazing in this film!

    Best, Rita Ashworth

  281. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 12:26 pm

    “I believe that the current Sakyong was given a decidedly GHASTLY hand to play and that we are responsible for that.” Ash

    Absolute nonsense! He was given an organization that was fully functional, where for @ the first ten years of his reign, centers were giving programs along established lines, and those programs were flourishing. The people really started leaving with the advent of “Shambhala Buddhism” and the emphasis on Scorpion Seal. I know…I was there! I was on staff at SMC ’til around 2001.

    I think no one wants to come out and speak to the question of this Sakyong’s competence..(not that it would matter much)….the question has certainly been implied throughout this website.

  282. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 12:52 pm

    “This is supposed to be a Western lineage” Ash

    OK….so VCTR empowered some of his students to teach and take responsibilities…they had autonomy, which sometimes worked and sometimes not so well. Not the case anymore, is it? The Acharyas and Shastris are teachers under the Sakyong, and teach the party line, but they
    really have little autonomy. Seems to be a step backwards in terms of
    this being a Western lineage.

  283. John Perks on June 13th, 2012 2:46 pm

    Dear John Tischer,
    How are you?yes you are correct,and many older students would agree with what you say.
    I am sure Ash will answer you,what I am interested in is the coming together of all parties under the the umberella of” Shambhala” as in the vision of CTR,so you could have a coalition of very deverse mandala’s but with the connection to “Shambhala Vision”
    I do not know if this is possible,many people say SMR is not interested,and wants to go his own way,and thats ok I guess we can all take that approach,but it seems wasteful….???
    Rita ,I am stll interested in some union of the students new and old of CTR,SMR…..and a “Shambhala Union”,perhaps pipe dream,but cannot give up..cheers JP

  284. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 3:41 pm

    Dear John,
    I’m fine, how are you?

    No “Enlightened” Sakyong, no enlightened society…IMHO

  285. Ash on June 13th, 2012 4:55 pm

    John, small factual niggle re: “Absolute nonsense! He was given an organization that was fully functional, where for @ the first ten years of his reign, centers were giving programs along established lines, and those programs were flourishing. The people really started leaving with the advent of “Shambhala Buddhism” and the emphasis on Scorpion Seal. I know…I was there! I was on staff at SMC ’til around 2001.”

    Starting around 1981-ish it was well known in Boulder that the Board had ongoing jokes (tears also?) about ‘the collapse of Vajradhatu’.

    By 1989-90, the year before SMR took over, there were only two people on the payroll, the Loppon and Howard Moore, part-time, the book keeper. Also the Sawang was supported. Contrast this with about 70 full and part-time ‘federal’ employees in the late 1970’s.

    If I am factually wrong here, apologies, but these simple figures are in the ballpark for sure. (Note: they do not include practice centre employees since they are more or less independent universes, also their salaries are stipends for toothpaste etc., and back then were around $100 a month or something.)

    I have no doubt you are sincere in your reply, but equally have no doubt on my end that either you are ill informed or, more likely, have simply forgotten what it was like back then. The new centre had not yet formed, functionally speaking, in Halifax since the majority of the membership there had moved up soon after DDM who basically died only a few months after arriving. Then in 1988-9 there was the whole truly tragic business around VROT. This was not ever resolved, but certainly nothing could proceed until his unfortunate death in 1990 I believe.

    So I stand on what was said earlier, namely that he inherited a very bad situation. Indeed, many doubted, with reason, that the sangha would continue. I personally don’t think it has, but something has continued using some of the foundations of the earlier community along with probably one third to one half the original membership. I personally am no fan of the Tibetanized style, nor how Shambhala Training developed (or rather failed to develop), but just because have faded away, doesn’t mean that I have forgotten how deeply dysfunctional everything was in the late 80’s early 90’s. This was not SMR’s doing. At all.

  286. Ash on June 13th, 2012 5:05 pm

    Hey, John! Well, Marty loved the idea when I floated it 10 years ago. Said it was the ‘most inspiring thing he had heard in over ten years.’ But I couldn’t deal with the Halifax bureaucrats and would no longer try. The local Chamber of Commerce liked the idea – such as I could paint it in simple, logistical terms. For them if we were to rent every hotel room and use every Community Hall from, say, October 15 – 30,given that usually everything shuts down there on October 15th, this would add 15 days per annum to the local economy which usually runs from June 15 – October 15 = about 120 days, so that is about a 10% boost to the local economy. So this would have a very beneficial economic effect for Ingonishers. At the same time, our ‘program’ would take place within an actual, living, secular community. That community would learn but mainly – for us – teach about local community culture in rugged but real situation, and our entire international community would benefit from such teachings and they would spread throughout our mandala. And in so doing solve most of the issues that people here and elsewhere are concerned about.


    Because unlike every other program since 1970, this one would not take place in a spiritual bubble for its outer mandala container would not be us, or a rented hotel, or a practice centre isolated from mainstream society, but an actual, living community, with actual, living people with actual living attitudes and issues, including quite a few who would dislike us (intensely), some youths who might threaten to burn down the tents (great fun for the kasung who of course will recruit them!), and our leadership dealing with their leadership, both church and secular, some of which is quite sophisticated, but all of which is very ‘real’. A program not in our little bubble. Think about it. Think about how a transmission of enlightened society in this context would effect our international membership whilst also creating very interesting dynamics (including no doubt various marriages and offspring) on the ground in Ingonish. This blows away all other ‘programs’ and finally we could do something real. A beyond-program program (finally!). Something that doesn’t perpetuate the bubble neurosis. So this is an adjunctive suggestion to Mark’s Open Dojo, because I believe that learning how to work with local energy and culture is the sine qua non of authentic Shambhala space and this should be done deliberately, with particular places, involving the people there, not just putting together part-time, temporary populations, which I dubbed ‘seminar populations’. I don’t mean disrespect to Open Dojo at all, just trying to point out (and I will stop now on this theme, don’t worry!) that there are other aspects/dynamics that perhaps it is not addressing and therefore, excellent as it is, I would hesitate to endorse it as a wider societal governance model which Rita, for example, seems inspired to do. That’s all. It’s just an opinion, not a diktat.

    Somebody else with connections in Halifax and their own sense of why this might work has to be the front man. And probably this is just one individual’s little pipe dream. The problem is: I am certain that it would not only prove a HELLUVALOTTA FUN, but also be extremely effective as well as logistically easy. But as soon as I mentioned it back then, well-meaning and experienced experts like Peisinger, immediately poo-pooed it for logistical reasons, even though they didn’t have the slightest detailed knowledge of Ingonish the community, or Ingonish the community-as-seminar-population-venue. Voices like that enjoy instant authority and it is hard to go further from the fringe without access to or interest from the centre.

    Also, maybe it was a good idea then (2000), but its time is past. I suspect not, but without being involved in the sangha, this is not for me to say any more.

    But it would be fun, and I am sure you and Dr Sister Gryphon CB nun, northern Maine, Dr Richard Johnson Episopalian,and CB priest Bangor Maine would have a whale of a time, as would the whales in the harbour looking down the valley, objecting to the narrowness of the river and their inability to caper to the highland flings echoing therefrom every night!

    Btw, I felt then and feel now that the old Lodge should put this on, not S.I. But still you have to schedule through A-suite and that can’t happen unless the whole thing has already been thoroughly masticated by the central powers that be, the Kalapa councils and suchlike.

  287. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 5:45 pm

    re ; your first post…
    Maybe international was suffering, yes….but the centers were flourishing…
    programs kept happening….what’s so important about the “Central
    administration.” anyway?
    It seemed that more got done better when the power was not centralized.
    It didn’t mean that the organization was WEAK….it seems more that way now.

  288. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 5:55 pm

    …I mean, what’s the point of having a money guzzling Center, consisting of
    SMR’s family, and his family’s family, and his coterie other than itself?
    What benefit is there for the sangha at large? Is it like thinking of the Queen of England, who’s existence seems solely to benefit Her subjects in the sense of
    giving them a dollop of national pride. IT’s not even this Sakyong that’s important anymore…he said it himself: it’s the THRONE!. So, that’s were your money’s going, folks…P.T.Barnum would be proud.

    And, Ash, I was there when the center had nothing, and there when the Sakyong had been around for a long time…and it was better in every way

    (and I ain’t talking money.)

  289. John Perks on June 13th, 2012 6:00 pm

    Well interesting ,and I is fer havin fun,we
    have inside agents ,we could talk off line you have one of them speaking devices we calls telephones?
    I am game ,not interested in win or lose just the play…..speak soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hey you is making my day yarhoo!!! thats it!!!

  290. John Tischer on June 13th, 2012 6:16 pm

    That’s right, John P., “Diffuse, deflect, deflate.”….did Admiral Nelson
    teach you that? I don’t know I’d trust you in a bar room brawl…

  291. John Perks on June 13th, 2012 6:38 pm

    Ash,Piesinger? wonderful chap but Adventure,and swashbuckeling don’t come to mind.
    John,yes do not trust me,nothing given nothing taken,you remember “do not trust”,and for the rest could not care less,nevertheless we are comrades,whether we like it or not, preference Nelson Mandela,at my age always leave the bar before the brawl,unless I have a shillelagh

  292. Mark Szpakowski on June 13th, 2012 9:00 pm

    John Perks said (a few comments back):

    “what I am interested in is the coming together of all parties under the umbrella of ‘Shambhala’ as in the vision of CTR, so you could have a coalition of very diverse mandalas but with the connection to ‘Shambhala Vision’. I do not know if this is possible, many people say SMR is not interested, and wants to go his own way, and thats ok I guess we can all take that approach, but it seems wasteful….???”

    This is great. I think what “open dojo” can mean is that space of “the coming together of all parties”.

    That space does not belong to any of the parties. Nevertheless they can serve to protect and nurture and strengthen that space.

    I think, and in my experience, CTR was willing to enter that space with _anybody_. And anybody meeting him walked into that space. They didn’t walk into him – they walked into open space.

    That was experience of true monarchy, which strangely enough was peer to peer. As he said, “if you want to relate to ‘king’, first you have to be king of yourself.”

    We have not yet dreamt of the ways to reframe and re-intend these issues and questions of enlightened governance for our and future times.

    How can we do this, beyond our little rag tag discussion here?

    For one, this article thread is getting rather long, so perhaps we need another article :-) (Hint!) But also other forms.

    PS Re coalition of diverse participants with “the connection to ‘Shambhala Vision'”: it may not be named that by (all or any of) the participants. That’s really stepping into open space, for all participants. That’s a very personal challenge. And that’s very real world, whether it be with Brits or Capers.

  293. Rita Ashworth on June 14th, 2012 2:17 am

    Dear Mark et al,

    Thanks for your post.

    Well personally I would not want to walk into any Open Dojo that was freezing that space in any defined ways that we have been badgered about in the last few years from the Org.-so it would require a lot of openness on many peoples part to re-enter any kind of quasi-formal relationship with SI or other bodies that come about in the near future as a result of a greater conception of Open Dojo.
    If you are thinking of a space as an informal collection of peoples who shared one teacher –great, but we would have to have a process of give and take about how we went about things. So very much a lack of agenda into entering into such a space.
    Yes, in my journey away from SI I have rediscovered my own creativity and the power of autonomous groups to just start things off as they wish, thats why I like Occupy politically which very much seems to fit the times we are in, – I would not want to give up that kind of beautiful thing to any Org. again, if we did that again we would then be into A suites, authority of Peisengers, Kalapa Councils and god knows what to actually do stuff again. And then would come the 2,000 bucks for progs. of people just sitting on cushions, eating and discussing stuff-way to big a reconstruction of the Org. So as you see I am very much into the autonomy of people to do things together which I have found on the web has a political foundation in the writings of Anthony Negri, Michael Hardt and now the Occupy movement.
    My own advice to Ash & Mr Perks would be just to go for a small programme and not try too high for mega-stuff – even if you had 10 to 20 people for the programme it would still be an amazing situation and I think more suited to Cape Breton style. For example I knew many people in Halifax in the 90s that just walked away from SI because of the haughtiness of the people there-they did really like going to the other centre that briefly errupted in the North End in the 90s because it was ‘their space’. Yes the question of ownership of space coming up so early then! Perhaps a forewarning of what was to come.
    Another thing that may help Ash and Perks to get things off the ground in Cape Breton would be to liaise with Andrew Safer who seems to be doing great in Newfoundland on a small scale and is working with people in Halifax.
    I have also found in the UK that in working with the Convention –stuff just materialises if people are really into it –one person has just found 250 cushions for the event, and now the local services such as the police and the fire service are going to come and give talks, -so perhaps we could truly develop some kind of Open Centre here on the back of this convention, 400 people coming I hope –so many connections/ideas floating around – I wonder what is out there and what will occur?
    Yes people do have their own traditions but there is really a desire out there to network and interact with others on a larger scale –perhaps we can organise some larger more cohesive events on the back of this convention.
    Yes certainly the Dralas of the Uk I think may be suited more to the openness of Open Dojo –did I read somewhere that Trungpa thought Nyingmpa style would go better here (?!) –any way the quality of openness in my own mind in 1974 did indeed bring me to the dharma way back then and I surely do wish to return to that openness again and not be stymied by Rules and Regs!!!

    Well best from the UK.
    Rita Ashworth.

  294. Suzanne Duarte on June 14th, 2012 5:23 am

    This discussion is finally getting interesting. All that talk about monarchy among Brits is frankly yawn-provoking. Does anybody here consider that the world is sinking further and further into chaos – economically, ecologically, and socially – and that sanely relating to the chaotic realities of the world may be the best reason to learn how to conduct and live in open-dojo fashion?

    Thanks, Mark, for reminding us again about these considerations:

    “I think what “open dojo” can mean is that space of “the coming together of all parties”.
    That space does not belong to any of the parties. Nevertheless they can serve to protect and nurture and strengthen that space.
    I think, and in my experience, CTR was willing to enter that space with _anybody_. And anybody meeting him walked into that space. They didn’t walk into him – they walked into open space.
    That was experience of true monarchy, which strangely enough was peer to peer. As he said, “if you want to relate to ‘king’, first you have to be king of yourself.”
    We have not yet dreamt of the ways to reframe and re-intend these issues and questions of enlightened governance for our and future times.
    How can we do this, beyond our little rag tag discussion here?”

    I fully endorse the memory of the Vidyadhara that you describe. Being with him felt like a peer-to-peer situation in open space. It did not FEEL top-down authoritarian. The heaviness of heirarchy was what WE brought to the situation: our own conditioned habitual patterns – the “haughtiness” Rita mentioned. But if we behaved as ladies and gentlemen and treated everyone else with that respect, the whole situation was uplifted. Remember?

    What Mark and Rita said reminded me of a video of a talk I watched last night of Richard D. Wolff describing the Mondragon corporation in the Basque region of Spain. Everyone is a worker and everyone is an owner. There is no hierarchy. Everyone is taken care of. The whole society of the city of Mondragon is dignified and prosperous. What Wolff said was very inspiring and reminded me so much of the Shambhala vision of VCTR.

    So I am inspired to share this talk on Mondragon by RD Wolff:
    Scroll forward to 40 min., 17 sec.
    See if you think it contributes to open dojo.

  295. John Perks on June 14th, 2012 7:19 am

    Ash,Do not have contact information for you?

  296. John Perks on June 14th, 2012 11:23 am

    The Shambhala Parasole ?
    Well here we are?wanting Shambhala wanting to be included in that Mandala that was our teachers vision,which at this point in time only exists in our individual hearts,the question seems to be how to join all those hearts together? under the monarchy ?if the monarchy is in anyway interested,which up to this point seems to be NO.
    So how to proceed? I think we should start to set up meetings of Shambhala people ,and eat,drink,and talk,and come to some consensus about agender of issues,chose a group spokesperson,have the group spokespersons contact each other,then report back……
    I am not to good at puting this in words,but here in Vermont,we have town meetings,something like that,we could invite dropouts,dropins whoever,
    could be an oldfasion gripe sesion,BUT with finding away forward…what do you think?Thank you Mark,John Ash,Rita,,and all .Suzanne I just loves Queens of all kinds,and chaos. ASH,I am in for the Highland Games but need to contact you?

  297. Suzanne Duarte on June 14th, 2012 12:20 pm

    John Perks, I have advocated a similar idea for quite awhile: ” I think we should start to set up meetings of Shambhala people ,and eat,drink,and talk,and come to some consensus about an agenda of issues,chose a group spokesperson,have the group spokespersons contact each other,then report back…… here in Vermont,we have town meetings,something like that,we could invite dropouts,dropins whoever, could be an oldfasion gripe sesion, BUT with finding away forward.” In fact, I began doing that in Boulder many yrs ago. Who knows, maybe we’re finally getting enough critical mass that people aren’t so scared to be honest. But now we’re really scattered all over the world. In Amsterdam I have no hope of doing this. … More later, gotta go.

  298. John Perks on June 14th, 2012 12:58 pm

    Suzanne Dear,
    Well now we have fast communication with internet ,critical mass can help,it has been long enough ,we can do this Amsterdam is not that far away,we could patch you in by skype?

  299. Suzanne Duarte on June 14th, 2012 6:01 pm

    Definitely, John, I love to Skype with sangha friends. I agree that it has been long enough.

  300. John Perks on June 15th, 2012 5:48 am

    GREAT Suzanne,as a famous detective once said “the game’s afoot”….I will jump with both feet into Skype………..every one else has run off?

  301. Joe P. on June 17th, 2012 11:27 am

    John Perks: “.I will jump with both feet into Skype”

    For what it’s worth, there may be other options. Skype is ad-supported spyware (since targetted ads require that); a corporate product from Microsoft. And Skype has just started increasing the ads. Their terms are typical: You pre-agree to any unilateral change in terms that Microsoft posts online. You agree that they can listen in on your calls to ensure that you are not engaging in communication that is “harmful”, illegal, commercial, or otherwise banned. (Section 6 of terms.) Their privacy terms go on to explain that they can collect any info. about you that they like and share it with partners. And of course if they sell Skype all bets are off.

    As someone who avoids corporate sleazeware, I’ve recently been looking into alternatives because I have a friend who wants to video-chat. I found Open source software. Easy and intuitive. One can also get a free “SIP phone number”, required to use the software. The other person then needs to also install Ekiga or another SIP-protocol program. [Skype can handle SIP, but only in the paid version, from what I can glean.] I haven’t tested Ekiga yet, but it only took about 5 minutes to install it and set up a “phone number”.

    On the down side, 5 minutes is more effort than many people will be willing to spend. Thus the success of products like Skype, gmail, etc.

  302. John Perks on June 17th, 2012 8:12 pm

    Dear Joe P,Thank you so much for that information,will look into it,
    all best regards,…..John P

  303. Ash on June 18th, 2012 11:17 am

    (Sorry didn’t respond sooner, was very busy last week.)

    John Tischer: good point about the fringe vs. center. We shall just have to agree to disagree! Or rather, more likely, the issue is a little too vast to encapsulate in brief snippets, and in any case only tangential to the discussion here.

    JP: my phone is 1 902 884 two five nine nine.

    Mark, re: “We have not yet dreamt of the ways to reframe and re-intend these issues and questions of enlightened governance for our and future times.

    How can we do this, beyond our little rag tag discussion here?

    For one, this article thread is getting rather long, so perhaps we need another article :-) (Hint!) But also other forms.”

    Well, maybe a follow-up article that floats various form ideas and thus invites ruminations on various structural possibilities, visions, operational paradigms etc. rather than just having something without any specific application, time or place as in the case of this initial lead-in.

    But to give a quick answer: again (he says, beating the same old tattoo on the bleading flanks of his dead horse of argument), I think the key point is not so much content (and perhaps this is exactly why your Open Dojo idea/actuality is so potent and relevant) but simply putting together something that is both
    a) local community based, or place based, i.e. local groups/units and
    b) a network of them that are somehow linked but not centrally controlled.

    It is possible that all this means is establishing a network of real delegs as opposed to the somewhat artificial ones we set up in programs in only large city centres. But in any case, there should be some sort of autonomy there versus the current central command-and-control-only mode.

    Autonomy to my way of thinking means that there should be a way for people to teach and receive Shambhala and Buddhadharma on the ground from local teachers/leaders. There are parallel issues to this in terms of farmers markets politics of local producers vs. federal heath laws etc., municipal vs. provincial governments etc. and so on. For example the current approach with health legislation is somewhat a ‘one-size-fits-all’ in that hygiene and other requirements for industrial-scale production are then imposed on individual or home-based operations in a way that tends to render the latter unfeasible. My solution to this would be to change legislation to acknowledge the size of an operation and/or how far the product is being sold from where it is being produced and/or to let people sell stuff without the government permit and then let customers decide whether or not they wish to purchase, rather than mandating the permit and in its absence shutting down local production.

    Similarly, there could be ‘licensed’ programs and ‘local’ versions somehow. In any case, there should be more and better ways for people to have the autonomy to share, transmit, enjoy, and deepen the stream of teachings we received, and do so on a local level. The Hinayana lineage has this. But we do not.

    It is a serious structural flaw in our current setup.

    Btw, I suspect the biggest fan of such a thing, should it ever happen and succeed, would be SMR himself. I have no doubt whatsoever that he finds the centralised model deadly, which is why for the first 15 years or so of his ‘reign’ nearly every talk began with a rather gloomy report of how frustrating he found his job!

  304. Rita Ashworth on June 19th, 2012 3:51 am

    Dear Ash et al,

    I was following your argument re groups for the major part but when I saw the word ‘licensed’ that seems to be a big no-no.
    I dont think many of us finds the need to be licensed by a central, medium, or low Authority. Autonomy means autonomy as does Open mean Open, as I believe Shambhala Union, a name suggested by Mr Perks, means Shambhala Union.
    So if a small group of you does get together in Cape Breton to have a programme I would suggest that you think maybe along these lines or the people ‘outside’ of SI would be again in the same predicament they are now in –in terms of being ‘licensed’. Who indeed has the authority to licence who? Big Question.
    Religious history tells us that many people got together to worship outside of the Main Bodies or Orgs. and founded their own institutions from the ground up. It is only later that they discussed formalities as to working out their ways of progressing in the world. So a Shambhala Union would seem to suggest to me more an ecumenical body where we could discuss and share knowledge both dharmic and shambhalian –not an officiating body.
    This formulation does indeed seem to tie in with what is happening in present day politics in that people on the ground in their localities are now demanding more leeway re budgets and governance. I think this will occur more and more as the state retracts its investment in social areas due to the excesses of the capitalistic model.
    In addition the video that Suzanne put up from Mondragon does highlight this as well to a degree in that this co-operative was started by six people and grew to 85,000 members within fifty years. So could we not do something similar with a Shambhala Union around the globe. Indeed there are many people out there who have left SI but still want in some way to be ‘affiliated’ with the shambhala teachings but not under the auspices of a central Authority – yes where are they and who are they? I know there there from discussions and posts on rfs and elsewhere. Yes could these people not be our members in terms of the Mondragon thesis-that is interesting to contemplate. If indeed they could think what we could accomplish in actually creating a grassroots movement for the social use and betterment of all our beginning groups.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  305. John Perks on June 19th, 2012 6:35 am

    Well Rita,very well put,
    I know for a fact that the current administration of SI,would never work with me or my group in any situation,unless we came crawling in the back door with cash in our hands,and willing to do penance for what ever sins they think I or we committed.
    I know because we and I have tried for many latest effort was to teach at a family camp at KC,I was invited by the person who was running the program,but the administration said no.
    There are people in this same boat,so the idea of some kind of Shambhala Union,for helping not hindering sounds liberating.
    for the exchange of ideas,knowlege,for working together,for the BENIFIT of ALL.Thank you for that.what a novell idea !!! lets do it

  306. Ash on June 19th, 2012 10:06 am

    Yes, Rita. And I agree about the licensing business. In fact, my point was along these lines: let S.I. maintain their own ‘licensed’ or ‘official’ functions, but then let them also allow/permit/sanction or not stop non-licensed ones.

    In other words, just as with food vendors in local markets, rather than having a central authority say that ‘if you don’t satisfy our requirements for a permit we will not issue you one and you cannot market your products’, they could have a system where, within certain reasonable boundaries (I suggest geographical, i.e. 100 km or whatever), you don’t have to have the license/permit. Then let customers decide if they want your stuff or not themselves, and they purchase with eyes open at their own risk. So you don’t use the permit/license to forbid, which is currently the case. So actually what I am arguing for is a network of not-licensed groups/initiatives, and also suggesting, albeit obliquely, that S.I. the institution should, on some level, approve of such things rather than trying to block them.

    Or put another way: unless and until individuals can move forward on the ground under their own steam, in both simple practical and spiritual terms, things cannot move forward properly. And again, the original so-called Hinayana people could do this. To take refuge you just need to repeat the formula (sincerely) to yourself three times and that’s it. And then you can teach it to others and they can do it too. And remember how one of those chaps ended up in a barn with the Buddha (whom he had never met in person) one night and taught him the basics and offered to enter him into refuge, and the Buddha was very pleased, i.e. he didn’t get throw a hissy fit about such activities being unauthorized and inappropriate or unlicensed etc..

    This sort of simple, person to person transmission is a sine qua non of something like this being able to gradually, naturally and organically enter actual, living cultures.

    Actually, the Hinayana system described above is essentially an honour code, which to this day is what ultimately binds together Western society, especially in terms of Law / Crown, and thus also the Legislature, and thus also any Executive / Civil Service and thus also any Society/Nation – or any marriage for that matter. And of course each participant is responsible, ultimately, for maintaining his or her honour. Such things can never be licensed, but if there is an attempt to do so, as happens often in history, that is what we now call tyranny or oppression. More importantly, it does not, and cannot, work, for honour cannot be imposed or withheld from without.

    I get the feeling that Mark’s proffered Open Dojo model could serve as a ‘formatic’ link for all sorts of variegated initiatives, and could be a privately put together network with a very simple charter or mission statement or whatever, with perhaps some sort of internet-based network functionality (for sharing reports/ideas and a few core principles), but almost entirely locally run.

    The Tibetan for mandala is ‘khyil kor’ (if I remember correctly), meaning centre and fringe. I think you can say that rather than physical cells, the universe we inhabit together is made of infinite number of interpenetrating mandalas. Any element therein has a centre (place, or point, or moment in time, or particularity) and fringe (region, space, context). In meditator’s jargon this is what happens experientially when the two wings of enlightenment are flying properly – mindfulness (the particular) and awareness (the general). So you cannot just have a whole slew of totally independent particulars, since all particulars are part of many larger generals. That is the nature of our universe.

    We live in the Mandala Realm, you could say. So an Open Dojo network will also of necessity have such a similar structure. The question is how simply and intelligently it is set up so as to remain true to Reality and not impose conceptual twists and distortions which bend it away from such accuracy.

    Mark S seems to be the right man for framing something like this. The Vajra clarity of his prose is stunning.

  307. Suzanne Duarte on June 19th, 2012 12:21 pm

    Ash, et. al., it’s interesting and amusing to read how this conversation is evolving. I can’t help feeling that this is where I hoped the discussion would go when I wrote “How to Invoke Magic and Revitalize the Third Jewel,” posted June 1, 2011 At the time it seemed hard to get people to talk about organizing (and teaching) outside of SI. The discussion kept getting distracted and maybe even hijacked. However, here you three are plotting for how Shambhala vision can be resuscitated and networked without ‘licensing’ by SI. Question is, how to get the word out now that (it seems) hardly anyone is listening into RFS.

    Oh, btw, I do know there are ‘old dogs’ out there who have been trying to get something off the ground outside of SI for years already. It may be a question of timing, and maybe the time is getting ripe. We’ll see.

    Anyway, jolly good luck!

  308. John Tischer on June 19th, 2012 12:54 pm

    Sangha Talk has changed….if anyone has noticed….from an open forum for discussion, like this one, to a much more compartmentalized and difficult to navigate form. I can’t help but feel this was done to discourage communication rather than to aid it. It would go along with the attitude that S.I.
    seems to have now.

  309. John Tischer on June 19th, 2012 12:59 pm

    As far as S.I. ever licensing and other group to run their own Shambhala programs, well, I think it’s absurd to even think that S.I. would give up any
    control of their product….(except for an exorbitant fee, of course)

  310. John Perks on June 19th, 2012 1:12 pm

    John Tischer,
    You said it !!!

  311. John Tischer on June 19th, 2012 4:52 pm

    It hurts when cynicism seems the most fitting emotion.

  312. Rita Ashworth on June 20th, 2012 4:06 am

    Dear Ash et al,

    Thanks for your post.

    I think we need to get back to basics re the formation of a Shambhala Union that Mr Perks has invoked in terms of the Open Dojo. At this stage the thing would just be a forum for sharing avenues to awareness re the motif of enlightened society.
    As such it behoves that people involved in it would be coming from an ‘equal’ basis, although we have differences in the ways we approach CTRs teachings. So it is not a question of one group ‘allowing’,‘sanctioning’, ‘or not stopping’ the thing happening. Anyway I can not see the essence of always referring back to SI for anything we want to do as a group in the future, if SI wants to partake in a possible Shambhala Union they would just be one more member of it.
    I think a Shambhala Union, or whatever we deem to call it, would attract people from diverse backgrounds because it would be discussing enlightened society which is relevant to all peoples of faiths and none. So like Suzanne I have been pre-occupied in seeing how groups come together in the secular sphere to create community,- I am thinking about this because of the Convention here to see if we could create some sense of a cohesive body after it.
    Yes lets face it if we look out the window we do not have a Buddhist world -and I believe myself that to create an enlightened society we will have to work with others to do so hence my own connection to the way CTR presented the shambhala teachings originally.Yes looking back however did we think that Buddhism in the west was going to alter the ways of life here in revolutionary terms, for that to happen in these times we do need a wider interpretation of meditation supplied by such subtle ‘concepts’ as enlightened society.
    Getting back to Mr Perks story of his being invited to KC by the organiser that is quite telling re the relationship with SI, however, as an organisation it can not stop the creation of other ways of relating to CTRs teachings. It seems from this brief story that there are people out there who would want to re-engage with former teachers in a body such as a Shambhala Union –so that is interesting.
    So yes if you do organise some kind programme in Cape Breton you could have as a prequel to it a day discussing Shambhala Union. It would be nice to do something in Cape Breton of this order,–so off to Sydney?
    Lastly a video of an organisation bringing people together to ‘change’ society in the secular sphere –perhaps we could also learn from them how to do such things well- (they do have a chapter of their group in Canada which offers training).
    Best Rita Ashworth

  313. Ash on June 20th, 2012 9:18 am

    Alright, the licensing business and its relevance or not:

    One of the blocks is rudra principle. If you want to go out on your own and create your own thing nothing is stopping you, but if you shop it as VCTR’s lineage and do so without formal recognition, then you find yourself setting yourself up as an independent guru. I suspect that very few people want that, and even if they think they do, they won’t for long if it starts to happen!

    So some sort of permission-blessing principle is needed and helpful.

    Also, we can’t go around teaching Shambhala Training stuff outside the institutionalized format of the ST Levels. Since the ST curriculum contains pretty much all the teachings given…

    So then what can people do outside the ‘licensed’ or ‘official’ setups? Very little, without being activists somehow, which is a huge drag, or more likely non-starter for nearly everyone. I mean: who needs it?

    What I was suggesting is that S.I. the Central Authority maintain their own ‘licensed’ formats (which is their duty and a good thing imo), but also allow, even encourage, a more ventilated, loose, more spontaneous approach on the ground in local areas wherein not licensed, unofficial, less structured approaches are not blocked or frowned upon. In other words, along with certain currents which are very tightly controlled (such as core transmissions for example), there are also zones with almost no control at all. This is another type of centre-fringe dynamic. So if they simply clarify that certain formats are ‘official’, they don’t need to feel obliged to protect the purity of the lineage etc. by disallowing anything else.

    All this does is give people permission to improvise, experiment, go madly off in all directions perhaps, but also develop various local communities with their own quirks and passions. One might be an eco village in Vermont, another an artists network in Shanghai, it doesn’t matter, but each can follow its own passions whilst at the same time being plugged into a global network of related centres, and for that matter their members can also explore the ‘licensed’ offerings.

    Indeed, with such an approach, the licensed formats might experience significant growth. It is the mandala’s inability to allow for natural growth and diversity on the ground which has held things back. A monoculture vs permaculture approach to community building. Not necessary.

    Am not sure I like the term ‘open dojo’ though it does have a nice ring. Yesterday had a playful idea, sort of along the lines of SPECTRE in the James Bond series:

    SPHERE. Sphere is the three-dimensional term that basically is the same as mandala, i.e. three-dimensional centre and fringe. So a little more precise than zone which is another possible translation. So the idea is Mandala. But mandala is not English and also has many misconceptions around it.

    SPHERE: the problem is that the letters don’t mean anything. Like:

    Sacred Perception Happily Engendering Revolutionary Emergence.


    Societal Pariahs Heartfelt Effort towards Radical Evolution.

    No good. Anyway, maybe Open Dojo is fine, but I think something that expresses Mandala or Sphere (holographic, interpenetrating, inter related, societal etc.) might fit better.

    Looks like there might be some sort of party happening in Cape Breton inspired by this, but probably not of the political ilk! But let’s face it: when things were really swinging, it was party time!

  314. Rita Ashworth on June 20th, 2012 11:35 am

    Ash et al

    Scuse the 2nd post-quite brief…I give up.

    Yes I always liked this song!!! Ha-Ha…

    …….yes over in more ways than we can think of……zzzzzz…..

    Best Rita

  315. John Perks on June 20th, 2012 12:35 pm

    The problem with SI it is a family linage,run by the Mukpo/Levy family,nothing wrong with that.but if you are looking for an open organization,SI is not it ,I do not see how they could ,or would license anything,and I am not sure I would want their blessings,I have had enough of that over the years.
    but a union of Shambhala peoples is interesting,and as Rita says SI could become a member,also I have been interested in How Shambhala could be taught without the level structure,of 1 2 3 4 and so on.
    CTR gave Shambhala to us all not to just one family,in his will he says “my teachings are for my students”.
    I would like to move forward into an open organization,can we address that without the spector of SI,if one feels they cannot join in thats ok let them state that,then perhaps we can move forward…

  316. John Perks on June 20th, 2012 12:39 pm

    Rita et al,
    how do we do that? what are your ideas ?

  317. John Tischer on June 20th, 2012 1:29 pm

    I liked your last post, Ash.

    “So some sort of permission-blessing principle is needed and helpful.”


    Of course, you have a few, like Tsultrim Allione, who got “recognized”
    after years of teaching….she pretty much did it on her own, didn’t she? You
    have Bill Karelis, who will be teaching at Khandro Rinpoche’s center, and you have a number of old VCTR students acting as teachers for various groups not Shambhala….so, something’s happening in an organic way, and there are opportunities to teach if one is inspired to. That seems to be the way it is and the way things are developing. I don’t think that will change much during the reign of this Sakyong.

  318. Suzanne Duarte on June 20th, 2012 1:54 pm

    Recently both my husband and I, independently of each other, rediscovered totally by accident our passports to the Kingdom of Shambhala. Both were dated 16 June 1986 (the last Kalapa Assembly with HMDD). The passport gives “the right of abode in the Kingdom of Shambhala,” and the rights “to pass freely without let or hindrance,” and to receive “such assistance and protection as may be necessary.” The passport is beautiful and, to me, heartbreaking due to its unfulfilled hope. At the time, I was employed in the ‘foreign office’ and totally believed in the vision of KOS. To rediscover the passports almost exactly 26 years later seems meaningful, if not auspicious.

    Ash made several points with which I don’t agree. Perhaps similar to Rita and John P, I’m way past needing permission. I received training, encouragement, permission, empowerment and experience during the lifetime of my teacher. I can teach hinayana and mahayana without anyone’s permission. And I know of excellent vajrayana teachers to send people to. I envision a network or web of study groups led by people like me. But when it comes to teaching or trying to manifest Shambhala, I don’t feel comfortable conducting this discussion in “public.” I would be willing to talk about this over Skype if anyone who has contributed to this conversation here (Ash, John Perks, John Tischer, Rita) would like to do a conference call. I’m on Central European Time. Or we could try doing this through email. It’s time, people.

  319. John Perks on June 20th, 2012 1:58 pm


  320. Madeline Schreiber on June 20th, 2012 3:02 pm

    Book Classes:

    It may be a more gradual onramp for a teacher to start with organizing a simple book reading and discussion circle. Once people get used to each other the leadership could be passed around from week to week. In homes, or local libraries may welcome such reading circles. I think Sacred Path of the Warrior is a best choice for a start.
    from Nova Scotia

  321. John Perks on June 20th, 2012 3:49 pm

    very inspired by your Shambhala passport story thank you.
    Very good advice,thank you, Thats the plan I will follow,will send you a poster, John ,I am inspired,thanks to you, will skype,we never give up.
    Cheer up me hearties,Yo Ho,
    Perky John

  322. Suzanne Duarte on June 20th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Yes, thanks, Madeline. Good idea for a ‘gradual onramp.’

  323. John Tischer on June 20th, 2012 7:26 pm

    skype name: John Tischer or johntischer

  324. Ash on June 22nd, 2012 10:17 am

    Re: “But when it comes to teaching or trying to manifest Shambhala, I don’t feel comfortable conducting this discussion in “public.”

    Why not? Too technical, or because it lacks ‘permission-blessing’?

    JP: I am also talking about doing stuff that is not licensed, that’s the whole point. Let the official organisation have what they have (i.e the ‘licensed’ or ‘official’ stuff) but let them also proclaim to all and sundry, if you will, that there are lots of other perfectly acceptable ways for people to practice and study, i.e. the not licensed or not official stuff. I don’t want them to have to license and am sorry my suggestions seem to have been read as being pretty much the opposite of what I meant.

    I somewhat agree that one can do plenty without such permission. But with it, everything feels far more uplifted. I wasn’t even thinking in terms of individual teachers, like Tsultrim etc. More in terms of little local sanghas all over the place who, rather than having to make a statement or definitely put themselves in the position of NOT being part of Shambhala, can be part of it without having any particular legal or other obligations. Let the whole thing work on a simple, human level. And by permission I mean simply a one-time public announcement or Edict or something, not individual permissions for particular individuals. That thought didn’t even cross my mind.

    Plants are ’empowered’ to make their own seeds and regenerate themselves. All I am recommending is that we be given at least the same status as plants! Everyone, for now and forever, i.e. it’s a basic principle, or right, not a mark of favour or accomplishment.

    Apart from all that, I basically like what JP and Suzanne are saying so if my little supplication for S.I. to open up the whole thing and announce that local/individual initiatives of whatever ilk are fine is confusing/wrong/irrelevant, then it is hereby abandoned in this thread!

    Suzanne – also don’t feel I need permission if for no other reason than was specifically commanded to go ahead and invent new techniques of meditation etc. (which, typically, have failed to obey!) But have no doubt this is true for all students. Personally, though, would prefer to work with the original pre-seminary course materials, with the Shambhala Training logics studied in depth for over a decade etc. rather than feeling like in order to be ‘kosher’ one has to reinvent the wheel.

    Tangentially I am personally not all that interested in pursuing anything right now, but if I did it would be along the lines of a local generic meditation group just to have some people to practice with once in a while since I live without any formal sangha principle and that doesn’t feel good. With that sort of fundamentally selfish motivation, it’s no wonder I haven’t tried anything, but also live in rural area with VERY low population so that’s the main reason…

  325. John Perks on June 22nd, 2012 4:37 pm

    Dear Ash,
    Thank you always good to read your writings,I think its fine if SI wants to give unincumbered blessings,like the 17th Karmapa did for CelticBuddhism several years ago,which was very nice,but I know the Karmapa expected us to fulfill our vision,practice,and theaching on our own. I do feel that if we needed help with practice,we could ask to send teachers to him for instruction,which we might plan to do in the future,we have Zen contacts in the same position of help if needed.
    We also support people from other groups comming here to learn meditation from us we had an Agustain Monk here for several months,doing meditation, Guru Yoga,and chanting Irish Gaelic,he in return taught us the Communion ritual ,and its inner meaning.
    As far as SI there has been no offer of blessing but quite the opposite,would we be open to working with SI perhaps,but nobody is holding their breath,the ball is in their court so to speak,as for us we move on.

  326. John Perks on June 22nd, 2012 5:00 pm

    Heres a story,old guys like to tell them,
    Max King ,Rinpoche ,and I were in Charlemont Mass doing the years retreat,Rinpoche had been talking about becoming the Sakyong,and having a ceremony to initiate that.Rinpoche explained that in order to do that someone has to ask him in a formal way to become The Sakyong,and of course I says I will do that.
    So there we were on a cold spring morning at sunrise,Rinpoche,Max,,and I outside doing this simple ceremony of requsting Rinpoche to become the Sakyong for the benift of all beings.we fired off my 38 pistol,ran up the newly made Shambhala flag.then went into the kitchen for drinks,and a feast,that was the first Shambhala day.of course People in the adminisration say these things did not happen that we made them up.And thats just it we made it up on the spot …real blessings of the Lineage

  327. John Perks on June 22nd, 2012 5:29 pm

    You could say the cook,and the idiot servant first asked Rinpoche to become the Sakyong,but then I had the feeling billions of others were asking as well….because we were all looking skyward

  328. Mark Szpakowski on June 22nd, 2012 5:51 pm

    John P,


    Rinpoche had been talking about becoming the Sakyong,and having a ceremony to initiate that.Rinpoche explained that in order to do that someone has to ask him in a formal way to become The Sakyong,and of course I says I will do that.

    Thank you!

    What a great story! What a great play is the spirit of CTR!

  329. John Tischer on June 22nd, 2012 8:33 pm

    Mark and John P.

    I agree! Fantastic story and here preserved!

    I feel these are the kinds of real stories that are blessings in and of themselves.

  330. John Perks on June 23rd, 2012 6:50 am

    Thank you Mark,and John T,
    “Real stories that are blessings,”
    We all have them joining the insight ,outsight,and having feet on the earth,in the words of our Boss,joining heaven earth ,and man,I know that we can all do this,there are the famous ones ,Betsy Ross sewing the stars and stripes with needle ,and thread in her kitchen,a far cry from the Washington of today,it also requires” relationship” with each of the elements involved,like a thunder storm,a poem,conception,giving birth,kissing ,smelling,touching,seeing,So what i am trying to say is the blessings are there waiting for us to act.
    So when one waits for conformation from a higher order ,you might get it but it will not be a blessing you want or create from your “relationship”.
    I think in teaching Shambhala we are taking on that relationship,which as John says are blessings in ,and of themselves.the real work beings when it wants more relationship,what Mother Teresa said about it was “Give untill it hurts them give more” the Boss,and Mother T had that vision in can we.

  331. Ash on June 24th, 2012 9:52 am

    Well, that is all very well said. Perhaps because my background was both institutional – as a schoolboy in England – and then central (first Boulder, then Halifax apart from a brief stint setting up ST in NYC), I can’t help holding the Centre in mind. But also, for me it will always be one mandala (the Union principle). And along those lines, one could say that the Centre is the most formal and controlled point in the sphere, and the fringes are the least formal and controlled. I would even argue that they should be more or less wild.

    Just as with nature: we have cities and roads and developed residential areas with nice gardens, or cultivated farmland and so forth, but also there is wild nature, which also has its place. Tangentially, I think it wrong for commercial entities to patent natural entities like animal glands, plants, minerals and so forth in order to control/license the supply. Similarly, an authentic spiritual and/or secular cultural lineage should not try to control/possess everything. If it does, then there is no real fringe area where the boundaries become amorphous, and where there is distribution and absorption of populations, i.e. some people ‘joining’ and others ‘leaving’. But more importantly where so-called Shambhala culture and people merge with local cultures and people. If the Centre controls everything to do with cultural expression, including teaching and practicing, there is a perpetual wall between mandala and not mandala, i.e. the fringe is far too rigid and defined, so there is insufficient lubrication, copulation, diffusion etc.

    So I was thinking of the licensing idea as more of a way to help liberate the Centre from being overly possessive rather than a needed boost for individuals to feel empowered. But of course it would encourage many students in far-flung situations to be more relaxed and creative in their approaches, not feeling it necessary to only provide the official kosher product lines approved by Franchise HQ.

    It’s a fruition view approach (hopefully) in that ideally speaking when everything is going well, you would have this sort of creative diffusion happening at the fringe, whilst at the same time maintaining ongoing links to the Centre rather than being ‘madly off in all directions’ on the ground. Again, for it to be a mandala of sorts, there is both Centre and fringe. That’s how reality works. So organisationally speaking, there needs to be some sort of fundamentally cheerful and healthy continuum between the inner formal and the outer wild. Perhaps this is the same as why in any society there are always black market areas, and rightly so. There is just no way of containing everything. Some things can be contained, and those things can have a deep, pervasive influence, a perfume which pervades the cultural atmosphere, but does not control everything that goes on within it and around it.

    I guess I am arguing that a good lineage is more like a good perfume or a good cultural stream rather than a rigidly defined code or book of rules. But above all that you need a continuum of both that which is very deliberately held/defined/controlled and that which is wild, and I suspect that the other axis of that is that the wild/fringe element is more connected with local energy, whereas the controlled/Central is more on the mental/institutional level, which includes stating some of the rules, but not necessarily having anything to do with implementation/manifestation, especially on the local level.

  332. Rita Ashworth on June 24th, 2012 11:58 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al

    Ok one last stab at S.U…….zzzzzzzzz…….

    Ok so if Ash wants his centre/fringe thingie aka SI standard let him have it , – but to me – its very, very old English form not even working in the UK at this point in the game, even Scotland is thinking of leaving our once supposed great Union.
    But essentially if we did construct a Shambhala Union the actual formal structure could be couched in a way for movement and fluidity-like many anarchists conceptions of society are. Yes it seems to me structures re governance are kind of dissolving in the world anyhow, for example, there is much talk on the web of the nation state ebbing too.
    Re structure also take for example the governance of Northern Ireland that is a country that is working things out as it goes along. So there are forms out there for ‘organisations’ that are fluid and malleable, so if you could bring into being a Shambhala Union you could have provisos in it for ‘fluidity’ aka means of working/governance.
    Yes, a Shambhala Union I could vote for in terms of ‘ethical’ standards, the sharing of best practice and general ecumenical matters but we would all still be separate bodies as that seems to be what is developing organically anyhow as John Tischer relates.
    So briefly I think you should try to do something in Cape Breton and invite people to it, I think you would get quite a lot of people who are interested in the teachings about enlightened society who have left SI.
    We do need to have some place to discuss all these matters and the results of your little conference and programme could be given over the web. I myself too am trying to bring the notion of Open Dojo a little to the convention here – I think in the present age it will be great if people committed to the meditative path could work together on larger projects for that old clichéd phrase the greater good of society.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  333. James Elliott on June 24th, 2012 5:51 pm

    I really like Ash’s call for more attention or better integration of local culture. I just don’t see how that would happen with an aloof leadership which has gone about closing and limiting membership based ona highly centralized criteria. As far as being able to be creative and do ‘side’ programs that are not 1,2,3,4, etc of the ShambhalaBuddhist steps, I think that flexibility does exist. If one is certifiably loyal to SMR. I’ve heard and read of any number of programs that are not mainstream seem, even a little experimental.

    I also sympathize with the need for some sort of group identity. I just think it’s a mistake to base that on spiritual practice as such. It happens organically through all kinds of shared experiences, none of which need bond one to any particular path or another. And that’s the rub.

    I also think the idea of mandala is worth exploring, but don’t like the projection of that onto a solidified governmental infrastructure. Mandala is defined by Trungpa Rinpoche as ‘organized chaos’. It is constantly shifting. So assuming a mandala position in fact freezes it in a way not intended and in fact contrary to the basic idea. It’s similar to three fold logic for which there is no one solid set, but rather changes depending on focus. The basic idea is that it is how we view the world and work with it, perhaps more a model of the nature of mind, not a model of how it out there is supposed to be structured in order to be right or ‘enlightened’.

    And as to a central authority being required to disseminate culture, or we would revert to barbarism, I refer to a short paragraph from “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” by Ha-Joon Chang. During a debate between two sides, one arguing that centralized control is necessary and beneficial, the other crying for open markets because governments don’t know jack, both suggesting opposing solutions for the perceived problem of greedy self centered human nature, a Kobe Steel Manager got up and something like: (cont.)

  334. James Elliott on June 24th, 2012 6:08 pm

    (cont.) “I am sorry to say this, but you economists don’t understand how the real world works. I have a PhD in metallurgy and have been working in Kobe Steel for nearly three decades, so I know a thing or two about steel-making. However, my company is now so large and complex that even I do not understand more than half the things that are going on within it. As for other managers-with backgrounds in accounting and marketing-they really haven’t much of a clue. Despite this, our board of directors routinely approves the majority of projects submitted by our employees, because we believe that our employees work for the good of the company. If we assumed that everyone is out to promote his own interests and questioned the motivations of our employees all the time, the company would grind to a halt, as we would spend all our time going through proposals that we really don’t understand. You simply cannot run a large bureaucratic organization, be it Kobe Steel or your government, if you assume that everyone is out for himself.” Another rub.

    Making clear I am talking about governments and society, not a spiritual school for a particular path within which all kinds of anomalies can exist, for me that’s so much more enlightened than assuming an omniscient leader at the center who is the source of our inspiration and always knows exactly what’s going on (and promotes or demotes accordingly).

    In the inspiration that if you assume the worst from people, that’s what you’ll get.

  335. John Tischer on June 25th, 2012 1:58 pm

    Thanks, James…

  336. James Elliott on June 26th, 2012 2:48 am

    The thing is, John T., I don’t understand what’s meant by ‘Shambhala Culture’ as Ash has used it. As if it were something we have and can share with or infuse the vernacular culture with, to save them from barbarism or something.

    I don’t believe Shambhala Culture is, for example, Ikebana or Kyudo, banners or how we address the principle or all the forms at gatherings. For me those are externalities, how we, the students of Trungpa Rinpoche, for example, under his direction, expressed a connection to basic goodness. But I’m fairly certain that same dignity can be found in any culture. So it follows that Shambhala Culture would be the ability to work with and nurture that inherent BG, regardless the spiritual cultural or whatever trappings. It isn’t really about tricking (or compassionately teaching) everyone into adopting our particular way.

    I’ve always understood the Shambhala principle of basic goodness as something that is inherent, not something we need to insinuate or teach or train others to acknowledge. I understand, as a student of Trungpa Rinpoche, that is in some sense what he did with his students. However, I think it makes little or no sense to project that dynamic onto a mission to save the world from barbarism.

    The question of group identity is not answered with this. That’s something else, which develops organically over time depending on a slew of factors, the very least of which is a centrally designed and controlled attempt to create that identity and an adherence to whatever it is the sitting government decides it should be. This is a particularly troublesome approach in an organization within which, apparently, that changes dramatically whenever the President or principal changes.

    In the inspiration that emulating how we saw our parents, who were rightly often admonishing and teaching us how to behave, eat, talk, etc., is at some point an unhealthy approach to the world.

  337. Rita Ashworth on June 26th, 2012 3:00 am

    Dear James et al,

    Yes very well said…to my turn of mind CTRs teachings wont manifest truly in the world if we do not trust people to go forward with them in their own localities. The consolidation of power both financial and governmental now happening I think will be the ruin of the whole enterprise.
    As Mr Perks said Rinpoche gave the teachings to all his students, but there are not many past pre-eminent followers of his over in the States that are willing also to say this for the simple excuse of losing their own power in the Org. Well if this situation continues to flourish as it seemingly is doing now it will be the end of the CTRs dharma for the West and then where will we all be?
    My own interest in the radical vision that CTR promulgated for the west has magnified in the last few years since I left SI and sought to investigate the historical basis of how he engaged with people. The Chronicle Project has done stirling work in this regard but increasingly I am finding we need to have more longer discussions about the actual ‘politics’ of setting up the whole thing again.
    Therefore I think it is quite essential that we have something going on re convention or otherwise in Cape Breton.
    Yes CTR gave us a revolution and we have established an organisation….we did that too 2,000 years ago in the west aswell.
    Anyway will leave with a couple of videos that I have been watching lately –one more measured from Fromm and other stateside re what is happening with Occupy which I still do find fascinating.

    (you can find the whole interview if you search for it on utube)


    on anarchism.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth.

  338. John Tischer on June 26th, 2012 3:26 pm

    I think Shambhala Culture was in evidence in the “old days”
    when Shambhala training was taught in such a way as to
    bring out that culture…the set up of the weekend, the attention to details, dressing nicely all contributed to the atmosphere which, hen, many times, was imbued with ordinary magic if the director prepared him/herself properly according to the teachings, mainly in “The Letter of the Black Ashe”. That tradition is gone, so, yes, in this day it’s hard to see if “Shambhala Culture” really stands for anything more than superficiality. But there was a template, and
    there was experience that came out of it. Basically, I feel, the
    teachers, within as well as without S.I. have been disempowered to teach the way we were taught to.

  339. John Perks on June 27th, 2012 8:59 am

    I would be interested in becoming a member of a Shambhala Peoples Union or a group with another name,that is dedicated to the vision of Shambhala.
    I would also be willing to pay annual dues for administration of such a group.

  340. Suzanne Duarte on June 28th, 2012 8:29 am

    Dear John Perks, what a splendid, grown-up idea: to join a group dedicated to the vision of Shambhala and to pay dues for the administration of such a group. I like the name Shambhala Peoples Union, with its tinge of 1960’s nostalgia (for me, at least). Names are very important for shaping what they signify. For me, coming from grassroots activism, Coalition of Free Shambhalians is a good descriptor for the loose, decentralized network that may be the best we can achieve at this point in our lives and in the world. (Have you noticed that our civilization is unraveling, even as it is tearing apart the biosphere?)

    Or, grabbing the other end of the stick, focusing less on the people and more on the vision itself, how about GES Net. It’s meaningful but self-secret, and signifies a loose network of those in and on whom the Great Eastern Sun still shines.

    We might as well be playful, given the absurdity of the times. I do hope that RMDC hasn’t burned down, though.

  341. Ash on June 28th, 2012 1:15 pm

    Well, setting something up is similar to ideas a while back, like Dragon Society or whatever. And long overdue perhaps. But as soon as you undertake to consider something like that seriously, then immediately you have to consider form, formality, structure, organisation which in turn requires leadership of whatever sort.

    Slap bang back into the (fundamental) Monarchy principle!!

    (When God set up the Universe, he must have had quite a chuckle…)

    Suzanne: a few days ago on the thread when I was playfully contemplating SPHERE (or somesuch), I also imagined something set up somehow via the worthy Mark S, which would indeed require some sort of regular financial contribution, albeit I was thinking in terms of local groups/chapters who would contribute rather than individuals, since ultimately what we are discussing here, perhaps, is a way to expand the Shambhala sangha/community in a way that fosters more autonomy but without creating hostile schisms. At least this latter is important for me, because, personally speaking, although I have fallen away from the official mandala and have no especial desire to reconnect because I find it way too foreign somehow etc. etc., at the same time I feel it is a valid continuance of CTR’s legacy, that the Sakyong is a valid heir and leader, and I imagine myself discussing this face to face with CTR and cannot countenance the notion of a hostile revolution or attempting to set up a completely separated institution.

    Whenever John P mentions something like ‘loyal opposition’ I applaud. There has to be a way for more genuine diversity without schism.

    I also like emphasizing the people quotient. Ultimately all this is only about people, living human people. Not a cause, not an idea, nor ideology, nor even spiritual path. It’s a people thing. People matter more than their words or beliefs.

    ( Footnote: James, I don’t recall discussing ‘Shambhala Culture’ all that much, but I think I was more suggesting that much of what we are discussing generally happens in the sphere of human affairs generally described as ‘cultural’. Or in other words, a lot of all this is Speech Domain stuff. But maybe I am forgetting earlier comments in which case, apologies.)

  342. Charles Marrow on June 28th, 2012 1:54 pm


    I would like to change the focus on lineage for a moment and consider the Kagyu Vajradhatu tradition. The anonymous John was remarking about the importance of making a connection to the Trungpa Tulku who now divides his time between Surmang Dudtsi Til and Serda monastery. I do not have a real strong feeling that this is an absolute samaya requirement, but I feel more like it is the decent thing to do. I also personally like the way Trungpa Rinpoche speaks on video. So I guess I have faith in the young Trunpa Rinpoche.

    I also have faith in HH Karmapa Urgyen Thinley Dorje and Khyentse Yangsi. It is nice to see these vajrayana lineages being carried to the next generation. As we know, these three lineages of Karmapa, Trungpa and Khyentse were key in how the we were shown how the lineage presence could be experienced in the Vajradhatu tradition which embodies the Kagyu and Nyinma traditions.

  343. James Elliott on June 28th, 2012 5:59 pm


    The template. That’s actually my point, the template. What IS the template?

    I was there in the before times and I know what it was like, the inspiration as well as the paranoia, stress and hard work. The only thing I can recall in which we experimented so-to-speak with creating enlightened society was KA and maybe Encampment. I understand Trungpa Rinpoche leaned towards a parliamentary monarchy, but my recollection at KA was a sense of experimentation and frankly chaos. The only constant was talks, socializing and rota. there is no real template I can eke out of that.

    That’s kind of the cul de sac we older students seem to get in. He himself presented these teachings, and he himself was our monarch, so that is what we see as the model. I don’t think it expands out beyond the vajra sangha very well at all. If there is some so called enlightened form of governance, I’m with Mark in that whatever it is, we haven’t seen it yet, probably haven’t even imagined it yet.

    Ash, you did a few posts ago mention how what we we’re doing (ideally) was propagating or sharing or presenting Shambhala Culture, joining that or introducing it into local culture, and that for that to happen at all we need to have a ruler or some form of leadership which propagates nurtures and shapes that, or we’d end up becoming pub trolls or something, because that doesn’t happen without that direction.

    (You also mentioned that monarchy was an outdated system only workable in olden times when everyone knew everyone. ??? Doesn’t fit the sequence of history at all.)

    Before we even talk about whether a central force is needed for that to happen, I honestly don’t have a handle on any form or ‘cultural’ thingy that I could definitively say ‘that’s Shambhala culture”. I really don’t know what it means in the context of anything I know of or understand as living culture as such.

    In the inspiration that the spoor are not the animal.

  344. Rita Ashworth on June 29th, 2012 1:53 am

    Dear James, Ash et al,

    Yes agree we dont have a Shambhala culture –seems to me you would have to ally the culture to an economic base a la Mondragon project that Suzanne mentioned.
    If you look at the Mondragon experiment it has somewhat created an enlightened society to a degree in that it cares for its citizens and is not as far as I can see motivated greatly by the excesses of capitalism. Of course it does not have a meditational base, but it was founded by a Catholic priest so it would be great to learn more about this aspect of the whole thing.
    Also Mondragon is founded on a membership base with the members having much control about how the society moves governmentally, so there are leaders but they are rooted within the community itself.
    I have also been studying the Spanish Civil War and the anarchist government of the time there seemed to work on these principles as well. So yes to establish culture you do need some kind of universal values that we could all agree to –as of yet re Shambhala we have not much discussed what we all want to get into in this respect.
    Re schism well its happened – Ray, Midal and others –that is a fact, but it does not mean that we could not also have something like a Shambhala Union to discuss economic, cultural and governmental policies. I also think an informal network based on such a membership base as Mondragon would be a body to unify some aspects of Shambhala culture that we could all share. Yes lets face it some of us do not want to be students of the Sakyong so that particular path is over for a lot of us, but this does not mean that we can not further what we have received in the past from CTR and others in this world.
    So in conclusion I would still suggest having a meeting re these issues in Cape Breton –yes the Cape could be a place where people who are connected to CTRs teachings could in some way institute an enlightened society –around the world I think there would even be economic support for this to happen. Yes initially, you could crowd-fund for a convention in Cape Breton over the net for people to make this occur. I am sure people would come to it.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  345. John Tischer on June 29th, 2012 1:20 pm

    Dear James,

    The template was created as the Shambhala Training program…that and the
    magic of the Shambhala practices was all that was needed.for the “culture” to appear on the spot. It was quite simple, natural, and organic….and it didn’t require committees to form structures. Trying to figure out a form of governance for it seems bass ackwards. Never work…nothing at all will come of it. Since the original form of the culture has been disenfranchised, we just don’t see it anymore. That’s what we need to get back to.

  346. Ash on June 29th, 2012 8:50 pm

    James, I think you are referring to posts from around May 28th in which I wrote: “The purpose of Shambhala is to protect and maintain a sane culture aka ‘enlightened society’. …
    Put another way, Shambhala highlights how shared form amongst groups of people gathered together communicate wisdom. Whether it is a Christian Mass, a Buddhist dathun, a family’s dinner ritual, a school uniform, how one slices a sandwich properly, or, to use DDM’s trenchant language, how one (aka The King) handles one’s sword, brush or the queen’s clitoris, all are powerful cultural forms which create reality, society, shared experience on the spot. That is part of it. The other part has to do with content, which is a genuine human heart. The main thrust about Shambhala is not rocket science, abstract philosophy, animal realm survivalism or materialism. It is about good-hearted, sane, uplifted and confident society.”

    I really don’t think I have ever been talking about pushing Shambhala Culture into/onto local communities. I think of it more as a sharing dynamic – that there are some pure strains from the practices we have learned that allow us to tune into the Shambhalian aspects of existing cultures in local/particular areas all around the world. So our practice allows us to learn from many other people all the time at the same time that we also might have something to offer ourselves – and that may have nothing to do with formal ‘Shambhala’ practice per se, it might be how to cook well, dance the tango whatever.

    So your “Ash, you did a few posts ago mention how what we we’re doing (ideally) was propagating or sharing or presenting Shambhala Culture, joining that or introducing it into local culture, and that for that to happen at all we need to have a ruler or some form of leadership which propagates nurtures and shapes that,..” makes little sense to me. If I said such a thing about rulers etc. I categorically reject it. More likely it is a misunderstanding. Rulership principle is very different from importing formal rulers. Actually, rulership principle is just that in any group there has to be rules. Without them, you get too much chaos and not enough order (though often too many orderlies!)

    This is probably due to my confusing expression, but I usually find that your characterisations of my positions do a very good job of describing pretty much the opposite of what I was meaning to say! As in this case.

  347. Rita Ashworth on June 30th, 2012 5:29 am

    Dear John et al

    I am not sure if we need to get back to the original template that you posit-’conceptions’ of society change. I agree that re meditation it will have to be done but we can discover ‘new’ ways for this to occur.
    I am not sure if we need the structured path that SI has –it does appear convoluted to me and not predicated to modern lifestyles.
    If we are to get back to the backbone of what the Shambhala society would be founded on for all we are looking at people having a connection to ‘yogic’ practice as given in the FAQ on this site where CTR said people did not have to be Buddhists to follow the path.
    Re encampment etc perhaps these forms have had their day –maybe we need to get our thinking caps on re templates for Shambhala both in NS and abroad.
    Of course within the formation of this Shambhala society some traditional forms will continue, but they will not be the binding factor which keeps the society going well. That may rest on practical considerations such as economic well-being. You do need these factors for diverse society to function .
    There is also the question of numbers re this society evolving as Ash mentioned, to form any kind of ground for a society you do need that and re the Shambhala group in NS they have been somewhat of a force there but not a great force re economic affairs. After thirty years there they are still a small grouping –so in essence re Shambhala society forming I do think you need a diversity of practitioners from secular/religious backgrounds for that.
    Re the discussion on the above affairs, it may sound removed from the aspirations of sadhanas, courts etc –but we must remember that CTR was concerned with the practicalities of politics/social affairs for example when he introduced the Ratna Society to people in Boulder.
    So yes I think template forming re Shambhala has to be revisited time and time again –societies are dynamic &changing like anything else even though we may prefer ‘traditional’ practices ourselves.
    In conclusion would like to posit a further video from Mondragon, on the one Suzanne sent, which shows its operation. Its a little dated from 1980 but shows the history and the ‘structure’ that it employs. It is one template for a construction of a society which may have some aspects that people could consider.

    Well Best

    Rita Ashworth

  348. John Tischer on June 30th, 2012 11:46 am

    Thing is, Rita, the template worked well for over 10 years after VCTR
    died. It didn’t have to be made better. It was changed,I believe, so SMR
    could consolidate power as the main reason. There were a lot of great Shambhala Training teachers, and frankly, SMR was not equal to a lot of them. Sure, maybe a few of them are allowed to give the odd transmission,
    but they really haven’t advanced as independent teachers….let alone all the ones that left Shambhala altogether.

    SMR himself has said he’s not a guru, but, rather a king. His moves since he was installed point this out. Is he a Dharma King? I’m just going to ask the question.

    And no, I don’t think we confused beings can establish enlightened society
    without the Universal Monarch principle at the center.

  349. Rita Ashworth on July 1st, 2012 7:07 am

    Dear John et al

    Yes agree with you about the consolidation of power –that is a very bad move on SMRs (and others?) part-not something I would have ever done because the whole thing is very much open to debate re governance especially in this age of fluidity of governmental models aka Occupy and theories re devolved autonomous groups as Hardt/Negri have posited.
    Re the Universal Monarch theme I was thinking about that –philosophically I think it could not be at the centre it would have to be pervading the whole thing aka Cosmic Mirror principle I think. Perhaps the central thingie comes about because of the Art, but I think that is a mistaken viewpoint. Still thinking in terms of the Universal monarch in terms of the Joker theme aka Boal –is a much more creative way to think of leadership for me and one that I can feel I can work with.
    Re my own forays into western politics, philosophy –the elements in them that I am interested in actually relate to the use of Space, Power -thats why for a Buddhist I think they are attractive developments in our western backyard. I think they are all hinting at something new emerging in the western consciousness re the use of Space/Power brought about by financial collapse. Its all very peculiar what these movements may lead into regarding the practice of power and possibly mindfulness.
    So yes am still very much into the divesting of centralised power because it leads to power in other aspects re communities-think the Shambhala teachings are much more about the circulation of power than the holding onto of it. Thats why they are so revolutionary and kind of chime with the age we are –so theres the synchronicity of them as the new age cliché goes.
    So aka template-making maybe we will have to hold to some things and jettison others-re the protector principle aka Kasung for instance it may have to become more alluring and less demonstrably associated with the military in this age of mega-divestment of centralised power. As to structure of meditational progs. similar thingies may also have to happen. What do people suggest? Re all our little groupings many debates could happen.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  350. John Perks on July 4th, 2012 8:16 am

    Dear Friends,
    As Jack Nicholson says “This is as good as it gets”
    We are the Ronin Warriors of Shambhala,
    We are never going to accept another master,
    Chogyam was it,
    no way in no way out,
    PTSD is our longing,
    which is our union with each other,
    it was good of Charles Marrow to try to ease our pain,
    but it is never going to work,
    we cannot change our love and devotion,
    So this is as good as it gets,
    Good Luck To Us,
    I salute you,
    Love to you
    Ronin Warriors of Shambhala,
    Happy 4th of July

  351. John Tischer on July 4th, 2012 11:52 am

    Awesome, John, Thanks!

  352. Suzanne Duarte on July 4th, 2012 2:17 pm

    Yes, dear John Perks, we are Ronin Warriors of Shambhala. I said so myself many years ago. Trying to organize ourselves to recapture something that has been hijacked doesn’t seem to have any traction or future. No blame. Perhaps our fate, as one of the ‘Eminences’ said, is to follow our own individual paths – ie, be ronin.

    But yes, let us honor each other and hold our heads high, and let our Ashe hearts radiate, as we were taught to do.

    Jolly good luck and much love.

  353. John Tischer on July 4th, 2012 5:22 pm

    Khandro Rinpoche told Michael Fagan that she thought we should follow our own paths, touching into whatever teachings we want to, but not necessarily committing ourselves to any organization.

  354. James Elliott on July 4th, 2012 5:24 pm

    John T.,
    If ‘the template’ was Shambhala Teachings as originally taught, and that creates spontaneous enlightened society, then how do we explain what happened in our community while those things were being transmitted as they were originally presented?

    (Primarily referring here to the Regent Debacle and implosion of the Vajradhatu community, but I could give lots of little anecdotes of weirdnesses that neither of us would consider enlightened happening within those contexts to make the point. )

    I did all the trainings, no regrets and lots of inspiration, and it felt to me, when there were any pretensions of trying to create enlightened society like at KA we were pretty much fumbling with the idea rather than truly Doing it so-to-speak, so I still don’t see a template for enlightened society, which I think would sort of have to include various rules and structures, how authority works, how government might be structured including checks and balances, how justice or conflict resolution is achieved, etc., or anything that can be carried forward in that way, beyond the student teacher relationship, which was without question valuable for us as his students, but a template for society? I don’t see how. Sorry to be so obtuse, but I really don’t see it.

    In the inspiration of having been there then.

    Dear Mr. Perks.
    Echoes of himself and
    A fresh breeze in these electron laden pages

  355. James Elliott on July 4th, 2012 5:27 pm


    I am not so confused, nor you so straightforward.

    There are so many implied ideas in your writing (like democracy only making sense for medieval cultures in which most individuals know each other pretty well, which doesn’t jibe with history or the development of nations in any real way- or that the problems with Shambhala society is the same as with any society, but… it isn’t because Shambhala is a subculture free of many of the responsibilities most earth based societies can’t ignore, and so on) that it’s not possible to remark on all of them, but that aside, I do in fact grok your advocacy for local vernacular culture to have central importance and think that should be lauded, but it frankly conflicts in significant and as far as I can tell irreconcilable ways with championing more times than we can refer to a monarchical i.e. centralized authority as the only kind of government suited to human nature.

    For example: “ So Shambhala form, or society or culture will reflect underlying principles, norms, values. Many of those might well develop from within an open dojo experience, formal or informal, but how they are transmitted, ordered, maintained, formalized and so forth is the domain of governance.” What I’m hearing is a central government controlling the medium, access, and all formalities, etc.. As I think we all now know, the medium is very often the message – or… I think expecting the one to exist without controlling the other is an anomaly as unattainable as a hierarchy free group.

    It isn’t at all that the need for group identity isn’t important, only that it is virtually by definition not the aim of spiritual practices as I understand what Trungpa Rinpoche taught. The need for a group identity is something else entirely, but has been conflated with spiritual practice, making spiritual practice akin to group think. This is kind of what made my skin crawl when I heard voluntary social service was a prerequisite to vajrayana practice. As a form of creating group identity, a prerequisite for membership or to engender a sense of belonging, fine, but as a prerequisite for advanced practices, meaningless.

    In the same way I am neither for nor against monarchy, but I am convinced conflating governance with a particular spiritual path is toxic and divisive.

    In the inspiration of whatever the anti-toxin might be.

  356. John Tischer on July 4th, 2012 5:29 pm

    RE; meaning, to follow the path of the mishap lineage, to which we most certainly belong.

  357. Rita Ashworth on July 5th, 2012 1:39 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Thanks for that timely poem and unfortunately I will have to rephrase Churchill’s that old conservative’s words–hmmmmm-on your missive –we in the UK will never give up on exploring the theme of enlightened society, whatever Organisations in the world deem it to be.
    Thanks too to Mr Tischers info re Khandro Rinpoche that is enlightening and does open quite a few doors for many of us out there-very interesting indeed.
    Yes monarchy, not monarchy re James succinct investigation of this concept a la Ash contributions-myself still thinking of monarchy re ‘religious’ interpretation perhaps as embodying more the Christian concept of Kingdom of God as I go on thinking about it.
    Yes we must really open up this path again to the many out there in the many ways we will all devise in the future. I wonder what all we now termed Ronin will do with what we received from the great Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche-yes interesting times ahead in this 21st century.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  358. John Tischer on July 5th, 2012 12:05 pm

    Dear James,

    Yes, much chaos was happening at the same time as the Shambhala teachings were being presented. Why didn’t enlightened society fully manifest? From the time they were first presented till the time VCTR died was less than ten years, and, after that, leadership went south. So, there obviously wasn’t enough time and continuity.

  359. John Tischer on July 5th, 2012 12:53 pm

    The Shambhala Training Program was not changed because it was not working. It was changed to give more authority to SMR, and to make
    people more dependent on him.

  360. Rita Ashworth on July 6th, 2012 2:11 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Re Shambhala Union, Shambhala Declaration you have had some excellent ideas re going forward.
    Aka on rfs we seem to be somewhat stymied re examining what went wrong in the past re the dissemination of the teachings, how the governance model of the future could be or could not be depending on where you are coming from etc. But to some extent these issues can not be resolved over the web. As you seem to be the only one in States that has a land base why do you not just call for a day or weekend to discuss these things and just see who turns up.
    At the very least such a gathering would be a friendly occasion for people to mix and talk, but on a larger face it could provide some insight about where people ‘stand’ re practice, the teachings etc. For myself I was hoping such a gathering could be in Cape Breton or Halifax as there did seem to be quite a lot of people who were not following SMR there.
    Re my own forays into convention organising things are panning out quite well in the UK, I am trying to get the drift of where people are at with the dharma generally here. It seems in the UK that there are large groupings perhaps going into the thousands re Kagyu, FWBO and Kadampa traditions, but somehow not the numbers to affect the society in general. So there is a sociological question of how all these traditions will go on now in the present day society not only in Shambhala circles. So change does seem to happening but everso slowly – I think at the present time many lamas are examining how to proceed now they have arrived at their present levels of membership -one only needs to look at Ponlops book the Rebel Buddha to see that people are revisiting the theme about how the dharma will be truly transmitted more fruitfully in the west.
    Yes I also found Mr Tischers comment re Khandros advice to the practitioner quite illuminating and desiring of much fuller investigation. It struck me yesterday when pondering it does she mean that we should definitely not set up an organisation based on past premises or that we should use our past experiences of practice just to share in small groups. It would be great if the person who was in this exchange with Khandro could give some impressions on how this interview affected his way of relating to the dharma and the sangha, for example when I first read the post initially it did somewhat lighten things up and create somewhat of an open field (like an open dojo) for people to engage with. Yes just think again so many teachings and teachers to reflect upon like a veritable feast of dharma -so yes a very good post.

    Well best from the UK,

    Rita Ashworth

  361. Suzanne Duarte on July 7th, 2012 5:54 am

    Not to change the subject, but would anyone like to comment on the interview in the Shambhala Times about the new film “An Uncommon King”, which is about Sakyong Mipham? Myth-making in action?

  362. John Perks on July 7th, 2012 7:13 am

    Dear Rita,
    Thank you we are already doing that in an informal way,many people come through Anadaire Center,and we talk about the shambhala situation,all are welcome posters on RFS the odd roaming Shambhala Ronin if in the area please drop in for short or long stays,
    Suzanne Dear,
    Thank you for that news,a brave step by SMR in taking his seat,we will have to see the film as Shambhalains there will be much debate which I look forward to.
    I have no doubt that CTR wanted a Monarchy ,and SMR is doing just that Bravo !!!
    NOW we the people how do we proceed ?

  363. John Perks on July 8th, 2012 7:43 am

    We the people of Shambhala just need to manifest as Masterwarriors born out of the cosmic mirror…that should not be to hard we have had enough training,,the Great Eastern Sun is in our hearts…
    Lets Do It!!!

  364. John Tischer on July 8th, 2012 7:27 pm

    Maybe we should start with a children’s book.

  365. Dan Montgomery on July 8th, 2012 11:18 pm

    Fellow Ronin, and Mr Perks in particular,

    Perhaps CTR did indeed want a hereditary monarchy, and you’d be in a good position to know obviously. But at this point I think we little warriors have to grow up, look at the world around us, speak our truth, and not rely so much on scriptural reference to our founder. He said a lot of things, many of them contradictory. I was personally keen to have him return as a Japanese scientist!

    While the dharma is self-existingly true, I think the many permutations of Vajrayana and Shambhala are skillful means – relevant to some people in some places at some times. As a refugee from the Kingdom who came to realize my inescapable American-ness, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that some of CTRs political ideas, particularly the monarchy business, were an obstacle to my path, and, to me, not relevant to the transmission of awakened mind. And, my ancestors were rolling rather loudly in their graves.

    One of the great ironies of CTR’s legacy was that, having landed in England, he found the people there overly impressed with his title and robes, and moved to America with its chaotic egalitarian ethic, where he was seen for who he was. Yet, as time went by, he rejected Americanism and urged us to change the way we spoke, decamp to Nova Scotia and swear allegiance to Her Majesty. Genius is always full of contradictions, as they say.

    Outside of a cult that keeps people locked in the jungle somewhere, a spiritual organization in this modern world is voluntary. The challenges many of us have accepting the heir to the throne, and the lack of traditional monarchical methods to enforce trans-generational loyalty (e.g. violence and confiscation of property) make a mockery of the idea that there is any real meat to the notion of inherited monarchy in a spiritual organization. The only real weapon is social ostracism. Which, as many of us know, hurts, but is survivable.

    The world has largely moved past inherited political power for a lot of good reasons. Real, functioning monarchies (unlike the genteel and symbolic UK) are inherently thuggish. What we are left with, as the Shambhala Times interview puts it, is a “spiritual monarchy”, which seems to me considerably diluted from the CTR’s vision, which combined sacred and secular. So what is this monarchy, other than play acting by those who choose to play?

  366. Dan Montgomery on July 8th, 2012 11:20 pm

    PS – I think it would be very interesting to have someone create a fresh conversation beginning with a review of An Uncommon King, once it’s available. I will refrain from comment as the filmmaker is my very talented former wife.

  367. damchö on July 9th, 2012 1:15 am

    Very well said Dan, thanks.

  368. John Perks on July 9th, 2012 6:02 am

    Dear Dan,
    How wonderful to hear from you,I remember your Grandad Bernard,
    Of course I agee with what you say,and very well put if I may say so.
    Yes that rascal Chogyam left all kinds of clues hidden in plain sight.
    Some years ago two ladies showed up here asking if I wanted to visit Shambhala.It took quite some time for me to adjust to having them around,I could tell they were not human,and not even American.Anyway I dicided to go,and have been in Shambhala for quite some time now.The two ladies said that if I told people I was here people would think I was crazy well says I what else is new?by the way I call them KeeKee and SoSo because I cannot pronouce their names in spoken language.So this is my postcard from Shambhala,having a wonderful time wish you were here love Johnny.P.S. don’t tell anyone about this everyone will want to move in!!!

  369. Dan Montgomery on July 9th, 2012 10:22 am

    Dear Mr. Perks,


    Thank you for sharing, and Old Monty says “jolly good!”


  370. John Perks on July 12th, 2012 7:30 am

    A way forward ?
    Perhaps thats it Ronin Warriors of Shambhala,
    nothing to join no organization,
    but living by the code as set out by our Lord
    Chogyam Trungpa the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo,
    the code are the notes from the end of the book Great Eastern Sun,
    What do you think?

  371. John Perks on July 12th, 2012 4:12 pm

    Live that way,teach that way,die that way Loyal to the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo,and Shambhala,what else is there for us to do ?

  372. Rita Ashworth on July 13th, 2012 2:27 am

    Dear Mr Perks,

    I think you are going to have to go into more depth re your explanation of the Code you have mentioned for the general reader to follow your thinking.
    Re the Ronin aspect of what you have mentioned –well that maybe the case for a number of years since the various ‘splits’ but at some time in the future people will have to go out in the world much more and gather ‘followers’/’disciples’ etc whatever you want to call the Sangha because this constitutes enlightened society which the Vidyadhara very did much want.
    Yes to found any ‘religion’ or movement you have to have a main teacher or his teachings, for example like the Sikhs have with their Book –the Granth Sahib, and people willing to adhere to some notion of Vision, although that Vision may manifest in different ways. Here I am thinking also about Christianity -one man followed by 12 disciples and 2,000 years later billions of people following His teachings. How is that possible perhaps almost like being in a kind of army in that one is prepared to further ‘aims’ and Vision at all costs.
    So getting back to Mark Szp’s more grounded explanation of Open Dojo it seems to me the closest at the present time of having some impact on the way society is now and how we would like to create sacredness in that society i.e. -it is open to all and founded on the principles of Alia and CTRs teachings.
    Yes, The Alia Institute is and was a large gathering of people -so I too am interested in how you organise these meetings in that they are a reflection of enlightened society in action –thats why I am also involved in the Convention here. This is also why Occupy interests me because overnight they created community –some large as in Philadelphia of 800 people with all the operations that a society needed e.g. recycling, food, governance etc.
    I also still like your idea of Shambhala Union but it would have to be open to all, as mentioned earlier-so this is an area for discussion. I dont totally agree with your call for no organisation my conception of organisation is much looser than SI’s rather closer to the Quakers with less structure /hierarchy and l also now quite admire anarchic principles in the ideas they have of the fluidity of power. I also think this tremulous notion of knowing ones own power a little more in the world could also point one in the direction of being more open to Awakened Mind, that Dan mentioned, as peoples engagement/awareness develops.
    Re the lineage aspect-I dont think we need at this time to worry much about this, but rather the emphasis should be more on forwarding the general Mahayana vision for want of a better phrase in the future.

    Well best for now.

    Rita Ashworth

  373. John Perks on July 13th, 2012 1:01 pm

    Thank you Rita,
    Sorry I have been thinking out loud,Lets see if I can put this together,I have been thinking about what we all have in common,well most of us.
    We are Shambahains of the old order, That of the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo Chogyam Trungpa,and unable to make a new connection to SMR or SB,
    so from some point of view that makes us Ronin.
    When we were establishing the Kusung Rinpoche had us reading the Book of the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi,in reading the Authors notes at the back of “Great Eastern Sun” I was struck by how like Musashi’s book it was in setting out a code of conduct for the warrior,
    Now as Ronin of Shambhala if we followed the code,then it would not really matter who the Sakyong was we would be following our own path as Ronin of course we won’t be invited to the court,or asked to teach in SB,so what else is new?.As Ronin we make it on our own as the Dorje Dradul instructed,we do not need to worry about how the Kingdom is being run or by whom,we have our own system The code of the Shambhala Ronin,
    We could put this together,all of us on this site,we would be equals together a union ?but working, teaching, living ,by the same code?,and helping to establish Shambhala enlightened society,after all SMR cannot do it all by himself.

  374. Madeline Schreiber on July 13th, 2012 1:54 pm


    I think it’s ok to relax a bit
    I think we better had
    I have found the way can be slow
    There’s no other word for it
    Slowly slowdown slow ~ ~ ~ ~ . . .

    We need to have that imperturbable peace
    A lagoon where this life’s wisdom can gather
    Our amrita is like nothing else
    It is deathless and all the rest

    Even to relax is a challenge
    And ultimately it will be ~ letting go
    These are what we could practice now
    People are watching, they can see

    i think
    nova scotia
    july 12 2012

    ps I still think book classes are good *~*

  375. Suzanne Duarte on July 13th, 2012 7:13 pm

    I dig what John P. is saying, though I’d rather talk about it privately, intimately, among ourselves, not in public, for some reason, I’m not sure why. But thank you for your efforts, Johnny. I do appreciate it.
    Thanks also to Madeline for your reminder(s).

    I finally got around to reading Chris Hedges’ article for this week: “How to Think.” It’s a trenchant diagnosis and prognosis of our moment, especially America’s present moment. But it also applies to the so-called “developed world” in general. Here’s how it begins – see if you think it resonates with our situation as Ronin:

    Cultures that endure carve out a protected space for those who question and challenge national myths. Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades must be tolerated if a culture is to be pulled back from disaster. Members of this intellectual and artistic class, who are usually not welcome in the stultifying halls of academia where mediocrity is triumphant, serve as prophets. They are dismissed, or labeled by the power elites as subversive, because they do not embrace collective self-worship. They force us to confront unexamined assumptions, ones that, if not challenged, lead to destruction. They expose the ruling elites as hollow and corrupt. They articulate the senselessness of a system built on the ideology of endless growth, ceaseless exploitation and constant expansion. They warn us about the poison of careerism and the futility of the search for happiness in the accumulation of wealth. They make us face ourselves….”

    I think the Vidyadhara trained and prepared us to be Ronin! Let’s relax with it.

    ♥♥ Suzanne

  376. John Perks on July 14th, 2012 6:02 am

    AH,yes thank you for the kind ,and wise advice,taken,
    The morrigan’s children are in the green field,
    The ship has sailed under the Rigden flag,
    Fearless the warriors of Shambhala,
    Do you think Tolkien read Musashi ?
    Chogyam was elvish,
    AH ,don’t you just love the sight of him,
    Our common bond,
    Nothing to do no where to go,
    I heard Ash is selling bread to Piggly Wiggly
    Your names are in my heart,
    You are welcome at Anadaire,
    Love to you always,
    His Idiot Servant.

  377. Suzanne Duarte on July 14th, 2012 8:23 am

    John P, could you paraphrase the ‘Code’ from Great Eastern Sun that you referred to, and that you think we Ronin could all practice and live by – as a kind of pact (which we could renew, since we already made it when Rinpoche was alive)? ♥ Suzanne

  378. John Perks on July 14th, 2012 11:46 am

    Dear Suzanne,
    Yes in the back of the book GES,hardback,I do not know if they have it in the paper back edition,are the note cards of the Dorje Dradul,translated from the tibetan as ….
    Primordial Stroke
    1 A dot in the open sky,
    trust basic goodness
    renunciation setting sun [hierarchy]
    letting go/daring loving towards others [independent]
    There are 11 cards in all,I can get someone to put them up on this site
    if that would be helpful ?
    love JP

  379. Suzanne Duarte on July 14th, 2012 12:24 pm

    John, I think it would be helpful to post them on RFS, but there might be copyright restrictions. Are they like lojong slogan cards, only these are slogans for Shambhala vision?
    Thanks, Suzanne

  380. John Tischer on July 14th, 2012 1:24 pm


    Oblivious in sober self centered assessment
    of the world, the marching morons walk five
    abreast in the city streets, barely noticing
    the others around them, entrenched in cast
    iron ruts of direction assumed but not known,
    brainwashed to utter perfection.

  381. John Perks on July 15th, 2012 6:10 am

    Dear Suzanne,
    Well you could be right about the cow ,and its calf,in the name of finnian,and its best to remember that not so very long ago this was the same organization that had squads of kasang going around to interview anyone of their members who criticized SMR…and it was done in a very interesting way. liked your Chris Hedges quote .
    thank you.

  382. Suzanne Duarte on July 15th, 2012 7:29 am

    John P, I have heard about the squads of kasung acting as thought police, scaring people into the SMR line. I did not experience this myself, but some who did told me they found it traumatic to be treated in this way. That members of the kasung who were trained under VCTR would allow this to occur, much less participate in it, reminded me of the ‘prison experiment’ at Stanford University, where students acting as prison guards and as prisoners got carried away with their roles. The planned two-week experiment had to be aborted after only 6 days.

    Similarly, the Milgram Obedience Experiment was designed to demonstrate the ‘perils of obedience.’ “These experiments offer a powerful and disturbing look into the power of authority and obedience.”

    Those who are familiar with the work of Howard Zinn will remember how he emphasized ‘civil disobedience,’ which is sometimes called ‘nonviolent resistance’ to pernicious authority. The Hedges article, which I posted the link to above, speaks directly to all these issues of the obedience of herd mentality and the need for dissent.

  383. John Perks on July 15th, 2012 8:20 am

    Suzanne,you are correct about that it is quite shocking,and in my memory which is now very long we lived in the days of the nazi’s and brown shirts,and there it was again in the name of Shambhala….CTR wanted the Kasung to HELP people he said “if people are in trouble from natural disaster or having trauma the Kasung should be there to help” not that the Kasung should be used to cause trauma!!!
    it is a disgrace and the lot of them should have been fired but we see their names in the SI hierarchy,and the leader of the pack was Dr.Levy still teaching decorum in the name of Shambhala,it gives one a clear message as to the nature of SMR and SI….it is shocking,and I for one denounce it in the strongest terms because such actions lead to names like Auschwitz and Buchenwald CTR would have sacked the lot of them!!!

  384. John Perks on July 15th, 2012 11:21 am

    Well now your going to have to read another story by an old Ronin,
    During the war [ww2] at school in Sidcup about 12 miles south of London,
    i was about 11 years old which would put it at 1945,all the boys were summoned to the school auditorium to see 2 films this had never happened before so we were all excited…the first film was news reels of Auschwitz and Buchenwald we were shocked some boys started to weep,the next film was Henry V with Olivier the masters never said a word but we all came out of that auditorium,we got the message!!!
    Years later at the Kalapa Court dressing Rinpoche in his uniform with riding boots,Hitler crossed my mind Rinpoche looked at me and said “do not worry Johnny I will not go crazy like Hitler” I was stunned,and of course he never did.
    The moral is be watchful of your leaders

  385. John Tischer on July 15th, 2012 12:00 pm

    don’t feed the parking meters.

  386. Suzanne Duarte on July 15th, 2012 1:43 pm

    John P, thank you for your denunciation and reminder that VCTR wanted the kasung to help people, not enforce “loyalty”. Also thank you for the WWII story. I’m afraid I don’t quite get the message of following newsreels of concentration camps with Olivier’s Henry V. Were the school masters trying to convey that even Englishmen can be tyrants, not just German nazis and Italian fascists? All young people need to be warned about the potential for corruption and tyranny in authority figures and powerholders. Consider the sexual abuse case being tried in Ohio (or is it Pennsylvania) of a football coach – the whole town is guilty of letting the abuse of boys go on for years because the football team brought economic advantages to the town. Ah, well, maybe it’s better not to open up that can of worms here!

    I love the story of Rinpoche reading your mind and reassuring you he would not go crazy like Hitler. Thank you for that.

  387. damchö on July 15th, 2012 2:50 pm

    It’s good to hear (well, if that is the word) that I am not alone in my experience of the corruption of the kasung. To your experiment examples Suzanne I might add the history of how the communist parties used to keep everyone in line in Eastern Europe. For me it felt precisely like that. I was living inside **that**. Incomprehensibly shocking coming from a buddhist community, and my own. I wasn’t in a position to know what hit me, so it was pure trauma. And is.

    This is one of the reasons why I’m so strongly with all here who insist on deep openness, accountability, transparency in a spiritual organization. Without it we just haven’t got anything worth having. And of course there are always reasons why those qualities aren’t present.

  388. damchö on July 15th, 2012 3:17 pm

    On a slight tangent, I happened to watch the movie “The Lives of Others” again the other night (had seen it when it was released 5 or 6 years ago). Afterwards I watched an interview with the director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (now there’s a fine name) in which he said that the kernel which eventually led to him coming up with the plot was a quotation from Lenin he’d come across, to the effect that he had to keep himself from listening to Beethoven because whenever he did he found he just wanted to go out and stroke people’s heads and be kind, instead of making hard, necessary bolshevik revolution for the sake of all working people everywhere…

    I recommend that movie by the way to those who haven’t seen it as a beautiful illustration of awakening heart. (And as many have said it also has as moving and perfect a final line as one will find.) Ulrich Mühe, who played the Stasi agent, magnificently, drew on his own experience of having been informed against and spied on. When asked how he prepared for his role he said, “I remembered.”

  389. John Perks on July 15th, 2012 7:12 pm

    Dear suzanne,
    sorry for not being clear,my dyslexic self,I should have said “I” got the message that one should be the hero and fight against such brutality, not the french who in the movie were victims like the english,but I we got that message..that brutality was the enemy at that young age I got it maybe others thought being english tea and cricket would save the world but not I have in my life created harm for others,but confession in the open is agreat thing one could be a hero.when Rinpoche had the Merwin confrortation at seminary,I was not there that year,I asked him “what happened?” he said “I went to far” can SMR step up to that plate? by the way I have to commend the bravery of Mark Szpakowski for putting up and hosting this site,CTR would be proud..thank you the idiot servant ronin

  390. John Perks on July 15th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Damcho, I am going to watch that movie

  391. damchö on July 16th, 2012 2:46 pm

    Great John, I hope you like it. And it was really good to hear Rinpoche’s comment on that seminary. I’d never heard that before. Shambhala today does have a lot of difficulty recognizing when it has made mistakes, let alone mending them. Too many seem to feel it’s a sign of strength / confidence to never be wrong.

  392. John Tischer on July 16th, 2012 6:20 pm


    Watch it,…I never lie and I’m always right….

  393. Ash on July 16th, 2012 9:02 pm

    I thought I was wrong once…. but was mistaken!

  394. John Perks on July 17th, 2012 6:36 am

    both you chaps must be wong,not wright in the head,
    from chinese fortune cookie

  395. Mark Szpakowski on September 7th, 2012 8:45 pm

    Ah, here’s something by John Perks that really says it well (at

    .. the relationship between you and your teacher is … one of being soulmates. In any case, when that transmission occurs maybe nothing special happens for a while. Then, because of one’s whole openness and sensitivity towards another being, one’s teacher, then even after that teacher is no longer physically present, still the relationship is there and is still continuing. So that lineage is very much like that.

    Re Open Dojo, here’s how I try to be:

    – Through the relationship with a teacher, become open and sensitive.

    – In that openness and sensitivity, meet others.

    – Within such openness, appreciate the lineages present.

    The practice of such openness is the Open Dojo. There is only openness within it. It does not belong to anyone. For oneself personally, that openness is perhaps enabled through the relationship with an exemplar of openness, a teacher. And for each Open Dojo player, that could be a different teacher, practice, or lineage. The lineage has your back: that allows your soft open front.

    Chao chao!

  396. Suzanne Duarte on September 8th, 2012 6:13 am

    I really like this: “The lineage has your back: that allows your soft open front.” That rings true for me. Thanks, Mark.

  397. Dawa Chöga on September 9th, 2012 8:38 am

    I can see that open dojo is one way of trying to “make sense” of this insane world. Open dojo may be a useful concept for the time being, but we need to be reminded over and over that “open dojo” is just one of many conceptual stepping-stones. It is the goal of any valid path to lead to its own dissolution and reach its destination. Our path leads beyond any concept of a path. It goes beyond trying to make sense ~ beyond a maker who makes the sense, and beyond any world to make sense of. The goal is to be 100% immune to the schism of subject and object in order to be 100% available to all sentient beings. So any path or sense or dojo is a stepping-stone, that will be defeated by another path or sense or concept, and so on, until reaching enlightenment. Thus I think I have heard.

  398. James Elliott on September 27th, 2012 9:37 am

    Dawa Chöga’s right, if and only if all one is talking about is a spiritual path and apirations for enlightenment, as defined within the Buddhist schools… which is something that has become somewhat unclear within Shambhala International.

    As soon as one talks about how to organize society, how to create whatever rules of engagement and infrastructures will be used and which might be best for organizing society, including whatever principles and demands will be served and addressed, which by definition must need include a plethora of people and their various ways of operating as well as local culture events and times present etc., both materialistically and spiritually, then one simply can’t step over the need for working with reference points of some kind.

    It would be irresponsible, and indeed a form of denial, to talk about the need to focus on absolute perfect enlightenement as in any way a solution to any number of if not all political issues which simply must be addressed in order to have a functioning society on any level.

    Even if everyone in the room were enlightened some form of organzation would need to be used. There is no way around this… unless one wants to live in a cave and do nothing, (though even then… one relies on devotees or someone to bring sustenance, etc.). Short of that compassion demands we pay attention to these kinds of needs without resorting to dharmakaya principles of emptiness and egolessness as solutions for pretty much anything at all I can think of that concerns the welfare of other people within a society.

    In the inspiration that the kitchen sink level of things never becomes irrelevant.

  399. madeline schreiber on September 27th, 2012 9:49 am

    I remember VCTR saying, in a talk to to a very large group,

    – Maybe we will need to set up hospitals and care homes for all the enlightened people – .

  400. Rita Ashworth on September 30th, 2012 6:15 am

    O yes James the kitchen-sink level, interesting, in the 50s in the UK here we had playwrights talking of society just through this concept aka John Osborne, Bond and many others, yes the kitchen sink level through staging and events-to inevitably a vision for society beyond somewhat the status quo of the day.
    So what is the status quo of our day in religious and social affairs. I think a narrowing down of viewpoints, a polarisation one could say when there should be diversity and inclusion. Picture the many demonstrations going in the world re Occupy and others where ideas are being tested out, debated, ridiculed and dismissed by the dozen. But I think this debate is necessary and timely thats why I am still open to seeing things differently from the many norms that are seeking to establish themselves out there.
    Difficult to say what is going to happen, but surprise I think would be the order of the day as in many things re the lessons of history regarding religious/social affairs. Picture this St Joan –I have had a vision, Sir Thomas More…..I disagree……John Wesley….I never wanted to found my own church…..history is littered with bumps in the road, so I dont think we can foreclose on anyway of the ‘right’ path for ‘special beings’ at the present time.
    Re practicalities they could ‘stem’ from religious traditions and be informed by them –this is the case with many reformed churches in the UK in the eighteenth century, so politics at times can be a highly subjective and personal art at times and in our present age maybe re recent events it will be more communal. I have not made my mind up about this as of yet but it seems to be the case that this is the ‘new’ way of doing things.
    How does this relate to Shambhala the overall enlightened society theme-having interesting thoughts about this recently, perhaps the ‘vision is us’ not Shambhala Vision but the many visions we have through Art and clear thought. It’s interesting to contemplate that one of the first things that CTR did get involved with when he went to the states was play writing and Mudra, both of which have dimensions of envisioning process, of course this may be seen as a practical way of doing things but the actual thing in the end –is what many in the west take as ‘mystical’ -the communing of people in the round.

    Well lets not forget in all our musings re Shambhala the dimension of something rooted in the practical but also something heavenly about it too.

    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  401. Dawa Chöga on October 12th, 2012 6:28 am

    Well James, my master told me, “Don’t materialise.” And then he said,
    “Remain in the dharmadhatu.”

    Why do you talk about relative truth and absolute truth as if they are two separate realities?

    We resort to dharmakaya principles of emptiness and egolessness not as solutions, but because they are undeniably true.

    And it is you who is irresponsible if your focus is not on absolute perfect enlightenment.

  402. jane doe on October 12th, 2012 12:57 pm

    James does seem to put the cart before the horse. What a strange way to say it, that we resort to space awareness, almost as if it were a cop-out to drop out of samsara. It’s not the either/or scenario that James thinks it is. It’s not either we get drunk with the eight worldly concerns or we drop out of society and abandon sentient beings. Dropping out of samsara is not the same as dropping out of society, if I understand correctly.

  403. Ash on October 12th, 2012 5:14 pm

    Well, I bumped into a Gaelic-type yogini near the beach in Margaree last month after helping a local farmer harvest a strip of Rye he had planted for me, and we were catching up a little – myself a tad breathlessly not from the swim but stunned by her ever-fresh – if twenty-years-older-than-when-last-I-saw-her – all-victorious pitch perfect flamingly piercing bitter-sweet red-grey haired gorgeosity [sic]….

    Anyway: when mumbling my humble apologies about not really being in a formal sangha any more etc. etc. she just cheerfully interjected, whilst showing me yet another psychedelically patterned larch cutting board reminiscent of Bridget Riley etched in Acid Color, that after the 6 yogas (which I started decades ago and then sort of absent-mindedly sidled away from as the landscape of Cape Breton morphed into the Immediate Path), she said, ‘the yogi enters the Market Place’.

    Which made me feel better about making my living from simply preparation of something edible and then selling it in a local market, and furthermore allowed me to imagine that in so doing I was joining dharmadhatu, relative, absolute and all the rest of it, aka svabhavikakaya – not that such lingo readily comes to mind any more, probably the though was: ‘oh well, then that’s alright then, isn’t it?’.

    In any case, when all is said and done, all these notions are pointers. We get up, we do various things, we sleep, and same again until one day instead of sleeping we die. After so much endeavour and effort and grace, such beautiful leaves of virtue at some point come to the season when it is time to fall, to let go. Fruition has something to do with this.

    Fruition has also to do with that fantastic poem J.P. wrote up above. Beverly W was putting out fruition poems too at the end.

    In any case, I find that basic livelihood in a real market situation is a rather good sadhana, one that offers limitless opportunities for learning and improvement whilst being super-kitchen-sinky, although in my case it’s a 10,000 pound brick oven I play with, not a sink.

    Good example: just cancelled going to my first VY feast in years (hosted by that same Margaree Yogini) because remembered had a Board Meeting. Not the Vajradhatu Board: a Farmers’ Market Board! That’s the ‘main’ sadhana now, crude as it is on so many levels…..

  404. John Tischer on October 12th, 2012 5:43 pm

    Wonderful Ash…so psychedelic and right there.

    Well, this site still has a reason to live (as I listen to Taj Mahal)

    Love all around in big, juicy, manifestations….Onward….


  405. Dawa Chöga on October 13th, 2012 4:53 pm

    Just when there was a flicker of dharma, then nervousness and discursiveness and habit-memory come flooding back in. O well, does debate here at RFS always have to devolve into nostalgia and nonsense? I for one hope that James and others take up the gauntlet.

    Re our VCTR mandala, my master said that naming Vajradhatu as the central trunk and naming the dharmadhatus as the branches was wrong and it should have been the opposite, the central trunk should be named Dharmadhatu and the branches should be named vajradhatus.

  406. Ash on October 14th, 2012 7:12 am

    Dawa: your point would be better made with a tad more specifics.
    But barring that, let me just suggest that if you were referring to my post: in terms of discursiveness – touche. In terms of nostalgia – you missed the point – and probably also the boat – entirely. But since Tibetan, not English, seems to be your native language, you are forgiven.

    Again in terms of specifics: re the vaj-dha reversal: please explain why, otherwise it’s just a dogmatic proclamation from an unnamed ‘master’. But with specifics, again, it might be an interesting point. Without, it’s just the sort of discursive chatter you deplore in your critical, judgmental post.

  407. Dawa Chöga on October 15th, 2012 6:43 am

    So the ash thinks all he has to do is criticise and judge dawa choga for being critical and judgemental to drown out any honest feedback. The identity of the master is so beside the point. The point is the observation, which you rather critically and judgementally disparage as a dogmatic proclamation. You are free to reasonably agree or disagree with the observation, of course, but you offer no specifics. You just scoff. And my reference to this related tangent was not random. It was sparked by your earlier reference to svabhavikakaya. Methinks the ash needs a living teacher to look over his shoulder and mind his business. Khandro Rinpoche once said that anybody who thinks that they need no other teacher after their root teacher dies is arrogant. Is that a dogmatic proclamation too?

  408. damchö on October 15th, 2012 3:40 pm

    Hi Dawa Chöga,

    I didn’t read James as separating absolute and relative truth. My sense of what both he and Ash were talking about is rather the opposite: trying to bring the two fully together at the level of that holy kitchen sink.

    I think it’s just a question of this: since as we know ego will try and coopt absolutely any aspiration we have towards “absolute perfect enlightenment,” our wisdom essence has to be even trickier. One helpful practice towards this can be humble-kitchen-sink mind. Which to me means for the most part relating to everything that arises in our world actually with no other aspiration than to be as present and intelligent and open towards it as possible.

    “Focusing on absolute perfect enlightenment” is not necessarily so straightforward an idea, is it? I’ve heard more than one Tibetan teacher say that monasteries are filled both with models of disciplined devotion but also with those who have completely missed the point in pursuing such “focus.”

    In any event, for those of us living in the world–and a stupendously complicated and busy, not to mention deranged, one at that–practice is still very much, as always, everywhere. I think all that is being conveyed is an attitude of humility: that we get “there,” ie here, moment by moment, at the kitchen sink, at the Farmers’ Market Board. And in no other way, really.

    Some days, maybe the ego gets a little tired, takes a brief nap … loses a bit of ground. I’m very conscious of my ignorance in this realm, but that seems to work best for me with regard to aspiration: trying to relax my grip on the whole thing. Focus on path rather than goal.

  409. Ash on October 15th, 2012 6:36 pm

    Re: “The identity of the master is so beside the point. The point is the observation, which you rather critically and judgmentally disparage as a dogmatic proclamation. You are free to reasonably agree or disagree with the observation, of course, but you offer no specifics. .”

    Yes, you see without specifics there’s not much there, is there? Why don’t you explain WHY this ‘master’ thinks that the vajradhatu and dharmadhatu ‘should’ have been reversed? Then it might be helpful/interesting. Otherwise, it’s just – as I said before – akin to dogma in that it is supposed to be taken at face value without the slightest explanation or supporting logic. There is no reason for me to disagree or agree with a statement which is, as yet, only half-baked.

    Give us something substantive to taste and digest rather than (anonymous) proclamatory concepts from ‘on high’.

    Your critical remark about my use of the term svabhavikakaya was also without any specifics. If you think it was poorly used, please say why. Again, it might be interesting/helpful; otherwise it is just vaguely insulting for reasons not properly given.

    It is a little ironic, really, getting upset about how someone else uses a Dharma word! Remember the definition of dharma: that which is taught (the words etc.) AND that which is experienced. Or to paraphrase VCTR: ‘my svabhavikakaya is as luminous, sharp, indivisible, sudden and incomprehensible as your svabhavikakaya!’

  410. James Elliott on October 15th, 2012 6:54 pm

    Jane Doe,

    What exactly is the cart and what is the horse? What are they trying to do? Where are they going, and what happens when they get there?

    I’m not exactly saying that people resort to ‘space awareness’ as a cop out, though I can lay out more examples than this site can or probably should provide of just that; it’s much more complex than any cut and paste, black and white either or dichotomy we can conjure. We also tend to use this supposed focus on egolessness or emptiness as, for other examples, a way to win arguments, degrade others, negate dissent, stake out superior views, to confirm ourselves and so on.

    One point I was trying to make is that any use of our own aspirations towards enlightenment to judge and browbeat others or manipulate them or get them to behave or to see the light even with the best intentions, actually ANY use of enlightenment and the concepts surrounding it, any attempt to use them to change what’s out there is probably a form of corruption that helps us not deal with our own ego, and is more often than not a form of abuse on the victims we so righteously choose. Basic VCTR Cutting Through 101 kind of ideas.

    Further, when we take this sort of attitude onto the political stage, that what we are doing is so deep and enlightened it takes precedent over whatever it is other people are involved in, then we will be expanding ego and giving it a playground in which, if the current presidential campaign is any indication, there are no limits to the insanity lies and damage we can perpetrate on each other.

    My point is that if do not discriminate between what our own individual path is, and on the other hand the political and social realities we must need relate to on their own terms, then we will inevitably start treating those who disagree with us as neurotic heathens. History is rife with examples, but we barely have to look beyond our own noses for examples and proof.

    I’m pretty certain that approach to politics, society and what other people are supposed to do and believe in is not a basis for enlightened society.

    In the inspiration that “Some believe, that they believe, that others believe, that they do not believe” (S.J.Lec)

  411. Rita Ashworth on October 16th, 2012 2:03 am

    Dear James et al

    Yes basically agree …..but we have to experiment aka ‘politics’/meditation.

    Re kitchen sink and Kingdom land Mark 1 –check this out…..very funny…..yes un-nicely—great…

    Also rereading ‘Empty Space’ by Peter Brook who CTR met briefly (Brook still very much alive if some one wants to interview him)….anyway in his discussion of Holy Theatre he talks of the medium as making the Invisible Visible…..fascinating stuff….maybe people could read this standard work re enlightened society theme.
    It seems also to me that in this book he is entering the sphere of the sacred and the secular coming together somewhat.
    Anyway Mark Szap hammering away at this aspect through several of his essays on this site….me dont know totally what people are thinking out there –but the convention I helped for 200 people on Saturday re Buddhism is slowly hitting on societal themes, people definitely nervous and anxious about what is happening in the world and they are out there looking for fresh dare one say ‘democratic’ methods of being in society.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  412. Dawa Chöga on October 16th, 2012 7:37 am

    Dear damcho, James, ash et al,

    Thank you for your kindness. I didn’t mean to insult or upset anybody. I guess I did mean to be a little provocative in the sense of teasing though. Not to judge or criticise, just to stir things up, in a positive way I hoped. And maybe it did. To wit, the moving display of patience and gentleness of your advice. I am touched and humbled. Namaste. Boundless affection to all.

  413. John Tischer on October 20th, 2012 4:15 pm

    For myself, I’ve decided that anyone who posts on this site and doesn’t use their real name, I will refer to as whatever I see fit.. This is an open forum,
    unlike Shambhala, and, as many have pointed out before, attracts a lot of trolls, which is one reason people have been turned off to this. If you don’t use your real name, as far as I’m concerned, you don’t deserve respect.

  414. James Elliott on October 21st, 2012 1:52 pm


    I have qualms with the notion of meditation/politics. Without it being very articulately defined it looks to be a warm fuzzy thingy one has to be a grouch to argue against, but… so… well, maybe I’m a grouch. 😉

    That meditation has the possibility of clearing the mind, that mind is the source of everything, and that this clarity might allow one to be a more involved and compassionate participant in whatever one is involved in is clear and unproblematic.

    However, as soon as one makes any kind of requirement that everyone do the same practices in order to participate in the political process of a society, or visa versa in order to be given certain practices one has to have the same political views, we have a problem.

    Spirituality, if one’s doing it right, brings about changes in the way one relates to one’s own thoughts, oneself, others and the world. So to me, because it’s a process not a thing or a set state at which we arrive, spiritual work doesn’t look like something that would alone create unity for a society at large. What stage is everyone at? Does everyone understand it the same way, even within the same school? and so on.

    Or from the other side, if the success or failure of spiritual work is anchored to external results, such as political success, connection to, or unity with, a predefined social norm, or whether people appreciate us or not, or whether good things happen to us, or any external factor, then as I understand it, we would not be engaging in spiritual work as Trungpa Rinpoche spent considerable time defining it. We would instead be playing to a hall of mirrors the fractured reflections of which would dictate what it is we need to do, in order to get required results, results which also would be largely defined by external sources.

    Isn’t that one way of defining what spiritual work is supposed to free us from?

    In general for some of the same reasons, I don’t yet grok the idea of ‘enlightened society’. It isn’t really a thing that can be enlightened in the way that I understand it being defined within contemplative traditions.

    In the inspiration that trying to lead or train society as a whole into being an enlightened society, is like trying to make air do the breathing.

  415. Rita Ashworth on October 23rd, 2012 3:23 pm

    Dear James,

    Thanks for your comeback on my post

    Firstly would like to post this vid with Brook where he goes into territory re science/theatre, as Brook did meet Trungpa and may have influenced him re theatre –people might want to listen to him.

    Continuing our discussion yes politics/meditation difficult areas, but there we have it ‘enlightened society’ and not just applicable to social bubbles of centres and Buddhists I believe, but a much deeper ‘concept’.
    Still thinking it must envisage a multiplicity of practices, not defined by success or outcomes but more as you say unending process. Yes success and outcomes seem to figure less in eastern doctrines and we can see this from the eight worldly dharmas. So my mind still revolving around the political ‘process’ re society.
    Perhaps this concern with society resonates because to a degree western society is dissolving somewhat politically and social theories and philosophies are under discussion as to whether they can actually ‘work’ now. Maybe meditation because it goes ‘against’ habits is somehow connected to process/change re society in a deep philosophical sense. Yes perhaps this is where some of the eastern doctrines and the radical aspects of Christianity are leading us.
    Re the Manchester Convention I only know that many westerners are examining eastern thought not in relation to one’s own spirituality or connection to lineage but more in a societal framework, because again we have begun to run out of ideas how to work with what is now happening re recent financial collapse /social edginess. So I am hoping at some point in the future that the convention can explore politics-maybe in the matter of developing principles for action/reflection as we somewhat explored in our discussions re Shambhala constitution on rfs.
    As to my own brief knowledge of the ‘political’ dimension within the meditational context I am very amenable to conversing about this and discussing ideas. Perhaps also we actually need to redefine the ‘political process’, as indeed in our very tumultuous 21st century politics is being redefined on the streets re Occupy and also with academics who engage with this movement. Re doing this in our own Buddhist sphere maybe Stephen Batchelors book ‘Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist’ might be one book we could read in this regard. For example in a lecture recently on vimeo on the British Buddhist landscape he talked about the Buddha himself in terms of being highly political in his relationships with local kings of the time. Of course Batchelor is raising many hackles re his thoughts on the Buddha and Buddhist doctrine such as karma, but it is interesting that he is entering into discussion of ‘politics’ in our age of deepening crises. Perhaps this too is why there is now much more emphasis in translating more sutras of a ‘political’nature in our western world.

    I also found on the net this fascinating talk by Bhikku Bodhi re OWS and Buddhism, and in the second part of the lecture where he is discussing the Buddha himself he talks about him offering advice to republics and Kings about how to rule their separate kingdoms-interesting lecture from the Theravadas and something to discuss I believe.

    Lastly of course we know that CTR was a ‘ruler’ of his own area in Tibet so even on a pragmatic level how did he relate ‘politically’ to his duties—its in these areas that meditation/politics rub together at the kitchen sink level as it were, Ha-but anyway not trying to box the whole thing in or create hierarchies, or ‘right ways’, but in many ways I think we need to explore the whole subject because it is now being explored through authors like Batchelor and other teachers and monks in the west, that I know for sure from my own reading and recent conversations.

    Well best Rita Ashworth.

  416. John Tischer on October 23rd, 2012 9:15 pm

    I love this:

    Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American Buddhist monk, wrote:

    “By assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity, the materialistic world view, threatens to undermine any secure objective foundation for morality. The result is the widespread moral degeneration that we witness today. To counter this tendency, mere moral exhortation is insufficient. If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.”

  417. James Elliott on October 27th, 2012 2:32 am


    Who is assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity? (What does that mean really?)

    I think the dichotomistic blame premise is completely false in this case, society is far too complex for that to make any sense, but… are not religious beliefs and the values and ideals they entail, every bit as responsible, if not more so, than any ‘materialistic world view’ we might be able to define?

    My hackles rise when religious professionals claim religion is the arbiter for society’s values and spiritual ideals, without which people naturally become selfish agents causing suffering and ultimately humanity’s degredation. This is the teaching of ‘Basic Badness’.

    Religion then moves into a political sphere in which such simple dichotomies – accept religion as moral authority or else subject society to widespread moral degeneration – or – spiritual vs. materialistic world view – is more divisive than inspirational or for that matter even true.

    A religious authoritarian approach to society, (not talking teacher student relationship here) besides belittling religion to assigning value and ideals for society based on preexisting rules and agendas, and besides negating the individual’s journey and the transformational power of practice itself, such authority relegates the individual and their ‘subjective’(eeeeww) experience to a know nothing, irresponsible and probably irrelevant status, elevating instead a ‘comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order” (? And what does that actually mean?) under which you, the individual, shouldn’t trust yourself and your subjective(yuck) experience.


    This is the problem with organized religion entering politics in a nut shell.

    In the inspiration that praying for god to save us from that dynamic entering the political sphere is probably a lost cause.

  418. Rita Ashworth on October 27th, 2012 5:02 am

    Dear James et al,

    I dont think we are talking about such a rigid view of politics and ‘religion’ (and perhaps this is the wrong word to use for what we are evaluating)anymore…there is an interpenetration of ideas and reflections happening as far as I can experience and read about. An exchange of views occurring, we are not into the stage of establishing religious hierarchies-heaven grossly forbid, not the SI model rather something different I think, as to what may materialise in the future I am not completely sure, but I do think secularism as a cohesive model for a modern society is ebbing somewhat. Yes secularism is not working –its not providing the goods for the proper functioning of society-what will-a conundrum-’enlightened society’, a foreign substance running around in all our minds, almost like a pebble lodged in our brains, but there it is and we are still not examining it. Put it another way-can we not discuss enlightened society on its own terms with a meditational base-do we always have to devolve into sides of fences re disciplines. Maybe your thinking re ‘conventional’ religion is kind of hackling because of the American frame of reference-really am not writing about this, thinking of something deeper, beyond labelling.
    Anyway want more debate to happen re all peoples everywhere re politics, values-am trying to raise these questions here-saw wonderful book by Marcus Borg, a theologian yesterday about ‘religion/politics’ –very profound thinker –must read, as for Merton the debate has somewhat stopped but am hoping to meet some monks here from the Benedictine tradition, perhaps they also have some notion of enlightened society-yes what are your reflections on this, yes I really do think we have to enter the ‘political’ arena on its most widest terms-cannot separate them so much now. More discussion please.

    Best for the weekend –and lost causes or not we can still debate stuff!…Best/love Rita.

  419. James Elliott on October 30th, 2012 1:53 am


    You have to enter the political arena. I have to. Individuals have to. That’s life and not the question. I’m certainly not suggesting people involved in spiritual work sequester themselves; quite the opposite.

    Perhaps it’s just framed wrongly, but I don’t agree with the dichotomy that we either have religion and politics separate, or we have them joined. The real problem is they quite simply do different things, work in different spheres, have different aims, dynamics, methods, requirements and so on. Trying to make one do the other (either way) is like… using an automobile to organize a factory, or organizing a high rise office building as a means of travel. That they have influence on each other might be obvious, you have to get to the factory to organize it, but not so direct that we can say doing one is the same as doing the other.

    Also I think it demonstrably inaccurate to assume that the problem with government and/or the world today is that it is bereft of spirituality. The individuals who make up these institutions are pretty much like all of us, and may be bereft of my version, or yours, but, well, we seem to be, in spite of all our wonderful technology, still altogether a primitive superstitious species with more beliefs about norms, other people, higher realms and beings, all kinds of things than we do common sense (must they always be at odds?). It’s more accurate to say politics is bereft of sanity, logic and science; however, this brings us back to ‘framed wrongly’.

    Politics is NOT an individual that can be deemed sane or insane, enlightened or not (not in any spiritual sense) which can be healed or saved. Politics is an incomprehensibly complex system whereby inconceivably complex organisms (humans) interact. Within such a system, an insane decision may appear to be the sanest available at the time.

    Any work we are doing to experiment with new forms, whether it succeeds or not, is seminal work that will contribute to some new paradigm of government or social organization, that will, if humans are to survive, work far better than the failing nation state/corporate dominated scenario the entire world now suffers under, but we undermine ourselves if make any progress dependent on everyone becoming religious.

    In the inspiration of the Zen saying: Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

  420. Rita Ashworth on October 30th, 2012 3:01 am

    Dear James et al,

    Broadly agree with what you are saying, but I think there is influence though not direct religious hierarchy.
    Yes samsaric politics is complex, maybe the interaction with religion, meditational discipline could provide some means of simplification, -anyway exploring the subject. Ordered a book by Marcus Borg re the Resurrection which looks interesting in terms of the actual ‘political’ aspect of this event plus some works by Christian authors on the interaction between the ‘political’ and ‘religious’ realm for want of a better word, and of course too there is liberation theology. Where is the equivalent of this philosophy in Buddhism?
    There does not seem to be much out there on the interaction of politics/Buddhism on the popular level maybe such works could begin to have a wider audience in the future as we delve into what we mean by an ‘enlightened society’. Of course there is the Fromm book the Sane Society which I think should be an established text for all people who are involved with CTR’s teachings which reflects a multicultural, low-key economic society and does embody an discussion of the political and religious spheres to a small degree in terms that one should have a diverse society.
    Again too there is the Merton connection and his involvement with the demonstrators of the 60s and his reflections on them in the Asian Journal, this too is something to explore in terms of how Merton affected maybe Trungpas thoughts about materialism as he did meet him I believe.
    So yes agree the two disciplines are not joined but there has to be I think more discussion on where they reflect similar aims about how we live our lives in the world. One such discussion that did happen in the past was the Christian/Buddhist conferences in Boulder –maybe therefore non-aligned groups could consider starting these conferences up again as the interaction between politics is more reflected in our own world between Christianity and western politicians. Perhaps we could learn more deeply on how ‘politically’ they are seeing the world –this too would go to some extent in exploring the theme of ‘enlightened society’, I believe.
    Re the science/logic aspect also something to investigate re ‘religious’ discourse –scientific method came up a lot at the convention as several practicing Buddhists were scientists-so am contemplating if we could have a workshop on that at the next convention, also maybe we could go further with this too in that we could have a day convention on it at one of the local universities- thats something I have also considered and maybe I will put it to our little team who is having a debrief soon.
    Strangely too in the vid I posted from Brook there were scientists in the audience there who are even now looking to theatre for aspects of how stories are told in a deep sense and how this could reflect scientific method. And Brook too is meeting with scientists to explore drama/science-so I dont know perhaps out there in the academic world more of these conversations between disciplines are going on and maybe ‘politics’ and how we think of its practice in the world will be a late comer to the table.

    Well best and I hope the discussion proceeds because it is quite fascinating to contemplate.

    Rita Ashworth

  421. John Tischer on November 2nd, 2012 5:24 pm

    Binary Confusion And Human Evolution, Or:
    The Tree Of Knowledge And The Garden Of Wisdom.

    Before eating of the Tree of Knowledge, which God
    forbade them to do, Adam and Eve walked with God in
    paradise. After eating the fruit of knowledge, Adam and
    Eve were banned from Eden. What happened when they
    ate knowledge? The Bible says they experienced shame.
    What is the feeling of shame except the feeling of
    separateness, of being different, self consciousness? Thus,
    Adam and Eve first experienced dualism: separating and
    differentiating experience based on qualities, aspects.
    This basic dualism is the operating system of human
    experience. It is so ingrained that even the development
    of computer language is based on it. It is called “rational
    mind”, because of the mind’s ability to make distinctions,
    but really, all it means is that humans have become very good
    at making tools and sorting things into piles and prefer that
    activity over understanding the nature of reality….in fact,
    it is the means by which humans try to “understand” reality
    by seeing how it works….which is like trying to understand time
    by taking a watch apart.

    The tree is the perfect symbol of knowledge. It has roots and
    branches and it grows over time. We still say: ”What branch of
    medicine do you specialize in?” Knowledge can only focus
    and limit perception, leading to further concept and speculation.
    Every concept is a generalization which categorizes perception
    on the basis of binary observation. No concept is specific,
    otherwise each event, each observation would have it’s own
    concept, it’s own category, which is taking rational mind to it’s
    logical absurdity.

    The garden is the perfect symbol of wisdom. Within that garden,
    knowledge is contained, but does not dominate. Every experience
    is unique and not labeled. In Genesis it says: “In the beginning
    was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
    Let’s say “the Word” is everything that is not God. So, how can it
    be “with” God and, at the same time, “is” God? Remember, this is
    before the “Fall”. This pronouncement is a paradox that describes
    Eden before the “Fall”. Adam and Eve were “with” and “of “ God
    before the Fall. It was seeing (knowledge) God as “other” (basic
    dualism) that was the Fall, separateness, the loss of union.

    Why is this binary system, duality, the cause of confusion? Because it
    is, by nature limited and limiting, hence there comes a discrepancy
    between experience and understanding. Since we are constantly
    referring back, in our experience, to what we think we know or have
    learned, perception is distorted with an overlay of rational artifact
    that creates bias. The trap of binary confusion is one from which
    humans cannot evolve without relying on what the essence of the
    garden implies: awareness. Duality naturally separates experiencer
    from experience. Awareness brings experiencer and experience

    Computers do not provide a new way of seeing or working with
    knowledge, just an accelerated one. In fact, they increase the speed
    and intensity of confusion.

  422. John Perks on November 3rd, 2012 5:32 am

    How amazing on the wall above my computer is a painting of the garden of eden,but of course you knew that.
    John can you send me your writing above I want to share it with our Christian-Celtic-Buddhists,
    Well done thanks,

  423. Rita Ashworth on November 21st, 2012 2:26 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Yo….do you have any more reflections on what CTR termed the ‘new religion’ in the last few months.
    Karmically meeting people here who have some notion of that happening….its interesting the people that I am meeting regarding this….kind of guess their position is beyond definitions re labels SI or otherwise…..but still could encompass variety of religious/secular backgrounds as Rinpoche forsaw.
    Maybe has somewhat connections with Dzogchen….and going out of clear cultural backgrounds….maybe is connected more to young people….perhaps it is their karma ripening anyway am having interesting conversations with people about what is happening at this time in the world.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  424. John Perks on November 21st, 2012 7:19 am

    Dear Rita,
    I have no specific details just the term he said to me “I expect you will start a new religon” I was to shocked to ask for details.
    but after all these years I think he kicked the ball into our court,no pun!
    but meaning its up to us,
    Jolly Good Luck,
    H.H.Seonaidh Perks,ha ha ha

  425. Rita Ashworth on November 22nd, 2012 2:57 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Yes many of us out here afloat in exploring the teachings of Trungpa at the present time.

    Still feel he got it right with his ‘division’ of the two paths –it fits the wider society which will never be Buddhist. Yes maybe teachings re drala could enter the ‘English’ context re place, nature –this country so tied up in terms of power spots etc, etc-been having interesting conversations re this here which are not so outlandish….aspects of dharma/shambhala could indeed become a ‘new religion’ for want of a better term, I do see that is possible now.

    On the ‘deeper political’ side there is also a great awakening on this particularly in Greece-check this recent documentary I found out about events there-people definitely looking for and being in environments beyond capitalism somehow now.

    Re the UK also dont see how it can be moulded into structures re present SI set-up ….its just that in the culture here most people underneath supposedly social behaviours are pretty wild and questioning, we just dont fit the norms out here in GB land – this exemplified by being with some other dharmic practitioners recently on a course….it definitely did have a lighter and could one say more ‘jolly’ and more mockish attitude than many of the past events that I attended in SI land….yes perhaps we need to get back to informality a lot more, hence for me Marks ‘open dojo’ concept is extremely fascinating.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  426. John Perks on November 23rd, 2012 5:12 am

    Dear Rita,
    Well I think you are correct about that.I do not know much about infomality,I tried it a few times,but could not get the hang of it,like every time I thought I was in it ,it was form again.
    Anyway am doing teachings here on “the way of the hunter”,CTR was always asking me to take him hunting,but I refused because it was not Buddhist,but now I accept,he can come along.
    We start with “still hunting” which is stittig in a tree {oak of course} and looking for a deer or bear,of course you have to know the territory,so you can put your mind in different locations to see what is happening,or flying over the mountain so to speak.ineresting but somewhat traditional,well you have to work with what you have got.
    love your posts,and you to.

    ps am going to become an American citizen,from Tennessee I think leaning Tennesssee speach sounds good for teaching,and I gits to wear me buckskins!!!

  427. Rita Ashworth on November 25th, 2012 7:19 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al

    Thanks for your post….hmmmm…well for myself I have been somewhat of on a journey away from once structure which I formally inhabited in SI land so that is quite invigorating and inviting at times and at other times quite beyond me-so people outside of org. land are somewhat in open space looking and questioning things which to my own reflection now is no bad thing.
    Agree-there has to be some form, but more thinking it has to be as basic as possible now, even in secular society so many forms are dissolving re politics, business etc , so open dojo is quite fascinating-we used it at the convention here and people were taken with it for example.
    Yes believe there is a shift of consciousness occurring that old hippy notion of that thing is happening of that I am sure, and Tibetan Buddhism in all its sects and traditions is also having a hard choice of how it will work with that, true we are not totally as fascinated with ol Tibet as we once were-there is more questioning going on about how we should relate to it now. Some of the younger lamas maybe be able to swing it with younger people here, but that is also very highly debateable now-there are so many meditative paths out there who knows which ways people will follow….can we dismiss all the new western teachers coming up out of hand now whether from the New Age sector or from once formal lineage traditions? Just positing that question in the air…..yes what do people actually want from meditation? To a large degree we are an intensely materialistic society and it may get down to the wire where for some time to come our own desperate needs will have to be addressed first before the higher aspirations of the dharma flourish.
    Yes did place myself with some other dharma practitioners recently on a retreat locally was very interesting, did get a sense of what was happening out there re the Tibetan lineage ‘scene’ for want of a better word and also did have many conversations about how dharma would go here in the west…some people very perceptive about the cultural mode of Tibetan dharma re our own culture here -so dunno think these discussions are going to go on and on….transition I assure you is happening everywhere even in the north of the UK, so re form its fluid I am beginning to realise we can not hold onto anything. I think many once prized forms could be jettisoned in the

  428. Rita Ashworth on November 25th, 2012 7:24 am

    coming age this process of re-examination of form is also going on in the Christian tradition you only need to read Matthew Fox to get a handle on this.
    Also re form, take us Brits we are very much into form but some times that whole fascination with it kills creativity, remember hearing on a documentary on the British navy that the sailors had polished and made everything so so ship-shape that the machinery did not work in the end?! Also re orders etc re-examining all that too-recommend General Mike Jacksons book Soldier which is highly enlightening re form in the British army… you know for example that at Sandhurst red Ken Livingstone once a socialist Mayor of London gave a lecture there….so at least they are coming into their own re form…..also the General not averse to disobeying orders and not challenging authority check this out on utube on this:

    So I dont know Open Dojo and form we need to question how we in the future are going to relate to all these things as a matter of urgency I believe, because society at large re my own spiritual journey is questioning form/forms so acutely.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  429. damchö on December 18th, 2012 1:02 am

    Sort of jumping in here, apologies (don’t know quite where to put this). But just wanted to recommend the latest posting of videos from Khandro Rinpoche on Chronicles. I’ve only watched the first talk so far, a couple of times, and it’s wonderful.

    She is mainly talking about the four karmas in terms of self-work: pacifying thus becoming the cultivation of stillness, enriching the practice of virtue, magnetizing (or, as she also terms it, empowering) as the development of confidence and courage, and subjugating as the process of taming one’s own mind.

    Along the way though she also spends a good deal of time discussing “the buddhist syndrome,” as I sometimes call it! … Ie, she talks about our tendency to feel we need to suppress intentions and motivations that are less than 100% selfless. So there is a lack of honesty operating, which can be quite destructive.

    This happens when we don’t feel able to say that, yes, we do wish to become realized beings, and at the same time … we really don’t wish to suffer ourselves, would like to live long and healthily, feel useful, experience warmth, and all the rest. With that lack of honesty, a kind of “fabricated, pretentious” language (her words) can creep into our speech with each other.

    She points to an underlying sense of something like guilt operating – because we are not as advanced as we feel we ought to be – resulting in the relationship between relative reality and absolute reality not being understood. In my own experience, this “shadow,” like all others, then can get projected onto others, creating a lot of mayhem, unkindness …

    I’ve been transcribing a few chunks over the past couple of days – regrettably I don’t have the time to transcribe the whole thing as it is nearly an hour and a half – but will post what I have in case anyone is interested.

  430. damchö on December 18th, 2012 1:10 am

    First excerpt from Khandro Rinpoche: she has just told the story of growing up and having to choose between becoming a doctor (which her mother wanted her to be), or a monastic. Eventually she decided that becoming a doctor would be the harder path, but…

    “…today when I look back, I begin to see that it’s easier perhaps becoming a doctor [laughter]. You kill a person once, you know [laughter], say out of negligence of some kind you kill a person once…. Today what I do: I can kill many, many times. Because you’re working with minds. You’re working with life. There is no actual cutting up of a person and the consciousness of the person leaving the body. But on the other hand, if you think about it from a Buddhist philosophical, teaching perspective of cause and effect, and the impact of words – what you say, what you teach … you can actually, sort of, always mess with people’s lives. So easy to do.

    Such an immense responsibility … Again, if you look at it from karma’s perspective – cause and effect – or from the perspective of birth and rebirth, then you begin to realize the immense impact and influence, as well as responsibility, that you have when you relate to something that is just words, in appearance and in sound, but at the same time affects a person over lifetimes.

    The goodness of the person can be influenced by that, the weakness of the person can be influenced by that. Discouragement can come from that, encouragement can come from that. Positivity can come from that, negativity can come from that. Schism and aversions and sadness and suffering, and a person never being able to overcome all the negativities. You can do that. You can influence that. You can influence a lot of goodness and we always hope that that is what is happening, but the impact of negativity that can occur is something that these days I’m beginning to really think [about], that really occurs to me more often.”

  431. damchö on December 18th, 2012 1:32 am

    Second excerpt:

    “Look at the way we have conversations with one another. I’ve joked about this so many times, I’m sure I’m repeating myself, but I’ve always said: I do not like to socialize with buddhists, that’s my personal thing … [laughter] … I can come to a dharma center and I will always be there to give the talk that I’m required to give, but apart from that you’ll never find me – unless it’s a situation I cannot avoid [laughter] – and that’s because, that’s because you cannot talk normal [laughter]. Who I am, for example, the name that I carry and my teachers – whatever I’ve learned from my teachers. They come and they expect things to be … you cannot say something like “it’s a nice cup of coffee.” [laughter] They’ll immediately say: “but Rinpoche, you’re supposed to look at the non-dual nature of the coffee [laughter],” isn’t it? “But that coffee is relative.” You have to say something very profound, you cannot say something like, “this is a nice blue sky.” It has to be “dharmakaya’s profound blue pancake (?).” [laughter]

    And so where the conversation itself becomes so fabricated, so very pretentious, then it comes to a point where it influences your life. And so you cannot be really true to the relativity because you’re forced to always look at the absolute nature. Absolute nature of impermanence, absolute nature of emptiness, absolute nature of non-duality, luminosity, dharmakaya, dharmadhatu and so on and so forth.

    Then you shift onto becoming absolute and then you try to say: “yes, everything is my mind’s projection, this is not true, this is not real.” But someone hits you, someone insults you, someone takes your job away, you get inflicted with a disease: there is no absoluteness in that at that moment, isn’t it? We’re not capable of remaining with that. There’s that tinge of sadness, there’s that pang of jealousy and aggression within our own self, there’s that craving of desire, there’s that anger of competitiveness, of your own insecurities, your own hope, and if not yours, your children – your husband, your sons and daughters, your family, your responsibility.

    So what happens is: relative and absolute, relative and absolute: we don’t know where to go.”

  432. damchö on December 18th, 2012 1:36 am

    Third (of four):

    “So what happens is: intellectually your mind cultivates a very deep understanding of profound ideologies and views and different kinds of understanding, but your speech, your mental patterns, and your body however are unable to contain that. And so the buddhist world evolves as a world that speaks best on selfless compassion, and does worst, in many cases. We have that problem. We have that problem.

    We cannot say this is all negative you know, because in some ways people who meditate within buddhism – even from a very mistaken perspective let’s say – are often, with the world that it is today, I’ve always thought that they are always very very good people. But again we’re not working on the optimistic side today [laughter]; let’s look a little bit on the negative side. And so to highlight that, we find that as much time as we spend learning about compassion, how much are we able to actually do it in action?

    And often today we find, I find, that people who are not so spiritual and do not claim to be meditators are often kinder and less complicated. Likewise, people of other religions, other faiths – Christianity for example – are much more active in terms of involving themselves in acts of goodness or helping other people. Maybe the intention sometimes is more sort of the missionary – to convert and so forth. That may be, but still there’s a lot of effort in generosity and giving.

    In comparison to that, buddhists often are some of the most sort of self-absorbed people, very very much into themselves. And the idea is always about long-term planning, about: “after I am enlightened, then I’m going to be selfless [laughter], then no attachment, and so forth. But currently at this moment in your life: never sharing, never caring, never gentle, never really patient.

    When that kind of a situation evolves, and we look into what is the cause of it, then we often find it is this inability to really reconcile and look into one’s own self and one’s own potential, and to actually have the courage of working from ground zero, from the very beginning.”

  433. damchö on December 18th, 2012 1:39 am


    “A common thing is that, where we are in buddhism, when we talk about non-duality we have a roomful of people. You talk about something else, fantastic as, you know … oh “the dot” or something like that – you can just come up with anything [laughter]. If you want to really get many people you say “the blazing dot” [laughter] ….

    But then if you say “ethics,” two people turn up [laughter]. But it reflects a lot about ourselves. … that usually is not because you don’t like ethics. Everyone likes it, everyone knows it’s important. But we don’t cultivate that. Because it talks about training yourself.”

    “All the great teachers from our generation, if you look into their lives and say ‘how come they were able to do it, how come they’re so enlightened, how come their bodhisattva activities are able to benefit so many sentient beings? What is it that we don’t do?’ And the main thing is: there is no discrepancy between their view and action. In ourselves, it is there. View: there’s not much of a problem, everyone has quite profound views. But in terms of actions that would enrich your life, to be able to personify that view, that we don’t do. …

    For example, living with these great teachers, their one instruction to us was: the door of the house should never be closed, to anyone. My father his Holiness’s principle in life has been: never to say no. To anyone. And so: a sense of opening up to anyone, any moment, whatever way you can be helpful. So when you say: my philosophy, my dharma teaches me to be kind, [then] … period, no more arguing about that.

    If this is dharma, then yes I need to practice genuine kindness, in whatever way I can be best of use, and whatever I can say or do that can be of best use at this moment, then I will do it. No strategy, no planning. Flexible, pliable, and very very much present, at every moment. So that it can evolve as best as it can be taken advantage of by the other person, so that it can benefit the other person.”

  434. John Tischer on December 22nd, 2012 10:14 am

    I see where Dan Hesse has been made an Acharya. Finally all
    those years of ass-kissing have paid off!!!!

  435. Jake on December 22nd, 2012 8:15 pm

    Thanks Damcho. That really is good stuff from Khandro Rinpoche.

  436. damchö on December 23rd, 2012 3:23 am

    You’re very welcome Jake. And I agree.

  437. dawa chöga on December 23rd, 2012 11:11 am

    Dear damchö-la,

    Ditto what Jake said. You may already know about It may be that the staff of HEKR has more teachings that need transcribing if you inquire. Rinpoche’s English is impeccable but quite fast.

    I know a Lama Gyurme who told me that as a boy monk he and four other boys would intercept Rinpoche on her way walking home from high school and request that she teach them English and she did. He told me that Rinpoche graduated high school as the top student in all of India.

  438. damchö on December 24th, 2012 4:40 am

    Dear dawa chöga,

    Thank you for the suggestion. A little too much on my plate just at the moment but will certainly keep that in mind for the future.

    It had been awhile since I’d heard Rinpoche and had forgotten just how packed – and precise – her teachings are. (I can well believe she was the top student.)

    I’m a week early, but lest I forget in the rush of the season:

    Good health and many blessings to everyone in the coming year. May lots of excellent things be accomplished!

  439. John Perks on December 25th, 2012 5:10 am

    Dear Damcho,and many blessings to you,will be sending you bigger plate for Christmas,if I can get it down the chimney,
    love to you ,and all,

  440. Rita Ashworth on January 1st, 2013 7:06 am

    Dear All,

    Yes getting back to Open Dojo….the spirit of it seems to be present in a lot of the religions of the world at this time. Kind of trying to keep my own mind open re what is actually going on out there in the world re the exploration of religious and practice discourse –in leaving one organisation have become much more aware of the greater consciousness of what is actually occurring in reality.

    Been reading Matthew Fox’s book the ‘Popes War’ which in the later part of the book does call for a re-envisaging of Christianity as proposed at Vatican 2 in 1962 but was never carried out completely in the world. It makes fascinating reading and I would recommend this book for followers of CTRs teachings. The book does emphasis a return to the grassroots re religious practice and has chapters on liberation theology and also proposes in the last chapter 25 concrete steps to take the church into the future. Some of these concrete steps seem to me to also jive with shambhalian ideals as with step 15 which commits to ‘deep ecumenism’ and dialogue. And also Step 19 re governance to start local appointment of leaders and parish councils as proposed by Vatican 2.

    Yes Vatican 2 quite revelatory now to me in the sense that the Catholic church stepped way from seeing itself as a ‘perfect society’, and started to think more in terms of dialogue about this with others. Of course Fox has stated in this book that this conversation re society has not happened to a great deal and that the Catholic church itself has become less ecumenical.

    Anyway re politics, re religion I am finding in the UK that many people are coming into my sphere with new apprehensions about how things could go with these subjects that once one was not to subvert polite conversation with! (ho-hum).

    Yes there is definitely a new awakening happening re these subjects and I also think there is much debate called for between concerned individuals out there in the world, so of course I am placing myself in the thick of it and having these conversations locally….re the various talks I am organising here. Maybe also will just have talks in the sense of open dojo and society generally….. yes could prove very interesting to many in the area.

    Well best for the new year
    Rita Ashworth

  441. Mark Szpakowski on January 22nd, 2013 6:45 pm

    Hmm, here’s this week’s “Ocean of Dharma” quote (by CTR):

    Enlightened heart is expansive and awake. It is not territorial, and it does not demand that we gather our own flock of egotistic companions. When we look into that quality of basic wakefulness beyond our own territoriality, we find ourselves having a taste of enlightenment for the very first time.

    It is such a fellowship that holds Open Dojo.

  442. John Tischer on January 24th, 2013 7:15 pm

    I see where Emily Bowers has married Schmegol…the myth of
    kingdom continues.

  443. Rita Ashworth on January 29th, 2013 3:14 am

    John I think we are at the beginning of the myth ending and at the start of subsequent visions now taking off-it is the stark reality of this age which is fostering this I believe, somewhat a slight disengagement from our eastern teachers and more deep questioning occuring.
    Certainly I am in an exploratory mood re Visions as I know a lot of other people are too-yes maybe people could get together in groups and check the myth-ending thing-perhaps time for re-evaluation….yes maybe what we will take with us from CTR’s life and teachings will be tools to embody new Visions. This process indeed of myth-ending might be part of the shambhala way that we do establish enlightened society and re-awakened connections to the openness of the teachings in many practical dimensions. Hence Open Dojo.
    O yes and knew Alan in the UK in the 70s….think he is a student of Thrangu now…tho dont know a lot about his life since way back.

    Best Rita

  444. Barbara Blouin on March 21st, 2013 4:41 pm

    Anam Thubten. pause … pause … I was in Berkeley until yesterday (I live in Nova Scotia), and there I was “introduced” to a dharma teacher with whom I was enormously impressed. I am now jet-lagged and in climate shock. Will try to write something coherent tomorrow or on the weekend.

    I don’t know how to describe him. He is unlike any teacher I’ve heard except perhaps Thich Nhat Han. No religious paraphernalia. No ceremony. Very simple, gentle, but deep. I found myself immediately drawn to him.

    Look at his web site:

  445. John Tischer on March 21st, 2013 8:25 pm

    Watched the video….yes, agree, he is genuine and accomplished. Love
    to see him sometime.

  446. John Tischer on March 24th, 2013 6:39 pm

    Looks like Naropa got screwed out of @$600K….employee theft Didn’t a similar thing happen to them about ten years ago? Anybody remember?

  447. Dan Montgomery on March 29th, 2013 12:02 am

    That happened in 2010. Not recently.

  448. John Tischer on March 29th, 2013 2:32 am

    Oh….well, I saw an article in the Camera and the perpetrator is coming to trial. Thanks, Dan.

    I just wonder if Lord’s sudden resignation was somehow connected to that.

  449. Dan Montgomery on March 30th, 2013 10:27 am

    That’s an awfully long time to wait for a trial! The arrest of the perp happened early in Dr. Lord’s tenure – in addition to the perp, he fired the perp’s superior as well as the CFO immediately for not having sufficient financial controls in place. He lasted another maybe 18 months after that before his sudden departure. I wasn’t close to the situation here, but it seemed he was taking some pretty bold actions all around in terms of trimming the fat and streamlining the organization. That may have made him unpopular. And, I know there was concern that he didn’t “get” the DNA of Naropa as a Baptist – a number of administrators were hired who didn’t know anything about buddhism at all and that upset people too. After two non-buddhist presidents, I’m not surprised the Board went with Chuck Lief. The other contender was also a direct Trungpa student.

  450. John Tischer on March 30th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Thanks, Dan….that explains it.

  451. Rita Ashworth on March 31st, 2013 5:41 am

    Dear All,

    Yes well getting back to Open Dojo –purchased an interesting book from a charity shop here called ‘Beside Still Waters:Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha’ which shows how the practices of Buddhism have affected their own religions.
    As always in these books Trungpa mentioned a little in connection to an interview with Nathan Katz a former teacher at Naropa-seems in an interview with him that CTR advised him to keep the Sabbath, so Mr Katz did not become a Buddhist though he is a highly skilled lecturer in Buddhist philosophy and practices.
    So between the religions in the last 40 years there seems to have been much exploration in shared practice itself. It is also interesting to note that even now some Buddhist teachers that studied with CTR and others are now getting back to the actual early teachings of Sakyamuni and early adepts to ‘reinterpret’ practice for our present age. I think this is a very western scholarly thing to do-so okay our perception(s) of what happened with our teachers in the twentieth century will it seem not now work as well in our present world – so how do we work with what we got for the 21st century? This is quite a voyage of discovery and some as Stephen Batchelor has stated on utube think this voyage of discovery will last hundreds of years to create a substantial culture(s). Certainly I am beginning to think that at the present time we are indeed in the fire of ‘examining’ practices from the east for our present society now.
    However already there have been some interesting crossovers happening particularly with regard to the Zen tradition. Here in point is an example of a Catholic nun from Canada, Elaine MacInnes who has become a Zen Roshi, her story is also in the book-yes very interesting what is happening out there and it may have some import on how we ‘found’ an enlightened society now and indeed in the future.

    Well best Rita Ashworth

  452. John Tischer on April 3rd, 2013 1:57 pm

    I see where Sam Bercholtz has been finally put on the list of Acharya emeritus…Interesting list….the ones that walked away….

  453. John Tischer on April 3rd, 2013 2:13 pm

    Akong’s Revenge

    Stealing the nest of loving kindness
    with the false egg of resentment
    that hatches the chick of envy and pride.

  454. Rita Ashworth on April 4th, 2013 2:00 am

    Dear John,

    Hmmmmm Akongs Revenge…very interesting poem-somewhat a final point….made me think-yes very much into the questioning process re dharma now-perhaps awareness growing that we shall have to see Trungpa Rinpoche as not codifying blueprints for society but opening doors in our minds for experimentation, then possibly we could undercut the revenge most magnificently and profoundly around the world.
    This also leaves great room for not holding onto to the past but honouring it and developing wider ways for practice and engagement with society at large.
    We dont need to see Trungpa Rinpoche in any official way now….that seems to me the great thing about being brought up in a western secular society-the revaluation process of historical writings and debate. Yes revenge could be displaced by opening our minds on the whole phenomenon of Trungpa Rinpoche again and again.

    Well best Rita Ashworth

  455. John Tischer on April 4th, 2013 2:48 pm

    . “Yes revenge could be displaced by opening our minds on the whole phenomenon of Trungpa Rinpoche again and again.”

    Nice point….T

  456. John Tischer on April 4th, 2013 3:04 pm

    Parinirvana Day Poem

    “Chaos is very good news”
    …and you’ve given us such
    good news lately, inscrutable
    all pervasive being that watches
    us like a hawk with an eye as big
    as the universe. The miracle of
    you continually expands.

  457. Rita Ashworth on April 5th, 2013 2:00 am

    Dear John et al,

    Yes your quote about chaos quite apt for the times we are living in. Indeed we had a ‘chaotic’ teacher for our chaotic period of history and now we are entering even more chaos as a world. So chaos very much the order of the day in the religious, secular and political spheres.
    How we imagine peace might not be possible now though some are desiring it – I think we must ‘imagine’ chaos because that is reality too. Peace could be a tad the wrong word for our times –perhaps because it conjures images of lack of action and action there must be now. Imagining chaos-far out, but that is awake mind too – indeed that would be some getting together over a cup of tea.
    Yes I am seeing enlightened society much more in the round –have to go beyond the primary Buddhist sphere. How anyone does not see that is the case is perplexing to me now, so hope to talk with many people about how they see society going in our age, and found some ways of being in chaos and acting within it with equanimity.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  458. John on April 13th, 2013 2:33 pm

    Hello this is John No Name.
    Just got my Masters degree.
    You can read part of it on my friend’s website in the near future.

  459. Rita Ashworth on May 4th, 2013 6:54 am

    Dear All,

    Some news from the move on movement in the wilds of Mancunia, I seem to be in the process of acutely examining the democratic means for governance and the decay of religion persay.
    One such book that might help in connecting with what democracy is actually all about is the The Democracy Project by David Graeber, one of the main protagonists in OWS…in this book there is quite a debate on the consensus process and how groups come together to form solutions to problems. I have noticed that SI is seeking to do something similar aka this around various issues too but of course they have a ‘natural hierarchy’ operating behind it all so perhaps we also need to look at the consensus means for ourselves.
    Dunno too but re conversations with former CTR students on the web some elements of CTRs thoughts are being dumped in the bin as not relevant to our present age particularly around the issues of governance etc etc….I think for myself I am tending to agree with this summation of CTRs thinking –he did have a cursory knowledge of western politics but not a deep enough one I am beginning to realise, in the end I never think he connected with the empowering nature of democracy for the ordinary citizen that is prevalent within our history.
    I am also looking around the newer forms of Buddhism kind of springing up out there aka secular Buddhism, global and inclusive Buddhism and the meshing of religious practices together if they actually work in a utilitarian fashion. There is certainly much discussion going on around this subject and here I would recommend Lama Marut and the Secular Buddhist Association as websites to clue into.
    Lastly I have just read about the formation of the Shambhala Monastic Order on the Shambhala Times network – a kind of fait accompli presented to SI as a whole. I really am not sure about this myself for me in the past monasteries have always been the home of radicalism not conformity – it will be interesting to see if the new set-up is a beginning of the end re rebelliousness and the entering into conservatism – something for everyone to ponder. Indeed I well remember reading in Owen Chadwicks book on the English Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries that in the end they vanished because people thought they had become too conservative and not concerned with the general populaces needs. Yes for me its beginning to be a question of whether we need more religious institutions or to radically alter the nature of our society politically. On this I take some of my thinking from CTRs investigation of Fromm where mega-capitalism as a means for constructing life was abandoned in his theories and for myself too I think we are entering a period where if we did manage to get rid of the excesses of the capitalist methods we could all become practitioners in a more whole sense with the distinctions somewhat between householders and monks/nuns disappearing. Here for example we need to look to the exchange that Merton had with the student activist in the 60s who also declared himself to be a monk. Ah well….. best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  460. scowling_owl on May 13th, 2013 2:28 am

    Hi Rita

    Can you elaborate on what you’ve heard about SI planning anything related to consensus et al? I’m an active member and haven’t seen it. I’d be encouraged but shocked if there was some sort of direct democracy boom in the works.

    Interesting to see Graeber mentioned here as I’ve lately been reading Debt an skimming Democracy and generally finding my loyalties to Shambhala deeply challenged by all the more brilliant political / governance possibilities filling the air.

    Best from the states,

    ps. is there a way I can email you directly? I’m thinking alot about some things you have posted on this thread related to politics and implicitly anarchism and would love to correspond.

  461. Rita Ashworth on May 13th, 2013 4:48 pm

    Dear Scowling Owl,

    Cant exactly find the article now, perhaps so many coming from SI, that they past through my mind in the night –ha. But I do remember the name which was ‘affinity groups’ –which was kind of linking up issues that you were interested in and relating them to the shambhala context. Of course even OWS did this when they were in NY–so this is no big deal. So it was nothing to do with direct democracy I believe but more kind of drawing the world into the shambhala sphere/circle -this seems what they doing a lot of these days, but I for one am not sure if it will work because at the end of it all you do still have the King/Ladrang centre, which I dont think people in the US will be into finally when it comes to it re governance. Sakyong – earthprotector they might have swung it a little more.
    Re Graeber-hes interesting, he gives several ways that you could begin to organise a society in a more direct fashion and lets not forget at OWS they did manage to do this for quite sometime. There is one quote in the book that kind of debunks money too-seems they got about half million dollars from donations whilst they were operating but they found it difficult to actually decide how to use it-in the end they gave it to Christian churches after OWS was evicted for housing people. Also there was the piazza affair too which was hilarious when they got orders of piazza from around the country tout-de-suite. In a more serious fashion Graeber discusses facilitation skills and he favours Starhawks methods-she has a website online if people want to check it out, for myself I think some of the facilitation methods doing the rounds in SI could also possibly synchronise with Starhawks stuff but dont know for sure.
    Yes for me OWS was quite cosmic…man in that old hippy sense –it was out in the open, it was sweet and unstructured quite alot, but it worked -so yes they did show you that in the eye of the storm such a situation was possible. I think also in Philadelphia that they had 800 people and many anarchists attending and this situation did work aswell……so it was all very interesting and inspiring….thats why I read the Graeber book to see how they did it. I was also looking for some stuff on facilitation re the convention that I am helping out with here so many Buddhist groups in the city, but no formal council re them doing stuff – perhaps we could get some ad-hoc thing going which is also working with society on a larger scale.
    Re anarchism generally there is a wonderful documentary on utube on how it evolved in the US…it was quite a force in the early part of the century there … is the doc for example on Jewish Anarchists there –amazing hope people can check it out.
    Re democracy etc –still dont feel it has been fully explored within the context of the shambhala teachings and now I doubt if it ever will be….so looking further afield for other structures and non-structures – ho… now as I hope people who have stepped out of the org.
    Believe Mark Szap. has my email re signing up for rfs….so u could email me, but I dont have too much more to say on democracy, but I am looking and reading about it myself much wider now aka things I am involved with over here.

    Best from this side of the pond.

    Rita Ashworth

  462. scowling_owl on May 13th, 2013 5:50 pm

    Oh, the affinity groups thing. Not very significant as best I can tell on the ground. I was involved in OWS and it was quite cosmic and quite ordinary and quite (basically) good. To me it felt as close to ES in any relative manifestation as anything else I have ever experienced. So it is odd to feel a sense of split loyalty between the organization which claims the teachings I hold most dear and the real-world real-time movements that seem to resonate with them. What a great looking video! Thank you. S_O

  463. Rita Ashworth on May 14th, 2013 2:03 am

    Dear S.O,

    Interesting your comment on the ‘affinity groups’ and OWS.

    Thinking re structure/non-structure that CTR seemed to embody –think in a way he gave power away more…hence the shambhala teachings where basic goodness comes in right at the beginning-so people are placed in power right from the start. I think it is a question of emphasis as to how power is conducted in our world-I am beginning to think because of the times it can only work if it is given away in a simple fashion-hence my growing awareness of the democratic process and how it is done in the west.
    It also seems to me that this is why the eastern traditions may be failing/failed because they consolidated and do consolidate power in institutions –power now seems to me more today diffused and diffusing more as I speak/write, with every connection that is made on fb for instance. Yes I am now connected to people right away around the world from Bangladesh to Bournemouth in the UK, and sharing ideas about how to use power fundamentally. Thus really I dont see how you can stop this knowledge spreading whatever governance procedures orgs come up with.
    Re CTR –its seems to me he just said yes to peoples exercise of power – this displayed on the enlightened society talks on utube –where he is the Janitor King –very much a servant King if one may say this.
    However perhaps the US ‘needs’ SI at the present time –it is a society that is heavily into institutions and procedures …….zzzzzzz….so maybe they feel comfortable going this way. But in Europe tempermentally I think we test structures more and pull them apart. Not to say too that there are some Americans questioning things both from a conservative and revolutionary type standpoint aka in these following vids –one with Angela Davis/Toni Morrison and one from Bill Short a Franciscan priest,

    ……but of course too in the US we are dealing with a society that seems to still think that it is has power in a governmentally unstable world – so maybe this is why it is turning to institutions in a very disassembling globe.

    Hope maybe you could write a piece contrasting OWS/Shambhala-they do that in a similar fashion in ‘O’ level exams over here for 16 year olds…..ha-ha…..yes compare and contrast-that old chestnut before you ‘self-actualise’….ho-ho (quip from a feminist friend of mine).

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  464. scowling_owl on May 14th, 2013 4:05 am

    OWS models of self-organization were largely relational and immediate, as I am sure you well know. And I think, despite the popular media narrative of late fall 2011, often-times quite successful. I think Occupy Sandy did more for making anarchism, general assembly and, really, direct democracy, a viable ethos than anything else in the US in the past several decades. I just don’t see much of a future for hierarchical pseudo-Tibetan institutions in the US or, perhaps, elsewhere. I wonder often if the sympathies and heartbreak many feel for the destruction of Tibetan forms has softened their critical eye towards the appropriateness of those forms in this here and this now. If a disturbed arson burned down a federal office building tomorrow, killing its workers, would I feel nostalgia for the building and institution? I’m confused – I love CTR. But I love too, all the many millions alive today and want to give my energy to all the other social modalities and visions and possibilities now happening. As they said in May ’68 – “the beauty is in the street.” Thanks for the videos. Will watch soon. Best, S_O

  465. Rita Ashworth on May 15th, 2013 1:46 am

    Dear S.O.

    Yes I think you got the essence of the changes happening round the world in a small para.

    To me OWS and other actions in the UK were kind of the glimpsing of the end of formality/excessive structure in many of our societies – people got fed up with the powers that be, and here too the Church of England situation was so ironic where the occupiers stumped themselves outside St Pauls, that you even had vicars saying they were on the protestors side. Of course the demos could not last – raising too many questions about the use of power.
    As for dharma generally – not only in SI too I am getting bored with the whole gamut of teachers/teachings out there, wherever you look the death-hand of tradition rears its head whether from tepid ways of re-structuring that encircles power, or older dimensions where we want it like it was before. Meanwhile my own city of Manchester in 2011 is taken over by rioting kids and countries begin to fall apart unceasingly in Europe. So dunno think we are fiddling around whilst many Romes go up in flames. So dont think we can be ‘levelled out’ as it were with the dharma now in endless streams of money-inducing funderoos or practices – hmmmm those times are fundamentally over-and how people dont realise that now whether from the top of the pyramid or below I just dont know.
    So yes time to take stock I think, re-adjust maybe even give-up ‘our’ orgs for a time and reflect on what dharma essentially is for the west from the penniless apartments out here – and heres the truth if we dont others will – just heard, for example, that Secular Buddhism in the UK has 200 members and is now organising a retreat and establishing groups even and thats within 12 months of an online presence-yes so many quasi little revolutions happening out there from the west. Yes I am hearing so many ‘I left the org’ stories and not only from SI. So indeed what could people do re dharma, what could the meditating anarchists do even if they really wanted to get in bed with the dharma for sure. I think we need to heed what people actually want/need from the teachings now and I just get the feeling at the present time that it aint undemocratic governance. I think there are many of us out here in our Tibetified worlds that are going to have to enter bigger tents than we have ever wanted to enter into in the past. Hmmmmmm – we could be witnessing the end of Tibetan-lama awestruckness in our own life-time! The dream maybe well and truly over for many of us now – ‘sigh’- so what comes next-as one man said ‘its up to you, darling’…ho-ho.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  466. scowling_owl on May 15th, 2013 3:44 pm

    I have been mulling over starting a small, local peer-to-peer dharma study group. I’d like a group with whom to practice and also engage with the economic paradigm shift and the global consciousness movement, a project for accelerating disillusionment. Your note inspires me to just do it. Thank you.

    Thought you might like this, from Graeber.

    “One difference between the kind of anarchist groups I like and the classic Marxist group, for instance, is that we don’t start by defining reality – our points of unity are not our analyses of the situation, but rather what we want to do, the action we want to take, and how we go about it. Plus you have to give one another the benefit of the doubt. One of the principles of the consensus process is that you can’t challenge anyone on their motives; you have to assume that everyone is being honest and has good intentions. Not because you necessarily think it’s true, but as an extension of what might be considered the fundamental anarchist insight: if you treat people like children they will tend to act like children. If you treat them like adults, there’s at least some chance they will act responsibly.”

  467. Suzanne Duarte on May 15th, 2013 7:30 pm

    Hi Scowling Owl, I’ve been wanting to start something like that for years – and will put energy into it when I return to living in the US. Where are you?

  468. scowling_owl on May 15th, 2013 11:00 pm

    Hi Suzanne. I am in Southern California. I will post something here once it gets going.

  469. Rita Ashworth on May 16th, 2013 1:58 am

    Dear S.O.

    Yes quite a good and interesting move I think to explore the dharma/meditation at this time in more consensus-driven setting. I wish you well with this venture. It seems almost a synchronous action to undertake with what the world itself is manifesting in terms of ‘politics’ and practice.
    I also think what you and others are doing would be in the spirit of Chogyam Trungpa who I believe did want us to contact with our inherent goodness in a deep way so it probably is necessary now to form such groups around the world. I also believe this shared discussion between people who are thinking in such a manner will increase as time goes on, certainly for myself I am entering arenas here in the UK where many ‘I left’ers’ from move-on movements are gathering. So in the autumn checking out the secular Buddhist people near Malvern in the UK – it seems they do have a more open feeling about them at this time, but I dont know for sure as of yet.
    I also wish to maintain some connections with people in CTRs former organisation that kind of are open to deep change – time will tell about all this I expect, as one drifts deeper into experiencing dharma and reflecting on how things will open up. So yes in the spirit of Open Dojo I do think we can go forward in this respect.
    Yes also totally agree with Graeber quote – we are all at last growing up – something that CTR also wanted us to do! But how this adulthood will now manifest around the globe is anyones guess – we are indeed living in interesting times where revolution both personal and ‘political’ is occurring.

    Best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  470. scowling_owl on May 18th, 2013 3:18 am

    So I’ve decided to do this. I would love any advice older more experienced dharma practitioners can offer on shaping / discovering the view of such a group.

    I want it to be a group that practices together, first and foremost and reads dharma. And I want it to be rigorously non-hierarchical and consensus-driven. I find myself a bit confused, however, about how to relate to the concept of teachers, as there will be none within the group, despite whatever personal allegiances we may each bring.

    I am especially interested in really looking at Graeber and Charles Eisenstein and some early anarchist writing and maybe Deleuze or Manuel Delanda and reading all this alongside Buddhadharma, just to see where it goes. How are the 3 poisons institutionalized …. specifically?

    Something like that.

  471. Suzanne Duarte on May 18th, 2013 6:13 am

    Dear scowling_owl, I would be happy to advise, or at least give you feedback. The question is how we can communicate. I would much rather talk than write. If you can do Skype (it’s free to sign up), i am Suzanne Duarte in Amsterdam. After you sign up, you can search for me and send me a message via Skype asking me to accept you as a Skype contact – with your real name and email address. Then I will write you via email to set up a Skype appointment. Sounds complicated but I don’t want to reveal my email address without some filters.

  472. John Perks on May 18th, 2013 6:39 am

    Dear owl that is scowling,
    very interesting project,you will get excellent advice from Suzanne,you might look up the history of the” Salon” .
    We have done such groups from time to time,mostly in the winter months,
    sometimes also having dinners,
    Sounds like an adventue begining,
    Good Luck,

  473. scowling_owl on May 18th, 2013 12:53 pm

    Suzanne, I will find you on Skype in the next week or two. Thanks for your offer – I look forward to speaking with you.


  474. Rita Ashworth on May 20th, 2013 1:46 am

    S.o. –wow-yes….been thinking like this myself for the last year, and it seems to me that things have to go this way now, and I dont see that process deviating from CTRs idea wholly but actually opening everything up-yes at this point in history I think he would be thinking along these lines himself…think the momentum is building up out there for change/engagement on mass scale and shambhala-wise philosophically either dont think it can be ‘governed’….its more a sense of discovery on discovery and surprise upon surprise which is in essence basic goodness…its kind of the mutuality out there that seems to be sparking basic goodness….so here I dont see the ‘democratic’ process as a bug-bear but more an entering into common ground/space. Think yes the surprise of it is also connected to anarchism to a degree, because of the mutuality of needs being met in generous ways – anarchists who seem to be have been at this discipline for some time seem to talk about a sense of freedom/kindness evolving naturally as also can be seen of in the Christiana community in Denmark.
    Re other older/newer teachers or maybe a better term would be facilitators now –think Boulder might be able to supply some your end of the world, but you would have to clue into them in some way perhaps Mark Szap could supply names, re my own forays into stuff here visiting secular Buddhists in hope of exploring mutuality/multitude in deep sense where everyone could partake also too of awakeness –so then again it would not be in essence ripping out CTRs vision for Kingdom in religious/philosophical realm.
    Re philosophers you mention –not heard of a lot of them but have been following Michael Hardt and he has mentioned Deleuze etc, he is also talking about love now much more which is interesting – if you could in some way get people from Boulder who were in sympathy with these ideas maybe you could swing something in your neck of woods too.
    Of course now re the philosophers you mentioned I dont think we are talking about polite evenings in discussing all of this stuff, or even these large gatherings re SI that we are now having, rather we do seem to be talking about mass movements to actually change the structure of society in an actual sense….yes now that so many people have been ‘politicised’ by democracy etc and other forms of engagement through Occupy and other means I dont see how they can be ‘depoliticised’ into structure anymore-things are I think going to play out in many multifarious ways and anyone who thinks they have a handle on what is going to happen I believe is wrong. What does seem to be happening to me to a degree though is the exchanging of methods to somewhat create new ideas about relating to society and structure, and frig people I dont think are going to want structure imposed upon them from whatever source. In this context too just discovered that in London in June they are going to have a skills exchange re governance methods and talking of structure re society-perhaps too you could organise something like that in your area then we would actually be talking about bringing enlightened society down to the ground much more. I also think we should be talking to the people who are actually encouraging these ideas now in the US and here in Europe, and to me in this context SI is not talking to them but rather to people who have conventional ideas about liberal economics/politics etc – rather we should be talking to the revolutionaries out there who have been discussing these matters for years.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  475. scowling_owl on May 20th, 2013 3:56 pm

    Hi Rita. All good thoughts. Thank you. I think for now I am really interested in something quite modest. Just a small group of peers with a limited agenda to bring dharma and current social/political/critical theory into contact in our own practices. It’s part of my own path I think to really engage this. An anecdote – after taking my Bodhisattva vow two years ago, I spent that same night at an #occupy camp watching riot cops lined up six blocks deep. Quite a striking bit of feedback from the phenomenal world. I’m really looking forward to Skyping with Suzanne soon. Also, this Hardt interview on the politics of love is quite nice:

  476. scowling_owl on May 20th, 2013 4:42 pm

    ps. Meant to include this too, before. Take it with a grain of salt, only for something of its ethos…

  477. Rita Ashworth on May 21st, 2013 2:49 am

    Dear S.O.

    O yes the modesty thing….good, but at the moment because of the convention thingeroo here –my brain is being somewhat being stretched so thats too why I might be thinking in the universalist sense-most people that will be coming will be ‘traditional’ Buddhists but I think they are all feeling the pinch now as to how to proclaim the dharma in an increasingly secularised world.
    Actually it has taken me sometime away from SI to see what is happening i.e. that religion persay is dying even within the contexts of evangelical movements in the US and also in conventional Christianity here -the same could be said on a smaller scale for most Buddhist sects out there. Evidentially this can be seen by the recent census in the UK which placed many in the non-religious camp.
    Yes rather enlightened society seems to be now for me being more discussed by people who are in the secular camp as it were -here one could point to the recent book by Alain de Botton ‘Religion for Atheists’ and of course too Hardt, secular humanists, the occupy movement this is where the zeitgeist seems to be heading now around the world, even to the point of former catholic theologians like Matthew Fox saying that religious discourse has to enter the spiritual/political realm and seek out new ways of looking and being in society. Of course all these new dimensions re actual practice were embodied in the original presentation of the shambhala teachings by CTR, and I think he must have had some foresight to see how things would go in the future. So in that context I would recommend for reading in your small group the Erich Fromm book the Sane Society which CTR and others discussed way back in 68 in Bhutan before was it(?) that he ‘received’ the Sadhana of Mahamudra.
    I dont think we should be discouraged re what has happened aka SI-rather the whole situation has made one examine first principles, in regards to practice and ‘politics’ in a very deep sense and now some of our ventures are bearing fruit I believe in the development of new levels of awareness about the container principle aka shambhala. However it maybe that this container principle will have to be sought in other forums/groups/conferences now that we no longer have an established org, of course the web is a case to do such thinking indeed, and the Secular Buddhist Association site has shown that this can be done a great deal. This interesting site is spawning sister sites all over the globe – there has now been a German site set up, now that is a coup. Vajradhara/god knows what the proverbial home of western philosophy will produce in this context – quite a fruitful area for interchange and discussion for many Germans one could believe.
    Also an interesting point made by the US interviewer of this podcast with the German interviewees that the secular Buddhists in the states are on very good terms with the secular humanists there and that there is much discussion going on about formal practice..hmmmm-wonder what is going to come out of those discussions.
    So lastly where does all this leave the Vajrayana practices of CTR – well they do have to be part of the container so they can not be written out of history as seems to be happening, rather within the context of the overall container room must be left for these teachings to go on in history….so this does go back to the original presentation of CTRs dharma, but because the world as it is now is more approachable in terms of secularism and aspects of the shambhala terma in terms of wide definitions of basic goodness, drala etc maybe it will have to be more emphasised at this time. But of course I dont think you can plug what is happening now in actual reality around the globe into the present manifestation of SI –in this respect SI seem to me to be more facing the past than the future glimpses of enlightened society out there at present.

    Best from the UK Rita Ashworth

  478. scowling_owl on May 21st, 2013 4:03 pm

    The Fromm book is a great idea. I’ve never read the whole thing but it establishes a great, fundamental place of contact between CTR and the Frankfurt School. I saw Kunga Dawa last year and he spoke of the importance of that book during that time in Bhutan.

    I’m quite wary of criticizing SI. I suspect it only causes bad feelings for many and I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said many times before. But I will offer that, from the vantage point of my own psychology and experience, some of the markers of the social-transformation turn in Shambhala make me think a bit of the progressive evangelical movement which is, by the way, still growing healthily in the States, even as the traditional Catholic and Episcopal churches decline. That is not a movement I trust is what it seems on the surface.

    BTW, I’ve always been intrigued by the Merton forum on this site. He is very important to me and my practice and seems another useful source to consider in the little group of peers I am trying to find here in So-Cal. His notion of the contemplative life as an outlaw life seems somehow relevant to considering anarchism and dharma together.

  479. Rita Ashworth on May 22nd, 2013 1:49 am

    Dear S.O.,

    Yes the Fromm book is great…he tries to see society from psychological, economics and ‘religious’ viewpoints in his analysis together – I have read this book and to me it seemed to have great import on how CTR originally set up his organisation in the US. I believe also in this book Fromm puts a limit on personal wealth too for the running of society which is also highly interesting to me.
    In connection to Merton, I believe Trungpa did meet him when abroad in India, and Merton also mentions Trungpa in his book the Asian Journals which I also read and might prove useful for your group to read aswell. In addition too in this book there is a small essay on Mertons encounter with student rebels in the 60s and he reflects upon this and what it means for his own relationship to his ‘religious’ practice. Merton I think is an important person for people to consider in the setting up of an enlightened society because he is very much a person that acts on his convictions and tests the waters in matters both social and religious in a fearless way. One of his books was also temporarily banned by his religious superior in the 60s –I have that book too but as of yet have not read it…perhaps I should start reading it! Its called ‘Peace in a Post-Christian Era’ – so that might also be a good book for your group to read. It deals with the nuclear question in the 60s but also might have some input on how society is constructed. I am also somewhat returning to the examination of social issues in the 60s to a degree too-there is a wealth of documentaries online now which examine this era and recently I watched a film on the Black Panthers to see how they dealt with issues around community and politics.
    Re criticism….not making points in a vacuous sense but being critical in a good sense I think is a useful exercise, I am positing that what I have experienced re dharma, practice, discussion, reflection and research in the last three years has made me arrive at the conclusion that the original way the teachings of shambhala were promulgated would be more suitable for our age. I have tried to see the other side re SI and its arguements but these do not still gel with me-I dont think lineage preordains how a society should be envisaged, the whole of dharma is very much in transition in our era-they are many debates to be had about CTR’s legacy. Of course Mark Szap in this context posits SB within a gamut of traditions in an enlightened society-and I somewhat agree with this –yes enlightened society to me is a much bigger thing – a whole other way of experiencing the world without borders/limits in both a practical /philosophical sense and of course the practice of philosophy itself is a critical process –that I know for sure after doing philosophy of religion courses for three years with the jokey Mr Raymond Holley who cleared a blackboard quite artfully in the 80s.
    Indeed I may have to explore my own path to shambhala much more outside of orgs now because of what has occurred in this respect. I am finding secular Buddhism intriguing now and the viewpoints that Batchelor is putting across – his day workshop here will be entitled ‘After Buddhism’ quite apt for these times I think. There are also some more interesting discussions going on at as to the encounter of science/politics/social issues with Buddhism/practice aswell so you may wish to check into these too.
    Re the evangelism in the US-they are still a major presence that is true but I have also read on the web that even their numbers are declining as time goes on – so it seems to me in some sense that rabid materialism is winning the war of viewpoints/lifestyles out there at the moment and that is an even more dangerous position for society to be in at present for peace and stability.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  480. John Tischer on May 22nd, 2013 2:39 pm

    “The New World Order”, “Enlightened Society”…at least the concepts of
    world governance are beginning to become more prominent. Why?
    Regional cultures are beginning to fade as world culture arises. The world is becoming one civilization, like it or not. And, as a completely new phenomena, it is chaotic. It is also inevitable. Probably also completely beyond control.

  481. Rita Ashworth on May 23rd, 2013 1:25 am

    John yes agree…this is what Hardt points to in the Multitude book….its also somewhat weird to see this word kind of arise for me as when I was ten years old I was asked to spell this word in class –so grasping after the letters was quite startling and the whole word stuck in my mind……and now somewhat 50 years later the Multitude is here! Hey presto…..zzzzzzzzz…..hope you and others can go deeper into what u are thinking of re world order/chaos –it might have some import to our discussion about enlightened society/shambhala… from the UK rita

  482. John Tischer on May 24th, 2013 6:42 pm

    I’m just watching “Crazy Wisdom”
    for the second time. My friend send
    me an AVI. file. My heart melted
    completely. All my negative feelings
    from history dispelled (particularly
    when the cannon went off.) (and I
    have a lot of history). The people in
    the interviews were … awesome…
    I couldn’t make fun of any of them

  483. James Elliott on May 25th, 2013 7:09 pm

    World order chaos. It’s more of a systemic problem, than a problem of corruption or a dearth of spirituality. According to long term historic curves and measures, it would seem that the global population has reached a level of complexity, in part what globalization is only a manifestation of, that all known forms of government are no longer able to manage, just as when mankind needed to develop from tribes to fiefdoms to nation states.

    Because Nation states are no longer capable, corporate power, seeing a vacuum have tried, with clumsy success, to usurp that position, as the institution responsible for organizing society. Of course corporations are about creating a narrow version of bottom line profit and were never meant to do more, so are operating in the lawless shadows, and the results are disastrous. Even governments themselves, with outsourcing and austerity measures, have now adopted corporate strategies, which are inappropriate and dysfunction on a social scale.

    The challenge, and no ruling class will voluntarily take this on, is to find a system capable of managing modern complex society, something I don’t think we’ve seen yet on any meaningful scale, or collapse back to levels of complexity humans are capable of managing, a process likely to involve significant culling.

    Open Dojo, or something akin, may be a part of that, because, if we can maintain current levels of social complexity (or civilization), it will probably out of necessity rather than ideological desire, need to involve much more open and inclusive communication. Not because it’s fair or right, but because if it isn’t, it won’t be able to maintain a coherence society critically needs.

    I understand what Buddhism has to offer us as individuals; to see more clearly, respond more compassionately and so on, but have no grasp of what it or Shambhala have to offer in the way of how to organize complex society in a way that will prove capable of handling current levels of complexity. In my more cynical moments, the insistence on a monarchical model looks like a preparation for the fall more than a hopeful attempt at shaping the future.

    Maybe they know something I don’t.

    In the inspiration that “On the street of least resistance, the strongest brakes fail.” (S. J. Lec)

  484. Rita Ashworth on May 26th, 2013 4:03 am

    Dear John /James et al

    There may or may not be something called crazy wisdom, but at this time in history who cares, the more esoteric thingeroos about CTRs teachings are not what is is interesting to me at the present time.
    What is inspiring is that people could develop an enlightened society surely this is what must concern us now as our world battered by financial crisis after financial crisis sloops off into the darkness of materialism. I agree with James comment about business seeing the gaps in governance in a globalised realm and indeed it has stepped into governmental mode itself, of course this will not do –its a path to destruction and loss of morality. Indeed all the present resistance movements are pointing to this and hopefully more people in world will see this as time goes on.
    The question now is how people of a spiritual persuasion from both the secular and ‘religious’ realms will deal with what is occurring, as increasingly I feel that we are in desperate end times re stability and peace. For myself now I dont think we can go back to Buddhism in its many disparate historical forms rather we must somehow develop as Batchelor writes an ‘After Buddhism’ mentality and we are only at the being of this process now. I dont know what is going to evolve but I dont think it is going to be the monarchical form as now portrayed in SI, it is simply not suited to the western mentality-it is not situated in deep democracy and all the resistance movements are situated in this – look at what is happening in politics at the street level –this is pointing I think of what could occur re governance in the future, surely here we are witnessing revolutionary ideas in actual time now and if we dont take notice of them I think we are heading in the wrong direction.
    In essence I believe CTRs call was for true communism in the world, almost the same viewpoint as Fromm, now how that true communism can be brought about by studious levels and religious practices in an endlessly recreating institutional form is beyond me – it is a retreat into the past and we are now in the future and the future is almost at our hearing level – we shall have to hear the least of the least speak and develop forms for that to happen most concretely and if we can not do that we are going to be into some pretty horrendous times politically. We in the west can no longer inhabit the past re religious forms we must scramble somehow to the future re the meditative process and inhabit that space with a true sense of our own worth and power. Yes power is no longer caught in courts/governments/institutions it is becoming dispersed and spread out and in the future I think it will be even more the case, people are coming out of a control society and waking up to the beingness of their own revolutionary potentialities.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  485. John Perks on May 28th, 2013 1:41 pm

    If you are interested in Shambhala you must read…….
    “Dreamers and Their Shadows The Secret Annals” by..
    Douglas J Penick,this book puts you right in the Shambhala world of CTR.
    perhaps thoes that had that experiance might cry.
    Published by “Mountain Treasury Press”

  486. Rita Ashworth on May 29th, 2013 1:28 am

    Mr Perks can not find this publishing house online but the book sounds interesting-also on Amazon other books written by Douglas on Shambhala can be found tho-primarily about Gesar….Douglas also has a website too -looks interesting….I also found the Bernbaum book on Shambhala immensely good-it was one of those books that helped me in my decision to leave SI…..and it showed me that the essence of the Shambhala ‘ideal’ can be found in many diverse ways-it resonated with how I was thinking about shambhala and meditative experiences…..I would recommend this book to people out there… rita -yes the title is ‘The Way to Shambhala’ by Edwin Bernbaum

  487. John Perks on May 29th, 2013 5:57 am

    AH Rita,
    I kind of jumped the gun on this one,the copy I received is a galley copy,the book will be in general circulation this July,as I understand.
    Yes I have read “The Way to Shambhala” which is quite good.
    But Douglas Penick’s book puts you right there “IN “Shambhala,from that point of view its a mind changer,where the heart longs to be,
    Love to you,

  488. scowling_owl on May 29th, 2013 4:43 pm

    Rita, your comment about CTR and communism immediately reminded me of the following from Graeber. Haven’t fully wrapped my head around its implications yet but its fascinating, esp. as it pertains to issues around expanding/spreading the dharma. Here’s the quote. From DEBT, pp 266-268:

    “I’ve also argued that any system of exchange is always necessarily founded on something else, something that, in its social manifestation at least, is ultimately communism.

    With all those things that we treat as eternal, that we assume will always be there-our mother’s love, true friendship, sociality, humanity, belonging, the existence of the cosmos-no calculation is necessary, or even ultimately possible; insofar as there is give and take, they follow completely different principles. What, then, happens to such absolute and unlimited phenomena when one tries to imagine the world as a set of transactions-as exchange? Generally, one of two things. We either ignore or deify them. (Mothers, and caregiving women in general, are a classic case in point . )

    Or we do both . What we treat as eternal in our actual relations with one another vanishes and reappears as an abstraction, an absolute. In the case of Buddhism, this was framed as the inexhaustible merit of bodhisattvas, who exist, in a certain sense, outside of time. They are at once the model for the Inexhaustible Treasuries, and also their practical foundation: one can only repay one’s endless karmic debt, or one’s infinite milk-debt, by drawing on this equally infinite pool of redemption, which, in turn, becomes the basis for the actual material funds of the monasteries, which are equally eternal-a pragmatic form of communism, in fact, since they were vast pools of wealth collectively owned and collectively managed : the center of vast projects of human cooperation, which were assumed to be similarly eternal. Yet at the same time this communism became the basis, in turn, of something very much like capitalism. The reason was, above all, the need for constant expansion. Everything-even charity-was an opportunity to proselytize; the Dharma had to grow, ultimately, to encompass everyone and everything, in order to effect the salvation of all living beings.”

  489. Rita Ashworth on May 30th, 2013 2:13 am

    S.o. wow interesting comment from Graeber in the Debt book –now I will have to get that book too
    Yes ‘true communism’ referred to in a poem by Trungpa in Best Thought-it has always perplexed me what he meant by this – it maybe a further a little explained by reading the Fromm book, but I think it even goes beyond that in maybe to some universal principle.

    Re monasteries as an aside I believe Ray was actually told by Trungpa to look at them as an academic study-Ray I think on a podcast also made an interesting comment recently too in this respect I believe, in that maybe we should just leave the Tibetans to do their thing and more concentrate on what we want from the dharma now –thats quite interesting and somewhat I think reflects a general disengagement from our basis in the east which is happening as you also look at the development of the secular Buddhists –we seem to be moving from a religious base to a more secular/psychological basis for meditation now. I think Ray in this respect at least has got the gist of what is happening out there, although he does seem to be somewhat engaging in quite formal practices still perhaps he has some deeper reason for doing this in producing students that are quite practiced. However for myself I think meditation has to be approached in a much more universal manner hence my interest in shambhala and now the secular Buddhists and similar unbounded by orgs collections of people, because this is where power seems to be gravitating towards now. And of course Hardt too writes about this outwardness of power relations now in the global sense.

    ……Yes back to Graeber, I think I agree with Graebers summation of monasteries in this regard –they can become ‘institutions’ progressing money/cheques etc if they dont maintain their radicalism. Merton writes of this radicalism in Peace in Post Christian Era and of course in the Tibetan tradition itself we also have besides the more traditional monasteries – ‘saints’ who did not inhabit them but were wondering ascetics/seekers. Therefore it seems to me if you put all your dharma-eggs in the one basket of monasteries you will not have an enlightened society, and if you look at what the Tibetans are doing in India now they are still following the ‘old’ model as it were, and even the most ‘modern’ Tibetan teachers are doing this – this I think will not do in our present age which is primarily secular and diffused in the distribution of power-relations. Furthermore I think it is something about the actual social condition of the west in its fostering of individualism that will foster ‘true communism’ in the end-there is definitely an honest search going on for newer ways of engaging with society both psychologically and philosophically which can not be stemmed by old patterns of the past – in essence the democratic principle somewhat coming out of Christian tradition through the ages is allowing us to picture now societies that foster ‘true communism’ of spirit and sharing borne out of deep thought, practice and reflection. But indeed I will now have to really get that Graeber book to see what he is referring to more deeply because it maybe that he can add to peoples ideas on what is happening out there.
    Mr Perks yes I do look forward to the Douglas book – I was hoping that people out there would write more on Shambhala so thats great – the Bernbaum book indeed did show me the universality of the shambhala principle which can be looked at in many ways not only from the Buddhist perspective so it does open up the idea of Shambhala more for people – I hope he can find a more prominent publisher in the states and the UK to publish it in the future as it seems to me such a book would have a wide audience.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  490. John Tischer on June 6th, 2013 6:05 pm

    I’m just wondering if anyone knows the story of when some religious leaders
    from around Karme Choling had a meeting with VCTR in the early days, and
    evidently, they came to disagreement. Anybody know that one?

  491. dawa chöga on June 7th, 2013 11:48 am


    Our meeting ground
    Both parties have common agreement
    Which is more significant than signing on the dotted line.
    It is a point that could short-circuit and explode.
    Mutual silence might be regarded as round-table conference.
    But mutual impatience could blow up you and your colleague in hypocrisy.
    Knowing that you can’t attend your own burial
    Victory over hypocrisy is dynamite.
    In terms of eating up your body by the tail.

    [Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Karmê Chöling, Vermont, 1970]

  492. James Elliottz on June 11th, 2013 8:53 am

    Graeber sounds very ideological to me, the stuff about idealizing the mother because our society is comodity based, etc., has some kind of populist ring, but on examination finally sounds like an idea searching for a logic. I see no real basis for his theories.

    The idea that insrtitutions, any institutions, can maintain radicalism is a no go. Can’t happen. Radicalism by its very nature is anti-institutional. It would, if that were the basis of an institution or movement, eat itself up and dissolve back into the dharmakaya.

    Here again is the idea of a spiritual practice, method, skillful means used, (traditionally) by spiritual masters to wake students or individuals up in the Buddhist sense, magical and profound for the individual, I mean in no way to belittle that, however, projecting that out onto social political structures is a misunderstanding of what those skillful means are capable of. Like using… a beautiful relaxed sunny day to… I don’t know, rewire a house or something. Not even wrong tool for wrong job, just completely something else.

    The continuity of tradition, i.e. the non-radical aspect, is critical for carrying the lineage’s wisdom forward. I would argue that SMR’s administration has bungled this a bit, attempting to alter the entire culture Trungpa Rinpoche built to such an extent that the continuity was disrupted. That’s what radicalism does and we can see even on our small scale how divisive that is.

    I want to also reiterate that the politcal problems of our time are NOT a problem of moral weakness or a dearth of spirituality. It is simply that the current forms of government are logistically incapable of managing current levels of complexity, but are neverthertheless bumbling along pretending to tweak whatever they can, and increasing secrecy and authoritarianism, because… they don’t know what else to do. No viable alternative is yet in sight.

    I don’t know what the next level of government, after nation states will be, but historically such a paradigm shift hasn’t ever, I don’t think, happened peacefully or harmoniously with unanimous agreement. Spiritual practices may well be capable of tempering upheaval, but… I don’t see it creating anything new in and of itself in terms of political solutions.

    Communism tramples too many things about human nature. It’s only nice on paper. All it’s manifestations have shown this.

  493. Rita Ashworth on June 11th, 2013 4:23 pm

    James interesting reply re Graeber-yes initially went to the Graeber book ‘The Democracy Project’ to get some information re facilitation skills re the convention I am helping to organise here. I have not read the Debt book still, but I am hoping to read it – Graeber also mentions Starhawks book on facilitation as embodying some extra facilitation skills that he admires –so I have ordered that book now.
    Re radicalism/institutions –interesting debate – seems to me the problems with some institutions is that they get atrophied with the passage of time….or maybe events in history cause them to re-examine their powers…so therefore radicalism comes on the scene, and radicalism I think is important in questioning the powers of institutions and perhaps even changing their modes of governance. Most of the radicals that I have admired down the ages seem to posit themselves within tradition and only break free from it when no other recourse is left open for them to progress their new ideas – John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, in a conservative sense is such a person and from the Catholic tradition in a more modern sense is Matthew Fox who in his book the Popes War is calling for creation of a new kind of church, I recommend this book for people to read aswell, as it posits Christianity opening itself up to other traditions and thinking as a kind of renewal process-so radicalism kind of signifies renewal aswell as disruption.
    I think aka SI that what we got was more disruption than renewal/radicalism, and it seems to me that the process of renewal has to come about almost in a communal manner – it is the religious figure persay reacting with and being with people that fosters maybe a ‘true communism’… there is inter-relationship….open dojo…..yes CTR definitely not pointing to the old communism of course, and conventionally even Communists now are not doing that either –they are looking to autonomous modes of communism aka Negri….now how that inter-relationship fosters ‘enlightened society’ in a wide spiritual sense at this time is a conundrum I agree….but there is certainly a dynamic process going on between the multifarious roles – maybe bodhisattva wise, bodhicitta comes to a point that it can not separate the ‘political’ in the world and the spiritual – it becomes kind of an outpouring of seeing things very clearly and softly so perhaps that also fosters communality. Anyway is difficult to express in concrete ways and dicey I agree but pragmatically I am looking at facilitation and general politics to get some notion of how ‘spacial’ relationships and communal relationships occur yes where there might be connections and points of difference with dharma – is an interesting process, and I think in some respects CTR might have been doing this aswell in terms of Mudra and that old chestnut ‘vajra politics’.

    So…..hmmmmm….do think renewal can live with some elements of tradition aswell –if the perception/practice of the whole thing is clearly seen – this seems to be what happens alot in the historical creation of various religious discussions in the Catholic tradition from my recent research aka liberation theology.

    well best Rita Ashworth.

  494. scowling_owl on June 11th, 2013 7:24 pm

    From John P. Clark, Buddhist and Anarchist:

    “I like to pose the seemingly paradoxical question: “Why is communism so good in practice, but it never seems to work in theory?” What most people think of as “communism” has not been communism at all, but rather a form of oppressive state capitalism or techno-bureaucratic despotism, justified through an ideology (a theory that doesn’t work) that disguises it as “communism.” Such a system has often been very effective as a form of domination, but not as a free, just or humane form of social organization. We might call it “authoritarian communism,” but in reality, not only is it not really communism, it is in a very precise sense a form of anti-communism, the negation of communal autonomy. Historically, it has always feared real communities, taken power away from them, and done its best to crush or dissolve them.

    There is, on the other hand, a long tradition of libertarian communism, which is the form of organization taken by communities of solidarity and liberation. It has been practiced in indigenous societies, in intentional communities (such as the most radical early kibbutzim in Israel and the Gandhian ashrams or cooperative eco-communities in India), in the self-managed collectives during the Spanish Revolution, in affinity groups, in base communities, and in many families. It has constituted communism, in the sense of the autonomous self-determination of the community. It has often worked quite well.”

  495. James Elliott on June 11th, 2013 11:56 pm

    Rita, will give that some thought and get back to you, but would generally say, there is a subtle and/but vast difference between you an individual opening, seeing things as they are and responding compassionately, and on the other hand spiritualizing social political structures. Given that institutions can calcify and become more interested in power and hierarchy than is healthy, nevertheless over millennium, individuals who have genuinely overcome ego keep perking it up. The really interesting thing to look at in this sense, is what kept one or another tradition lively, while another’s heart was lost, exemplified in my mind by mainstream Christianity with certain Buddhist lineages. I would suggest the kind of awakening we speak about within Buddhism happens within a tradition, not in spite of it. The political structures of such organizations, which is indeed what calcifies, is I would venture, changed by contingencies other than its spiritual pursuits.

    Isms are anathema to awake mind, but… while agreeing totally that what has been practiced is a form of totalitarianism, not genuine communism, I think this is what inevitably happens over time, because communism is in denial about hierarchy.. What occurs to me, with the examples of working communism examples given is that they were were not as I see it ideologically determined decisions or choices made by one or two individuals or by everyone, but rather a confluence of contingencies that made that sort of communal living not only possible, but almost inevitable and necessary for survival. How long did they last?

    One common element is a relative simplicity, i.e. one shared aim at its core, or more agricultural societies in which everyone is busy scratching sustenance from the soil, maybe due to a failed state or poor resources. This is by no means all inclusive, but I am convinced that many of the examples I’ve been shown of enlightened societies, as if to say ours is therefore not, are more likely outcomes of environmental, political, cultural and survival pressures, rather than ideological or spiritual or enlightened choices from which we can develop a modern model.

    In general, I doubt it is at all possible to choose a form of government on an ideological basis, like communism and its veneer of ‘fairness’, and impose it on any given society, without it being a form of aggression.

  496. Rita Ashworth on June 12th, 2013 3:05 am

    James…true not into ‘spiritualizing political structures aka dharma’ that is the last thing I am contemplating rather I am examining more the process of how power moves between people that is interesting both in a secular and religious manner-so it is the process of awakening into that power that is fascinating. And somehow in our present age with the level of maturity of people about ‘political’ structures in the widest sense you can not stop this process happening.
    It also seems to me that from within tradition from the past you do have radicals aka Thomas Merton for example –Merton was in some respect held in tradition but he was very much an outward-going person in involving himself in society at large. The book he wrote Peace in a Post Christian Era was banned but mimeographs reached people in power and the church itself before it was unbanned –so here we have an example of how discussion about political problems aka the nuclear bomb had a reverberation within the ‘spiritual’ sphere. It is also interesting to conjecture if Merton if he had lived would have done what Fox has done in setting up his own religious college for the furtherance of spirituality or remained within the Catholic church, however, due to the times he did not consider this approach, but he was I believe going to do a religious retreat with Martin Luther King I have read.
    Aka the development of communism….true I dont know where it is going, but it is useful I think to study it as it seems to be morphing into something resembling communality in the sangha sense….not quite I agree…but Negri, Hardt, Zizek and maybe others too are much more talking about love at these times so that is very interesting.
    Re SI aka ‘true communism’ – it still seems to me that the vision is not big enough to encompass what is happening in the world at this present time re the new awakening of people testing their own sense of power…indeed if we are ‘imagining’ enlightened society we would have to think past the minor millions that the present Sakyong is thinking of –we would have to have the imagination of a Buddha almost to posit some kind of universal basis to CTRs thinking….so that is also fascinating….and it seems too that no-one in Tibetan Buddhist religious community is doing this in positing a universalist sense to the practice of meditation within society. So I am not sure if we can wait for even the most important lamas to step into this frame of thinking-they seem still to be in hock to their own traditions to me at this time –maybe not willing to let go of their own hierarchical modes….dunno we maybe will just have to jump with what we got from CTR and experiment..this indeed most radical way is borne out of hearing some monastics stating that Buddhism indeed may only have the life of about ten more years in the US if it does not approach the west in a more informal, all encompassing manner – this could be on I think that we have so little time to preserve what we have received. The dharma I think is turning on the proverbial knife-edge in the west somewhat.
    And in a more local sense aka the convention I am helping with here I think the centres are also realising this too-they have got so far with the dharma but no more so they are seeking to ally themselves with greater bodies within a more structured network-wonder what will come of what we are doing.
    S.O…thanks also for mention of that book-another one for my library to get…it will be useful in examining the points of difference and contact with some elements of communism…that were also to a degree entertained by CTR when he was taken by the Fromm book.

    Well best Rita

  497. John Tischer on June 12th, 2013 11:01 pm

    “I want to also reiterate that the politcal problems of our time are NOT a problem of moral weakness or a dearth of spirituality.”

    Completely wrong. it is a dearth of spirituality, even if the forms no longer work, because there is no moral compass to guide the change to make things better except on an individual level. More importantly, the guiding forces now
    are that of the Dark Age…’s the time of this (Sadhana. of M.)….and, baby, that’s the way it is. I think what VCTR did by creating the teaching forms was to train people for future lives. I mean, James, have you seen ANY improvement in the world situation over….lets just take the last 60 years?
    Of course not. It’s been slowly getting worse, but it’s picking up speed. This
    is not negative thinking. It’s patently obvious to a lot of people…
    including the whole Tibetan culture and your root teacher.

  498. James Elliottz on June 14th, 2013 4:53 am

    John, this is precisely what organized religion claims, that without their guidance, society would become horrible in some way. If you believe, I would say if you can see, basic goodness, then this simply doesn’t wash.

    There is so much spirituality and religion these days that I somethimes think people are focusing on other realmy kind of stuff, and glomming on to narrow beliefs in an effort to save themselves, in the narrowest of senses.

    You can say if it were ‘True’ spirituality that wouldn’t be happening, but that’s no different than saying if they followed what you understand as spirituality, then the world would be saved. Quatsch.

    In current modern society this is simply unfeasable. The real problem is that the now universal form of government, the Nation State, is no longer capable of managing current and increasing levels of complexity, in terms of infrastructure, distribution, economic systems, and yes in terms of justice and legal systems, and corporations intent on profit have effectively taken over.

    You can point at specific cases of corruption and sickening hypocracy, I’d agree, but there were and always will be peple who will take advantage of a weak system. The fundamental problem, politcaly, is that we have no way with current levels of complexity, to effectively ensure accountability, transparency, equity and justice, etc.. This is not a problem of spirituality – unless you would argue that all people have to follow your religion. It is a problem of logisitics and how to protect or stabilize, make transparent and accountable, all the innumerable transactions everyone has to do every day, both small and large

    Think of it like traffic laws. It matters not at all what you follow or believe; we all need to follow traffic signals or people will die in huge numbers, traffic could not function without a complex set of rules. The more complex the road systems, the more people who use it, the more important the rules are, in a rural setting less so, in a city more: that is NOT dependant on beliefs or morals. The rules that govern society at large are effectively the same sort of thing, and the Nation State is failing miserably. Corporations were never intended for the task. And religions aren’t offering anything constructive in that regard.

    In the inspiration that Buddhism doesn’t, ideally, teach morals but rather how to see clearly.

  499. James Elliott on June 14th, 2013 10:26 am

    John, we can see the current situation in terms of the ‘dark age’ as in the SoM, I don’t think it belies anything I’ve said. It’s just a different language. For example, what are the three lords of materialism? Exactly? I would posit they are not the people making decisions within this matrix, but rather the matrix itself in which people are driven to make such decisions. Like döns or maras, no?

    The matrix, then, is the nation state and all its implications. Get out from under the influence of the 3 Lords any way you can, and then I think any sane person can see what seems to be an overwhelming problem out there. And then what?

    Our practices, as far as I can see, provide no political solutions whatsoever. They might overcome the influence of the 3 Lords for whoever practices, but they do not change the matrix out there. Buddhism 101. In theory, once we are not driven by the 3 Lords, can see clearly, then we can maybe indeed destroy or nurture what needs destroying or nurturing. Pointing out a lack of spirituality in society does… what exactly? Is it even remotely true? It isn’t supported by facts.

    (I frankly think portraying everyone now as amoral and evil, as compared with some other pastoral dream-time, is counterproductive as well as just false.)

    Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: How does talking about current problems as ‘the 3 Lords’ or ‘the dark age’ help come closer to anything resembling a real world solution that will genuinely help even non-believers?

    And yes there have been positive developments in our time. I would point to the level of citizen participation all over the world in demonstrating, for the most part peacefully, agains the tyranny of the current system. Some of the interviews I’ve heard, it’s clear to me that there are plenty of people who understand the problem is systemic, or born of co-dependant origination, and not a problem of weak morals as such.

    I’d also point out “The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker, a statistical as well as scientific and philisophical study of how, even including our time, levels of violence and brutality have steadily declined, in spite of our higher awareness of killings and corruption across the globe.

    In the inspiration that “The window to the world can be covered by a newspaper.” (S.J.Lec)

  500. John Tischer on June 14th, 2013 1:04 pm

    Eliot…you have to have some kind of organization for a “society”….a lot of
    people….or do you? If not, ok….but we’re not talking about “what organized religion claims”…we’re talking about what VCTR said about enlightened society…I’m not talking about what most religions say and do…I’m talking about what VCTR said.

    You’re right, we are talking about the Matrix when we are talking about the Dark Age….and, as such, you are quite correct, I think, in saying that we’re not talking about the people within the Matrix as the problem, but the Matrix itself.
    So we’re not: ” portraying everyone now as amoral and evil”, but what I am saying is that the Matrix is so powerful, it seems, and so “organic”, that to deconstruct it is going to be deadly for a lot of people….those with it and those against it. That seems to me to be precisely the core of meaning of “Dark Age”. Cheers

  501. James Elliott on June 15th, 2013 2:21 am

    John, all these religiously toned ideas of the dark age, the 3 lords of materialism, and so forth, I’m right there with you in terms of inspiration to practice, and above all things, overcoming their influence or the cultural trance, to use another term.

    However, in order to work with the world externally, beyond the borders of the realm, with people who have never heard of the SoM or never been involved in Buddhism, or who roll in another way, these terms are incredibly divisive, creating as you imply an intensified and virtually insurmountable us against them mentality. Insurmountable because it’s based on religous terms which have no need to relate to facts or for that matter other people.

    So I not only don’t see their value in terms of working on a political level with others, I think they create abstracted and religiously based divides between ‘us and them’ between believers non-believers and heretics. Fine when it is used to inspire deeper levels of practice, toxic when applied to political issues. When religion is used to encourage politically oriented groups coalece in opposition to… people who don’t believe? bad people? whatever, then religion is being used in the worst way possible. You’ll have to show me some hard evidence to convince me that’s the sort of thing Trungpa Rinpoche was working towards.

    At what point are we adding to the divisiveness, and at what point are we working towards workability in any given situation.

    Besides the religous mythology of how the world was created, the kalpas, the dark ages, lords of materialism, what did Trungpa Rinpoche say specifically about enlightened society, or politics, government, and too how to work with given situations as they are?

    In the inspiration that I don’t recall the man ever saying anything like: “Draw the line here!”

  502. Rita Ashworth on June 15th, 2013 4:07 am

    Dear James,

    Agree with your last post about ‘not drawing the line here’ aka CTR.

    …. those of us let loose from present orgs. are still asking questions about how enlightened society shall be manifested in a diverse manner….hmmmmm maybe just being on our own has allowed to us to touch base more than those in orgs and reflect in our apartments in an almost writers sense about what is occurring in the world and practice. At the moment exploring these questions within the wider Buddhist community here….so dunno what people will come up with….however aka my involvement with CTR have begun to raise the question/s re society and Buddhism which were formerly not being raised here in the convention….we now for example have a theme for the convention ‘Intelligent Compassion:in a troubled world’ –tho we may get rid of the adjective ‘troubled’ – practically we did use the ‘open dojo’ format last year and now we are entering much more the arena where politics in its widest sense and the
    Meditation process itself will be discussed. So I await this convention moreso than last years.
    Re Buddhism as a whole now and tradition I think we maybe almost in Reformation mode where lineage in the conventional sense might just stop…..stop in the sense of kind of maturity of open space just developing out there….could u call that the big bang approach….where things just kind of blip open….I really dont know, but recently been having conversations with others where studying with western teachers has been more emphasised as in the sense maybe that one cultural approach can not transcend into our culture even at a slow, slow pace – is that true -….yes maybe there are two ways u can go with the dharma –the slow permeation of teachings into society and the sudden eruption of just clarity in societies and people….its interesting to conjecture about this as time goes on….tradition/renewal/radicalism…..could one say indeed that ‘open dojo’ even with the teacher in it also generates its own sense of beingness too…..I just dont know….but maybe the political context in the present time is providing that space for things to just erupt so thats whats quite fascinating about it….and thats why in some sense I am glad I am out of orgs and somewhat in free-flowing space….did CTR say something about the world itself being his teacher….I forget where this was mentioned perhaps Mark Szap could supply the context……something about phenomenal world.
    Also I at last have a flat….and plan to have dinners —–that is when I get a table….duh…wonder who one could invite to discuss dharmic revolutions….ho-ho.
    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  503. scowling_owl on June 15th, 2013 8:44 pm

    I saw Jeremy Scahill’s film, Dirty Wars, last night. Between his very compelling expose of the emergence of post-modern globalized black US death squads and the recent NSA revelations, I think this is a very important time to parse out the difference between “society” meaning the relationships between all beings and “society”, as it is used in common parlance, as a synonym for nation-state. Can any of you who knew CTR comment a bit on how he used the word “society?” I’ve read much of his work and have a good feeling for what he seems to have meant in writing but am curious if there are pith comments or teachings that stood out to any of you?

  504. John Tischer on June 16th, 2013 2:07 am

    Dear Elliott….we do what we can and that’s a lot, even if we don’t make a big impression on what’s happening…you know that…
    I feel that in the larger scenario all we can do is be observers.

  505. Rita Ashworth on June 17th, 2013 2:17 am

    Dear John et al,

    ‘In the larger scenario all we can do is be observers’ –think that needs to be gone into as a statement.
    For myself kind of working on that at the moment within the Buddhist sphere here – I am more prone to be more pro human rights in the world at large – now where that will take us as a generalised dharmic community I am not sure, but I am willing to discuss more what to do socially in the actual world itself. For example the many groups I am working with at the convention and know of may want to come up with some kind of social premises for being and acting in the world in a some ways – this is of course is a dicey and fraught course for any practitioner to think about itself as much of Buddhism particularly in the Tibetan sense can not be so defined socially. Nevertheless space will indeed have to be provided to discuss such ‘action’ in the world and to see what we come up with. I dont see how we can do otherwise now because we are bodhisattvas and events in the world affect us deeply. Yes, belonging to any ‘religious’ or social group does indeed call forth ways of being and acting in the world –and I think as Buddhists we can not now ignore such questions.
    Indeed when we were somewhat working on a constitution on this site we were exploring the basis for a wider notion of an enlightened society out there – so I have somewhat returned to this theme here in the UK with others. I am kind of looking at Buddhist history in this context to see what was done in the past re social issues and have discovered a marvellous Indian historian called Romila Thapar who has written a book on Ashoka and the way he encountered his world in the early history of the continent –hope to read that book soon to see what occurred then and what ramifications it has for us in the context of our world. So yes there are indeed historical connections to how we can explore these issues now.

    S.O. re enlightened society and CTRs statements on it there is a utube video on this which you can check out which has been posted, but also I think it is up to us as individuals and groups in the world to work on this socially now – I have long got past seeing CTRs words as somewhat defined ‘laws’/ways to work in the world- I tend to regard them more now as more clearing the space for things to arise more naturally in our minds….so the ‘open dojo’ feel to them is engaging.

    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  506. James Elliott on June 18th, 2013 10:41 am

    Rita, Jon, S.O.,
    Trungpa Rinpoche’s description of a Bodhisattva, was that he/she saw the patterns around them, and became unconditionally part of them without an agenda. This is important: without an agenda. My impulse is to say ‘so that the bodhisattva could then work with whatever situation in order to…’ and have to stop myself.

    The Bodhisattva, from Trungpa Rinpoche’s description, doesn’t actually enter a situation with a predetermined agenda, hiding in ambush within the existing patterns, waiting for the right moment to expand their agenda and trick those around them into taking the right path. The situation itself and what is needed within whatever situation, is what sets the agenda, so to speak. Only in this way could it be truly possible to know what needs to be nurtured, what needs to be destroyed etc., ala SoM.

    From this, the idea that we can only be observers is… true and not true. One problem we have, endemic of our time, is that we know so much about the rest of the world. This was simply not the case only a few decades ago. So we have this urge to DO something about it, but it is so vast and beyond any one individual’s control, we end up feeling ineffectual and powerless. On the other hand, how we relate to our world, the people and situations we encounter locally, that vast view doesn’t matter so much or only in that it informs us we really need to help each other, be it with politcal systemic problems, resource allocation, justice and so on.

    About society as such, I recall as I write, Trungpa Rinpoche once saying that ‘society’ is not an entity as such, it’s just a lot of individuals together. I think there is something wrong with the line of thinking that we have an ego and we need to overcome it, and then society too has an ego, something vaster and larger than an individual’s ego, and that too needs to be overcome in much the same way as an individual’s. I iknow of no teachings that say that, and statistically, historically, and as far as sciences of systems etc., seem to say, the two things, an individual and a society have very different dynamics that make them almost impossible to compare. It’s as if we try to anthropomorphize something that is not really in and of itself a human being.

    Like giving corporations all the same rights and privileges of individuals, which we can see is a form of insanity.

  507. Rita Ashworth on June 18th, 2013 5:18 pm

    Dear James, John et S.O.

    James I get where u are coming from with this ‘no agenda’ thing, but we are still individuals within the world and ‘acting out and being in the world’ – I think does call for exploration….we might indeed have to approach it tangentally re theatre which is the closest I seem to be getting to how it can be experienced –so think this why CTR might have introduced this practice of mudra when he first went to the states….yes theatre has that sense of pre-thought about it, and in theatre we somewhat lose ego a tad… dunno perhaps statements/actions arise from that.
    Re the individuals together-well they are together –are they not? Now what arises from that togetherness –could be bodhicitta which is the beingness of society –that is a jump I know but whole is more than the parts and here artistically we could bring in music as a defined form – so re society –could it be more seen as forms that contribute to connection. This does sound a bit obtuse, but it is in this sense that I am exploring politics/in the sense of facilitation – coming togetherness.
    So yes got the Starhawk book today which may have some impact on my thinking and also in process of getting the Thapar book to look at the historical relationships between governance/dharma… what did Ashoka say about all this – and I do know that CTR admired Ashoka because I think he is mentioned him in connection with the shambhala teachings.
    So I broadly agree with the ‘no agenda’ thing, but it too needs to be explored so I am looking for ways to do that in the modern context – so u could say it is the observer plunging somewhat into open space which may land in a space where I passively just see things happening which also might be interesting. For example do remember from some accidents that I have had that it does place u in the passive slow stance.
    Also strange too at the present time getting hits from people that maybe it is better to study with western teachers now…hmmmmm…yes can the present lamas really connect with us now…finding this really debateable at this time…thats also why having serious doubts about lineage…perhaps new movements just do arise dharmically like with Xtian movements aka the Quakers – that does seem to possible in this era now.
    Well best from the UK,

    Rita Ashworth

  508. scowling_owl on June 18th, 2013 5:22 pm

    Interesting reply, James. Thanks.

    As I understand it, CTR described society as nothing more than all the sentient beings, the field of the Bodhisattva, so I’m glad to hear you say as much yourself.

    I’ve always been fascinated by the degree to which people get attached to heuristic objects. Names like “culture” or “society” might work well as shorthand ways to represent aggregates or imply mythologies but they really don’t seem to have any particular integrity or causal power.

    In recent Shambhala, I always felt there was a tendency to talk about society as a thing/entity. From which, not only did anthropomorphization follow, so too did all sorts of familiar, historical and sometimes troubling ways of representing the whole social world as an object. One of these was making “society” equal to “whatever nation state I happen to live in,” ala elementary school social studies. I said to a teacher last year that the way we talked about “society” reminded me of a 1920s anthropology textbook.

    While this might seem a vague or subtle problem, I would say it is one of the primary reasons I ultimately could not connect with the increasing “social transformation” talk in Shambhala. It felt to me as if the organization was resurrecting and institutionalizing a concept of the social world that is, elsewhere in my own life and work considered profoundly outdated. I could not honestly reconcile it with my own experience.

  509. Rita Ashworth on June 21st, 2013 2:59 am

    Dear SO, James et al

    Yes society, no agenda, bodhicitta –interesting discussions evolving and I am in road-test mode re all of them…so I am really curious about what the convention will come up with when we discuss such things here in October. Maybe other views will emerge re dharma/society aswell.
    SO re SI…could u in vague terms state what the SI teachers are stating about ‘society’ now that would be interesting to know and may have some import re what I am doing here. Re your own work how do u see the interactions between yourself and other people and the greater world out there. I agree in some sense that relationships are not static/ ie that they are situational perhaps this is why Starhawk and Occupy is intriguing to me know…however I do believe that there might be subtle connections with what they are doing and dharma possibly-maybe a long shot with this –but looking closely at what they are doing.
    Aka dharma generally the Batchelor phenomenon re ‘Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist’ is a startling almost revolutionary book in positing ideas about society and dharma –hope people can read it…still not sure about the ‘passivity’ thingeroo perhaps JT could more fully explain where he was coming from with that statement. Yes if the subsequent discussion has included more focus on bodhicitta we need to explore it more.
    Just had a whimsical thought perhaps if I go to the convention with a T-shirt with No Agenda upon it that would even provoke more debate….yes perhaps we should call the convention ‘Open Dojo-No-Agenda’ –what would come out of or ‘be’ in that? HA!
    As for lineages –in bah humbag mode….seems they have not worked successfully in subsequent years from 1987…perhaps we will have to wait and see what emerges aka sangha.
    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  510. scowling_owl on June 21st, 2013 5:58 pm

    Hi Rita, I don’t think I could make a generalization like that. It would be too much framed through my own perspective to convey an accurate picture. Plus, a lot of what I felt and sensed wrt the way society was framed and understood was in the trenches, amongst peers and not so much from teachers / acharyas, etc.

  511. James Elliott on June 22nd, 2013 12:06 am

    The no agenda notion should in no way imply passivity, neutrality or a mindless non-judgement. It is saying the same thing as beginners mind. When entering a situation, engaging in something, the approach is without agenda. Only in this way, according to Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, does one have the ability to see the situation clearly free of ideology, preconceived ideas, hidden agendas, egoistic tendencies, etc.. After that, depending upon the prevailing patterns, one can then nurture what needs to be nurtured, destroy what needs to be destroyed ala SoM. Then one’s actions are in fact more direct, have more power and evolve out of compassion. Nothing to do with passivity.

    It only sounds like that because it is almost unimaginable to engage in something without ALREADY having some idea what the result ought to be, so no agenda sounds like a form of surrender. For ego it may be, but for accomplishing something thoroughly and genuinely based on what is truly needed, it is not.

    This kind of clear seeing is, as far as I understand, the aim of dharma practice, as contrasted with an aim of getting everyone else to grok my version of compassion and spirituality, or inspiring others to become Buddhist, Shambhalian or whatever, or getting others to do whatever it is I think I’m doing, all of which are a subtle form of aggression according to Trungpa Rinpoche’s ‘Cutting Through’ teachings.

    T shirt sounds like a marvelous idea. I want one!

    Lineage is getting shorted too quickly. Because of lineage there is a body of teachings, enabling the true seeker to analyse study and practice at a depth inconceivable were that body of teachings never assembled, maintained and added to over generations. It may well be that some take advantage of that, bludgeoning people with an implied authority or manipulating, whatever, but still, because there is this vast body the genuine teachings themself cannot really be corrupted. Only if this body were lost or not there (or ignored), could the teachings then be corrupted and altered to suite whatever agenda.

    In the inspiration that the lineage is protection against the vagaries of temporal and personal and hidden agendas.

  512. Rita Ashworth on June 22nd, 2013 3:53 am

    Dear James, SO, John et al

    Thanks for the fuller explanation of ‘no agenda’…I welcome that…so yes here we are in ‘no agenda’ world –wonder what it would be like? Thats what I am interested in what people will see and be from that basic ground…quite a fascinating exploration. As for the T shirt will probably get one done..perhaps it will act like a pin.Ha!
    Re lineage I am probably in bah-humbag mode because doors have been somewhat closed – I am tending to see lineage now more in interactive mode and not receiving mode as it were-what was the phrase that CTR used ‘living in the challenge’ –remember that in some posters at least. Yes as for the shambhala teachings themselves in the 80s were they not a combined effort of the sangha and the teacher to manifest –almost in a strange way that perhaps CTR himself did not know which way they would go.
    Also re lineage as for most things religious/secular stuff is not static…so I hope the movers-on will indeed explore things moreso as time goes on…my forays into ‘political’ and historical ideas at present are somewhat an attempt to explore lineage more directly-how it manifested and is manifesting…so perhaps this is a form aka intellectual study/reflection that we could use in talking and discussing about lineage-that is how we ‘add to it’ as you say.
    However more radically I do believe re religious history that I have studied that teachers just do arise if the time is kind of right in this context –yes did the Buddha himself have a lineage? I know that statement may be somewhat way out there but we are living in revolutionary times and I dont know perhaps teachers now just will appear….anyway something to think about –this whole interaction between the west and the east re meditation. In addition I think Batchelor has gone beyond lineage from what he said at so will be asking him questions about this when he comes to Manchester-should be a fruitful discussion.
    SO –perhaps I was too direct in my questioning-maybe this is a UK/European thing – yes in the US I do believe people can not debate religious issues so lightly because of the historical context there. I remember when I was in Nova Scotia for example how people took church so seriously-so many young people coming from a church background over there that at times it was like stepping on eggshells talking to them. Aka my own religious upbringing pre Buddhism did not have one but my mother was brought up by nuns and was pretty chirpy about the stories she told about the Catholic church and its machinations, however, she was a Catholic to the end and strangely I have somewhat ended up like her I think…. a kind of conservative liberal……which now also I am really exploring too.
    Well best and have a good weekend.

    Rita Ashworth

    (o yes and here is the interview with Romila Thapar –she talks about Ashoka in this – I have just ordered the book she wrote on him –fascinating – )

  513. James Elliott on June 22nd, 2013 11:48 am

    I think you’re on to something. You express it as a projection of society as a thing or entity. I think that’s the manifestation, but would suggest the cause is an institutionalized religion trying to put forth a goal or something meaningful that is larger than the individual. This unfortunately usually takes the form of ‘saving them’.

    It has a long history. The mainstream church is a good example. It used to literally rule the world from the Vatican, until there was a revolution ostensibly sparked by Martin Luthor, but I’m sure it was brewing for decades. After that, the Vatican’s powers were severely curtailed, the Vatican army was dismantled, and the powers that be decided that to allow the church to own the spiritual power side of things.

    Anyway, the point is, that within institutionalized religions, there are institutionalized goals. They have little to do with the individual’s path or the dharma teachings meant to awaken and enlighten people. They are often enough in direct conflict with those goals. They try to sell everything they do as beneficial for you and your path, but… it really isn’t true.

    For me this is the cusp at which it is critical for practitioners to discriminate the difference between political goals and spiritual practice and its aims. They, in the same way, are not always in harmony and can in certain constellations be in complete conflict with one another.

    There may be some reason that sort of dissonance is unavoidably necessary, but if it isn’t done openly with everyone’s knowledge, then it’s just tricking people into thinking something that’s bad for them is good for them and visa versa.

    In short this is the conundrum Shambhala has created by proposing that practice is about fixing society, out there, rather than practice being about waking the individual up so that he or she can be an awake force within the prevailing culture.

  514. John Tischer on June 23rd, 2013 10:30 am

    “In short this is the conundrum Shambhala has created by proposing that practice is about fixing society, out there, rather than practice being about waking the individual up so that he or she can be an awake force within the prevailing culture.”

    Yes….the diametric opposite of VCTR’s approach.

  515. Rita Ashworth on June 24th, 2013 2:15 am

    Dear John, James, SO et al,

    Well yes SI maybe diametrically opposed to what CTR taught –but they may put up defences to that anyhow –you could do that in a reasoned debate, I am sure.
    What more concerns me, however, is that CTR students have not been able for many reasons to create some sense of going forward momentum with the teachings in society at large. Marks stab at this was with ‘Open Dojo –now we have got no-agenda-what more could people come up with and how would that relate to having a curriculum and practices in the world. As said previously the way teachings are related to in society do change with time and it could be argued that the way ‘we’ are relating to them is rather staid and old-fashioned. Certainly there are elements of CTR’s teachings that are dated – more suited to the rebellious nature of the 70s not to now an educated and increasingly ‘politicised’ humanity.
    So dunno we have to explore stuff more in an engaged manner – not sure about Midal –what he is doing, but perhaps the close allusions to western philosophy and poetry may have some impact on the way CTRs teachings go on the continent, but the way he is doing things might also throw up some problems with institutionalisation too. More myself concerned with communication, interaction, group connection, and of course that old chestnut democracy-as to some degree these practices/thinking undermine institutionalism. Yes we really need to come to grips about how we discern awakeness quality of CTRs legacy, and perhaps other teachers now, if we are to work with them aswell, and use our own connection to clarity/practice to go forward in a holistic manner.
    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  516. James Elliott on June 26th, 2013 6:13 am


    Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, in so far as we are talking about Buddhism, were actaully deep rooted in tradition. His style of teaching on the other hand, while echoing a crazy wisdom lineage, was his own. Worth repeating: his style of teaching was his own; the substance of his teachings was very traditional, and he made many efforts to make clear he couldn’t be doing what he was doing without the context and in fact support of the lineage and its traditions, as well as our own.

    How to go forward in terms of politics, how to create a community with all its rules is another whole theme in and of itself. I know the Shambhala texts, and there is some references, in what I think are fairly abstracted terms about how society got in such a state, but I know of no teachings specifically about how to create government, how to hold a community together, etc. I think Trungpa Rinpoche made comments here and there about such things, but I wouldn’t put those sorts of things on the same level as dharma teachings, specifically because those kinds of teachings or thoughts are in fact very temporal and dependant on prevailing patterns. The teachings about Buddhism however, are not mutated by contingencies and time.

    I’m assuming then what John referred to then was the very basic Buddhism 101 notion that all spiritual practice is about overcoming one’s own ego – period. Without that he notably once said, there is no purpose at all. It is not about fixing ‘that’ or the external world in any concievable way. And yet… that notion has become somewhat overweening within Shambhala proper, and used to seperate the wheat from the chaffe.

    When we are practicing in order to fix the neurosis of society, according to the man, we are grabbing the wrong end of the stick, which leads to what S.O. mentioned, anthropomorphizing society, attributing traits to it, like “society’s neurosis” or spiritual problems. That kind of on the fly diagnostic might by accident have some truth for individuals. It is however using the entirely false set of categories to diagnose the dynamics of society at large.

    In the inspiration that “Everything is in the hands of man; therefore wash them regularly.”(S.J.Lec)

  517. John Tischer on June 26th, 2013 12:07 pm

    Eliot…well said

  518. Rita Ashworth on June 27th, 2013 1:38 am

    Dear James, John, SO et al,

    Hmmmmm –the lineage and its traditions….I wonder about this even in the context of Buddhism now and especially in the relation to the way CTR taught-the schema of that-perhaps the Kagyu path brought in people at that time – would they have been brought in if shambhala had been promulgated first…this I think is doubtful. I think I do remember some reference to him teaching Nyingmpa teachings at Samye Ling but I dont think that way of teaching worked there well, maybe someone could point me in the right direction about that.
    Re tradition also within the context of most religious traditions you do get people that come from left of field-in the Xtian tradition of course you get people like St Francis-who are indeed nurtured by tradition but are iconoclastic in their methods or style of relating to people.
    Re the forms also of traditions these do mutate also with time aswell, some lamas I think are holding onto forms that have had their sell by date I think, but I grant you we would need some kind of conference to actually decide, discuss on the forms used at least for the time being I think. CTR said I think in the Lions Roar book that he was interested in discussing the forms of deities used which goes a lot further than the thinking of many lamas out there. In this respect I see the return to kind of Chinese/Tibetan form for a Rigden King somewhat perplexing – if meditational deities are to be used in the future there must be ways found to explore all these artistic processes for a more ‘modern’ audience. Yes if the visualisation methods are not to disappear they shall have to be seen more from the psychological aspect I think for westerners of a secular persuasion, and not strictly from a process of internalising the guru principle. Difficult I know but must be attempted.
    It maybe that zen without its emphasis on deities will turn up trumps in western society aka dharma because it connects in a grounded way with reality as it is. However for myself there are still some aspects of zen that I find troublesome in the sense sometimes of the lack of the devotional emphasis which you do find in protestant forms of religion also, but yes zen may suit many westerners more than Tibetan Buddhism one begins to think now. Indeed Batchelor with his knowledge of both paths is emphasising more the grounded approach of basic meditation and

  519. Rita Ashworth on June 27th, 2013 1:41 am

    the lack of lineage, and he is getting more discussion around his themes as he goes on with his work. Will have to discuss with him how he sees lineage/devotion etc when he comes to Manchester – he may see these aspects from some other sense now. However I agree with Batchelor in the pragmatic notion that dharma may just only now be beginning to echo societal themes which were somewhat devolved when other religions and practices gained their sway in India.
    So, I think in some respect if lineage is to survive, and it has been more and more eroded in time as the west has gone in a secular fashion, it will have to bounded by societal constructs. What forms that may now take is questionable but one that I am interested in exploring, and hence more questions about the shambhala teachings-the property of no-one-not even of a Sakyong, and the fundamental ground that the many can touch into. Yes the Sakyong principle I think maybe emblematic of the endless circulation of power – so I am less interested in structure than a lot of people out there-thats why I am more taken by OWS and now the philosopher Hannah Arendt.
    So dunno….open dojo…no agenda…no institutionalism….what next….seems to me we are edging into something that has the taste of society at least…or thoughts about what individuals in that society could debate/think/meditate upon. Yes our list somewhat begins to resemble the Heart Sutra in form-so I am into the clearing of the decks re practice.
    So just some initial thoughts on your post – yes willing to explore the ground more of practice like the things we have come up with….might be also good if u could post the nuggets that CTR said/composed about society….perhaps we could add them to our list as we go on.

    I can also assure you too from some Tibetan Buddhists that I know of from other lamas –there are also such discussions happening quite frequently now about path….this whole Tibetan way of relating to the dharma is becoming more and more questioned from the western audience, and I believe some of the path in consequence will have to change radically in the immediate future.
    Well best from the UK
    Rita Ashworth

  520. James Elliott on June 27th, 2013 6:11 pm


    Trungpa Rinpoche’s talk about changing the deities to fit the society was not a call for his students to explore that. He did say that over generations the forms of the deities would probably evolve to reflect local culture, like some form of glorified fireman or policeman, that sort of thing. But he also said fairly specifically that would happen and be accomplished by highly realized beings. It would not be a discussion or debate process. There is nothing to democratize there.

    I like Batchelor. But I think what he’s doing, in spite of his vajrayana background, is a very Theravadana approach. I don’t see the need to make one better than the other, it’s just different.

    Vajrayana makes no sense as far as I can tell without a realized master, which may have been his problem with vajrayana, I don’t know. But I do know that without a realized master, I honestly don’t think there could be such a thing as vajarayana. It isn’t about simply believing in the deity.

    The lineage is not maintained by cultural structures. It is maintained through the generations by means of the monastic system. Out of that come teachers capable of relating to secular practitioners. I think the monastic system should take care of itself without our mucking about and trying to ‘modernize’ it or democratize it or whatever.

    On the other hand when talking about current communities and how they are run, and how they can maintain continuity into the future, there is a whole lot of discussion that can occur and is in some circles.

    I don’t think adopting a permeable structure which fully adapts to current norms may be what would do that. That would have any community simply dissolving into the larger culture with no real unique quality to it. This was a critique Ash brought up somewhere above, that ‘open dojo’ was possible only because of a structure within which it existed. It’s that structure, that would allow, create or nurture O.D. which is what needs to discussed.

    It might be useful to look back at what Trungpa Rinpoche actually did to weave together the cloth of his community. It was not only that he taught. That was what got people to practice. There was a plethora of other things that actually created a community.

    This conference you keep mentioning is sounding more and more interesting. Maybe a report when it’s over?

  521. Rita Ashworth on June 28th, 2013 2:26 am

    Dear James, John, SO et al,

    Thanks for your post.

    Well CTR has been dead for twenty-six years now and times as the song said are changing.

    Re the ‘democratisation’ about the discussion of deities –this I think is debateable at least we should begin to see such images in a different manner I believe –they may change somewhat now I think-I think a conference should be called for on such matters with perhaps a few lamas/rinpoches. I also believe that westerners are capable even now of ‘creating’ deities for practice which may come from their meditational experience –this is possible I think. Of course we do have the instance of Ray ‘meeting’ a protector- Ritro Gonpo, and whatever you think of Ray his students are involved with discussing this area now….so dunno….maybe we should leave the doors a little more open on this thats all I am saying.
    Aka open dojo, no agenda etc ….this also debateable… I think generally people are becoming more adult in matters of meditation and discussions about ‘society’. I think it is now possible for different groups to come together to just sit with each other and who knows what will develop from these encounters. Yes in the sudden rush that SI has now made to ‘create’ its identity I think we have lost some aspects of openness with others that the shambhala teachings formerly offered so I dont want to close the doors as of yet in working with others in more direct fashion.
    Aka the vajrayana relationship…well our centre re this has somewhat spun out of control so we are left with difficult choices about this….we could go with Ray, Patrick Sweeney, we could go with other older students or even with some of the younger Tibetan lamas but in all these contexts would we be able to recreate the scene as it were that we had with Trungpa – I dont think so….so even tho we continue with some of the vajrayana practices on our own to a degree things are never going to be the same with this now. Hence I suppose by matter of default I am working more with the container principle at this time and I think this why Mark Szap may also be talking about open dojo aswell –its something that we could create as sangha to a degree.
    Re the convention that I am working with –more motivated by this sense of openness of Marks and we have had some sessions last year that discussed meditation more generally in society. So this years convention will go more deeply into how meditation inter-relates with our daily lives perhaps also in a ‘political’ sense too.
    Re Batchelor it will be very interesting meeting him for sure as he does I think understand where much of Tibetan tradition is coming from –he seems to know Tibetan, Sanskrit and now Pali fairly well so not a bad scholar to relate to. However I think like most of the rest of us he also does not know how dharma will fully ripen in the west –his talks are entitled ‘After Buddhism’ –so he is in exploration mode with dharma as a lot of us are. I also think SI is even tho they think they have ‘It’ as it were – yes the religious path from my reading of religious history is set with many diversions and upsets so I dont know what is going to happen what the west will take on and what it will not. But I do tend to believe now that much of the Tibetan canon will not translate itself into our culture so indeed we should begin to start exploring where dharma will take us perhaps more away from the influence of Tibetan teachers for a time, – and who knows perhaps some St Paul will arise – yes just maybe.

    Well best for now

    Rita Ashworth

  522. John Perks on June 28th, 2013 4:47 pm

    “well CTR has been dead for twenty six years now,and times they are changing as the song said”
    glad to see you with Mr Batchelor another interlectual bullshit artist,you have no concept of DEVOTION or LINEAGE,
    Not your fault of course,just the british stupidity,whats the name of that convention by the way? [that never seems to happen],
    Openness give me a break,why waste your time,at least go out and help someone,forget your chit chat mind,and conventions.
    Time it is awasting as the song goes,at the very least try Devotion to your Guru.forget your British rubbish,and any other rubbish,
    good luck to you,
    from this side of the effing pond

  523. Rita Ashworth on June 29th, 2013 5:46 am

    Dear Mr Perks, James, John, SO et al,

    Mr Perks thanks for that riposte but au contraire I am very interested in how the teachings from CTR will pan out in the coming decades in our lives.
    As to devotion that comes in many ways – I dont think we should give up our critical intelligence in ‘trying’ to see how aspects of CTR’s dharma will go now in the world now that he is no longer physically here, and I also find this emphasis on the ronin thing mentioned on rfs quite beyond the pale too-something I believe Trungpa would not have been into.
    I also dont see at this present time how it is at all possible to preserve the full gamut of the way he presented the Kagyu teachings for the many out there. Lets face it those times have ended, and even Ray I believe will have some difficulty in carrying forward aspects of the Kagyu teachings en masse to people as was done in the past. Yes, we can not recreate the past now – it is devolving somewhat as many traditions do, so people could go the way of trying to hold onto what went before but increasingly I am finding this notion kind of tiresome. How many small centres can resurrect all those forms for our current times I think is not going to happen – rather I think it is better now to recognise this and to try and think radically how we can engage with people again out there. This is also a very deep question for the Kagyu lineage as a whole too and one that I hear is going on in the UK aswell – yes what is the Kagyu lineage going to offer to people now I await for further discussions on this….indeed Ponlop Rinpoche to a degree has started this off.
    Lineage yes I think now has to be seen with radical eyes and heart –how we personally experienced moments at seminary and connections with the teacher and subsequent practice. So we go forward with those perhaps into diverse ways of expressing our devotion – indeed we might have to make alliances with other modes of thought and practice out there, but at the basic level what remains is a desire for enlightened society. So it is a question now of how we source that with others out there I think. Yes if we are to have a living tradition and not one connected in stone to the 20th century we shall have to think deeply and practice deeply around this – I can not believe that Trungpa Rinpoche would at all want us to put our practices/thoughts into museum mode –he was much more a man rooted in present dynamics than that.
    As for open dojo I still think it is a theme we can explore for rich sources of expression and connection – and it maybe only one of the ways left that we can connect with Trungpa Rinpoche this is why I think Mark Szap has emphasised it so much – certainly the ‘concept’ leaves me with much more room for thought, reflection, contemplation than the present set-ups after CTRs death. I have looked at what is evolved and none of them seem to suit me so I am somewhat in exploratory mode as many are I believe
    Re Batchelor difference of opinion on him- I think he is raising important questions re dharma and I do want to hear what he says about how it will develop in the west-if hes a Brit bullshitter intellectual artist moreso the better-yes better to have these questions about the dharma debated in public now than behind the closed opulent doors whether in India, Europe, Canada or the US.
    Yes my own connection to CTR maybe somewhat different to your own but I am using that connection to him as my background whilst remaining open in front re my views, practice – in essence I think this is quite a good way to go now-quite a voyage of discovery that we are all undertaking and one that may indeed bear fruit….hope also that there might be some people from the past that I can work with this now on too –will have to see about that…but if not hey-ho the happy yogi – we go forward anyway.
    Re ‘helping’ people –dicey even the Regent commented on that that one could not ‘help’ people. However one can offer friendship and that is what I am doing to the many young people I am meeting out there….yes if you offered ‘help’ especially in the north of the UK they would say what are you selling.
    The convention is in Manchester on October 12th of this year and if u google Manchester Buddhist Convention on the web u can find it there – after that Batchelor in December –both events for free and at the convention we also supply free food everything done by dana in the north of the UK unlike our southern neighbours gatherings it would seem. Ha-Ha!

    James etc hope we can get back to the discussion now.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  524. John Perks on June 29th, 2013 11:53 am

    AH yes the old Buddhist two step brush off,very reasonable lets get back to that.
    But there is a big problem,like a very smelly shit in the underpants,which follows you around.
    Batchelor freaked out on the Vajrayana,he did not want his kleshas ransacked,so he made up a more reasonable,socialy acceptable Buddhist tale,more like milktoast,anyone can eat it,very reasonable.Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings are timeless,if you think because he has not a body [dead in your terms] that his energy is not accessible you are quite incorrect.You cannot reason or organize your way out of the mire of the dark age.
    Devotion by the way is not a bank account,give alittle at a completely surrender,blood, skin, bones,entrails….and giving to others as Mother Teresa says “give give and give untill it hurts then give more”

    Best Wishes from this Ocean,Beyond Reason

  525. John Tischer on June 29th, 2013 12:38 pm

    “You cannot reason or organize your way out of the mire of the dark age.”

    John P., I concur. That’s the reason, to me, the discussion of how we “move forward” is moot. VCTR’s teachings, in fact, the whole vajrayana system has been damaged, if not destroyed, by this time….this situation. This does not infer hopelessness, but rather points to the trend that is occurring. It seems it’s up to individuals to do what they can….move forward as they can, and, yes,
    employing our bodhisattva vows when and where….but to imagine that a
    “new” form of teachings or a renaissance of Buddhism or its principles at this
    time is going to take root and flourish seems the height of wishful thinking.
    We already had it. We had a mahasiddha teaching in English and he garnered maybe 5 K students. Buddha transformed the East. We don’t have
    the time and place right now for what you may hope will happen.

    And I agree with J. P. about Batchelor. He started with the Gelugpas. No wonder he became disillusioned.

  526. John Perks on June 29th, 2013 1:51 pm

    AH Brother John,yes the Mahasiddha is in us all of his students,like he said “a big diamond nail with the diety on one side ,and himself on the other us in the middle making a juicey sandwich” speared through the heart,
    of course one could try to reason ones way out,thats the shit in the underpants route,lets find another way thats the bullshit route…lets not give up on the Vajrayana…love beyound reason…
    Joy to you brother john,
    Johnny Perks

  527. Rita Ashworth on June 30th, 2013 2:25 am

    Dear John, John, Jame, SO et al,

    Yes well John Alleuia to those posts.

    You know been having some interesting conversations with people outside of SI and the phrase ‘scrambled and fried’ came up in regard to what has happened since Trungpa died –or entered paranirvana etc….take your pick. And the thing is I think that is quite an apt phrase.
    I am looking at all that is on offer re the new teachers and the old teachers with connections to Trungpa and none of them suit this present age in my opinion. SI-gadzooks when does that path ever stop, Ray-jeez what happened? Satdharma ineffectual , on the borders and so old hat. Midal ah so the French have joined in as well…
    Actually the CTR in my devotional brain is saying stay clear, stay out, and stay put…. let this stuff play out as it is wont to do. The Yanks are going loony and it is affecting us all.
    The thing is I dont now know what is rescueable from the way Trungpa taught in the west-perhaps elements of the shambhala teachings if they were reframed for this age. He did afterall want shambhala centres on their own – so to a degree must follow this advice –they might be the only thing that can work now. So it is really interesting exploring what Mark thinks in connection to Open Dojo and what Batchelor might say about his whole involvement in the Buddhist scene. One awaits further discussions and debates on what could come into being now.
    So yes the Sakyong turned to his Tibet home re the teachings –well I returned to the west and its thinking. Upon reflection both our philosophical and psychological connections to all our cultures are ebbing in these revolutionary times – Tibetan culture slowly dying and western culture on the tipping point of its extinction too. I dont know what we are going to take into this new age we are entering into but it surely must be something different than we have allowed, countenanced in the past. So I have to explore what is happening with dharma at the present time and see how I should personally go – at least my own conscience points me this way that is something I have gleaned from the study of western philosophy.
    So end of eras everywhere –the Chris Farlowe song from the sixties is quite apt now…..yes great song.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  528. John Perks on June 30th, 2013 6:14 am

    Dear Sister Rita,
    “Scrambled and Fried” I like that,remember the cooking pot we were or are still in?it seems that after himself died or entered paranivana he,it,just got bigger,I admire your exploration shows sand,but I think there is nothing to rescue,it did not go any where,its in you,you in it.
    we all struggled to become carrots,turnips,potato’s,onions,he said”there is a carrot jumps out and says”look at me I’m done”,no your not back in the pot”path never stops just becomes more painfully luminus.
    SMR is in that pot as well,we are all cooking becoming delicious feast of Shambhala,after all we all jumped in.
    When I saw the Gundestrup Cauldron I burst out laughing,
    love to you,

  529. John Tischer on June 30th, 2013 10:01 pm

    I don’t know about you, Mr. John F. Perks, but it always seemed to me, after
    a few decades, that our guru’s teachings were very clear, there was an established form to carry them forward…and he whole shillelagh has become a train wreck of understandable proportions, but, perhaps, only to those who are in on the joke…

    which could be everyone….

  530. Rita Ashworth on July 1st, 2013 2:06 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Hmmmm – I was not exactly seeing ‘scrambled and fried’ in that sense-more in the sense that perhaps due to could one say the various modes of psychological being/thought across the water that things have become completely Americanised with the dharma and religious/secular thought generally…I think this was always going to be a problem over there re its focus on goals in society, new world values etc. So it seems to me that is is all playing out now there.
    As for Midal well it some how does not fit with English pragmatism/romanticism – one can not ignore the fact still in Europe that people see their lives with different lenses –the many squabbles in the EU do reflect this- therefore it seems to me that the original way the shambhala teachings were promulgated with some minor refinements with the passage of a long time could still work in our present day societies who are indeed abandoning conventional religion by the thousands –the UK census did show that here.
    In addition the classical teachings re Buddhism have also somewhat come to a hiatus now in western society, from my brief knowledge of things here most organisations in this realm are in to revamp mode much as are political parties. What they may come out with in the end will be anyones guess, but I think there is more emphasis on society because people of course now have a much broader knowledge and fear of political instability in the round. This is why I do really want to know where Batchelor is coming from re his notions of dharma and society –they might have some influence on how I see things now.
    Interesting your mention of the Gundestrop Cauldron –how were you thinking of them in relation to the shambhala teachings generally….here for peoples info is a brief video on this cauldron

    Re my own further interest in the shambhala teachings and perhaps other teachings like them perhaps from the more English angle because have not travelled much in the last few years –have discovered more about the freethinkers in my own area in the 19th century….yes there was a revolution in social and religious values here that led to the Quakers and the Unitarians and in the 1930s the spiritualist traditions –you find these organisations all over the north west where I come from-a kind of desire because of industrialisation for a return to values in society. So I have been examining these movements in connection to my own knowledge of shambhala etc –interesting connections and of course diversions from what CTR was saying and practicing.
    Anyway as CTR perhaps always knew you can not get the English to fall into line on anything therefore things I think will have to be left as open as possible here – so this connects with my own interest on the Open Dojo discussion.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  531. John Perks on July 1st, 2013 12:45 pm

    John T,
    I agree,train wreck,
    but our teachers forms still exist,we and others still carry it on,I don’t think its a joke,what else would one do?
    after a Mahasiddha as a teacher.

  532. John Perks on July 1st, 2013 1:11 pm

    Well its very confusing with all the different free thinking clouds in a clear sky,best to go back to square one,and stick to the way we were taught.which is quite straght forward.All the information is still there written,and recorded,so one regards this treasure as the continuing mind,and heart of the Mahasiddha.
    About the Gundestrop Cauldron when I first saw it years ago,the Mahasiddha had just been talking about all of us being in a cauldron [cooking pot] seeing the imagery I thought Chogyam has been here before!!!
    which made me laugh,

  533. John Perks on July 1st, 2013 5:45 pm

    Post Script,
    Concerning Mr Batchelor I am sure he is a very nice english chap just trying to make a few bucks out of his version of the thing called Buddhism,he is not the only one.
    For us heart students,and lovers of the Mahasiddha we are on our own,haunted by our love affair with him,let us celibrate that aloness,we have stories to tell,songs to sing,poems to write,food to cook,wine to drink,
    as to SMR he told us “I am not my father” that is the truth,how could he be ,how could anyone be,there is no savior,no system,no organization,
    We are on our own.,but then arises our love affair which will not go away.
    After all as it is said”when you have been fucked by the best why try the rest”thats a quote from Elkie head mistress of the” nutcracker suite “where I worked for a time as a male domanatrix.

  534. James Elliott on July 2nd, 2013 2:29 am

    It’s not so clear to me Mr. Perks, that we have the forms, and therefore a way to go forward. Maybe I don’t understand what forms you mean, but my and other’s adherence to forms that evolved around the man, brought myself and a number of people into very unhealthy situations: threats of expulsion, accusations of having broken samaya, heavy handed demands to obey officials who were (are?) demonstrably deceitful, manipulative and who wielded dharma principles more like a spiked mace than the scepter of wisdom we students of Trungpa Rinpoche witnessed him holding.

    In our corner of the world, our community, as small as it was, was dismantled and rendered inoperable by agents of the realm. What became clear to me at that point was that, in so far as we are talking about Shambhala Int., any path that we were potentially introducing people to, would also encourage those candidates to get involved with the very same institution that was (is?) nurturing some very destructive individuals at the expense of the well being and devotion of members involved at various levels of experience.

    My point here is that we did see a mahasiddha in action, but… well my way of making any sense of it, is that there must be a distinction between dharma teachings: meditation, devotion, the nature of mind, how to overcome ego, etc., and on the other hand the more cultural and administrative manifestations that accrue around such a teacher. Certainly when he is no longer at the helm. Those same forms without him, seem to be a source of divisiveness.

    Another way of saying that, I’ve seen vajrayana students, without the benefit of having their vajrayana master alive and present become perhaps insane and certainly destructive. Not everyone got so far that they could or should be let loose on the world. I don’t think that’s a problem that can be solved by administrative tweaking.

    The weaving together of a community, creating a continuity and recognizable group identity, however, involves all kinds of things that are not in and of themselves dharma teachings. Quite aside from the substance of dharma, it’s on that level I suspect Shambhala Buddhism has shown its weakness, choosing a rubber stamp of identity rather than a natural if assisted evolving.

    In the inspiration that devotion does not create the truth, it is a result of seeing the truth.

  535. Rita Ashworth on July 2nd, 2013 2:41 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Thanks for your further posts.

    Yes of course there is the close relationship with ones teacher that is obvious, but when that teacher dies, or enters paranirvana how do you take what you received into the larger society out there. This is the conundrum that most religions and secular movements have to face in the present age. At the present time I think there are several ideas out there developing as to how to move forward, from holding on to what was presented originally, to tweaking the teachings for present times, for going off into somewhat different directions in the western context more – we can see all this happening with Ray, Midal, Sweeney and others. And now of course we have Marks S’s ideas on ‘Open Dojo’ too.
    Similar things are also happening within the more traditional ways of doing Buddhism here in the UK, for example even Samye Ling is setting up centres in the UK that have a wider remit than following the Buddhist path-they seem somewhat to be entering a field to what FWBO does in emphasising well-being, mindfulness and lifestyle. In this respect they have bought a large centre near Scarborough which emphasises these aspects.
    Of course to a degree too this seems what SI will eventually have to get into as well if they ever do get larger city centres – the London centre here does seem to be doing that a bit now.
    So in a social and historical sense I am looking out there at what is occurring with the dharma now –how it translates into the western context. Of course there are some parallels with free-thinker history that is why I mentioned them.
    My own feelings re how the dharma will eventually come to the west are still somewhat complex, in essence I see some aspects of traditional Buddhism as not being necessary for what may happen here eventually. I really dont see the necessity for Ladrangs and to a lesser extent the emphasis on lineage in the western context. Lets face it for the last 500 years the west has been on a voyage of discovery with religious discourse and what seems to matter is how your religious behaviour corresponds with your work in the world and your relationships with people. Yes the west just does not do lineage now.
    So with these reflections it maybe more pertinent to examine further how the container for the Buddhist and meditational principles may find expression in our lives now, and it seems to

  536. Rita Ashworth on July 2nd, 2013 2:44 am

    me that rfs is positing a discussion forum for how what we received from CTR may come in to being. Indeed for myself still Shambhala vision has a better chance of becoming a more established modus operandi because it fits more with the way people are here. This why I think CTR and Dilgo Khentyse Rinpoche emphasised the open or yogic quality of these teachings.
    However its true I dont know the full gamut of how people are thinking out there re dharma but from casual conversations with other Buddhists, reading etc one can discern that the Buddhist orgs have come to a stage where they have developed so far with the aid of teachers from the East and now they are in re-examination mode. So I am hoping with my forays into speaking with Batchelor and helping with the convention to get some wider ideas as to what is going on.
    Personally too as to my own practice – I may have to go to other teachers now for advice and ideas about how to go forward, but hopefully too I can work with some people from the past aswell – still debating all these things within my own braincells….ha-ha.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  537. John Perks on July 2nd, 2013 10:01 am

    Dear James,
    Yes you are correct the shenannigans that played out after the Mahasiddha’s rule were more than painful to many.
    As to the forms what I am saying {sorry to be so indistinct I am not good at this} so the forms are still there in the writings,and other transmissions,we can use them in our every day life situations.There exists no organization like the one the Mahasiddha created or directed.
    That is all over we know that,but we continue,on our own,sometimes in small groups.A few of us get together to do the Sadhana of Mahamudra,sometimes people ask can we join in,we always say yes..Then we have a feast like the court. very simple,joyous.we are not trying to create an organization.thank goodness thats all over.
    Hay if I ever visit your corner of the world would love to come ,and practice with you.If you should find your self lost in Vermont come and celibrate with us
    joy to you

  538. John Perks on July 2nd, 2013 10:12 am

    Dear Rita,
    Yes it can be very helpful to go to other teachers for advice [if we take it]
    For myself I like the Mahasiddha’s line “let the phenomena play”
    seach for needle in haystack very exausting most of all when have a pocket full unseen or unused.

  539. Edward on July 2nd, 2013 5:46 pm

    Folks, may I interrupt with a small question…? I’m just curious if the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche ever playfully spoke about saving the world, or allowed people to project savior fantasies onto him, as part of crazy wisdom’s way of relating to hope and fear on the part of students?

    I ask because I used to have a teacher who appeared to be very sane, and was respected by a lot of people. But then he started to really encourage all sorts of things that I did not approve of, lol. I mean, it’s funny, but it’s also not funny at all – in fact it’s one of the most disturbing things actually.

    About a week before his death, I had an extended dream with him in it, in which he invited me to ask him questions about anything, anything at all. The dream went on and on and on. Most of what I asked him about was “crazy wisdom”. CTR’s name came up and we talked about him. I don’t remember 99% of the conversation, but I remember my teacher cracking up laughing at some of the tricks CTR played on his students. He seemed to think it was just the funniest thing ever – while I found some of the stories about CTR funny – from a distance – but also rather intimidating. Also, I seem to recall my teacher saying something about how crazy wisdom is simply the only way to deal with certain kinds of situations. You provide a warning, you give advice, and then you allow people’s fantasies to get played out, because what choice do you have, or something like that. (I could be remembering this wrong.)

    Anyway, at this point I feel like I almost cannot bear to participate in the formal structures that were setup when I first became his student. The emphasis has shifted away from things like meditation and has shifted more toward believing in the wonder of the “savior” and fitting in to the group mindset.

    The most upsetting part of all is how the teacher himself seems to have encouraged this in certain ways. Or at least accommodated it, while also criticizing it.

    Ultimately I feel like a refugee who has no home and no place to practice, and I’m pissed off about this, and also feel guilty. I suppose I always counted on the teacher to create a nice clean safe place for me to inhabit, and grew to rely on this, and then when this stopped happening I began to freak out and feel let down.

    Or maybe it’s all just my imagination – sometimes it’s hard for me to tell.

    The whole thing is somewhat disturbing. Which might be tolerable were it not for the loneliness.

    I guess I don’t really have any questions… Just wanted to say this to someone. I suppose it all comes from not trusting one’s perceptions and then seeking confirmation from outside… and there’s no end to that approach.

    Thank you for your book Mr. Perks. And thanks also to Mr. Szpakowski.

  540. Edward on July 2nd, 2013 6:27 pm

    Perhaps the most upsetting thing is that I once experienced a time in my life when situations seemed to provide all kinds of hospitality and clarity and guidance and so on – or at least that’s how I like to think about it in retrospect.

    But at this point it all feels very groundless. People will tell me how fantastically secure and certain it all is, but their reassurances just increase the feeling of groundlessness, tremendously.

    Maybe “groundless” isn’t the right word – it’s more like homeless. Very upsetting. Would like to know who I can blame it on, or what to do to get rid of the feeling… :) lol.

    thank goodness for CTR’s teachings.

  541. Rita Ashworth on July 2nd, 2013 6:40 pm

    (scuse the 2nd post)

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Thanks for your post.

    I do sort of have a quasi-sangha now that I interact with and that is the people that are creating the convention. We are going to have a day of practice soon…so in essence this will be a tad like open dojo because many traditions will be partaking in it.
    As to creating an organisation – well not in the mode that was done in the past, but eventually maybe a group of fellow travellers as it were may get together to create something larger in the sense of an open centre anyway thats what I am thinking of as a long shot. It maybe also after the Batchelor visit too that a group that would like to practice samatha may form-and I would be interested in partaking of that also in a spirit of sharing- yes certain aims of secular Buddhism do jive with me – so something could come of it too.
    As to going to other teachers re the Kagyu path-well there are some big Kagyu centres near me now and I may occasionally visit them to gain further knowledge about these teachings.
    Re SOM yes quite a good idea to do this practice together as it is an open practice and others I know could do it with me, for example have recently partaken in some other practices with others that are open to everyone.
    So this is where I am personally at in ‘going forward’-a three-pronged approach sort of…. heres hoping after Batchelor visit that people would get together to sit – I could contribute to that in so many ways.
    So yes in essence I think what I am doing does kind of jive with ‘Shambhala Vision’ in that it is open and inclusive altho it does not have the exact forms that we used in the past.
    Well best from the UK-and good luck to us all in all our endeavours.

    Rita Ashworth

  542. John Perks on July 2nd, 2013 8:19 pm

    Dear Edward,
    Yes here is a partial list of people you can blame,
    The Buddha’s,
    All of the 84 Mahasiddha’s,
    your mom ,and dad,
    all your ancestors back to limetless time,
    all of your teachers,
    Adolph Hitler,
    George Bush,
    The Beatles,
    Saint Frances,
    God,and Mrs God,
    Sam Spade,
    Henry Miller,
    Micky Mouse Club,
    King Henry the 8th
    Rita Ashworth,
    the Birds ,and Bee’s ,and all the greenery
    So the practice is every day you name 108 names of beings to blame And say “Fuck You “then the name,
    do this for ten years,and you will be Free
    Perhaps one of Rita’s Free thinkers God Forbid
    Love to You

  543. John Perks on July 2nd, 2013 8:35 pm

    Rita Darlin,
    I think you should sit on Batchelors face,and ask him to chant the Heart Sutra,then see what happens,its part of “let the Phenomana Play” an interlectual Who done it!!!

  544. John Tischer on July 2nd, 2013 11:47 pm

    Dear Edward,

    Groundless…..Yes!! Now you’re getting nowhere!!!

  545. Rita Ashworth on July 3rd, 2013 4:34 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    Yes, difference of opinion again re how to go ‘forward’.

    Rfs states several times that there are people in Halifax and Boulder who are not following the present SI system, but what are they actually doing re dharma now –they have gone to other teachers, they are following some elements of CTRs teachings which are bearing little fruit from what I hear. As said I dont think you can recreate the past even if you wanted to –things have moved on –people have moved on. We are not again going to be interwoven into a greater SI sangha from what I can see happening stateside so better to recognise this. And I also believe what Ray is doing to be too far out for some tho it may take some time to crash. Similarly as to Patrick Sweeneys outfit in Ojai –it is only just now developing a curriculum to go out with into the world after an interminable length of time. So I think they are beginning at last to see the writing on the wall –if they dont do something for themselves they will end up in the mists and gone.
    What is prompting me in my explorations of the dharma is CTRs kind of command to ‘Never forget the Hinayana’ –yes how did people in the states forget it and go on this journey of mega-kingdoms. We need to get back to some level playing field and I will have to work with others I think to get sense of where that level playing field is – Batchelor maybe one of the people I could work with and others also. He is a great scholar, writer and has an openness of vision that I do like from what I have seen of him – so there we go meetings happening with other dharma practitioners is a great thing to do and one as far as I can see that CTR did encourage at Naropa.
    As to the Kagyu teachings –well my emphasis is more on the container principle as of now –but I am still practicing these teachings and am open to hearing what other lamas say of them in the present time. But yes have to acknowledge to some degree that I am disengaging from this path. Not from a sense of a lack of respect, devotion but simply acknowledging that the many out there now are not going to be throwing themselves down 108,000 times with prostrations at this time. We are in time when just basic meditation will have to be emphasised more –lets face it the madness of materialism is everywhere and however much you may want to cut through it –it is endemic in our minds and systems so perhaps the only way we will reach people is on a Hinayana and Mahayana basis.
    Within that context we can do SOM-it is a ritual that creates openness and can be seen in several ways and I think it may hold up in western society.
    Of course you may see my approach as lacking in devotion, however, I do not see it that way I see it rather as reaching out to people where they are at at the present time and in my opinion that does have a sense of the devotional quality aspect to it in that CTR did want an enlightened society and I am following that desire of his to manifest it in the many ways that I think it could come about at present.
    In addition I think several former members of SI are also thinking in a similar fashion from what I can gen re emails to me that they maybe only able to preserve their vajrayana practice as a personal practice and in small groups therefore they too are focussing on basic meditation.

    Aka making the list also that you wrote out ha-ha…..freethinkers well part of my ancestral lineage here and something as an English person I thought you would be into too…..CTR always conscious it seemed to me of the historical and social values of the country he was in. God forbid that he did not consider this aswell..ho-ho.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  546. Rita Ashworth on July 3rd, 2013 5:19 am

    ps Mr Perks et al forgot the video….this so much about groundlessness….yes the milk has definitely been spilt best again rita

  547. John Perks on July 3rd, 2013 6:14 am

    Dear Rita, Yes you are correct,I apologize to you ,and Mr Batchelor,and the free thinkers,I have said beastly things.A Thousand apologies.Speaking like a complete cad.
    I have this English ox that I ride, beastly thing,sometimes it thinks its American,and acts like a loose cannon snorting jumping around.Thank goodness I have an English whip.
    I am sure you know what it is like!!!
    AH well,
    Tally Ho,regardless on we go.

  548. Rita Ashworth on July 3rd, 2013 9:32 am

    (scuse the 2nd post)

    … to the whip…..not really —only ridden donkeys on Blackpool beach….ho-ho, leave all that up to people with more casheroo….but if I find a way to ride cheaply in the future might try it….also just discovered re utube that there is an English style to horse-riding aka seems to be slightly more controlled than the American style – I think also CTR might have ridden English style from the pictures I have seen of him on a horse…..would be interesting to know.
    … apologies …..ho-ho…….a last quiperoo from the man….well best rita

  549. Edward on July 3rd, 2013 12:18 pm

    Mr. Tischer & Mr. Perks,

    Thank you sirs for encouragement in getting nowhere and for advice in how to complain properly and fully.

  550. Michael on July 3rd, 2013 4:18 pm

    How do you “move forward”? CTR died a LONG time ago. It seems to me that since then the main concern has been to keep the structure – the form/s – continuing. How’s that working out? From the outside, I see many changes – many at the level of branding / marketing but also at the level of basic practices. Oh, and everything has a lot more levels to it… the “more and more gradual” path.

    I see a great deal of energy expended in “furthering the vision” – which I translate as “support our hierarchy and infrastructure”.

    What I don’t see so much is the damn-near-continuous pointing out of mind essence that CTR did. Sure, he did it ritually – but he also did it a LOT in ordinary situations. It wasn’t cloaked in jargon. It was driven by circumstance and interaction. I think that is why he was able to attract so many students – you never knew when he would blow the top of your head off!! That is why it is so useful to have a live teacher!

    Trying to relive those thrilling days of yesteryear – or even worse, fixating on the forms he created to cut through (trekcho…) the fantasies and projections of us ex-hippies, is pretty much futile.

    I think that one’s allegiance/interest should be to the awareness that his pointing-out fostered, not to the form that the “container” of the teachings took – then OR now!

    To those CTR students who haven’t found a live teacher: consider looking harder. It isn’t like you throw away your connection to CTR – that would be crazy! But remember, our minds have a way of “mellowizing” all those memories – however if you wallow there you miss out on now….

  551. Rita Ashworth on July 4th, 2013 6:52 am

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for returning the discussion somewhat to the ground.

    Well what concerns me now is ‘enlightened society’ –how that could possibly be realised in our present lives and work. So I am willing to work with most people out there who want to manifest that but I wont be holding onto to any present orgs. which impose structure from above –therefore I have left SI and am seeking more clearer visions about what could come about re dharma in the future.
    The first thing I am attempting to do is to try and get some notion about what the various traditions here think of society as it is now from the ‘dharmic’ angle as it were. Doing that in spirit of Open Dojo which Mark has emphasised on this thread –it seems one of the ways that we could go now with what we got from CTR, as such in a spirit of co-operation would be willing to share practice spaces with others on a greater scale – yes also too have a Great Debate about how we go forward re Dharma as a whole. I think I remember from US history that LBJ also did a similar thing after the disturbances in 60s America in a more societal sense.
    As for the other orgs. developing from CTR’s teachings –dont think I could ‘sell’ any of them to Mancunians as of at the present time-much like the people in Cape Breton and Chicago we are pretty down-to-earth and kingdoms and earth-breathing or whatever dont seem to cut it here. It is something that really worries me with this perspective of dharma in the states that it seems to be so emphasised in structure or kind of returning to alternative lifestyles of yesterday whether in Maine, Crestone or Ojai.
    Here for your elucidation re Manchester is a vid of the riots here in 2011-of course the city is somewhat quieter and more reflective now –yes but how does the dharma reach these people? If it does not in the next few years scenes like this may become more commonplace as societies dissolve re wealth barriers. I would not have thought that you would have such riots in Manchester in my lifetime –but there we are –times changing.

    Also just received on my newsfeed too a great vid which somewhat delves into where we are heading re society –amazing editing and in the end not being manical about what could occur –we do see much of this alienation presiding in present day society – who knows indeed where such rampant materialism will take us.

    So in essence want a dharma that is contemporary, inclusive, concerned with all levels of society, and true wealth distribution –which includes easy access to practice for the disenfranchised out there in a basic way. If that includes the vajrayana for some sobethat aswell –if we constructed our world in a more fluid, open manner all these relationships would be possible.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  552. Michael on July 4th, 2013 1:18 pm

    I dunno – to me “create Enlightened Society” isn’t that different from “join my political party”. I am more concerned with creating opportunities for as many people as possible to realize mind essence. I don’t give a rip for kingdoms or elaborate hierarchies. To that end, I am involved in sponsoring free teachings open to anyone, with teachers who do the “continuous mind-pointing-out” mentioned above…..

    to me, any grand scheme for a New World Order always makes me suspicious – and causes me to check my wallet!

  553. Rita Ashworth on July 4th, 2013 7:50 pm

    Dear Michael,

    Thanks for your feedback re my post.

    It is great news that you are sponsoring free teachings with teachers. I would like to do the same here, but maybe also with the proviso too that I would want to listen and discuss the dharma with westerners who had been practicing these teachings and perhaps other meditational disciplines for some time. In this way we could get a dialogue going between East and West something that of course Trungpa Rinpoche greatly favoured when he came to the west.
    Re ‘creating enlightened society’ – not seeing it in a strict ‘political’ sense as some people think I may do from my posts but rather want to examine the dharma from the ground up re aspects of societal themes within it. In this respect Batchelor and others are going back to Buddha Sakyamunis times to actually understand the context in which the dharma was given. I find this area of historical research quite refreshing and it may have some impact on how I relate to doing things here.
    I also agree with you about hierarchies and kingdoms –increasingly these formal structures are not needed in our present age, but what will replace them? We do need still as dharma practitioners to have some input on the way our society is -maybe this could involve a wider discussion on universal values etc.
    Re the second video that I posted –the ending was somewhat political in the strict sense –but thats utube for you-but I thought that the preceeding themes expressed re alienation, and materialism in a graphic form were somewhat startling much in the same way that some practitioners have experienced their own world. Yes increasingly after practicing for some years I am getting more aware of peoples suffering –that at times such suffering is almost unbearable – perhaps the result of practice etc.
    So do think it is necessary now to blow open the doors to dharma full and wide and for fresh debates to occur re our own lives in this world. I dont think such debates would be ‘political’ as some may posit rather they would be examining where we were at from an open dojo aspect and of course at least from my neck of the woods such discussion would not cost you one cent.

    Well best from the UK,

    Rita Ashworth.

  554. John Perks on July 13th, 2013 7:03 pm

    Hello All,
    The book “Dreamers,and Their Shadows” by Douglas Penick is now out,on Amazon USA, An inspiration in the Vision of Shambhala,and written as a novel,a great read,one could cry,
    love to you

  555. John Perks on July 15th, 2013 5:50 pm

    Just wanted to let you know recently a well known Tibetan Rinpoche told me that he was “stunned by the devotion and creativity of Chogyam Trungpa’s students in carrying on his vision ”
    So one could celebrate That,
    Joy to you

  556. John Tischer on July 16th, 2013 2:32 pm

    John P., did he have any thoughts on the current state of Shambhala?

  557. John Perks on July 16th, 2013 3:14 pm

    John T,No we did not talk about Shambhala,mostly about booring CelticBuddhism,deity yoga,and drala’s in Ireland,and America.

  558. Rita Ashworth on July 17th, 2013 8:49 am

    Dear John P and John T,

    Actually not interested in what other rinpoches say of CTR….seems they have been saying alot recently….who cares…what is important is our own relationship in what happened with him.
    Shambhala Int. Also in ccl mode about that org nothing of what they are doing interests me now – moved on and upwards as they say – mover-on movement progressing well in my neighbourhood.
    Can we not get back to ‘open dojo’ the thread in question seems aspects of it could be seen in a Daoist manner particularly in relation to ES…. yes seems from what I have genned re some webtalk about zen that there was much exchange between Daoists and zen practitioners re their practice as unlike perhaps in the Tibetan context.
    Also even it seems within the general Tibetan sense it is quite hard for the sense of Rime to flourish and divisions re schools have somewhat continued in the west – another reason for us to think more about ES and ‘open dojo’.
    CTR re my feelings, intuitions opened the whole thing up for westerners to go forward with the teachings and those of us who have split are now more in open ground than others without a thundersome org. centre.
    Perhaps indeed we should get more adventurous about what we can do in that open ground now.

    Well best Rita.

  559. John Perks on July 18th, 2013 6:40 am

    O My Goodness Me,
    Rita, of course you are not interested in what Tibetan Rinpoche’s say.
    Yes lets get back to “open dojo” must stay on track that is why they put blinders on horses,so they could look right ahead.
    me just old man/woman,
    sorry for not on track,blinders on now.

    ‘open dojo” here we come!!! trot, trot,trot,
    open ground WOW fell in

  560. Rita Ashworth on July 18th, 2013 7:46 am

    Dear Mr Perks et al,

    It is not I that wrote the article ‘Open Dojo’ rather Mark S. –perhaps u should go and look back at it at the top of this thread and have a re-read and give your thoughts on what Mark S. wrote.
    As for Rinpoches and their thoughts about CTR –true not interested in them –there seems to be no end of them emerging now as also the books by former CTR students –its become a minor industry this legacy thing with CTR. Can we not come into the present age and start thinking about society in 2013!
    In the end I believe it is our own connection to the teacher and his thinking and practice that is relevant to our practice now. I dont need another Tibetan Rinpoche to validate what I got from CTR, and anyhow to a great degree splitting from their scene anyhow. Turning to the west more as I go on and exploring those ideas that resonate with me from CTR – might be good that I was not in any ‘in’ crowds now I dont have to pore over all the old stories and fashion them for the masses out there.
    I think it would be much more better for people to write about how they see dharma/practice affecting society now with reference to some of the ideas that emanated from CTR. I dont see this as a blinded approach as u quip but a return to enquiry in a profound sense. Lets get back to ‘Open Dojo’ and if you dont like that title for what he is getting at bounce some ideas off that essay re Marks thoughts.
    But enough of Rinpoches and their validations of scenes happening stateside -I have had of that stuff now-want to explore reality as is….leave them in their monasteries for a time, gap out on that whole thing for a while, CTR did –it is time for us to think through things ourselves.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  561. John Tischer on July 18th, 2013 2:33 pm

    You pour milk into water and for . a while you can still see the milk, but as it combines with the water, eventually it is .indistinguishable. Seems that’s
    one way to describe how Buddhism is coming to the West. Some of us are poor purists who feel we got the undiluted teachings…and we did…see the changes and lament…but what is happening seems to me a natural process,
    and how could it be otherwise?

    On the other hand, being gung-ho about any of it seems completely personal. It’s great that it’s up in the air and chaotic. It was that way when VCTR was around, and he was probably one of the most highly trained humans ever . Now everyone has to think for themselves…isn’t that a teaching of Buddhism? Isn’t that, in a sense, the legacy from our great teacher?

  562. John Perks on July 18th, 2013 2:35 pm

    AH yes Ms Ashworth,
    “reality as it is” then this right now is As good as it gets.*
    nothing to think through,
    Where is the self that is doing that?

    *from the movie of the same name

  563. John Perks on July 18th, 2013 2:56 pm

    Yes John Tischer,
    You said it,Our legacy from our great teacher,Is us!!!
    That is why many of his students are writing about “IT”,
    What Ms Ashworth blithley calls a minor industry,
    is the revolution,this site is part of that.
    The legagy thing is devotion which again Ms A does not get it.

  564. John Perks on July 18th, 2013 4:02 pm

    In other words Ms Ashworth,
    Devotion is the Revolution,and there is no East ,West ,South ,North,past ,present,or future in that.
    Devotion is it….
    Without that every thing is a dry shagg as you Brits say.

  565. James Elliott on July 18th, 2013 4:55 pm

    The thing with Anne’s direction, as well as the responses to it, is that we seem to have a congenital blind spot, (apparently a hole in higher intelligence?) about the difference between what I do for spiritual awakening, overcoming ego, enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, and on the other hand society, or organizational systems.

    Anne. There is no going forward from Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings. They are immutable and, if you look deep enough, universal truths about the human condition, the nature of mind, the tricks and triggers of ego deception and so on. They’re probably not going to change for a very very very long time if ever. Going forward from his teachings, as if we could leave them behind and do something new is like saying, “Ok we learned we were breathing air then. Can we stop doing that now and please move on?” No. We would be pretending something several steps removed from apparent reality. There are other great teachers who were teaching the same stuff. You can see echoes of it even in Rumi’s poetry from the 12th century, as true then as now. Writing or talking about it is like… love poems. It’s a way of celebrating that truth.

    Was dharma ever meant to have a direct effect on society? Batchelor draws that assumption from his studies that Buddha was starting a social revolution, but… it’s pretty sketchy.

    If we relate our practice towards changing the external world, having an effect on it, according to teachings and experience seems to back it up, if we project our spiritual goals out onto society, then it loses it’s power and indeed magic to overcome ego. It instead expands the playing field for ego onto a whole new plateau of… whatever ego does.

    You will never be able to determine dharma’s effect on society. You will meet good people. Some of them might be Buddhist. You will meet confused sometimes dangerous people. Sometimes they might be Buddhist. Has no real relevance to changing a political system that’s dysfunctional, all efforts towards which I applaud, but I don’t think I’ll be looking at them and judging them on spiritual qualities as such. All that matters is if it helps people to live better lives. Buddhism doesn’t need to tell people that’s a good idea. Everybody knows it already.

    Please show us dharma teachings that even begin to offer solutions to political problems. Are there any?

  566. John Tischer on July 18th, 2013 7:12 pm

    The only real question I have left is why more people aren’t curious about
    life in general; then I realize there’s always going to be a component of it that can’t be “known” , (like absolute truth), and that that not knowing generates fear that uses ignorance to cover it up. Even the great intellects are subject
    to this.

    But as we speak, there is a confluence of Buddhist theories of mind and the
    scientific community which is beginning to see value there. Also, particle physics and math (chaos theory) are actually contributing to a new view where the Newtonian model becomes an artifact, and the order that we actually perceive more and more is being seen to rely on uncertainty, not
    just on the quantum level….but that’s a start.

    So, when we talk about models of government or political systems at this time,
    my feeling is any paradigm you can think of has to face the fact that the way
    reality itself is seen is changing. Why do you think people are so angry and crazy? Well, it might well be that standards of living are going down and that’s why. But I think that’s just another symptom of what’s happening. There’s no doubt that the internet is changing the consciousness of many many people.
    Of course, in all kinds of ways. Even if the change just reinforces the negative for many people, what it does mean is that the pot is starting to boil.

  567. Mark Szpakowski on July 18th, 2013 7:16 pm

    One comment about devotion, and one’s teacher… the Aikido people emphasize that your teacher, and the lineage, has your back. Therefore you can drop everything, including looking backward, and be completely open (“the everyday practice…”) to what is happening and to the other person. I think that your training, and your relationship to your teacher, is private, or at least certainly personal. It’s not something to push forward. You are going to meet people, and they you, on the basis of your own authenticity, who you are. That’s how Trungpa Rinpoche was with those of us who were lucky enough to meet him. I didn’t give a flying frack that he was a buddhist, or shambhalian, or whatever, and actually neither did he: as Milarepa says, “I have no fear, I tell you the honest truth.” You meet someone who is telling you how things are, and being completely accepting of you while also seeing really really clearly. Sorry folks, that’s a high standard, but that’s the only game in town, and the only way to be.

    It’s like drala: the cosmic mirror expressing through some particular form. We are to be like drala – even more so, to _be_ drala. Just like CTR was, through his particular form. We can’t use his form: we have to use our own (and the lineage has our back). Once we meet people in that open space, they are often very intrigued and magnetized by that strange attractor, and then it’s very natural to share where we’re coming from, and to compose together with the other person from that place, discovering our hearts and our mutual lineage(s). That place belongs to neither us nor them – it is the open dojo, ultimately the court itself.


  568. John Tischer on July 18th, 2013 7:28 pm

    Thanks, Mark….beautiful.

    How do I deal with reality?

    I listen to Elton John’s “Elderberry Wine”

    and substitute “ordinary mind”.

    (or, maybe vice-versa)

  569. Jean Field on July 18th, 2013 10:35 pm

    who is Anne?

  570. John Tischer on July 18th, 2013 11:15 pm

    who is Jean?

  571. Jean Field on July 18th, 2013 11:29 pm

    Sometimes me; sometimes nobody.

    A devoted reader of RFS. Not an old dog. A middling dog (1981-2000) in Vajradhatu and sort of moved on in 1991 to Toni Packer whose group is sometimes referred to as quaker zen.

    Did James mean to say Rita, not Anne?

  572. Edward on July 19th, 2013 12:06 am

    I used to have an aikido teacher. He was also a zen practitioner I believe. Anyway he loved to meet people from other schools at aikido seminars and invite them to find out if their practice was genuine or fake – meaning that he didn’t cooperate with any sort of deception when he would train with them.*

    What I’m describing sounds kind of harsh or mean but he was actually one of the gentlest and warmest people I have ever met.

    * (because aikido is not competitive, the activity of ego in some schools tries to take refuge in pretending to do the technique without really opening and without really surrendering, and being dependent on the other person to play the complementary pretend role, which in some schools starts to happen automatically just through repetition and peer pressure and so on)

    one of my old aikido teacher’s favorite things to do with the more advanced students at special seminars was to have them surrounded by people with (padded) weapons, such that your back was not only not protected, but was being actively attacked. eventually the person in the middle would always freak out in some characteristic way. I think the point was to push the person to beyond the point of having any control over the situation, and then there was a chance to learn something new about how one related to all that. Doing this in front of a small audience seemed to be very powerful.

    Remind you of anything? :)

  573. Edward on July 19th, 2013 12:17 am

    p.s. Mark, speaking of being “intrigued and magnetized”, I showed a friend this site a few days ago and he found it very inspiring – the level of honest dialogue and so on was something he could truly appreciate.

    He used to practice some kind of Korean Buddhism I think, before he got mixed up with my teacher… so to speak

  574. Rita Ashworth on July 19th, 2013 4:54 am

    Dear All,

    O well here goes –think the devotional thing that has some how lodged in my brain is ‘enlightened society’. Can not stop ‘thinking’ about it and what CTR could have possibly have meant by it but its there friends and it wont be going away soon that little pebble of something. Anyway got to explore it from the ‘conventional’ and ‘spiritual’ aspects because that is what seems to be hitting me from the phenomenal world now.
    Out of orgs somewhat working with a plethora of Buddhist groups one can see that even they are tentatively exploring these questions -how does the dharma interact with the world as a whole. Seems people have become sensitised by practice and feeling the world much more so. Certainly without the shell of the orgs I was formerly in and kind of being in this open ground a tad I have had to look at what I can accept and reject from what is emanating stateside. Think I have checked out all the CTR streams of what is evolving and they still seem to me to have that edge of wanting to preserve barriers to that open ground and at this point in time dont think that is feasible or desirable….ho-ho the housepoint shall go to the first group that transcends all that old thinking and practice and steps truly into the open ground.
    Mr Perks as to the laments and endless books about CTR a better service still would be to explore and connect his teachings re enlightened society to what is happening in the world now. In a traditional sense bit like that story about Milarepa and Marpa I am hesitantly thinking of in that Mila thought he had some how lost the teacher and Marpa had to come and say no I am everywhere… my terms this seems to have happened in my predilection of wanting to be in that open ground with everyone I meet now….how does one do that? Is it feasible as whole with our world with this ‘conception’ of enlightened society? Certainly after being out of the org one is hit on all sides by peoples suffering in a great personal sense and by what is going on around one and I dont think I can throw the kagyu teachings down their throat though some elements of them would work –now it is just not where the world is at at the present time. And until some Tibetan lama comes along and engages with where the world is at now this whole stream of practice is going to have many problems in transposing into our world, but one awaits for what will happen from India… perhaps some lama will have the genius of CTR again.
    James true CTRs teachings are of the quality of Rumi, but always forms change in an outward sense as religious history progresses –how indeed can things be set in stone-the dharma itself is not immutable it too is subject to change. Am I a carbon copy of CTR? Will my experiences of the void be the same as his? Even terma discovered as it were pictures what is in different forms….perhaps ones own dharmic visions will have imprints of ones own culture and conditions…..difficult to say about all this…..anyway something vaguely to think about in connection to open ground and the dralas that CTR said were calling him from the west. Yes if the dralas are indeed here how shall we connect to them if they are immanent within Reality itself.
    As to dancing with Mr Batchelor –yes made contact with the man….stuff is sketchy I agree but just maybe it can be fleshed out….one has to try with Mr B and I am going to do so because whatever Mr Perks says about him he is devoted in the end to Sakyamuni one can see this from his web talks a lot –so there we go…many deep questions to be asked of Mr B and at the moment he is more in my frame of reference than much of what is happening stateside. He is at least talking about a society that could be open to all in a deep sense and much in the tradition of a lot of great thinkers in the UK from history such as Sir Thomas Moore – so yes one explores ones own history about all this too in this present age.
    Yo was not that Rem vid great about religion….perhaps SI did a great service to us in spilling the milk, the once container, now we are all in the position of the troubled dancer ha! Heres another Rem vid about transcending the container and stepping out into our very fragile world and actually been connected to others-yes we have to step out of the car now…..classic

    Best from over the pond.

    Rita Ashworth

  575. John Tischer on July 19th, 2013 12:17 pm

    This article in Huff Po speaks directly to what I was writing about above:

  576. John Perks on July 19th, 2013 3:07 pm

    Well here we go again another one of them darn students of the Mahasiddha Chogyam Trungpa. help write this here book…
    “ZUYA “life’s journey oral teachings from Rosebud,by Albert White Hat Sr;
    compiled,and edited by John Cunningham [CTR student].
    Beautiful book,John,and his wife Cindy had a close relationship to Albert White Hat a Lakota Souix teacher over many years,I think all the Shambhala teachers should read this,all about the Great Eastern Sun,and much more..
    seems you can’t keep them CTR Students down.
    Cheers In Deed.
    P.S.I think I might be Anne?

  577. Rita Ashworth on July 20th, 2013 5:29 am

    Dear All,

    O well a few last tries re this whole thing.

    Devotion instead of being a lament could be pragmatic. Lets not forget that CTR also asked of us the question how would you tell a person in Macdonalds about the dharma –seems we have forgotten this essential question with much of our own take on the dharma –yes the whole thing has become too rarefied and illusory caught up in realms of a brocaded Tibetan patheon again. Its not where the world is now and what we might be heading for in the future….we seem to be heading for a very pragmatic world where the Buddha as Mark said from a CTR talk will be a society. I think if we dont gel with that ‘idea’ and quickly much of dharma in our present lives will be a spent force.
    Thinking about the CTR ‘air’ of the dharma that James mentioned –kind of brought up images of the air I breathed as a child which was full of muck and gave me bronchitis at eight… the industrialisation of the place even turned the white buildings black. I think if we dont place ourselves in that mucky air of the world now and all its problems extending with infinite materialism again the dharma will begin to fizzle out and die on the tracks. Can the dharma last in the west –its turning on the proverbial sixpence and the chaotic politics out there at present is infusing such discussions about it even moreso. If we dont take up that challenge of looking straight at our world as is we are going to be lost- the dharma will not be relevant to people –it will not provide an ethical and moral way to see and practice in reality.
    I am trying as much as I can to place myself in that open ground, that open dojo that Mark S writes of which is both edifying and exasperating at times but it is a great place to be now I am free of all the structure of orgs. Its kind of a dance and what makes it good at times is the input also of traditions of art like theatre that kind of amplify that sense of open ground-one begins to see in theatre the glimpses of what society could be in a very clear grounded way.
    So just that the means to see society in this way have not evolved completely as of present does not mean that we should just dismiss the possibility that the Buddha could be a society. If we are to go ‘forward’ which people might not like as a word but does have that sense of vision that CTR enticed us with.
    Getting back to devotion – the thing is when I met Trungpa what I saw was vulnerability, sickness, tiredness, the smallness of the man –just below my shoulder height-wise and I am about 5ft 7inches, yes a kind of flash picture of a man ravaged by his US students and heading towards oblivion – and the kind of vacant stare that you get from people when they are dying and looking towards what? Seems to me if we can not place ourselves in that vulnerable position aka the very humanity of CTR we will again be heading for the frivolities of practice –the stupid idea that we can get anywhere from doing all this stuff, except being placed in the midst of suffering humanity itself.

    Ah well….. best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  578. John Perks on July 20th, 2013 6:30 am

    Dear Ms Ashworth
    Rita,”Being on open ground with everyone” one might drop the idea of accepting,and rejecting.Remembering that as Mark Szpakowski says “the guru or lineage has your back” or your heart,or your blood.
    As to” Enlightened Society” the world is already enlightened like us but as you say covered up by obscurations of the minds of many beings wanting this or that to create this or that,and only creating endless suffering for themselves and others,because of wanting.Open ground could be without wanting?You might like this Lakota book “ZUYA” it could bring one back to “Shambhala”.When I was younger [anytime before now] I had a brick wall of idea’s right in front of my nose,that is how I saw it a solid brick wall that I had to push through to create enlightened society.When I realized that it was just an idea the bricks vanished,leaving open space to play in….your last post has many idea’s!!!

  579. James Elliott on July 20th, 2013 7:24 pm

    Secular dharma will always dissolve into local zeitgeist culture. Always. What happened to Marpa’s sangha? I think that’s because secular communities are made up of people like ourselves who are dealing with household matters and relating whatever we grok about dharma to the world around us. The world around us then shapes our responses and to some extent how we understand dharma. (Maybe a reason retreats are important?)

    That may indeed make us more relevant… to the current stream of whatever’s happening, but then we are engolloped by that stream. Not a bad thing to be avoided, not for the individual anyway, just simply that’s what engaging in local zeitgeist issues is about.: getting involved with that, rather than bringing my version of Buddhism into it.

    What actually preserves the dharma, rather than how secular sanghas may choose to organize and relate to current situations is the monastic tradition. Trungpa Rinpoche talked about this, saying something like how the strength of the sangha will be reflected in the strength of the monastic system, something like that, as he encouraged us to make certain the monastic branch of his sangha was supported.

    Again, Rita, Anne (whatever) while the need to be open and transparent about how communities are organized is a worthwhile aim, and without it corruption is inevitable – I have doubts about how a religiously based organization could ever be a model for how society organizes itself for slew of reasons; it seems unlikely frankly, but that doesn’t mean how a community is organized should be left to distanced elites with hidden agendas. Or that social political change should be abandoned.

    It’s just that that effort, and this is not a negative judgement at all, that effort is not dharma as such, is not in any way I can grasp dependent on any Buddhist principles I’m aware of, and does not in itself help preserve dharma into the future. Not without a monastic branch to refer to.

    Tradition . Lineage. Regardless one’s level of devotion, not respecting those, we submit whatever we think dharma might be to the local zeitgeist for editing and modification. Then I think all we’d end up with is a reflection of local zeitgeist concerns. Also fine, but… not Buddhadharma.

    In the inspiration that we should stick to our principles. If we have any. 😉


  580. Rita Ashworth on July 21st, 2013 5:50 am

    Dear James et al,

    Quite some important points you raise re secular dharma and dharma straight as it were but nevertheless we do have this notion of the Buddha being a society from CTR. So within my own sphere am trying to examine this in connection to how I am in the world.
    Monastic tradition yes great that must be supported-incidentally I am seeing monks all over Manchester now from the Tibetan, to the Chinese, to the Thai bumping into them on the street corners –so yes definitely into supporting a monastic sangha –tho in my present area its probably not going to be a shambhalian one. In fact the convention I am helping with was suggested by someone from the Sri Lankan monastic tradition – a Venerable Piyatissa and we take his advice somewhat on how to do the convention aswell….so there is going on an interchange of values on a great scale here between the more traditional approaches to Buddhism and the newer forms aka Triratna which was formerly the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. So yes hoping these monks will appear at the Batchelor talk for a frank exchange of views.
    Batchelor seems to think a monastic sangha as far as I can gel is somewhat a barrier to explicating the dharma in the west – I will have to ask him about this when he comes in December. But generally as for monasticism in the west in the Christian realm it seems to be coming to an end….so how we will manage in creating a new monastic order? It really is debateable, for the time being at least I think more of an emphasis will have to be put on creating a societal container for the teachings which can be done in many ways I think.
    I am vaguely thinking of an ecumenical kind of framework in a Buddhist sense for my own area so yes initially Buddhists talking to Buddhists at last and getting rid of nutty ideas about each other and then I suppose we go from there into the wider community. In addition even though SI is quite a large org. in Buddhist terms compared to say evangelical Xtianity in the states it is just a flicker or blink of an eye in the US-thats seems to me why they going like mad to make themselves more relevant to society as whole out there….this is a process that seems to go on historically with all Buddhist traditions in the east in that they adapt to the local traditions they encounter thats why I mentioned the Taoists and the zen people exchanging and debating views in the Far East. So contrary to your example of using Marpa in Tibet as a type of secular icon there -I think we can give other instances further afield where there was much interchange of values between traditions happening. Also it is true tho the monastic tradition in Tibet preserved the tradition to the modern age it was not enable to transcend the political upheaval that assaulted it in the 50s in fact it might have also been a factor in not allowing fundamental change to happen in the country because of monastic corruption and abuse of power for riches. So indeed if we did set up a monastic tradition for real here it would have to be I think subordinate in terms of governance to the general governance of society.
    So tradition can be corrupted as well as most things in the world – the trick I think to establishing the dharma here will be to allow dissent its full flowering, for things to be argued in the round, and for people to really hear the Buddha Sakyamunis teachings in ways that reach them in a profoundly secular manner because that is what Europe seems to be heading for more and more as we go on ….a deep secularism that is questioning how we actually are in our world. I dont think you can stop this march to secularism –the Brit census has proved that this is happening for real -and any religious or sacred tradition out there is going to have to speak in new tongues to the general public to have any chance of success – so yes let the Great Debate on enlightened society begin and see what evolves from that.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  581. John Perks on July 21st, 2013 6:24 am

    Dear Rita,
    Well you are getting alot of good help here,much clearer than my posts,I have alot of pride in our sanga members because of that.
    You know our teacher spent alot of time out side of his physical body,part no doubt traveling talking to different beings in different realms,he also spent time in Shambhala,he would come back and tell us stories of his adventures even bring back instructions on how to cook certain food how to dress things like that,simple things.for us who could not see this seemed strange or even crazy,what many of us saw was a small drunken Tibetan who claimed to be a king or something like a king.He was out of our space and time but in it as well,many of the beings he visited said “why do you spend so much time with these beings [humans] they are so stupid” he would answer” it is part of his job”.
    We do not create Shambhala [enlightened society] it is already there,here,
    The question is how do we get to see it or be in it so to speak?Forget about idea’s of how to create Shambhala,that is like going into a restaurant,and eating the menu.Forget about idea’s!!! anyway I see you are back on your old soap box,nothing will evolve from that but more idea’s…good luck.

  582. John Tischer on July 21st, 2013 12:21 pm

    ” I have doubts about how a religiously based organization could ever be a model for how society organizes itself for slew of reasons.”

    James; except Tibet did it for a thousand years. Sure, it was isolated from the rest of the world….hermetically sealed, as it were, and within that system
    there were political upheavals and battles etc., but show me even a dynasty in China that lasted that long….let alone any system in the west.

    ..also, in Tibet, there were the monastics as well as the householder yogis of the Nyngmas, both of which contributed to the ongoing culture of society.

  583. Suzanne Duarte on July 21st, 2013 1:07 pm

    Hi all, I would like to interject a point of view that has been deeply soaked in the Vidyadhara’s influence but is almost NEVER discussed on this site or in person among his students, at least in my experience. That is to take into account, when speculating about society and governance, the obvious fact that our civilization is plunging into a Dark Age.

    “Although I live in the slime and muck of the dark age,” … “Although I stumble in the thick, black fog of materialism, I still aspire to see his face”: the face of the guru, the enlightened ones, the “pure and all-pervading naked mind” of the lineage gurus.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t think things – such as the economy, or the decency of civil society – are going to “recover” or improve within our lifetimes or perhaps ever, given the realities of ecological degradation, climate change, overpopulation, and depletion of energy and other resources. Without a healthy environment and an abundance of resources – which a thriving economy depends upon and which we grew up with, but which are now in permanent decline – a thriving economy cannot return.

    From my POV, Trungpa Rinpoche’s Sadhana of Mahamudra is prophetic and he meant to give us the tools and means to keep our sanity as the world falls apart, as it is now, folks. Look around. So theorizing about society and governance that assumes that conditions will continue as they have been, and that the world will be stable, is a waste of time. I can’t stand reading this bullshit without calling it what it is.

    The real question is, how are human beings going to survive the tragic mess we have created of this once beautiful planet? It is much worse than mainstream media in any country is telling you. The dharma is about facing the truth, facing reality. VCTR said, “Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism involves learning to work with the cosmic message, the basic message in our life situation. What we live, where we live, how we live—all these living situations also have a basic message that we can read, that we can work with….” This applies just as much to the planetary as to the personal situation, ya know? We – and the dharma – are not going to survive if we don’t wake up to the larger situation.

  584. Mary Ann Flood on July 21st, 2013 3:34 pm

    Hi all. I must whole-heartedly agree with Suzanne. Politics of place wherever one lives demands our best efforts in these ever-darkening times. Here in southern Colorado the Shell Oil frackers have arrived. This summer not a single honeybee is in the environment and fire fires have raged gobbling up thousands of acres of land. Breathing smoke all summer long is the new normal in the southwest, and now, add to that all the methane and endocrine disrupting gases from fracking.
    The Karmapa I noticed on his site is rallying resources to try to protect the headwaters of the major rivers originating from the Tibetan Plateau. He has changed monastic guidelines to include sustainability, recycling, tree planting, habitat protecting. Recently he changed the system to open the path to khenpo-hood for nuns. There is an extraordinary video of him on a panel with two of the most remarkable women activists and paradim changers on the planet — Vandana Shiva and Aruna Roy. I’d say the Kagyu lineage is not dead yet.
    So called politics and spirituality, the art of everyday life, meet in the present and in the place you occupy. Walking the walk not just talking the talk is the challenge for each one of us. To examine our habit patters in light of inter-connectivity and sustainability and shift our priorities and actions, thereby changing society — the food systems, the monetary systems, etc.- that is journey. To see things clearly and act within the chaos and rapacity of the present, requires profound experiential training and ruthless honesty with regard to oneself. Egolessness, the path of Vajrayana, is the ultimate sword and shield.
    Without the lineage no one ever would have heard of or have experienced the living reality of complete total egolessness — the ultimate weapon to use against the lords of materialism. And the only way to find this ultimate sword and shield is through hours and hours, years and years of practice. Without some experience of egolessness, one’s actions miss the mark and only create more confusion no matter how well intentioned. The wisdom and kind urgings of those who walked the path of egolessness shows us how to let the sword cut both ways, this and that.
    I have begun to loathe the term — Enlightened Society (fanfare of trumpets)
    Vajrayana he said was about getting your hands dirty — jumping into the unending fray.

  585. Edward on July 21st, 2013 3:48 pm