Open Letters

September 13, 2014 by     Print This Post Print This Post

The following are 2 open letters on the current social and institutional state of the sangha of Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche: an initial letter by Tashi Colman to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and a response by Clarke Warren (published here with their approval).

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Open Letter by Tashi Colman

Open Letter to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

31st August, 2014

Dear Sir,

After living and working in Bhutan the last several years, I returned to Nova Scotia this past summer for my first extended (3-month) visit back in five years. After living far from our Shambhala sangha for so long, I was deeply moved and gratified to experience again the extraordinary richness of the support for our dharma practice and study available in our wider Shambhala community.

I want to emphasize here that I personally am profoundly appreciative and grateful to you for all you are doing to teach and explore further the precious Scorpion Seal termas. Indeed, having now completed four Scorpion Seal Assemblies, I remain fully committed to that path. To be blunt, despite my deep commitment to creating Shambhala society, I confess that my Werma practice used to be episodic and pale to say the least, and it has come to life with ever greater vividness as a direct result of the Scorpion Seal practices you have introduced. Thank you so much for that!

I also recognize that the Buddha taught the dharma in 84000 ways, that not every one relates to the Scorpion Seal path, that the Kagyü, Nyingma, kasung, dharma art, and many other practices so kindly given us by the Vidyadhara are all entirely valid and authentic paths that suit particular people, and that the Shambhala umbrella is big enough to incorporate the Vidyadhara’s entire legacy.

For me personally, the Shambhala, Kagyü and Nyingma paths are part of a single fabric and inseparable. As the Vidyadhara said in answering a question after his Windhorse talk at the 1982 Kalapa Assembly:

“…. The drala practice is like the sharp edge of a sword blade which deals with day-to-day life already, automatically. The Vajrayogini practice is like the other edge of the sword blade, which carries the weight so that the sharp edge can cut. It’s like the two sides of a coin.”

But I also realize that the Kagyü, Nyingma, and Shambhala paths are all entire paths in themselves, and that others may not choose to join them.

And so I was deeply disturbed during my visit back this past summer to see how widely accepted and ‘normalized’ the rift in our sangha has become. From afar, of course I was aware of and saddened by that split, but I never had to deal with it on an ongoing basis, and so I never got used to it and find the present divisions entirely unacceptable. Those entirely loyal to you and those entirely alienated remain equally my heartfelt Shambhala brothers and sisters.

On the one hand, we learned long ago that furthering disharmony in the sangha is a serious breach of our vajra commitments. On the other hand, what struck me over and again was how unnecessary and easily resolvable the present divisions are.

And so I am moved to write this open letter to you to plead and supplicate you for very simple actions that can not only heal the present wounds but I feel will also greatly strengthen and broaden your own leadership of the Shambhala Kingdom. Indeed, I really don’t believe we as Shambhalians can be any kind of effective model for the world or for our wider society while we cannot accommodate each other or heal our own fractures.

I want to emphasize here that none of the modest (and perhaps naïve) suggestions that follow would even slightly detract from or prevent your own present teachings, writings, assemblies, and other activities from proceeding apace, nor would they diminish even slightly the number and quality of students following the Scorpion Seal path and the various practices and teachings you are giving. On the contrary, I feel certain that the humble gestures suggested below would strengthen the paths you are propagating by virtue of their unifying influence and their accommodating so many more students under the broad Shambhala umbrella.

I have discussed the following specific suggestions in some detail with your secretary, David Brown, during a meeting in Halifax last month:

  • At Gampo Abbey, just restoring the Seven-Line Supplication to Padmakara and the Supplication to the Takpo Kagyü to the morning liturgy would do wonders to heal present wounds. Abbey folk have plenty of time, and the extra 2 minutes in the morning would be greatly welcomed in the Shambhala practice centre with the deepest commitment (e.g. 3-year retreat) to preserving our Kagyü and Nyingma inheritance. As well, the Shambhala aspiration could be alternated in the evening liturgy with the aspiration to fulfil the wishes of the Vidyadhara written by the Abbey’s own abbot, Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche.
  • At Karme Choling, the Vajrayogini shrine room has become the community room and the ngondro shrine room has become the exercise and music room. If Karme Choling is to continue to be a ‘deep training facility’, then restoring dedicated shrine rooms for the Kagyü and Nyingma practices would be ever so accommodating and greatly appreciated by many dedicated practitioners.
  • I am sure you agree that the three-volume Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma is a true tour de force for our Shambhala sangha, a magnum opus that systematically brings together the Vidyadhara’s core teachings on the entire Buddhist path like never before. What could be more central to our Shambhala sangha than thirteen years of the Vidyadhara’s Seminary transcripts, beautifully compiled, arranged, and organized by one of our most gifted, practised, and genuine senior teachers in 25 years of dedicated effort? This is a reference work that will be studied for generations to come.
  • And yet the annual Profound Treasury retreats taught by Judy Lief are held in Maine, outside our Shambhala practice centres. Why not simply invite the Profound Treasury organizers to have the annual retreats at Karme Choling? I can think of no program that more definitively belongs in the very heart of our Shambhala community and practice mandala.
  • If just once a year, Sir, you were to give a Vajrayogini tri, and if you would allow entering vajrayana students (new tantrikas) the option to pursue the path of Kagyü ngöndro in addition to the Primordial Rigden ngöndro, this would again be greatly appreciated by so many genuine students and practitioners. My understanding is that all the acharyas have the authority to give the necessary permissions for these Kagyü practices within the folds of our broad Shambhala sangha. Without that, we are in danger of losing a vital and precious component of our inheritance – “the other edge of the sword blade” to use the Vidyadhara’s words cited above.

There are many other similar and very simple gestures that would work wonders in healing present rifts and accommodating all our Shambhala sangha in the broadest sense without in the slightest detracting from your present path, teachings, and trajectory. It is perfectly understandable, Sir, to make a distinction between your role as teacher (focussing on the Shambhala and Scorpion Seal paths) and your broader organizational role as leader of the Shambhala sangha (which can embrace a much wider range of skillful means and students committed to other authentic components of the Vidyadhara’s legacy).

I felt this past summer that, at bottom, all us Shambhalians – those most loyal and those most alienated – are one sangha deeply sharing a vision and an inheritance that are precious beyond imagination. The present painful rift is truly unacceptable and it would take so little to bring us together again in full harmony. From the bottom of my heart, Sir, I supplicate you to take the simple actions needed to make that happen. Thank you again for your kindness, skill, and generosity in teaching the Scorpion Seal terma, and for considering this heartfelt plea.

Yours in the dharma,
Tashi Colman

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Response by Clarke Warren

I have read and contemplated the letter that Tashi Colman has recently courageously submitted to the Sakyong. It didn’t take long, however, to see the cracks in this proposal, as robustly honest and good hearted as it is. In short order, they are nice thoughts and aspirations. But a bit presumptuous that there is or ever was “one sangha”. Or that it would ever be a good idea. The very idea of “one unified sangha” attacks creativity, stifles initiative, broadcasts a dictate of uniformity, and attempts to curtail the very brilliance that the Vidyadhara lived, in all his highly unique style and outrageousness. By the Vidyadhara’s description, sangha is not a unified conglomerate group, but individuals standing on their own, lonely yet together, inter-dependent but not co-dependent. As it is up to individuals to ignite the transmission of the Vidyadhara, so it is natural that an attempt to reduce individuals to a corporate identity is itself a contradiction and violation of the meaning of “sangha”. And for those who do not naively submit to an agenda of defined and enforced “harmony”, the road is far more unencumbered to actually enact the vision of the Vidyadhara in myriad ways.

It was, however, neither a coercive mandate of conformity nor a counter, subversive influence, that has “split” the more unified strains of the past, but the very force of the Vidyadhara’s and the lineage’s transmission and teaching. The community talk Flowers and Lids (in Collected Community Talks) spoken by the Vidyadhara himself, speaks eloquently to this forceful phenomena. The very branching of the “four great and eight lesser lineages”, is testimony to this, as are the 84,000 dharmas, or the 6,400,000 tantras of the Nyingma.

Even if the Sakyong were to adopt the suggested measures, it would be viewed by many, I believe, as highly suspicious and self-serving. But , even if he did (highly improbable), I doubt very much whether it would “unify” a diversified sangha that has already broadcasted to a much larger world, unencumbered by organizational self-interests, than could ever have transpired otherwise. The organization is already outdated, despite its grasp on infrastructure, its regimented prescriptions, and its increasingly vivid indications of the pitfalls of organized religion. The influence of the Vidyadhara, on the other hand, has been released to the world in a myriad of expressions and potent practicalities, like the exploding seeds of a dandelion in a gale wind. Not likely to be “reigned in”. [sic]

In that regard the so-called lack of unity, itself, could already be the good news, the blessings of the lineage. The Vidyadhara’s influence has far outflanked the organizational ambitions of more fundamentalist strains. This is how Mahayana outflanked the earlier, highly conservative social constraints of the Buddhist tradition. Narrow views and prerogatives, which define themselves as universals, tend unerringly toward the climes of irrelevance, or in more aggressive cases, infamy. The Vajrayana, on the other hand, even more so than doctrinal Mahayana, in essence, style, and influence, represents the explosion of unconstrained Dharma to the world. And that explosion is the actual momentum of Shambhala vision.

But, more dismally probable is that Tashi’s letter, even if it does (doubtfully) make it before Sakyong’s eyes, will be ignored. It is this very arrogant disregard that has led to things as they stand now. What an utter contrast to the uncanny openness of the Vidyadhara! That was the openness and utter absence of territoriality that actually did bind us together! On the other hand, though, the absence of that has ironically propelled the Vidyadhara’s display of genius and compassion to a much broader spectrum of humanity precisely because the more creative and courageous of the Vidyadhara’s students have bolted from any suggestion of sangha as a constraining orthodox corral.

I, like Tashi, returned to North America after years of living in Asia, to find a highly disseminated world of the Vidyadhara’s students and legacy, an atmosphere, on the organizational side, dismissive of criticism, and dismissive even of the place of discriminating intelligence as an essential element of bodhicitta/awakened heart. And the retirement of many of the practices and teachings of the Vidyadhara, so lovingly, powerfully and skillfully planted in the rich soil of the West. Ironically, the world I encountered resembled everything the Vidyadhara warned of. It was an eclipse of everything I had appreciated, an umbra of the Vidyadhara’s brilliance. But in the process, I have witnessed many highly inspiring sun flare endeavors of unleashed disciples! Let the eclipse pass rather than feed it, and the sun will burst forth even more brilliantly. And the unconstrained constellations of lineage will be there to nurture us and cheer us on, as they are this very moment.

Regards,

Clarke Warren

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Response by Tashi Colman

Dear Clarke,

Thank you for your letter. Of course I fully agree with you that the last thing we would ever want is one conformist sangha that stifles creativity and initiative in the name of enforced uniformity. And of course the only possible ‘harmony’ is through diversity.

For that very reason, the operative word in my letter to the Sakyong is “accommodate” (said 4 times), reinforced over and again by phrases like: “…recognize that the Buddha taught the dharma in 84000 ways, that not every one relates to the Scorpion Seal path, that the Kagyü, Nyingma, kasung, dharma art, and many other practices so kindly given us by the Vidyadhara are all entirely valid and authentic paths that suit particular people, and that the Shambhala umbrella is big enough to incorporate the Vidyadhara’s entire legacy.” Etc. etc.

So I was just a bit surprised that you read my argument for accommodating the diverse paths given us by the Vidyadhara as implying a “unified conglomerate” sangha, when the intent and language of the letter were precisely the opposite….

Warmest wishes, Tashi

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Clarke Warren responds in the Comments below

Comments

295 Responses to “Open Letters”

  1. john Tischer on November 14th, 2014 4:00 pm

    I’m glad that woman and the dharma have their own site

  2. Mark Szpakowski on November 14th, 2014 10:15 pm

    Ah, here’s a touch of freshness: The Pop-Up Mandala: The Profound Treasury Retreat.

  3. Dawa Chöga on November 16th, 2014 9:06 am

    Dear Joe Schmidt,
    Now I want to ask you a question if I may.
    Imagine that you and I are stranded in the middle of the desert. You see a lake in the distance and want to go that way, which is the wrong way.
    Suppose you won’t listen to reason when I explain that it’s only the play of light and not real water. You are determined to go, leaving me no choice but to go along with you all the way to the mirage so that you can see with your own eyes that there is no lake.
    But what if, arriving there, you don’t see that the lake was only an illusion after all, what if you are convinced that you do see a lake, where there is only sand?

  4. Charles Marrow on November 17th, 2014 4:38 pm

    Greetings –

    I think it would be very valuable, at this time, for the sangha to consider having a formal, friendly and balanced relationship to Karmapa XVII, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. I add the word, “balanced” as a word to try and put in perspective the point that HH Karmapa has, as his duty, carrying on the Karmapa tradition as a Tibetan monk with big responsibilities to the Tibetan community in exile. For us, (or at least ‘me’) we are English speaking Kagyu students of Trungpa Rinpoche in North America which creates a situation that needs a bridge.
    Having said that, I think a genuine sense of longing and devotion for the practice lineage can bridge that issue fairly easily. Also, I think an ongoing relationship with the Kagyu lineage holders, especially HH Karmapa are very much within the vision of Trungpa Rinpoche. There could be debate as to whether or not this is still relevent as we are a number of years from the passing of the Vidyadhara. As for myself, I think it is very relevent. Working and relating directly with the current Kagyu Lineage could help heal that feeling of dissonance well expressed by Tashi Coleman as the letter at the beginning of this discussion.
    I would also like to point out several very relevent points on the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa website. Those are the audio tracks; “It’s up to us,” “CTR beaconing Karmapa to Return” and the talks from the seminar, “Karmapa’s, Holders of the Mahamudra Lineage.” The Chronicles website (as many people already know) can be found at:
    http://www.chronicleproject.com/
    For HH Karmapa XVII there is a generous selection of talks, ceremonies and Lama Dances that can be cound on You Tube. I just finished watching a 35 minute YouTube video entitled, “Go Ma Sacred Dance”. After about 5 minutes of me being a little restless, the contemplative quality of the lama dance started to have a meditative effect, which was a nice thing. In any case, the topic of the continuity of the Kagyu Lineage for the students of Vajradhatu and Trungpa Rinpoche is a pretty big topic. However, I think this jigsaw puzzle can be put together piece by piece for the benefit of our sangha and the Buddhist World at large.

  5. Rita Ashworth on November 18th, 2014 3:09 am

    Charles, some people may want to do that, but for myself not so.

    Trungpa Rinpoche went much further in the west than most in the Kagyu lineage when he was alive making connections to so many traditions out there both in western and eastern forms, so no way am I going back to Kagyu forms as is.
    It is the Times that we are in that are calling us directly to further and further aspects of the shambhala teachings-perhaps now that we can only glimpse halfso, and so I am engaged in a different manner from SI in exploring enlightened society. Tentatively beginning on this path with others here in so many questioning groups of friends-so the greater prize as it were is in formulating some kind of society that replicates CTR’s feelings and writings about ‘Buddha/Awake as society’….dont know how people can not recognise that is happening all over the planet now. And I aint going to be limited by forms both in SI and without-when the New is brewing up out there and can open myself up in true Open Dojo fashion to what is happening.
    If dharma holds onto form in this age its going to go down the pan, thats why am into sawing down those thrones-we have to rescue it from itself in some manner. Special being I am not, and even the people I follow her at tad and know something of the Real also not Special beings-we are going into some kind of new hierarchy of relating to each other now in the world also half unformed, more circular in its conception of power and relations. Yeh bout one of the only things I agree with Ray about is that we can not turn East again-that indeed over for sure and sure…finito…the End.
    So yes revisiting my past to see what engaged me in dharma for Real and going with some of those aspects now-its kind of like I can see something waiting to be born in some strange creative manner, the pregnancy aspect of the Prajanparamita sutra is it? Yes perhaps there is Karma, hoho but wont get into that debate, indeed perhaps in times in history there has to be a definite cut-off with what we were involved with in the past before something strange and wonderful may happen. Best Rita

  6. john Tischer on November 18th, 2014 1:00 pm

    note…Shambhala website has changed it’s front page….interestng to look at…
    one change is Sam Bercholtz is no longer listed as an acharya emeritus. And, the new photos of the existing acharyas are interesting.

  7. Mark Szpakowski on November 19th, 2014 7:32 pm

    You now have to be a registered user to comment. This became necessary for two reasons:

    – Persistent spam attacks, which have been taking a lot of my time to deal with

    – Comments by trolls, drive-by shooters, and abusers.

    If you’re not already logged in, you’ll see a Register link at the bottom of the page.

    Cheers!

  8. Norbert on November 20th, 2014 5:04 am

    Mark, did you ever think of going into Facebook with RFS. It could be a way to have discussions that do not strictly belong to one topic. Just a thought…
    @John Tischer: I am sure the reason why Sam Bercholz is not mentioned anymore is that he does not hesitate to speak his mind… 🙂
    And the pictures, yes, they all seem to be lying in a way, which they are, of course…. Just by being there….

  9. James Elliott on November 21st, 2014 7:51 am

    Thank you Mark.
    Open simply can’t mean anything goes, or it becomes an invitation for… the kinds of problems you list, among others. It reminds me of one time when Trungpa Rinpoche recommended that wearing clothes a little too tight was a way to instill discipline, (which also reminds me of the time at a theater group meeting at RMDC, he tried to sit on a gomden and his pants split up the back. A chair was brought forthright. I looked for it but couldn’t find any embarrassment. That alone was impressive, and then he proceeded to talk about theater and acting and so on, which engolloped our attention on a much higher level.)

    John T. and Norbert,
    Anything is a lie if looked at from a certain perspective. Aaaanything.
    While there may be some ideas one can confirm about the nature of institutions by looking at the web pages, it actually made me a little sad to go look at the site to see what you meant, and first see so many apparently sincere faces of people who are very probably in it for the practice and community. I suspect our/my cynicism can get to be too much, and disparages even people who are involved for all the right reasons, quite regardless some of the scoundrels SMR seems bound and determined to give positions to, about which we could probably exchange a few revealing anecdotes.

    It also occurred to me how Adam Lobel looks perhaps like a young Sam Bercholz, and the thought that maybe they don’t want two people who look so similar, scurried across my mind like a rat in the cellar seeking refuge.

  10. John Tischer on November 21st, 2014 12:38 pm

    Some of the new photos look rather sinister. And, yes, James, I think you can tell something about what’s going on just from changes in the website.

  11. John Tischer on November 21st, 2014 10:14 pm

    just a poem to break the new ice…

    The Perfect American Food Is Pizza

    Pizza is the only food your mouth
    insists you eat.

    Marijuana is being legalized
    in the USA because of pizza.

    Thomas Paine said
    “Give me pizza or give me death.”

    You can’t understand if
    you’re not American.

    The rapture for most Americans
    is opening the box of a large
    peperoni at kickoff.

    It’s perfect because it’s hot, spicy,
    sweet, crunchy, juicy, chewy,
    like the heart of your enemy…
    even the crust doesn’t stand a
    a chance.

  12. Suzanne Duarte on November 22nd, 2014 3:05 pm

    Mark Szpakowski, I am relieved that you have decided to require registration to comment on RFS. The site seemed to be attracting a lot of spam, which rather discourages one from even opening email announcements of new postings to the site. Yesterday is the first day I’ve come to the RFS site to read anything in months. However, I am glad to see how this thread has evolved! There IS movement! Yay!

  13. James Elliott on November 23rd, 2014 6:27 pm

    John T.,

    pizza has been around since neolithic times, is not exclusively Italian, and is enjoyed literally all over the globe. For acutely American cuisine look to how we do breakfast, or BBQ, or pies, but pizza? The pleasure you describe is literally the same everywhere, not a thing americana about it. It’s almost cute that an American would say such a thing. 😉

    I don’t dispute that something can be discerned from the web site, only that a blanket cynicism over everyone’s involvement, which you yourself may or may not have, is unhealthy.

    I only see sinister in any of the photos, for example, because I know the individual and have strong ideas about how they have behaved to me and to people around me, which further conjures memories of how the institution related to it all. But… beyond the stories or encounters I have indeed had, I honestly don’t see ‘sinister’ in the web page. It doesn’t project some kind of evil energy or tangible disingenuous-ness, and when I went there to see it myself because of your recommendation, I felt wrong somehow, and I’m not the squeamish type. Any examples you want to point out? Someone with their fangs showing, or a pointy ear poking thru?

    And I don’t see that all people are being duped even as I know some that are. I am quite certain that some people who are involved are not far off from seeing things as we do. They have either not the courage, a disincentive, or no incentive to speak out as we do, for whatever reason. If I were living in Halifax central and hadn’t had the connection to the community intentionally ripped away as punishment for disloyalty to, to put it politely a crazy person, I’m not sure I would be as outspoken as I am. (To be crystal clear, I don’t mean SMR who has remained remarkably distant throughout.)

    So I think it not only unjust but probably inaccurate to assume that anyone who doesn’t decry the injustices that seem obvious to us, is therefore somehow simply wrong. On an institutional level, I would not only concede but keep insisting there are some reasons to see things with a stronger healthy/unhealthy contrast, hence the need and appreciation for RFS. From a community wide perspective though, I’m not so sure. I think that was my only point.

  14. John Tischer on November 23rd, 2014 8:50 pm

    Elliot, no argument…..I guess my interest in Shambhala Inc. is trivial at this point….like it’s a secret soap opera that I’m addicted to and I just am trying to follow the plot from bread crumbs, so, yes, I am in no way objective about it….though I don’t have many strong feelings about it at this point either.

    And, i do know many of the Acharyas personally, so, whether `i’m reading something into their photos or not, at least, to me, it’s interesting, some of them, you know, to see how people change.

  15. James Elliott on November 24th, 2014 5:12 am

    John, I do still feel strongly about it. Not all the time everyday, but when it comes up, most definitely.

    See for me it isn’t about some kind of Darwinian competition of religious paths; Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings versus SMR’s. About that, “So what, big deal.” is warrented. That aspect is stupifyingly beside the point. It deserves derision and off the cuff quips, lowbrow, high, doesn’t matter.

    But the part about it that involves people with implied spiritual authority and their sometimes blatant abuse of the trust that often enough automatically invokes, and the damages that then causes, about that, glibness is to my thinking synonymous with callousnuess. Like watching a train wreck and commenting on whether the shoes the bodies are wearing were appropriate attire for the event.

    Mark has mentioned recently his hope that we can focus more on looking towards the future and how we can improve our lot. Besides the fact that I see no possibility for that in our far corner, another important function of RFS is to serve as wittness for others who have or begin to come up against institutional dysfunction, and think there’s something wrong with themselves, or just don’t know what to do.

    Sometimes, particularly when we have no power to change things, the only thing we can do is wittness it and let people know it probably isn’t normal and doesn’t have to be that way. That alone can be of great service. But if we don’t care, if it’s just for a kick… ?

    If memory serves and you haven’t changed as much as some of your acharaya friends, John, I don’t believe you are that lackadaisical.

  16. John Tischer on November 24th, 2014 1:44 pm

    It’s not that I don’t care, obviously. And, just because I said I knew some of those acharyas doesn’t mean I would count them as friends.

    I don’t think RFS is going to be much of a factor in “moving forward”.

    “Sometimes, particularly when we have no power to change things, the only thing we can do is wittness it and let people know it probably isn’t normal and doesn’t have to be that way. That alone can be of great service.”

    I agree with this, and, that’s probably where we’re at right now, and, I think that’s not going to change much in the near future.

    Or, maybe I’m just high…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8AuMOGx_KY

  17. Charles Marrow on November 26th, 2014 11:22 pm

    Good Morning,

    I just received a pleasant fundraising reminder from the Konchok Foundation. They are asking for donations for the support of Surmang DutsiTil monastery, the children’s school, the monk’s shedra and the support of Trungpa Tulku. I have been supporting (modestly) the foundation for many years and think it is a worthwhile and well managed charity. For anyone who may be interested in helping please follow the link of: konchok.shambhala.org/
    They also have a nice selection of donor appreciation gifts that donors may select from.

    Best Wishes to the Trungpa Tulku and Surmang community…let’s help them out!

  18. rita on November 27th, 2014 4:25 am

    James/John

    Re the ‘moving forward’ bit, probably more on this side of the coin than u’s as it were…ha, but also welcome your take on the witness thing aswell, that has to be done too.
    Dunno maybe the moving forward thing is for me personally, certainly some people in the UK I am meeting now have a kind of ‘Open Dojo’ feel to them so am veering towards them at this time, plus now can see how that can be done in some ways without heavy lineage presence aka my feelings of communal lineage developing. It just ‘feels’ the right thing to do at this time in my life-looked at all the spliteroos and still kind of sensing some blockages to engaging more in society at large, even with Midal who seems to be veering to a more western perspective, yeh keeping my eye on some things over the channel but of course with English upbringing and all that means re romanticism.
    So yeh really in Open space/Open Dojo now, and kind of expectant as it were. All of the reading done round CTR and others in the past 4 years seems to direct my present course re going outwards more to all levels of society both religious and secular…yeh Fromm n all that. So yes this year of the Horse been a pivotal year for me, wonder even now if things more shocking will head up its end….hope not…because it has been some ride going on, so looking forward to 15 and making more connections to people here.
    Wonder if Brad still reading rfs…what are the disrupters and leavers doing out in your patch…would like to hear some stuff from the street….coz thats where I am now, pounding the fair streets of grumpy and sarcastic ol Manchester haha……

    http://youtu.be/hb2YSAVHmIE

    best/love rita

  19. John Tischer on December 8th, 2014 10:03 pm

    moving forward…ok, jump in here…..we are always moving forward…it’s called momentum…we see some of it here on this site…we see other elsewhere.

    We have our valid views. Given that, we swirl in the times which are, now,
    particularly confusing. I won’t go on about that.

    So, I see it as a dance. And, at this time, it’s difficult to get the wallflowers
    onto the floor, because, while the music might be good, the floor is shifty.

    That’s probably more than enough for now.

  20. rita on December 9th, 2014 3:59 am

    Dear JT,

    Yes moving forward…believe there is somewhat of conscious changing thing happening out there….re poetry for instance check this with Kate Tempest in the UK-a Christmas pressie for you ha….going to see her in Manchester in February 2015…..shades of the greater shambhala coming into being in some mysterious way at last….mythic and true….

    http://youtu.be/JLWlB3ib7ZM

    And also in a more pragmatic and deep political sense the growth of Podemos in Spain brought on by disgust with rampant materialism –yuk and yuk……see

    http://youtu.be/GC2A5TSyA4k

    (there are English subtitles with this)

    Yes a kind of participative democracy evolving here –bit like Fromm imagined…so yeh things turning and more people going on the dancefloor and not being wallflowers.

    Anyway to me all this means must go outwards more re other faiths, other connections to the Real and a deep re-evaluation where we at with CTRs dharma in these times…still think a sense of deep politics ‘works’ with dharma in a very subtle sense aka bodhicitta…o well on we go moving forward and noticing what is happening out there in the phenomenal world..

    Best/love Rita

  21. John Tischer on December 9th, 2014 10:12 pm

    I’ve been watching videos about the “Beats”

    They were the heralds for all the great Buddhist teachers that came to the West….there was a synchronicity….

    this is a haiku I wrote about the “Beats”.

    The shock of peace paused
    the return of warlock mind….
    Beats joyed in heart dance.

  22. James Elliott on December 10th, 2014 5:05 am

    John T.
    I too also enamored with the beats. Kerouac touched the infinite. I was one time however struck by the contradiction that they for the most part took this uneducated Bohemian living down and dirty in the mean streets stance, but as far as I can see they all enjoyed college educations, probably a prerequisite to playing with language as they did; bit of a contradiction, but let that go, still great.

    It was its own thing, and as a movement (with individual exceptions) as much influenced by alcohol, amphetamines and psychedelics as by Buddhist thought, but the exceptions stand out and some of the literature written then is timeless, and their influence in literature still echos loudly.

    But for, in my opinion, an even more mind blowing cultural movement, check out Dadaism. It might be Ati in the art world. It’s European, so doesn’t have any Midwestern dust on it, no Tibetan embroidery, but with a little scrutiny transcends those kinds of nostalgic concerns.

    I swear that one or two of the people who seeded it must have been Bodhisattvas. They don’t use a gram of Buddhist vocabulary but in some of their quotes and things they did… it was a dynamic manifesting force that can only be recognized as an intentional attempt to manifest emptiness and compassion, in some cases almost aggressively, in order to wake people up- not to a certain view or idea, just… to wake people up. What happened next was not part of the agenda.

    And in their words it seems at least some of them understood all this very consciously. Their efforts too still echo loudly as influence in almost all visual media.

    I could give links, but leave the fun of exploring open. Really worth the time…

    “What is dada?

    An art form? A philosophy? a policy?
    Is it fire insurance?

    Or: a State Religion?
    is dada really Energy?

    or is it Nothing, or perhaps
    everything?

  23. John Tischer on December 10th, 2014 2:51 pm

    James,

    I agree with you about the Dadaists, in fact, wasn’t the whole of modern art a breaking down of classical mind? Didn’t the anarchy of the Beats create a
    ground where the dharma could flourish? It seems much of the late 19th through the Twentieth centuries was a breaking down of conceptual constructs,
    from “God is dead” onwards. All the movements of modern art contributed to that, I believe. It was an awareness that developed as information became more available to more people.

  24. rita on December 11th, 2014 6:19 am

    Dear JT, James et All,

    Re Art and ‘moving forward’…a synchronous quote from Daniel Oder’s book ‘The Doors of Joy’, page 90
    “Creating one’s life means constantly exploring reality and developing a greater acuity in perception, in refinement and grace.
    An artist worthy of that name always explores the unknown. He does not reproduce the work of others, nor his own. He is in constant movement towards the unknown. He does not pay attention to what others expect of him, since even he does not know where he is going. He creates so he can discover where he is by moving forward.”
    Yes the same could be said for what has happened since Trungpa Rinpoche died re this idea bout Art – unfortunately there has been a solidifying around what happened in the past both in the western and eastern aspects when we too in a profound sense should be ‘moving forward’.
    This is why I can not now sign up to what has spilled out re SI and the diaspora of CTRs students around the world –yeh things have become so fixed and it is now just not in my character and thinking to follow any of them. I shall have to uncover/recover my own Art, my own path, possibly with so many awaking individuals that I am now meeting. So this too is where some of my sense of devotion to CTR is taking me in mundane and supramundane Reality.
    Mundanely still inquisitive bout politics out there and hope to get more information re what Podemos is up to aka the circles of governance they are forming, and in other spheres re Art, now body is more together, hope to explore theatre more, and meditationally perhaps too open myself up to different manners of exploring Mind, here one thinks of Merton’s openness to Asian perspectives re practice.
    So yes a veritable Open Dojo, which is synching with how the mundane world is going at the present time too – so yes moving forward with the Revolution! Best/love Rita

    Ps nuther good poetry reading from Ms Tempest http://youtu.be/jYMtmQ_H570 yeh if Kerouac alive in these times he would have to have been into hip-hop, and the like…..of course his poetry/prose in the 50s much influenced by jazz and bebop.

  25. John Tischer on December 12th, 2014 9:23 pm

    Poem…..apologies to all involved

    Belief

    You can believe in Santa
    or, the tooth fairy, and, it’s
    kinda nice for kids.

    When you start getting into
    Gods of the various brands,
    it ups the ante, to say the least.

    Even if you say you don’t believe,
    you believe in that…only when
    the stakes aren’t too high.

    Seeing is not believing, it’s
    seeing…

    no one ever told you that.

  26. rita on December 14th, 2014 2:35 am

    Dear JT et al,

    Hmmmmm, yes the stakes are too high now, too late to go back to ‘preserving’ and ‘rehashing’-many more things seem to be occurring in the phenomenal world that kind of side-line that approach, perhaps it is the sense of dissolution re our notion of western society now that is hedging us into some notions of new involvements over in ol’ gb land. Anyhow exploring mode is on for sure and sense of ‘whats that?’ happening.

    Yes when was ‘preserving’ and ‘rehashing’ finally over- seems the Over-Thing is on… gloop-gloop, in people’s minds/feelings over many ponds and rivers—its just not On in Humpty-Dumpty land-something else is slouching to be born amidst the chaos, dont know what it is as yet, but there are so many movements now, and status quos of every ilk just wont do it in Our Age.

    Think somehow events, dear boy as Macmillan would say, knocks us off our perches and we have to move to what is alive and brimming, not what is almost dead and over, zzzzzzzzz. Certainly this last year of the Horse been a manic ride re energy-wonder what will evolve in 2015?

    Can only sense that we have to be as Open as poss. hence a kind of allegiance to That. Seems this Cloud of Unknowingness will take us through – Amen! Anyway will probably be going to church on Christmas day-research re Kingdoms and yogic paths, now that will be interesting! Best for the season and enlightened society. Rita

    http://youtu.be/XM2Oh4pS304

  27. John Tischer on December 20th, 2014 5:36 pm

    Zen Moment

    I saw a sign when I
    was driving over a bridge
    that read
    “Slippery When Slippery”.

    I had to pull over for a while and get out of the car.
    Suddenly, a white GTO screeches to a stop…a red neck
    jumps out…he’s wearing NASCAR clothes…he runs over
    to me, slaps me in the face, and, just as quickly, jumps back
    into his car and is gone.
    That’s when I realized the world is my teacher.

  28. John Tischer on December 27th, 2014 4:04 pm

    Announcement

    This is to announce the formation of an
    organization to quell manspreading.
    Manspreading is a psychological
    condition where big, fat male slobs
    ignore the society around them and
    take up too much space, “spreading”
    themselves unconsciously, thus
    infringing on the space of others

    The Society for the Prevention of
    Manspreading has been established.
    The cause of manspreading has been
    determined as what is now being called
    “male pattern stupidity”. Containment
    teams are being formed, primarily in
    urban areas where manspreading has
    reached epidemic proportions due to
    the overcomsumtion of fast food.

    Help Stop The Spread Of Manspreading.

  29. John Tischer on December 27th, 2014 5:24 pm

    wel, since nobody else seems to be posting here much, at least,
    I’m not interrupting anything…..

    Father/Son Talk

    My father once told me
    (he didn’t…I’m making this up)
    “If you don’t control yourself,
    people will think you’re crazy.”

    I said “But, Dad, if I control
    myself, I’ll be like them and
    think I’m sane.”

  30. rita on December 29th, 2014 3:55 am

    Dear John T et al

    Interesting utube vid with Chime Rinpoche see http://youtu.be/3WWxi6oJI7A

    Some history on Trungpas time in UK that I had not heard about before. He also gives some impressions on how Tibetan Buddhism will go in the west, yes I not so interested in the authentic teachings stance persay, but more in the perhaps ‘newer’ forms that he mentions that we should possibly practice in, wondering about this, how ‘newer’ forms will come into existence…perhaps terma –yeh interesting. And could they come from outside standard dharma as it were-perhaps through Art and other disciplines.

    Aka visiting other religious centres and other yogic paths…aha…yes church become more informal much changed from my brief foray in my childhood in the High Anglican tradition, the laity itself having much more input into the service itself-so that also interesting.

    So yes still exploring, also have you seen this http://youtu.be/6SeYOjBKJW0 some Buddhists I have known attending it…quite an affair in Japan…wonder what they are up to?

    Anyhow myself as a perhaps governance model I dont see things going this way, much too formal and much too Buddhist…haha…yet quite sleek tho…bet CTRs eyes would rise on this one.

    Anyhow here come the Warmjets and the New Year!

    http://youtu.be/iP-RFsuv-8Q

    Best for both new years. Rita

  31. John Tischer on January 2nd, 2015 6:04 pm

    How Can You Be A Poet And Not Be A Naked Personne?

    I mean, poets are not in the business
    of holding back, right? Who knows
    where they got that from? How come
    humans are so unstoppably creative?
    Are they looking for that, are they finding
    that in our genes? They can’t, because
    a flower is an example of creativity that
    comes from a plant.

    Which is why Buddha gave his lineage
    to his disciple that smiled when he held
    up a flower.

  32. rita on January 4th, 2015 4:03 am

    Dear All,

    This clip with Irshad Manji another one of those ‘Whats that?’ moments…see

    http://youtu.be/TI3L2JAJCgI

    Yes this little piece more reflective than some other things that she has done on popular TV debating with US pundits.

    Kind of going towards discussions with other faiths out there now in the spirit of inter-faith myself and of course Merton’s spirit re religious discourse, perhaps we may be able to share some sense of what an enlightened society could be.

    Yes to me Trungpa Rinpoche opened wide the door to practice to all comers, so my sense of devotion coming together in exploring these matters in a very free and open sense. Wonder what will happen with these debates.

    Increasingly dissolving connections to ‘straight’ Buddhism out there, feel something else brewing in the ether, perhaps Mr Perks ‘new religion’ a term that he got from Trungpa. Yes what was Mr T up to? Has placed me personally in such open space now…. haha.

    What is happening for real? Will have to let all my conceptions of dharma go and just let the phenomenal world wash over me for some time-so many social and deep political revolutions happening in ol GB land, we definitely do need a kind of jumping over fences happening now.

    Well Best Rita

  33. John Tischer on February 4th, 2015 7:13 pm

    Chinese Fortune Cookie

    I was returning from a Buddhist seminar
    from Vermont to Boston. Halfway, we stopped
    for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The waiter
    looked exactly like Rinpoche! I opened my
    fortune cookie, and the fortune read …
    “Very soon a very interesting one.”

  34. John Tischer on February 11th, 2015 2:24 am

    how’s about a little music ?

    lighten this party up….this for all the women

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0TEQI0_lqg

    yeah, my best friend just died a couple of days ago, so, this is for him too.

  35. John Tischer on February 15th, 2015 10:24 pm

    A tweet I read…..”Life? I’ll wait in the car.`’

  36. John Tischer on February 16th, 2015 12:25 am

    I apologize for taking up space…but, hey, it’s infinite…

    Bliss Emptiness (for Keith Dowman)
    Bliss emptiness, drunk, stoned,
    what difference does it make?
    Hungover, waiting for the mail,
    what difference does it make?

    Waking constantly into the light,
    into the discrepancy of foregone
    conclusions that we should have
    abandoned long ago.

    Waking ino the awareness of
    what we don’t know we wll know
    once we get over the hangover.

  37. rita on February 18th, 2015 5:50 am

    Happy New Year ….when it comes tomorrow….at last the Horse is going ….a veritable tumultuous year….will be toasting the Vidyadhara, the Regent and myself haha…mostly for getting through this year…..

    so 3 sake bowls and pouring vessel have mysteriously appeared in the Regents colours of purple and yellow to toast the year in…..best of luck for the New year from the UK and the Greater Shambhala network http://youtu.be/SbBnTozmVvE

  38. John Tischer on February 20th, 2015 6:00 pm

    Nice, Rita, Thanks. Question….will all the children born this year become Sheeple?

  39. rita on February 21st, 2015 7:59 am

    Haha Mr T…dunno re sheeples…in gbland dont know what people are going to turn into…everything going barmy over here what with the election and so forth and aka 7 parties in the BBC debates…we could at last be in gb for a tad or soupcon of enlightened society…so many viewpoints out there and so many people feduperoo with the status quos…..so not sheeple, one begins to think…more peoplePeoplePEOPLE in the Kerouackian sense of absolute dignity and Reality…yeh no holds barred in the ol kingdom….best/love rita

    Ps think Ms Tempest kind of in this new wave in the UK..very interesting…yes shes so precise and sharp and I seem to be encountering these sharperoos more and more….. http://youtu.be/twPPiX3cMrU

  40. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 8:07 pm

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the music link, which I was able to listen to just before it was taken down (as I discovered just now upon reclicking it). Can you tell me the name of the singer? I hadn’t had the chance to write it down and wanted to keep an eye out for her CDs — good stuff.

    I was also very sorry to hear you’d lost someone close to you. I send my prayers for a most fortunate rebirth.

    OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA

  41. John Tischer on March 28th, 2015 4:02 pm

    sorry, Damcho…don’t remember what music you’re talking about

  42. Damchö on March 28th, 2015 7:26 pm

    Not to worry John, I pieced it together just now through remembering the middle name: it was Noura Mint Seymali from Mauritania. I listen to a lot of international music and it’s always nice to discover someone new. Thanks.

  43. John Tischer on March 30th, 2015 10:05 pm

    Well, I’m still here, so, I thought I would post a poem

    Vintage Stew

    When you have the right
    ingredients and time to prepare
    and know what you are doing.

    It’s not just about food.
    It’s about teaching, fighting,
    creating art or science…

    Whatever humans are capable
    of. The Buddhists call it auspicious
    coincidence when flour meets eggs
    and milk in insight to create pancakes.

    We even take flying into space for
    granted. It’s all part of the bubbling
    of the human stew.

  44. John Tischer on April 1st, 2015 3:27 pm
  45. Damchö on April 4th, 2015 2:09 am

    Not in a state to send a poem in return John, but — by proxy — here’s somebody else, with one of the more devastating final lines I’ve come across in awhile — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R_RmGKg6c0

    I’d like to dedicate it to the buddhists I have known, for whom all actual compassion has, it seems, become “idiot” compassion.

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