Mark Szpakowski Illuminates Dark Matter

July 28, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post

In this first podcast, Ed Michalik interviews Mark Szpakowski, who talks about allowing the Dark Matter in the greater Shambhala sangha to self-illuminate.

This is an introduction to Radio Free Shambhala.

Audio MP3

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9 Responses to “Mark Szpakowski Illuminates Dark Matter”

  1. Michael Chender on August 15th, 2008 7:44 am

    I enjoyed listening to this. I appreciate your eloquent appeal for genuine inquiry—holding a sense of fundamental good will and an awareness of one’s own shortcomings while fearlessly expressing what you see is a hell of a practice in itself. And remembering Rinpoche through your evocation of him reminds me that we have a lot to learn from each other. Thanks for creating this opportunity.

  2. Dan Montgomery on August 17th, 2008 6:55 pm

    Thank you both, Ed and Mark, for this very articulate interview. The point I would question is whether there is, in fact, any actual function of a “loyal opposition” to be had in this mandala. To be blunt, I wonder whether anyone “at the top”, so to speak, has any interest in actually listening to this conversation.

    I don’t think there’s a function for a “loyal opposition” here. I still welcome the idea of a civil conversation, but it’s just that, a conversation. The idea of loyal opposition is a concept from the English constitutional monarchy, a set of conventions and practices which evolved over centuries. This evolution was punctuated by an occasional show down (eg Magna Carta forced on King John, beheading of Charles 1) which led the monarchs themselves to recognize limits to their powers, and the gradual evolution of the monarchy into a primarily symbolic, rather than operational, form of leadership. The Parliament, with its Government and Loyal Opposition factions, makes the decisions that materially affect people’s lives and livelihood. The monarch ratifies certain decisions, has tea with the Prime Minister, and provides a larger inspiration.

    Shambhala is not, at least for the present or foreseeable future, a real life political entity in any terrestrial sense. There is none of the usual business of taxation, law, war, public services, etc that actual political entities engage in. The Sakyong has chosen to manifest in a more traditional role as a Tibetan Lama. He is the head of a religious organization, chartered as such with the tax authorities, confers empowerments, and gives spiritual teachings. It is by no means a democracy, and has no pretense of being one once you accept the idea that the Sakyong takes his authority from primogeniture. We participate, or don’t, on an entirely voluntary basis.

    This might not be what some of us signed up for.

    The transmission of Shambhala which I heard and understood is a much larger visualization of what life on this planet can be, and can become. It’s no longer contained in a Tibetan religious organization. So I choose not to participate.

    I agree with much of your perspective on what’s missing in the organization. And I like what you say about the Sakyong choosing a particular way to manifest, a way that lies within the boundless realm of good possibilities the Vidyadhara laid out for us. It’s OK, and at the same time not what we might have chosen.

    I imagine us as arrows, adorned with Garuda’s feathers, going out in 10,000 different directions.

  3. Mark Szpakowski on August 17th, 2008 10:55 pm

    Dan, I think I’m with you on the question of ‘loyal opposition’. The analogy with the British parliamentary system doesn’t quite hold, because both parties, “Her Majesty’s Government”, and “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”, don’t question the crown itself. They are both loyal to the crown and to that particular crown system.

    In our case we are questioning the crown, and its game, its way of manifesting, itself. If you don’t believe in that game, you have to go outside it, to where it’s one of many.

    This is not about personality, or the person of the Sakyong. It’s about the view. It’s about remembering what you call “a much larger visualization of what life on this planet can be”, and asking how it could manifest in this world.

  4. Rob Graffis on August 19th, 2008 1:27 pm

    Michael Chender wrote:
    “The Sakyong has chosen to manifest in a more traditional role as a Tibetan Lama. He is the head of a religious organization, chartered as such with the tax authorities, confers empowerments, and gives spiritual teachings.”

    I recall, and so do others, that this was not the Vifyadhara’s intentions when he was alive and well, and would occasionally joke about his fear that the then Sawong would would take on more interest in being religious then manifesting as a Ruler of Shambhala. It doesn’t mean he can’t full fill his Buddhist role that he wants to full fill, but his becoming a “Rinpoche” does seem contrary to the role his father wanted, and the role the Sakyong accepted.
    Rob Graffis

  5. Cecelia Driscoll on August 22nd, 2008 10:02 am

    I was speaking with a friend the other day, someone who was upset when they learned about some of the dissenting opinions about the Sakyong that are being expressed in and around Halifax.

    I asked them if the person who was dissenting was practicing regularily (they were not) and I advised my upset friend to pay more attention to the opinions of practitioner’s.

    I said this simply because my experience of practicing with the Shambhala Buddhist sangha and experiencing the Sakyong’s teachings is one that brings profound insight, relaxation and trust.

    I offer this for others who come to this site and may feel upset like my friend did. My loyalty to the Sakyong is without opposition.

  6. Aba Cecile McHardy on August 24th, 2008 1:10 pm

    Much appreciation to all involved in this initiative. Recollect one Community Address of CTR: ‘Lids and Flowes’ which was an invitation to think bigger – a metaphor ‘opening the flower’ where ‘centers’ function as nurseries where seeds are germinated and from which plants can be transplanted into the wide world. When they mature their flowers open; some ‘go to seed’ prolifically scattering enlightened genes.
    [Mind at Play]
    Gardeners know there are other efficacious ways for propagation – eg cloning: A bud from a Mother source [buddhism] whose ‘fruit’ is known and valued is grafted onto common stock [shambhala]. Such a plant [shambhala buddhism] – half manifests qualities of common root stock, the other budded branch replicates identical characteristics of the Mother.
    Segue to comment on Dark Matter
    Changing metaphors: Have you encountered beings in the world with whom you resonate, who declare no particular allegiance to any institution, ideology, etc [perhaps if pressed will share their story] yet who are open, present, tolerant, wise, kind? Offer here link to an illuminating conversation – relevant to this trope: it is in six parts: Enjoy

  7. Bob McPherson on August 26th, 2008 3:46 pm

    Thank-you, Mark and Ed, for this website! It is good to discover that it is not just me, and my perceptions.

    True mind-mandala does not involve Democracy, at all. At the centre of a true mandala, there is no advisable king, or any other ordinary human being. It is the apparent absence of of mind-mandala, that brought me to this forum. No amount of “communications”, or “information sharing”, will provide us with an authentic centre of a new mandala. The centre exists, or it does not, and it does so independently of what we may think or believe it should be. In some respects, the enlightened centre, “couldn’t care less”, about its subjects, or their opinions; it just manifests and connects those able to see it. Therefor, Ido not think that a, “Loyal Opposition”, can have any place in a true mind-mandala, at all. Posssibly in an administartive, or business mandala, but not in a genuine, enlightened one.

  8. David Frevola on September 1st, 2008 1:25 pm

    Congratulations on the first pod cast. It was very informative and set a nice tone for what is sure to be a hearty discussion. And one that hopefully includes those of us who are neither academics nor fiercely libertarian intellectuals….not that there’s anything wrong with that. The discussion around loyalty and truth is something I hope will continue in the future. It’s seems to me that these two things can’t really exist without each other. Perhaps loyalty to the truth is a way to go. Certainly loyalty without truth could give rise to a potentially confusing situation.

  9. Cliff Esler on September 4th, 2008 9:37 pm

    I dunno Dave — even here it doesn’t seem a person can *really* cut loose about their feelings on any of these issues, for fear of “cognoscenti blowback”. It really may be time to start a sixth-estate alternative site, at the putative domain “”.

    OK, perhaps there could be a few other possibilities as well:
    http://www.dharmapolity.relig [Oops! That one’s taken – home of Vlad the Impaler!]

    Whaddya think? All those among the hyper-disgruntled, please chime in with your own suggestions!