What Has Changed

September 26, 2008 by     Print This Post Print This Post

To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. - Ven. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi


As a meditation instructor at my Shambhala Center between 1995 and 2004, I had no choice but to be aware of the changes in the introductory presentation of sitting meditation that occurred during that time. I learned new forms and practiced them regularly in order to be able to help other people learn them. In light of that fact, the hardest to understand  of the standard “talking points” from Shambhala about these changes was the assertion that while there may be superficial differences, nothing had really changed.

There are a number of variations in terms of how this is expressed. Here is a fairly easy one:

“The Vidyadhara himself gave changing instructions in the particulars of how to practice, based on his witnessing the changing needs of his students…and because of his changing understanding of how to serve his students best.”[1]

This version does at least acknowledge that there are changes. It implies, however, that there is a continuum between the changes made by Trungpa Rinpoche and the continuing changes made by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, that they are all closely related. In point of fact the two approaches are quite different in their fundamental view. As an MI working with students trained in one and then shifting to the other, this was very obvious to me.

I never met the Vidyadhara, so you would have to get someone else to talk about how they experienced the Vidyadhara’s famous and endless rug-pulling. But I have studied the Shambhala teachings and read most of the restricted vajrayana teachings. Throughout the shape-shifting, and from the beginning to the most advanced teachings, I see a consistency in view.

One aspect of the view is the assertion that we do not practice meditation to get rid of thoughts. I was taught meditation from the view of basic goodness, where the assumption is that the mind is primordially enlightened and the practice is to relax and allow space, first, and then to apply discipline in order to further that process.[2] I have practiced this way through my whole life as a practitioner. I cannot count how many times I have told new and not-so-new practitioners this radical assertion, which my teachers made to me and which made it possible for me to meditate. The arising of thoughts is part of the natural process of mind and the training is to “neither lead nor follow.” I cannot count how many times I have as gently as possible pointed out that a verb like “control” is not useful in relation to meditation.

Now, beginners are being taught to “tame” the mind, that the mind is a wild animal that must be controlled by the application of the practice of meditation. They are being taught that it is the goal of meditation to have no thoughts arise.[3] The Six-Class Sourcebook for Shambhala Instructors, p. 29, states categorically, “All public and open house instruction (except Level 1) will present working with the precise technique as a beginning place. The emphasis is on taming the wildness of mind.”

I do not presume to say that there is something wrong with this view, since it has a long and illustrious history. But I had never practiced that way, and would probably have never become a practitioner at all if that was what I was presented with when I started out. I found when I attempted to talk with people that I could not make the words come out of my mouth to present that view. So I retired as an M.I. That is no great loss. But I think the loss of this style of meditation, which Trungpa Rinpoche brought to the West from Tibet, at such great personal cost, would be considerable.

Trungpa Rinpoche’s metaphor, which I think he borrowed from Suzuki Roshi, for the mind in meditation was of giving a cow a large luscious meadow. At first it might run around, but after a while it settles down, relaxes, and enjoys. He said, “Meditation practice is not a matter of trying to produce a hypnotic state of mind or create a state for restfulness. Trying to achieve a restful state reflects a mentality of poverty.”

The Sakyong’s metaphor for the mind is a wild horse. He said you could put that horse in a large meadow and wait there all day, but it would never come to you. So it has to be captured and tamed. “In the beginning, you could meditate for eternity, thinking, ‘The mind will naturally come back.’ It’ll never come back. [Laughter] Just like the horse. If you lie in the meadow thinking, ‘This horse is intrinsically tame,’[laughter] you could wait and wish as much as you want, but the horse is never going to come back. It’s just going to get old and die. [Laughter]”[4]

Different methods work for different people. The cow-in-a-big-meadow style didn’t work for some people, and they felt bad about that. Unfortunately, the Sakyong’s adoption of the taming-the-wild-horse method has selected for all the people from all the various generations and subgroups who never got or liked the cow method. And that comes with a certain amount of backlash. Think about all the laughter in the previous paragraph. There is relief there, and there is also pay-back from people who felt left out.

I have felt odd being caught in the middle of this dichotomy. People assume because of things that I say that I am an “old student,” but I never met Trungpa Rinpoche. I learned from Trungpa Rinoche’s students. But the way I started out was immensely helpful to me. Since I am an ordinary person, not unique or special, I think it would help others out there as well. It is less commonly available as a beginner’s practice than the “taming” view, and I am very sad to think it may no longer be available at that level.

 “The Sakyong was raised and trained closely by the Vidyadhara.  To my thinking, he is introducing a far more systematic training process than VCTR was able to introduce in his lifetime, both in practice and study. . .  The Vidyadhara was a pioneer, he was plowing a field of solid stone.  As a result of his efforts, the Sakyong is now plowing a softer field, and he is bringing in new equipment to make the soil even finer.  He’s looking at what VCTR did, seeing what worked and what didn’t, and making changes accordingly.”[5]

Thought experiment: spend a moment imagining the area of practice and/or the Buddhist or Shambhala teachings that most inspires you, the thing you love and practice the most. Now imagine that someone directed the remarks above at that very area of the teachings, dismissing those practices you love as “what didn’t work,” and describing you and others like you as a field of stone. If you can imagine that, then maybe you have an answer to the question of why old students drop out of the lives of their centers.

From one hunk of rock to all the others,

Ngakma Zér-mé Dri’mèd



Photo by Chögyam Trungpa, from Garuda (Spring 1972), p. 29.

[1] Sangha-talk, 2004.

[2] Myth of Freedom, p. 48-49

[3] Turning the Mind into an Ally, p. 53-56; the graphic on p. 59 and the chapter about it, p. 58-75, especially p. 74-75; and the chapter on the nine stages,p. 114-126, especially p. 126 on the ninth stage.

[4] 1999 Seminary Transcripts, Book 1, p 39-40

[5] Sangha-talk, 2004


29 Responses to “What Has Changed”

  1. Rob Graffis on September 27th, 2008 1:26 am

    First of all, I would love to submit a picture of myself, or pictures in general on this site. I haven’t figured it out yet.
    Beyond that, When I first started sitting practice, even though I was taught to follow just the out breath, and forget the inbreath (because the inbreath was considered by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is where “the gap” occurs), and label thoughts as “thinking” i still tried it as a tool for concentration. When I did my first weekthun at RMDC, a few months later, I literally experienced a nervous collapse.
    People who observed me practicing noticed I was concentrating too hard, and following my outer breath pretty hard. I was trying to eliminate thoughts like somebody trying to stomp out flies with the heel of their shoe.
    Painful thoughts would come up, and I would try to suppress them. This will lead to a disaster. I have known people that had similar experiences with strict Zen , and Therivaden practice, but had no experienced teachers at the time to chill, or to contemplate something more peaceful.
    We don’t tame the mind by eliminating thoughts. It is a process though.
    My MI at the time said to stop doing the following the breath practice, and to try to just “sit”. She gave up on me at some point. I was a teenager back then.
    I had my first private interview with the Vidyadhara some months later, and he asked a few brief questions about my background. He said some people just do a three hour sitting session and freak out, and that I was normal.
    Then I said “I’m fucked up. I’m fucked up”, and he said repeatedly “No you aren’t. No you aren’t”.
    He then had me me meditate in front of him for a minute, and said “You’re trying too hard”.
    He then said I should resume my regular sitting practice and go ahead. “Just do it” as he would say.
    Anyway, it was a confidence builder.

    Rob Graffis

  2. Chris Keyser on September 27th, 2008 2:20 am

    The movement of thinking mind cannot be locked in an iron box.
    — Milarepa

  3. Mark Szpakowski on September 27th, 2008 10:12 am

    RE having a picture of yourself appear next to a comment, see


  4. Suzanne Duarte on September 27th, 2008 1:35 pm

    Dear Ngakma Zér-mé Dri’mèd,

    Thank you very much for your illuminating insights into the fundamental differences in view and practice between the Vidyadhara’s and Sakyong Mipham’s approaches to meditation, AND the possible reasons for the ‘backlash’ by SMR students against CTR students. All of this is fascinating to contemplate.

    I completely agree with what you say about CTR’s teachings. After teaching and being an MI for 20 years, I also ‘retired’ from teaching within the Shambhala mandala when we were told that we had to change the meditation instruction. I said, ‘No way!’ I felt that such a change had vast implications, and indeed those implications have played out in further changes within the mandala – none of which I could go along with and none of the rationalizations for which I could accept.

    The difference between CTR’s spacious, trusting-the-mind-to-come-back, not-too-loose-and-not-too-tight, mixing-mind-with-space approach, and SMR’s taming-a-wild-horse approach has an ironic parallel with George Lakoff’s characterization of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Lakoff says that Democrats take the ‘nurturing parent’ approach and Republicans take the ‘strict father’ approach, which is quite dualistic in its distrust of human nature.

    CTR was the nurturing parent. He had an intimate, trusting relationship with the students who were able to practice as he taught and pass it on. If they opened up to him, exposed themselves to him, Trungpa Rinpoche cultivated his students and brought out qualities and potentials in them they didn’t know they had. His approach was more like that of a ‘horse whisperer’ in gentling a wild horse and gaining its trust and friendship, rather than the traditional wild-west method of brutalizing a horse, showing it who’s boss.

    Needless to say, the differences in these approaches have profound political implications as well as profound implications for one’s own dharma path.

    As for the statement on Sangha-Talk 2004 that SMR provides a “far more systematic training process than VCTR was able to introduce in his lifetime, both in practice and study”: I find this assertion questionable. In my experience the Vidyadhara’s training was quite systematic, but not TOO systematic. He left space for people to grow, evolve, develop in their own natural ways. He also did not want anyone to overly systematize his teachings, perhaps because then dogmatism would arise, which would destroy the creative relationship with space.

    I also do not resonate at all with the image of the “field of solid stone” that the Vidyadhara supposedly had to work with. He certainly never used that image. It was more like an exotic tropical forest that he transformed into a forest garden, without destroying the forest.

    So I do not accept any of the condescending rationalizations put forth by defenders of Sakyong Mipham’s changes to the sacred world that he inherited from the Vidyadhara/Druk Sakyong. I find them misinformed at best, if not spurious and disingenuous.

    We shall see whether Sakyong Mipham’s approach “works” in the long run. It might work only to obliterate the Vidyadhara’s dharma stream if we’re not careful.

  5. Davee on September 27th, 2008 2:56 pm

    i find that criticism about view and path being provisional instead of definitive, too systematized or not systematized enough, or having more intermediate goals versus less intermediate goals, and the implications of those approaches – mirrors a very, very long standing debate and conversation in the Tibetan tradition between gelug, kagyu, nyingma, and sakya scholars and also within those lineages. I recommend the book by Wisdom Publications “Svatantrika Prasangika Distinction” by Dreyfus and McClintock for some of that history.

    Which is to say, this is not a recently arisen phenomenon no matter your stance on what Shambhala should do.

  6. Suzanne Duarte on September 27th, 2008 7:39 pm

    So what, Davee? Is that your way of dismissing the discussion? Why bother?

  7. Ngakma Zer-me Dri'med on September 29th, 2008 12:07 am

    Yes, I do believe Davee is attempting to dismiss the discussion by waving a book around.

    I see your Svatantrika Prasangika Distinction and raise you one Northern and Southern Patriarch. Yes, these distinctions in view as foundation for practice go *way* back., like beyond Tibet and into China and India in Buddhist history.

    That does not dismiss the discussion, but rather makes it more significant. It matters how one views the nature of mind and phenomenal reality when one practices meditation. It matters on the cushion, and it matters particularly when meditation becomes part of daily life. That’s why people consider the matter of view worth discussion and debate. That’s why the change in the view between the meditation taught by Trunga Rinpoche and the meditation taught by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in not trivial. As Suzanne D. has pointed out, there are further implications: how a path is structured, and what sort of enlightened society may be possible as fruition.

  8. James Elliott on September 30th, 2008 2:52 am

    (As mentioned in ‘Just Sitting’, I wish we had a list of what the changes actually are, from all the name changes, the changes in emphasis, what we are called, changes in practice requirements, up to changes in view etc.. an objective list without judgement or bias, just to see what the changes have been, and ground the discussion a little for those who don’t know what they all have been (like me). I’d help with that, if there’s any resonance.)

    As somone who was around since 1974 in Boulder, I don’t know of ways Trungpa Rinpoche actually changed the teachings or the practices, other than translating it into English and changing the format so we weren’t copying Tibetan style. The only thing I’m aware of that was at odds with the traditional methods taught for generations was how he introduced shamatha/vipasyana right at the beginning instead of as an advanced practice. And his giving a form of vajrayana transmission at the beginning of ngöndro instead of at completion, as is usual. (This may have something to do with Western educational systems, rather than anything remarkable about us, but in any case was not the norm.)

    Later the labeling was added for new students. That wasn’t in my view a fundamental change, only a simplified structuring for beginning students in a wider base, which MI’s could encourage or relax depending, the rule of not too tight not too loose still applied, and that developed very directly into shamatha/vipasyana.

    The form of the community changed over time, but one could argue how much of that was purely his intent to ‘change’ things, or was it his vision along with natural process of maturation in the community and in individuals understanding. In any case the developments always felt to me organic and understandable, not wrenching or generally alienating in any way I ever noticed, for myself or those around me.

    Perhaps the most radical change was the iintroduction of the Shambhala vision teachings and training which emphasized ways to work with the world based on fundamental principles of basic goodness and compassion, without demanding one become Buddhist. I hear some people had problems with that, but as he introduced that subtle but significant change, that didn’t wrench anything existant away, and I did not see an atmosphere of resistance that some people have implied or equated with current events.

    In spite of what changes did occurr, whatever the reasons or dynamics, I think it’s a misunderstanding or misrepresentation when some say he was changing the teachings and the practices to suit the students. That would be absurd if one gave it any real thought.

    All in all, based on my recollections, “the Vidyadhara’s famous and endless rug-pulling” is often misrepresented, sometimes by people who knew him. If someone doesn’t agree with something, it does not mean that the rug is being pulled. Because it happened to people while they were in his presence, perhaps some have extrapolated their experience to mean that was how he lead the community at large, or that that ought to be a constant state of some kind?

    That was surely how he worked with individual students. ‘Rug pulling’ was something that happened directly in his presence, and was a way he worked or better the ‘way he was’ with students. Some teachers talk about how the vajra-master conjures, or one could talk about it as upaya. However it works, in his presence one felt all one’s tricks and agendas, one’s ego self centered-ness entirely exposed. That was the ‘pulled rug’ experience.

    However, I am certain it was not in any way a form of social or community leadership, it was not a method to create community identity at all. ‘Pulling the Rug’ as a form of community leadership, working with social groups, even very small group, in this way would undermine the ability of any community identity from ever forming, and we know that was not the case. That kind of instability would rip a community apart.

    The analogy Trungpa Rinpoche used to describe his efforts in creating community identity, was not a farmer and rocks in a field that needed to be broken, the anaolgy he used was the ‘weaving of the cloth of the community’, i.e. bringing together the complex strands we all are, together into one cloth. If one looks at what community identity is, and how groups work together, it becomes obvious that community identity could never be accomplished if ‘pulling the rug’ were the method. That sort of continuous identity crisis is in some disciplines understood as a form of dysfunction often associated with addiction, in which an atmosphere of chaos serves to maintain one’s denial system. For community identity to develop, there simply has to be stability, not uncertainty.

    “… I have studied the Shambhala teachings and read most of the restricted vajrayana teachings. Throughout the shape-shifting, and from the beginning to the most advanced teachings, I see a consistency in view. ”

    Just so.

    In the inspiration that change without a context of continuity is chaos,

    James Elliott

  9. Mark Szpakowski on September 30th, 2008 9:01 am

    Chögyam Trungpa was able to both communicate and tangibly embody, in his person and in the forms he created and shared, what the Heart Sutra describes as “emptiness is no other than form”. That openness, that “genuine mind of sadness, suddenly free from fixed mind”, was and is the continuity (tantra = continuity) in whatever instructions he gave, from the very first meditation instruction onward, and was what he himself characterized as “the nature of the court”. Without that, forms and expressions are something solid and really believed in; with that, any form, even if it seems to contradict the previous one, is the fecundity of open space (which, as he said “cannot be perceived by otherwise at all”). Continuity is not in things.

    What some find questionable today is the seeming emphasis on solidity of forms and titles and credentials. What we could use more of – not in memory but in presence – is the kind of groundless crazy confidence evidenced by this little story recounted by John Perks in his book The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant:

    “Are these awards and appointments fact or fiction” I asked.
    “Both”, he answered.

  10. Suzanne Duarte on September 30th, 2008 12:35 pm

    Thank you, Jamie and Mark. Thus was it so, oh sons of noble family.

    Re: a catalog of the changes that Jamie mentioned, Bill Karelis provides a beginning in “Keeping Alive the Teachings.” Among the changes I am curious about are the alleged removals of the Vajradhara thangkas and the protector chants. (Reportedly, the protector chants were too ‘scary’ for new students, so they did away with them altogether? Removing the protectors’ position within the mandala seems like a dangerous thing to do!) I have only heard rumors about these removals, but if these elements of community life and practice have been removed, I regard that as having major significance.

    Re: “pulling the rug,” I agree with Jamie that this was a dynamic in Trungpa Rinpoche’s relationship with his individual students more than with the community at large. In the community the dynamic was a gradual evolution with a great deal of continuity and continuous integrity. It always seemed to me that the Vidyadhara’s whole being was dedicated to the wellbeing of the sangha. He even specified in his will that his successors should “keep the sangha together.” (???)

    In my experience, the “rug pulling” was subtle and rarely if ever publicly humiliating. Some of his students may disagree, I don’t know. Except for the Vajradhatu Directors and a few other officials, none of the appointments were permanent. CTR tended to stir things up a lot by moving people from one post to another with time limits on their positions. It seemed to me that this was intended to keep people from solidifying their ego identity and to help them grow and evolve. But even with those who held ‘permanent’ positions, I’m sure that they were subject to frequent rug pulling since they worked so closely with the Vidyadhara.

    This, apparently, is another change that Sakyong Mipham has made in the administration of the mandala: people seem to occupy positions as if they will last forever. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. Thus perhaps the “seeming emphasis on solidity of forms and titles and credentials,” as Mark said. That sense of security was thankfully and refreshingly missing when the Vidyadhara was alive. He managed to create continuity amidst discontinuity so that we all stayed awake.

  11. John Tischer on September 30th, 2008 7:19 pm

    I think that the issue is not so much about the changes in technique as
    it is the feeling of loss of the continuous sense of transmission that
    happened around the Vidyadhara when he was alive. I don’t find “close
    placement” to be a bad thing…it’s a tool, and if it helps, why not? But
    being around the Vidyadhara was learning in so many more ways than
    being given a technique, being shown the door and where to put the money.
    Saying that the shift in technique is because the older students “didn’t get
    it” is just plain wrong….

    I wrote a longer post, but it didn’t get through. I want to see if this one does.

  12. Edward Michalik on October 1st, 2008 1:23 pm

    Readers of this thread may wish to take the new poll I’ve just posted on Unspeakable Things.

    Here’s the link:


    It’s nice to see Dark Matter self-illuminating!

    Ed Michalik

  13. James Elliott on October 25th, 2008 9:29 am

    (I hear people advocate this type of billboard format as superior to sangha-talk. I’m not convinced discussion can occur in such a format, but this is an attempt at that. This may warrant another thread as it’s not directly about change, though it is a response to Mark Spakowski’s comments within this thread.)

    Mark gave a good description of what ‘continuity’ means in vajrayana terms, no disagreement. However, what I meant by continuity and the need for it, was referring to culture, tradition and form on a much more clunky pedestrian level. Am I therefore pro solidifcation of form? In some way I suppose I am.

    Maybe it’s true that “What some find questionable today is the seeming emphasis on solidity of forms and titles and credentials”, but I have suspicion about that being what truly concerns them. I would bet it’s more how those credentials are used, or how they are solidified when questioned. (And that may lead to questions about what extent solidification of titles and forms are used for social engineering, or on the other hand, to further understanding of dharma, two aims which may not always harmonize.)

    From another perspective, did Mark or any of those concerned in this way, have any problem with Trungpa Rinpoche holding the titles he did, or for example, any of the stricter and more traditional requirements for entering Seminary or varjayana practices at that time? I doubt it, so don’t believe the credentials or forms are in themselves the issue.

    Form or reliance on credentials have never been what raised my concerns… unless they are abused. In some sense I couldn’t care less about titles and forms. But, if I think back, after a rather bracing time in the Arica community (which had no basis practice like shamatha but taught various hybrid vajrayana type practices, which included a modernized version of Vajrayogini practice – her iconography looks like a naked stewardess with a sunburn!), it was the stability and groundedness of tradition and lineage, and the sanctuary of shamatha practice which drew me to Buddhism.

    I’m well aware that’s not the end goal, probably isn’t one, but in my opinion, without that ground, the higher teachings of Buddhism can be as weird and whacky as anything else out there.

    Further, Mark’s comments, along with a wish to see that kind of thing nowadays, sound too much like what true believers of the Now mock when any complaint or concern points out it was different before or could be different now, using Trungpa Rinpoche’s example as a measure.

    As an aside, I would argue that attempts to fill Trungpa Rinpoche’s very large shoes in much the same way he did, may well be a source of some of the issues raised on this site.

    To the extent that our experiences with Trungpa Rinpoche are used in a political way, i.e. to pressure or express expectations (or dissapointment) that people or institutions do or don’t act more like he did or would have wished, I agree with those who suggest people should not hold onto the past. We can’t practically or reasonably hold up anyone’s enlightened example as an expectation we place on others or on institutions. I doubt very much that it occurs to anyone, when wronged or hurt by a friend, colleague or acquaintence, to tell them they had better measure up to Trungpa Rinpoche’s example. It would be meaningless. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be said.

    So it seems to me, things like this vajrayana description of continuity, or for example inspirational descriptions or stories which demonstrate Trungpa Rinpoche’s skillful means, which rely on an understanding of higher teachings, while all wonderful and great and I wish we told more such stories to benefit all beings, can nevertheless only be understood as aspiration or inspiration for one’s own path, rather than a means by which we bring about change in the external world or in other people.

    I think this raises again the issue of separation of church and state, or perhaps better, the very different roles of spiritual work versus politics, or what a spiritual teacher does as contrasted with what a politician does. I’m convinced if one examines what each of these roles is about, what the functions are, it will become clearer how at some point, joining the two functions, certainly on an institutional level, may have dire consequences.

    Nevertheless, I think there are things that can be drawn from Trungpa Rinpoche’s example, the teachings and the wisdom of the lineage, and more directly from Shambhala terma and teachings, that make things fairly clear about what kinds of expectations we might reasonably have towards our leaders and officials as well as friends and associates, not to mention how to work with infractions and problems, principles based on easily understood universal principles of decency and respect if not compassion, that virtually anyone from any school or religion would have no problem with.

    In the inspiration that “The anchor is a symbol of hope. On the chain.”
    (Stanistaw Jerzy Lec)
    James Elliott

  14. Aba Cecile McHardy on October 25th, 2008 11:25 am


    Unborn, unborn, from that everything arises
    [- these things which are so much discussed, so much explained –
    only connect]
    The secret gate so easily missed is all ways OPEN
    Be Here Now

  15. John Tischer on October 25th, 2008 12:53 pm

    Lamenting changes in the disposition of the Shambhala mandala is one thing. Seeing the tools that we’ve been given by the Vidyadhara
    rusting in the tool box is another. Shambhala Traing has been emasculated, and the path, as given to us by the Vidyadhara. has been truncated.There
    is a logic behind this, but no one knows what the outcome will be. If one is a student of SMR, one follows his teaching style, which is the tradition. It’s
    whiny merely to complain about change, but the spirit is really how do we keep the teachings alive?

    I feel the Shambhala Teachings themselves have the answer to that question. Whatever the current situation might be, the Shambhala Teachings are both for now and for the future. One can come in contact with the Vidyadhara’s mind by practicing them properly. This will always be the case. If these teachings become “hidden” again for a while due to external circumstances, then that’s the way things are playing out.

  16. Carl R. Castro on December 15th, 2008 3:19 pm

    I find myself making the same comment in all my posts on various subjects on this blog: before we criticize, especially a teacher, we should investigate.
    (For how long? Before criticizing a Rinpoche on a public blogsite? I would say 12 years. In a cave. Sitting in Mahamudra. Without wavering. Go for it! 😉 )
    Based on an investigation of meaning, I would like to challenge my friend Jill’s (Ngakma Zerme’s) assertion that use of the phrase ‘taming the mind’ necessarily implies a “fundamental change” in practice instructions or in view of and approach to the Dharma.
    To begin with, we should understand that when we use ordinary language to describe the Dharma, we are in a basic sense using it as a kind of metaphor. The “meaningfulness” of a piece of ordinary language has a habit-pattern, and when that piece of language is removed from the context of its habit-pattern, even in poetry, its meaning becomes open – perhaps with tendencies, perhaps suggestive, perhaps imprintable — but open. When we remove language from the context of habit-pattern altogether, to describe the Dharma, it becomes especially open.
    Given this, when we read a piece of ordinary language used to describe the Dharma, we should contemplate its Dharmic application, and not presume its ordinary meanings, denotative or connotative. Especially when a piece of ordinary language is used by a teacher, we should work with it in our practice, and gain discernment about how its tendencies or suggestions toward meaning might connect with aspects of experience in practice. The openness of meaning at the point where ordinary language is removed from habit-pattern allows this.
    So far as “taming”, we could first ask, “what does ‘untamed’ or ‘wild’ mean in connection with mind in the context of practice?” and then ask, “what does ‘tame’ mean? how does ‘taming’ happen?”. In asking this, we don’t have to import derogatory or limiting connotations from the habit-patterns or conventions of ordinary language. To use ‘tame’, we don’t have to think, for example, of a “tame person” who is not expressive or communicative or even open, or an “iron box” in which our minds are locked.
    We can instead think of the wildness of mind and how it is tamed.
    In this sense, “taming the mind” is actually a common way of describing the purpose of shamatha. When I googled “taming the mind” just now, top results included websites quoting Pema Chodron, a translation of a verse of the Buddha in the Dhammapada, and the website of H.H. Karmapa XVII!
    There are also plenty of analogies used by The Vidyadhara Trungpa Rinpoche that could be described as involving taming. The analogy of training a horse for dressage, and especially the phase of using a short lunge line, comes to mind. And, with a good understanding of what is being tamed and how it is being tamed, there is no reason not to describe giving an ox an open field as a method of taming.
    So: if the “wildness” of mind in need of “taming” is understood as being “occupied” or “consumed” or “driven” by mental phenomena such as thoughts, perceptions, sensations, emotions, etc. – and the method of “taming” is understood as placing the mind on the breath — then perhaps “taming” is an accurate analogy. So far as the suggestiveness of ‘taming’ from the habit-pattern of its ordinary usage, there IS a wildness of mind “taken up” by thoughts! The phrase ‘settling the mind’, which we use without compunction to describe shamatha, could be taken as synonomous with ‘taming the mind’ with this understanding. And there is nothing preventing us from understanding providing “a spacious meadow” as a method of taming. (I think this has more to do with when and how it might be appropriate, and for which students, to introduce the spaciousness of awareness, and as how big and basic and connected with the breath, beyond the mindfulness we might first encounter in shamatha practice.)
    Further: ‘tame’ is not an use of an ordinary term that “runs out” at a certain level of practice or insight. The clinging and grasping of ego creates karma. There is an impulse in the basic agitation of mind separating from awareness, and a propulsion from trying to hold onto a notion of the solidity of self to deal with this agitation. This is basic “wildness”, needing to be tamed.
    So I don’t think that using the word ‘tame’ or the phrase ‘taming the mind’ necessarily implies a “fundamental change” in practice instructions or in view of and approach to the Dharma.
    Even more, the description given by The Sakyong on pp. 53-56 of “Turning the Mind into an Ally” does NOT anywhere state that thoughts should or must be stopped or suppressed (although we could find a phrase that could perhaps be interpreted to suggest this in The Sadhana of Mahamudra: “…puts a stop to thoughts, so that all thoughts become thoughts of the Guru”). In this passage, The Sakyong describes the wild mind as scattered, distracted and discursive, forgetting and failing to remember its essential or original nature. Meditation is described as becoming familiar with the movement of wild mind, and remembering to return to the breath. Space – the “loss” of which in an approach to Dharma seems to be part of the concern about the use of ‘tame’ – is actually emphasized as a result of practice: “Mindfulness and awareness bring us into such a space [referring to a space of “penetrating clarity” mentioned in the preceding paragraph], and as we stay there longer, that space gets bigger.” (p. 55). Hmmm: big space of penetrating clarity? Whose teachings does that sound like?!!!
    One more point: while I think that John Tischer essentially covered this by describing it as “a tool” with a usefulness we could explore, the method of “close placement” is not a “fundamental change” in practice instructions. It is a well-known particular antidote, to the obstacle of “spacing out” when letting go at the end of the outbreath. It has its own obstacle, of focusing or concentrating too intently. As such, it can be used in alternation with the method of letting go at the end of the outbreath. Using it so involves a familiarity, maturity and sophistication about one’s practice, and not following instructions in a habitual manner without noticing or relating with obstacles effectively. Close placement does not exclude space or the experience of spaciousness: for one, that’s not really possible; for another… well, check it out: is space still there? is it “in” the breath? is there an awareness “around” the awareness closely-placed on the breath, not involved in thought, that is spacious?.
    One more interesting point: there is a video of The Vidyadhara giving the “close placement” instruction, I believe during his last public talk, in London. The Sawang is sitting in front of the video camera, and turns toward it and shrugs after The Vidyadhara gives this instruction.
    We all miss Trungpa Rinpoche. But we can investigate – as he taught us – before criticizing teachers. There is space for that.

  17. Carl R. Castro on December 16th, 2008 12:04 am

    A summary or perhaps a clarification:

    Thoughts, etc. being “self-liberated”, or “dissolving naturally”, or “dissolving in the space of awareness” or being inherently empty, or having dharmakaya as their essence —
    none of these is contradictory with the habit of thinking (or being “occupied” or “driven” by thoughts, or having one’s awareness apparently “confined” to them, or “believing” in reality as projected by thoughts) being “tamed”.

    Let’s instead examine what is tamed, by what method(s) of taming and with what result. A pithy term for investigating the ground, path and fruition!

    Sometimes when you realize in experience the meaning of a word in a Dharma teaching, it’s as though you are learning the real meaning of that word for the very first time, and as though it didn’t really even ever have a meaning apart from Dharma.
    I believe someone once asked Trungpa Rinpoche what enlightenment was like, and he replied, “It’s like smelling tobacco for the first time.”

  18. ritaashworth on December 16th, 2008 3:14 pm

    I would like to discuss the following quote from Ashoka Mukpo on Dharmabrats:

    “the shambhala terma texts are vajrayana pratices. you must deal with that. you are all so very hung up on labels. you might not want to call it “formal buddhism,” but when you got stroke transmission at warrior’s assembly fifteen years ago, you were recieving an abisheka. please at least, if you want to discuss these shambhala warrior ideas, read a few kalapa transcripts from the seventies and eighties. it’s all good to do shambhala training and progress through the levels and decide that once you get a GES pin that you don’t want to go any further, but the shambhala path is dharma, the truth. i can not speak for the sakyong but i believe that some people needed to lose their spiritual fiefdoms. buddhism is just a word, a crutch” Ashok Mukpo

    this is a very interesting quote in that he states shambhala terma texts are vajrayana practices……this is probably the case……..so we have Shambhala Buddhism ………but, ……but isnt Christianity based on Judaism and doesnt Buddhism have elements of Confuciusianism and Bon and God/Vajradhara knows what………if you listen to Robin Kornman he talks about the Shambhala teachings as appealing to all people in all religions – a kind of syncretic approach he states on the video. For example I have talked to people who have had visions of Jesus – who I am to say that they are crazy or if they were not experiencing some aspect of a Sambhoghakaya Buddha in a Christian form……….why make explicit what you think reality is by the term Shambhala Buddhism……I still think it will turn many people away…………and yes now there is going to be a lineage tree for Shambhala Buddhism…………..I remember reading an interesting interview with Rita Gross and Khandro Rinpoche where Khandro Rinpoche implied that eventually in the west we would have our own deities and that they would come about organically…..isn’t Shambhala Buddhism being forced into birth……….couldn’t we just have waited a little longer to get some more enlightened people in the west…….
    ……………..the Muslims too also talk about new prophets and teachers appearing at the end of times……………so I think the whole basis of Shambhala should be debated more…………..

    …………What do others think?


    Rita Ashworth

  19. Ngakma Zer-me Dri'med on December 18th, 2008 3:03 am

    Dear Carl,

    It is not really so hard to understand. The function of this blog is to explore, bring to light, and propagate what we learned from Trungpa Rinpoche, especially where it seems in danger of disappearing into the franchise his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, seems to be trying to make of it. One of the ways that that shadow grows is by various people, now including yourself, claiming that there is no difference between the current Sakyong’s teachings and his father’s. So, we occasionally produce articles that cast light on areas in which one of us knows that there are differences, through his or her own direct experience of the Lama, the teachings, and the practices.

    The purpose of this activity is not to cast aspersions on the Sakyong. The purpose is to clarify and keep in the light what we understand of the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche. But that is invariably read as criticism. Why? Because, for reasons I honestly do not understand, the Sakyong and the people around him have staked a lot of spiritual capital on the idea that the Sakyong is carrying forward the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche. So, any assertion that the Sakyong’s teachings are different from those of Trungpa Rinpoche, is a threat.

    If “Shambhala Buddhism” is to survive, students of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche are going to have to learn to rely on the validity of their own teacher’s wisdom and buddha activity. They are especially going to have to stop leaning on this crutch of assuming that the current Sakoyong’s teachings are in all ways consistent with those of his father.

    First of all, this crutch is unnecessary. What Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is doing has every possible claim to complete legitimacy. Many people are benefitting from his work.

    Second, as more of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students begin to teach what their Lama taught them, it is going to become increasingly clear that Trungpa Rinpoche’s legacy of teachings and practices varies from the current Sakyong’s in fundamental ways. Why push things to a painful point?

    The small example I gave of the view and practice of shamatha/vipashyana is what I have learned from a total of 22 years of practice and study of those teachings. I have nothing more to say about that. You and I can argue about the meaning of “taming” until the cows come home or the horses don’t, but the point is obvious to anyone who sits down and tries both forms of practice for a decade or two.

    As you follow the growth of this website and the growth of other resources of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings, such as the Chronicles Project, Dharma Ocean Foundation, or VROT.org, the divergence between Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s official version and the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche’s other direct students will become more and more glaring. Why continue to cling to this need for an official version? Why not let go of this death grip on the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche and stand on the powerful feet of the Sakyong’s own understanding? It really makes no sense to me.

    By the way, old friend, I took ordination in 2004, and my name is not Jill anymore, except to my mother, the government of the U.S., and various others who cannot let go of the past..

    Ngakma Zer-me Dri’med

  20. Suzanne Duarte on December 18th, 2008 5:05 pm

    Dear Ngakma Zer-me Dri’med,

    Thank you for so clearly making so many pertinent points in language that resonates – at least with me. I think your use of the words ‘franchise,’ ‘shadow,’ and ‘crutch’ are accurate.

    There is just one thorny little issue that your question, “Why continue to cling to this need for an official version?” brings up. That thorny little issue is that SMR claims to be holding and carrying on CTR’s lineage. It was, after all, what many of us expected him to do, based on CTR’s will. The fact that SMR has departed from that mandate, as far as many of CTR’s students are concerned, has become an issue of confusion and contention for many of SMR’s students as well as many CTR students, whether they knew CTR when he was alive or not.

    This is a source of ‘cognitive dissonance,’ which is probably the reason that various students of SMR feel the need to defend him until they’re blue in the face. But it isn’t up to SMR’s students to legitimize what is, putting it as mildly as I can at the moment, a pretense. On the other hand, for SMR to admit that he has dropped his father’s ball and is instead carrying somebody else’s ball (his father-in-laws?) would probably be, at the very least, highly embarrassing.

    Therefore, I don’t think it is a simple matter of SMR’s students “let[ting] go of this death grip on the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche and stand[ing] on the powerful feet of the Sakyong’s own understanding.” Those students will probably continue to express their cognitive dissonance by interjecting arguments into the dialogue on this site. Like Padmasambhava with his Bhutanese cook, we may just have to use their comments as an opportunity to practice compassion.


  21. David Chapman on December 19th, 2008 11:17 am

    I am somewhat an outsider, but I’d like to express great enthusiasm for this discussion, and to kibitz a bit.

    I was a Shambhala Training student from 1994-1999. I did the programs through Warrior Assembly — most of the levels many times — and did a lot of coordinating.

    Shambhala Training was enormously important to me. However, it was accessible only because it was explicitly *not* Buddhism. I had serious reservations about Buddhist doctrine and practice. Those did not apply to Shambhala Training. That meant that the vast and glorious path of meditation was open to me, without having to swallow dogma or identity.

    I am dismayed that that opportunity may no longer be available.

    This seems relevant particularly in light of a discussion in the most recent issue of _Buddhadharma_ about why people under 40 are less interested in Buddhism. It was said — and I agree — that younger people are more suspicious of -isms and systems generally. Shambhala Training was presented as something you can do, not something you belong to or become. That may make it attractive to many people for whom “becoming a Buddhist” is out of the question.

    When I started doing Shambhala levels in 1994, it seemed a dying tradition. I felt that I had to rush through them, because the whole thing might collapse before I finished. It was a relief that instead it strengthened through the 1990s — at least in the SF Bay Area, where I was.

    Ironically, I left Shambhala for a Tibetan Buddhist tradition — just the thing I had been resisting for many years. I found one that has many of the same characteristics that made Shambhala Training work for me.

    That was before the changes in the Shambhala program began. So I have been watching the changes, and the responses to them, from a distance only, but with concern. Before the launch of this web site, it seemed that the situation was stalemated and hopeless.

    I am not able to contribute in any way, unfortunately, but I am gladdened that new possibilities may open up. It may not yet be clear what is the way forward, but it is wonderful that there is a serious and productive discussion about the need for one.

    Ki ki so so!

    David Chapman

  22. rita ashworth on December 20th, 2008 9:49 am

    ….thought I’d give the reference for Rita Gross’s work below…….I have not read it myself —–has anyone read it over there………..interesting that she is keeping up the dialogue with other religions……….what happened to the conferences between Christians and Buddhists that used to happen in Boulder …….reading of them in the UK was very informative………..

    Religious Feminism and the Future of the Planet: A Buddhist-Christian Conversation by Rita M. Gross and Rosemary Radford Ruether (Paperback – 17 May 2001)

    ……..think we need to keep up the dialogue with other religions……..aka what Trungpa did in the US………..dont think SI is engaging enough with intellectuals in the west too well……….think we need to step back from the sanskrit/tibetan terms we have learned and see the world from the newcomers eyes again………..think this way because of the economics of the time are making people re-examine their ‘feelings/philosophy’ on life.

    ………..SI to pre-occupied with making money and staving off financial downturns see the SI website and not engaging with peoples new turn of mind about life in general…………..it requires I think wholesale re-examination of vision of society……….aka the grand philosophies of Marx and maybe even little philosophies of the co-operative movement from my neck of the woods -Manchester, UK………..otherwise Seasons greetings for the New Year -may it be a good one!


    Rita Ashworth

  23. ashoka on January 28th, 2009 3:45 pm

    hahaha. Rita! it amazes me continutally that so many people read that board but don’t post!! most of what is discussed there is in the context of a conversation between people who know each other, so you have to keep that in mind.

    But I do stand by the fact that at its heart, the Shambhala teachings are a manifestation of Buddhism. There is in fact a quote by the Vidyadhara where he says that Shambhala is “Vajrayana gone politics.” So, while I think that the principles themselves are fully applicable to anyone who wishes to study and manifest the path of warriorship, without needing to get caught up in any path they don’t feel comfortable with, if one wishes to delve further into the teachings (and that opportunity is there!), they will realize that they are inseparable from the philosophy and practice of Vajrayana Buddhism. But again, I was pointing out that the idea that there is such a thing as a label “Vajrayana Buddhist” (or even “shambhalian”) is actually antithetical to both paths. There is just the study of mind and sanity, and the path to compassion and honesty. Practice is the skillful means to access something in us that is unconditioned by labels or concepts.

    Anyway, Shambhala Buddhism was not forced into birth by anyone but the Vidyadhara himself. The debate on whether it makes sense to centralize the Vajrayana path of our sangha into one that acknowledges the ground of Werma and the Rigdens as fundamental to our unique identity is a bit above my realm of understanding, but for what it’s worth it makes sense to me.

  24. Tsondru Garma on January 29th, 2009 2:07 pm


    Well, this can just go on and on indefinitely. I’m glad you said it goes beyond your understanding, at least….as we could all argue ad infinitum about the possibility of having a big view that accommodates whatever is happening here, or whether this is a really tragic situation..

    I am happy that at least, so many people are being exposed to some sort of genuine practice and study.. (at least I think that is still happening, with all due respect).. and that if new comers choose, they can still access the Vidyadhara’s teachings. YET the point that He wanted to reach out to the entire WORLD and provide people with a sane and sacred way to view their culture and society is really so very important…as many have said so many times here. A very sad thing to lose that urgent part of His legacy..

    I don’t think much will really come of this entire web site articles and discussions other than an opportunity to speak ones mind, to discuss any related issues, share ideas, and to hopefully create alternative situations where people can meet in person to carry on the “old ways.” However, all of these are invaluable.

  25. rita ashworth on January 30th, 2009 1:02 pm

    ………yes there is just awakedness/mind whatever you wish to call ‘it’ – western and eastern philosophy has struggled with this ‘concept-intuition’ for millenia, however, isn’t it better like Robin Kornman suggests in his talks on google to open up the whole thing to others both in established philosophies and other religions – there are points of contact with all religions and this is what I think Trungpa envisaged when he was talking about the Shambhala Kingdom – Trungpa even mentions Christ as the King figure in The Lions Roar book………the figure of the King has become somewhat bounded by the present depiction of the Rigden King………maybe we need more time to explore the King concept in all societies/religions………

    Re vajrayana Buddhism – the diamond like indestructible vehicle……..diamond-like could refer to a lot of religious experiences that people have had without Buddhist concepts/history……..thinking of Islam in this context……..which is also a religion that has a political basis re the concept of the Ummah – or pan-Arabism.

    aka politics Trungpa said divergent things about democracy at times for example he said the Boulder City Council worked quite well but the main body politic in Washington was chaotic…………(there is a chapter on this in the Great Eastern Sun) ……….I am hoping someone can interview Karl Springer soon about how the Vidyadhara saw the exercise of politics in the world………often thought it would be useful if there could be an open debate maybe in Halifax just about new forms of political existence aka the debates held in GB at the Fabian Society…………….people could crunch out the concepts about ruling society in a friendly way.

    Know the discussion of politics/religion is one some people would prefer not to have – they prefer the emphasis to be on meditation and ones own relations with the world through this medium………but as you said (Ashoka) if ‘Shambhala is vajrayana gone Politics’ I think it should be explored……would love to hear the full quote from Trungpa re this idea on Shambhala.

    Well think this is all



  26. James Elliott on January 31st, 2009 2:41 am

    I’m not sure one can ‘stand by the fact’ that Shambhala is a manifestation of Buddhism. It’s a belief, a myth some say, not really a fact as such, and – if the manifestation of an enlightened society is the theme, rather than ideological one-up-man-ship – about as solid as saying that enlightened mind is a particular manifestation of Vajrayana Buddhism.

    Isn’t there evidence that Shambhala, the myth of Shambhala predates Buddhism? I thought it grew out of Bön? or maybe even something else. One sangha member used to post essays about his research into its origins and claimed to have found roots in ancient Persia as well. Or if we refer to Fabrice Midal’s interview on Chronicles, he claims to have found what he consider Shambhala principles existing in a number of different cultures throughout the ages. We are not alone…

    And isn’t that actually the point?

    The enlightened aspects of society have been recognized and understood in various cultures and traditions in many ways. If enlightened society is understood within Shambhala International as an exclusively Buddhist vajrayana manifestation, what does that say about all other religions, all other expressions of enlightened mind, all the wisdom and inspiration that does not have a trail of documentation leading to our Buddhist heritage? What about nurturing and expanding upon innate wisdom in the existing culture we find ourselves in, rather than usurping local culture with Tibetan manifestations? Isn’t that one of the hallmarks of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings and wisdom?

    If that’s how Shambhala society is to be formed, with a central core vajrayana government, then we aren’t really talking about ‘society’ as such, but rather a Buddhist school.

    Shambhala = vajrayana? Well perhaps, but vajrayana is a description of a very specific and esoteric practice, the goal of which is… what exactly? Besides the ambiguousness of that – many practices, many goals, many skillful means, and different ways the ‘view’ is understood – there are vajrayana like practices in other traditions as well, a couple I know of without extensive research. Are we talking about a state sponsored religion?

    As the Vajra Regent often asserted, the Shambhala teachings are seen by some as a way to lure people into Buddhism… or not if they want to stay at more mundane levels? Where’s that at? Again the stance of a school of Buddhism, with higher and more esoteric practices one can aspire to, rather than that of a society whose countless and multifaceted aspirations can never be narrowed down in that way.

    I doubt that approach jibes with Trungpa Rinpoche’s vision, I certainly never heard him say anything like that. About the Tantric mandala of a teacher, sure OK; about society, tradition, culture as a whole? not to my recollection.

    As some people have brought up, he was clearly supportive of other religions, when they were paths that helped attain the one point at which all dharmas agree at. Thomas Merton, Suzuki Roshi, Little Joe (?) among people who he saw as awake but who did not arrive there via the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist path, (or now the Shambhala vajrayana Buddhist path?). As far as I’m concerned, such people had ought to be accepted as full fledged members of an enlightened society, even if they would not be considered direct students of a specific teacher, or adherents to a particular spiritual discipline, no? One would have to have some extensive evidence to convince me Trungpa Rinpoche would not agree.

    And I’m not even going to discuss all the little people who are not adherents to the state sponsored spiritual path. Please refer to Bhutan to see what that would mean. (Google “Bhutan” and “ethnic cleansing”.)

    “Vajrayana gone political”? Far be it from me to disagree with Trungpa Rinpoche, but that needs a lot of unpacking. The main problem with such an apparently simple statement is that the distinction between a Buddhist individual or group of individuals getting involved in politics, as contrasted with an attempt to make the political system itself a form of Buddhism is not made clear, and along with that the problems of making a political structure religious is completely glossed over.

    I saw a program in BBC just a couple of nights ago. On this program, a regular show, they set forth a proposition; in this case it was “Is Islam a threat to the West”, and then a panel, half for half against, discuss it, after which the audience votes whether to accept the proposition or not. It has no political power, just a debate and a way to measure the success of the ideas being debated.

    Interestingly, it wasn’t ‘anti-Muslims’ pitted against ‘devoted Muslims’, both sides of the debate came from Muslim perspectives. One side thought there should be no separation between Islam and politics (Against), and the other saying that Islam was a religion, but not a political system (For).

    It’s too involved to say what each was saying and supporting, but the (Against) team struggled to make their position sound moderate, and accused the (For) team of denying the representation of Islam in the political structure. The (For) team tried again and again to make clear that the problem was not that individuals who are Muslim were involved in politics, they said we each bring our sensibilities and who we are to the process and that may be a good thing, the problem was the attempt to make the political process itself a manifestation of Islam, to Islami-size the political structure.

    That’s something that needs a lot more attention and discussion, before a statement like “Shambhala is vajrayana gone politics” can be properly understood. It can’t be said to support one’s own position or refute others, without some extensive examination about what precisely is meant, what is vajrayana practice’s aim, what is the political structure’s role, what kinds of responsibilities belong to individuals, and which belong to religion, which to politics, etc., free of our own particular agenda.

    The bigger picture doesn’t create the details, it’s the other way around.

  27. Suzanne Duarte on January 31st, 2009 8:09 am

    Very good, James! That is, very clear. This provides a lot of ventilation.

    Two things come to mind:

    1. Buddhism doesn’t ‘own’ enlightenment or sanity or wakefulness. No tradition owns enlightenment. And if a tradition tries to own enlightenment, that carries the danger of arrogance and imperialism, which would not be enlightened. The times we are living through do not favor that approach – that’s over. Cutting edge science is finding evidence of consciousness throughout the universe. (Google New Cosmology) If we live in a conscious universe, and are just beginning to comprehend what that means, we still have a lot to learn.

    2. The ‘enlightened society’ in the mythical Shambhala was based on the conversation, exchange and collaboration of many sacred traditions (or traditions of sacredness) that came together on the Silk Route. There was trade in ideas and in goods and cultural practices. True, Buddhism was prominent, but it was open to other sacred traditions.

    As Trungpa Rinpoche told me, “We need more Shambhalians. They don’t have to become Buddhists.” I believe his vision of Shambhala was expansive and appealed to the fundamental spiritual potential in all human beings, which is universal, not confined to Buddhism. I also think that Shambhala was intended to mend and transcend divisions, not create them by making Shambhala the exclusive property of Buddhism. Shambhala was his answer to or cure for the insanity of the world in this Dark Age.

  28. rita ashworth on January 31st, 2009 10:23 am

    wow ………the two posts by James and Suzanne have really opened up the discussion………still would like to know where Ashoka got that quote from…………politics/religion they are enmeshed all over the world…….particularly now in the UK ……….we even have a minister now for diversity in government……….pundits in the press now talk all the time as to what are the values of being British…………guess you could have the same debate re Shambhala……….aka enlightened society and the place of ‘religion’ in it…………..you know it would be good if radiofreeshambhala could have a publishing arm where pamphlets could be written on all these issues…………..been reading the Fabian Society’s website they publish loads of stuff on social/political issues


    really interesting quotes from Suzanne about what Trungpa said about Shambhala………anybody have more quotes out there………..this would expand the discussion…………plus that quote from James about what the Regent said is valuable too………..still waiting to hear what satdharma thinks about the new direction that SI has taken………..more discussion please…………..plus perhaps more people who were involved with the actual beginnings of Shambhala in the states


    Rita Ashworth

  29. Aba Cecile McHardy on January 31st, 2009 7:14 pm

    Thank you James
    The Power of our Stories. Imagineering. Myths [including those of Gesar]
    as Metanarratives. Explore the ‘field’. Enjoy