Shambhala and the Kagyu Lineage

January 21, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Commentary by Jim Wilton

The Sakyong’s activity is clearly focused these days on developing the Shambhala path through to the practices of the Scorpion Seal retreat.  Since my practice has been almost entirely focused on Kagyu Buddhist practice in recent years — I feel somewhat left behind.  For example, the Sakyong’s retreats starting this year will no longer have a “track” for Vajrayogini practice.  So my choice is to join Werma practice or not to participate.  For me, it will probably be a few years before I can circle back and fully engage with Werma practice and the Scorpion Seal path.

I don’t view the Sakyong’s approach as a move away from Kagyu Buddhist practices as much as a move toward Shambhala practices — recognizing that we are the sole holders of Shambhala terma and that time is short.  I write this because I was recently reading Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s autobiography Blazing Splendor and found a similar tension expressed regarding Rinpoche’s Barom Kagyu lineage and his unquestioned primary focus on propagation of Chökyur Lingpa’s New Treasures terma.  Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche expresses some regret and wistfulness in acknowledging that his lineage’s one pointed focus on the New Treasures has resulted in a lack of attention to traditional Barom Kagyu practices (other than certain protector practices).

This experience seems to me to be in some way similar to the situation in our mandala.  I know that there are practitioners who regret both the connection of Shambhala and Buddhism as concepts and the perceived neglect of the Kagyu Buddhist lineage — which in CTR’s vision was passed to VROT as lineage holder.  And perhaps Kagyu practices will become an “advanced” practice in our mandala for old students.  This in some sense is a shame because CTR’s extraordinary teachings on Vajrayogini and the excellent annotated sadhanas that we use for Kagyu yidam practices are currently unavailable to other Kagyu sanghas and increasingly will be underutilized in our sangha.  I don’t think that we are yet at the point where we are neglecting Kagyu practices (although I expect our feasts may have sparser attendance as newer practioners defer practice of Kagyu ngondro in favor of the Shambhala path).

However, it would be a greater tragedy to fail to fully transmit the Shambhala terma.  These are my mixed feelings.  I don’t know if others have thoughts about this.  I’d be interested in hearing them.

Jim Wilton is member of the Boston Shambhala Center since 1986.  He lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife Erika and son Nick.


21 Responses to “Shambhala and the Kagyu Lineage”

  1. Davee on January 21st, 2009 5:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing the comparison, I hadn’t heard of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s feelings or situation before. I’m somewhat at a loss because I feel like I just started Vajrayogini but also don’t want to be left out of the collective momentum toward the Scorpion Seal. The collective momentum is fun and supportive in a way for me, I like the sense of adventure and discovery and camraderie. Whatever gets us to the cushion? Probably there will be more that I want to do in this life than I’ll have time for though. And the dakini feasts may completely dwindle away without new people to join. As it is we were only averaging something like 50-100 new vajrayogini practitioners a year across the world right? that rate will probably drop significantly for the next eight or more years.

  2. sangre de christo on January 21st, 2009 7:24 pm

    Dear Jim, Your concerns are reasonable, actually the most reasonable of any I have seen on this site. I think there is a lot of confusion about the current direction, and while the answers are not clear yet, it may be not such a big problem, we will see in time. For my part I have been a student of SMR for fourteen years, and have been practicing VY for six. Though you didn’t exactly say it, there seems to be a notion that we are in some sense moving away from these practices, this is not how I see it. The Sakyong has made clear the process up until the Scorpion Seal retreat, but has left a fair bit of space as far as what happens afterwards. The goal seems to be to first stabalize the community as a Shambhala community, but then to allow for people to practice what is appropriate to the varying levels of commitment, and motivation that they may have. My understanding is that students will be able to practice VY and beyond after completing the Kagyu Ngondro, but may also be able to work with other Yidams (Tara, Mahakhala, and a number of other sadhana practices), others upon completion of Nyigma Ngondro could enter into trek cho, and or togal practices.
    There are some interesting things to keep in mind: Many people never completed Ngondro by numbers.(it took me seven years) Whereas now, completing timed Ngondro(which is still a lot of practice) is taking 1-2 years. Kagyu/Nyigma Ngondros will likely also be done by time. Add in four or five years to prepare for the Scorpion Seal, and you still have people doing Yidam practice in less than ten years. (Assuming dedicated practice).
    If we are to support a varied series of advanced practice, we will need to be more firmly rooted in Shambhala Vision than ever before, hence the emphasis on Werma, which was often done as an “add-on” practice in the past.
    My feeling is that the connection with the Kagyu lineange is not being lost, but that we are in fact opening up to a more inclusive approach. Also, the VY intensive in March at SMC has nearly 20 people registered 2 and a half months before it happens. So maybe that is good news.

  3. Tsondru Garma on January 22nd, 2009 2:30 am

    I really appreciated reading Jim’s article. It was “well said.”

    I also feel a sadness that the Kagyu teachings and practices that were bequeathed to us by Trungpa Rinpoche may be lost, and also that the body of teachings we received from Trungpa Rinpoche will be too changed or mixed with other teachings to have the same impact on new students, or to further inspire older students.

    We have a situation here of one very brilliant and historically unique teacher who has died; leaving many brilliant teachings and devoted students with a samaya to that teacher to preserve the Shambhala Kingdom. Then, we have a new teacher who has brilliant inspiration, yet quite a different way of teaching and implementing that Kingdom. Painful!!!

    I have been trying to find a constructive way to view the situation. I really do see how important it is for the Sakyong to follow his own inspiration, and the series of “auspicious life coincidences” that have happened to inspire him to lead where the Shambhala community seems to be going today. I appreciate his own brilliance as a teacher, and have respect for his devoted students. But to really have inclusiveness and diversity in the sangha, there must be room in this painful situation for more than one “view.”

    Yet, what could be done to have REAL inclusiveness of the wishes of older students, or those who wish to follow Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings and still remain in the Shambhala Kingdom? Perhaps, as well as this main stream “collective momentum” laid out by the Sakyong, there could be REAL and recognized inclusiveness of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings and practices in their original format; somehow, (perhaps taught by older students, Acharyas, etc.) presented in the same over all container? Wasn’t the Kingdom of Shambhala originally meant to be, among other things, a container for the Dharma?

    I wonder if it is too late (or not) to actually have a way to include both the inner sangha and (what now has become) the more fringe sangha within a larger view?? I can see Jim’s sad point that it is like triage, needing to save the most endangered systems. But couldn’t both be saved by including other views, and incorporating older students and Acharyas to help with that???

    Otherwise, older students are torn between staying to fulfill their samaya with Trungpa Rinpoche, or leaving: attempting to continue (on their own or with other teachers,) the path and view that they were practicing before the many changes happened that they felt were alienating.

    I wish the CTR deleks all the succes in the world, and hope they flourish and become accepted and included, without rancor and bitterness on either side.


  4. Mark Szpakowski on January 24th, 2009 1:23 pm

    Jim, thanks for your article. You are more optimistic than I am, especially when you say:

    it would be a greater tragedy to fail to fully transmit the Shambhala terma.

    I, and many others, do see that this is the greater tragedy that is unfolding. The Shambhala teachings, originally intended for all people in this dark age, are being re-presented in a way that requires Buddhist language and practices as a prerequisite for full understanding and participation, with cultural forms that are heavily Tibetan. In a way there is nothing wrong with this – as a Buddhist myself I really enjoy and appreciate how, for example, the teachings of the Ati yana can beautifully comment on the Shambhala teachings. However, saying that this is the only way does not express confidence in being able to present the way of Shambhala in its own language and forms, open to yogins of any practice-oriented religious tradition. As CTR says of the Werma sadhana, “It is not particularly borrowed from buddhism, but it is simply self-existent in the Shambhala style“.

    I would wish, for example, that my father, who was a deeply practicing Catholic, could be a full, first-class citizen of Shambhala. This is no longer possible. According to everything I heard from him, this was the intention of the Druk Sakyong. More importantly, however, is that this is what today’s 21st century world needs: the sacred deeply rooted in all secular forms and institutions. This is what motivated Shambhala Vision in the first place, and it is from this that the “Shambhala terma” was and is extracted. I remain committed to this bigger vision that both transcends and can be found in my own history and culture, and that is open to be found in that of others.

  5. Tsondru Garma on January 24th, 2009 6:40 pm


    Well said, and you are so right. It is really tragic that the new version of Shambhala is seemingly entrenchinig itself in a more narrow and exclusive direction.

  6. Jim Wilton on January 25th, 2009 1:26 am

    The Shambhala terma itself has the concept of a Bardo retreat. If you view Shambhala as simply a cultural institution that is compatible with but not necessarily connected with Buddhism, how do you see this practice integrating with your Shambhala vision? Do you see a realistic path where non-Buddhist practioners would practice Werma sadhana and progress through a to doing a Bardo retreat without a need to access Buddhist teachings?

    I think that the change to “Shambhala Buddhism” solved some problems. It eliminated an artificial split in our sangha between Shambhalians and practitioners following the Buddhist path. It created a clear practice path beyond the five Shambhala levels and the graduate program. I think that this was needed. If you are going to have enlightened society, don’t you need a path that has the potential for individual practitioners to achieve enlightenment? It seems to me that the approach during CTR’s time was that Shambhala was either a gateway to Buddhist practice or a program that created a strong connection with enlightened mind — but without tools other than Shamatha practice and Shambhala cultural forms to move on the path. Werma feasts were sparsely attended — and rarely if ever by practitioners who were not also Buddhist practiotioners.

    When a path becomes clearer, alternatives are eliminated. And that is certainly a drawback to Shambhala Buddhism. Perhaps there is a Christian practitioner who is now unable or less likely to want to try to integrate Shambhala practice with Christian worship. However, I expect that a Christian Shambhalian might have felt somewhat marginalized in the 1980s as well.

    With regard to the Sakyong, after a lot of back and forth I am thinking lately that “you don’t miss your water ’til your well run dry.” I am very grateful for the Sakyong. It is conceivable that CTR’s successor could have been timid or unwilling to take his seat. I don’t think that we got that with SMR. But I know that you could take issue with that statement. Was the change to “Shambhala Buddhism” a move to a more conventional framework for a spiritual path? It is a discussion worth having. I think we are stuck on the path at the moment and we need Buddhism. At the end of the Buddhist path, the path is destroyed. And what are we left with after that? I expect that it is the Kingdom of Shambhala.

  7. Mark Szpakowski on January 25th, 2009 2:29 am

    A few quick comments…

    – bardo/darkness retreats are not unique to Buddhism;

    enlightened mind is a buddhist phrase for something that’s not owned by buddhists; Shambhala as well as dharma art offer their own languages and practices that are all graceful instruments toward enlightening individuals, families, and society;

    – as your last two sentences might imply, “buddhadharma without credentials” is what makes it possible for a buddhist (such as CTR or you or I) to appreciate “shambhala without buddhist credentials”. From that point of view buddhism and shambhala are not two, which does not mean that either one needs the other to for it to be realized, and does mean that other equally genuine practitioners with their own distinct spiritual paths could say the same thing, and bear Shambhala passports 🙂 I don’t know – CTR felt that way about Little Joe and Red Elk and Thomas Merton, and I’ve met some too. The earth is crawling with such people, who can appreciate each other, and yearn for an enlightened society that includes each other. I see Shambhala as offering and creating (and the creating is not over!) precise forms for that, while remaining “the kingdom of no big deal”.

  8. ashoka on February 3rd, 2009 12:53 pm

    sorry but this is something i just don’t understand. the levels are still the levels. back in these vague golden days, once you got to warrior’s assembly and kalapa assembly and started taking KOS transmissions and learning stroke and getting the terma texts that talk about the Rigden fathers, you all think this was more accessible for people then than it is now?

    i think that some people just really want to fixate. it gets hard to see what they’re fixating on, though. for people who are interested in the warriorship path in a secular manner, they will go through the same levels that the Vidyadhara wrote, in the same sequence, at the same centers decked out in Buddhist iconography, in the same shrine rooms with visible thangkas of yidams, that they did in the 1980s. and, I might add, for someone “secular” who fears religion, getting KOS transmission and being around uniformed Dorje Kasung was probably much more of an obstacle than this ethereal “Buddhist-ization” of teachings that CTR once described as “Vajrayana gone politics” that seems to upset so many people.

    i think that this train of logic is a crutch. my opinion. but this website is cool, and i think the discussion is great! for what it’s worth, personally i see no obstacle to deepening my connection with the Kagyu teachings while still holding the Shambhala banner that was so close to the Vidyadhara’s heart.

  9. rita ashworth on February 3rd, 2009 2:23 pm

    ….the thing is now that you cant do Kalapa Assembly………thats vanished in the ether……….have the badges gone for that too?!…… you have to become a Shambhala Buddhist to go further………people generally want to go further in all religions and now within SI they cant make that next step……..could it be possible to make the next step without becoming a Buddhist -could not there be devised some separate way for people of other religions to do this………..been a Buddhist myself for years but primarily my family is Xtian………my mother was a Catholic brought up by nuns……….when she saw the Dalai Lama on the TV ……..she thought quite highly of him……… -people of other religions can make some emotional connections with people of other faiths…………but there would be no way she could have given up Catholicism but still think some Catholics if approached in the right way would be willing to go through a path with meditation, mantra and prostrations as you have these in Catholicism aswell………….think if you viewed the ‘Rigden King’ as emanating from ‘primordial source’ maybe instead of Buddha it would again be a path applicable to other faiths.

    ……….perhaps its a question of semantics………….in 1054 the Orthodox church broke away from the Catholic church on a subtle debate about the nature of Xist in the communion ceremony………so break ups on such issues are prevalent in all faiths…………my history deserts me on what the divsion was about concisely but safe to say these two great churches are still split…………..yes maybe if you removed the Buddha from the Rigden thanka and had some figure/image that everyone could agree on then maybe it would work…………Robin Kornman thought it would work somewhat in this fashion I believe………….also reading some stuff about Shambhala Art recently in the Lions Roar where Trungpa stated that the Tibetan icongoraphy was based on aryan (persian?) forms………….so maybe these forms would be more applicable to people of all races……….still dont know how you would wing it with Muslims tho as they dont really have images for visualisation perhaps they could have some letter in Arabic as an aspect of the primordial source.

    ashoka …………..quoted quote ‘shambhala is vajrayana gone politics’ again but not stated where he got it from………………..of course everything is political can’t divorce Trungpa from politics …………….he was governor of province in Tibet…………..looking forward to more posts on politics on this site.

    must mention before I go Gore Vidals novel on Inventing a Nation about the founding fathers in the states……….its really interesting aka the founding of societies ………..hope you can google it………sorry posts are so brief but I am using library computer……….must get some $£$£ and purchase one…………


    rita ashworth

  10. ashoka on February 4th, 2009 1:11 pm

    That quote is from a Vajra Assembly talk with the Vidyadhara. I wouldn’t make it up, but I think it’s fairly clear.

    Anyway, my point was, although Kalapa Assembly doesn’t exist anymore, and has been supplanted by Rigden Abisheka or whatever, by the time you got to Kalapa Assembly twenty years ago if you were the type to get freaked out by “non-secular language” you probably would have had a problem with taking KOS or seeing a uniformed dude standing at the door or singing an anthem while staring at a flag or doing enrichment practice or…shall I go on? The whole arms up in the air freakout about “Shambhala Buddhism” really just makes me roll my eyes, but that’s just me. I understand others have different perspectives.

  11. tibetaphile on February 4th, 2009 7:39 pm


    uh oh the here comes the shambhala riff raff.

  12. Mark Szpakowski on February 4th, 2009 7:44 pm

    Hi Ashoka (Ashoka Mukpo, right?),

    RE back in these vague golden days. This is sarcasm. It doesn’t help. The job of the editors of this site is, for blog posts (not for comments – those are your own), to spot and remove any such twists or digs, little pops of aggression. So we can all straighten up.

    Re “Vajrayana gone politics” as a description of Shambhala, this should be familiar to students of “Political Consciousness” and the related “Political Treatise”, of the Vajra Politics classes that used to be held at seminary, of the Druk Sakyong’s motivation for Shambhala Vision, and hopefully of your/my own motivation. To me this means that you’re in the world with helping hands, bull and self transcended. Buddhism’s the bull. It doesn’t mean you _reject_ the bull – you go further. It also means that the details of the phenomenality of this world and, oh, what shall we call it – rigpa, let’s say – are not two. It’s not just that individual enlightenment is possible, but that societal enlightenment is possible, and that this can reach into every detail and gut of this economic/financial/environmental/political etc world.

    The idea of “buddhadharma without credentials” is very applicable here. That’s a buddhist way of saying that you can let go your fixation on props that keep you from direct experience, including buddhist props – which lets you realize and teach buddhadharma much better, in a completely fresh and to-the-person way. “Shambhala without buddhist credentials” is saying the same thing, fresh and to this 21st century world. Buddhists can appreciate Shambhala and weave delightful commentaries about it using their Buddhist or Dzogchen or whatever language, but Shambhala does not inherently need this – it has its own language (not that that language journey is complete) – and yogins of other practicing spiritual traditions could also elaborate using their languages. The same could be said for national/cultural accoutrements: Shambhala does not inherently belong to Tibet, or to England.

    Such a vision of Shambhala was not realized in the Druk Sakyong’s lifetime: that’s why he stipulated in his will that he be cremated rather than buried in the ground (as a blessing to the land). The fact that 99% of Shambhala subjects were Buddhists shows that back then was early days, and today may be even earlier days. We, especially we Buddhists, have to do better. Diana Mukpo recounts in her book that when she asked CTR what he would think of having a non-buddhist son, who was, say, a Christian, he replied that he would want him to be the best possible Christian he could be. That’s the Druk Sakyong’s vision of Shambhala world. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to see yourself as the Rigden King. Can you imagine a non-Buddhist Sakyong? Such an eventuality would be to the greater glory of Shambhala.

  13. ashoka on February 4th, 2009 8:34 pm

    Well, I don’t think that someone can hold the seat of Sakyong without some relationship to the protectors, the idea of lineage, and a lot of esoteric philosophies that come from Tibetan and Indian Buddhists. I repeat that I think this conversation involves a lot of lawyerly parsing of terms that borders on fixation. Whatever problems someone might have with calling themselves “Buddhist,” and feeling that some kind of self-identification with religion makes them feel uncomfortable, is going to pale in comparison to the fact that our teacher dresses in a military uniform and salutes a flag, or that we make offerings to protectors who are very much not just representations of psychological energy. You see where I’m going with this? I think there is a difference in style with the Sakyong and his father, and that some people have just…never…gotten over that. They miss him. And I understand that. But mahasiddhas don’t get off airplanes every few days.

    I can completely understand when people can’t connect with the Sakyong, or feel like they’ve been taken out of their comfort zone and it’s not helpful for them on their path. But when it becomes a self-righteous thing where it’s about this idea that the Vidyadhara is being pushed out the door or that the Sakyong “has fallen far from the tree,” that is when I start to feel like reality is being bent to fit people’s agenda. Sorry but that’s just how I see it, personally. I mean, don’t you have a little more faith in the magic of the lineage than this?

    There are just, so many wounds here, with all of this… I understand this site, and there are some really smart people writing articles around here. I just feel like maybe there’s no spine, no drala to it. That’s all. That “vague golden days” thing was not a crack at anybody, or sarcasm… it was just a reaction to this idea that people practicing in the 70s and 80s either A) were manifesting bodhichitta more clearly than students today or B) really ever knew what was going on other than how overjoyed they were to be in the presence of a mahasiddha. I’m a child of this sangha. Y’all had your problems my man. Our generation does too, without a doubt… but anyway. I just think it’s a shame that some people feel like they have to meet in small rooms as little “CTR” delegs because they’re so upset at every little tiny minutae change that happens; as if CTR wanted everything preserved in glass after he died. What a stuffy, grey idea… I think you should all come hang out and meet the new students and humble yourselves enough to display what little you understand of the dharma so that we might benefit from it without trying to convince everyone that they’re going to go off the deep end for trying to calm their minds down a little bit. Nobody gets any of this stuff, so why not cheer up and let go? My 2 cents. Not flaming you guys…I’m like you, I can’t help but pretend that my discursive conceptual blah blah blah is important enough to be written down on the internet, that’s all.

  14. Michael Sullivan on February 4th, 2009 11:38 pm

    Another way of looking at this site is as a bridge to all the people who have left the organization but still value the teachings they received from Trungpa Rinpoche. There are a lot of us!

    So rather than a black or white “on the bus” / “off the bus” mentality, there is an opportunity and a venue to express that connection. A middle ground of sorts.

  15. rita ashworth on February 6th, 2009 1:23 pm

    if we talk practically the Shambhala teachings were first seen and taught as allowing all people who held a different religious persuasion or who held none could practice meditation with others – they were allowed to go through the whole path way without becoming Buddhist – now this is not the case………..

    all I think we are talking about on this site is that there is room/paths created for people who dont want to become Buddhists again……………..dunno I like the idea of CTR delegs if people wish to discuss Trungpa’s teachings in more depth than is possible within SI at the present time I dont see that there is a problem with that……..doesnt mean you will not mix with other delegs at times………and also inspire them as well…….learnt a lot from Marks expostion of Vajra Politics above…..
    …… to becoming fixated on terms etc, etc ———–yes you can do that but study also requires that you examine a text aswell ———people do that in literature, plays, all forms of western/eastern study…… helps people to really understand/comprehend the words used…………until maybe eventually you get a spontaneous hit on something in poetry ………felt that myself after reading lots of GInsbergs and Kerouacs poetry…………….fixation maybe in a psychological sense means that you are hanging on to your viewpoint when the world just isn’t that way……..if you(Ashoka) mean fixation in this sense then I could agree with you here.

    ………..yes people are becoming more attracted to Buddhism when I go in my local supermarket………there are Buddhas on the shelves………maybe they are attracted to the calmness of the form but when they go to a centre I think what attracts people is the possibility that through meditation they could come to some new appreciation of their minds and their life and hopefully get things more together……..dont think they want to become Buddhists though………..they just want that human connection of meditation…………..why not devise more ways of allowing more people to do that within SI…………and hopefully go further without the Shambhala Buddhism stamp…………..I think its possible to do that.


    Rita Ashworth

  16. Davee on February 6th, 2009 1:54 pm

    the first Shambhala terma teachings that I’m aware of were discovered by Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche in the late 19th century. maybe there was even earlier terma though.

    I agree I think we can accommodate non-Buddhist practice and view within the centers and Shambhala. especially if the goal for those folks is to be calmer, get their lives more together, etc. sounds very possible to me without having people adopt a view of egolessness or emptiness or Buddhist views particularly. and it doesn’t require any kind of agenda of eventually converting people.

  17. rita ashworth on February 7th, 2009 9:41 am

    just thinking overnite about what Mark said about vajra politics above -is it at all possible to publish some of these seminary talks in a separate format than the transcripts as has been done with the Kasung teachings……….my local library is buying most of the Trungpa books I request, Midal, Ray, Trungpa, Pema and the Sakyongs works are on the shelves………..(I wonder what the readers make of it all!)-just collected True Perception for reading.

    yes Ashoka is quite a force isn’t he………………interesting debates……….his words have turned my mind up and down but there still needs to be more discussion happening………….Gordon Kidd has posted on another thread a query about doing stuff to change things…………yes we all do stuff…………we all change things in our own way………….part of of doing stuff is also getting into debates about politics/life/religion life as we know it Jim…………….you know when I lived in Halifax there was talk about having
    a sort of Hyde Park corner where you could just spout off about things………I thought that was a really good idea…………been to Hyde Park Speakers corner myself -the quality of the speakers there was immense for example got to hear Lord Soper who was at the time the head of the Methodist church who debated openly with people in the crowd. At one point thought not much of the corner but when living with an Iraqi student in London he told me he was astounded by what was occuring there –if he ever tried to speak like that in Iraq he would have been arrested. London you meet so many different nationalities there – they remind you of the freedoms you have in the West to just delight in conversation, debate for its own sake………… that at times you might arrive at some consensus/sharing of views…………I hope with have some more honchos visiting this site……….they seem a trite mute at the moment …..more glorious debates to happen hopefully


    rita ashworth
    stockport uk

  18. Alan Anderson on February 15th, 2009 4:06 am

    (And thank you, Ashoka for your fine mind and comments. There are many voices here that are not entrenched and divisive, and I especially appreciate yours.)

    The comment I wish to make at this time is that I don’t believe that one can really, truly understand and and feel the subtlety, heart, intelligence and skillful means of the Sakyong without engaging in the Primordial Rigden Ngondro.

    I completed the Kagyu Ngondro 20 years ago and finished half of my Vajrayogini practice before making a detour for a number of years to study with Khandro Rinpoche. I really wasn’t connecting to the Sakyong or Werma practice at the time and felt a bit confused about my path, but when I received the Rigden ngondro and completed it, I felt that I was back home.

    I know many other students of Trungpa Rinpoche who have similar appreciation for this powerful practice and feel the indivisibility of the father and son gurus. It puts the -she into the Ashe, touching the wheels of the vision of enlightened society down onto the ground. I have practiced 3 different ngondros and their sadhanas, and for me, this is by far the most poignant, demanding. pragmatic and transformative practice I’ve ever engaged with.

    Trungpa Rinpoche said, “If you want to understand my mind, practice the Werma Sadhana”. Similarly, if you wish to know the Sakyong, do the Rigden Ngondro—you may see–as many of us have–that what he did is so very good and brilliant. It’s nothing less than a direct uplink to the Vidyadhara and his vision of Shambhala.

    I’m not saying this would end criticism of the Sakyong, but I am saying that without having this experience, you will not know the Sakyong; your conclusions will fall far short of a deep and comprehensive understanding of what he is accomplishing.

    If you were to do it, I am quite certain you’d be deeply touched and inspired. I’m not saying it would change everything, but I suspect that there would be a marked de-escalation of *certainty* about the Sakyong’s purported mis-steps.

    As the inestimable Dorje Dradul said on Shambhala Day 1981:
    “We need further effort. We cannot expect that because what we are doing is right, therefore, we have the right to have a red carpet unfolded for us. In fact, if we study the histories of past warriors, we find that the great warriors suffered enormously because of their diligence, because of their righteousness, and because of their virtue. it was not that they were wicked, and therefore, they were punished; they suffered because they were wonderful. The more profound their understanding, the more the attacks against them were, the more sharp and precise.”

    This could be regarding you and me… definitely is in regard to the Sakyong. Many of us know this, and our experience deserves being examined and considered as being as real and true as you feel yours is.

    Alan Anderson

  19. Jim Wilton on February 15th, 2009 3:59 pm

    Alan, I appreciate hearing your experience with Shambhala Ngondro. As I said up front, I am looking forward to circling back to Werma in a few years — maybe after Chakrasamvara practice. I’ll give some thought to doing the Primordial Rigden ngondro as well.

    I don’t think that there is a problem with any of this — for anyone who is practicing with the right view (i.e. a non-dogmatic view — or one where when you experience fixed mind you realize that ego hasn’t made any “progress” in defeating ego — and it breaks your heart).

    I worry about some who post on this site who have such fixed views — and use this forum as a feedback loop to strengthen their opinions. And the anonymous juvenile posts on some of the other threads are stupid as well. It is a shame because with a soft, open approach and a willingness to have your opinions change there is a lot that could be shared here in the way of genuine ideas.

  20. Jim Wilton on May 28th, 2009 10:44 am

    I have just heard that Group G of the 3 year retreat at Gampo Abbey which was originally scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2010 has been postponed to 2011 due to lack of interest. Only six applications were received for 12 to 16 positions.

    I expect that the emphasis in the SI sangha on the Shambhala terma and the Scorpion Seal path and the lack of attention by SMR to Kagyu practices is a part of the reason. Three year retreat is not going to be something that many can do — but to fill 12 to 16 positions every five years would require several hundred new Vajrayogini practioners over the same time period (a small percentage of whom would be inspired to do the three year retreat).

    It’s a shame.

  21. meg on September 25th, 2009 10:24 pm

    i’ve left a note elsewhere on this website today: and in direct response to ashoka mukpo and others who tend to think along the same lines, this website is not just about a bunch of wounded old dogs who can’t seem to get over themselves. i’m neither wounded nor an old dog~but i do recognize the need to use good human intelligence.

    this is the only place those of us who have differing ideas can go to sort things through. clearly some have deep devotion to CTR: i was not around in the day. nor am i particularly impressed w. the new students showing up. i’m torn about SMR even though i have taken samaya vows w. him. if i didnt take samaya seriously, there would be no discussion or consideration on my part.

    it’s the easy way out to simply catagorize people. engaging with the complexities takes far more insight, patience, exertion, discipline, compassion and a willingness to see conflict as a tool of transformation.