On Differing Views and Paths

July 16, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Interview with Richard Reoch, by Andrew Safer

On-line discussions on the Radio Free Shambhala web site and various listservs have been pointing out that there are students of Trungpa Rinpoche who are continuing along the path he set out for them, and who don’t feel welcome within the current-day Shambhala community. It no longer feels like “home” to them. Sometimes they are disparaged by community members who cite their “lack of loyalty” to the current Sakyong.

Andrew Safer of Radio Free Shambhala recently had the opportunity to ask Richard Reoch, President of Shambhala, to comment on this state of affairs.

Radio Free Shambhala: As you know, there has been tension and disagreement between some of Trungpa Rinpoche’s senior students and some of the students of the Sakyong, regarding changes to the practice path and differences of view. Many of these senior students do not feel that there is room for them within the Shambhala mandala.

Richard Reoch: It’s true that some of the long-term students of the Vidyadhara feel like they’re not supported. I and others have been in conversation with some of the long-term acharyas to see what is the practice support that is needed that would continue to nurture their path, and not make them feel excluded.

RFS: Sometimes the samaya of these senior students has been questioned.

Richard Reoch: That’s not what I feel Shambhala vision is about. I do not believe we should be commenting on or having the presumption to comment on another practitioner’s samaya. We all have a common, deep karmic connection. Probably most of us can’t even fathom it. We are all in this extraordinary lineage stream. We have a deep shared vision, at least about what Shambhala means, in an archetypal sense, in our subconscious.

To regard someone who is maintaining samaya within the Shambhala lineage as a dissenter is a mistaken view. It is not helpful to comment on the legitimacy of another person’s practice of samaya. Perhaps this happens because we don’t have the ground for the perpetuation of lineage in this culture. If you think several generations ahead, are we going to say that the students of the next Sakyong are dissenters because they’re following the teachings of Mipham? This is a fundamental misunderstanding of lineage.

One problem with the transplantation of egoless devotion from a culture like Tibet to a culture like we have in the West is we don’t have a tradition of lineage in modern form. We don’t have the cultural roots to support that. We are all grappling with how to understand this profound teaching.

I try to use the office I hold (as President), and the authority that goes with it to deal with this issue. When members of our community are described as “border tribes”—when they write me or meet with me—I devote a lot of time and try to learn from them. I think there has been a kind of polarization in which extreme language is used. We genuinely have to go deeper, beneath this level of argument, to find the commonality. I’m definitely doing that, person to person.

Maybe now that the current orientation of the path is getting clearer, we need to have a conversation with the senior acharyas about precisely what could be the support that can be provided for people who started on a particular element of the path of Shambhala and that needs to continue and be supported?

Five Sakyongs down the road, there will be people who say “I make a personal connection by reading the works of the Vidyadhara.” Others will day “How fortunate it was for Shambhala that Mipham the Great reincarnated as the Sakyong.” Eventually, it’s not just about tolerating differences; it’s about appreciating the incredible richness that’s available in our kingdom.

RFS: The real question is: how are the teaching stream and legacy of Trungpa Rinpoche going to continue?

Richard Reoch: I’ve been in discussions with Carolyn Gimian since the beginning of the Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project about the importance of that initiative. The analogy we have used is that the Legacy Project is like a presidential library, so things don’t end up moldering and being lost. I’ve had some initial conversations with some of the longer-term students and acharyas about how to create an identifiable and helpful framework so no one is seen as being on one track or the other, or as renegades which is antithetical to the long-term survival of the lineage.

RFS: Many people who are devoted to Trungpa Rinpoche and who don’t consider the Sakyong to be their teacher don’t feel welcomed by the community, and they’re afraid to speak up.

Richard Reoch: One of the earliest statements issued by the Mandala Governing Council created after the first Shambhala Congress was a statement on the commitment to openness. I asked members of that council to list the issues that people are afraid to speak up about. We seemed to have inherited an incredible atmosphere of fear, and I did not understand that. I had no idea the extent to which this community was traumatized. When I asked what issues were not being addressed, people were afraid to name the issues.  I think we all realized, ‘Wow, we can’t even talk about what we can’t talk about!’ Opening up that discussion was like Glasnost and Perestroika in Shambhala.

I talked to Larry Mermelstein, and asked, “Is there anything we can do to reduce this climate of fear?” Some people were experiencing this fear in a very palpable way. If we can’t create a social framework in which we understand that people will have different points of view, then all the notions of fearlessness and openheartedness—everything we’re so proud of about the Shambhala inheritance—absolutely won’t take root. We can’t build an enlightened society on a basis of fear.

Wherever I go, I invite people to talk to me about this so I can find out more about it. Sometimes, because someone has said something extremely abusive, we feel like we’re going to lose membership. There are people hiding out, as if they’re the old Chi Kung masters at the height of the Cultural Revolution hoping they’re not noticed by the Red Guards. It’s a slow process of personal conversation, trying to address these tendencies of people persecuting each other.

When Radio Free Shambhala was established, people contacted me as if this was the end of the world. “No, just think ahead,” I said. “If we think about the new golden age of Shambhala, there will be countless Web sites and social networking opportunities where people express their experience of the dharma and of different teachers, including what others might disagree with. If there’s one thing that prevents establishing the kingdom of Shambhala, it’s called fascism, and I‘m not having anything to do with that.”


980 Responses to “On Differing Views and Paths”

  1. James Elliott on November 29th, 2011 5:28 pm

    “Born a monk died a king.” What part don’t you understand?”

    Well, the part where that is used to imply that enlightened society is and can only be governed by a realized person, further that such a level of realization could be discerned, in fact would need to be discerned, by all people, or if not that those who did not align themselves accordingly would be denigrated to some second rate level of ‘not getting it’ (like what one might suspect you are implying about me) or to a lower or more marginalized level of social involvement.

    What part of Trungpa Rinpoche’s leaning towards a parliamentary system of monarchy don’t you understand, John? How was Trungpa Rinpoche NOT leaning towards that?

    And please, answer at least one of my questions. Are you suggesting that within an enlightened society, all members must have a vajrayana student/teacher devotional style relationship with the ruler? How would that work for people not drawn to whatever particular path that ruler was teaching? They should go South maybe, or North or East… just go?

    It’s really very simple to understand why that can’t be a model for enlightened society, unless we in fact want to create a highly divisive religiously based governing structure.

    What specifically was Trungpa Rinpoche the king of? Did his reign created the kind of continuity and compassionate society he surely wished for? If so, how? If not, why not?

    Jesus also was born a carpenter’s son but died a king. King of what!? Aram? I d o n ‘ t think so.

  2. John Tischer on November 29th, 2011 7:43 pm

    “And please, answer at least one of my questions. Are you suggesting that within an enlightened society, all members must have a vajrayana student/teacher devotional style relationship with the ruler? ………..”

    No. Just as a person in Elizabeth’s society in 1500 didn’t have to belong to the church of England.

    “How would that work for people not drawn to whatever particular path that ruler was teaching?”

    They would just be a member of society, practicing whatever “real” tradition they saw fit, as the Vidyadhara envisioned.

    His (VCTR) reign did not create the continuity….true….that’s why we’ve experienced the problems we have since 1987..

    We were not up to it at this time…..doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future…of course you might not believe in “myths”…the prophesies of people like Jigme Phuntsok (and the Vidyadhara)….that are at the Chronicles and elsewhere…but I can’t answer to that.

    “It’s really very simple to understand why that can’t be a model for enlightened society, unless we in fact want to create a highly divisive religiously based governing structure.”

    That’s an assumption…and it denys what VCTR actually accomplished…
    either you weren’t there in the thick of things,,,or…what?

  3. John Tischer on November 29th, 2011 7:53 pm

    Yes, Davee, It may seem to you that way, but that doesn’t mean that that is a valid interpretation of the words. I mean, if some statement that simple
    “needs” to be complexified, I question the ( ) of that questioner.

    and your question is an opinion. not trying for a clarification….it has little to do with the meaning of the quote.

  4. Davee on November 29th, 2011 8:32 pm

    John, my apologies but I experienced your question as arrogant, as if you had the true meaning of “Born a monk, died a king” and you were goading us to prove our prajna to you. That you were a person in the know. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

  5. John Tischer on November 29th, 2011 10:38 pm

    I understand…point taken….
    but if you leave me out of it, what is your understanding of VCTR’s final words?

  6. James Elliott on November 30th, 2011 12:10 am

    Which ‘final words’ John?
    Final words tends to means like… on his death bed…?
    Please give a reference or link or quote.
    (And maybe a hint as to whom you are responding.)
    Do you mean his Testament of a sort on the Chronicles pages?

    “Born a Monk, died a King” as far as I know was one line in a poem, maybe a haiku three liner or something, written years before his death, if I’m not mistaken.

    As such it wasn’t a declaration or objective statement or instruction for forms of government or anything like that. It was a poem. Just a bit of his blowing his own horn (not meant with cynicism at all, the guy could conduct an orchestra as far as I’m concerned, but… is what it is.)

    In the inspiration that “It ain’t no thing..” from the street version of the Heart Sutra.

  7. John Tischer on November 30th, 2011 12:31 am

    No. If you look at his “will”…whatever, in it was his final words to the sangha

    “Born a monk,
    died a king,
    such thunderstorm does not stop.
    We will be haunting you, along with the dralas…
    Jolly good luck!”

    as I remember….

  8. rita ashworth on November 30th, 2011 3:10 am

    Dear Suzanne, James, John

    Thanks for the film I will check it out.

    However I still feel we need to discuss politics in its widest sense, there are many allies out there particularly on the left who are also forecasting the collapse of society in the near future and I think we can work with them to go forward into constructing new awarenesses about how to envisage a better society.

    Re constructing new societies too will also have to be envisaged where we are at in the cities – we can not all head for regions to survive the coming collapse because we do not have the resources to do that. So the consciousness of people will have to change in the cities and I still think that is feasible and one way of doing that would be by following the shambhala teachings and other meditational disciplines as we go along –so I am all for making allies with others in following such a course.

    ‘Born a monk died a King’……yes I believe its the will as John says. But we do have to consider the consciousness of what it is to be a King and I think all of us are capable of being that ‘royal’ in the conduct of our lives. Never have seen it as a prescription for the actual ruling of a governmental institution. And I think if you also propose it to people as a given most would laugh you out the door –we are living in the 21st century we are done with Kings and Queens and absolute monarchies.

    I also find it highly unbelievable that many intelligent people are considering such a conception of a King –maybe this whole discussion stems from peoples total end of century attitude and disbelief in the political process –this need for The Man and our Saviour.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  9. John Perks on November 30th, 2011 7:24 am

    Interesting posts,
    For Chogyams students-subjects it was a matter of heart connection called Devotion and Love which still exists,the vision of the warrior on the white horse Drula is the Monarch that joins Heaven Earth ,and man,Devotion is the key to enter the Kingdom. might be old fashion,but only works with devotion as the lubricant,

  10. John Perks on November 30th, 2011 10:21 am

    P.S. thats” Drala” seems we could all ride that.

  11. Ash on November 30th, 2011 3:44 pm

    John Perks and lubricant…. there’s a joke in there somewhere but it’s just not coming through. Oh well.

    Re Elliot’s: “But are you suggesting in an enlightened society all citizens must see the king as their guru?” & (Elliot again:) “It’s really very simple to understand why that can’t be a model for enlightened society, unless we in fact want to create a highly divisive religiously based governing structure.”

    (Tischer) That’s an assumption…and it denys what VCTR actually accomplished…either you weren’t there in the thick of things,,,or…what?”

    & finally Ashworth’s: “Never have seen it as a prescription for the actual ruling of a governmental institution. And I think if you also propose it to people as a given most would laugh you out the door –we are living in the 21st century we are done with Kings and Queens and absolute monarchies…I also find it highly unbelievable that many intelligent people are considering such a conception of a King.”

    The axis of Shambhala Buddhadharma in a way includes a full range of different views and paths, both spiritual and secular. So the simple phrase: ‘born a monk, died a king’ is enormously elegant in terms of how large a scope is encompassed so economically. (He beat the Beats with that one!)

    And whilst I type, Judith Simmer’s talk in the backround leaps out (having ignored just about everything the past hour whilst reading through this thread) with : ‘how there certainly is plenty of room for differing political views in our enlightened society, we always see differing views with politics’ (paraphrase).

    Of course this is a seminal topic which comes up in so many threads on this site. I’ll take a crack at being helpful…

    First, in some sense contemplating the difference between the Buddhadharma and Shambhala, or the so-called ‘religious’ or ‘sacred’ and the so-called ‘secular’ or ‘worldly’ is our ultimate Shambhalian living koan practice. They are neither the same nor different nor both nor neither. That is why they work so well together.

    Rita, I am convinced we were talking about an actual, living political system headed by an actual, living Monarch.

    I also am convinced that ultimately we can have BOTH devotion and non-tantric relationship. (continues)

  12. Ash on November 30th, 2011 4:02 pm

    My understanding of the Monarch role in Shambhala is that it does indeed depend upon basically good Love, as Perks declared above. Rightly. But that Love and Devotion is not the same as the guru-disciple samaya although that too is based on Love and Devotion.

    But the dominant process in the Buddhadharmic mandala formed by the relationship of teachers and students involves developing buddha nature, or enlightenment.

    The dominant process in Society, although it does not need to be in any way against the latter, encompasses far more because it includes the entire societal context in which all of us progress from birth through until death both as individuals and within the inevitable community context. It takes two humans joining together in both physical and spiritual intimacy to give birth to a third, so the birth of even one is a societal, and therefore also political, event. It is not, however, a religious event.

    So even if one ‘born a monk’ takes his first breath as a Buddhist already, he or she does so with Shambhalian lungs. (Or is it rather that he or she takes a first Shambhalian breath with Buddhist lungs?) (Of course trying to argue one or the other is a red herring.)

    And if one ‘dies a king’ that king can still be a Buddhist and a Vajra Master but at the same time he might not. He might be a Christian or Atheist and not a religious teacher at all.

    Clearly it’s not the same.

    In sum: I believe still that we could set up a society which is bound together in deep Love and Devotion to basic goodness, to our siblings, parents, friends, fellow community members and indeed all sentient beings, and that society would not have to comprise only Buddhadharma practitioners and that this is the mission of the Shambhala thrust.

    I also believe that a big mistake most of us keep making is to think of Shambhala as a different or parallel set of ‘teachings’, like a wisdom lineage stream or school of yoga techniques. No, it’s a tribe or sports team, something you join, you support, you cheer, even die for (well, not the sports team hopefully!). But it’s not just a set of teachings delivered through programs. It’s a very political dynamic.

    It’s more…a way of living with other people. It’s Japan…Britain… Nova Scotia… Cape Breton… Brooklyn…HMS Pinafore… our son, our daughter, our father, our mother, our grandparents and so on.

    Something like that. And this is where the love comes in and also how it connects with basic goodness, or rather manifests it naturally. A child naturally loves his parents just as a father or mother naturally loves his or her child. All of us want to live productive lives in which we contribute, learn, grow, deepen, celebrate and so forth. A society which fosters each person therein to lead such lives generates powerful ‘dzong chi’ or group drala and this drala is the essence of what is known as Royal.

    Royalty is the product, not of the wisdom-stream of an enlightened guru, not as adisthana, but of an entire society. Royalty is a short hand word describing the group energy of an enlightened society. An unenlightened society can ape Royal Space ( group drala ), can pay lip service to it, but cannot generate it authentically.

    So Shambhala is about creating sacred society, not merely individuated sacred perception in the woods when two or more tantrikas gather together to create a self-contained, highly potent mandala during a ‘feast’ in which sacred perception is fruitionally engendered but meanwhile the rest of the world outside that mandala (aka ‘them’) is profane.

    And the ground of such sacredness is the ordinary basically good love and devotion we feel for our loved ones, our lives, for trees and greenery and all the rest of it. Shambhala is about taking that, knowing it, feeling it, doing it, and from there creating a society which similarly knows it, feels it, does it, thereby knowing what to accept and reject (yes and no, aka rules) in order to protect and nourish such basically good world.

    And in such a sacred world, Royal Space is ubiquitous; and because therein everyone sees Reality as such, all are Rita’s Kings and Queens.

    Including the official King and the official Queen.

    It simply cannot be any other way.

  13. John Perks on November 30th, 2011 5:51 pm

    BOY one puts a little lubricant out there and Ash takes the words right out of my mouth.
    Thank you sweetheart,

  14. John Tischer on November 30th, 2011 5:55 pm

    Ash, question:

    “Royalty is the product, not of the wisdom-stream of an enlightened guru, not as adisthana, but of an entire society. Royalty is a short hand word describing the group energy of an enlightened society. An unenlightened society can ape Royal Space ( group drala ), can pay lip service to it, but cannot generate it authentically.”

    Can you have this phenomena, this societal Royalty, if the center, the actual King or Queen, is not enlightened? If yes, where does it come from?.

  15. Ash on November 30th, 2011 6:09 pm

    The mahayana and truly tantric fruition of practicing the Ati path transmitted into the blood and bones of his heart disciples results in their leaving all outer, inner or secret allegiances, rather resting in the self-existing Dharma of What is, of Suchness (which is Dharma!), free from container or contained.

    A society in which this is fostered naturally is called Shambhala.

    Which means that if you are doing well, you will find yourself outside the bubble. Be joyful! You are fulfilling his wishes.

    Now keep going further.

    (And move to Nova Scotia and/or Cape Breton for this approach to actually bear fruit!)

    Shambhala will ALWAYS be both something not-yet-extant and aspired to, and something real and actual, more real and actual than any so-called reality or so-called extant society or nation such as Great Britain, India, Canada, United States, China, Japan, Nigeria, Portugal, Israel, Jordan, Isle Madame, Germany and so forth, all of which are completely and utterly conceptual, and thus fictive, in nature.

    But also real. Being a native of Japan or China or United States etc. is real. And fictive.

    Shambhala, similarly, is both real and fictive.

    Unlike most real and fictive realities, it Knows this.

    Enlightenment is no more than seeing clearly the nature of confusion.
    That is where Shambhala and Buddhadharma meet.
    In that non-existent point of clear perception.

    Excuse Me. I made the mistake of attempting to read through this thread.
    Whilst enjoying a few slugs of grappa.

    Surprisingly good grappa given it is the ONLY one available in this alcoholically and governmentally be-nighted and suppressed ex-Colonial backwater of a so-called Province. (!)

    Following a memorable night in which we used my brick oven to bake (2 minute, 800F) pizza and (later) pastries after which only so much grappa could be consumed comfortably, leaving me with the delightful duty of finishing it off whilst enjoying various Dharma and Shambhala rantings and ravings in this thread……

  16. Ash on November 30th, 2011 6:20 pm

    Holy X*&^%!. There are other people out there reading this…. I’m sorry, I thought I was imagining the whole thread….

    Hey Sir John. Your True Heart and the Golden Sun of Everyday Glory are inseparable. Thanks for your (cheeky and toothy) ordinary, old world, timeless, Crazy Hart smile. It will remain, long after the Cheshire cat is long forgotten.

    Tisch re: “Can you have this phenomena, this societal Royalty, if the center, the actual King or Queen, is not enlightened? If yes, where does it come from?”

    No. But that enlightenment is also a function/product of general society, it is not a product of individual manifestation alone. Which means any obstacles the Monarch is going through, including deficiencies and so forth, are as much our fault as his, or rather a reflection of our deficiencies as well as his/hers. This is true because of what I said about Royalty above, which is simply the sacred space/perception/drala engendered by people attuned to basic goodness. This is unavoidable, as unavoidable as that raindrops fall to earth once released by clouds, as sun beams warm us, as bird song delights us. Royalty is just a word that encapsulates a phenomenon which we all experienced with VCTR, albeit in a somewhat ‘churchy/culty’ context, but ultimately he had the ability, as a leader, to individually inhabit the timeless space of nowness/awareness which we also were inhabiting by sitting together and waiting for the teacher and dharma to manifest at that time and place.

    As he said: ‘it is a mutual conspiracy’, with emphasis on the ‘con’. Now some here think that words like ‘con’ and ‘context’ are wicked somehow. (Wicked people always come up with such silly theories!) But con means ‘with’; it is inclusive, it dissolves barriers, it is egolessness principle.

    In political parlance, using ordinary speak, it is also expressed this way (outer mandala lingo): dictatorship/monarchy wherein the pinnacle of leadership in a society (mandala) is held by one individual versus a committee (aka ‘soviet’) or extended (elected) committee (aka ‘parliament’) is both the strongest and most vulnerable form of government. Strongest because decision-making is streamlined, clarified, honed, powerful, fast; weakest because it is relatively easy to kill one man, if ending that regime is what is called for, or put it this way: much easier to end a regime dependent on an individual than one dependent upon endless committees.

    We don’t have to wade through all that crap. (Maybe… think about it…)

    OK, I’ll turn it around and see what you think of this because this is what came to mind after my first post to which you responded:

    Ideally speaking, Shambhala provides the national/societal container in which the elixir of fruitional tantric Dzogchen awareness can be transmitted from generation to generation (including the Monarch). But we are in pioneer days. Now, we need a hard core tantric sangha to be the sacred soil in which the seeds of Shambhala Culture can be sown, the seeds from which plants then spread far and wide on their own through the breezes and winds of self-existing human societal infrastructures of all sorts. It’s a yin-yang symbol thing, the seeds of yang being within yin and so forth. It’s a pioneer stage dynamic we are still in basically…

    In order to have such sacred soil you need a tight container, a tantric container. In order to disperse you have to let go into Shambhala Blue Sky free from form, from container.

    We are not ready for the latter yet.
    OR, also possibly, and the reason for this site, we are making mistakes.

    Myself, I do not know.
    Meanwhile, I live in Cape Breton.

  17. John Tischer on November 30th, 2011 7:30 pm

    Let’s talk enlightened society. Let’s talk Ravel’s Bolero in a train station:


    enlightened society only happens now.

    p.s. (I love you too, Ash)

  18. John Tischer on November 30th, 2011 7:51 pm

    “No. But that enlightenment is also a function/product of general society, it is not a product of individual manifestation alone.”

    Wow….I got it…my question was exactly about this very point.

    You know, I totally agree with you….at the same time, I don’t have any idea how that’s possible…how it manifests or works….other than in as much as VCTR’s students are manifesting his/ our dharmic minds. That’s a, or maybe the, real puzzle to me.

    Eloquent post by the way…

  19. Ash on November 30th, 2011 10:33 pm

    Ha! Well, in terms of that video, try this: they are all Danes. They are all basically Vikings. So deconstruct the video showing a whole load of laid back hip modern young people playing instruments with various types of sort of cool sunglasses and other modern paraphernalia and rather, in your imagination, superimpose old Beowulf-era viking garb and then you see why the audience is ‘flash-mobbing’ – to watch real WARRIORS in action!

    Additionally, contemplate how the Chinese get it right again. Five major organs each of which as outer, inner, sister, brother etc. etc. of which one element is preferred activity of which that of the Heart is, stripping away the ancient lingo, ‘people watching’. Are people enamored of Ravel, or basically people watching? Or does Ravel do a great job as composer by making music that facilitates people watching, is harmonious with that activity or even evokes it?

    Well, one cannot say, can one? It’s chicken and egg, Sakyong and subjects. Trying to define which one causes the other is, as the Buddha would say, a question which leads not towards edification.

    Just as trying to define whether it’s a Buddhist first breath in a Shambhalian lung or vice versa tends not towards edification.

    Just as trying to contain all sacred experience within a tantric mandala versus profane/mundane reality and from there define the difference tends not towards edification/realisation.

    We go from confusion to wisdom, from conception / birth to formlessness/death. We think there is a path, then there isn’t. Poetry is treading the ever-present arising middle ground of here-and-nowhere. You are a genius at understanding this. Your problem is being too religious.

    Throw it out and be the Poet (Creator) you truly are!

    About the other stuff. It shouldn’t be a puzzle but it is because we are all too religious.

    Religio = I bind. Samaya principle. Or following a particular path, taking oath, being committed etc. Straight and narrow. Discipline. We attach to (heightened) experiences of sacredness particular doctrines and time frames but forget that such experiences, stripped of conceptual and contextual overlay, happen during moments of birth, death, battle etc. (Good old ordinary mind stuff.) Monty Python’s Meaning of Life film gets this ‘how we miss it because of thinking’ better than any other articulation in the 20th century, possibly including VCTR. Seriously, they have some incredible moments in that film sandwiched between excruciating samsaric irrelevancies – which is the point.

    My point? About your puzzlement: ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear.’ Very old. Possibly Asvaghosa = 200 BC. In any case, its true. Teacher and student are mutual creations but poverty mind of student tends to create a God out of the teacher which God the teacher has to break down. Like husband putting wife on pedestal as Primordial Goddess. It’s fun, but wife ultimately can’t handle being Primordial Goddess and Mother and Wife and Worker and bla bla bla and resents being put on Pedestal and runs away. So also we resent Reality not conforming to our Ideal Shambhala Utopia, or even more painful, a Sakyong not being a full-blown super sexy Mahasiddha like Sakyong 1.

    Life’s not fair.

    But then again: maybe Sakyong 1 put US on a pedestal and we believed him, like any devoted and flattered wife (continuing from above), but now that he is no longer there to praise us and thus keep us on that pedestal, our view of things has mouldered, dustified, and so we blame the current Seat Holder for our own inevitable (and most valuable and precious and enlightening) disillusionment. Isn’t disillusionment what we signed up for, after all?

  20. John Tischer on November 30th, 2011 11:55 pm


    Whoah, Dude,
    I gotta sort that one out….
    not that I don’t get the first fresh
    blast in the face of it, but, c’mon,

    I love ya…

    Holy crap….

    I mean, you leave me in the dust,
    I can’t even keep up to agree with you,
    So cheers!

    And, only the best.

  21. rita ashworth on December 1st, 2011 2:45 am

    Dear All

    Yes born a monk-that seems to be in this world…the King aspect seems to me to be reflecting the experience of when he received the shambhala teachings notice its not King ‘of’ as in actual country – just King – one hardly needs to mention the parallels with Christ and his experience of the motif of King, but it is similar I think.

    I also think it connects to the Cosmic Mirror and if that is the case –everyone can partake of this experience of royalty – so yes who is the King really –quite complex to discern? The phrase also seems to be reflective of a journey –O so once I was in this world as a humble monk but now I am the King of the Universe – of All that is.

    I dont see how you can look at the phrase in a pragmatic sense –it is too religious for that in our western sense also – it has to be a supra-universal and instanteous statement. So too to even to start to limit it to this world seems rather mundane to me. It is a statement of what he reached through his realisation and I dont think it can be defined until we ourselves touch that same ‘level’ –whenever we clue in to it with basic goodness that is and thus is ‘his/our’ Mind. It is only then that I believe enlightened society fully is but of course through practice and taking care of others we do connect with it more so that seems to be the societal aspect of it in ‘our’ world.

    Myself re government in a more formal sense I am exploring some ways of where the notion of parallel non-structure methods might work which would by a tad fit into the shambhala way of being, the ‘true communism’ that he wrote about in the poem -so at the moment thats why I am interested in the Merton/Marxist debate and now Holloway because they are emphasising a kind bottom-up, free-flowing, unobstructed network of connections….yes I am beginning to feel that we could experiment with what they are exemplifying with their apprehensions. So the non-structural aspect could flower the notion of Kingship in its universal aspect in this world. So yes it is in this sense that ‘politics’ is very important because of its non-structure and mirror-like quality.

    I may be sounding a bit obtuse but these things are quite hard to be so defined about, as many I believe have also experienced in other religions too especially in terms of ones relationship with Christ.

    Well best from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  22. James Elliott on December 1st, 2011 7:19 am


    Going in so many directions making statements so packed with hidden assumptions, there’s no way to respond directly. It sounds very religious and belief based. That is to say without a specific set of beliefs one can’t be a part of that. That is not how I have understood Buddhist teachings, nor Shambhala teachings as I first encountered them. If ‘enlightened society’ is as belief based as I’m reading it here, then it can only produce a theocratic form of government, with all the hierarchy and divisiveness people are willing to stomach to ensure some kind of ultimate happiness.

    Having received and heard many very inspirational teachings, have nevertheless reluctantly and through a series of undeniable encounters, now think how that manifests in our community, a community lauding itself as one of the best if not only way to enlightened society, extremely weak and in some cases quite corrupt. Now, when I notice talk that seems to want to inspire me, I get suspicious. Especially when there’s little or nothing that relates to how things are.

    There’s enough inspirational talk already. I think we can safely say at this point, if that’s what it takes to create enlightened society, we should have arrived there long long ago.

    My tolerance for ‘riding the imagination train to higher and higher glimpses of what could be if only we believed [your version here], is perhaps burnt out. I could follow you essay and answer it blow by blow, but the gist altogether is that if the basics are not taken care of properly, the logistics of how power is handled and people treated, much more extensively than in the context of maintaining good image and garnering more members, if we lack the requisite checks and balances and transparency that simply must exist in anything pretending towards enlightened society, then all the talk, all the flag waving, all the confidence of view, begins to look more like a system of denial than it does the basis for compassionate society.

    I come back again to the seemingly obvious loop that a path of realization is not a system of government, and a path of realization will not be an apt model for any form of government for a society larger than students of any given teacher. And yet…

    In the inspiration that Buddhadharma is a path of realization, not a mood generator.

  23. Ash on December 1st, 2011 1:31 pm

    Well, the point was not to be inspirational. But (part of) the subject matter is comparing two different – and they are different – systems which share a core interest in the Sacred. The mandalas are different, one being secular/societal, the other being radical, starting with Hinayana renunciation and ending up with tiger-riding, blood-drinking and all the rest of it (!). But sacred material should have some sense of luminosity to it otherwise……

    Rita, I don’t think the word King is necessarily a code for a whole load of spiritual metaphoria; that diffuses its bedrock meaning, which is that of a king, an actual king. The Sakyong ceremony is the same as the one done for actual kings in times of yore; I am not sure but I think the Bhutanese ceremonies originally were almost the same text. Point is: we are talking actual Kings and Queens not metaphorical/inner/secret ones only, though such levels also co-exist of course. Holography is ubiquitous in our holographic universe, with yang of spirit intertwined with yin of physical manifestation ad infinitum.

    More importantly, James, such structures DO exist, just not solely within our tiny little church group. The basic structures are already there in contemporary society outside of which none of us can take one single breath, let alone build a new world; any fantasies to the contrary are just that, which is perhaps what you are (quite rightly) tired of. Maybe all we have to do is combine certain of the sacred architecture in our formats to existing societal formats. But in any case, the bubble mandala model is not only deadly boring, but also deadly. I think we all know that.

    Look: we have governance and societal structures grounded in bedrock common sense all over the place, including your checks and balances. If we choose to tune into them. How to run Boards, the county, state/province, federal/national systems, military systems, commercial law including the UCC which is a multi-millenia work of collective human genius (amongst many such). Most ethnic or regional cultures have established, deeply informative social and family systems in place. All these things are part of the tartan of what we might call Shambhala or Enlightened Society. We just join those systems with shamatha-vipashana and a mindfully aware and dralafied society. So we take existing French, British, American, Canadian, Chinese, Native, local people and when they sit together in their local community halls within their existing cultural frameworks, the Great Eastern Sun will blaze on their already existing, already cleaned and polished altars of whatever, which doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion.

    It’s all right here already. Our problem is that we keep treating the whole thing like a spiritual teaching, we think like church members and imagine Shambhala as a huge church that lots of other people have joined. So many people think that way they don’t even realise they are thinking that way. THAT is religious thinking right there, or church thinking. Shambhala is not about forming another church OR another secret society Lodge for that matter. It’s about interpenetrating with existing society which, by the way, has more to teach us in terms of sane models and good conduct etc, than we have to teach them. But we do have a lot to offer as well.

    Perhaps we could say that a true warrior manifests the kingdom here and now wherever that here and now happens to be.

    Or to put it another way: if Shambhala cannot operate on a local community level (which the deleg system and the new Sh. household initiative relates with somewhat) then it is entirely irrelevant in any meaningful, actual way. It has to work on a local, particular level otherwise it’s like a body with legs and feet which never touches the ground, or lungs which never encounter air. The local community level is the basis of all human society. This has nothing to do with belief. It is just fact.

  24. Davee on December 1st, 2011 10:22 pm

    I’d heard the quote in a story told by one of his Kusung. Rinpoche had asked his driver to stop as they drove by a cemetery. Looking at the tomb stones he contemplated what his tomb stone epitaph might read and said “Born a monk died a king.” Perhaps that was the origin of the line in his will? Don’t know.

    So from that story I find the quote ironic. Not because he was born Tibetan royalty, more from the attempt at such a short epitaph.

    In terms of enlightened society, I think enlightened society occurs whenever two people sit down together with openness and presence and compassion. Or in Shambhala jargon they meet with gentleness and daring to step out of cocoon. Then enlightened society arises on the spot. So we have glimpses of it already perhaps now and then. In terms of a larger, societal enlightened society, that feels somewhat like the star of bethlehem to me.

  25. rita ashworth on December 2nd, 2011 2:57 am

    Dear Ash,

    Thanks for your comeback on my post.

    I was trying to underlay the universality of the notion of King or perhaps master warrior would be a better phrase with my post. So here the actual King motif could apply to the many as the shambhala teachings tell us.

    But to construct on top of these teachings having a King leading an actual theocratic government is I believe taking these teachings too far for the west. I tend to agree with James post in that we live in a very diverse world with many points of view and various allegiances and no-one absolute monarch could deem the exact path that people should take even if he had the most direct path to enlightenment possible.

    In addition if we look at Rinpoches conversation with Gerald Red Elk on the Project we can see that the essence of the shambhala teachings can be found in many cultures so having one singular authority about governance in regard to this fact also seems curious to me.

    One can also see from this interview too that Rinpoche was very much into sharing his teachings with other traditions –would he for example have given the whole of the shambhala teaching stream to him if he had lived longer –its something to think about. Likewise I think we have to begin to be much more engaged with other traditions and see what they make of the teachings.

    Also too I want to explore my own culture in terms of connecting to the shambhala teachings and I dont see the present Art that SI is focussing on or its connection to their lineage stream as only exemplifying ‘the’ way to Shambhala – I feel we can explore this notion of Kingdom in many ways.

    I am also beginning to think for myself it is more fruitful to see how power actually flows in an enlightened society –to see possibly how the ‘true communism’ works rather than focussing on the Sakyong principle…thats why Jim H’s writings on his interaction with Mertons teachings is of interest to me. Merton too for example was also willing to undertake Buddhist teachings from his connection to Rinpoches in India you can see this described in the Asian Journal –so we are talking of the cross-cultural exploration of what religion gives to people in society.

    So yes I am thinking a lot now about how power or governance works in this sense and how it enables people to bring to fruition their own connection to their innate dignity. I am much more interested in the bottom-up approach to power/governance than seeing it emanating from a central space/hierarchy so I am more concerned with that flow of energy which is empowering for people.

    Of course through their practice some do attain that epithet King such as Karmapa 16 but even he never claimed the idea that he could be a universal monarch as in the times of ancient India. I think he was much more concerned in just getting the basic teachings of Buddhism to people in the west, in establishing that ground for people, and from what I have read he seemed quite anxious to do that. Likewise I think that that should be the focus with the shambhala teachings and I also believe there should be no limits or barriers upheld in getting the teachings out there.

    Well think that is all.

    Best from the UK ….Rita Ashworth

  26. John Tischer on December 2nd, 2011 9:43 pm

    Well, one thing is, James, I hope you don’t think that I’m trying to disparage you. Frankly, I think the whole solution is beyond rational mind….which,
    to my mind, Ash was making a rather valient stab to try to explain..

    I mean, James, when we were in it, it was hard to explain…or even describe.
    So, it all becomes a myth somehow.

    A living myth because we’re all still involved…drawn along with it.

    And we talk about it because, in some sense, right now, that’s all we can do

  27. John Perks on December 3rd, 2011 8:03 am

    Yes,that hits nail on the head John,it seems what we are left with is love unrequited that yearning,has left ,and just remains love.discriminating awareness has burnt out,love is a flame fueled by the suffering of beings,
    just love……and humor must be grappa speak..ha ha ha…then love burns that up,thats the way it seems.

  28. John Tischer on June 18th, 2013 1:13 am

    Hey, Mark S,, are these trolls pushing their website?

  29. Mark Szpakowski on June 18th, 2013 7:32 am

    Yes, trolls pushing links, constant battle with spam.

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