Shambhala from 21st Century

September 8, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Imagine – a civilization, a culture, a country or countries, where the sacred is acknowledged in every aspect of personal, family, and community life, as well as in the details of business, finance, and government. Imagine, not “no religion too“, but “your religion too“, so that such a society would respect equally the genuine practice traditions of the many faiths of its citizens. This is what I hear the 21st century, and the millenium we’re entering, calling for. This call is also the real source – terma, actually – of the Shambhala vision of Chögyam Trungpa.

I will explore two aspects of this here, very briefly: secular/sacred, and drala.


A new balance, or indivisibility, of secular and sacred seems to be needed, in which the sacred is fully acknowledged in all the institutions of government and society, but in which they are not tied to any one religious faith. The founding fathers of the United States made a very conscious and brilliant effort in this direction, basing the state on fundamental natural principles while separating state from church, but as we can see in today’s American society this is not the final word –  a more complete synthesis is necessary. The sacred has become the preserve of official religions and of fundamentalisms, while the secular has been left to be terrorized by market darwinism and peculiar beliefs such as that good trickles down from attachment and greed.

Looking beyond the shores of North America, we see that much of the world does not buy into McGlobalization, and is suggesting that other outlooks are equally or more valid: an Islamic example is that of a Caliphate, with formally integrated calls to prayer throughout the day, as a better way to be for human beings. I think there is great accuracy in this latter aspiration, and it finds echoes in the lifestyles of Hasidic Judaism, in life as sadhana for Hindus and Buddhists, etc. But how can it be realized in a manner that can be shared by adherents of more than one religious practice?

In my understanding and experience this is exactly the question and the need from which the Shambhala vision of Chögyam Trungpa was extracted, and it is this that the Shambhala project – experiment – in creating a secular expression of the sacred is seeking to address. Its motivation is not an attempt to find “who we are”, but rather, what kind of radically open space, in which the sacred presents, can we uncover, manifest and share – for us and others?


The divorce of the efficient instruments of economy, business, finance, and law from the sacred – evident in mantras such as “business is business” and in notions such as that the bottom line can be expressed as a number – have led to devastating exploitation and destruction of our environment, and of the entire fabric of life within which we arise. Drala is the Shambhala term for the understanding, relationship, and practice which brings experience of the sacred together with the world of appearances, resources, and perceptions. Drala is finding the cosmic mirror in a blade of grass, in a sheaf of wheat, in a kitchen utensil. It is drala that calls for an explicit role in the very guts of our systems of sustainability and care, in the DNA of our financial and engineering systems – and we need to find language and forms to express that. Drala also offers a way to bring together the sometimes more abstract notions of emptiness and nature of mind with the textures of the living world, and more and more vocabulary for it is emerging within science itself.

The Source is in Front

On a personal note, this is why Shambhala Vision feels ever more relevant: it is a genuine attempt to go from but also beyond one’s personal practice into the open space of others, and it offers some useful language and practice to bring such aspiration down to earth. This is also something not unique: I am finding that the more I look out and interact genuinely with people, the more I meet such vivid openness. It is not of my making, or my belonging, but through mutual letting go the space feels held, and common language, understandings, and forms emerge. It’s possible for people to meet in no-man’s land, and to learn to be there with integrity, decisiveness and confidence – then it turns out to be pure gold, drala’s home, and warrior’s way.

More than that, it’s necessary for our world to be so, and for us to develop such ways of being, along with the forms, culture and institutions to actually embody these. Sustainability needs sustained drala practice, for example. This is a radical project, to create a new secular vocabulary of the sacred, which includes explicit personal and communal recognition of drala in our food, clothing, land, and homes – where we live. That space and its yearning is where our legacy comes from.

Over the centuries, there have been many who have sought the ultimate good and have tried to share it with their fellow human beings. To realize it requires immaculate discipline and unflinching conviction. Those who have been fearless in their search and fearless in their proclamation belong to the lineage of master warriors, whatever their religion, philosophy, or creed. What distinguishes such leaders of humanity and guardians of human wisdom is their fearless expression of gentleness and genuineness – on behalf of all sentient beings. We should venerate their example and acknowledge the path that they have laid for us. They are the fathers and mothers of Shambhala, who make it possible, in the midst of this degraded age, to contemplate enlightened society.

The Shambhala Lineage, the final chapter in Shambhala The Sacred Path of the Warrior

Mark Szpakowski, earth cadet and habitat partner, develops software for collaboration and care, and has been a co-conspirator with Chögyam Trungpa since 1972.


140 Responses to “Shambhala from 21st Century”

  1. John Tischer on December 9th, 2010 11:30 pm


    More accurately like a self dissolution plan. All those “rights” you mention are
    because we have wrong views, not because they’re something new or not innate. The “work” we do is giving up wrong views. The reason why it’s “work”
    is because we believe in them, cling to them strongly. If we could just let go of them, it wouldn’t be “work” at all. But if we feel we’re “getting somewhere” by all this work, that itself is spiritual materialism….and we’re kidding ourselves.
    Big obstacle.

    We’re really trying to just let ourselves be…it’s just that simple and for just that reason why the path seems so hard. We can’t let ourselves be!

  2. John Tischer on December 9th, 2010 11:59 pm

    sorry for the extra post/

    Judy said:

    ” we still have to work unceasingly and whole-heartedly with learning how to handle our kleshas skillfully, learning how to handle ourselves so that we don’t harm others, etc.”

    Yes…and as natural mind sorts itself out,
    it no longer feels like work…more like joy.

  3. Judy Schenk on December 10th, 2010 10:26 pm

    That was beautifully put, John. 😉

    Paradoxically…. we do ‘progress’ though, don’t we.
    We soften, open, cling less tightly… There’s more space to be and respond with gentleness.

    And if we train and practice and there is no ‘progress’…
    if we aren’t become kinder as the years pass… there must be areas of our ‘selves’ that we’re avoiding, pretending about.
    And that’s why I think we need the mirrors that are our teachers, and sangha. To help us see and relate/work with our blind spots.

  4. Monika on December 11th, 2010 8:36 am

    Suzanne, your latest comment: “…that SMR’s Shambhala may appear so ridiculous that many people may not be able to take Trungpa’s Shambhala teachings seriously, simply because they are associated with Shambhala International.” reminded me of an experience I have made lately when attending a shambala training.

    For many years I have read teachings by CTR and they always were a big support to me and gave me a flavour of some other (sacred?) dimension, beyond my ordinary secular and conceptual mind.

    Now for the first time I went to a Shambala centre with the hope to connect more with CTR and his teachings. But it was not what I had expected: No possibility to connect with CTR Kagyü-Nyingma tradition (because no Vajradhara on the shrine), a mixture of teachings from CTR and SMR were given, different terms were used for one practise (some terms connecting to CTR teachings, some to SMR teachings), techniques which I am familiar with from encounter groups were introduced, also some forms of gymnastics… So this was all very nice and fine (gave me a good feeling of getting together with other people and talk to them). But to me there was someting missing on an energetic level and on the level of “cutting through” which I was so familiar with from reading CTR teachings.

    I just went to one of such trainings because I missed CTR in all of this and I found it disconcerting not to know whether I was connecting with SMR or with CTR by the teachings and practices that were given. So now I decided to continue just sticking to CTR books,… still in search of a Western Buddhism…..

  5. Jane Doe on December 11th, 2010 11:41 am

    okay Monika, me too…so here is my meek understanding of how-to instructions i have heard in CTR’s books: i am NOT supposed to be materialising, and i AM supposed to be remaining in the dharmadhatu. is this agree with your understanding? that is just my little splinter of understanding. Maybe each and every splinter of understanding split by the schism in our sangha can take root in the earth and spread underground in all directions like living time capsule~~with the help of great lamas like Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Khandro Rinpoche and Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, to name just three…

  6. Chris on December 11th, 2010 2:19 pm

    Dear Mark:

    You should pause before you make assumptions. I don’t know Bindu the Clown. But thank goodness there are a few people who do shoot from the hip, without hesitation when needed. I suggest you read the article pre edited, on Negative Negativity 1972-Garuda. by CTR,

    Hesitation is the problem . It has been for over a decade when the signs were all pointing to what was going to happen.

    I find this site a vehicle to simply drain off energy. And talk around everything. As long as RFS is still trying to please SI, than nothing is happening here that is of any benefit to affect anything of import. It’s a waste of time, in that respect. Until CTR students can face the facts and walk away from this , you are simply feeding it. Giving it way too much importance, it will be maybe a footnote in the history books. Let it implode from its own hubris as it will. You are just further inflating it since it is too late now. This is so NOT CTR ‘s mandala now, why bother with it.

    As they say, the more a group talks about “harmony” and how well they are doing, and how successful they are, as the PR gets more and more inflated and bizarre, the probability is, it is close to its demise.


  7. Suzanne Duarte on December 11th, 2010 3:38 pm

    Dear Monika,

    Thank you for your story. To perceive “someting missing on an energetic level and on the level of ‘cutting through’” from one experience of a Shambhala Training program is very perceptive and good prajna. I’m sure many other people who appreciate CTR’s teachings, and go to Shambhala Centers, are equally disconcerted, as you say: “I missed CTR in all of this and I found it disconcerting not to know whether I was connecting with SMR or with CTR by the teachings and practices that were given. So now I decided to continue just sticking to CTR books,… still in search of a Western Buddhism…..”

    We don’t often hear from such people, although a few have become regulars on RFS. So thanks for sharing your experience. I am sad that people like you don’t know where else to go – because CTR’s mandala no longer exists as CTR’s mandala. Some of us would like to remedy that.

    Btw, please disregard “Jane Doe’s” snarky remarks. S/he’s obviously a troll.

  8. Monika on December 11th, 2010 3:45 pm

    Dear Chris, maybe I should not meddle here because I don’t really belong to the Shambala sangha (although I have a lot of admiration for the teachings of CTR and I learned a lot from his teachings). But I feel that this site is really doing a great job. (I also suffer from split sangha but in a different mandala.)

    What you say: “I find this site a vehicle to simply drain off energy.” I feel that it is so important when deeling with difficulties in a sangha to be able to share ones thoughts and emotions with others who can understand. I have the situation that I can hardly talk to anyone because most of the people of my former sangha are on “the other side” and they would not want to listen to what I have to say. Therefore I really benefit from your courage to talk about the situation in shambala publicly and openly on RFS. Many of the things you discuss here on this site help me to better understand the mechanisms I have experienced and am still experiencing.

    So please keep it going!

    Suzanne, thanks for your nice comment. Maybe one has to accept “snarky remarks” once one starts to be critical.

    (I know I am breaking several rules here right now with my comment (off topic, more than one comment a day) but it really was my heart wish to respond here, so apologies.)

  9. Judy Schenk on December 11th, 2010 3:48 pm

    Suzanne – I can’t believe you said such a mean thing re: Jane Doe’s remarks. You owe her an apology. I and others appreciated her post.

    *This* is how VCTR taught you to be in the world..??!!

  10. Rob Graffis on December 11th, 2010 8:05 pm

    Actually, Shambhala (or a lot of it), is about decorum, not unlike Confucianism..
    What were Jane Doe’s terrible remarks that made her a troll?

  11. John Tischer on December 12th, 2010 1:35 am

    Alright, anybody wanna wrestle?

  12. Jane Doe on December 12th, 2010 8:17 am

    that’s okay, no harm done…anyway, after message to Monika, i wrestled in my mnd with those two directions to don’t materialise and to remain in dharmadhatu and thought of how really they are two ways of saying same thing~~materialising IS believing that the daydream i em grasping is true~~Losing touch that way IS always exit from primordial space~~my mind is toy of subconscious gossip but in essence is thamel gyi shepa, thanks to our dearest heart-mother and heart-father gurus.

  13. Chris on December 12th, 2010 1:02 pm

    Dear Monika:
    Yes it is important for people to “process” but not if they are censored with others ideas of decorum because they are still half-in half-out of caring what Shambhala and the Sakyong thinks of this site.

    I believe that CTR students have experienced spiritual abuse and I suggest we start really looking at what that means, and how hard it is to recover from this.

    I feel that this mandala turned into a cult of personality, enabled by the double grief that CTR students went through after CTR AND the Regents death, I feel that this left us open and more vulnerable and because we loved CTR so much we let someone ill-equipped to take over this mandala and then we hesitated and began taking care of him, enabling him until he turned the mandala into HIS TRIP.

    This is a very long journey of recovery, but if we still keep second guessing ourselves about what we feel and censoring our anger over this it will not help at all. This is what people do, who really cant believe what has happened and so are in a constant state of ambivalence and they never face it.

    The problem I see here is that SI is having a slow death and people are all at different phases of seeing the spiritual abuse for what it is.

    If this can remain a site that allows uncensored discussion (and trust that people are not going to go beserk) than it will allow the healing process for everyone to occur.

    I am grateful to RFS, I think I said this before, for providing me with an opportunity to process my journey here , get in touch with my anger and move through it, but they didn’t make it easy, I hope they make it easier now., So that could be the major role RFS could serve.


  14. Jester on December 12th, 2010 4:22 pm

    The End is the Beginning.

    “You can’t say that Soto Zen is gradual. It doesn’t stress brilliance or your own effort, but it’s not gradual, because when you say “gradual,” it implies that you are getting somewhere. That implies stages. ‘Here we are over here in the not so good place. We’re going to go over there to the better place, which we get to by steps and stages. Now we are halfway there. Now we are three quarters of the way there. Now we are 90% there. And now we’re there!’

    “Soto Zen is resistant to anything like that. Suzuki Roshi’s ‘beginner’s mind,’ a traditional phrase in Soto Zen, is typical. Every moment is the beginning. And every moment is the end. So the advanced practice in Soto Zen is exactly the same as the beginning practice in Soto Zen. It’s very simple: Sit, pay attention, breathe, and be present for what is there. That is what you learn on the first day, and that is the practice you do on the last day of your life. If you do it all your life, it is the same practice. You probably feel different about it after a long time, but the practice itself is the same. The attitude is that every moment is a new awakening. The first moment of awakening is a good moment. The last moment of awakening is also a good moment. There aren’t any steps or stages in between.

    “So in a certain way, the very gentle way of Soto Zen is also sudden. Suddenly every minute! Suddenly now and suddenly now and suddenly now”

    ~Norman Fischer, from Sandokai 2010, Talk 2

  15. Rob Graffis on December 12th, 2010 5:29 pm

    The problem is (Chris), without censorship or structure people do go berserk. You should know. .
    Suzuki Roshi did say give a cow an open field and they will become content. What needs to be emphasized also is Zen is a very disciplined. To much of an open pasture invites chaos, or an “anything goes” mentality. That is inviting chaos. You can’t have it both ways. Expressing anger to the point of insanity is self defeating. It took structure to create and monitor (some what) this web site. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be here.
    Respect that structure.
    Chris, I have requested her privately to do so with no results. Please take me off your spam list. I’m still getting your company’s junk mail via you..
    If that is harassing mail, I’m a glowing example.
    Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s poster boy, as you put it.
    Stop pretending you can’t get ugly at times. That kind of behavior is not caused by Shambhala International.

  16. bindutheclown on December 12th, 2010 6:18 pm

    Speaking [Jane] of schism, [and thanks Jane for lovely aspiration prayer]:

    The original By-laws of Vajradhatu by the VCTR were in force at the time of the VROT “crisis”.
    But the By-laws were ignored by the then-Board of Directors.
    The By-laws bound the Board to remove a President if he were found to be responsible for creating a schism in the sangha, which VROT most certainly was responsible for creating.
    But the Board never would even bring the matter up to a vote.

    Today there is a new Board with new corporate By-laws which evidently have no provision for the removal of a chief exec who creates a schism in the sangha.
    Or else it is another lapdog Board.
    What do the By-laws of the current legal Shambhala entity say exactly, can RFS post the document?

  17. Chris on December 12th, 2010 6:54 pm

    You are getting junk email because someone ( you Rob? since you have sent me hate mail for about two years since I refused to take your telephone calls anymore listening to your diatribes against shambhala, the sakyong and jeff waltcher. Thats really what this is about. . I don’t know how you are able to compartmentalized like you do, Its quite a defense mechanism, and its quite bizarre. But that’s what happens when one speaks out, one can expect this kind of reaction from unexpected quarters. Or maybe its one of the cultists? Who knows who cares. I have dropped a 500 lb weight and have escaped a CULT. I wish that all of you will be free someday from this, even you Rob.

  18. Chris on December 12th, 2010 7:14 pm

    You are getting junk email because someone has hacked my contact list in hotmail.

  19. James Elliott on December 13th, 2010 2:54 am

    To bindutheclown.

    Excellent suggestion. We could maybe have a separate thread for that, post the new bylaws and then discuss. Does anyone have access? Do they exist?

    Much of the problems we had in our group here a few years ago were specifically because an acharaya was giving permissions and support that went directly against the charter of the organization (not to mention lying to, manipulating and bullying members). We were told this by people in the administration, and were told at that time that the charter of Vajradhatu was still the guideline, and that the acharaya wasn’t allowed to give the permissions he was giving, but no one did anything to stop it.

    Some people have said in these threads that all complaints are null and void because bad stuff happened in the before times. Well, if they were, they were also not good then, but we could see by the bylaws of the charter that Trungpa Rinpoche tried to build into the organization ways to stop abuse, to create some kind of limits and directives which in some instances were designed to head off festering conflict before it could even take root. (For example, there was a directive that there should never be two groups in one city or area, because of the competition it would eventually foster. Some of it simple obvious stuff like that.)

    What does the ‘new’ charter of Shambala International do on this level? Were Vajradhatu bylaws designed by Trungpa Rinpoche with the then Board of Directors at least one of whom was a lawyer (John Roper) simply jettisoned and better barricades against the ignorant masses set up (saw an essay on another site once implying this), or are the bylaws similar in scope and intent, and simply ignored due to religious contingencies which prevent the kind practical sanity such situations are crying for?

    In the inspiration that laws and rules are the hinayana of society (or a site like RFS), and without hinayana, you don’t have mahayana or vajrayana.

  20. rita ashworth on December 13th, 2010 5:55 am

    Dear James

    An interesting post.

    Yes the Regent situation I did investigate that and I was sent a copy of the Vajradhatu bye-laws by some one in the States as to the setting up of the organisation which I recall for legal purposes did include the removal of the Director of First Class i.e. the Regent by the Board.

    But consider also on top of this within the context of Vajradhatu and now within SI there are the oaths of loyalty which I dont think have a legal basis, although I am willing to receive contrary information on this.

    I think in most religious institutions too in the west you have a similar set up in that you have the legal law of the country acting on the organisation and within the body of the church set methods of how you conduct the operation. In the UK with the Church of England because it is an established church of the state some of its ‘laws’ have to still be passed by Parliament and signed by the Queen –so it is a kind of hybrid as regards to church legislation.

    I think what the Congress has set up and as far as I can see from reading all the documentation of SI is that if you have some disagreement about the way the Sakyong is leading the organisation you go through the Office of the President which is Richard Reochs office, but as Richard has sworn a loyalty oath to the Sakyong I dont think he could act impartially in a lot of the cases –so its difficult indeed how could you have an impartial investigation of the way the Sakyong conducts the organisation – bring in outside people or psychotherapists?

    Re Dan Montgomery’s post about the 2004 meeting of the Mandala Council at SMC that is interesting and even now under the present system of governance within SI you could still have an investigation in retrospect I believe. Yes I think under this procedure people on the Mandala Council at the time could still go to the Dorje Kasung and state we think the President did not represent our discussions in the final document that was written in respect to the Sakyongs status as temporal/spiritual ruler. It would still be people in the community investigating people in the community but at least it would be seen to following the governance procedure that SI has set up. So yes I think people if they were at all interested in following this route could make their representations to the Head of the Kasung.

    Best Rita Ashworth

  21. Judy Schenk on December 13th, 2010 8:13 am

    In the days of Vajradhatu, how did people proceed when they had disagreements about the way Trungpa Rinpoche was doing things?

  22. Judy Schenk on December 13th, 2010 10:09 am

    btw, Jane Doe, Thankyou for your moving and poetic posts. I’ve really enjoyed them. It sounds like you’ve come up with a wonderful understanding about your query re: meditation.
    I deeply appreciate your graciousness in the face of being treated so rudely here on Radio Free Shambhala. As a dharma practitioner and student of the loving-kindness and gentleness teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche, I am very embarrassed and ashamed for all of us that you received such a response to your post. I cannot fathom how Suzanne and Monika interpreted it as “snarky”. I should also say, that from what Mark and Edward said in their intial explanation interview for setting up this website in 2008, all points of view (and, I believe by inference, all people) are welcome here.

  23. Rob Graffis on December 13th, 2010 10:47 am


    Up till Rinpoche’s final years, his students had some type of access to him, whether it would be communty talks, seminars, Seminary talks, or Naropa Institute talks during the question and answer period. At the Naropa talks, people would line up afterwords to say what ever to him. He was fairly accessible. Initially, you could request private or group audience interviews (through your meditation instructor) though you may have had to wait 6 months or more before your request may be granted. In any case, you would get a response from his office.was granted People can and did have pretty open communications with him. I’ve had a couple minor kvetches with him, but that is the student teacher relationship.He (or the Regent) also assigned Ambassadors from Boulder to act on his behalf in 1977. Many ambassadors had day jobs, so it wasn’t a glorious position necessarily.

  24. Joe Schmidt on December 13th, 2010 11:24 am

    I appreciate bindutheclown’s earnestness. But isn’t it just leading into another dead-end of namtok wogyu, or subconscious gossip, as Jane says. That’s not the genuine legacy of Trungpa Rinpoche that I wish to ensure a future. Investigating this technicality seems like a red herring to me.

    Accept that there is a schism, and make other arrangements, as Jane Doe eloquently advises. And maybe come up with a motto like hers that encapsulates for each of us the legacy we each are heirs and heiresses to, as our VCTR heritage seeds of understanding.

    In the olden days, everybody in Boulder had moved there from somewhere else just to live in proximity to Rinpoche and be his student. We would from time-to-time receive xeroxed letters from Rinpoche in the mail; I still have them. I wonder if these letters are enshrined in the time capsule.

  25. James Elliott on December 13th, 2010 1:10 pm

    Joe Schmidt,

    I suppose your right, that accepting there’s a schism, and making other arrangements is sound advice, if the only thing your concerned about is your own thingy. As soon as you see others caught in detrimental dynamics however, I think it is incumbent on one to at least discuss such things and present the possibility that there are healthier ways to go. We have examples even within this community, but others abound.

    I maintain such discussions are not only relevant but important, not because I want someone to do something for me as such, but rather because I know other people who have been very poorly treated by people who were given implied and sometimes explicit spiritual and temporal authority. Imagine an acharaya calling you up and telling you that other people are right to hate you. Completely insane, not only a-dharmic but no modern psychology model supports that either.

    I know people who are repulsed by Shambhala and spiritual paths altogether because they believe that they are about manipulation and control. This is so false it needs to be said. But too, that has been their experience so one can’t argue them out of it and telling them to go elsewhere is not a healthy response.

    Shambhala is an organization that works with these sorts of things. That doesn’t make it free of responsibility. It needs to be held accountable. It doesn’t matter which side of any schism you are on, anyone not blinded by denial or devotion should be concerned about these things. For the sake of others, not just for our own thingy, our own corner of happiness.

    It is clear to me that because there are currently no tangible attempts to hold that sort of thing in check, the very least we can do is bring it up to let people know who find themselves caught up in shenanigans that it isn’t normal and there are other possibilities.

    Does Shambhala have a charter and guidelines? Vajradhatu certainly did and it included all kinds of rules intended to prevent conflict. Does Shambhala even pretend to work with members on this level or have they shucked that responsibility altogether? That’s a valid question and the answer, either way, has far reaching results.

    Traditionally the dharma is packed with warnings all along the way. Maybe that’s the function of dissent when the PTB have dropped those kinds of traditional concerns.

  26. John Tischer on December 13th, 2010 1:23 pm


    I went to 1974 seminary. One night after a talk, I spoke to Rinpoche. At that time, the whole seminary had devolved into a party…very few people in the shrine room. I complained to Rinpoche: ” No one is sitting.” He asked me “What should we do?” After the shock of him asking my opinion, I said:” Maybe they should sit more before they get here.” The next year, seminary had a dathun requirement.

    I’m not saying 1to1 correspondence…still…

  27. bindutheclown on December 13th, 2010 8:39 pm

    Thanks Joe, right you are, it’s just another cul-de-sac of the psyche…there is no plausible scenario in which the minutiae and red-tape [irony!] of VCTR’s by-laws could ever have enough leverage to be a game-changer now…

    James, are you really seriously sure that your aspiration here is purely a bodhisattvic one to educate and protect sentient beings from dangers you feel are posed by SI?

    If you are really sure, then your aspiration will be much better served carrying a picket sign outside the Pic Building (formerly Boulder Dharmadhatu) to rescue beings before they cross the threshold.

  28. Suzanne Duarte on December 13th, 2010 9:34 pm

    Um, ‘bindutheclown,’ the Pic Building was never Boulder Dharmadhatu. It was Dorje Dzong, preceded by Karma Dzong at 1111 Pearl St., both of which housed the seat of government, Vajradhatu, which was consecrated by Vajradhara in the Dorje Dzong shrine room. And I believe James lives in Europe now, though of course he can speak for himself.

  29. James Elliott on December 14th, 2010 3:12 am

    Binduthe clown asks for the bylaws of Shambhala and then denounces that as a cul de sac of the psyche? If I actually took a picket sign to the PIC building as suggested, no doubt bindutheclown would tell me how neurotic that was as well. Talking in two directions at once… hmmm. Do we have another plant.

    Making my character the issue is a red herring. It doesn’t matter whether my motivations are purely Bodhisattvic or not. As if you could tell. In an environment in which understanding, enlightenment or neurosis is measured by the degree one is in accord with the party line (or not), there will be no enlightenment sowieso.

    Whether or not I am altruistic or not, I stood by relatively passively while an acharaya manipulated, bullied and lied to people. Not just a personal opinion, pretty much everyone involved knew that was happening. His actions had extremely detrimental results for several people.

    I may not effect change directly, have no illusions I alone would accomplish anything in that direction, but to turn one’s back and put it out of my mind when I know such people are given authority and protected by the current regime, well I may not be bodhisattvic, but that would make me culpable.

    So from that point of view, yeah, I guess it’s all about me and not wanting to be culpable through intentional ignorance. What an ass.

    I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter where one’s allegiances lie. There are things that go on which members on either side of whatever divide you want to draw should be concerned about. Or is the whole thing a sham?

    If Shambhala can’t find its way to work with those kinds of universal issues of dishonesty, abuse, bad PR in a much healthier way than up to now, then our pretensions about enlightened society are worse than none at all. It is these sorts of fundamentals: laws, justice, healthy conflict resolution, upon which enlightened society will be built. Not religious dogmas and devotional intoxication or getting rid of the heathens. Knowing what the bylaws are if there are any and holding officials accountable would be a step in the right direction.

    In the inspiration that sometimes “What you don’t know is far more relevant than what you do know” (from N.N. Taleb’s “The Black Swan”)

  30. Judy Schenk on December 14th, 2010 7:19 am

    John, What a great story! So *you’re* responsible for that dathun requirement! 😉 Well, I’m all for sitting more.

    Rob, I guess in Trungpa Rinpoche’s final years, Shambhala had grown so much that he just couldn’t meet with everyone..?
    I certainly like the idea of established channels through which to request private and group interviews. Communication with the community seems so important. I guess in the present set-up, the acharyas and shastris are SMR’s ‘ambassadors’..? I don’t know much about how things work in Halifax and in the big international picture. SI is so *huge*. I guess things will be getting more organized when SMR returns from retreat…
    What happened with CTR if people met with him about something they disagreed with, and he still proceeded in a way they disagreed with? Was there some sort of recourse to force him to comply with the sangha’s wishes..?
    I also wonder how the Tibetan system handled sangha disagreements with their lineage holders through the centuries.. There must have been similar problems whenever a beloved guru died, and a new lineage holder assumed the role..?

  31. Jane Doe on December 14th, 2010 9:14 am

    luckily, when we took refuge, we didn’t take refuge in Vajradhatu, Shambhala Training, or SI~~we took refuge in the Buddha, refuge in the dharma, and refuge not just in the fickle and irritable sangha of our peers and siblings but also refuge in the ultimate sangha of bodhisattvas and arhats…this isn’t an exact quote but to paraphrase Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche from memory, he says that taking refuge in the triple gems, or the three jewels of Buddha, dharma, and sangha at a profound level is the discipline of taking refuge in acceptance of the truth of the facts of life or laws of nature, whether we like it or not, such as that all compounded things like sand castles and mandalas are impermanent…

  32. Chris on December 14th, 2010 11:43 am

    From: Take back your life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Situations:
    “A cult cannot be truly explored or understood without understanding its leader. Psychologists Edward Levine and Chares Shaiova write that a cult’s formation, proselytizing methods, and means of influence and control “”are determined by certain salient personalty characteristics of (the ) cult leader…Such individuals are authoritarian personalities who attempt to compensate for their deep, intense feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and hostility by forming cultic groups primarily to attract those whome the can psychologically coerce into and keep in a pass-submissive state, and secondarilty to use them to increase their income (status, or other gain). In examining the motives and activites of cult leaders, it is painfully ovious that cult like is rarely pleasant for devotees because they pwer imbalance in cults breeds injustices and abuses of all sorts. As a defense agains the heightened anxiety that accompanies such powerlessness, many people in cults and abusive relationships assume a stance of self-blame. Typically this seof-deprecating attitude is reinforced by the group’s self-serving message that the followers are never good enough and are to blame for everthing that goes wrong. DEMYSTIFYING THE CULT LEADER’S POWER IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL RECOVERY PROCESS. THIS EXAMINATION OF POWER IS CRITICAL TO TRULY GAINING FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE FROM THE LEADER’S CONTROL. … To heal from a traumatic experience of this type, it is important to understand who and what the perpetrator is. So long as there are illusions about the leaders motivation, powers, and abilities, those who have been in such a grip deprive themselves of an important opportunity for growth: the chance to empoer themselves and to become free of the tyranny of dependicy on others for their well-being, spiritual growth , or happiness.

  33. damchö on December 14th, 2010 1:10 pm

    James: “It doesn’t matter where one’s allegiances lie. There are things that go on which members on either side of whatever divide you want to draw should be concerned about. Or is the whole thing a sham?

    If Shambhala can’t find its way to work with those kinds of universal issues of dishonesty, abuse…in a much healthier way than up to now, then our pretensions about enlightened society are worse than none at all.”

    Yes. This is the core point, for me anyway.

  34. anonymous on December 14th, 2010 1:34 pm

    “I also wonder how the Tibetan system handled sangha disagreements with their lineage holders through the centuries..”

    Poisoning, and assassination was one favorite method.

  35. John Tischer on December 14th, 2010 1:38 pm


    There could have been plenty of people that gave him that advice. Point is,
    he listened.

  36. Rob Graffis on December 14th, 2010 5:08 pm

    I had put this on “In Appreciation” as well.

    First, I appreciate the re-reminder (I have bought this point up) concerning the three Jewels. Of the three Jewels, the third one, the Sangha has been put on the back burner by this present administration, which many of them very much wanted to cooperate with at first, but were not only not listened too, but somewhat invited to leave if they don’t like it.
    Secondly, those who had Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as their teacher, and mistakenly believed they automatically had to follow the Sakyong as their “Guru”, were not discouraged from doing so. Remember, the Sakyong was designated to be our Secular leader more then a spiritual one. Even if he was designated to be a spiritual leader, our root teachers are the ones we have made a deep connection with, not whom we are told to.
    The absolute teachers and sangha are the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and those who one the Way.
    As far as communicating to Chhoyam Trungpa R. goes in the final years, the Regent took over those resonsibilities as time went on.
    I have to admit, I even mad a semi complaint about The Regent to Rinoocher, and his only response was “That’s our Regent”.
    Rinpoche was basically too sick and unpredictable to see people anymore.
    You also have to remember, Rinpoche started the group, and most of us joined it because of him, not because we wanted to become Buddhist.
    It woiuld kind of be like protesting the founder of a company who you asked to work for.
    The Sakyong is a successor. Not a founder).
    Many of us did not choose him as a teacher.
    Long before his father died, many of us knew he was not going to be our own personal spiritual guide. Shambhala, yes, but not Buddhist. It was not out of disrespect.
    That is why it was confounding to many of us that he mixed Buddhism and Shambhala as the same thing.
    That would be like mixing Shintoism and Buddhism as the same thing.

  37. rita ashworth on December 14th, 2010 5:29 pm

    Dear James et al

    Thanks for your latest post.

    Just been doing some brief research on Shambhala website re Dan Montgomery’s comments on governance. Found Community as Practice Contemplating Shambhala Buddhist Culture 2004 (SMC) on Shambhala Congress website (prepared by Mary Whetsell) which is interesting because it shows a lot of discussion about the role of the Sakyong –so people could look at that if they wanted to.

    Secular Sacred Governance report is on the main Shambhala website proper. Now this is the concept that Dan Montgomery states Richard Reoch came up with on his post of 1st December 2010 which made no sense to him. It would be useful to know from Dan if any other reports were written down besides the one I found above compiled by Ms Whetsell in 2004 as I can not find any others online.

    On another tack re the discussions about people going off from SI and doing their own thing –yes its a gamble but then isn’t everything. I still dont know what to make of Ray –heard stories for and against, but yes he seems to be flourishing and attracting people to his centres and groups. So I dont know the lay of the land may become clearer after another 10 years for all of us besides SI’s thrust to the fantastical, big number, grand, mega,
    12 million??!!

    Yes so many scenarios could happen with people drifting away from SI, indeed as rfs provides a growing forum for people to comment and to gauge what is happening out there others may decide to start setting up different groups that is also a possibility.

    Well hope people can check the stuff above –it proves interesting reading. In Secular Sacred Governance Richard spent lots of time poring over the OED about the word secular, and of course loads of debate has gone on this site about ‘that’ word. Wonder how long he was glued to the OED?!

    Well best from the UK. Also brief news we are trying our best to free Assange but the Swedes wont let us! Hope people continue to back up Assange worldwide.

    Rita Ashworth

  38. Suzanne Duarte on December 14th, 2010 9:19 pm

    Rob Graffis, could you clarify what you’re saying in this paragraph?:

    “Of the three Jewels, the third one, the Sangha has been put on the back burner by this present administration, which many of them very much wanted to cooperate with at first, but were not only not listened too, but somewhat invited to leave if they don’t like it.”

    I certainly have noticed that the third jewel, the Sangha, has been put on the back burner by the current administration. The dissing of CTR’s sangha has been obvious for many years, especially because CTR took such pains to nurture his sangha with the sacred outlook of the dharma.

    However, I’m curious about what you’re saying here: “which many of them very much wanted to cooperate with at first, but were not only not listened too, but somewhat invited to leave if they don’t like it.”

    Who do you mean by “them”? Who wanted to cooperate with what, and who was not listened to and “somewhat invited to leave if they don’t like it.” And what does that “it” refer to?

    Can you clarify?

  39. Chris on December 15th, 2010 10:47 am

    “A cult can be either a sharply bounded social group or a diffusely bounded social movement held together through a shared commitment to a “charismatic leader” (through his/her own charisma or lacking charisma, then characteristics inflated by the media (sic). It upholds a transcendent philosophy, (often but not always religious in nature) and requires a high level of commitment from its members in words or deeds”. “In Eastern Cults, usually the leader draws from and DISTORTS an Eastern-based philosophy or religion..”
    Lilich goes on to describe four, “interlocking dimensions” that are present in the cult’s social structure:

    1. Charismatic Authority: this is the emotional bond between a leader and his followers. It lends the “legitimacy” needed by the leader and “grants authority” to everything he does, while at the same time “justifying and reinforcing followers’ responses to the leader and/or his ideas and goals. Charisma, is the hook that links a devotee to a leader and his ideas.” The leader accomplishes this through “priviledge and command” and the desired effect is that followers will have faith in and “identify” with the leader.
    2. Transcendental Belief System: the “overarching ideology” that binds the devotees to the group and keeps them behaving according to the group’s rules and norms. The leader and his administration layout the “methodology” or “recipe” necessary to travel the path and it provides a “world view” that offers both “meaning and purpose” through a “moral imperative.”This requires each member to subject himself to the programmatic structure laid out. The members can feel a sense of connection a larger goal. The belief system is “internalized” and behaviors and attitudes conform to the group’s goals.
    3.Systems of Control: This provides organizational structure. Its primary purpose is to “create a behavioral system and disciplinary code through “rules, regulations, and sanctions.” The “effect is compliance or better yet obedience.”
    4. Systems of Influence: This is the networks of social influence and interactions that are present in the group’s social relationships. It becomes a “group culture” that teaches members to “adapt their thoughts, attitudes and behaviors in relation to their new beliefs. The purpose of the “system of influence” is to shape the group culture and to “institutionalize” the group norms.
    Lilich: on Cults.

  40. Mark Szpakowski on December 15th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Comments on this post are now disabled. Also, I’ve removed the last few comments.