A Way Forward

December 4, 2009 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Proposal by Charles Marrow

A few years ago a vajra sister recounted an exchange she had with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche at Seminary in 1985, at a teacher/meditation instructor meeting. Rinpoche had just recently finished a year of retreat in Nova Scotia and was not entirely well physically. Also, from time to time, he would go into a kind of other-worldly realm in his manner of communicating and manifesting. This lady, well ahead of her time, had the thought that Rinpoche might not be with us too much longer, and she was brave enough to address her sensibilities directly. She had a simple line of questions with the Vidyadhara that went to the effect of: “Sir, when you leave us, what advice do you have regarding who will lead us?” Rinpoche responded in a matter-of-fact way: “I am the guru.” This lady went on to probe a little further, asking: “Won’t [so and so] be able to help us?” Rinpoche replied somewhat more forcefully: “I am the guru!” And she went further: ‘Won’t the Vajra Regent continue your teachings?” And the Vidyadhara became adamant at that point, with an even more forceful response, saying, “I am the guru!” [1]

As we know, fundamental issues of practice and lineage have been extensively considered in this web-based forum and in other situations, such as various Shambhala Congresses. The change in lineage orientation, practice, and study that has been taken by Shambhala International has been recognized by many sangha members as disruptive and disheartening. Many of us feel like it is important to maintain a much closer connection with Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings and his approach to dharma practice, and that this would bring a greater sense of meaning and joy into our lives. This has been discussed extensively numerous times.

I think it is necessary for those of us who have these deeply felt concerns to shift our approach and determine how we may go further, and what kind of approach is spiritually satisfying and realistic. The years have moved along, and, while maintaining a keen sense of lineage tradition, we also must acknowledge the fact of impermanence and that times have changed. It is easy to point out where there are shortfalls, but at some point we need to clarify what we want to do in an affirmative way. We need to determine what kind of effort we can apply to the situation and make a commitment to go forward.

That being the case, I would like to present for the sangha’s consideration what, in effect, becomes a statement of purpose for those of us who would like to return to the spiritual principles we were brought up with by the Vidyadhara. The points made below might seem so obvious as to be hardly worth stating. But if we are to proceed in a practical manner and reignite our sense of sanghaship and lineage connection, then it is probably useful to explore our feelings by stating what may be obvious.

Going a step further, some sympathetic readers may look at this and say, ”Well, that’s great, but it is pie in the sky. How are we going to implement such a thing?” In regards to this response I would like to ask that we apply patience and take things step by step.

We could consider our concerns in two stages. The first stage is akin to prajna, i.e., let us define what it is we feel as valuable to put our energy into. Then, once that is somewhat clarified, we can move to an upaya orientation, and work on the how and the practicalities of accomplishing such things.

Having said this, I will break my own rules slightly and suggest that, first of all, there are avenues of influence that exist within Shambhala International that have not been fully developed. I think the Vidyadhara defined “vajra politics” as a group’s collective expression of buddha nature. If there is some straightforward person-to-person and group-to-group collaboration that is willing to address difficult issues, I feel our sangha has the sanity to navigate through this process. On a very nitty-gritty level, we have lots of real estate in terms of practice center space that, in many cases, is currently underutilized. In spite of the economic downturn, it is highly likely that there are levels of untapped participation from sangha members who feel there has not been an adequate response to their spiritual concerns over many years and have reduced the amount of money they contribute as a result of those feelings. On an important philosophical level, we have the wealth of the Ri-me, i.e. non-sectarian, tradition of Jamgön Kongtrül the Great, and with a genuine approach of open-mindedness, I am confident a new style of leadership can arise within our organization, where the various approaches to practice and study can be accommodated in an intelligent, respectful, and balanced manner.

In terms of natural hierarchy, the teachings and practice approach of Trungpa Rinpoche must be given the proper attention and space that they deserve within the organization. It is not reasonable to have Shambhala International “cut, paste, and morph” what Trungpa Rinpoche gave us, and expect that this kind of treatment of the dharma will be accepted across the spectrum of the sangha.

To return to practical considerations, it seems important to be aware that we must take individual responsibility in regard to considering what we are doing. We are probably approaching the end of what can be substantially accomplished by a high degree of reliance on the internet. The recent Radio Free Shambhala thread of “Heart in Palm” has over 400 reader comments attached to it. This has been a useful process, but we have to move on. If there is interest in going forward, there will be the need to rouse the energy and commitment to do the multitude of obvious things. Maybe some of us will have to drive a couple of hours to attend a nyinthün, a deleg meeting, or a dharma discussion. There will have to be mountains of patience put into the discussions and interactions with others in the sangha in order to come up with acceptable solutions that respect a wide range of feelings.

Having said all of this, let us return to the prajna side of things and see if we have a coherent vision that is inspiring and worthwhile for our efforts. Please read and consider the following. Comments are appreciated, but pretty soon there will need to be phone calls and face-to-face meetings. In my mind, more full-scale nyinthün practice is exceedingly important under these circumstances. Lastly, I would like to remind everyone: “Be careful what you ask for because you might get it!”

In draft form, the following policy directions are presented for consideration by the sangha. They emphasize the importance of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Kagyü and Nyingma lineages, dharma teachings, and path of practice. Further, the Shambhala Training Levels as taught for the past twenty-year period are regarded as essential to be continued. These general statements are presented in more detail as follows.

The Vajradhatu Shambhala sangha should focus its energies in order:

  • To support a sangha that studies and practices the buddhadharma as presented by the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche as he taught in the context of the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. This is generally known as the Vajradhatu tradition.
  • To support a sangha that studies and practices the Shambhala teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The Shambhala Training and graduate levels that have been established for many years should be maintained, including the Warrior’s Assembly and Kalapa Assembly.
  • To encourage the practice of sitting meditation for all levels of membership. This practice opens up the depth of nonconceptual insight. Nyinthüns, daily sitting practice, and dathüns are essential. Dharma teachers and administrators should be at the forefront, setting an example for shamatha-vipashyana practice.
  • To encourage spiritually beneficial relationships with eminent Kagyü and Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist masters. In particular, close relationships with Karmapa Urgyen Thinley Dorje, the Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, and others should be furthered.
  • To establish and confirm specific shrine-room spaces, where the shrine imagery and liturgies are consistent with Vajradhatu practice traditions and principles. To encourage teaching and meditation sessions whereby the sangha may practice according to Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings in these shrine rooms. In particular, effort should be applied to increase the activity of the full weekend nyinthün, and the Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara feast practices.
  • To promote the social and cultural traditions of Shambhala and Vajradhatu that were created during the lifetime of Chögyam Trungpa.
  • To remember to further the manifestation of Nova Scotia as the geographical center of Shambhala society.
  • To make every reasonable effort to reintegrate sangha members who have drifted away over the years. In particular, to utilize the deleg system for this important purpose.
  • To request Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the Sakyong Wangmo to officiate at Shambhala events, and thus present the dignity, basic goodness, and spiritual inheritance of our Shambhala and Buddhist world. Furthermore, to request that they increase their presence at the Halifax Kalapa Court and convene regular Kalapa Assemblies.
  • To respect that some sangha members will want to follow the practice path set out by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and to see that shrine-room space and administrative support is appropriately allocated for this purpose.

If we are to pursue this general direction, we will need to proceed with energy, intelligence, and a sympathetic attitude towards a wide range of sentiments. The Vidhyadhara taught that virtuous and enlightened activities are always difficult and require manual effort, like laying brick upon brick to create a useful building. He also taught that negative activities are much easier, and usually come with a big sweep because they go along with habitual tendencies. With that in mind, I would suggest that it is helpful to consider simple, practical questions from the outset, such as:

Would we take advantage of the direction proposed, and attend feasts and nyinthüns organized along these lines?

Would we be inspired to teach and staff the traditional Shambhala levels? Does this direction represent an approach we could recommend to others?

Can we find the leadership and dharma teachers from among our ranks who we can support and respect?

An array of realistic and kitchen-sink-level considerations such as these need to be kept in the picture from the very beginning. I trust that this is helpful in furthering the sangha’s noble aspirations.

Charles Marrow
PO Box 595, 525 Main St.
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
B0J 2E0, Ph. (902) 531-2491

Edited from the original version of the article, following corrections sent in by people present.


120 Responses to “A Way Forward”

  1. Edward on January 28th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Michael Sullivan writes:
    …when a teaching stream – that of CTR – mixes with (non-profit) corporations, intellectual property laws, tax codes…

    I appreciate Mr. Sullivan’s remarks. I’d just like to comment on one tiny piece that he said, which is that I don’t think the problem is using “corporations”, nor do I think the existence of tax codes are the problem.

    There was a computer consultant named Gerry Weinberg who wrote a book a few decades back called “Secrets of Consulting”. He said whenever he got hired by a new company who told him about this technical problem they were suffering from, inevitably he found that underneath the “technical problem” was in fact a people problem. But the client always preferred to talk about the “technical problem” as a way to remain ignorant of the people problem, and of course, to keep the real problem from ever getting solved! (Gerry had a wry sense of humor.)

    In other words, perhaps it’s not the tool that’s the problem. If I have a hammer, I can build a beautiful home with it, or I can smash my thumb with it, or I can attack someone with it. But are hammers bad?

    Now, if someone uses layers and layers of corporate structures in a dharma setting to create smoke and mirrors, to deceive people, to hide responsibility, and to suck money and resources and property and access to dharma away from the students…. well, that seems like a recipe for either:

    1) conflict / disagreement, or
    2) some sort of extremely ignorant situation

  2. Michael Sullivan on January 28th, 2010 7:05 pm

    OK Edward, maybe tax codes is a little over the top, but the mixing of the spiritual with business-style organization and intellectual property laws, and the use of corporate structures (with no votes by “shareholders”!) is ALL about control. And with that control comes the power to change whatever you want, as you see fit, and to keep others from doing things the old way, by denying access to intellectual property.

    In Tibet, if you got the teachings, you could practice them until you had your realization, and were free to pass them on to whoever you chose. Nobody sued the yogi with vast realization on top of the mountain, and nobody sued the mountebank with little realization who was in it for the offerings. All those situations self-liberated.

  3. Michael Sullivan on January 28th, 2010 8:16 pm

    PS I’m NOT calling anyone a yogi or anyone a mountebank, those were just examples!

  4. Chris on January 29th, 2010 12:01 pm

    If you think that most lamas , and their centers are not primarily here for the money, ask yourselves, while these centers are touting “diversity,” and fundraising for monasteries in Asia, and “preserving Tibetan culture”, and yet we never see ordinary Tibetans, with there devotion to the dharma and Buddhism and these lamas, at these American host country dharma centers?

    New York for example, has a very large population of Tibetans working and struggling to keep their national and religious identity intact. How many come to these dharma centers, such as Shambhala, or the many other centers to hear the teachings? What must it be like for these ordinary Tibetans to see their lamas catering to their rich American non-Tibetan Buddhists merging pop psychology and feel-good dharma courses to keep the donations flowing and the non-Tibetan Western students students happy, with their checkbooks open? Why are we so critical about all other socio-political situations in our own country, and yet are so blinded when it comes to Tibetan Buddhism.

    Why do we not notice the wide divide, between Tibetan aristocrat/lamas, and ordinary Tibetans that live here, struggling as dishwashers in New York, too tired and financially challenged to have access to these lamas teachings? I read of one Tibetan lady who had to go to a Chinese/Buddhist center because the fees were too prohibited at the Tibetan dharma centers in New York.

    Why isn’t Shambhala International reaching out to ordinary Tibetans, and yet identifying with Tibetan culture ? Surely, if this was Shambhala on earth, ordinary Tibetans would be flocking to the centers? I don’t see any outreach to reach the Tibetan population in this country, which has exponentially increased? Why not?

    We say we care so much about the Tibetan struggle and yet I, for one, have only until recently thought about this bizzare non-access to the dharma that ordinary Tibetans must experience here in America as Hollywood celebrities and rich Americans have access to their lineage lamas, but the ordinary Tibetan living in America does not? Is it that they never did? And this is just business as usual?

    We need to start paying attention to what is happening here. Not just an abstract concern with Sri Lanka, or Bhutanese Napali refugees, or Tibetan nuns , but the ordinary Tibetans in our neighborhoods. We might really learn something real about Tibet and Tibetan culture .

  5. Edward on January 29th, 2010 12:11 pm

    Well, I always try to remind myself that “everything is a workable situation”.

    And I always try to see how new situations, new tools, new technology, can be a benefit or a help as well as a potential obstacle.

    To use an obvious example: I’m glad there’s a printing press, or I would almost certainly not have so many of CTR’s books. Likewise, the Internet provides many benefits. Some have suggested that without Internet discussions, if we spent time with one another in person, that we might all become close friends and any conflicts or misunderstandings would just evaporate, possibly. We’d be swimming in milk and honey. I’m not so sure. I think Internet discussions actually could have one or two advantages over live discussions.

    As far as controlling access to the dharma, I think that happened in Tibet all over the place, as Chris pointed out, even without intellectual property laws. You could spend your whole life living INSIDE Tibet, laboring quite hard to feed monks your whole life long, from sun up to sun down, and it’s possible you would not be given any useful wisdom at all– if you were an animal herder rather than a monk. Depended on your caste, of course. You might be told that the monks would pray for you if you gave them your money. At least that’s the impression I got from reading Born In Tibet or one of those accounts. Corruption is an age-old vocation, I think.

    We’re rather spoiled to have access to some of these teachings at all, perhaps.

    I’ve actually heard that in Tibet, rather than suing people, the Buddhists just went ahead and assasinated each other sometimes to deal with things. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve heard it from several sources.

    There’s a story from the Zen tradition of the Fifth Patriarch having a big, well-run Asian monastery situation. But when he chose his successor, he fled his own monastery because he knew the monks would not like his choice of dharma heir, and felt they might actually try to kill him out of jealousy, as punishment for his choice. If we take that story at face value, it makes it sound like Asian monastic situations don’t have a monopoly on “goodness”, to say the least.

    So I’m not sure that low-tech situations or older Asian legal systems are the answer.

    My old teacher embraced technology more passionately and skillfully than any of his students– for instance he was always pushing Internet possibilities to the limit of what they could do. We used fundraisers and multiple corporate structures and so on, and in our sangha there was never any feeling that those tools were obstacles particularly. Maybe we were wrong, I’m just sharing what the general attitude was.

  6. Edward on January 29th, 2010 3:15 pm

    Whether someone wipes ink onto a sheet of paper with a brush, or shuffles corporate charters, in either case the person is expressing his or her mind… intention… joining his inspiration with the earthy means available. Isn’t it true?

    So if a teacher such as CTR were to set up creative corporate structures or organizations that aid the dharma, that would be an expression of his mind.

    If a different teacher were to come along and set up many layers of corporate shells which confuse and disempower people, hide accountability, reduce access to dharma, and try to maximize control for the “central bureaucracy”, what would that be an expression of? Do such actions no longer express the artist? There seem to be huge amounts of fuzziness and haze surrounding these questions.

    Do people believe corporate charters are inherently evil? Or does it depend on who is using them?

    I propose that we have to see the artist in his artwork, and that one art form is not inherently inferior to another, depending on what the situation calls for.

  7. Edward on January 29th, 2010 3:51 pm

    If SMR wanted, he could get away with all sorts of nonsense. Because we’re so reluctant to disturb our comfort! And some of the checks and balances CTR setup before his death are now gone.

    We feel traumatized, afraid of emotions and afraid of conflict, isn’t it true? In such a state we’re VERY easy to take advantage of, I’m sorry to say. “The whole reason I joined this spiritual group was to give me a refuge, a big lap to jump into, to make me feel better after dealing with my pain-in-the-ass job and pain-in-the-ass marriage. This spiritual group is one place where I can’t handle any disagreement.”

    We’ve been traumatized by the regent situation, the economy, who knows what. We just want to be left alone, to feel that things are ok. We want something good to believe in.

    The trauma people feel– and maybe the trauma still ahead of us in the months and years to come– reminds me of a movie scene:

    I don’t have to tell you things
    are bad. Everybody knows things
    are bad. It’s a depression.
    Everybody’s out of work or scared
    of losing their job, the dollar
    buys a nickel’s worth, banks are
    going bust, shopkeepers keep a
    gun under the counter, punks
    are running wild in the streets,
    and there’s nobody anywhere who
    seems to know what to do, and
    there’s no end to it. We know
    the air’s unfit to breathe and
    our food is unfit to eat, and
    we sit and watch our tee-vees
    while some local newscaster
    tells us today we had fifteen
    homicides and sixty-three
    violent crimes, as if that’s
    the way it’s supposed to be.
    We all know things are bad.
    Worse than bad. They’re crazy.
    It’s like everything’s going
    crazy. So we don’t go out any
    more. We sit in the house, and
    slowly the world we live in
    gets smaller, and all we ask is
    please, at least leave us alone
    in our own living rooms. Let me
    have my toaster and my tee-vee
    and my hair-dryer and my steel-
    belted radials, and I won’t say
    anything, just leave us alone.
    Well, I’m not going to leave you
    alone. I want you to get mad.

    I don’t want you to riot. I
    don’t want you to protest. I
    don’t want you to write your
    congressmen. Because I wouldn’t
    know what to tell you to write.
    I don’t know what to do about the
    depression and the inflation and
    the defense budget and the Russians
    and crime in the street. All
    I know is first you got to get
    mad. You’ve got to say: “I’m
    mad as hell and I’m not going
    to take this any more. I’m a
    human being, goddammit. My life
    has value.”

    – Howard Beale, Network (1976)

    It’s interesting that the speaker’s primary recommendation is to acknowledge the reality of suffering and dissatisfaction, to begin to have value for oneself, and to be willing to feel strong emotions. On that basis, everything else might become workable, he suggests.

  8. blinz on January 29th, 2010 6:37 pm

    Hmmm…. Edward , it sounds like fin de siecle Vienna circa 1910.

    And from what we have seen in the last 25 years, from first-hand experience, it won’t be the buddhists leading the vanguard of critical thinking and protesting repression and censorship, that’s for sure. As I have said before, buddhism has often been used to censor and has been the religion of some of the most tyrannical dictatorships.

    “it just crept up on us. When we could have spoken out, we didn’t, and then it was too late.” German quote.
    This is definitely the wrong time to allign oneself with a repressive, “harmony at all costs” group.

    Radical Dzogchen, and radical dogen seem to be calling . . have to take a break now, checking out the anarchist buddhists sites I have just found, much more in line with Trungpa s teachings.

  9. John Tischer on January 29th, 2010 6:49 pm

    The West is where the dharma is flourishing now, so that’s why all the authentic teachers, as well as the charlatans, are paying attention to it. That makes sense. Sorting them out is another matter. That’s left to the individual, which is why this website is important: to provide information and points of view of students of VCTR, so that people can make a more informed decision about their relationship to S.I.. It would be good if S.I. would engage in this discussion, but equally important, and powerful, is the providing of differing p.o.v.’s.

  10. rita ashworth on January 30th, 2010 9:30 am

    Dear Edward

    Thank you for your perspective on how you find SB – I hope you will keep the comments coming.

    I am thinking of writing an article for rfs on Shambhala politics but first I will have to read the Fromm book -I really hope people can read it aswell round the globe. It seems from what I read of the encounter Trungpa had with it in India that it was a revolutionary book for him. Could possibly Richard Athure comment on the discussions he had with Rinpoche on the book? That would be really interesting.

    Yes shambhala -yes it is here already-the fearlessness aspect -the manifesting of it physically in this world may have to come from peoples visions in a religious/shamanistic/secular sense also -there are many paths to yet discover I believe and further paths in the midst of ripening-its a conundrum and a blessing I think and also too its wide open whatever SI states to the contrary.

    On a practical level I would say first recite more poetry and definately get into the Arts more – may be we the outsiders could also discover ‘conceptions’ of the Rigden King and Queen -there are infinite possibilities for many things to happen.

    Safe to say though that in a revolutionary sense everything in everything field will have to change to accommodate Shambhala and indeed American Tantra that Rinpoche also talked about.

    Well best from this side of the pond –


    Rita Ashworth

  11. Chris on January 30th, 2010 12:33 pm

    “The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both. They are both contained in the traditional three aspects of the Dharma path: wisdom (prajna), meditation (dhyana), and morality (sila). Wisdom is intuitive knowledge of the mind of love and clarity that lies beneath one’s ego-driven anxieties and aggressions. Meditation is going into the mind to see this for yourself — over and over again, until it becomes the mind you live in. Morality is bringing it back out in the way you live, through personal example and responsible action, ultimately toward the true community (sangha) of “all beings.”
    This last aspect means, for me, supporting any cultural and economic revolution that moves clearly toward a free, international, classless world. It means using such means as civil disobedience, outspoken criticism, ….”.from Gary Snyder’s “ Buddhist Anarchism”.

    Anarchism literally means “no arch” or no hierarchy or authoritarian religion, government , state overriding the individual and that limits the basic goodness spontaneously present in the individual. Anarchists were talking about the “basic goodness” of human beings before we even heard of the word connected with the dharma
    When an institution is proclaiming to be “expanding on the teachings of CTR, and using him to perpetuate a lie,( i.e the lie that this current situation is even remotely connected to his teachings), we must speak out against this horrible distortion every chance we get, in my opinion, or we are breaking samaya with him.

    Interestingly, the anarchists of the early 20th century were beginning to have a glimpse of voidness themselves. They found that violent anarchists,caught up in violent struggles with the state, were so off the mark because they believed in the “world out there” as having an essence, which true anarchists did not. They were beginning to understand that there was no essence inside or outside, so there was nothing to push against violently, nothing to be afraid of. That humans were inherently good, if authoritarian hierarchies could be seen through and thrown off by simply reclaiming our birthright and saying NO to every form of repression of the human spirit.

    We need to appreciate our own Western anarchist origins, (and buddhist anarchist origins such as the Tao, and zen and dogen and radical dzogchen and of course Buddha himself) .. It was no accident that East met West in the way when CTR’s crazy wisdom teachings came to America. What a far cry we are now from the Allen Ginsbergs and the Gary Snyders of Trungpa Rinpoche’s mandala.

  12. Edward on January 30th, 2010 2:35 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Interesting comments about anarchism. I don’t normally like that word, but maybe there’s more to it for me to learn. There was one thing that concerned me:

    Chris (Gary Snyder?) writes:
    This last aspect means, for me, supporting any cultural and economic revolution that moves clearly toward a free, international, classless world.

    Lots of people these days are without any class.

    Ok, that was a joke. But seriously, what’s wrong with class (in the sense used in this quote) or with authority? I feel CTR was more of a warrior than me, and I think it’s fine to acknowledge that, to acknowledge the differences between people, to acknowledge that some are superior to others, and to allow people to be in different “classes”. I think in a proper society, someone like CTR would not be in the same “class” as everyone else.

    I’ve heard stories that in the early says, CTR’s students sometimes called him “Rimp the Gimp” and might put a pillow on the floor for him to sleep on if he was a guest.

    Perhaps that’s a fun way to treat an equal– I enjoy calling my friends nicknames sometimes, if I think they’re taking themselves too seriously. But if we admire someone as a teacher, I wonder if it can’t help to treat the person with a little extra respect? This is often done in martial arts classes for instance, to help create an atmosphere conducive to learning.

    A classless society– one where no one is superior to anyone else– seems like it would be a society without class (i.e. without respect for each other). So I hope I never see a classless society. Of course, in some sense that’s already what we have.

    . . . .

    It seems like everyone is interested in politics these days. And our politics is always about trying to take resources away from our neighbor, it seems. “I’m non-violently and spiritually going to eliminate all class in my world, and pull everyone more fortunate than me down to my level, so I can get some of what they have.”

    What would be interesting is a politics where we learn to appreciate what we already have rather than covet what our neighbor has. Compared to some people in the world– being born with a crack addiction, sleeping each night under an overpass, or lying in a hospital bed with no health or friends– we might be fantastically wealthy, but completely unaware of our wealth if we’re too focused on a feeling of poverty.

    I wonder if crazy wisdom is a feeling of complete wealth, that everything in our experience is a resource.

  13. Chris on January 30th, 2010 3:38 pm

    I think you are focusing on a small part of the quote. What was more interesting to me was that the origination of anarchy and that it has to do with the basic goodness of individuals that if left to itself , will spontaneously manifest, and that turn of the century anarchists in the West before it became distorted (by these same institutions) understood that superimposed hierarchies whether they be religious institutions, state governments, etc serve to repress this basic goodness/intelligence of the individual, and that we don’t need it.
    As for classlessness, in an enlightened society there was no difference between a streetsweeper’s inherent primordial goodness and wisdom and the king’s. In other words, that sense of “classlessness.”

    This understanding of anarchy was very threatenting to hierarchies and kings and so they made it associated with something “monstrous”.

    “Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
    Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
    So ritual enthralls generation after generation.

    Harmony does not care for harmony, and so is naturally attained;
    But ritual is intent upon harmony, and so can not attain it.

    Harmony neither acts nor reasons;
    Love acts, but without reason;
    Justice acts to serve reason;
    But ritual acts to enforce reason.

    When the Way is lost, there remains harmony;
    When harmony is lost, there remains love;
    When love is lost, there remains justice;
    But when justice is lost, there remains ritual.

    Ritual is the end of compassion and honesty,
    The beginning of confusion;
    Belief is a colourful hope or fear,
    The beginning of folly.

    LaoTze Tao de Jing

  14. Chris on January 30th, 2010 4:03 pm

    So, no surprise that, the more SI has tried to institute harmony, the less and less harmony there has been.

  15. rita ashworth on February 1st, 2010 2:06 pm

    Dear Edward

    It is interesting that you are mentioning class at this stage in the discussion re Chris’s comment.

    Coming from one of the most class-ridden societies in the world that is the UK – I can see many disadvantages to the class system. Mainly in the UK the ineffectuality of the system and the stasis in affairs that it promulgates. Class in the UK keeps people in their place and in their own little worlds – it leads to disharmony and not harmony in society.
    At times too it threatens the stability of society particularly in the sixties when there were various upper-crust moves to threaten the Labour government of Harold Wilson by an army takeover which I think could still happen in the UK if we ever did get our act together in the sense of having a radical government.

    Of course there are jobs to be done in society but they should not be done and awarded on the basis of class or private education ie many of the lawyers in the UK went to private schools for education.

    No it seems to me that a way forward for an enlightened society in the realm of class would to be nip it in the bud –maybe this would call for a higher rate of tax for people who earn more so that people of whatever profession could have access to basic needs ie one of which could be meditation programmes –so that you did not have to bankroll a Buddhist or Shambhala organisation to kingdom come!
    Trungpa I think also said he would have no problem working in a factory –yeh that’s true but if he got his hand stuck in machine he would have to have a way for legal redress against the firm –hence the construction of a society based on needs and not total overwhelming profit.

    In addition Trungpa in the UK I think though he mixed with many upper-class people was indeed classless in that he also had friendships with people of ‘lower classes’. Alf Vial a close friend of Mike Hookham who was your basic working-class person told of how Rinpoche tore up his notes as ‘advice’ on giving a talk on the Buddhadharma. I also heard that Trungpa was the one who cleared the rats from Samye Ling in the early days ie poisoned them! So yes this was definitely a person who did what was required for the situation and was beyond class. As to having respect for him –I don’t think he much cared for that in a total Brit sense rather he wanted you to be yourself with him warts and proverbial all!

    So class –interesting……..its mentioned in the Fromm book –only got third of the way through –getting to the part where he gives history of capitalism now. Read it people – Rinpoche really enjoyed the book –it should be required reading for debating about the way forward and the construction of an enlightened society.

    Rita Ashworth

  16. Ginny Lipson on March 18th, 2010 4:42 pm


    I don’t know under which topic to post this notice. I would like to reach out to the Greater Sangha Beyond…which RFS seems to represent:…. and call attention to the work that Konchok Foundation is doing at Surmang. We have been at this even before the ground was first cleared for building of the shedra in 2003. …. And now, we feel that we are finally beginning to reap the rewards of our work there:

    *The coming of age 12th Trungpa Tulku who is beginning to take his seat at Surmang,

    *A step by step Education program Plan at Surmang, that will culminate in classes for boys and girls in the Fall, and eventually a finished Lhakang (Shrine room), able to hold Dharma programs for monks, nuns and lay people…

    * A re- energizing of the Surmang community in general, in its anticipation of the Shedra and the good things to come. (Education, Dharma, Vitality of the community)

    Please read our Spring Newsletter: “THRESHOLD YEAR FOR SURMANG SHEDRA”

    at http://www.konchok.org/

    This is only the beginning!!!!! We are very energized this year about our potential progress at Surmang., Please help our dreams come true.

    Thank you,

  17. Jim Wilton on March 18th, 2010 6:36 pm

    Perhaps Mark would allow Ginny to start a separate thread on Surmang. The rebuilding of Surmang, the 12th Trungpa R. (and CTR’s teachings on the nature of tulkus generally) and the relationship of Surmang and SI are all interesting topics.

  18. Ginny Lipson on March 18th, 2010 8:02 pm


    Thank you…YES!!! Ever since sending out this latest news letter, I’ve encountered all sorts of interesting directions of thought. Many good ideas to be talked about; even just issue related with what is happening in Surmang. It isn’t an adversarial situation, just ideas. I was also thinking about adding a web page about “women in Tibet, Surmang, etc.” that would take some good planning and some research, but would be really interesting.

    So there is all of that, but as well, I just wanted to spread the word as much as possible about the work being done there…. since so many people who read this are probably not on Sangha Announce or on our mailing list.

    Personally, I feel this work is very relevant to our path as students of Trungpa Rinpoche.

  19. John Castlebury on April 11th, 2010 8:48 am

    “The wild jackalope is the most amazing of all desert animals, a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. Rumor has it that the jackalope sings at night in a voice that sounds almost human.” [from a postcard]

    For Chökyi Senge Trungpa XII Rinpoche

    We only talk about a self
    Because we believe in self –

    But a self is make-believe
    And there is no such self –

    Since a self never existed
    How can it be gotten rid of –

    Isn’t that like getting rid
    Of the horns of a rabbit –

  20. John Tischer on April 11th, 2010 11:25 am

    Catching On

    No instruction Book of Life…
    we figure it out from our parents’
    mistakes, then make our own.

    Read enough philosophy…then you’ll know
    no one knows squat, except for the Buddhas
    that Know Nothing.

    Rules are for the ruled….any criminal
    or CEO will tell you so. There is a music
    to the world, however, you can dance to.

    If there wasn’t basic goodness, we wouldn’t
    dance at all…simple as that. We wouldn’t feel
    the music in our hearts and bones.

    Find the music…dance your way through the
    illusion of freedom…past that, see the world
    as Great Dance Hall.

    Now you’re getting somewhere!