Shambhala Buddhism and Vajradhatu Buddhism

January 16, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Commentary by Mark Smith

The following was written in response to an email by Andrew Safer (reproduced below).

Andrew, (et al)

Thanks for your kind response below.

I am trying to be very direct—and as precise as I can be—in my posts and to remove any unnecessary harshness from my posts as emotions are easily inflamed. I make no special claim to realization or to any lineage holder/teaching credential (being a student of the Vidyadhara seems to me to be sufficient credential).  My view on the matters set forth below underlies each of my posts. Maybe this can provide the first of many ‘tent pegs’ per your email.

Please read the paragraphs below slowly and with at least an attempt to restrain emotional responses (either positive or negative). I have posted this to both Sangha-Talk and Sadhaka list and sent to some other folk. I encourage each reader to circulate this for discussion to any persons within our extended Sangha who you believe might be interested.  My contact information is below, and I will attempt to respond (if there are any communications to me) privately and/or publicly as appropriate to any persons who have comments, questions, etc. as I believe this  is a very important topic.

Photo courtesy of Walter Fordham

As you are aware, there are innumerable (well not quite that many) ways in which SI/Shambhala Buddhism has ‘morphed’ away from what I denote as the Vajradhatu Buddhism in which we were raised by the Vidyadhara. Few, if any of the changes are bad in themselves—and many appear to represent powerful insight by SMR into aspects of the Vidyadhara’s teachings/transmissions. But cumulatively the changes are large.

If one is willing to undertake even a relatively shallow investigation, it is not possible to deny that there now exist large ‘differences’ between the Shambhala Buddhist Path (‘SB Path’) and the Vajradhatu Path unless one has some strong agenda pursuant to which one elects to suppress prajna.  Without judgment as to ‘better or worse’ for any particular practitioner, the cumulative changes have created a qualitatively different, new path which the Sakyong intends to have SI follow.

These differences include:

  1. merging Shambhala & Buddhist streams into Shambhala Buddhism (with related curriculum changes),
  2. changes in shamatha/vipashyana practice,
  3. changes in the order of practices with the new Shambhala Ngöndro and Werma Sadhana practice (and possibly Scorpion Seal Retreat) (plus numerous ‘new liturgies and practices’) before:
    • the initial Buddhist/Kagyü Ngöndro,
    • Vajrayogini/Chakrasamvara Yidam practices and
    • the subsequent practice of Sadhana of Mahamudra retreat, Kagyu/Mahamudra practices &  Nyingma  Ngondro/Yidam practices (Vajrakilaya and the Longchen Nyingtig/Konchok Chidu/Rangjung Pema Nyingtig terma cycles) which the Vidyadhara instructed us to practice in parallel with and at the same time as we studied/practiced the Shambhala terma transmissions of the Dorje Dradul thru the progression of Shambhala Training/Graduate Levels & Kalapa Assembly/KOS/Werma.

The SI/Shambhala Buddhist path (‘SB Path’) appears to present a strong and full path for those who are karmicly connected to it and elect to pursue it.

But there can be no doubt that the SB Path with the changes outlined above (and many other changes) adds up to a materially different path than the path into which the Vidyadhara/Dorje Dradul entered his students. Pointing to/admitting the differences in no way requires judging the two paths individually or against one another—and I personally have no reason/need to ‘judge’ the changes.

As I have stated in some of my postings (here and elsewhere) and private communications, I believe that SMR’s synthesis of Shambhala Buddhism & the SB Path is a quite valid expression/extension of the Vidyadhara’s teachings/transmissions but it is only one path derived from the Vidyadhara and not the only valid path—the Vajradhatu Buddhist path promulgated by the Vidyadhara himself during his lifetime certainly must be recognized as an AT LEAST equally valid path.

Many of the Vidyadhara’s disciples, including me, find themselves without a strong dharma/karmic connection to SMR’s SB Path synthesis.

Rather, we are samaya-bound/karmicly connected to the Vidyadhara’s Vajradhatu Buddhist transmission/teachings/path (‘Vajradhatu Path’) in the context of KOS.

Further, I believe we are samaya-bound not only to practice this path but to propogate/preserve/promulgate/teach the Vidyadhara’s Vajradhatu Path going forward for the benefit of all beings who may have karmic connection with this very powerful/potent and very unique transmission/presentation of the Dharma.

The Vajradhatu Path in which I was raised by the Vidyadhara is basically outlined as follows (this very short outline is not meant to be comprehensive and entirely omits reference to both the multitude of ‘forms’ initiated by the Vidyadhara and the various ‘arts’ transmissions from the Vidyadhara):

  • commences with the Vidyadhara’s powerful/unique presentation of shamatha/vipashyana practice, the Sadhana of Mahamudra & sitting practice/nyinthun/dathun combined with the Vidyadhara’s extensive teachings re: i) spiritual materialism, ii) development of maîtri/cool boredom/etc (to provide ‘Hinayana ground’), iii) emphasis on guru/disciple form of transmission lineages (Tilo/Naro/Marpa/Mila/Gampo) which CTR repeatedly stated that he favored (in contrast to tulku and/or family transmission) for the Buddhist side of his teaching stream, iv) taking refuge, v) etc. .—- each of which set of teachings/practices were expressly structured/taught by the Vidyadhara in a manner designed to provide the ground for, and collectively serve as a vanguard to, the particular Vajrayana view/path/embodiment which the Vidyadhara taught/transmitted, rather than to produce Arhats;
  • followed by lojong/tonglen practices (for entry into the Mahayana) & Bodhisattva Vow and extensive teachings related to these matters; .—- each of which set of teachings/practices were expressly structured/taught by the Vidyadhara in a manner designed  to provide the ground for, and collectively serve as a vanguard to, the particular Vajrayana view/path/embodiment which the Vidyadhara taught/transmitted., rather than to produce Bodhisattva Mahasattvas;
  • then proceeding thru the Seminary training/Vajrayana TGS transmission process and Kagyu Ngondro;
  • proceeding firmly onto the Vidyadhara’s oft discussed ‘householder yogin’ path of VY/CK yidam practice (with multiple Vajrayana paths/practices to choose from after that point);
  • all of which practice/study takes place while under the umbrella of Shambhala/KOS view and while Shambhala teachings/transmissions are studied and practiced in parallel.

The teachings we have from the Vidyadhara for this unique Vajradhatu Path– preserved and available in innumerable recordings/videos/transcripts of seminar/ITS/ATS teachings plus transcripts/recordings/videos of Seminary Teachings, Vajra Assemblies, VY Tris, etc. (thank you Archive & PUBs & Chronicles & Legacy Project, etc & all who contributed to this availability over the decades)— are amazing and comprehensive.  We are so blessed with this unique and wondrous oral teaching/transmission stream. This teaching stream, and the Vajradhatu Path it relates to, needs to be preserved/propogated/taught and made available as presented by the Vidyadhara for the benefit of beings with a karmic connection to CTR and the particular path he taught while he was alive.

While substantial portions of the Vidyadhara’s teachings have been incorporated into the SB Path/curriculum as part of SMR’s synthesis, the inclusion of the Vidyadhara’s teachings in the context of a DIFFERENT PATH does not eliminate the need to teach the Vidyadhara’s Vajradhatu Path taught by CTR to those persons who have a karmic connection. Similarly, the wonderful recent ‘adornments’ to teachings at SI venues including the recent ‘Essential Chogyam Trungpa class @ Boulder Shambhala Center (portions available on the Chronicles website) and/or the Videodhara programs in no way eliminate the need to teach the Vajradhatu Path manifested by the Vidyadhara as a full/complete path.

I am personally clear that such inclusion in the Shambhala Buddhist Path does NOT satisfy my samaya obligations or relieve me from the responsibility to pursue/preserve/propogate the Vajradhatu Path with which CTR blessed me.   Many others of my dharma/vajra sisters/brothers, I believe, have come to the same conclusion.

My ‘ideal solution’ to the quandries posed by the fact that the Vajradhatu Path is no longer being taught in SI would be for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to ‘do the right thing’ and:

  • publicly acknowledge that the SB Path & the Vajradhatu Path are different paths and that both are valid and need to be preserved/practiced/propogated/taught (and to join in doing so);
  • ‘sponsor’/’authorize’ (as a ‘royal act’) the ‘re-establishment’ of ‘Vajradhatu’ (under KOS) as an organization dedicated to holding/preserving/propogating/teaching/tranmitting the Vajradhatu Path;
  • make it clear that there would be no ‘disloyalty’ if any student (from a beginning meditator to an acharya) elects to follow/propogate the Vajradhatu Path within Vajradhatu rather (or in addition to) the Shambhala Buddhist Path and that such students/teachers are all invited to pursue that approach while fully welcome within KOS.

Obviously, many details would need to be worked out, but this matter could proceed rapidly if the Sakyong were to endorse it. With SMR’s blessings, this approach would relieve great anguish among large numbers of the Vidyadhara’s students (even those who have now embraced the SB Path), allow many of the Vidyadhara’s students to migrate ‘home’ and prevent more fragmentation from taking place. Please note that it is highly likely that a promulgation of the Vajradhatu Path will take place even without the blessing of SMR/SI.  However, without such blessings, it will probably proceed in a manner which causes more anguish, is less systematic and continues to plague the Vidyadhara’s entire legacy (including SI) for decades to come.

This approach represents no threat whatsoever to SI if SMR steps up.

The re-establishment of Vajradhatu in no way represents ‘schism’ within the Vidyadhara’s sangha as both paths already exist and are already being practiced.

Vajradhatu would be under the umbrella of KOS.

SI/Shambhala Buddhism can be the ‘state church’ of the Sakyong & Vajradhatu would be recognized as a separate ‘church’ under and loyal to KOS.

(Additionally, implementing this approach would also provide a model to use to include other (more than one) ‘real teaching/transmission streams’ derived from the Vidyadhara’s teaching/transmission (that have already developed outside of KOS) under the ‘umbrella’ of KOS.  The existing splits with other streams such as Reggie Ray/Dharma Ocean & Patrick Sweeney/Satdharma, etc. could be ‘healed’ over time with their acceptance as parallel/alternative ‘churches’ derived from CTR teachings/transmissions recognized under KOS.  Each would be viewed/accepted as legitimate expressions/holders of at least parts of the magnificent splendor which we received as the legacy of the Vidyadhara. And each would flourish and benefit those beings with the appropriate karmic connection.)

I view this post both as a supplication and  pre-petition to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (and have therefore copied Mr. Brown and Mr. Reoch in the hope that it reaches SMR) and as a document intended to clearly start a (hopefully non-emotional) discussion of the matters set forth above.

Once again I ask that each reader reflect on these matters while restraining emotional response (positive or negative).

I do not believe I have stated anything which attacks any person or path.  If someone experiences such an attack, I apologize.

I do not believe I have made any statements which are clearly false and, if you believe I have been mistaken about parts of the content below or my emphasis on particular points, I invite clarification and critique.  Some may agree with my description above but not my ‘ideal solution’. If so, please critique my proposal and propose alternative approaches.

But please also reflect on the central point: 2 paths exist and only the SB Path is currently being taught in SI while the Vajradhatu Path is no longer being taught.

If anyone wants to contact me directly, my email and phone contact info are below.

My intention in making this post is to commence dialoque/conversation among sangha/vajra brothers/sisters regarding these matters.

Each reader is invited and authorized to share this email with others who may be interested.  I also authorize posting this email on other sites.

As I wrote above,  I will attempt to respond (if there are any communications at all to me) privately and/or publicly, as appropriate, to any persons who have comments, critiques,  questions, etc. as I believe this  is a very important topic. I will attempt to respond privately to each communication within a reasonable period of time (but not necessarily immediately).  If appropriate, I will periodically reply to matters in these public forums.

In the Aspiration that the Glorious Vajradhatu Path Taught by the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa, Dorje Dradul of Mukpo, Be Practiced/Preserved/Promulgated for the Benefit of Mother Sentient Beings.


Mark A. Smith
Email (read aloud and transcribe): mas1 at ctelco dot net

About Mark Smith: “I have had the good fortune to be a student of the Vidyadhara since 1973 and to practice the full range of CTR’s Buddhist Lineage Transmission under the glorious umbrella of KOS, I aspire that my mother sentient beings continue to have the opportunity with which I have been blessed.”

The message above was in response to the following email from Andrew Safer


I appreciate your posts… your relentlessness, and your precision.

The conversation is beginning to take on the feeling of echo, like the sound of a seashell–not at all a bad thing, since there are elements of the Vidyadhara that are taking on a life of their own.

In recognition of the need for a tent peg,




ATS Advanced Training Session

CK Chakrasamvara

CTR Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

ITS Intensive Training Session

KOS Kingdom of Shambhala

SB Shambhala Buddhism

SMR Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

SI Shambhala International

VY Vajrayogini


138 Responses to “Shambhala Buddhism and Vajradhatu Buddhism”

  1. rita ashworth on February 26th, 2010 9:20 am

    ”What CTR introduced was not just the Buddhist Kalachakra teachings on Shambhala – Khyentse Rinpoche himself once warned against taking such a view, and that this is how most Tibetan Buddhists would see it. Related to this, Michael Chender writes

    I put the direct question myself to HH Khyentse Rinpoche, on behalf of the Shambhala Training leadership of the time after the Vidhyadhara’s parinirvana in 1987, “Do Shambhala Training students have to become Buddhists at some point to continue?” He said, “No, Shambhala Training is a complete path to enlightenment–it has view, meditation, action.” ”

    Dear Ash

    What I was referring to with HHKR was the above which you can find above in FAQ heading on this website-so definitively HHKR stated that you did not need to be a Buddhist to access the Shambhala teachings.

    No what I was arguing about was furthering these teachings in the world via a sort University type way of doing so with checks and balances -so yes the teachings could be disseminated outside of the Si set-up and then church and state would be separate.

    Myself I have a particular connection with HHKR in that I took refuge with him in 1976 so you could say I was a Nyingmpa person before a Kagyu person! For this reason I take his words about the shambhala teachings with a great deal of awareness and as you were focussing more on an inclusive approach it seemed right to have a discussion.

    HHKR’s statement also in some way points to the teachings developing in the west because they are and were outside the Buddhist remit somewhat so the idea of settling these teachings in with different cultures around the world is enticing in the sense that they would be contacting the drala of the said environment.

    It would be interesting if people in the US and Canada could ask HHKR about the shambhala teachings again just to get some feedback on things-of course he is quite young but he might say something interesting about them. I hope myself at some point to meet him.

    As to the Cape -yeh something has to be done re the economy there as CTR did indeed forecast it was the capital of Shambhala so more focus in the world and SI should be given to it. Hope some one some where can do an article on the Cape

    As CTR also said his students would be more concerned with setting up an enlightened society – and to me that calls for a radical sense developing in all the world about these teachings – so these teachings have to spread -sociologically I suppose you could say there is a real imperative push needed by people to spread these teachings -that seems to be inherent within the teachings themselves because of the society aspect.

    Think that is all.


    Rita Ashworth

  2. Chris on February 26th, 2010 10:42 am

    Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Lineage and Spirituality – Reggie Ray 3Dec09

    On primordial lineage, practice lineage and institutional lineage:

  3. Ash on February 26th, 2010 10:42 am

    Rita, I am not disagreeing with you necessarily about anything, but in terms of HHDKR was just making sure that something I had said was not unclear.

    Quote: [Ash]”Yes, there is a sort of secrecy seal to the termas, which HHDKR for one respected greatly, but also yes they were made available to us and were intended to be disseminated…. ‘

    [Rita] ….and of course you have mentioned that HHDKR thought that these teachings should also be disseminated which is a big reason to do so also.”

    I didn’t say that HHDKR said they should be disseminated, I was only talking about HHDKR viz. the terma secrecy seal. That he did mention about their being a separate/complete path and should be disseminated is great, I have no disagreement etc., just that earlier on I felt you had misunderstood my original (minor) reference to HHDKR viz. the terma secrecy aspect, that’s all. Minor point of clarification.

    I totally agree viz: “so these teachings have to spread -sociologically I suppose you could say there is a real imperative push needed by people to spread these teachings -that seems to be inherent within the teachings themselves because of the society aspect.”

    I am just not convinced that such teachings can be widely disseminated as long as they are delivered mainly by a single organisation and with the same franchise model I-V basic level approach, and then the termas are taught in such a way as to essentially enter the student into an embedded sangha principle with one particular leader who is also the guru, i.e. you end up in a bubble world somehow. So the direction of the journey is not really outward, but ever further into an enclosed society. It’s a cult setup basically and I don’t think Shambhala should work within a cult setup as the vajrayana does and does well.

    So as long as the termas are presented within a tantric-style cult mandala, I don’t see any way for them to spread far and wide.

    This is a long term, rather deep systemic issue which has existed more or less since the Shambhala teachings were first made available so from my pov both CTR and SMR loyalists basically agree on the delivery mechanism/structure even though there are serious misgivings on the part of many viz. the joining of Shambhala and Buddhadharma.

    My view is that as long as Shambhala is mainly presented a) from within Shambhala Centers for the open/early levels and then b) as more or less secret/advanced/quasi tantric process for the terma levels, that it cannot enter mainstream culture in any organic, decentralised fashion. My sense is that there has to be far more trust and openness in allowing dissemination to occur spontaneously on the ground person to person and without being so tightly controlled with pre-formatted delivery ‘containers’ by one particular ‘sangha’.

    I just read through Rigdzin Shikpo’s lucid exposition on Maha Ati in ‘Recalling Trungpa’. Now that is far more applicable to contemporary society leaving aside the guru issue which is very well explained there and the fact that it is expressed in a highbrow ‘intellectual’ versus mainstream ‘populist’ fashion.

    However, for Shambhala to be approachable in any widespread way, it simply would have to be presented in a far different fashion from what we have been doing. Basically, the cult question has to be addressed front and center both philosophically and strategically and then most importantly, in terms of how all this applies to the actual experience of someone studying and practicing this Way.

    Note: I am using the word ‘cult’ in its original neutral, versus colloquially negative, sense.

  4. Ash on February 26th, 2010 11:05 am

    Along these lines, about 10 years ago – again whilst at KV and thinking about these things for what I believed until last week, was probably the last time (!), along with the open nyinthun/open program proposal I submitted to S.T. I also proposed a model based more on commercial lines, as I recall something like the following:

    A local ST operation should run by license, very much like a commercial franchise, with the licensee – as with a MacDonalds franchisee for example – having to meet certain training and quality control standards. The operation’s main internal goal is to both provide excellent journey for its students but also to provide employment for core staff and for there to be no volunteer staff whatsoever. So the pricing of the program would have to be in line with the expenses. A licensee would pay for the right to run such an operation (could be a group of people). They would benefit financially from running a successful operation which could only be successful teaching 1-V (mainly) if they continued to get more new students.

    I am not saying this is possible or even workable, but it was a stab at getting out of the sangha-based ‘church volunteer’ – based operation which is the current model and which I think, ultimately, will never work.

  5. rita ashworth on February 26th, 2010 1:09 pm

    ‘My sense is that there has to be far more trust and openness in allowing dissemination to occur spontaneously on the ground person to person and without being so tightly controlled with pre-formatted delivery ‘containers’ by one particular ’sangha’.’


    Yes the above sort of shows where I am at to in regard to the spread of these teachings and for them reaching many people and subsequently creating enlightened society.

    Some initial parallels that come to mind are the spread of reiki worldwide, and courses on pain prevention using meditation which are also popular in the UK.

    I know the shambhala teachings are somewhat more esoteric than that but yes I agree there must be found more popular and perhaps less time-intensive ways of spreading these teachings.

    Another way to do it besides the commericial way -would be the university way. Its strange how universities in the UK are latching on to different subjects for students for example whole courses such as NLP, and lean management techniques are finding favour in academe of course Shambhala is different to these ways of doing things but shambhala does indeed have a pragmatic approach in some respects in the sense of Art and other subjects -hence my interest in mudra which you could devise levels for for people.

    Yes maybe we have to be more pragmatic in attracting people to these teachings -it certainly could be done in some of the social services in the UK with the emphasis on meditation which is no longer looked upon as being weird and mad. In fact the Buddha figure itself is now quite popular in the UK -you can buy them at most major supermarkets so people are inquisitive about meditation in a general sense.

    So yes the fiddling with the curriculms that is going on now maybe taking us away from more fundamental questions of creating enlightened society in a more political and sociological way. Yes what do the people out there who are not Shambhalians want their society to be like and here of course we are talking about universal values.

    Maybe it would be good for SI and others to get into a discussion about what these values are in a globalised world and how the shambhala teachings can assist people with their lives.

    Does anyone out there also have any ideas on transforming the whole thing in a new contemporary way -think the above is relevant to the website topic because shambhala teachings would then return to being the container for the ‘more’ advanced practices of vajrayana if people chose to follow them.

    Lets not forget that CTR did not lay out the shambhala teachings in stone but wanted his students to be concerned with the setting up of an enlightened society in a most fundamental sense and he urged us to contemplate how to do this aswell.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  6. Ash on February 26th, 2010 1:23 pm

    I read about 10 years ago that the US Army was looking into buddhist meditation techniques for both concentration/focus development as well as psychological health.

    Several people have delivered meditation in prisons, in which context of course our franchise models are not applicable. And yet I have no doubt there is much benefit for both giver and receiver. In fact one chap here in CB has been doing that on his own initiative.

    As to universities, they are autonomous entities and can pick whatever they deem worthy of study, either as life-skills related practicum(s), or for academic training. Buddhadharma Studies definitely works in the latter case.

    The Reiki model is similar to what I think of mentally as the ‘tai chi model’ which goes something like this in most ‘schools’: one chap starts something (usually a Chinese-trained ‘Master’ from a known martial arts line/lineage) and then gives permission to various students to start up their own sub-operations in different cities. They run their own school at that point, for good or ill, and then occasionally send their best and brightest to train with the uber-meister, and/or the Master comes to town to give advanced classes. This model works. A Shambhalian friend of mine did this in Bonn and at one point had about 500 students, including his own sub-teacher with her own sub-operation. So this one person had more’students’ in Germany after 2-3 years, than Shambhala International after more than twenty. It is also interesting that the structure of founder, sub-operation, sub-sub operation etc. radiates out and in some way sort of parallels the levels structure in ST, except in our case that structure basically funnels people into a single central location, so the ‘thrust direction’ is entirely opposite. Therein, methinks, like the rub, or perhaps we could say nub (or hub?) of the problem.

    Something along these lines has to develop at some point. Somehow. And I think Buddhadharma could be even more decentralised into individuals, households, neighbourhoods and so forth with possibly even a parish priest type structure, although that is perhaps another centralised-derived redundancy, albeit still better than what we do in local situations because even though they are ‘sent out’ and beholden to a central authority (not necessarily a bad thing), they are also empowered to get out there on their own initiative and what happens in their zone of ministry is pretty much their own responsibility with funds coming from a combination of the local sangha principle (aka congregation) and the central authority who may have funded the initiative in that locality. Personally I suspect this is the way ‘we’ ultimately as an S.I. type organisation might end up. But again, ‘we’ don’t have the population-base to support something like that yet, although we could have a few tries with that approach in N.S. as the initial laboratory for models like this.

  7. David Carey on February 26th, 2010 2:45 pm

    The dharma is not for branding, marketing, selling. It’s all just selling water by the river anyway. An old dogs life is his/her teaching. Do whatever practice you feel compelled to do, but don’t push your sickness on anyone else. Any desire to teach is highly suspect. Any desire not to teach is highly suspect too.

  8. Ash on February 26th, 2010 6:07 pm

    “The dharma is not for branding, marketing, selling. It’s all just selling water by the river anyway. An old dogs life is his/her teaching. Do whatever practice you feel compelled to do, but don’t push your sickness on anyone else. Any desire to teach is highly suspect. Any desire not to teach is highly suspect too.”

    If that is true for Shambhala as well, then about time to stop calling it ‘secular’. And maybe that is what SMR has done with ‘Shambhala-Buddhism’. Shambhala is now another spiritual path, no more no less. Which then begs the question: what is it about Shambhala that is so good for enlightened society building that Buddhadharma lacks.

    But more practically in response to your brief pithy paragraph above:

    1. I am now a member of the Old Dog School of Dharma. So when I give instruction – which just happened spontaneously a few days ago, and if that person starts to get seriously interested, when it comes up about other resources, networks, the sangha principle (if we discuss the Three Jewels ever) and so forth, I can simply say rather than ‘I left because I didn’t like X,Y,Z or because I’m an arrogant, lazy bastard’ (both aspects of which comment being true of course!) that I am part of an ‘Old Dog’ wing which couldn’t keep up with all the endless changes so I am neither part of it nor apart from it and if you want to check them out, feel free, but personally I don’t go there any more.’ Simple, no big hangover, end of discussion.

    Because it does come up if ever you start working with someone or even if they ask pointed questions which sometimes happens, especially from those who have some background in meditation and are looking for guidance or just comparing notes. Mainly I work with people who have no background at all, but still: I want to feel perfectly okay about not steering them into Shambhala but without that being a conflict.

    And for some reason I think I can do that now whereas before I felt highly conflicted about the whole thing.

  9. David Carey on February 26th, 2010 6:31 pm

    Spontaneous instruction is good. I would feel fine not sending someone to a Shambhala group. Right now I think Mingyur Rinpoche is where I would send a new meditator. I’m sure there are other good teachers that a student could seek out. That is just my opinion and it could change at any time

  10. rita ashworth on February 27th, 2010 8:37 am

    Dear Ash

    It is interesting to hear your story about the reiki in Germany -just shows you what can be done if people are trusted to expand the teachings of various masters in an open way with of course checks and balances.

    I dont think I was talking about the teachings being ‘sold’ in a conventional sense I was just trying to make a case for how the shambhala teachings could be spread easily and with awareness. CTR often for example talks about it being up to us to spread the teachings so there is something of a gentle command in keeping the whole thing going forward.

    Yes I know doing the going forward can sometimes be a bit tacky and unco-ordinated and may appear power-trippy but I think this gets worn down by the people who you come into contact with -who ask loads of questions and examine you and your org. carefully -people are not idiots they can tell if a person is genuine or not.

    On a different topic I also noticed on a seperate post that you mentioned people had access to the scorpion seal text as of yore – how did you see this text impacting on a secular world – I am curious about that. It seems to me from my own experience that when people sort of give up looking in a literary or artistic sense for example that they might perhaps clue into what is in this text. So yeh I sort of see the furtherance of the shambhala path as a kind of zen-like approach with perhaps ‘satori’ at its end – can you have a secular ‘satori’ -myself believe you can. Could you talk in a general sense, flavour about the shambhala teachings in a ultimate sense affecting the world. Thats my spiritual query for the day!

    It does also relate to the above topic of keeping the paths seperate because then people could clue into what just is without religious dogma.

    Another teaching in the UK that slightly fits into the shambhala mould is ‘spiritualism’ – I mention this because when walking round Manchester trying to find venues for events I kept encountering spiritualist churches that had been built in the thirties and they were pretty large ‘churches’ aswell. So yes I somewhat believe in comparison that shambhala teachings could stand on their own. Of course spiritualism can be debunked severely but then people were searching for something different which is interesting. I have also found in Manchester because of its dissenting tradition many buildings that contain sort of quasi Enlightment symbols that come from exploring religion/philosophy in the 19 century -these buildings are quite fascinating and I hope to use one for a talk.

    So yeh I am cluing more into the sense that shambhala teachings can be a container for the vajrayana teachings through just exploring physical spaces in general -and here of course this relates to the drala of the place as you have commented upon about Cape Breton. I dont think this is being new-agey but just describing how the thing feels to me more and more.

    So if you take the container principle as previously given by CTR -how would the vajrayana manifest-would it be as a further choice or an extension or is

  11. rita ashworth on February 27th, 2010 8:49 am


    that being too logical in approach. Of course the image that does come to mind is the vajrayana being the liquid that inhabits the container. But perhaps then again perhaps this too is too limited approach to container principle.

    So yes | am still for keeping the two streams separate one primarily because of drala and lack of dogma and two because in some respects I have seen physically that a shambhala space could be constructed. Perhaps in the shambhala space we could have people relating to several vajra masters -why just have one -it would be up to the individual to work with who they wanted to work with and the shambhala space could be used for many programmes in the week. Actually this also fits into the quaker and reformation concept of the church being not only church but also a teaching and social institution aswell. Would welcome discussion on the container principle as CTR spoke of it.


    Rita Ashworth

  12. Ash on February 28th, 2010 6:00 am

    “t is interesting to hear your story about the reiki in Germany..”

    Tai Chi, not Reiki, but anyway.

    Re: “On a different topic I also noticed on a seperate post that you mentioned people had access to the scorpion seal text as of yore – how did you see this text impacting on a secular world ” I never practiced it so cannot answer but it seemed pretty esoteric to me and thus mainly intended for those with a deep, stable practice, i.e. not something ‘for the masses’.

    I think in general I am tired of all institutions, including corporations, that transcend locality. It’s fine for things to be linked/networked/shared, but each place should have its own underlying autonomy, be it individual, family, study group, business whatever. Legislation or religious setups which dominate local situations always end up promoting further samsara in the sense of encouraging split between immediacy of experience and the view/practice of living in that, or put another way: encourage samsara in that over-arching concept held from afar attempts to dominate the immediate sphere of particular living experience which is the same as operating through the filter of concept versus direct Being/Presence.

    That said, looks like maybe I need a refresher look at the notion of ‘myth of freedom’ and CTR’s various dharmic tirades against ‘individualism’!

  13. Ash on February 28th, 2010 7:41 am

    Here’s an example of what on the surface looks like an excellent union of (Shambhalian) principles and business practice; more relevant to this meandering thread/topic, it demonstrates a creative, uplifted model of the centralisation/leadership principle (Great Harvest) working to engender strong, independent, autonomous local operators. Certain aspects of the local operation follow the core principles set out by the leadership, such as milling the wheat berry each morning for that day’s batch of bread; but each operator chooses their own menu, develops their own recipes and so forth. Also the mission statement is as much spiritual as it is ‘financial’. Some sort of equivalent approach viz. ‘Shambhala Training ‘might be feasible somehow.

  14. rita ashworth on March 1st, 2010 9:22 am

    Dear Ash

    Thanks for the article – I will read it.

    Sorry for the cross-references but have limited time to access computer hence ideas flowing as I type-(will have laptop soon!)

    Was not being fishy re scorpion seal -just sort of wanted it set in context re what I previously knew of Shambhala Training up to Kalapa Assembly. Thought if I got a quick overview of where it was in the’pantheon’ might influence my choice of a possible new Tibetan teacher -because I have left SI for good in the sense of following the now proscribed path though I might attend some of their arts events.

    Discussions on other threads re Vajradhara, and enlightened society hotting up. Yes I suppose enlightened society is to some extent an imponderable but we still have to aim for it in a pragmatic sense and a universal dharmic sense also I believe because I do think that CTR was working to transform this society on earth aswell as peoples connection to ‘higher’ practices else why the emphasis on delegs, the national assembly and other societal measures.

    Interesting Mr Perks take on V. thangka -yes myself agree with him in that there are many ways to manifest shambhala but disagree in the way the whole issue of the thangka has been dealt with in the sense that people were again not consulted about where it should be housed in future.

    Had a further query re Cape Breton -if you had the million bucks that SI now purportedly wants to raise how would go about transforming the Cape a la Shambhala (this a Chronicle Project type query -but I thought I’d try it) Is interesting to contemplate and sort of screw up the Halifax focus a bit in that the cash should really be going to the Cape as CTR stated it is the capital of Shambhala. Thought you might take the query in the humourous way it is asked -might start a new way of going forward!


    Rita Ashworth
    Manchester UK

  15. Ash on March 1st, 2010 1:10 pm

    Interesting question re ‘the Cape’. Well, totally off the top of my head and without forethought:

    1. In terms of teaching activity emphasize the open nyinthun format in all existing groups.
    2. Sponsor regular classes and sitting meditation sessions in various locales. For example DDL staff and/or students in that area could put on regular evening sessions in New Glasgow, Truro, Tatamagouche and so forth. The same all over the Province.
    3. Help invigorate the oldest social organisation in North America, ‘the Order of the Good Time’ which is based in Halifax. Perks (and CTR) are members, so JP knows all about it!
    4. Provide funds for small groups in places like Margaree, Cheticamp, Yarmouth, Digby, Sydney etc. so they have 20 gomdens and zabutons and a basic GES banner and a Buddha Rupa banner and generally encourage local leadership in terms of hosting regular nyinthuns with social gatherings, simple talks and discussion along with local chapters of the Order of the Good Time to boot.
    5. In terms of Sydney: see if there is some way to have a branch office of S.I. there somehow, or perhaps purchase a large house on Charlotte St to function as a sort of Marpa House type thing which in turn hosts regular nyinthuns etc. and help train local residents to become good local leaders/teachers versus shipping in bigwigs from the Mainland. The property can be owned by S.I. until such time as the local sangha can buy it back, but if not it remains as an asset for S.I.
    6. Have Clan Gatherings in Ingonish annually or bi-annually and invite local dignitaries to various feasts and celebrations therein, including CBC personnel and so forth. After a couple of warm-ups, open these gatherings up to public participation including meditation instruction, ballroom dancing classes, how to make moonshine workshops and suchlike.
    7. Somehow get more involved with forestry and agriculture, especially farming and other food-related stuff.
    8. In Halifax, host small conferences at which local political representatives are invited to make presentations, participate in debates and so forth.
    9. Promote a local sangha in Ingonish by licensing out a private development of some sort of public operation in the ‘Outer Zone’ of Kalapa Valley, something which contributes to the local economy and community life, but is also a part of Cape Breton, and therefore also Maritime, culture. Something simple like a park with modest eco-campground, occasional fiddling concerts, walking trails which link to nearby provincial and federal trails. Also have occasional arts conferences there. Purchase more land from the Crown up the valley and settle some small farms there with specialty crops, also a greenhouse operation including flowers.
    10. There should be a rural center in Cape Breton built around a small operating farm with nice grounds, places for people to live in individual houses, a 6-yoga ‘retreat/hangout’ house, a community hall. Not too far from Baddeck area or in the Margarees.
    11. DDL programs should be 50% for NS general public and 50% deep meditation programs for sangha members, but no weekend programs for sangha; such things should be in HRM. For the public, things involving basic meditation, farming, health care, community development, practice in family/business context and so forth, i.e. some sort of ongoing interface with Maritime culture and meditation view/practice. The emphasis should be on Nyen, not Lha, and actually giving/contributing to Maritime people and culture.
    12. Shambhala Tent: this tent, seating 150, appears spontaneously during the summer months, stays for a few days, then goes somewhere else. Sitting practice and instruction freely offered.
    13. Wait until we have 5,000 members in NS before building a very large Kalapa Center in Halifax and another smaller but still large one in Sydney.

  16. mark a smith on March 4th, 2010 2:58 pm


    I have forwarded Ash’s 13 pt list to some folk (old friends of many of us who do not seek public naming at this point) who claim to be ‘hard-core for KOS development in Nova Scotia’ & will see if there is any response down the road….

    Ellen Main’s post provides interesting supplement/counterpoint to my ‘Vajradhatu Path’ post as it focuses more on the damage to Shambhala/ Vision/KOS manifestation—the ‘fact’ (in my opinion) that the ShambhalaBuddhism synthesis/combination represents ‘turning the flower inward’ rather than the oft proclaimed ‘turning the flower outward’ slogan of SI. This echoes Mark Spz’s theme. And , as discussed above & in ‘Differing Views/Paths…’ & elsewhere, almost fully precludes the spread of the Dorje Dradul’s Shambhala Vision.



    I would encourage folk who post here to take the time to also post on Chronicles–and more importantly–on sangha-talk & sadhaka-talk as that will potentially reach a large group of our sisters/brothers.

  17. Ash on March 4th, 2010 5:26 pm

    Thxs Mark. They were written off the top of my head. I am sure many others could come up with excellent ones as well. Thanks to your site, although I still don’t feel great anger etc., I am beginning to concur that there are some serious issues to be grappled with and the official organs of governance, so to speak, seem a bit out of the loop. Ellen’s piece was deeply thoughtful and demonstrates the depth and potential scope of some of these problematic dynamics.

    I am also more convinced than ever that a good portion of the blame, or challenge, is a lack of depth in the nyen-level communications and societal conventions in our mandala. Some things can be done by the formal administration, but many more things have to be done/initiated by the general population which takes much time and effort, not to mention continuous organization, something which for many simple, everyday reasons is obviously rather hard to bring into ongoing being.

    And so it goes…

  18. mark a smith on March 4th, 2010 5:50 pm


    I think you are saying that, with some prajna & compassion in place, we need to honor our vows (Bodhisattva & other) with effort & diligence:

    Ocean of Dharma Quotes of the Week

    March 1, 2010 Bir, India


    Taking the bodhisattva vow to help others implies that, instead of holding our own individual territory and defending it tooth and nail, we become open to the world that we are living in. It means we are willing to take on greater responsibility, immense responsibility. In fact, it means taking a big chance. But taking such a chance is not false heroism or personal eccentricity. It is a chance that has been taken in the past by millions of bodhisattvas, enlightened ones, and great teachers. So a tradition of responsibility and openness has been handed down from generation to generation, and now we too are participating in the sanity and dignity of this tradition.




  19. awake108 on March 6th, 2010 10:57 pm

    I just returned to Shambala after being away for many years. I left over the Regent affair. I could see that alot of time and energy was going to be wasted and I was moving on. I had new teachers and new practices. I came back and support the open houses and the monthly nynthuns(my favorite practice). We have a nice center far away from all the drama that seems to be going on in this dicussion. I can’t help but think this is just a distraction. It is keeping us from taking our seat and just doing what CTR has encourage us to do. Which is to manifest KOS in our lives. I feel fortunate to have several wonderful teachers who say it doesn’t matter what practice you do, they are all the same. What is important is that you do it. I am no longer goal because the proof of the practice is the blessings. I would encourage people to let go of form,hiearchy, the buddhism/shambala divide and just do it. A great book that was inspirational about lineage and terma Blazing Splendor

  20. Continuity of Practice & Teaching Stream : Radio Free Shambhala on April 21st, 2010 10:11 pm

    […] The fact that two practice paths have developed within Shambhala International is well established. Between 1970 and his death in 1987, the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, introduced both the Kagyü-Nyingma Buddhist path and the Shambhala path, with clear instructions on how to proceed. Between 1995 and the present, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has introduced the Shambhala Buddhist path, also with clear instructions on how to proceed. To the best of my knowledge, there is no single comprehensive document outlining these different practice paths, but much of the detail was captured in Mark Smith’s article. […]

  21. Zeke on April 23rd, 2010 1:29 am

    Many thanks for approaching such obviously difficult issues with such grace.

    I am relatively new to SI and I was hoping you could help me understand something. It’s said that the Vidyadhara introduced both the “Vajradhatu Buddhist” path and the Shambhala path, and the Sakyong has more recently introduced the Shambhala Buddhist path. And here you go into marvelously helpful detail about the differences between the Vajradhatu Buddhist path and the Sakyong’s Shambhala Buddhist path.

    My question is, what exactly was the Vidyadhara’s Shambhala path and how does *it* differ from the Sakyong’s Shambhala Buddhist path? If you could be as detailed about those differences and similarities as you are about the former set of differences it would be another very helpful piece of the picture for me.

  22. Ronald Barnstone on April 24th, 2010 12:43 am


    In broad terms:

    The Vidyadara characterized Shambhala as being the secular path – thus a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, an animist and perhaps even your odd Muslim etc. could practice the Shambhala Teachings. He went on to point out that even though secular, the Shambhala path was a spiritual one.

    The Sakyong seems to have completely squeezed out the secularity of Shambhala by amalgamating it with Buddhism. According to the Sakyong, one cannot receive the highest Shambhala teachings less one is a Buddhist, but this clashes directly with the Vidyadara’s presentation of the Shambhala path, and in fact during the Vidyadara’s lifetime there were some practicing Christians that were accepted to receive, and did embrace the Shambhala teachings.

  23. Ronald Barnstone on April 25th, 2010 2:39 am

    After writing the above comment it has occurred to me to ask:

    Does any one know what has happened to the old Christian Shambhalians?

    Have they been denied access to Kalapa Assemblies?

  24. Arthur Conolly on April 25th, 2010 8:27 am

    Since my dear comrade in arms, the Ven Renaldo Barnstone has asked the question, I have been directed by MI-8 of the CBIS to reveal certain hitherto top secret Shambhala information. I am not permitted at this time to reveal the complete riddle that was left by the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo. The key is that “everyone is a Sakyong” or a “Sakyong Wangmo”
    Some people may be both.
    If one reads the Court Vision and Practice in a certain way, information will be forth coming. Those that have realized this, will dwell in monarchy. Those who have an intermediate understanding will dwell in democracy and those who have small understanding will be communists. However, when fully realized, one may participate freely in any of these realms.
    As to what happened to the Christians, they were all eaten by perky lions… and they were mighty tasty, too! and were washed down with a big glass of warrior port.
    Certainly, the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo was extremely devious. And even now, terma that he planted is beginning to rise and blossom. So one should enjoy the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Instead of picking nits, one could pick bunches of beautiful flowers.
    As an long time agent of the CBIS section MI-8, I wish you well, and may Heaven and Earth be joined together in the name of the Rigden Fathers.
    Captain Arthur Conolly

  25. Ronald Barnstone on April 25th, 2010 12:33 pm

    You, sir, are no intelligence agent sent by anybody.

    Obviously you are a self-agent provocateur and one sans intelligence at that.

    You gave yourself away when you stated

    a. that the perky lions would dine on Christians with warrior port.

    b. stated that the Dorje Dradul was devious.

    Everyone knows that Christians are good only with salt and pepper and a fine Cabernet and no one but a low rent pretentious barbarian would ruin such a dinner by combining it with port.

    Then too it has to be pointed out that the Dorje Dradul was never devious, and was in fact, always blindingly direct.

  26. John Perks on April 25th, 2010 1:06 pm

    I whole heartedly agree with Ron Barnstone!

  27. Arthur Conolly on April 25th, 2010 1:17 pm

    One hundred thousand apologies to Don Ronaldo and John Perks.
    Of course, I meant to say “artful” not “devious” in my comments on the Dorje Dradul. However, I wish to take issue with Don Ronaldo’s recipe for Christians. Undoubtedly his tastebuds have been compromised by consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages at an early age. And, he is not particularly known for his Julia Child techniques in cuisine, when on occassion he has been seen eating chili out of a tin can. while consuming as already noted, large amounts of tequila. As to my credentials as an secret agent, you may look me up on wikipediea.
    All the best!
    Capt Arthur Conolly of the Bengal Horse

  28. Edward on April 27th, 2010 11:18 pm

    Interesting discussion.

    My own teacher wrote stuff that I interpret in a far different way than most of his students.

    I remember telling a friend that my teacher seemed to relish in making highly charged statements that actually were quite ambiguous, or were guaranteed to be [mis]interpreted by people in certain ways.

    Uh oh. You know, I find that I really can’t talk about this stuff while I’m sober.

    I still think it’s so weird that I never had any interesting dreams of my teacher, over a 17 year period, except for immediately before his death. In the dream I asked him lots of questions about crazy-wisdom, and also about Chogyam Trungpa. He was laughing so hard at the tricks Trungpa played.

    When I woke up, bliss was pouring through my body, but then when I fully woke up, I almost had a full panic attack because I didn’t know what the dream meant, and it freaked me out. lol.

    So I just have one question: when does the loneliness go away, and when can I get back into a cozy womb situation, where everything is rational and fully-explained?

  29. Arthur Conolly on April 28th, 2010 7:08 am

    O ,So you mean like “eating pussy”and then feeling loneliness?

  30. yeshe tsomo on April 28th, 2010 1:00 pm

    Dear Edward,

    I am hardly the most experienced meditator here, but in my experience, the loneliness IS the path. And sometimes, when I am able stop resisting my impulse to run and I just to lean or breathe into the loneliness, touch and taste it, it gives way to experiencing a profound connection to all of the universe. Granted, in the process I feel shattered into a million little pieces and sometimes I fight giving in to that experience, too. But sometimes I stop fighting and my longing and my broken heart transform into a love for which I do not have words.

    I know you know that the cozy womb never really existed and I am not sure the loneliness ever goes away. Just reminding you that you don’t have to fight it.


  31. Arthur Conolly on April 28th, 2010 2:57 pm

    Yes,THATS IT!!!!!”touch and taste”not fighting and not running away,Breathing into “IT” primordial without self connecting to space ,love is after thought,trying to make sense of openess,words do not realy work here…but some thing got “IT”,so to speak,
    on the other hand fighting produces the tension so to speak so the whole thing can “POP”loneliness is again going back to something,
    at which point there you are again,

  32. Ronald Barnstone on May 2nd, 2010 5:25 am

    I meant to say “artful” not “devious” in my comments on the Dorje Dradul

    Too late for apology. You have already revealed your heart.

    I wish to take issue with Don Ronaldo’s recipe for Christians. Undoubtedly his tastebuds have been compromised by consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages at an early age. And, he is not particularly known for his Julia Child techniques in cuisine, when on occassion he has been seen eating chili out of a tin can.

    This vile calumny on my gustatory acuity comes from someone suggesting a combination that could not be stomached by even the rudest starving Hottentot, let alone a perky lion.

    And for the record, no one has seen me eat chili out of a tin – principally because I have never done so. The only tin meals I enjoy are c rations.

    As to my credentials as an secret agent, you may look me up on wikipediea.

    One must wonder at the intelligence, or lack thereof, of someone who uses being a spy as a cover. A failed spy that was beheaded in Bokhara at that.

    It is not the usage of spy organizations to give messages. They are supposed to be inscrutable (the word here used in its ordinary sense of bluntly opaque).

    If there were a real agent of some KOS spy agency then he would of course be inscrutable (but the word here is used in its Shambhala sense of brilliantly and unfathomably direct.)

  33. Arthur Conolly on May 2nd, 2010 7:10 am

    I will be more than delighted to answer Don Ronald’s comments on the Celtic Buddhist Cafe Table,
    Where you will find the answer to the riddle of the empty chili tin.
    And the Sakyong’s DEVIOUSNESS

  34. Gary Allen on October 9th, 2010 3:17 am

    Shambhala being “secular” means that it doesn’t exclude any worldly activity from its practice, unlike, say, monasticism.

    After trudging through these endless discussions, I’ve developed a desire to seem some resolution to this all, so I appreciate that Mark is offering one, without rancor. It is still the case that the various elements of the “Vajradhatu path” Mark has laid out can be–and actually still are being– studied and practiced within the community. SMR has been giving Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara abhishekas all the way through to the past year.

    But I don’t see it being adopted, frankly. Even a center like Boulder’s is at least a little taxed with keeping up with one curriculum, much less smaller centers with far fewer capable teachers. But I think even more than this, the whole point (I’ve said this elsewhere in these long, long columns of argument) is to focus on the establishment of KOS. That’s the much bigger issue going on here, rather than this or that yidam or area of study. How is KOS to be established? This is motivating all the change, however upsetting it may be to the older students.

    By my observation, the older students were the ones who first committed to developing KOS. That was always the bigger picture, and that was always the ultimate demand. We weren’t here just to do our personal practices and be tantric shravakas. Something far greater was asked of us. How is that going to happen? I think the intensive focus on the Shambhala teachings leading into the Scorpion Seal is establishing the spiritual energy and vision for this as ground for KOS. Otherwise, in all seriousness, we risk giving up on the whole project–something that would happen with Trungpa Rinpoche’s original students themselves. That doesn’t seem right. That’s a greater wrong than changing his curriculum from the ’80’s.

    I think the whole thing has been set in motion like a train on the tracks, and there’s nothing really that can stop it. This is what SMR was saddled with by CTR, and so he’s instigated it based on his vision and understanding. It is aiming to create an environment that will protect and encourage the teachings–everything that can survive the coming cataclysms of this age. Of course, as much as possible needs to be preserved, practiced, and handed down. But we must remember, based on Trungpa R’s own prophetic vision, that KOS exists to secure the dharma in the dark age. If we can establish it, buddhadharma and authentic spiritual traditions have a place to be. Without it, one of the most pristine lights shining in the world will go out.

  35. rita ashworth on October 9th, 2010 5:33 am

    Dear Mr Allen

    You raise some interesting points about KOS being established in this world.

    I think the ‘truth’ of the whole thing is that no-one exactly knows how this is going to be done even the present Sakyong. I think the establishing of KOS will be somewhat more complex than the now ‘given’ way being run through by SI otherwise I would not have left the organisation if I had as much faith in it as you re the present curriculum.

    There are too many questions both logically and intuitionally coming into place about the whole notion of KOS through the many arguments both on rfs and on other boards. There are reports beginning to surface on the Chronicle Project by Mr Neutral, for example, that other shambhala terma will be discovered. Now who is to ‘uncover/discover’ that –will that be only down to the present Sakyong? There has also been mention I believe in another report that CTR himself because of the situations happening in the states at the time did not receive more terma – I wonder if some-one could give a report on that?

    There is also too the world beyond the SI environment of course when people come in contact with the shambhala teachings. Are we positing that no-one in the 6 billion people out there will not clue into the whole shambhala universe with the click of ones fingers –that could happen aswell because I think of the times that we are now in.

    So to me the whole basis of the arguments on rfs are not that the older students are hanging onto to outdated forms that the times now longer require –no I think ‘we’ too are also concerned in cluing into the way KOS will be established on this planet. And as for me I am willing to take the risk of working on my intuition about the whole thing of establishing KOS in different ways than those now being stressed in SI. As Pema would say when she was quoting CTR ‘we can experiment’ with life as we know it to get to know ourselves and our place in this world. Certainly since I was 19 I have been engaged in long experiments with the teachings from the east but I am not wholly convinced that they have ‘the’ way to life in this world any more – I think we are all capable of manifesting KOS if we investigate our lives in a complete a way as possible.

    So yes I dont think there is any train going now specifically to KOS,- I think if you believe that that would be strange. No I think KOS comes upon us when we least expect it and reveals its majesty in our most questioning moments. And the questioning to me also comes from our great traditions in the west of secularism, so for all the philosophers of that tradition I pay homage to them too.

    Yes KOS will be brought about by us all in all our different, subtle ways. I think people may be will have to hang onto their hats in the next few years because yes I do think there are changes afoot. I just think we have to remain open to what will develop and I do believe some people too know that in SI aswell but for some reason the debate is not happening.

    Yes I am engaged as much as any person in SI in exploring and connecting with the shambhala teachings in the realms of Art, politics, and the creation of a truly peaceful world. And no I will not be hedged in by any ‘definitive’ ways of connecting to KOS – I believe more teachings will flourish as time passes –so yes its a big open field out there now.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  36. Andrew Safer on October 12th, 2010 7:22 pm


    You wrote:

    1. “Shambhala being “secular” means that it doesn’t exclude any worldly activity from its practice, unlike, say, monasticism.”

    Nope. Shambhala being secular means it doesn’t belong to any particular religion, and is not a religious path. It’s a secular path. As Trungpa Rinpoche wrote in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (p. 27):

    Over the past seven years, I have been presenting a series of “Shambhala teachings” that use the image of the Shambhala kingdom to represent the ideal of secular enlightenment, that is, the possibility of uplifting our personal existence and that of others without the help of any religious outlook.”

    2. “SMR has been giving Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara abhishekas all the way through to the past year.”

    True, but the practice path that is currently being offered clearly leads to the Scorpion Seal Retreat, and puts Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara on “the back burner”, making it inaccessible for quite a few years. The notion that Mahamudra can be bypassed is not a small detail here.

    3. “But I think even more than this, the whole point (I’ve said this elsewhere in these long, long columns of argument) is to focus on the establishment of KOS. That’s the much bigger issue going on here, rather than this or that yidam or area of study.”

    It is interesting to note the casual way you refer to “this or that yidam”, as if they’re interchangeable and relatively insignificant. Good luck, sir!

    4. “That was always the bigger picture, and that was always the ultimate demand. We weren’t here just to do our personal practices and be tantric shravakas.”

    Clearly, we’re into ‘my project is more important than your project’–a losing proposition if ever there was one. Shoot off this foot and the other will get bigger! You’re saying there’s something more demanding than Chakrasamvara? (Are you a Chakrasamvara practitioner?) Reminds me of the story about the pet alligator. I think it was in one of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Life of Naropa seminars. It’s very stylish to be walking around town with your pet alligator–people think you’re cool. And then one day, it eats you.

    5. “I think the intensive focus on the Shambhala teachings leading into the Scorpion Seal is establishing the spiritual energy and vision for this as ground for KOS. Otherwise, in all seriousness, we risk giving up on the whole project–something that would happen with Trungpa Rinpoche’s original students themselves.”

    So we’re playing the “mine is bigger than yours” game, are we? Throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    And Trungpa Rinpoche’s original students are “giving up on the whole project”? My goodness! Sounds like some kind of spiritual slander.

    Again, good luck, sir!

  37. Francis on October 12th, 2010 9:03 pm

    This is basically a “setting sun” vision Gary A describes, a vision that as he says, the Sakyong “was saddled with.” ….to protect for the “coming cataclysms of this age”.
    This is not the vision of the Great Eastern Sun we remember, where things were already profound ,brilliant, just, all-victorious , fully manifested. Primordial purity , as it is , never changing, always fresh, and immediate. So whatt is this gloom and doom baloney ?

    What Gary is describing with its “”coming cataclysms” is more like fundamental Christianity, and its rapture , with the SMR students preparing themselves for the worst and using that old saw “without “ KOS the light of the world will go out”!

    What arrogance this is.

    What a bunch of crap you are being fed in the name of CTR .
    You, my friends , are helping to dim the pristine light with your apolcalyptic adolescent heroism..

  38. Rob Graffis on October 15th, 2010 10:00 pm

    I thought Mark Smith wrote some very articulate letters, but as expected, certain people started to dominate the space. A very few people.
    There should be a one letter a day policy here.