April 30, 2010

The Celtic Buddhism table.

Celtic Buddhism

Glen Ard Abbey

Sunshine Cafe Tables

April 25, 2010

In discussing how to create enlightened society, Chögyam Trungpa suggested, with the Standing Committee for Nova Scotia in 1982, the idea of using a coffehouse form for conversation, and proposed the name Sunshine Café. I hosted such a café at my home for a while back then.

Here we could do a virtual, on-line form of that. I have created a Sunshine Cafe “category” for articles. Each such article can serve as a table, with some people sitting at that table. Conversations take the form of comments, hopefully mindful of speech, attentive to elocution, aware of intention.

For example, such a table could host the ongoing Ash – Rita – James conversations. Anyone is free to join it, but that table is a place for Ash and Rita and James to continue their discussion, and for their comments which might take off from another article’s topic but which drift from it.

I have received lots of feedback from RFS readers that the sheer volume of some comment threads is drowning out the conversation on those threads. Hopefully café tables can be one way to provide an outlet for such discussion.

As head waiter here, I will try the experiment of being diligent about attending to comments, pruning them if they seem to digress off topic, while at the same time encouraging their authors to use café tables for those.

If you or a group would like a café table, let me know.

Your comments on and participation in this experiment are welcome.

– Mark Szpakowski

James Rita Ash Table

April 25, 2010

James Elliott, Rita Ashworth, and Ashley Howes can often be found in conversation at this café table.

Cafe Table

Continuity of Practice & Teaching Stream

April 21, 2010

Article by Andrew Safer

Preserving the Continuity of the Vidyadhara’s Practice Path and Teaching Stream

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.

There are also marked differences in the teachings that both teachers have presented. After combining the Shambhala and Buddhist paths, the Sakyong has been focusing on the development of peace, joy, contentment, the mahayana aspirations of bodhichitta and compassion, windhorse, the four dignities, and the path to the Scorpion Seal retreat. On the Buddhist side, the Vidyadhara was a crazy wisdom mahasiddha and inheritor of both the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages through his root guru, Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, Khenpo Gangshar, and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He taught on themes including spiritual materialism, egolessness, buddhadharma without credentials, prajna and upaya, vajra pride, and relating with the raw and rugged nature of reality. He also introduced the Shambhala teachings to the West.

There are many students of the Vidyadhara who have practiced according to his instructions who are alive today. They are in a position to contribute to the perpetuation of his practice tradition and teaching stream in the roles of meditation instructor and teacher. I believe many feel it is their duty to do so.

In the last few months, Shambhala International announced support for the Vidyadhara’s practice path. It is noteworthy, however, that this support is  only available for sangha members who are already on this path. Others have the single option of pursuing the Shambhala Buddhist path after completing what is now called Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary.

Since the Shambhala Vajrayana Path document was issued several years ago, sangha members have been directed to receive the Primordial Rigden Abhisheka after Seminary and to proceed with the practices of the Rigden Ngöndro and Werma Sadhana.

According to that document, the path continues with a Period of Service, Mahamudra Investigations, and then Kagyu Ngöndro, followed by Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara.

I asked the Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje for an update regarding the practice path and he indicated that as of now, Kagyü and Nyingma practices will be available to sangha members following the Scorpion Seal retreat. This path through the Scorpion Seal retreat can be expected to take 8 to 12 years.

A significant break in the continuity of the Vidyadhara’s practice path has therefore been built into the structure of Shambhala International.

During this time, sangha members who are qualified to teach the Vidyadhara’s practice path will have little opportunity to do so within Shambhala International. Some who are qualified to teach have already left the organization, some can be expected to leave under the current circumstances, and others will probably die during this period.

The image that comes to mind is that of a tree ripe with fruit. The question is: will the fruit be picked, or will it fall to the ground and rot?

Please consider these questions:

  1. Are you concerned that the practice path set out by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche may not survive the current generation?
  2. Do you believe that sangha members should have the option of choosing which practice path they want to follow after Seminary?
  3. Can a student of the Vidyadhara who is qualified and ready to teach his practice path and teaching stream fulfill his/her duty to do so within Shambhala International, as it is presently constituted?
  4. [April 23, additional question posed by Mark Smith] Is it appropriate that it is no longer possible for a student to enter into the particular Vajradhatu Path/Transmission which the Vidyadhara taught us while he was alive?

Of Note

April 15, 2010

Ginny Lipson (here) and Lee Weingrad have reported on the effects of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Surmang and on Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery in Kham (cf the Kunchok Foundation web site and also Surmang Foundation and the Chronicles).

We also note that Karmapa XVII had to cancel his trip to Europe, due to the Government of India not providing the appropriate permissions. Europe meanwhile is in the aftershock of the Polish airplane tragedy, with its echoes of the 1940 Katyn massacre of the leadership of a nation. And now that great zipper of volcanic mountains running up the spine of the Atlantic opens a bit in Iceland, shutting down air travel.

Milarepa and the Origins of the Kagyu Lineage is an incredible, brilliant talk by Trungpa Rinpoche, from the Message of Milarepa seminar, July, 1973 at Karme-Chöling. The Q&A draws out a concise exposition of crazy wisdom. Audio available thanks to the Chronicles, Shambhala Archives, and the Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project. Everything in just 34 minutes.

Loyalty is an essential topic these days, worthy of probably more than one article. One correspondent sends this link to Loyalty is Paramount in Woods’s Inner Circle.

Another key topic is Drala, and Bill Scheffel’s is a living resource. He has also started a blog, The Drala Principle. He writes:

I will introduce a new subject each week, often with accompanying video. Subjects will include:

  • The Drala Principle.
  • The legacy of Chögyam Trungpa.
  • Cambodia and a sustainable future.

This site will be adding a discussion forum, so that off-article-topic discussion can find a home and take place without overwhelming article comments.

If you have ideas for articles and related forms and contributions, contact

The Joke’s On You!

April 1, 2010

From hookknife’s Flickr photostream comes the following photo:

Sakyong                                   Akong
Sakyong Akong