James Rita Ash Table

April 25, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

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

Cafe Table


59 Responses to “James Rita Ash Table”

  1. Ash on May 16th, 2010 11:49 am

    In terms of the underlying discussion about SI-monarchy-society at large, I think it is worth remembering in terms of CTR’s triad that this notion was painted in a somewhat intuitive versus doctrinaire fashion, but more importantly it was based on shared experience of basic goodness via regular contemplative disciplines, principally sitting practice. That was articulated as the basis.

    Also, when delegs were introduced, the election of the leader was by group consensus for which no precise procedure was specified or recommended. I believe also the Vajradhatu Board had the policy of full accord on any decision, i.e. no dissenting vote, i.e. mutual consensus.

    That is a very human, experience-based approach, versus ideological or ‘systemic’ per se. I still believe that the main way to promulgate Shambhalian experience in the wider world is via contemplative disciplines of all sorts, including artistic of course. But primus inter pares is the basic practice of sitting meditation, which originally was offered as the basis in any alternative form, be it Mudra Theatre (based on dzogchen yogas), maitri space awareness, flower arranging, kasung practice, whatever. For example, there is a big difference in workshop experience terms between one that begins and ends with, say, 10 minutes sitting, and one that does not, even if the other methods used in the middle are identical. Just as there would be a huge difference between a deleg using spontaneous insight comprising non-practitioners versus practitioners.

    Sometimes this quotient gets forgotten when we start discussing things like ‘communism’ and ‘monarchy’. And yet in CTR’s very brief statements we have here on the thread, that aspect is clearly identified as the underlying basis of enlightened society.

  2. rita ashworth on May 17th, 2010 5:13 pm

    Dear Ash

    Thanks for your post.

    Well I would not kick out scientific method and philosophy all together –they can be a precise way of getting in contact with the world with clear seeing in fact I recently watched a documentary of Jocelyn Burnell on BBC i-player which detailed her ‘discovery’ of certain stars in the cosmos – I think it was pulsars anyway the thing was that she was Quaker and her scientific methods were informed by her religious life. She is a fascinating woman(the doc. may be on utube).

    As to philosophy you can do it anywhere –standing at the bus stop etc so its interesting and it sort of empties out your mind to a degree – so you become more open to things. And I think if you do western philosophy well it can be like rinzai zen in opening you up to life. Yes, I well remember working in a factory and just fooling around with koans when I was doing my work –the sound of one hand clapping –a thunderclap! Not too bad.

    Yes Orderly chaos –must get that book by Trungpa again as its seems to approach maybe the fluidity of the triad more. I was thinking that may be with the concept of HEM people would think the whole thing too ordered and perhaps leave the concept of chaos out of it so must read that book again. And actually this chaos aspect relates to the forms of deities that people might use in the future – in this connection you can see that when the Buddha got past his projections and started seeing and being in reality with other deities for the first time. Primarily thinking about this because I think here forms of deities are not set in stone and it somewhat depends on what you yourself experience in this state – so this is where I think you will get new terma and divergent terma from SI which has been hinted at by people on the Project. So yet again I am diverging from SI because I think this has happened and will happen in the future.

    Re your notion of people doing things outside of meditation straight aka mudra and the like –yes thats a way that I am contemplating going..dont know if it will work but I think shambhala teachings could be approached in that manner without the Buddhist tinge. So I am working on that in my own little way. Little groups definitely growing everywhere round the globe I think and I dont think that is bad rather its different strokes for different folks as they say in popular phraselogy.

    Yes myself see shambhala as a psychological experience persay and a connection to presence in samsara –so yes you experience luminosity. And I still believe you can get to shambhala from art, literature, other religions, etc etc….it is possible.

    So the King/Queen motif is out there besides the present human Sakyong….and I think that conception is in all religions…so yes there are arguments about forms because I believe there are other forms manifesting and here you can even bring science into the whole thing because I believe even now scientists are talking about other dimensions.

    So yes this post has somewhat strayed off the triad concept but what I have written is still relevant to it.

    Well best from this side of the ocean.

    Rita Ashworth

  3. James Elliott on May 20th, 2010 1:40 am


    Trungpa Rinpoche… I never heard that he said modern governments were over identified with territory. If we look at how he chose properties and how he created territory so-to-speak (a dynamic that exists within sadhanas as well), rituals to cenecrate and tame territory, I don’t see any indication there was anything wrong with identifying with places.

    Identifying with where you are is anyway an inevitability, not a choice. The question is how to work with that.

    What I did hear he said was that modern governments may be in charge of too much territory. It isn’t question of identification, but quantity, which creates automatically various logistical problems; for example but not limited to what Ash has convincingly described as a lack of identification, focus or respect for local culture.

  4. James Elliott on May 20th, 2010 1:50 am


    Ash, some of the things you write are spot on, but… not the tree analogy. Doesn’t say anything about the mechanics or logistics of how such a government would in any way actually function.

    With a government that has such far reaching consequences now and in the future, and that quite frankly is not in any way dependent on my state of mind, I think we can do better than that. I think we should try.

    The mission: If influencing the culture happens by an inevitable osmosis, then fine. But… The libertarians had a site once (I will keep searching) that explained that according to evidence over 90 percent of all legislation has the opposite effect of the intended result. So, perhaps due to some instincts or tendencies happening on social levels, an intent to legislate with the intent to directly (and in virtually all cases simplistically) steer culture in one way or another, if we believe the evidence, doesn’t really work.

    Like GNH. To wit: Shambhala, after Trungpa Rinpoche’s paranirvana was autonomous groups and centers. That was perceived as problematic in some way. Then Shambhala was described as a center with four gates. That was perceived as problematic in some way. Then it was decreed that we were now all Shambhala Buddhists, and attempt apparently to simplify how we think of who we are (?) and what it is we do. That has a host of problems associated with it as well, but any perception its problematic are not yet on any offical table I know of (can trees go into denial?).

    Has the intended result been met? Is there now a stronger focus on meditation or practice? A better understanding of the complexity of Shambhalian culture or more diversity? More unity in the community? How does Shambhala now handle and respect tradition and lineage? Do we now have a clearer or more inspiring way to present Buddhist or Shambhalian teachings?

    It looks to me like all the efforts to simplify Shambhala and avoid confusion about it’s structure so we could focus more on “what it is we do” has had to some extent the opposite effect.

    We don’t influence culture with suggestions or make culture by plan, we are culture. We influence it not by conscious intent but rather by all the ways we are in it. That’s all.

  5. rita ashworth on May 20th, 2010 4:51 pm

    Dear James

    Interesting comment on territory and governance, such debates about local culture and security etc are going on now in national politics in the UK because of the growth of anti-social behaviour and alienation.

    When I myself was growing up to about 11 or so did not feel particularly alienated by my environment which was working class with smoking chimney factories etc may be this was because there was full employment almost and people did not need to hassle for work particularly. So myself I put the decline down to globalisation, privatisation and the market in the 1980s when profits became more amenable to many than people.

    Yes may be we need to discuss territory in a concrete sense aka the democracy aspect of the triad and what makes for local culture. To a certain extent I think you need the ability to support yourselves within any local culture so you would have to have a connection to industry and services in some sense. This can be done on the local level indeed rivers etc in different localities in the UK are now being used to harness power and the surplus electricity can be fed into the grid –that can happen in the North West because of the various rivers here and their industrial connection to mills.

    I wonder what the definition of a locality was in Tibet – yes I suppose it followed that medieval model of having the monastery as the symbol for the locality hence consequent Karma Dzongs in the US and of course we have the western equivalent of Catholic monasteries before their dissolution under Henry VIII.

    To me as a child though my locality was a street about 200 yards long with back to back houses in it followed by rows of similar houses –so a kind of Lawrencetian connection to environment which of course was friendly but also insular at times (so it does have its social drawbacks). So is that locality? Or could it be the skyscrapers in the sky that some architects have envisaged like Saussure (?) but which now by others has been condemned as anti-social when formerly they were the bee-knees in construction.

    So yes if we are getting back to the Sane Society aka Erich Fromm –work would not be the be and end all but it would be modest just enough to keep us going and of course time to play for everyone and time to investigate our interests –so is this locality and territory? It certainly seems to be more down to earth but could you have these societies linking up and doing things together aka air travel, trains etc –the major services that are prevalent in the west then again we are into bureaucracy and big industry but may be better services could be devised as we go along –so creating local culture would be an experiment as much as meditation.

    So yes we are into specifying quantity-certainly in our present culture the internet and cell-like behaviour have unleashed good and bad things onto the world but I suppose this method could be utilised to create enlightened society as well –so yes it would be slightly more autonomous from the centre. Yes in some respects I see the centre as just being a source of energy aka great libraries that used to be in Alexandria –why can not the centre be like that –why not have government at the local level and just meet up when we like –like markets to sell wares or connect about ideas –is that a more feasible way of envisaging society.

    Yes construction of society, quantity re local territory governance big and deep subjects sociologically and need to be investigated aka the democracy aspect of the Triad.

    So would be interesting to hear from others re the quantity aspect of governance and an enlightened society.

    Well Best

    Rita Ashworth

  6. rita ashworth on May 20th, 2010 6:28 pm

    sorry not Saussure but Le Corbusier

    also for reference re community towers Ron Manns documentary on Dream Tower in Toronto in the 60s on Sphinx productions website -looks interesting

    best Rita

  7. Ash on June 7th, 2010 3:47 pm

    James and Rita, nice stuff as usual. Sorry I have tuned out. Found the conversation too hard to follow after a while. Am into heavy physical stuff these days, which I am both enjoying and also not used to. So intellectual speculation is not on the menu these days.

  8. rita ashworth on June 20th, 2010 4:17 pm

    Dear Ash and James

    Just some brief thoughts and thingeroos.

    I am thinking of what we have been doing on this website in discussing stuff about the emergence of enlightened society and the triad concept to do that in a more open forum.

    I might get people from the various religious and secular organisations to come to some event to just discuss the concept in the open in the manner of the Christian and Buddhist dialogues in Boulder in the 1980s. Or then again could you utube the whole thing and be provocative?!

    Also been surfing the internet quite a bit and been finding some interesting stuff on the evolution of society and art. Just happened on to Edward Bond the playwright –who is talking about being Human and using metaphor as Trungpa did which is really interesting. Might try to meet him as he is coming to the area near where I live soon.

    Also just checked out he is a member of the National Secular Society in the UK which has many liberals on it from the UK-thats interesting. So just wanted to mention that site as it might focus peoples attention on the secular aspect of the shambhala teachings which has somewhat got lost in the discussions of the sakyong principle.

    Think he terms what I might call religious or revelatory in terms of imagination in Art. I wonder if we are focussing on the same thing. Jesus why did I not get into plays years ago such a concise art form.

    James hope you can check Bond out and say what you think of him. He has certainly stopped my mind on a lot of things today.

    I cant recall though where CTR talked of metaphor-where was that? Perhaps someone could supply some notes on that.

    Well best again from the UK

    Rita Ashworth

  9. Sue-Donna Moss on April 30th, 2014 8:41 am

    James Rita Ash Table
    April 25, 2010
    James Elliott, Rita Ashworth, and Ashley Howes can often be found in conversation at this café table.

    Dear James and Rita:
    Respectfully, please return to your own table at the Sunshine Cafe. Your posts are more like theses than comments. And here we can see in the thread above that you have spent hundreds of thousands of words over the years and many hundreds if not thousands of hours that were better spent in silent meditation, but still you’re going around in the same crazy circle. Dear moderator, please consider a new reduced character-limit for comments from 2400 to 600 or less. Thank you for your consideration.