Continuity of Practice & Teaching Stream

April 21, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

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?


75 Responses to “Continuity of Practice & Teaching Stream”

  1. Rob Graffis on June 21st, 2010 9:15 pm

    It meant respecting your local culture, and the gods..
    We do Naga offerings at SMC.

  2. rita ashworth on June 22nd, 2010 4:01 am

    Dear Rob, Sandy and Andrew

    Yes Bath – I think CTR meant Bath in the UK near Bristol.

    The first I heard of it mentioned in this sense of the shambhala teachings as having a certain power was in Fabrice Midals interview with Julia Sagebien on the Project. Hmmmmm –yes made me think about ol gb and Bath and I think CTR was right. Why right? Well made me think back to when I first saw Bath whilst on a rail trip to Bristol and I was just generally looking out the window then Bath! It was like a city on a hill –kind of fairy tale like and tinged with the sun and then after about a couple of minutes it just disappeared so it was kind of like an apparition to me in the sense of what was that –o yes its Bath! Subsequently learned it is a very rich, touristy place with of course the Roman Baths –so it is quiet ancient, perhaps even more a special spot before the Romans came aswell. So thats my Bath story –maybe you could utube it and get a feel for it.

    Andrew thanks for Adams email – I will think about writing him something, yes will have to think in detail about that. Still he might get a pile of letters but what would he do with them? In the UK when I worked in national government we did have a consultation process with organisations before Bills were enacted –democracy in the flesh, but of course if a government wants to bring in bad laws it can do so aswell sometimes with devilish consequences of course with Maggie Thatcher and the poll tax. You know the poll tax went because enough people in the country were prepared not to pay it and I heard later on a documentary on radio 4 that the courts could not cope with non-payment cases going through the legal process –indeed the whole thing would have been a shambles.

    Yes well I just dont know whats happening statewise as to shambhala miffling itself up. What is happening? So say yes Adam got so much stuff from the disgruntled what would he do? Change the curriculum? The thing is we have no democratic process about changing anything in this –its just individuals in charge of the finance as to courses and the Sakyongs say so on things. So where indeed would Adams loyalty lie with the sangha and their many questions or the Sakyong ultimately. No I believe to sort out all these problemos you have to have a more consultative process going on in a democratic assembly such as the National Assembly that CTR talked about on the Chronicle project. Yes even doctrine, practices would have to discussed at this assembly perhaps you would have to have a department for that in an enlightened society ( and yes even within that security for the crazy wisdom teachings aswell –religion is a minefield isn’t it?!)

    Still even though I have said all the above I will still think about sending Adam a letter. Myself I would not want to be the Curriculum Overseer Extraordinaire that also seems daft to me aswell because most changes in most religions are done through a thorough scholarly approach with various commissions and extensive consultation with the laity as in the Vatican Commissions which follow through on due process aswell.

    Well best from a very, very sunny UK –wonder whats happening with the weather?!

    Rita Ashworth

  3. Andrew Safer on June 23rd, 2010 6:30 am

    The aggressive sniping and language being used lately on this thread degrades the conversation, and this site, by association, IMO.

  4. rita ashworth on June 23rd, 2010 7:17 am

    Dear Andrew

    Yes getting back to the argument of how one voices ones disagreement with what is happening.

    I think I posted my comment on your comment re letter-writing because that puts the onus on the individual again somewhat against the prevailing current scene and in my experience if individuals do not come together in somewhat of a broad group consensus their thoughts can be brushed off as the voice of a minority. I cant tell you how many letters I sent out with standard responses to things as a civil servant from the British government much as has been the case with the standard response about the debate about the Vajradhara thangka.

    So I suppose I am talking tactics/strategy about the best way to indeed make a complaint and in what manner one should do that.

    Of course I have suggested one approach before ie having a group letter being sent to the Sakyong with may be hundreds of people signing it –that indeed would be something to undertake but furthermore you could publish that letter outside of the community –that is indeed saying something about the depth of the situation occurring but people might want to consider it.

    I was being somewhat flippant about Mr Lobel I would agree with you there, but of course that is down to British irony but I do believe you cant overhaul a curriculum and practices with a what shall we call it a small group of people.

    Mentioning the Vatican I did indeed check up the Vatican commissions on the web and they are massive so many scholars, and so much contact with the laity. And of course we have the Church of England with its Synod and even it has much more voting powers within it than the Shambhala Congress! So indeed if SI was into reform you do indeed have to have a National Assembly as CTR wanted –so complaint has to be set within appropriate and consensual parameters and institutions. So I think if you dont have those institutions and those parameters you are proverbially just in the minority space with your individual concerns re the act of complaint. So yes strategy as to complaint is a big arena.

    So yes I would welcome more discussion of the National Assembly concept from people in the hope that such an institution if it indeed did come into being would represent many peoples points of view on an enlightened society and discuss ways that that enlightened society could be inclusive and diverse.

    Best from a still sunny uk-whats happening!

    Rita Ashworth

  5. Rob Graffis on June 23rd, 2010 11:11 am

    Lets not forget our sense of humor….

  6. Robert on June 23rd, 2010 1:04 pm

    Dear Andrew:

    I don’t disagree with you..

    If you have a wife and family, let Carl’s Daddy and Carl jr, and Rob Graffis send them emails, or post here , unsolicited, that tell’s them to go “f__k themselves, or go “f___k” themselves in the ear. Then let Chris and I know, when you receive such emails, how you would respond.. Explain to your children and grandchildren what it means. When someone sends emails that says I want to “f___k you in the ear” or “f___k you” and then says “let’s talk” or “let’s not forget our sense of humour,” or “that was a private communication” as though that would make a year and a half of that kind of abuse alright. And then those people can get on this site, and carry on their “dharma conversations” as though they did nothing , that it was just fine. And you agree that it was just fine, by allowing them to continue on, as though none of this was happening.

    Let me know what your reactions would be. When you open your emails, month after month, and see these kind of abuses over and over, and then see these people carrying on on here, discussing “dark retreats” and practice issues. Tell me how it would make you and your wife and children feel. All this, is a very good example of the acceptable ROT in this community and the cretins that are left, running it and participating in it. I predict it has about two more years left, before it crashes.



  7. rita ashworth on June 23rd, 2010 2:57 pm

    Dear Robert

    I sympathise with your last post regarding your and Chris’s position.

    I have been hearing recently through various grapevines that conversations about the changes are getting blunter because perhaps of lack of dialogue.

    Its difficult for people abroad to gauge what is actually going on in the States and Canada about all the discussions – so when things blow up on rfs it is again difficult to know what has been going on in the recent past to cause that. But yes you are right people should challenge peoples outbursts a bit more so I will endeavour to do that in future myself.

    Myself I keep posting here because if I keep asking questions I am discovering more and more about how the Vidyadhara viewed the promulgation of the teachings in the world. Peoples recollections for example that he thought RMC should be a vipassana centre bring a whole new viewpoint to the discussions we are having on here. So I will keep posting because I am curious about what more might surface in regard to what the Vidyadhara said about various social and ‘political’ ways to manifest an enlightened society.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  8. Ash on June 23rd, 2010 3:13 pm

    Rita, for the record, what I heard was that there should be ‘a vipassana center’ there rather than the whole place should be a v center. The whole place was to be sort of a large, North American / international type situation, which I think is what is being worked towards now, albeit under heavy pressure from overly large debt load.

  9. Rob Graffis on June 23rd, 2010 4:50 pm

    I recall when I was 19 at a Naropa Institute talk, and the I went up to the the Vidyadhara looking like really depressed. He Said “You feel like crying?”.and
    I burstered out in tears on his lap. He whispered in my ear “There is Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, and Winter again”.
    These aren’t bragging rights, I wish somebody could archive this.
    I will brag more later (:.
    I’m sure we all used the F word on everybody at some point.

  10. Rob Graffis on June 23rd, 2010 4:58 pm

    I would also kindly let “the other Rob”, I was concerned about his social security benefits and gave them advice about it.. I recommended my own Doctor to him for a similar medical disease wish as far as I know, he sees. .
    I have my problems. So do they.

  11. James Elliott on June 24th, 2010 1:57 am


    I guess writing Adam is something, but…

    I haven’t met him but judging from the community talk a few months ago, he can spin logic the way the Harlem Globe Trotters can spin basketballs, and he’s a systems man. He works with a pristine logic and does what he was instructed to do: apparently create a new curriculum that doesn’t glaringly conflict with Buddhist dharma and which incorporates the Shambhala teachings and it’s new3 practices, (which are apparently in constant flux).

    I’m puzzled that someone who has had as little as he with Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachngs has been given so much apparent authority. I’m not saying he’s not a nice guy or anything, but how much respect has he earned for his realization. I don’t mean his ability to juggle logic like a Vulcan, I mean realization that helps others make progress on the path. And yet he is the man?

    And anyway, what can he do? Tweak the curriculum until all the complaints he receives can be categorized and undermined and explained as misunderstandings in this that and the other way? Really what can he do?

    I go back again to the notion which I think is true: without a vajra master, there is no vajrayana. And as nice a guy as Adam may be, a vajra master he is not. A vajra master is what is missing, not a curriculum plan.

    For the latter, write Adam.

    For the former… ?

  12. rita ashworth on June 25th, 2010 2:07 am

    Dear James, Andrew

    Yes I too think Adam has been put in some weird position as the curriculum manager aswell. How could he and such a small bunch of people oversee such massive changes which would carry such a diverse bunch of SI members along especially people who have been practicing for over 3o to 40 years.

    I think in respect of Christianity for that is what I have studied aswell as Buddhism you would have to have a commission as I said before with a thorough consultative process going on with everyone and even then at the end of that whole process you would still have to accommodate people who had different opinions within your church body as is the case with the Anglican church and its conception of a Broad Church.

    Also the conception of an enlightened society does come in here as well in the sense of the society being diverse and inclusive, and perhaps even practicing multiple practices which are indeed sanctioned by a vajra master even if that vajra master has his/her own way of thinking about the evolution of an enlightened society.

    The concept of society/societies is just not based on a one way fits all conception aswell as we have learned this from our forays into communism, and capitalism. I think Ash, I and James have discovered that in a exemplarily fashion on our table for example with our discussion about the Triad of CTR’s ideal of society as having a monarchical, democratic and communistic base and even here people have had to unpack our notions of what these sociological concepts might mean in the widest sense. They dont mean what we thought they meant – as was given by the example of the ‘Janitor King’ on Trungpa Rinpoches discussion of enlightened society on utube.

    Of course too there is growing maturity of the students themselves. I believe that westerners can be vajra masters and can receive shambhala terma –all this has been hinted at on rfs by Mark Smiths report when he stated the vajrayana lineage could be passed from guru to disciple as CTR stated. In addition god knows what is going to happen to the shambhala teachings because there has also been hints about this on the Chronicle project when Mr Neutral stated that there would be more shambhala terma coming as a direct statement also from CTR-now is that terma just going to be received by the Sakyong or the students also –this also is debateable.

    So if SI is not discussing even a little of the above how can it go on its way with any believable sense of credence from the general population in creating paths and curriculums to follow because at some point too the world with its scholars are going to be writing articles about the institutions of SI and its political and social functions and poking holes in it likewise.

    Well in some respects may be the game of voicing these matters to SI has to continue before anything of any real value happens outside or within SI itself but the signs of engagement with any of these ideas from the organisation itself are somewhat lacking.

    Well best.

    Rita Ashworth

  13. Andrew Safer on June 25th, 2010 6:17 am


    You wrote:

    “Also the conception of an enlightened society does come in here as well in the sense of the society being diverse and inclusive, and perhaps even practicing multiple practices which are indeed sanctioned by a vajra master even if that vajra master has his/her own way of thinking about the evolution of an enlightened society.”

    You seem to have conflated Buddhism and Shambhala, which is of course understandable, considering how these two wisdom traditions have been intermixed since the death of the Dorje Dradul.

    It’s clear from the way he presented the Shambhala teachings that, while closely related to Buddhism, Shambhala is independent.

    In his Foreword to Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, he wrote:

    “I am honoured and grateful that in the past I have been able to present the wisdom and dignity of human life within the context of the religious teachings of Buddhism. Now it gives me tremendous joy to present the principles of Shambhala warriroship and to show how we can conduct our lives as warriros with fearlessness and rejoicing, without destroying one another.”

    Later, he wrote:

    “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. For although the Shambhala tradition is founded on the sanity and gentleness of the Buddhist tradition, at the same time, it has its own independent basis, which is directly cultivating who and what we are as human beings.”

    In the Shambhala teachings, there is no vajra master.

  14. Sandy Pontius on June 25th, 2010 10:25 am

    Thanks all, for your honesty in your posts. Again, I think that the Sakyong, S.I.’s administrators, Acharyas and everyone else associated with the community is very straightforward in what they believe to be true. I think they’ve discussed it as much as they will.

    I think the main difference between SI and the persons on this list is the idea that the Shambhala teachings, through Werma sadhana practice, should be open to all, without taking the Sakyong as one’s root guru or vajra master.

    I believe that. I don’t care that all the aforementioned SI officials–who have told me I’m wrong about a lot of things for the past 30 years–continue to tell me I’m wrong.

    I think that’s why I feel claustrophobic at Shambhala events nowadays. They’re too religious for me. Chogyam Trungpa hated that. He criticized us when we were too religious. He was more interested in developing vajra warriors, if you ask me–which nobody has!

    The question is: how do sangha members w/this disagreement move forward?

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    Thanks for the reminder about sniping, Andrew.


  15. rita ashworth on June 25th, 2010 5:00 pm

    Dear Andrew

    I take your point –perhaps I was not too clear.

    I too believe the traditions are independent.

    And you are right the shambhala teachings do not need a vajra master for them to ‘work’ in the world and yes these two paths have been conflated over the last few years.

    What I meant to emphasise with that paragraph was that to have an enlightened society one has to leave room for multiple practices to occur. So I was trying to emphasise the inclusivity aspect of an enlightened society which would include all forms of religious and secular practice. So here the conception of an enlightened society would be a sense of openness to people and different takes on how you ‘reached’ what is real, for want of a better word.

    However it is timely to read your post because I have been musing about the possible future of the shambhala teachings outside of the SI context lately. Sometimes I wonder if Ray and others will write further on the shambhala teachings outside of the present SI set-up. I also have in my mind that what Ray has done with the dharma others will do similarly soon with the shambhala teachings. Indeed I was wondering if people with their various articles and stances here and elsewhere were testing the waters as to how proceed with the shambhala teachings on their own.

    Even the Sakyong has said if you dont want to be his student after warriors assembly go and then do your own thing –this seems to be his message to the many Christians that formerly attended Kalapa Assembly. Also within my own braincells and interest in theatre I am trying to think how you could manifest a court principle within that context so that it kind of grabs people with its majesty. Lately thinking of the stage as the court with huge colourful banners and maybe something particularly powerful happening on there. So yes going into that aspect of things like Grotowski, the playwright, and seeing theatre as being sacred. Could that be an initial start in something happening with the teachings – do you always need a sadhana to make ordinary magic?

    Indeed I think my own connection to shambhala came more from reading both poetry and prose, listening to music, and being somewhat introspective for about two years –yes so these are all ‘secular’ activities which are conducive to shambhala errupting on the scene, that I do know about.

    Yes it would be interesting if people could post on that to state if they are thinking along parallel lines to me in taking the shambhala teachings into more possible sacred environments and here I dont mean solely seeing theatre as top up to shambhala art but almost an actual empowerment in a secular sense. Do you think that is possible –I think I do from my own experience.

    In addition I think some people might be making connections with shamanism and the shambhala teachings. Ellen Mains discussed in her article on the project that she had been studying shamanism, and then yes too on the Chronicle Project there is seeing the shambhala teachings like Shinto. (I wonder if the rfsers could organise a trip to Japan to actually check out the Shinto shrines and ‘religion’ –that would be interesting.)

    So, yes Andrew I hope the above has clarified my position a bit more, yes I do indeed wonder how people are thinking of the shambhala teachings now.

    Best from a still sunny UK!

    Rita Ashworth

  16. James Elliott on June 27th, 2010 9:20 am

    Rita tells us the Sakyong Mipham said: “…if you don’t want to be his student after warriors assembly go and then do your own thing.” If so, The Sakyong Mipham has made a fairly clear statement that Shambhala is not about creating enlightened society in any wider sense of the word, nor does he feel any responsibility in carrying forth what his father set in motion regarding Kagyu/Nyingma Buddhist teachings. If he said that he’s saying it’s his school, period. Did he say that?

    That’s like telling all of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students who don’t accept him as their vajra master to take a hike. I’d love to hear from someone about how lineage is actually handled traditionally. I doubt very much this would be exemplary.

    Did he actually say that?

  17. rita ashworth on June 27th, 2010 3:38 pm

    Dear James

    Thanks for your last post.

    I have been checking my ‘facts’ on what I said re my last post.

    Heres why I think that I made that statement. I must have had in the back of my mind the Kalapa Assembly May 23, 2000 letter to the sangha by the Sakyong where he states his reasons for having Shambhala Buddhism and for him being a Shambhala Buddhist.

    Within that letter also he writes of other religions stating:

    “People who are inspired by shambhala teachings who practice a different religion are welcomed, and they will enrich the Shambhala mandala as Shambhalian Christians, Shambhalian Jews and so forth”

    Well thinking about this statement yes well you can do the shambhala training up to Warriors Assembly but you will still be a member of your own church(and by inference also I think being a humanist aswell) so obviously to me that means you would be taking the shambhala teachings up to Warriors Assembly back to your own tradition and infusing those traditions perhaps with the shambhala teachings to a degree one could say that from reading this letter. Do you think that is feasible way to see that situation? Otherwise I think you would be a bit schizoid if you were jumping from centre to centre.

    So I dont know perhaps we could have a copy of that letter put up on rfs and debate it.

    So what do you think according to most of the rfsers people think the whole of werma sadhana and the scorpion seal retreat should be open to everyone without an exception but here the Sakyong discusses other traditions ‘enriching’ our tradition to a certain point with teachings formerly given by CTR to people as a whole.

    Actually I am not even sure that all these great traditions would even contemplate enriching the shambhala tradition may be that is a thought too far. You would have to consult with them about what they wanted to do first, you would have to have dialogues with them about the whole thing. Perhaps these traditions dont want in any way to be connected to shambhala but merely want to explore the meditative disciplines in a spirit of mutual enquiry. I just dont know about that.

    So yes thats why I think I mentioned people doing their own thing with the shambhala teachings if they did indeed receive them up to WA.

    And actually I think thats not too bad of an idea for people to contemplate especially now that senior teachers are indeed exploring shamanism, Shinto and Art and yes in addition perhaps we have no choice in the matter now as Shambhalian Buddhism has indeed closed down on the great ‘us’ out there doing ‘advanced’ practices.

    Yes I do hope we can put up that letter and debate it that would be good and quite interesting.

    Its still sunny in the UK!

    Rita Ashworth

  18. rita ashworth on June 28th, 2010 6:39 am

    (Aside –just checked post on Mr Perks table re teachings and got a post from Edz which is interesting-not replied there because I did not want to take up Mr Perks table but Edz has mentioned some good stuff re shambhala so thought I would put my reply to Edz here. James you might want to check Edz’s post)

    Dear Edz

    Thanks for your post.

    I had not realised how close people were reading my posts, especially James on the main thread, so I have had to backtrack and re-evaluate what I said and actually when I have investigated a bit further re the letter to the sangha in 2000 by the Sakyong come back to James with some other perspectives on the whole thing. Yes although I have not been a 100 per cent ‘factually’ right in my quotes I have indeed raised some other points about SB that do need to be considered.

    I have been thinking about James post and actually it is quite timely also because perhaps we do need to re-evaluate that letter to people by the Sakyong as it seems the most concrete piece of writing that we have on his thinking. There is a definite departure from the way that the Vidyadhara gave the teachings about shambhala exemplified in that letter particularly resting on the quote given by the Sakyong by his father as stating that the shambhala terma came from the “Rigden kings and Mr.Gesar” so to the Sakyong (aside Gesar also being a manifestation of Padmasambhava as the Sakyong explains) this is the functional basis of SB.

    However I think there are some problems with that explanation by the Sakyong-how could one possibly know of the spiritual experiences of another person what the Vidyadhara actually experienced in his connection with the Rigden principle/Gesar and from that supposition say that that experience leads to SB. The root of the shambhala teachings could come from Padmasambhava but may be indeed Padmasambhava wanted the shambhala teachings to be available for everyone-that I believe is anyones guess –perhaps the answer to that is lost in the midst of times. Yes indeed Padmasambhava may have planted those teachings so that everyone could have access to them.

    Now as to Shambhala Jews, Christians etc and ‘so forth’ as the Sakyong states being welcome in SI I cant see why people would want to be in an organisation that limits you as to teachings what would indeed be the point of that, surely you would take a hike, take what you had learned and go out into the world and really start thinking about these shambhala teachings in depth. Is not this what St Paul did when he opened up the teachings of Christ to gentiles, or take it more up to date the ‘reformist’ movements in Islam such as Sufism and Bahai (can you have reformism in Islam not sure about that perhaps I am mixing religions there a bit would welcome discussion on that). No as I see it religion, art, even secularism develops through an historical process-you can not indeed fix things in a static mode. So the Rigden King principle –how will it manifest in the future? Debateable I really do think.

    Thanks also Edz for the reference to Kallon Basquin and

  19. rita ashworth on June 28th, 2010 6:47 am

    and his use of the shambhala teachings in a non-denominational setting – I will check him out. Yes I am also aware of what Ojai is doing with the shambhala teachings with Shambhala Education -is there any one else in the states that is doing similar stuff and that might have tenuous links with SI -would like to hear about them if there is.

    I take your point about theatre but the media in all its forms is endemic in our civilisation and is a useful space to explore the shambhala teachings in depth I believe.

    Will be back at work tomorrow so my posts might lessen -good some people might say stateside!

    Well best from the UK


  20. rita ashworth on July 5th, 2010 6:03 am

    Dear All

    70!(had to pass 69!)

    Yes well I think somethings up in SI – I have just read three articles on terma on the Times.

    What is happening? Are ‘we’ trying to be a little too definitive about terma?

    To me personally in this present epoch I really do not know what is going to happen with terma now that the shambhala teachings are in the world – I would not bet on all the coming terma being solely from a Shambhalian Buddhist source. Why? Well the Cosmic Mirror principle and the vastness of that vision and the ripening karma of individuals both in the west and east, but for me particularly in the west because of the speediness of life here.

    I would bet that the principle of revelation will become more frequent as religious and secular traditions start talking to each other and begin again to start exploring the meditative disciplines. So I would think that terma would be passed down now in more unconventional ways than was done in the past. So the Tibetan tradition hanging on to its forms of passing on terma etc might not happen so much in the future primarily because so many people in the world are turning away from materialism to what shall we call it a ‘spiritual’ life. You may get people experiencing more ‘daknang’ experiences which I believe are termed ‘pure visions’ in the article by Ms Gayley.

    Another dimension to consider also in relation to terma is indeed if terma discoverers have already been born in the west – that could be a possibility of why CTR wanted the whole path to be open to people. I think it is feasible if we are talking in almost ethereal terms about primordial Buddhas as dispensing terma to consider logically that other people in this heavily populated world will begin to start manifesting terma if meditation becomes widespread. So terma could via ones inherent karma come from other religious and secular traditions.

    Of course your everyday bod would say hoot to this because he/she believes in the validity of the sense-operated world, but of course even western philosophy has disputed that the senses can not provide universal meaning in connection to such things as love and faith. Yes, faith ‘developed’ from practice which is beyond doubtlessness could cast wider the net for receiving terma than Tibet, SI and our somewhat limited conceptions of Shambhala.

    So yes I should not close the door on further terma appearing in the west to many people just because of historical and scholarly precedence in Tibet itself. And indeed logically also if western science also is now talking of multi-layered universes too in a technical sense why would indeed the teachings be limited to a Tibetan ideal of reality aswell.

    So what is indeed up? Is SI printing these articles to raise questions about terma or to close questions down about how terma could be revealed. Myself I feel the articles are a bit too ‘on message’ in the sense of providing the practitioner with a set stock of answers to the terma concept.

    What do other people think?

    Its still very hot in GB!


    Rita Ashworth

  21. James Elliott on July 6th, 2010 2:18 am

    This is exhausting at some point, or maybe because it’s Summer and I have big garden, but I did want to say that I think it’s a mistake to define what’s being discussed as simply whether Shambhala teachings are accessible to all.

    Within vajrayana one can’t get around the need for a realized master to whom one commits and who has actually realized the path. Without that there is no vajrayana.

    I think there is still lots to discuss about how or why the conflation of Shambhala teachings and Buddhism limits openness or accessibility, or how access to higher teachings would be available only to Buddhists (as would higher offices, conflating religion and politics) but this thread is more about gathering support to petition for Trungpa Rinpoche’s stream of teachings, so I suspect politics will be better done on the new thread “Monarchy and Power in Shambhala”. In any case, one can’t circumvent the need to make a commitment to a master; a more democratic political system will not mitigate that one iota, has nothing to do with that in practical terms.

    The overlying issue, rather than how open or closed Shambhala International is, is that not only the stream of teachings, but the entire culture created by many under guidance from Trungpa Rinpoche, which had the Buddhist Kagyu/Nyingma path at its heart, has been intentionally morphed by central decree into something quite different in significant ways, leaving many of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students (we’re not dead yet) wondering where they are.

    People who claim this kind of change was occurring all the time are mistaken. If that were true lineage would be a hoax and culture a tabula rasa.

    A contributor in a Shambhala site pointed out that when Trungpa Rinpoche introduced new practices like tonglen, Kyudo, Ikebana, Elocution, or the Shambhala teachings altogether, he never usurped what went before. He didn’t demand even implicitly that one should drop what one was doing to pick up the next new thing, as if we were children attracted to shiny objects or codependent adults in a group celebrating ADD; drop Buddhism to enter Shambhala, quit Kyudo to do Ikebana, forget about past vows to take new ones, etc..

    From this point of view he didn’t actually change anything as much as enriching the community’s culture.

    I understand the official ‘correctness’ of writing to Adam, but again ask what could he possibly do, other than tweak a curriculum he has been ordered to put together in something like its current form? Any practical suggestions.

    No change in curriculum, or more scheduled shrine room time, etc. will bring about the support needed, without a realized and engaged vajra master. Find someone like that, and then petition SMR. The only name I come up with would be the Dorje Loppon, but perhaps there are a couple of other names. Get someone of that caliber on board, work the proper channels, and you might have the groundswell needed to get the PTB to even notice we are here.

  22. rita ashworth on July 6th, 2010 4:43 am

    Dear James

    Thanks for your further comments about the paths of Vajrayana and Shambhala which I am both on, for to me still they are separate paths.

    I do take your point of the need for a vajrayana master and within SI and without of SI ‘we’ have a number of choices, they are of course the Dorje Loppon, Patrick Sweeny and now I think we could perhaps say Ray.

    However Andrew Safer does indeed state that ‘we’ should not go outside of SI to other Tibetan teachers for guidance so other Tibetan teachers might be possibly outside of our choices for the vajrayana path in endeavouring to keep alive CTR’s conception of the teachings.

    Me personally I dont think that – I would be willing to see HHDKR as an adviser to CTRs students as his previous incarnation was always involved with Vajradhatu in the past. Of course some people will disagree with my opinions entirely and state that ‘we’ need more people like Ray just doing stuff and waiting for confirmation from the kagyu lineage later which Ray might possibly get soon.

    So the idea of ‘petitioning’ SI for a vajra master is one idea amongst many that are floating out there I think.

    Re the shambhala teachings if we are thinking of them as a container for the Vajrayana teachings ‘we’ the people outside of SI have to keep them going aswell in the original form so I dont see this as a side issue and I do see the complete accessibility for them to people as matter of great importance that can not be underestimated in the present age. So ‘we’ really do have to discuss this more.

    Re the terma stuff on the Times – I wonder about these articles – I think we need to have wider discussions about terma in the western context aswell and should not just leave it up to SI scholars to define the whole conversation about terma. Its too definitive for the present age and all the social upheavals that are happening.

    Yes I dont know what will happen eventually with the whole of CTR’s legacy –but what I do ‘see’ and know about now in relation to his teachings is that small study groups are beginning to form steadily and programmes are being put on and I am indeed engaged in this myself. So outside of the ‘petitioning’ process itself people are making moves to preserve the ‘older’ format but I myself would not see it as older but a maturing process of what we have been given in the past. What these small moves will morph into I dont know-its just that old grassroots network working again and to me that is the essence of community and teachings forming in society –the communism, democracy aspect of the Triad so if the Monarch is outside of that now that will have to be the case for the time being, till the inevitable ‘something’ occurs.

    Well best for now – I think we should keep on this thread, there are other issues on Damchos thread that are being discussed and I really would like to focus more on Trungpa and what he said about the promulgation of the teachings than the Sakyong’s path now laid out in SI.


    Rita Ashworth

  23. John Tischer on July 6th, 2010 3:54 pm

    If you look at the founders of the Kagyu lineage and read about their dharma
    journeys, you know what tremendous training and hardship they went through in the process. Also, they were recognized as Vajra Masters. If you look at the Vidyadhara’s life, his process was similar…in spite of his title
    and training, he still had to prove himself when he came to the USA. It was 4 years after VCTR came to the States, (something like, what, 8 after he went to England?) on the occasion of the 15th Karmapa’s first visit, that he was given the title of Vidyadhara. Before that, as we have heard, many Tibetians thought he was a renegade. I leave it to you to compare these stories with SMR’s own story. Suffice it to say, any great lama has yet to declare SMR a Vidyadhara….not that that’s a problem…he has to prove himself like they all had to.

    Does he need anyone’s approval? It seems that VCTR went to great lengths to show the 15th Karmapa how he was bringing buddhism to the
    West… that’s also a question to contemplate.

    If you look at all the older students….the ones who are SMR’s acharyas,
    the teachers that have struck out on their own…and the rest of us, to my mind, only Pema sticks out as one who teaches in the spirit of the Vidyadhara, as well as she is able to connect with a large number of people on a very basic level. Does that mean the rest of us are failures?
    Is anyone doing a 12 year retreat? We can speculate ad nauseum about
    what’s happening with SI…if there is a problem, perhaps we need to look in the mirror…(I include myself).

  24. James Elliott on July 7th, 2010 2:08 am

    John, this isn’t, for myself, about discussing ad nausolium, what’s happening in SI, and this thread is certainly not as well. It is about trying to find a way to continue the stream of Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings within Shambhala.

    Rita suggested it can happen elsewhere but the simple truth is SMR and/or Lady Diane own Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings and archives. Some of the new legal entities have cinched that ownership up. Anyone outside of Shambhala will probably not be given access. So in some sense it has to happen within the boundaries of Shambhala.

    The so called changes are such, at this point, that they are simply not the same thing many of Trungpa Rinpoche’s students got themselves involved in. I don’t mean politically or how the community is organized and lead. I don’t think that implies in any way that all those people misunderstood Trungpa Rinpoche.

    That amount of change ensures that there will be little or no continuity of lineage from generation to generation. Some have speculated whether that is not the idea.

    I am glad and heartened to see that there is some kind of effort to reawaken the concerns and directions that Trungpa Rinpoche himself expressed again and again and yet again in his seminal teachings on spiritual materialism, and the transcendental/practical quality, i.e. apolitical qualities, of genuine dharma.

    In the inspiration that one shouldn’t be joining a political movement meant to save the world when entering the Shambhala mandala or any genuine spiritual path.

  25. John Tischer on July 7th, 2010 2:49 pm

    I understand what you’re saying, James, and I agree with you. I believe the point that Ash makes about there needing to be some one(s) to take charge and lead any group that wants to pursue the Vidyadhara’s stream of teachings is well made. The only person who could appoint such people is SMR, and I think the chances of that are minimal. Under the Vajradhatu/Shambhala umbrella, in the past, the Vidyadhara’s students taught not only Shambhala, but also Vajrayana classes, as you know. The Vidyadhara trusted and encouraged his students to do this….for others as well as part of their training. Not so now. Even the acharyas seem limited as to how free they are to teach outside the party line.

    There is only one Chief of Shambhala, and the rest are indians. VCTR could handle the chaos of giving people responsibility and dealing with it whether people sank or swam. It seems that SMR can’t, which is not to say that there is something wrong with him. It seems he needs the rigid structure just to keep things together. Any initiative from the outside seems
    to have no way to get approval. Unless one of VCTR’s students happens to
    become realized and is acknowledged by other lineage holders, it seems as if there is no available leadership.