Shambhala Constitution

July 19, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Edicts of Ashoka

Edicts of Aśoka

What would the constitution of an enlightened society, country, state look like?

How could it offer a better balance of care, authority, transparency, monarchy, democracy, socialism, checks-and-balances, church and state?

Topics studied could include study of past and current societies, constitutions, and political theories.

Resources identified here will be collected into a Vajra Politics class style curriculum, published on this site.

This table is an initial gathering point around such aspirations.


670 Responses to “Shambhala Constitution”

  1. John on September 25th, 2010 3:17 pm

    Hello Damcho

    A very insightful look at the weird and wacky world of how tulkus are recognized.

    You are spot on about the many and questionable tulkus within the mukpo family.

    The movie Tulku shows how utterly devoid Gesar and Ashoka are of the true qualities needed.

    I have met Gesar and he is a true study of sadness and when you compare him to Sechan Kongtrul Rinpoche his previous incarnation, well.

    Again Damcho thank you for your insights.

  2. rita ashworth on September 25th, 2010 5:16 pm

    Dear John et al

    Thanks for your comment re the Tulku system from Tibet. Seems like I started another thread there without meaning to!

    What did I mean by the word interesting- I suppose a mild English word, (but then I am English)-well I suppose may be would Trungpa 12 have a kind of manner to reach out to people here after living in Tibet for so long –so it was more a sense of curiousity about this young man. What he was like and if indeed he was clued up about things here. So yes I hope he does come to the west and does indeed start founding groups here-that would be very good.

    Certainly when Karmapa 16 and Dilgo Khentyse Rinpoche came into the very many shrine rooms of the world in the 1970s –it was like the whole place lit up and everyone became very awake.

    Yes, I really do miss Karmapa 16 and DKR. I remember in the eighties before I was starting a meditation session in London looking at Karmapa 16’s picture and thinking he does look so good, but then someone came in and told me he had died and I found I was quite sad about that even though I had only been in the dharma for approx 5 years then. So yes it appears that devotion does creep up on you in many subtle ways even though you are thinking you are very distant from it.

    As for the tulku system – I have not seen Gesars film yet so I dont know what to make of it, whether it will last in the west or not. One element for it surviving would be the monastic system it seems or something like it as regards training, I dont know could something be devised for it here? So I am not sure about this too-its in the lap of karma seems to me as to what will evolve.

    However we do have the Regent Osel Tendzin in his greater moments to inspire Westerners with the sense that they indeed can also be true teachers of the dharma and shambhala teachings. Yes he was quite sharp but he was very, very impressive aswell I know that from listening to him at seminary –so I have somewhat rehabilitated him in my braincells after being so mad at him previously. I hope people can check out the various clips of him on the internet.

    So the Regent and kind of other intuitions floating around in my head makes me think that the teachings will indeed go much further here -with/or without the tulku system along side it.

    Well best to you from the republic of mancunia. (Still thinking about the Declaration!)

    Rita Ashworth

  3. Edward on September 25th, 2010 8:24 pm

    So is there a way that I can see this film “Tulku”?

    I just spent about 15 minutes surfing the net. Granted I’m exhausted and can’t think straight at the moment, but I found a facebook page, a NFB page (whatever that is), a Chronicles page, and a bunch of other pages. Many of these pages had the youtube trailer for “Tulku”, which looks interesting.

    But none of these pages had any mention of actually watching the film, or buying it, or anything like that, as far as I could find.

    Is that like the old “emptiness” principle of Buddhism? The film is “empty” because it doesn’t exist anywhere?


    Or maybe Buddhists aren’t supposed to sell things, just make a kind of “pure art” — perhaps it would be dirty to actually sell the film so people could see it?

    I’m just joking, I would like to see it. It looks well made.

    Anyway based on the trailer Gesar seems like a regular guy. Which is a compliment — many of us would probably look weird & aberrated if you saw a film about our life.

    Regarding tulkus and reincarnation, I remember when my teacher’s mother passed away, some time later I think a grand-niece of his was born. He made comments asking if people noticed the similarities between the two. And when asked, he said “yes” it’s the same reincarnating personality.

    But then he said that people should forget about all that and treat the newborn as a new and unique person, and should not dwell on who the person might have been in past lives, that that would be harmful to the development of the baby girl.

    Kind of interesting.

    I personally think the kind of upbringing Gesar describes in the trailer would be very difficult.

    If you look at people who become famous actors or tennis players or whatever at a young age, usually the fame and prestige and public attention and jealousy and expectation and lack of normal “boundaries” drives the person into a great deal of trouble.

  4. Divine Lake on September 25th, 2010 8:45 pm

    the film Tulku is described at:

    (National Film Board of Canada)

    But when I followed the links to order it, the Nat Film Board of Canada site said that that title is not currently for sale in their online store.

    They direct you to their “contact us” page:

    So I think you would have to email them to see if you could purchase it, even tho’ it’s not in their online store…

  5. Edward on September 25th, 2010 8:57 pm

    I’ve observed some similarities between my teacher and CTR, but one big difference is how they related to their children.

    My teacher had several daughters, and he used to spend time with them on a regular basis, all along. Just having meals with them or going on outings with them or listening to them play music in small concerts (two of them are musicians), and that sort of thing. Ordinary stuff.

    When his own students were being cultic or obnoxious or whatever, he still loved being with his daughters.

    He never described a problem or a competition between being a spiritual teacher and having a family. The two things were not in competition with each other for him. It was all one thing.

    In fact, for me as a student watching the way he related to his family, that itself was a profound form of instruction for me. If that makes any sense. He was modeling how to be a parent. He was trying to teach us everything we needed to know about how to engage spiritual practice in the modern world, with all of its ordinary demands and requirements. And part of that, for some people, is parenting, so he had to provide instruction for that.

    He also said he was trying to counter the common illusion that one has to be celibate or not have children in order to be a spiritual practitioner or a teacher.

    I’m not sure how what I just said relates to this discussion, but watching the trailer for Gesar’s film made me think of all that.

  6. Edward on September 25th, 2010 9:12 pm

    Ooops…! Before I get gunned down here, I want to retract what I just said.

    I think CTR also was trying to model how to run a household, how to raise children and lead an ordinary life from an enlightened point of view.

    I don’t actually know very much about how he raised his children, so I can’t comment on that.

    The only thing I do know is that CTR died at a relatively young age, and it’s a shame that his children and students couldn’t have spent more time with him.

    – Edward

  7. John on September 25th, 2010 9:22 pm

    If you contact the National Film Board directly by telephone you can purchase the dvd of “Tulku”.

    I asked why it was listed on their website as not for sale when it was in fact for sale and they said it was a mistake and they would fix it.

    It is a interesting film of the FAILURE of the tulku system in the west.

    Hope this info helps.

  8. damchö on September 26th, 2010 11:32 am

    On the same subject, it’s awfully hard to imagine the Sakyong’s daughter not being recognized as a tulku also, isn’t it?

  9. Edward on September 26th, 2010 4:40 pm

    It seems to me that the concept of “tulkus” is not far removed from the popular fascination with past lives, psychic stories, ouija boards, table tipping and all the nonsense that has fascinated people for centuries.

    You go to the psychic at the county fair and lay some money on the table, and she tells you about how you were a Roman emperor in a past life, and then for an extra charge she adds that you and your wife were rulers in ancient Egypt. You can’t wait to tell your friends about it afterwards.

    The whole “tulku” thing seems similar to me. What difference does it make who someone was in a past life? I have tremendous respect for CTR because of his talks and all the things he did, but I would have the same respect if he were only the very 1st Trungpa rather than the 11th, or was not a “Trungpa” at all.

    Probably one of the motivations for a tulku tradition was to locate important teachers when they reincarnate, and that seems legitimate and important. But it seems like all the fascination that goes along with it almost becomes a huge problem.

    One time a friend of mine was doing some research for our teacher, and he had become obsessed with the idea that he was a certain guy in a past life. He tried to hide his obsession from our teacher, but it had gotten to the point where he was thinking about it all the time, and at one point he casually mentioned it to our teacher in as casual and understated a manner as possible. 🙂

    Three days later he received a letter from my teacher, which I thought I might share:

    Dear X,

    What is the difference between fanciful egoic identification with a character in past time and fanciful egoic identification with a character in present time? Do not resort to the mind, but to understanding. The thinking mind does not know the past, the present, or the future. Who the ego was or is or will be may become evident if the deep psyche or unthinking mind reveals it, but even that unthinking mind is only the ego, the self-contraction, and all its personas are merely the ponded images of “Narcissus”….

    In other words, maybe it’s the belief in a separate self to begin with that is the real problem, as Tilopa kept telling Naropa.

    But any tulkus definitely have my sympathy.

    I remember when I saw the Seventeenth Karmapa, I couldn’t help feeling grateful that I was not in his position, because he must have a ton of people who would like to control and manipulate him for political purposes, and I would think it would be very difficult to grow up in an environment like that.

    Well, maybe we all grow up in environments like that but in our case it’s on a much smaller scale. 🙂

  10. Rob Graffis on September 26th, 2010 9:39 pm

    Who is X?
    Anyway, that is kind of what I was talking about to a friend today. The responsibilities of being a tulku.
    One tulku I know said when he was very young , he felt like an old man in a boy’s body.
    I know another recognized Tibetan tulku who turned down the responsibilities of being a tulku. He is now a secretary for another well known teacher at his monastery.
    It could have just been his choice as opposed to not wanting to be in a position of authority. I wouldn’t be surprised if many Tibetans have done the same thing.
    That is why it seem a bit odd to me why so many westerners want to be teachers with many students.
    You are under a lot of pressure if you’re sincere about it.
    Also, we have to remember in theory, we all had a previous life, so in a way, it doesn’t make tulkus any more special from the rest of us, except that they choose rebirth in a human body.
    In Zen, they don’t really talk about reincarnation much.
    Rinpoche did say it really doesn’t matter if your recognized, but it’s what you have accomplished in this life time. He also said in his talk (another talk) explaining the Tulku system that one of the Trungpas didn’t accomplish very much or do very much.
    No praise. No blame.

  11. James Elliott on September 27th, 2010 2:09 am

    Is this right?… according to John anyone criticizing SMR is holding on to the past (and is in some way only interested in attaining power?)… CTR was as screwed up as SMR… and!… CTR is reincarnated… so even though he was abusive everyone should focus on his reincarnation and forget about the past?

    If Trungpa Rinpoche was that screwed up (according to John), if that’s true, then really the whole thing is a sham. There’s absolutely no reason to refer to a rebirth if his previous example was bullying and abusive to his students.

    I never said that SMR was abusive or bullying towards anyone; the comparison is out of left field and to imply I said that is dishonest. I do think there is a blind spot in that nothing is done when those he appoints do things which are harmful, disheartening, or outright corrupt. I believe we therefore have a systemic problem that did not exist under Trungpa Rinpoche.

    I have no illusions that things were perfect, have a bag full of stories from then, but I know that VCTR actually did something when he could. He related to people who lodged complaints and didn’t whitewash or deny anything I’m aware of. Someone once asked him privately about a pattern of corruption she saw in a few officials, whether she was seeing things right or not; he didn’t do some devotional hoo doo admonishment about how if she were really devoted she’d see things differently, he said quite simply “You should trust your perceptions.”

    He showed concern for even small things, petty theft or chiding someone to not use their closeness to him to seduce lovers, and on larger issues appointed officials were a few times removed from their posts, or even ‘recalled’ to Boulder when they caused harm, corrupted teachings or flipped out. There are so many anecdotal examples, proof enough for me that he exemplified what he taught in terms of vision, courage, compassion, and insight.

    But if the example of the founder of Shambhala is so disturbing we can put it aside. The point was never who is better, but quite simply that there is most definitely a better way to relate to corruption and harmful behavior than to ignore or temporize it. I think Trungpa Rinpoche is a better example than John claims, but I know of other sanghas that have been exemplary in how they dealt with issues of corruption, abuse and justice. Shambhala, in this regard, is simply not up to par.

    If arguments imply in any way that corruption is something to accept, that nothing can be done so we should avert our attention elsewhere, then one in fact gives tacit permission and support to just the kinds of corruption that cause confusion and harm and which one could and really should do something about.

    I happen to believe that by definition, doing something about such things in such a hierarchical organization is squarely the role of administration and leadership. A declaration would have been an attempt to awaken leadership to take on this aspect of its responsibility, which it has up to now apparently disregarded.

    In the inspiration of morbid fascination

  12. John on September 27th, 2010 5:17 pm

    To James Ellioitt –

    Why do you care so much about SMR?

    It’s mind over matter – you don’t mind and SMR and SI don’t matter.

    Stop clinging to SMR and SI and if you can’t JOIN THEM.

    It’s like your in a toxic relationship and instead of leaving you cling desperately to the hope your partner will change.

    Well James and “et al”, SMR and SI won’t change, EVER.

    So chose, stay in this insane emotional relationship with SMR and SI or back your bags and leave.

    The WAR’s over and SMR won and we the followers of CTR lost.

  13. James Elliott on September 28th, 2010 1:53 am

    John X
    Why do you care so much about me?

    You have me wondering who you are. I have no idea if you’re an insider trying to get the CTRers to take a hike, but suspect there is a group without scruples in the inner cabala that thinks just this way.

    How you frame this issue is exactly the problem; not my mind. Who declared war? Who decided that the ‘war’ was about changing SMR? How do we know who won? By stubbornness? By who has the most stuff? Nonsense, from beginning to end.

    It is not only ‘mind over matter’, a glib statement if there ever was one. Ignoring things or ‘magical thinking’ does not solve problems.

    I’ve had long talks with friends about what happened to us here, as well as other things that have happened in the community. Because I see something wrong and because it is disturbing on several levels, the first approach often taken even by friends is to try and fix me. ‘See anger – anger bad – stop anger’. It takes some time, but in open talks with people who are not only intent on shutting me up, I can show how the issue on the table is not ’fixing the James’.

    There are shenanigans of some administrators or appointed officials, which are anathema to principles of the spiritual path on any level. Sometimes just basic decency, but sometimes higher principles like samaya get warped and abused, perhaps because those teachers are misguided or confused, but maybe as they carry out the war you, John X, claims is afoot.

    The problem is not that I or anyone gets angry about such things, but that it is happening and that people’s lives are adversely affected by it. In some cases older students who knew Trungpa Rinpoche, and therefore can see how higher principles are being used adversely. But sometimes it is newer students who never met him, and who at some point see a level of duplicity that has no value on a spiritual journey.

    This has nothing to do with loyalty to Trungpa Rinpoche or any ideological bent. If I were to encounter that elsewhere (and I have), I would feel the same way. Not because of loyalty to Trungpa Rinpoche, but because of what he taught us.

    It has never been my intention to change SMR. I don’t think he knows nor cares who I am, so I can’t see him as my teacher, but that’s OK. He and his officials however do have certain responsibilities.

    If he has a stream of teachings to carry forward, more power to him. I don’t understand why that would entail the need to purge the community of students who are still loyal to what they learned from Trungpa Rinpoche. I’m not at all sure that is SMR’s intent even as it seems to be that of some faceless officials. Be that as it may, allowing any acharaya, teacher or official to warp teachings, lie to and manipulate members, creating confusion and mistrust about his or any other teachings is a ‘no go’, regardless of where one’s allegiances lie.

    This has not a thing to do with SMR versus anyone. In regard to these issues, why ever would it be?

    In the inspiration that “Everyone wants a place in the sun (When possible, in the shade.)” (S.J.Lec)

  14. Rob Graffis on September 28th, 2010 10:36 am

    Is John the same john carreone?

  15. damchö on September 28th, 2010 6:08 pm

    James, thanks for your last post. Very well said. Eg,

    “Sometimes just basic decency, but sometimes higher principles like samaya get warped and abused, perhaps because those teachers are misguided or confused, but maybe as they carry out the war you, John X, claims is afoot.

    The problem is not that I or anyone gets angry about such things, but that it is happening and that people’s lives are adversely affected by it.”

  16. Rob Graffis on September 29th, 2010 6:20 pm

    I’m asking again. Who is “John”.
    I could say I’m Joe Smith, express my pain and anguish, do some name calling and accusations. That is not going to help anybody.

  17. John on September 29th, 2010 7:28 pm

    Hello Rob Graffis if that real is your name.

    I am in some ways glad to see your mind falling part as to who or is that whom is JOHN.

    It’s the message not who is behind the message.

    To Damcho

    There is a WAR between the followers of CTR and the followers of SMR.

    If not there would be no RADIO FREE SHAMBHALA.

    No talk of an evil SMR nor evil SI.

    Call it a struggle, a difference of view or WAR I really don’t care!!

    So who or whom is JOHN, who CARES.

  18. James Elliott on September 30th, 2010 2:26 am

    In one sense John X is right, it doesn’t matter. Not because any message is objectively what it is; if John X really believed that he’d be answering issues brought up instead of denouncing all participants of RFS of being insane. He’s right because a full name that jibes with the email address etc., could nevertheless have been written by someone else.

    But still I agree, Rob, who the guy is does matter. If the message were clear and made sense we would probably take it at face value, but what he has said so far has been snarky and self contradicting, so one has to wonder who he really is, and why his message is so conflicted.

    My suspicions about such things have been sharpened having seen a number of times how a few people within religious organizations attempt, without scruples, to control power, protect images or reputations, and trounce dissent etc., never giving a second thought to how it affects people, because the ‘mission’ takes precedent. I guess the thought is if it affects someone adversely, they don’t have the right stuff? I don’t know.

    What we are hearing from John X altogether, is that anyone who participates on RFS is involved in “massive mental illness”, that we are all “clinging to a dream of Christmas days past” that if we ‘practiced mind over matter’ all issues would simply disappear. This is I suspect an approach of at least some people with positions in Shambhala; ignore whatever is said that is not devotionally positive, treat such feedback as if it does not exist or is at best an aberration of whomever says it, or as if it were “massive mental illness”, stick to that view and eventually others will believe it too, and dissenters will go somewhere else.

    Here, with John, we see a more proactive version of that, telling us all to be as happy as Tibetan peasants that Trungpa Rinpoche has been reborn, drop any thought of problems within Shambhala, and put all your devotions towards a reincarnation in Tibet who has no connection to this community.

    In essence John X seems to be posing as a student of Trungpa Rinpoche’s while actually telling us we are all insane for not being students of SMR or just getting the hell out.

    To the issues of how power is sometimes even if rarely abused within Shambhala or how there is no system for conflict resolution, or that according to Francis’ post from Sept. 24th, SMR has already related to the purported reincarnation of Trungpa Rinpoche, making sure he has no claim on Vajradhatu assets (? news to me), or to how weird and woolly his assertion is, that in spite of Trungpa Rinpoche being abusive and bullying to his students, all RFSers should put their energies towards his reincarnation, jump on your damn yaks and go visit your teacher there because… he AIN’T HERE NO MORE (?) to these pivot points in the discussion we will likely get no response.

    In the inspiration that anonymity can be just as intoxicating as Dutch courage and costs even less

  19. Rob Graffis on October 3rd, 2010 2:47 pm

    I have seen several Johns on RFS. Is It John Perks? Is It John Tischer? Is it John whoever?
    If somebody wrote a nasty letter and singed off saying “Rob”, people would think its me.
    Even if you have a false name, at least put a sir name on it, even if it’s made up.

  20. John Tischer on April 15th, 2013 1:45 pm

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