RFS Shift and Decorum

October 28, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

Welcome back from the weekthün – and to being in that kind of thün, no matter the time!

I think this gap was good to have, and to be in. And it continues in the question of what RFS, the Radio Free Shambhala website and community, is about, and of how it manifests that intention day by day, activity by activity.


One area to consider is the tone of articles and comments, which really is a matter of decorum. As the late Beverley Webster, who compiled the Shambhala Decorum Manual, says:

Shambhala Decorum is not to be regarded as a rigid set of rules or fixed code of behaviour, but as a flexible system of signs, symbols and signals, ceremonies and social gestures, in a continual process of adapting itself to the evolving needs of our evolving society.
We would like to encourage more article submissions. Articles for RFS go through an editorial process, with particular scrutiny for aggression, but also for presentation style and for clarity.
Comments, on the other hand, are totally at the discretion of the commenter, and have been allowed to remain exactly as written except for the most extreme cases. This doesn’t seem to be quite enough. The quality and quantity of comments is turning off many people who otherwise feel the site has something valuable to offer.

There are two problem areas with comments:

  1. Toxic comments. These use inflammatory or aggressive language. They are somewhat easy to spot: I notice a physical reaction in my body when I encounter such comments. It’s clear that strong language can come from the author’s personal pain, or their meeting a sharp edge of perceived truth. We do not want to blunt experiencing the sharp edges, or deny the energy that arises at that point. However, what you do further with that, which includes _how_ you express it, is very much your doing, your creation of further karma, and your responsibility, and this affects others. “I hurt” is an important communication to make. This can be stated forthrightly. Bringing drama and sharp pointy gestures into the mix is unnecessary and, often, aggressive.
  2. Lengthy, multiple, and off-topic comments. Often these end up bouncing back and forth among just a few commenting regulars. They constrict the quality of the space, and drive out other people.  There is ignoring the quality of the common space, and there is ignoring one’s personal space and its awake openness, which allows subconscious voices to eek out. Such comments often have good nuggets buried within them, but these get lost in the noise. When writing a comment, include the context: “am I dominating the space?”, or “am I using this topic in order to further my own new topic?”

Both of these problem areas call for us to manifest, moment by moment and in detail, the “enlightened society” we talk about. The medium really is the message: if we don’t talk about such a society in a sane and considerate manner, there’s little likelihood of actually manifesting it.

Critical Articles and Forward-Looking Articles

There will probably always be a need for critical, discriminating articles, such as regarding the setup of Shambhala International and its relationship to Chögyam Trungpa’s Shambhala Vision and to the greater Chögyam Trungpa sangha. However, what we are about is manifesting this vision, which includes supporting the emergence, community, practice, and study of the Vidyadhara’s sangha.

So this is one focus area for RFS: to provide resources on practice and study, meditation instructors and teachers, and sangha and programs.

We will tighten the commenting guidelines and software regarding length and frequency of commenting, and also explore moderating comments. Moderation basically means that comments go into a queue, and are only actually published when okayed by a moderator. This has upsides, but also significant downsides, including the time commitments required of moderators. It also calls for more explicit “right speech” guidelines that both commenters and moderators can refer to.

As part of a site redesign and refocus, we will be adding some new functionality, including groups and discussion forums. Joining groups and discussions will require registering with the site, and providing a verified email address.

Comments on this article are welcome: respect the floor as you take it.

Several more articles will appear in the next little while. We are particularly interested in contributions regarding study and practice resources, and ways that the Shambhala vision of Chögyam Trungpa can be found and shared in this world.


67 Responses to “RFS Shift and Decorum”

  1. Rita Ashworth on April 13th, 2012 1:46 am

    Dear Mr Perks

    Ah –the visionary experience –it does come in religious, secular and one could even say literary instances. I have met people who have been forewarned about events by saints myself –and actually I have no reason to doubt the validity of their claims for I know them quite well.
    But really most importantly religious and secular practice in this everyday world stems around ones moral behaviour and how one is compassionate to people in this earthy world. I think to be a strong religious or secular person one needs to be on no ground philosophically….what comes to mind is very much the sense of open door –open door in the willingness to let every one and everything in –this to me is shambhala. So it is a question of approach in the sense of engagement with the stranger and a kind of deflating of the ego.
    As to the founding of enlightened society more people in the UK in a matter of fact way both from the Buddhist and secular angle are exploring the same issues as SI-how you create community in these crisis times. So again I must state that for me discussion re the creation of this society(s) could come about in many ways and the discovery of it could even come more from the Christian tradition- yes I dont know what is going to happen in this regard.
    As for ‘shambhala beings’ landing as it were in a coming enlightened society I think that might happen in many places in a kind of natural karmic fashion –one is almost seeing this happen in Mexico right now. But I dont think we need to get mega-mythical about these societies evolving as it were on the basis of this or that teacher or this or that sadhana, I think the decay of our capitalist society will bring more people to seeing the world and their behaviour in it more profoundly. So all we can offer as meditators is for those spaces to be created for contemplation and reflection without boundaries or that many ‘rules’.

    Well best

    Rita Ashworth

  2. judy on April 13th, 2012 7:41 am

    I profoundly agree with and share your vision, Rita.
    I would only add that “religious and secular practice in this everyday world stems around one’s moral behaviour and how one is compassionate to people”.. *as well as* how one is compassionate to other creatures besides humans, and the environment.
    It was only after I forced myself to watch the movie “Earthlings” and started reading about it, that I found out how most of us obliviously base our entire livestyles and cultures on horrific cruelty towards, and utter disregard for, non-human creatures.
    Hundreds of billions of creatures’ lives every year are nothing but pain and terror from birth to slaughter, to serve us humans and our whims.
    I think it is a complete sham to imagine that we can build a “compassionate” and “enlightened” society on such a base of violence and abuse.

  3. Jane Doe on April 13th, 2012 6:08 pm

    Well, bear in mind John darling that when Rinpoche said it was Shambhala, Rinpoche was talking to you, John Perks, in a certain context of your euphoria and great longing. You know what they say about experiences, they are like patches that sooner or later fall off. To someone else describing the same seemingly supernatural perception, Rinpoche might have said something very different – like that it was an optical illusion, or that it was light and that if you had been blind you wouldn’t have seen it, or anything…

  4. John A Perks on April 14th, 2012 8:15 am

    Thank you so much for your replies,which I very much appreciate ,I am away right now but will be back early next week ,and would love to continue this discussion…Love always ..John

  5. John Tischer on April 14th, 2012 12:59 pm

    Rita, what was that reference to Mexico about? I’d have to say, I’ve met some people here who are more grounded than the average rabble, but the main bliss here is ignorance….as it is elsewhere. Mexico’s still trying to figure out if it’s a country or not…and 85% Catholic.

    Besides, discussion at this point, seems almost moot. If the containment pool at reactor 4 at Fukushima collapses (you people been following this?) life on earth is over for a “while”. Mayan calender? looking better all the time.

  6. Rita Ashworth on April 14th, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hi John,

    Yes the Mexico ref.-I was thinking about the Chiapas region and the Zaptistas again – I believe a lot of Mayan people are involved in this movement and I am interested in what they are doing moreso than the GNH debate about Bhutan, because it seems to me that Chiapas is very grounded and communal. So in Latin America there seems to be a general and philosophical awareness that things will have to change not only from the indigenous tribes but from the politicians too. And of course Latin America has produced some fine thinkers like Freire in education and Boal in the theatre.
    Re politics in the UK it is kind of limping around like a lot of European countries are –so there is a kind of calm before storm atmosphere I think here.
    Yes re Fukushima I have not been following this matter closely so I really must read up on it. I think all these environmental disasters are making just your ordinary citizen realise that there has to be fundamental change. I expect from what I am reading on the internet re demos that the US is going to face calls from Occupy for more freedom and civil rights when the summer and spring gets into full swing.
    Now how all this desire for change will affect peoples responses to meditation I am not so sure, but the discussions about ‘politics’ do seem to be emphasising a need for community, a horizontal way of governance by assembly and workgroups, and an emphasis on sustainability. So all these issues were discussed in the Sane Society that CTR read most thoroughly when he was in India-so perhaps we are approaching an age when we could open the doors more wide in the greater shambhala sense and for people to have more fluid discussions about what is going down on this planet we briefly inhabit.

    Well best from the UK.

    Rita Ashworth

  7. John Tischer on April 15th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I saw somewhere that Sam Berkholtz is now Emeritus Acharya….(no picture on Shambhala web site). I heard he had a heart attack about the time that Acharya Simon Luna died, and they thought that was too much bad news all at once, or something….I don’t know…they’re all so screwy. Anybody know?

  8. John Tischer on April 19th, 2012 12:50 am

    I apologize for posting so much here lately, but I really am curious if anyone inside or outside SI, for that matter, has any interest in the status or where abouts of Sam Bercholtz, Acharya and publisher of VCTR’s books? That seems kinda like, Wow, to me. It reminds me of a line from the Sicilian
    poet, Salvador Quasimodo:

    “Even my sadness, perhaps,
    has changed…..forgotten,
    even by me.”

  9. John Perks on April 19th, 2012 6:32 am

    Hello John Tischer,
    I am going to a birthday party in Saint Johnsbury Vt for Newcome Greenleaf I will ask about Sam…will let you know by Sunday..

  10. John Tischer on April 19th, 2012 1:17 pm

    Thanks, John….Say hi to Nuke for me and happy birthday.

  11. Ash on April 22nd, 2012 3:59 pm

    Maybe it’s the recent excess of sunshine and the shock of today’s sudden return to more typical Maritime April Fog, or maybe it’s the onset of ‘spontaneous, unplanned sobriety on Sunday’ syndrome, but I think a thread on decorum needs more poetry, so here’s one I just spontaneously composed an hour ago. Appropriately, it’s about listening to Pucini, which is without question one of the West’s more universally acceptable ways of practicing authentic decorum which must always, de rigueur and of course, be infused with bone-deep levels of inner delight. Anyway:

    On Listening to Pucini

    (Pavarotti, Vincero, Vincero, Vincero…..)


    Father Sun

    Glory Moon

    tears glistening on silken cummber bund

    days of valour and plenty

    of the small opera houses in Tuscan small towns

    bustling farmers markets

    well-burgeoned tables

    olive oil glistening on naked finger nails

    of elegant Italian lady

    catholic roman pastry-plentied well bedded dowager virgin princess lightweight

    gossamer lace-ridden sumptuous lemon tarted

    full-Barolo’d chianti-claroed clarinet calling pollo arosto

    not to mention oregano

    or jugged jiggling hares chuckling in the pot

    as baker prods all-too-eager-teenage testosterone-laced sourdough dough

    before plunging headlong into the fetid heat of all-fertile oven bloom

    across transubstantial fields of errant poppies singing the cosmic refrain

    of irrepressible all-victorious all-joyful tender-hearted good-drenched bounty,

    sadness, joy,

    each note a drooping burden of sun-drenched moisture dew-drop at dawn

    plucking the bended pistule and stamen to seducing bee drone

    dredging nectar into all-consuming honeysuckle embrace

    entwined forever into endless outbreath

    dying at last in endless sunset glory

    birthing at last in unending dawn delight

    each note an eternity

    each violin the heavens sobbing

    each aria a symphony

    each woman an angel

    each man an Archetype

    each life so very well worth living.

    Grazie, Grazie, Mille Grazie, Signor Pucini!!!

    From the wilds of fog-bound South Shore Cape Breton,

    the French Road community, pop 23!

    Spring 2012.

    A glorious year.

    (Especially in China. Especially in Toscana!)

  12. John Perks on April 23rd, 2012 5:49 am

    How wonderful,Tischer,and Ash…in love with what is called just Brilliance
    just love,from here our agent’s tell that Sam has left with Minjure Rinpoche,keep baking,keep drinking,keep singing,how wonderful such love that poet’s sing of,with morning’s sun rise is stll there………………….

  13. Sue-Donna Moss on April 27th, 2012 9:50 am

    The great world is dying…but this truth isn’t even allowed to form as a thought at all. As soon as the thought begins to form we make a loud noise of some kind as a diversionary tactic. We call this positive thinking and looking on the bright side, and we keep hoping for a miracle…

    Most of us haven’t even really come to terms that inevitably we may at any moment drop dead. We keep that truth hidden in the back of our minds out of dread. The truth is simply unthinkable. But even so, the truth remains in the back of our minds, and we keep hoping for a miracle…

  14. John Tischer on April 27th, 2012 2:09 pm

    The miracle is we were never born
    so no grief in dying
    this beautiful world will someday end
    but our pursuit of the dharma is forever.

  15. Jigme Lingpa on April 28th, 2012 7:27 am

    Seven Essential Points

    In the depth of your being, have no fear –
    Be more peaceful than the king of swans.

    Rely only on yourself, taking advice only from a true teacher –
    Be like a wild animal escaping from a cage.

    Never break your commitment in retreat practise –
    Be like a stake planted firmly in hard ground.

    In bad circumstances, do not panic –
    Be like an oblivious madman.

    When with others, don’t let mindfulness stray to ordinary things –
    Perceive all phenomena as infinite purity.

    When meditating on prana and sampannakrama, never lose your
    concentration –
    Be like someone threading a needle.

    At death, even if unexpected, have no sadness or regret and
    nothing unfinished in your mind –
    Be like a vulture soaring through the sky.

  16. Ash on April 30th, 2012 7:26 pm

    Thank you Jigme Lingpa. Certainly that is a very clear expression and beautifully put. I think you should hang out a shingle somewhere as a teacher. You never know, you might help a few people along the way to their solitary death.

    Personally, I try to always have enough dry wood stacked out back so my neighbours can do a quick cremation with minimum of fuss when the time comes.

    But thinking about it and accepting it intellectually is not really the same as really KNOWING that one will die. My suspicion is that for most of us it’s a bit like getting married, or having a baby. In both cases you know it’s going to happen – and for real – at some point, but only when it is really actually happening to you really actually get it.

    I heard about how Theo van Heukelom left us (Dutch student of VCTR). At a banquet in his honour at some point he took a deep breath and then, still sitting up, he died in front of everybody.

    Assuming that’s a true story, I say that is pretty marvellous. I am sure the Vidyadhara was on the other side of the River of Timeless Emptiness ready and waiting with a nice warm glass of Sake, not to mention a set of new marching orders, some off-key songs to sing (groan!) but some very pleasant, not to mention pleasantly feminine, companionship to boot!

  17. e.e. cummings on May 2nd, 2012 10:01 am

    Trust your heart if the seas catch fire…