Sakyong Teaches 1,200 in San Francisco
photographs by Andrea Roth
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche made a historic visit to Northern California this past weekend to teach the Rigden program to a gathering of 400 people who came from all over the mandala to hear his teaching.
His talk on Friday night was a public address to a standing-room-only crowd of 1,200 people at the majestic Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where Bishop Marc Andrus warmly welcomed the Sakyong and gave an introduction to his work. Both the Bishop and the Sakyong reflected on his father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and the deep challenges he faced in bringing the message of Shambhala to the west after Tibet’s takeover by China. “This is bravery,” the Sakyong observed. “It was his decision that life was worth living.”
For over an hour and a half, the Sakyong spoke eloquently about that “sense of bravery and self-reflection that everybody shares,” and the nature of our collective work towards creating a global mood where basic goodness is acknowledged as inherent in human nature.
He closed by saying that, “society is no more than all the thoughts and feelings we have right now, expressed in a myriad of ways.” Describing basic goodness, he summarized, “The notion that we don’t have to transcend earth, but we can bring that goodness here, is what we’re talking about tonight.”The Sakyong went on to Craneway Pavilion to continue the Rigden weekend with students who had completed the Way of Shambhala curriculum. He was assisted by Acharya Eve Rosenthal and Acharya Emily Bower. It was a wonderful opportunity for many newer students to meet and practice with Rinpoche at an early point in their path. Many of them commented afterwards that up until then, the idea of “Sakyong” had been just that – an idea. Now that they had met him they understood at a heart level what Shambhala is trying to do in the world.
While in Northern California, for the first time the Sakyong visited Sharchen Dzong, the regional Shambhala Center headquartered in San Francisco, blessing the space and leading a gathering of regional representatives from the three pillars.The whole of the Sakyong’s teachings seemed to create a momentous shift that could be felt throughout the mandala; the event was literally felt in the San Francisco area, where it was punctuated the morning after his teachings by a 4.0 earthquake!
The combined efforts of over 130 sangha members contributed to the success of the Sakyong’s visit. The coordinators’ group developed this aspiration which infused the visit: “With warmth, openness and cheerful discipline, we manifest Shambhala together.”
And yes, we did.
Stay tuned for the video from this program that will be made available through Shambhala Media.