Shambhala Rites of Passage for Adults
article by David Whitehorn
“Every ten to twenty years, we can participate in a ceremony that awakens us to the fact that we are progressing through life. These rites of passage act as a reminder. If we are not occasionally reminded to stop and look around, it is difficult to tell what direction we have taken in life. Therefore, the rites of passage are not only a public ceremony marking our journey through life, but also a time of self-reflection and orientation.”
~~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
In response to a formal request from his students, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has created a Rites of Passage program for adults. The weekend program will be offered for the first time October 5-8 at Karme Choling. Awakening to the Stages of Life will bring together Shambhalians at key transition points throughout the arc of adult life to reflect upon the past, appreciate the present and contemplate the future, all in the context of the Shambhala teachings and Shambhala culture.
The request to the Sakyong, presented at the closing session of the Shambhala Congress in 2009 by the Shambhala Working Group on Aging, arose initially from a dream, in the summer of 2009, that came to Virginia Hilliker, a long-time Shambhala practitioner and expert in child and family development, who had worked closely with the Druk Sakyong, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to create the Shambhala 8-year old Rite of Passage more than thirty years ago. While Ms. Hilliker’s dream focused on the life changes at age 60, the Sakyong’s visionary response identifies the ages of 40, 60, 80 and 100 as the major transition points in a 108 year life arc. The ages of 50, 70 and 90 are acknowledged and celebrated as minor transitions as well.
The Adult Rites of Passage provide an opportunity to work directly with Sakyong Mipham’s vision of aging in enlightened society and are a major addition to Shambhala culture. Over the coming years they will be developed and offered throughout the Shambhala mandala. To help phase in the program the age requirements will initially be relaxed so that those who have recently experienced one of the major or minor transitions can participate. For the first land-mark program at Karme Choling in October, for example, participants are welcome who are between the ages of 40-45, 60-65, 80-85 or over 100. People who have recently experienced the minor transitions (50, 70 or 90) are also invited to attend.Awakening to the Stages of Life will be led by Acharya Mitchell Levy, a close student and adviser to the Sakyong, who has been instrumental over many years in developing both the Rites of Passage for 8 year olds and the Rites of Passage (Rites of Warriorship) for 16 year olds.
To read the previous articles from this column, please click here. Contributions to the monthly column, “Aging in Shambhala” are welcome. Please contact Andrea Sherman at: email@example.com