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Feb 20
Dharma Teachings
Teachings for Times of Great Challenge, a letter from the editor

Dear Shambhala Times Readers,

We are facing a deep economic winter in which we are challenged to hold our seats and continue to turn outwards to help others. To inspire our practice as warriors in this world, the Shambhala Times offers these dharma teachings, filled with insight and guidance that we can bring directly to our lives.

As a community news magazine, our Dharma Teachings section is dedicated to offering both new and favorite articles, excerpts, talks, and videos by Shambhala lineage holders, teachers, and students. Our content is — above all — timely. In that spirit…

Acharya Eric Spiegel writes a piece specifically for our current economic situation, encouraging us by saying that If we as Shambhalians and dharma practitioners can remain in stable and open, unfearful mind, then whatever possibilities are yet to arise from the dissolving of decaying structures will be available to us. With heartfelt brevity, he encourages us to contemplate death and decay, and to see the possibility of new life within it. His words are so carefully chosen that I encourage you to return to this article again and again. You can also listen to a talk that further explores this topic that Acharya Spiegel recently gave in Albany, New York.

In the new book The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation, publishing on April 14th, Chogyam Trungpa offers this advice: Look at where you are and what you are in the midst of. In this series of excerpts from chapters on the Four Noble Truths, he shows us how Seeing our pain as it is, is a tremendous help. Ordinarily, we are so wrapped up in it that we don’t even see it. We are swimming in oceans of ice water of anxiety, and we don’t even see that we are suffering. Facing the reality of our situation can bring tremendous relief and help us relate to the ups and downs of our current challenges.

In her 1997 book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron writes that Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times… This is the best way that we can benefit others. Whatever your situation, in some form we are all relating to the current chaos and in this excerpt, Pema Chodron offers three methods for working with chaos that are very helpful. As those of you who practice these methods in some form every day can testify – they have transformative effects.

Sakyong Mipham wrote an article for the Shambhala Sun in 2006 that clarifies virtue as the means for the fulfillment of our wishes. These times can invoke desperation in us — sometimes just to meet our basic needs of food and shelter. But as the Sakyong says, The irony is that as we put others first, our own wishes and desires come to fruition simultaneously. If we can take his words to heart, perhaps we will find what we need – whether it’s a sense of relaxation, food, a home, or the compassion to make offerings from our own depleted resources. Rather than acting out of desperation and self-interest, we can find nobility in conducting our job search on behalf of our family. As the Sakyong writes, The Buddha said, “Within your own mind, you already have what you need to succeed—the ability to put others ahead of yourself. This is called virtue, the wish-fulfilling jewel.” His video on compassion deepens our sense of what the source of virtue is, and shows us how we can develop them both.

Coming Soon…
The Shambhala Times Dharma Teachings section will continue this exploration of skillful ways of responding to our times in the articles to come. Keep an eye out for: Suzann Duquette’s commentary on leadership according to Sun Tzu; Acharya Emily Bower writing on helping the homeless in Boston; and next month will have a sneak preview of Acharya Gaylon Ferguson’s book Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With.

With Love,
Jennifer Holder
Shambhala Times Dharma Teachings Editor

P.S. I would like to thank the unknown photographers from the summer of 2006 at Dorje Denma Ling who took the pictures I pilfered to compliment these articles. If you recognize a picture you have taken, and would like to be recognized for it, please email me.

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