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Sep 22
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Harvest of Peace Address Transcript

The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche
Harvest of Peace Address, 20 September 2009
Dorje Denma Ling, Tatamagouche, Canada

Good morning, and greetings to everyone from Dorje Denma Ling, where I am conducting the fourth—I believe—Scorpion Seal Retreat. It has been quite a summer. I feel incredibly happy that I was able to see a lot of you and we were able to practice together. Many of you I also saw at the sangha retreat and at a few other events throughout the summer.

Now we find ourselves in the fall, at our traditional Harvest of Peace address. First of all, I would like to send greetings from the Sakyong Wangmo, Dechen Chöying Sangmo, who sends her greatest love and affection to all of you. She would like to address all of you later, in a few weeks.

For many of you, this will be the last time before I go on retreat that I’ll address you in this modern, intimate way. Before we meet again somewhere in person, I want to share a few ideas, thoughts, and wishes that are in my heart. As a lot of you know, this particular upcoming year is a retreat year for me. Astrologically, this particular year suggests obstacles and challenges. For a number of years—since I was quite young—I’ve been advised to do retreat during this particular year. I am paying heed and I will do that. This retreat basically consists of my doing further deepening practices. Most likely I will come out for one or two weeks in July to teach very abbreviated Scorpion Seal assemblies so we can keep our momentum. Then I will return to retreat for another six to eight months.

For almost twenty years I’ve been guiding, advising, and leading this particular community of Shambhala. A lot has occurred during this time. Certainly, I have seen a community evolve, develop, and mature. During the process, I have learned tremendously. It has been quite a practice—challenging at times, and at the same time delightful.

Now I feel that we are all together at a crossroads. This particular summer there have been several thousand people who have engaged with all these practices. During the time that we have been able to spend together, I feel change. I see generational change. It is wonderful to see second- and even third-generation practitioners and everyone coming together, working to create the vision of Shambhala. This summer is a celebration, a deepening of the heart essence of the Dorje Dradül’s wishes and desires. In his own lifetime, he himself was not able to do many of the things we are doing right now, which he had aspired to and obviously encouraged me to do in the future.

I feel fortunate and quite moved that our community is working together. In particular I feel good that we have established the Shambhala lineage, with an understanding of its unique quality, which is rooted in traditional warriorship as presented in the Shambhala teachings. The teachings of warriorship emphasize not the conventional notion of warriorship, which is aggression, but the principle of never giving up on cultivating gentleness, fearlessness, and strength. More and more, no matter what kind of spiritual pursuit we are following, we need these elements of strength and fearlessness, as well as tremendous gentleness and humbleness.

This warriorship is actually happening, and certainly we could do more of it. But at this point, I feel very good about what has occurred. At the heart of what is happening is the Shambhala lineage itself. Obviously the Dorje Dradül was empowered and enthroned as Sakyong—as was I—in order to continue this activity. Our lineage is a response to the needs of this particular time. On this day of peace and warmth, it is especially important to remember that peace is the only way that we are going to survive as a human race, as a planetary situation. The Dorje Dradül obviously had this in mind many years ago when he left India and came West with this wisdom that he felt needed to be shared and propagated. Now, almost like a time capsule, these teachings have come about. I feel that we ourselves, as Shambhalians, need to deepen what we have. We have a tremendous treasure-trove of teachings, methods, and practices that we need to delve into. At the center of this is our understanding of who we are our unique qualities as a lineage.

Every lineage has something to offer. We too can offer something at this particular time, when the world is becoming more and more crowded, with more and more speed, anxiety, and intensity. Under such conditions, the tendency is to become less compassionate, less gentle, more aggressive, and more prideful. We are trying to counter that, saying that at the basic level, what has occurred is that human beings do not trust their inherent basic goodness. The teachings emphasize this view; the practice of warriorship shows us how to be strong and see and experience our own goodness, and share it with others. That is the heart of the teachings. I feel that all of us, no matter what we are doing in our life, need to understand and feel our goodness. We need to reveal it and we have to manifest it—in Tibetan, nguntu jur. As Shambhalians, we are gentle, powerful, and glorious—in the sense of celebration. We are warriors who can move forward. Engaging like this with our practice, our family, and at work is our path in Shambhala.

This year we have commissioned a thangka, a Tibetan mural or painting, of the lineage. Many of you may have seen thangkas of the Buddha or Padmasambhava; thangkas are hung in our Shambhala Centres and our homes. I felt that we needed a thangka of our Shambhala lineage—the teachings of which are practiced within the vajrayana context—at seminary and for ngöndro. Those who are doing advanced practices know that this lineage tree is something I have wanted for a long time. This year, it has actually begun. When I was in India last winter, I saw the architectural beginning, a line drawing of the design of the whole thangka. It is being painted by Ngodrup Rongae, whose father was a very close student of my father. Both father and son are excellent thangka painters. Ngodrup has been working very hard on this thangka, which is absolutely enormous—six feet by ten feet or so. He feels that it is one of the culmination works of his life. It is going to take about eighteen months. Hopefully by the time I come out of retreat, it will be completed.

This is a project that I wanted to occur. I am extremely happy that we are able to do it this year. It is a visual representation of peace and strength, and portrays images of the most important meditative deities in Shambhala, Shiwa Ökar and the Rigden. It portrays all thirty-two rigdens—seven dharmarajas and twenty-five rigdens. The various meditation practices, deities, and protectors are all laid out in the image. I was extremely moved just to see the line drawing and its quality. I feel that this image is a very important educational portrayal of what we are as a community, something that many years ago the Dorje Dradül himself wanted.

I feel that this thangka is also a symbol of this time that we are in—a time when we are coming together as a society. In the painting, there are also all the members of Shambhala, from the Dorje Kasung to the Shambhala monastics, children and parents and all of us, just practicing. It presents a picture of society and kingdom and family altogether.

So the timing of the thangka’s completion is very good. I certainly encourage all of you to visit it. I have asked President Reoch to manage its being taken around to all the Shambhala Centres so that everyone can see it—not only see it, but practice with it.

In this particular time of transition and growth, I would ask that my going on retreat not be a signal that nothing happens while I am gone. I encourage all of you who are leaders—from the teachers to the meditation instructors to the Shambhala Centre leadership—all of you, please continue. And all of you who are participating, please go forward and participate in all the programs. I feel that this retreat is necessary, that now is a good time, and that it is also an opportunity for the sangha, all of you, our community, to show where we are at and that you can actually continue without me. I feel that I don’t have to watch every single thing that is occurring.

Obviously, in a very basic way, being in retreat is hardly a vacation for me. It is a time for discipline and training to take place. I look forward to that. Hopefully my understanding and training is a benefit for all of you to continue what we are doing. As a lot of you know, especially as you get older, a year goes by very quickly—that is something that even I believe. Anyway, we are at this particular time and I feel that it is good.

I send you my love and affection. Even at night, I know that all of you are practicing and engaging—I can feel it. This is very heartwarming and gives me potency and strength as we navigate this thing called life. As always, I would be remiss if I did not encourage all of you to practice daily, even if it is only a little bit, trying to connect with goodness and the principle of confidence and strength. A lot of this involves not being seduced by negative thinking. To remain positive, rely on all your good qualities. Do not be distracted by negativity. That is the notion of windhorse and going forward. If there is anything our lineage has proven, it’s that all these obstacles are not insurmountable, and that we can accomplish a lot together.

I would like to end this talk with a brief guided meditation. Wherever you are, please take a good posture—good head and shoulders. Making your torso and shoulders straight allows for energy, inherent healthiness, and goodness to come about. It adds vitality and encourages the dralas to gather. As we practice together on this Harvest of Peace day, peace is not simply an attitude of wishing or hoping for the best, or necessarily an absence of war and conflict. Peace in this context is believing in the inherent goodness of beings and not giving up in our pursuit. For us Shambhalians, the notion of peace is a long-term vision. There are no quick fixes. One of the most immediate and pragmatic things that we can do is touching in with our own mind and heart.

As we sit together universally, just for a brief moment let’s feel how we feel. The mind is a wondrous thing. Happy and sad, all our feelings come forth from this mind. As we feel all those things, we should try to relax. When we relax, we can feel our inherent purity, which gives us strength, love, and compassion. The meditation that we are doing is not escapism; it is realism. Only the foolish think that they can find something outside. We are taught to have confidence and trust, and it comes through relaxation. When beings don’t trust their own nature, they become agitated, which turns into blaming others, which becomes vengeance and destruction. Even if we destroy something, at the end we are finally left just with our own mind. We are talking about peace as exertion, diligence in our pursuit.
Thank you. I hope that everything is wonderful. If you have obstacles, please turn towards the dharma and try to practice; don’t abandon the path. My hope is that Shambhala is returning to its true origin—propagating peace and living in peace. That is something I hope will grow. Again, many blessings and much love to all of you.

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