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Sakyong’s Year of Retreat
Tiger Screen, courtesy of Artsmia.org

Tiger Screen, courtesy of Artsmia.org

Letter to the Shambhala Community from the Ashe Acharya, John Rockwell

To the Noble Shambhala Community,

The Sakyong will be on retreat for a little over a year, from November 2009 until Shambhala Day 2011. A year is a long time. The Druk Sakyong took two year-long retreats—one in 1977 and one in 1984. Both retreats were visionary times, particularly for the growth of our Shambhala path and culture. We could regard these years of retreat as leap years.

At times, we have a romantic notion of retreat. We might think it is a dharmic vacation—a time to stop and rest and renew. Other times we might feel a renunciant inspiration to leave the cares and pettiness of the world behind and lead the simple life. In Shambhala, we take a warrior-bodhisattva’s view of retreat.

At one point when the Vidyadhara was escaping with a large group from Tibet, they did not know which way to go, which mountain pass to cross. They were being pursued by the Chinese, so time was of the essence. What did the Vidyadhara do? He went into retreat for several weeks until he had a clear vision of which way to go. Retreat means that the situation is getting serious and we need to prepare for a leap.

My experience of the Sakyong’s path is that he grows by leaps and bounds, like a tiger. In 1996, the Sakyong spent a few months at Penor Rinpoche’s monastery in India for intensive practice and study. Upon his return, it was clear that he had grown greatly in his confidence and that we had matured, more than we realized, in his absence.

It is delightful that the Sakyong is taking a year to deepen his practice, studies, writing, and creative vision, and his bond with the Sakyong Wangmo. He is preparing for a big leap. His absence will create a large space that will challenge us all to expand our vision, practice, and activity to benefit others. Generously giving us a year of space is a sign of his confidence in us. I wholeheartedly encourage us all to support the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo in this retreat, keeping our hearts inseparable in the one mandala of Shambhala.

Yours in the vision of Shambhala,

John Rockwell
Ashe Acharya

Visit the Sakyong Ladrang website…
to learn more about the year in retreat or to make an offering.

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