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“The Sakyong has something for you…”

Emily Sell, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s editor, recalls how the composition of the Treatise on Society and Organization occurred:

“I was just settling into an airplane ride when someone sat down in the seat beside me. It was Rinpoche. He had moved from first class to coach in order to dictate a letter to the President. I believe it may have been inspired by a conversation with Dapon Dennis Southward the night before. The next day, more dictation, read-alouds, and editing took place all over New York City, including in the tearoom of the Carlyle Hotel, with a number of different people. That evening Richard Reoch heard it for the first time.”

By President Richard Reoch

“The Sakyong has something for you,” Emily told me. We were in New York in the midst of his Turning the Mind into an Ally book tour. It was March 2003.

We were ushered into the rooms where the Sakyong was staying and I sat on the floor at his feet. After a short silence, he nodded to Emily and she began reading the Treatise on Society and Organization, which he had dictated to her the night before.

The treatise takes the form of a communication from the Sakyong to the President, offering a vision of how Shambhala society will take shape and giving his heart advice for achieving that. Although it was originally addressed to me, it is clearly meant as a vision and advice for all of us, since one of its central themes is that we are all responsible for the manifestation of Shambhala society.

The Sakyong first asked that the key elements of the treatise be read aloud to centre directors throughout the mandala, rather in the manner of giving them the traditional oral transmission that opens the path to study and practice of a text. This was done through a series of meetings and conference calls. It was then made available to centre directors and others in a pre-publication format. I am delighted that Shambhala Media is now formally publishing it online at the time of the Fourth Shambhala Congress which has as its theme “Exploring Community”.

Compassion is the golden thread that binds the tapestry of the treatise together. “As members of Shambhala society,” the Sakyong writes, “it is our constant responsibility to be generating compassion on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Compassion is our life blood.”

This the ground of the Sakyong’s vision. The Shambhala society he depicts is not another version of Utopia. Quite the opposite.

“To my mind,” he writes, “ in this society, imperfection is the fuel that allows us to generate genuine compassion…It is not a matter of who is right and wrong, or did what and when. Our responsibility is always to reflect back to see if the ember of bodhichitta is still burning in our hearts, for this is the flame that we proudly and gladly pass on to fellow sentient beings.”

The emphasis of the treatise is on Shambhala society, rather than the organizational infrastructure that delivers programming and services. He acknowledges the importance of caring for the organization, but the goal is to welcome newcomers into Shambhala society. “They will be welcomed into a community – rather than an organization,” he writes, “in which their own transformation and personal participation is a key element and building block for the entire endeavour.”

Many of the threads that run through the treatise reflect the earthy wisdom that has emerged at the previous Shambhala Congresses and that have led to the strong emphasis on community as the theme of this year’s Congress. Indeed, most of the major international working groups that have been established and form much of the fabric of the govering Sakyong’s Council arose from aspirations expressed at the Congresses. Their work is entirely in line with the Sakyong’s vision set out in the Treatise.

“There are many issues that we need to face from a societal point of view,” he writes. “These are human realities, and although we may wish that the organization could solve them, the solutions are rooted in the interaction between members of the society. Death, sickness, trauma and other critical junctures in people’s lives are events than can be supported and nurtured through advice and care by a society that is sensitive to its own members…Individuals need to know that in terms of whatever may be occurring in their lie, there are others who care and aspects of the society that will help them traverse their particular dilemma.”

Personally, I turn to the Treatise again and again for guidance. I carry it with me on my travels throughout the mandala. One of my deepest aspirations is that I could serve, in some way, to bring its wisdom more fully into being. I am thankful to Emily for editing the original and making it possible to have it online in this format. Making these heart instructions so much more accessible will enable all of us to refresh and deepen our everyday practice and understanding of the meaning of Shambhala.

Richard Reoch
President of Shambhala
October 2009

Click here to read the Treatise on Society and Organization by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

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1 response to “ “The Sakyong has something for you…” ”
  1. Wendy Elizabeth Langmuir Baks
    Nov 7, 2013

    i love you dearest President Richr Reoch…

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