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Jul 17
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Stupa Tears: Transforming Our World

photo by Cindy Caros

The energy was sparkling and electric as over 300 people filed in and out of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya for short but powerful meditation sessions with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche during the large Sangha Retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center in early July. This retreat was aptly titled: “Being Brave: Transforming Our World.” The inexhaustible generosity of the Sakyong was evident as the afternoon wore on and the hot sun beat down.

For those that have never been there, the Great Stupa is indeed great. It is a symbol of peace and a monument to the full awakenment of the human mind and heart, honoring the the founding of the Shambhala lineage and the founder, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Built over many years with the help and financial generosity of many, many people, the stupa is a traditional structure with deep layers of symbolic meaning and is meant to represent the shape of a sitting buddha. Experientially, it is gorgeously ornate, and radiates a powerful energy of wakefulness. It is said that this particular stupa “liberates upon seeing.”

As students arrived from a hot walk up to the stupa (about 15 minutes to a half hour from the main shrine tent, depending on one’s walking speed), they walked around the stupa or rested in the shade of a nearby aspen grove. As one group would finish inside, the next group would then be guided to enter the stupa. The funniest thing happening behind-the-scenes was the shoe-running of the Dorje Kasung who were using a wheel-barrow to ferry student’s shoes to the door they would exit from. Adorable.

Slightly dwarfed by the massive golden Buddha inside the stupa, the Sakyong was sitting on a throne directly before the students, smiling gently at all who entered. Many students were in awe, being this close to the Sakyong for the first time. Some where shaken, and others were grinning or crying as they entered the sacred presence of the stupa. Imagine walking into such a charged place with the Sakyong looking directly at you.

The sessions in the stupa were short but timeless as Rinpoche gave guided meditation instructions focused on feeling the heart and mind inseparable from the body. He expressed his feeling of love that emanates from this monument to his father, and how that love translates to the love for all of humanity. By us touching into the understanding of our own nature, we have a profound affect on society, and so working with this practically means extending our love. He then invited us to call up a deep aspiration in our hearts, to hold it and increase it with the power of the blessings. Ringing a gong, he declared his deep wish that our aspirations come to pass, and with that, we each took a moment to bow to the Sakyong and make our tearful, smiling, numb, ecstatic or calm exits. There was a cascade of stupa tears.

In his final address to the large assembly of mostly newer practitioners of Shambhala, the Sakyong looked out at us and emphasized that what we were doing here was beyond simple meditation. What we are doing is creating awakened society, now. The world needs this, and needs us to be awake, with open hearts so that we can rise to meet the needs of the larger world. He said that if we can’t demonstrate some level of goodness, care, kindness or intimacy, nobody will benefit. We can’t prove that compassion or mindfulness works, but we have to be able to touch that edge. We need to bring out the inherent goodness in society, and the secret is that everyday, we all have to re-inspire ourselves. You have to wake yourself up, again and again.

A strong command for a large group of new folks, but because of the deep meditation practice, supported by noble silence and a strong container of teachers, meditation instructors and a gentle Dorje Kasung presence, these students were ready to hear this particular message. The skill of our teachers in bringing this large and new group this far into the experience of basic goodness and awakened society was resounding. We were a living community engaged in transforming our world.

And it rained when the Sakyong departed.

To learn more about transforming our world and to hear the Sakyong’s teachings, we recommend that you check out the forthcoming recordings on Shambhala Media from this summer’s Sangha Retreat at SMC. Or better yet, go to the Sangha Retreat in Halifax – they’re still taking participants!

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1 response to “ Stupa Tears: Transforming Our World ”
  1. Carrie Schapker
    Jul 29, 2011

    I was one of the fortunate students to have this stupa experience with the Sakyong. Thank you for capturing the beauty and power of the situation. I was one of the people crying with joy, pretty much the whole time. This was a real high point of the retreat and so helpful. Your article allowed me to touch back in with it.

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