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Transforming Society – Not Spreading “Dharma-lade”


by Travis May

Over 150 seminarians, staff, and local guests squeezed into the the main shrine hall at Karme Choling this month as the Kongma Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, gave profound and practical teachings to the assembly gathered for the first ever Vajrayana Seminary at Karme Choling. This summer, Rinpoche has elucidated and emphasized several very specific themes: the imperative to internalize and manifest the teachings; the importance of cultivating our experience and conviction in basic goodness; the necessity of seeing the basic goodness in society and engaging in the mandate to transform our culture into an enlightened society.

Rinpoche stated point-blank that it isn’t good enough to sit back and watch him – saying that he is doing a good (or bad) job and relying on him to represent Shambhala and the Kalapayana by himself. We have to do what he is doing, and what he did while he was on retreat: engage in some “soul-less soul searching,” and seriously look inside ourselves at basic questions such as, “what is life?”, “who am I?”, “what is society?”, and “is basic goodness real?”. If we do not look deeply and contemplate these questions, we run the risk of our path becoming a sort of dharmic-marmalade or “dharmalade” that never results in personal change, and by extension – societal transformation.

The ongoing impediment to social change is our underlying belief that society is fundamentally flawed and unworkable. Having this attitude influences our whole approach to working with others and negates the possibility of meaningful change occurring. We need to look into this belief and contemplate where it comes from, and if it is really true and helpful. By deeply contemplating and becoming more convinced of basic goodness – seeing the fundamental purity of ourselves and others – we may see that transforming our culture is a workable situation.

Many of us feel that the obstacles we face are insurmountable and the force of denigration in our society is too strong to overcome. At seminary, Rinpoche reminded us of what it must have been like for his father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Trungpa Rinpoche lost everything during the Tibetan diaspora that followed the Chinese invasion in 1959 and came to North America as a partially paralyzed immigrant. At the time, he was the only one propagating basic goodness, but he kept at it, he never lost this thread, but inspired his students in this view. Now meditation is a common practice, and Shambhala is an international community of practitioners dedicated to wakefulness. It is therefore our charge, at this pivotal time, to realize and manifest our inherent wisdom. We must take a seat at the table of society and gently interject, “Can we please consider an alternative possibility, which is that people and society are basically good?”.

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6 responses to “ Transforming Society – Not Spreading “Dharma-lade” ”
  1. Props to Bobby Elbers for coining the word “Dharmalade,” in the moment at the Sakyong’s talk!

  2. FYI….compare a Hopi Indian elder’s viewpoint at http://tinyurl.com/3ve3xo2

  3. Travis May
    Aug 5, 2011
    Reply

    I think you’re right Bruce!!

  4. A resounding YES, Your Majesty. The time is indeed NOW. Let us not delay in committing ourselves to seeing Basic Goodness in every situation, in every moment within our near and dear ones, as well as within the world society.

  5. This makes me feel like the “golden age” of this Sakyong’s manifestation has begun.


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