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Sep 25
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Live from the Lineage Festival at Karme Choling

View at Karme Choling, early morning the day of the Shambhala Vows, photo courtesy of Sarah Lipton

Incorporating the new Basic Goodness chant (look for it), this article is brought to you directly from Karme Choling’s Shambhala Lineage Festival. Composed by your Shambhala Times content manager and editor, Sarah Lipton.

The scene: Harvest season in rural, hilly Vermont. May all have the opportunity to experience the richness of this season! The rooster starts crowing “kaaaa-ka-ki-kra-ka”, it’s own rendition of basic goodness before dawn, and the waterfall across from Ashoka Bavan rushes white and full down it’s steep rocky path. Fog dragons drape their scales across hills whose colors have magically, and over night, shifted from summer’s green gradients to slashes of red, orange and gold. Late summer flowers begin to drop petals, and one of Karme Choling’s garden maidens, Anenome Fresh, strolls by with a final armload of freshly harvested squash to put into her small car already filled to the roof with the green globes. Family and friends have started to arrive on this early morning of the Shambhala Lineage Festival, and are playing and talking on the front lawn. Languages reminiscent of Russian and French begin to blossom and adorn the front porch, and stories are being re-enacted. Then the smell of breakfast rises from the kitchen, enticing us back inside. As the community arrives, the hullabaloo heats up just like a family reunion, only this is a family-of-choice reunion.

After breakfast, we enter the silence of Karme Choling’s glorious shrine room. The quiet is punctured by sighs and a giggle of Karme Choling’s tiny baby – Lila Violet, and many smiles play upon our lips. Sadness pours from our eyes as we contemplate our visceral experience of basic goodness. Our common aspiration arising as a wish that all beings may enjoy the luxury of meditation and contemplation. Slowly, the feeling in the room illustrates that the confidence of goodness might very well be eternal, primordial, pure.

The contemplations: Addressed by Ashe Acharya John Rockwell, we settle in for a time to question, probe, and deepen our understanding and experience of basic goodness. Acharya Rockwell explains that what’s new in Shambhala is that we’re taking things to the cutting edge by streamlining our path and language so that we can be more available, and more accessible to many more people. Why? Because the world needs these simple, yet profound, and transformative teachings. As we move forward with the changes (“when are we not in transition?”) it is not quite a straight line. As the Acharya illustrated, moving forward is like walking – while we head generally in the direction of our goal, or view, we move diagonally from the left to the right leg, each step a reflection and incorporation of the previous step, as well as a shift. In this way, we can look back and see that what the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was aiming for is being honed and clarified for our times by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. All of the changes in our practices and community over the years have been steps forward (left, right, left, right, left right, left – think drill practice…) towards embodying basic goodness and manifesting enlightened society. We begin to give rise to the conviction that indeed, may goodness be all-victorious, unconquerable, indestructible.

Being a good translator, Acharya Rockwell did us the favor of looking up the etymology of the words Shambhala Lineage Festival. It turns out that Shambhala essentially means: source of joy. Recounting the ancient story of the kingdom of Shambhala, we all laughed when told that the ancient kingdom of Shambhala essentially disappeared when all of the citizens were enlightened. All of us probably thinking “that’ll be the day.” But really, our view, this basis of truth, of goodness inherent not just in all human beings, but in all spiders and rocks and trees and birds and bees and cows and sheep and fish and flowers and mountains and streams…this is the source of magic, of joy, of delight even when challenge is thrust our way. Lineage refers to the thread of continuity, and allows us to relax and reap the wisdom inherent in the world around us. Festival’s root word is feast, and therefore, we engage in celebration of our joyful lineage. A society based on basic goodness is indestructible, it is a family that is primordial, and anyone can enter this family. Our Shambhala family is creating a culture of kindness, which is based on heart connection and care for one another.

The celebration: Exploring these topics in small group duets and trios, we danced with what it means to create enlightened society. We learned that by dipping our toes in with even just one other person forms the basis – it’s not just about maneuvering with a large group. Encouraged to contemplate our experience of kindness and how we manifest as Shambhalians in our livelihood and work environments, we shared with our fellows what those experiences have been, chewing on the edges of our minds, seeing patterns we perhaps had not seen before. Then we were ready for the Sakyong. The large tv was rolled to the front of the shrine room, and over 100 people gathered together to gaze into the international Shambhala portal at the Sakyong’s presentation. We could feel the thousands of warriors gathered around the world and were moved to take or contemplate taking the Shambhala and Enlightened Society vows together. Amidst irritation and delight, we proclaimed the vows and we became Shambhalians, we became warriors. Celebrating this moment together, we shared so much love, pride in our lineage, and delight in the profound gifts the lineage has given us. Our Ki Ki’s and So So’s echoed and reverberated in the misty, oranging hills surrounding us, proclaiming our fervent aspiration: may basic goodness bring profound, brilliant glory.

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3 responses to “ Live from the Lineage Festival at Karme Choling ”
  1. Jon Ransohoff
    Sep 27, 2011

    So grateful for this wonderful offering: benevolent, true, genuine, fearless, artful, rejoicing.

  2. Beautiful post, Sarah! Thank you! We had a similarly wonderful experience in St. Pete.

  3. Thank you. This is beautiful, inspirational. I am just beginning (again?), and in this setting-sun-culture of grasping, competition, fear, and anger, I need to connect with something bright, illuminating, generous, confident, and wise. Thank you for manifesting basic goodness through this post. Thank you.

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