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The Earth Is Always Rising In Shambhala

photo of an Earth Rise by astronaut William Anders

Commemorating Earth Day
by David Wimberly

The Earth is always rising in Shambhala. This iconic photograph, taken from space, of the lushly living blue-green earth rising over the starkly lifeless moonscape so vividly changed the consciousness of humanity about what we are in this universe. Today the teachings of both Sakyongs are in the process of an even more profound contribution to realizing genuine sanity in our collective worldview. Just in time!

“We are trying to change the foundation of the social paradigm,” the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said.

The Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, stated in his Earth Day address:

As the world now faces seemingly insurmountable challenges, our future is at a crossroads… It is no longer a time when the future can be decided by one person, or even a few individuals. Rather, as a global society, we must pause and reflect on this essential theme: who are we, and what are we doing? This is the meaning of Earth Day.

Many in our world widely hold dystopian fears of a future like The Hunger Games where ecological ruin leads to social collapse with only a privileged few enjoying abundance at the expense of the brutally oppressed 99.99%. Shambhalians hold both the vision and the method of a far better future; transforming society and our natural environment by arousing our innate basic goodness.

Shambhala is active in benefiting the environment with growing energy, possibility and commitment.

Developing completely the four confidences of our basic goodness, wisdom, kindness and strength is at the heart of Sakyong Mipham’s recent Shambhala Sadhana. Starting within ourselves, our experience of this warm, primordial confidence is then extended to include all beings and society as well. Inner, outer and all connections, illuminated with brilliance like the sun. With “. . . all the environmental imbalances being healed . . . (bringing) harmony back to the elements and the environment . . . extend(ing) . . . to cover our planet, restoring it to natural harmony.”

Realizing, “At its core, society is the expressive power of basic goodness. It is the fundamental wakefulness and lungta that has allowed humanity to succeed. This is what will allow humanity to succeed in the future.”

At the most profound level, a vibrantly healthy natural world is essential to Shambhala as are practices to directly experience that – starting with sitting in nature, to performing a lhasang, engaging in drala walks, and much more.

Shambhala view holds ecology as of central importance. This is being increasingly explored. Arising from the Touching the Earth Working Group, especially Marty Janowitz, a draft document entitled, A Shambhala Approach to Sustainability and Environmental Awareness will be soon released sangha-wide to arouse discussion and further development. Here are a few excerpts:

“Embedded within the core teachings of Shambhala is the view that any society that seeks to embody truly enlightened principles will only find its way if it employs as its compass, an unwavering connection to basic goodness …. With this embodied as the essence of our view, practice and action we learn to experience the sacredness, the ‘nowness’, of reality. That in turn, leads us to discover an enduring wisdom about how to fulfill the best of what society as a whole or any role within a society could be towards enlightened living on this planet. We hold that this is true in any sphere of our activity and certainly when considering the attitudes, philosophy and actions associated with environmentally responsible or sustainable living, humanity’s cohabitation with the natural world.

…Drawing energy from this wellspring of goodness is the only effective source of steadfast motivation for transformative activism. … In mindful practice we see our patterns of deception and first re-learn to trust in ourselves, which becomes the basis from which we can open ourselves and ultimately, with tremendous kindness and caring, trust in the goodness of others, including the innate ecological goodness of earth. If we begin to engage with the natural world with mindfulness and openness we are likely to cultivate tremendous appreciation for whatever we encounter. This is the discovery of magic in our environment. In this context, as Shambhalians, we can help to reconnect all humanity with its primordial basic goodness, transform our relationship to sacred world and be inspired to sane choices, compassionate leadership and wise activism. Taking care of and with nature becomes simple discipline like taking care of our house.

… if we are seeking to develop enlightened societies we must listen and learn from these omnipresent messages to simultaneously heal our disconnection from the natural world and our primordial basic goodness.

… Therefore, now is the time to draw on the inspiration of humanity’s wisdom traditions, which remind us of the sacred oneness of life, the interdependence of all beings and the inexorable laws of cause and effect. Now is the time for us to tap the power available to us from our diverse disciplines, cultures and societies to cultivate the dignity, confidence and fearlessness necessary to protect our Earth. These teachings are entirely relevant to our ongoing collective imperative: the creation of enlightened and sustainable societies, and to the urgent challenges that intensify in their absence.”

Mandala wide, we now enjoy three main bodies within Shambhala explicitly focused on ecology:

~ The Touching the Earth Working Group: This group focuses on environmental issues within Shambhala. As a working group, they focus on implementing actual programs, like the Awakening Earth Wisdom Intensive weekend, and initiatives, such as the greening of Shambhala centers. They also oversee the environmental liaisons in the community.

~ The Earth Gathering group: This is a group of senior teachers who have experience with ecological action, teaching, science, policy, or indigenous teachings and are also inner Shambhala practitioners. The group includes acharyas, shastris, and key leaders. This group meets in the context of deep practice in order to contemplate the inner view of Shambhala ecology. They developed the simple, yet authentic, ‘Shambhala Earth Vision Statement’ that arose during an ‘Earth Gathering Retreat’ held in 2011: “Building environmentally awakened society arises from authentic confidence in unconditioned goodness, in community with all living beings. The Shambhala approach to ecology is to actualize sacred world on the spot.” (See more by clicking here.)

~ A newly formed and still emerging small advisory group to support Shambhala land centers in managing their relationship with the natural environment. Some amazing, innovative work is being done here. Start by asking Dorje Denma Ling about the Living Building Challenge combined with Sacred Architecture. True sustainability at last. Then keep asking around elsewhere…and have fun!

The Touching the Earth Group, in connection with the Kalapa Council, is about to initiate a sustainability process for all Shambhala centers. A professional document is offered that describes basic view and policy for enacting concrete sustainability procedures and possibilities in Shambhala centers around the world. Local flexibility is encouraged. While individual centers may have such policies, this is the first global sustainability initiative in Shambhala.

This Earth Day 2012 marks the start of a fresh initiative for the whole of Shambhala to engage meaningfully with the pressing need for environmental sustainability. Shambhalians all over the worldwide mandala are actively engaging with practice, vision, and action to help the environment.

Which vision and which future will predominate? That is up to you, to all of us. We can do this; indeed it is choiceless, and actually: we can just do it.

photo of David Wimberly by Jim Tolstrup

~~
David Wimberly has been a student of the Sakyongs since 1975, having the great good fortune to find such a rich lineage of Earth Protection. He has been active in numerous environmental campaigns; most notably he was pivotal in helping Nova Scotia become world leader in diverting waste to resource, focusing on composting. He serves as a founding member of the Touching the Earth Working Group.

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1 response to “ The Earth Is Always Rising In Shambhala ”
  1. Friends,

    I am, with a wonderful team, co-founding a charter middle/high school in the City of Milwaukee (WI, USA) specifically organized around issues of environmental justice. I will be very attentive indeed to your work and will appreciate deeply you sharing your ideas on this topic with me. Of course, if you like, I’ll be happy to share the kinds of projects, tactics, and activities that we find work–and those that don’t–later in the fall. Please feel free to contact me.

    The school website noted is not (as of 5 May 12) yet “live”, but please feel free to visit w/in the next couple of weeks. Later this fall, we expect to have student project content fill 30-50% of the site.

    Paul


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