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Nov 12
Scene and Heard
Mukpo & Friedman Rock Toronto

An insider’s look at Creating Court in Everyday Life,
Recently held at the Toronto Shambhala Center

by Margaret Scott
photos by Glenn Austin

August, 1985, Rocky Mountain Dharma Center…we’re into the Vajrayana portion of a three-month seminary. The Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Lady Diana Mukpo are sitting on chairs on the stage inside a large white tent where we hear the seminary talks. Lady Diana holds her infant son, David Mukpo, in her arms…he is now the Kusung Arm Commander for the Dorje Kasung. Sangyum Wendy Friedman is participating in the seminary…and is now serving as the director of the Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum.

Autumn, 2012, Shambhala Meditation Center of Toronto…Rusung Chris Hyland, works tirelessly to bring members of the Mukpo family to the center. He succeeds magnificently, bringing Mr. David Mukpo and Sangyum Wendy Friedman from Halifax for this first-time ever workshop held on October 27 – 28th. The workshop is entitled: Creating Court in Everyday Life.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline Larson, Director of Communications for the Toronto center describes the workshop in a message sent out before the event: “This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with senior practitioners who are entrusted by the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo to cultivate the heart from which enlightened society emanates. That heart is the court.

Wendy Friedman wrote, “The idea of court in Shambhala has to do with the way that we live, even beyond our formal meditation practice. Creating a court means that we can create a dignified place for ourselves and others anywhere, in very earthy and simple ways. It has to do with choosing to live by our principles — choosing to act with decency, sanity, and kindness and paying attention to our physical environment, which can help to uplift our lives. We then offer that sane environment and decency to others.”

The participants are both kasung and civilian members of the center.

The beginnings of a court are now in place.

I’m a pioneer. I like things when they are new, whether they be new organizations, new programs….or new husbands! Because things haven’t gotten solid yet. So I am happy to be a guinea pig for this first-time-ever workshop.

While the vision that Mukpo and Friedman share with us is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s, the flavour and spark are all their own. They are passionate about their topic and the passion descends like dralas and sits on our shoulders, whether in the talks, the innovative slide show and the accompanying exercise, the diads’ exercise, or relating with basic goodness during a walk outside.

Here are a few quotations from the weekend that manifest the view and represent some guiding principles that underline the specific content taught at the workshop:

“Culture is the manifestation of our inner principles.” (Wendy Friedman)

“If you want to create something meaningful, you have to make it look like what you want it to become” (Wendy Friedman quoting Trungpa Rinpoche)

“We don’t have rights to upliftedness. It’s everywhere.” (David Mukpo)

“We are all kings and queens of our own homes, our own centers.” (David Mukpo)

“Many times we are not open to what uplifts us. We prefer our own cocoons…. When we wake up in the morning, how do we want to live our lives and how do we want to disentangle from our cocoons? That’s what we mean by core values.” (David Mukpo)

“There is no peace without truth. I can’t offer you peace without offering you genuineness.” (Lady Diana Mukpo as quoted by her son David Mukpo)

Sangyum Friedman also introduces us to her book, Introduction to Shambhala Culture, and suggests that we keep one copy at the center so that people can gain an on-the-spot understanding of the forms we use – forms that might otherwise alienate those who are new to the center.

Mukpo and Friedman practice what they preach. For the final piece of the workshop in the late afternoon on Sunday, October 28th, they set up the court (shrine room) with two red gomdens for themselves as the “start” of a mandala created by the rest of the red gomdens and zabutons for the rest of the participants. The Mukpo Standard and the Four Dignities flag flank the the teacher’s gomdens and are stationed slightly behind them. A baby tiger, or toy tiger, that is, sits on the floor near Wendy, and two others sit on a table bracketing an orange flower arrangement. The red gomdens and zabutons are set up in a mandala (circle) for the participants. On top of the gomdens are Chinese fortune cookies and candies wrapped in chartreuse green paper. The whole colourful scene inspires windhorse instantly.

If I had to give a synopsis of the workshop, the programme entitled Creating Court in Everyday Life could also be called Meet Your Own Majesty.

The Rusung of Toronto, Chris Hyland, in a message to the Kasung after the workshop, offers this summary, “…the program, Shambhala Culture: Creating Court in Everyday Life…was exceptionally uplifting and…helpful in clarifying the view of Shambhala Culture and Kasungship as well as giving us many practical approaches to living with this view in every day life.”

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