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Nov 10
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Gathering Goodness with the Sakyong

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Report from the Scene: New York City
by Andria Cheng, Shambhala Times Guest Reporter

It’s about care, the Shambhala version of universal health care, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche said on Saturday.

What he painted was a picture where individuals and society as a whole each see their basic goodness.

“Awake society comes from the seed that the human mind is awake,” said Rinpoche. “When a community connects with goodness, it’s in the now without the need to justify its existence. Then it can forgive and truly move on,” he said on the second day of his Gathering Goodness and Rising to the Challenge weekend retreat in New York.

Furthermore, the Sakyong continued, “When a society is governed by a slim level of acceptance, there’s always a level of uneasiness and paranoia.”

“When we can have goodness, then we can accommodate suffering. We don’t feel we are being picked on.”

Speaking to a crowd of over 400 mostly Shambhala members at the Manhattan Center, eight blocks away from Times Square, the Sakyong continued on his theme from Friday saying that society and humanity are both at a critical juncture. How both the individual and collective choose to see the basic goodness in humanity will be key to creating an enlightened society.

“Many of us think the human mind is faulty and ignorant,” he said. “We are caught in the value system of doubt and self loathing. The theme I keep working with is a sense of bravery and confidence. When you respect yourself, you become more human and vulnerable. If we don’t know how we feel, it’s going to be hard to know how others feel.”

The all-day event began with senior teacher Acharya Adam Lobel leading the gathering on a contemplative meditation where participants were asked to close their eyes and tune in to their body. They were guided to feel the parts of the body that may be in pain or experiencing discomfort and then gently place the awareness on that part and ask what it needs.

Acharya Lobel then invited the participants to listen to the ambient sounds before finally opening their eyes to see the shapes, light and color of the environment.

That led to the practice of Shambhala meditation, which the Sakyong created out of the inspiration from a retreat in Nepal.

“It has the elements of classic meditation,” Acharya Lobel said. “It’s less about another technique but touching in with the quality of our life. It’s a way to open our space in the present without struggle. It’s to bring us back before we decide there’s a certain state of mind we want to get ourselves into. Before that, there’s a basic simpleness.”

The practice is about embracing our humanity, “which includes the cocoon and the struggle,” explained the Acharya.

Shambhala Meditation offers us a quiet moment of proclamation, allowing us to touch the ground of basic goodness. “We are saying we are basically good NOW,” said the Sakyong.

The day’s event also included senior teacher Shastri Ethan Nichtern leading participants on what he described as “cascading conversation.” Groups of two engage in conversation and then expand to groups of four and then eight before the size is reversed again and eventually returned to the original groups of two. Questions he raised for discussions included the tools and techniques one uses to be in touch with their basic goodness and also how each in their own way may be helping to create an enlightened society.

Those who chose to share their experiences with the crowd afterward shared glimpses of how basic goodness and an enlightened and awake society are perhaps already being manifested, by exactly that simple human connectedness of listening intently and speaking genuinely.

“We are all friends underneath all the tension,” one person said.

“I have difficulty sitting by myself in the beginning, but with others, I can feel myself,” the other person said.

“I experienced fear initially but I gradually started to get relaxed and comfortable,” yet another person said.

“I started off not wanting to be here because I felt the space is oppressive and dull and gray,” said another. “But after speaking to my partner, the whole room just feels warm and bright and blends into this symphony.”

Basic goodness does indeed look to be in each one of us.

A special thanks to Andria Cheng for taking a break from MarketWatch, a part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network to be a guest reporter for the Shambhala Times!

Photos of the weekend event will be posted soon, stay tuned.

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1 response to “ Gathering Goodness with the Sakyong ”
  1. Such a rich event. The experience of the expanding and contracting conversations seems so appropriate and exciting.

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