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Nov 11
Scene and Heard
Just Add Heart

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Reports from the Scene: Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in New York City

The sun dawned bright on Sunday morning. The air was crisp and the wind blew leaves into brilliant swirls across the paved streets of the Big Apple. Late in the afternoon, the Sakyong address us all saying that whatever activity we engage in, we need to “just add heart”. The afternoon was spent in resilient leadership training and mid-morning found New York Shambhala community members and visiting friends from the Northeast gathered together for a decadent brunch at the beautiful, spacious New York Shambhala Center. It was there that seven community members, some from the local scene and others from slightly further afield, offered to share their reflections about the day, and the impact of this historic visit by the Sakyong.

Andria Cheng, guest reporting for the Shambhala Times shared the following report on the Sakyong’s address, which took place on Sunday afternoon:

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

“Leadership is like the tip of an arrow. It’s powerful and beautiful, but the tip of the arrow is also going ‘Arghhhhh.’ It’s screaming.”

Those were the words of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on Sunday in New York Shambhala center as 200 members, mostly from the East Coast centers, packed the center’s shrine room to hear the Sakyong share his thoughts on what resilient leadership is.

“As leaders we can hang out in the space of not knowing,” he said. “It’s not a reminder of ignorance. That space can create tremendous energy. The leaders have developed the ability to be okay. They don’t panic.”

That “confidence-based leadership” comes from the “notion of wakefulness” and of “touching the sense of courage” and basic goodness, he said.

“We are in a world where people don’t want to manifest but just want to impress,” he said. “We can try to escape and think someone else is taking responsibility. But we have to live life. We have to get up. When we rise, we are leading our life. At some point we rouse our energy. Everybody wants to be held and loved, but someone’s got to do the hugging.”

“Humanity is awake,” he said. “When we have this at the core, we aren’t haunted by hope and fear.”

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

As Shambhala is at a crossroads deciding on the role it’s playing in the broader society, he called on the participation of the community, with a specific emphasis on the New York center. Among the largest urban Shambhala centers with over 500 members, the New York branch is in the midst of deciding where its next home will be.

While leadership can be looked at as a burden, a life of serving beyond oneself “can be very meaningful,” he said.

“There’s this incredible potency,” he said. “The ways all of us can participate are under developed. Each person has a purpose and direction.”

For New York specifically, he called on the center to manifest and to come to the change with an open heart.

“With genuine lungta (the energy of windhorse), we’ll find the right building,” he said. “If we are unsure, then we’ll attract a place where we can hide.”

“Let this change, which can often be difficult for people, be healthy,” he said in closing. “I’m a big believer in having aspirations.”

photo by Heather Scott

photo by Heather Scott

Steve Derrickson visiting from Sky Lake Lodge in upstate New York shared his reflection:
I felt like a bit of a glutton after getting so much of the Sakyong in NYC this weekend! His public address on the birthright of basic goodness of the individual and society concluded with honest and pointed questions from youthful audience members. For me this was where the real ‘meat’ of the teaching occurred. The heartfelt, intimate and encouraging talk left me feeling a sense of vajra pride at being part of this beautiful clan.

Andrea Sherman offered this from the perspective of Accessibility:

The Gathering Goodness event in New York made efforts for it to be accessible to those with special needs. The organizers created an accessibility team and provided wheelchair and mobility access to the weekend venues as well as assistive hearing devices, and a sign language interpreter. A special table welcomed those with special needs and we made every effort to assist elders within the community as well. In the future we hope to do more in this area, so that New York is truly an enlightened society for all ages and all abilities.

Kathy Southard, community member from New York City shared:
After 17 years at our current address, our Shambhala Center will need to move to a new space. The Sakyong’s visit offered us a gathering of energy and strength in preparation for our coming transition. In the Sakyong’s address to the leadership, he described all of us moving forward together like an arrow. With the tip of the arrow as the leader, I realized that the frontline of the change have the toughest job. Trust in basic goodness will guide us through with confidence. After this weekend, it feels like we’re ready for the next challenge now.

photo by Ashley Goodwin

photo by Ashley Goodwin

Patricia Flores, returned New York Shambhala member and 9/11 survivor:
My meditation practice, and affiliation with the New York Shambhala Center, began 13 years ago and has been an extraordinary journey. During critical times in my physical, emotional, and spiritual recoveries, the international Shambhala community has held me, and after 9 years I have returned to my home sangha in New York. The teachings given this weekend by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Acharya Adam Lobel and Shastri Ethan Nichtern on The Shambhala Principle resounded loudly and deeply for me. Last year I learned that as a result of my 9/11 injuries, I am going deaf. Having already lost 60-70% of my hearing, total deafness is likely within the next 2-3 years. Rinpoche’s teachings echoed my innate desire to find basic goodness in others and assist those struggling like I am. During the Shambhala Meditation transmission this weekend, I had the biggest breakthrough in years. Just to acknowledge feeling, and then physically place the hand on the heart, as an embodiment of being, was revolutionary. To be able to use this action to touch into, and remind myself of my own basic goodness through such grief, sadness, and uncertainty, is a profound practice.

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Therese Marchitelli, long time member of the Shambhala community shared this:

“We stand at the crossroads of simple human experience, both personally and collectively.” These words resonated with me and seemed to pop up again and again. Simple human experience…we connect with that over and over again through our meditation practice and we’ve also experienced it collectively while coordinating programs and participating in discussion groups. We’ve also experienced the breakdown and complication of experience when transitioning through a crossroad and as a community we are standing at one now. On Sunday, we took time to use an intelligent tradition of working with and seeing through chaos and control to uncover an organic order of collective wisdom. We all want to help move our Sakyong’s vision forward. We want the vision of enlightened society to manifest; there is no doubt about that. For New York, time is of the essence in finding a new space to be. This is a crossroad of our potential. Our willingness to leave our comfort zone and bring value to our conversation and activity will be what moves us forward.

Terre Roche, practitioner since 1990 at the New York Shambhala Center had this to say:
The Sakyong’s message to the New York sangha was clear this weekend. As we approach the daunting task of finding a new building for our center, he urged us towards greater engagement with the City itself. He spoke of Shambhala and the world itself being at a crossroads. Whether or not the teachings survive will depend upon all of us doing our part. So let us deeply contemplate basic goodness. Don’t take anybody’s word for it. See if you really believe in the basic goodness of human beings. Then go even deeper so that you can extend out, first to your family, then your communities, then the world. Nobody’s saying it’s easy, but I had a glimpse that it might be possible.

Thanks to Ericka Phillips and her team for all their hard work on this powerful weekend. Thanks also to all the volunteer reporters and photographers for the Shambhala Times that made these articles possible!

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2 responses to “ Just Add Heart ”
  1. Interesting set of feelings hearing us described as “the Scene” I have not heard this in 20 years: in 70’s the community studying with Trungpa XI often referred to ourselves as “The Scene”. Sounds like a great event, we roll on…..

  2. Karen Iglehart
    Nov 12, 2013

    What a wonderful weekend! Thanks to all for your time and effort. With all your energy I am sure you will find the perfect new home. See you soon!

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