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Celebrating ‘Warriors in the World’ Week

image courtesy of Tina Mailhot-Roberge at Veodesign.com

image courtesy of Tina Mailhot-Roberge at Veodesign.com

by Shastri Charlene Leung, Chairperson of the Shambhala Diversity Working Group

In The Shambhala Principle, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche shares his father’s sentiments: “Building a good human society will take manual labor. It will not happen automatically. We cannot rely on one or two people to suddenly move humanity in the right direction. We can’t count on a magic spell being cast.”

Yet in history there are many examples of women and men whose influence have cast a magic spell, moving humanity towards creating enlightened society. These women and men have demonstrated bravery and compassion in service to humankind and the planet. They have helped inspire others in social movements that magically transform society, for example Nelson Mandela’s influence in ending apartheid in South Africa, and his death this past December.

Annually, in Shambhala we are invited to celebrate warriors in the world. For Shambhala Centers in the United States this is often during the week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is this week, January 20-27, 2014. In other countries it may be celebrated at a significant time of the year according to their own history and traditions. While we aspire to build this celebration into a full blown community celebration, in these early years since introducing this idea in 2012, Centers so inspired have offered a range of celebrations from simple open house talks about warriors in the world to interfaith dialogues, to day long events focusing on peacemaking and non-violence.

As Sakyong Mipham wrote, “Making good things happen still comes down to engaging ourselves thoroughly, with exertion.”

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Celebrating Warriors in the World this week? We want to hear about it! Share your photos and stories with us. Email them to us at: [email protected]

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10 responses to “ Celebrating ‘Warriors in the World’ Week ”
  1. How can we look earnestly at leaders such as these without also somehow de-programming, in our own minds and the collective imagination, their endlessly repetitive re-branding into saccharine icons often quite mutated from their original message? MLK’s image, for example, has been meticulously surgically re-crafted to excise his powerful remarks against US imperalism and, not surprisingly, 50 years later, American imperialism is more robust than ever. To celebrate him stripped largely bare of his much broader moral conscience is, I think, to be complicit in the process which actually renders him and others obsolete to serving as continued beacons of inspiration. Must we not be torch-bearers against the grain that would allow powerful leaders such as these to become the feel-good icons of Apple advertisements? As Gang of Four once said, “No weak men in the books at home / The strong men who have made the world / History lives on the books at home / The books at home / It’s not made by great men”

  2. Shastri Charlene Leung
    Jan 21, 2014
    Reply

    P.S. Thanks for the resources you shared.

  3. Shastri Charlene Leung
    Jan 21, 2014
    Reply

    I agree, Shaun, when you say that, “Martin Luther King was able to rise and achieve what he did because of the work of hundreds and thousands of Black activists, men and women, nameless and unknown in history, who struggled over many decades to challenge racial oppression. They laid the groundwork that created an ‘auspicious moment’ when MLK could rise up and become the mouthpiece of a social MOVEMENT, which necessarily requires the work and struggle of countless thousands sustained over many decades.”

    Perhaps we have different understandings of the word “coincidence”, as used in the term “auspicious coincidence”. A conventional definition of coincidence is “without apparent causal connection”. In Shambhala, my understanding is that auspicious coincidence is likened to a constellation of incidences, or co-incidences that have a beneficial result. For example, hundreds of thousands of people of all colors, including whites, coming together over time and in many places to challenge racial oppression. It’s auspicious in that the warriorship of the named and unnamed individuals, many of whom lost their lives, did not go in vain — society changed. We can celebrate all warriors this week, named and unnamed.

  4. “For me, the magic is the auspicious coincidence, the emergence of visionary leaders at times when their influence helps society actually change.”

    Here again, I would have to say ‘it’s neither magic’ nor a coincidence. Martin Luther King was able to rise and achieve what he did because of the work of hundreds and thousands of Black activists, men and women, nameless and unknown in history, who struggled over many decades to challenge racial oppression. They laid the groundwork that created an ‘auspicious moment’ when MLK could rise up and become the mouthpiece of a social MOVEMENT, which necessarily requires the work and struggle of countless thousands sustained over many decades.

  5. Shastri Charlene Leung
    Jan 20, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you for your comments. Good points! Agreed! For me, the magic is the auspicious coincidence, the emergence of visionary leaders at times when their influence helps society actually change. On a personal level it’s seeing even small changes after years and years of working for change and feeling sometimes discouraged and hopeless but not giving up!

  6. “Instead of basking in a magical glow, I’d prefer to hear how these warriors catalyzed change.” Excellent point–agreed!

  7. Sherab Gyatso
    Jan 20, 2014
    Reply

    If it’s just “magical”, we can’t reproduce it. The point of Dharma is that it provides a method. Otherwise it would simply be just another form of “opium for the masses”.

    Instead of basking in a magical glow, I’d prefer to hear how these warriors catalyzed change.

  8. I would also suggest reading Alice Walker’s “The Cushion in the Road” as a way to bring together meditation and social action.

    The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way

    This gorgeous collection gathers Alice Walker’s wide-ranging meditations—many of them previously unpublished—on our intertwined personal, spiritual, and political destinies. For the millions of her devoted fans, and for readers of Walker’s bestselling 2006 book, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For, here is a brand new “gift of words” that invites readers on a journey of political awakening and spiritual insight.

    The Cushion in the Road finds the Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, poet, essayist, and activist at the height of her literary powers, sharing fresh vantages and a deepening engagement with our world. Walker writes that “we are beyond a rigid category of color, sex, or spirituality if we are truly alive,” and the pieces in The Cushion in the Road illustrate this idea beautifully. Visiting themes she has addressed throughout her career—including racism, Africa, Palestinian solidarity, and Cuba—as well as addressing emergent issues, such as the presidency of Barack Obama on health care, Walker explores her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world.

    Rich with humor and wisdom, and informed by Walker’s unique eye for the details of human and natural experience, The Cushion in the Road will please longtime Walker fans as well as those who are new to her work.

  9. It might be very educational to attend this film festival on diversity at DAL:

    Just one week away! BROADENING PERSPECTIVES – A Dalhousie Film Festival Exploring Diversity. @Dalnews @DalArtGallery pic.twitter.com/a5vxFDIOZN

    These films are presented at NOON at the Dalhousie Art Gallery, 6101 University Ave

    Jan. 24 Wabanaki: People of the Dawn Parts I & II
    Jan. 31 In the Shadow of Gold Mountain
    Feb. 6 Remember Africville
    Feb. 14 Long Road to Justice: the Viola Desmond Story
    Feb. 28 Short Films: Gender, Identity, Race and Place
    March 7 Going Blind

  10. I have some concern with the language “women and men whose influence have cast a magic spell” and “social movements that magically transform society”. The great work of confronting injustice, of teaching and leading people toward social justice and social transformation is not magic. It takes decades of arduous work against seemingly impossible odds and direct threats on people’s lives. It is not magic. And moreover, it is a spiritual work that has political implications and consequences; it is a political as well as spiritual work. That political work, that work of struggling to bring about social justice, cannot be brought about or bypassed with “magic.”


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