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Mar 25
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Unfolding of Shambhala Vision

Sakyong Mipham at the Chicago Center Opening, photo by BHH Studios

Sakyong Mipham at the Chicago Center Opening, photo by BHH Studios

The Sakyong Hails New Chicago Center as Unfolding of Shambhala Vision

report by Deborah L. McBride
photos by Breton Hoagland

The Sakyong and Spring were in Chicago – albeit briefly – on Friday, March 21st for the opening of the Chicago’s new center at 37 N. Carpenter in the city’s vibrant West Loop.

More than 120 members of the Chicago Shambhala community gathered in the fresh and welcoming space along with members of social service organizations. These partners have been involved with the center in its efforts to curb youth violence as a continuation of last year’s local conference entitled “Imagining Peace,” which was led by the Sakyong in 2013. Amid artwork submitted by students from alternative schools depicting their thoughts about the world around them, the attendees heeded the Sakyong’s wishes for the space to be full of “food, conversation, and meditation.”

Gina Caruso, chair of the governing council, toasted the lineage of Sakyongs in her welcoming remarks as she referred to the experiment Chicago’s center is undertaking to create enlightened society from the new location. She introduced Diana Barry from the Alternative Schools Network, who thanked the group for the love, kindness and energy that members have shown to the young people of Chicago.

While describing the center’s history and identifying the many people involved in what culminated in the new building’s opening, Thomas Adducci, Director of Shambhala Chicago, mentioned that two years ago when he saw the location, the Sakyong had said he wanted to come back for the opening of the new center. So with great pleasure, Tom welcomed him to Chicago.

Shambhala’s President Richard Reoch told the attendees, “This space has been designed with others in mind. What you are doing in Chicago is the heart of the vision of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. We exist and offer ourselves for the benefit of others. The way this center has been designed, and the work that went into making it this way, is a sign of how the vision will unfold. This center is a model for Shambhala of the future.”

In commemorating the opening of the center, the Sakyong expressed his personal gratitude to the group for making his vision for the center a reality. He stated, “This is a challenging journey. The opportunity for us to do this or not wasn’t just up to me to push this forward. You in the Chicago center had to push yourselves. It’s easier to stay with something comfortable; but that’s not our inheritance; not why my father traveled with the vision of wakefulness and the spirit of courage that has touched all of us. There is something in us that knows something needs to be done. Now, where we are at a critical point in the history of time.”

Sakyong Mipham at the Chicago Center Opening 2, photo by BHH Studios.jpg

Sakyong Mipham at the Chicago Center Opening 2, photo by BHH Studios.jpg

The Sakyong continued, saying, “This place can play a pivotal role in training hearts and minds. Food, conversation, meditation – these are important steps in reconstituting human mind, community, and trust in basic goodness. We must attempt to help at this point. We all must embody the principles of basic goodness as we are trying to address the issues the young people of this city face. It is up to us as to how we use this space for meditation and connecting at a human level.”

Furthermore, the Sakyong shared, “It’s a cultural oddity that people think of Tibetan monasteries as isolated and mysterious, but they are deeply involved with their society. Similarly, we must be relevant to what goes on in an urban area. As cities become increasingly more challenging to live in, we must learn to live together. We must relate to our own mind and to others, as those are the fundamental building blocks of society.”

“Recently,” the Sakyong said, “Chicago’s mayor stated that, ‘this is the most American of cities. It’s a city of immigrants in the middle of the country.’ It’s auspicious and maybe also suspicious that in the middle of the country we are willing to take this leap with very powerful energy. I express my admiration and support so that what happens here not only benefits Shambhala but also other organizations working at different social and economic levels.”

“Society is at a critical point,” concluded the Sakyong. “We are on the threshold of seeing another level in evolution that affects all levels of modern life. Subsequent waves of wisdom can be applied to enrich all our lives. To quote Shanti Devi, ‘If my action helps even one person for one moment, my life has been worthwhile.’”

To read more about this pivotal event, click here to see an article by Shastri Charlene Leung.

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