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Apr 13
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Kindness and Inspiration in Boston

DSC_0042article by Frank Ryan
photos by Kris Talluto

“Kindness and Inspiration: A Shambhala Community Day,” led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and President Richard Reoch followed the Moving Forward: Boston Strong in Everyday Life event. It was a perfect complement to the previous night’s gathering of hundreds at the historic Arlington Street Church in the center of Boston.

The Saturday night talk, live-streamed around the world, was presented close to the site of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings which struck the city of Boston and the world with unexpected shock and loss last April. A veteran Boston Marathon runner himself, the Sakyong acknowledged the personal impact of that day.

DSC_0083He was struck by the response of the people of Boston to that tragedy. Rather than a reflex of aggression he witnessed a city responding with strength and empathy. Throughout the evening he explored how this response should serve as a template for how enlightened society will be established in the world. The Sakyong acknowledged the auspiciousness that a similar theme was presented by his father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, thirty-two years ago from this same podium. His genuine presence and vast vision was particularly resonant for members of the Shambhala community who had traveled from throughout New England for the evening.

DSC_0089The following morning, 135 warriors gathered at the Shambhala Center of Boston on Brookline Avenue with the Sakyong and Shambhala President Richard Reoch for the Shambhala Community Day. At 9am, everyone had an opportunity to socialize and talk about their inspiration to actualize the vision of Shambhala. Beginning at 10am, President Reoch facilitated dialogue and visioning centered on the specifics of how our community could work with others to effect social transformation in the region. This established a rich ground for the Sakyong’s talk in the afternoon.

DSC_0039Following a delicious lunch, everyone returned to the meditation hall for silent practice. The Sakyong, flanked on one side by a stretch of windows overlooking the apartments and offices of Boston and on the other by images of Gesar, Yeshe Tsogyal, and the Primordial Rigden thangka, quickly moved into the demand and delight of joining heaven and earth.

He noted that when the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche arrived in North America, he was “the complete package.” Despite having personally experienced the turmoil and degradation of the dark age, his confidence in the basic goodness of humanity was unshakable. This is the force that propels the Sakyong and ourselves in infusing the evolving culture and society of the twenty-first century with kindness, wisdom, and strength.

DSC_0106The Sakyong pointed out that neither himself nor the community can do it alone. While a journey of deep meditative transformation is essential, we have to completely enter the evolving stream of culture to make a real difference. Real change is not mass-produced. A community such as ours, imbued with vast vision, brimming with lungta, and open to collaborating with others, is perfectly positioned to serve as the catalyst for social transformation.

Kindness and Inspiration (1)The Sakyong concluded by noting that we do not need to be overwhelmed by the prospect of bringing our insight and training into our household, our workplace and our society. Clarifying for ourselves and for others the very nature of our humanity is nothing more than the process of “sit, smile and society.” “Sit” means feeling and personally experiencing the depth of our aliveness. This visceral experience naturally leads to “smile,” a sense of release, unlike “smile,” in terms of becoming self-contained and indifferent to others, but even more connected with human pain and suffering which we’re capable of meeting with the play of intelligence and resourcefulness.

This vulnerability, manifest at the level of a friend who is trustworthy and reliable, is the essential building block of an authentic “society.” Discovering basic goodness is our first real transmission, but establishing enlightened society is the ultimate transmission. Together they serve as buoys for our very demanding and up-lifting journey amid the surging seas of social and personal transformation.

The event ended with a festive celebration. Executive Director Dan Glenn thanked Ashley Goodwin, Head of Communication and Center Operations who, in close concert with Director Glenn, focused so much of the preparation and execution of the visit. He also extended appreciation to the visit coordinators Elizabeth Latchis and Rob Haslam, who, along with so many others, made Moving Forward: Boston Strong in Everyday Life possible.

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