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Oct 07
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Surviving and Thriving

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche offers meditation instruction in Amsterdam, photo courtesy of BHH Studios

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche offers meditation instruction in Amsterdam, photo courtesy of BHH Studios

Reporting from the Scene:
Bright Now Festival, Amsterdam

article by Klemen Kokelj
photos by Sabine Lokhorst, Helen Vink and BHH Studios

On Saturday morning the Grote zaal (main hall) opens up. Three young musicians called the ‘Twiching Eye Trio’ make an introduction with an empowering percussion performance. Music full of rhythm, syncopation and other elements I perhaps don’t recognize, lift me up and get me in the mood for moving. They end with a spectacular moment and the energy is perfectly set for speakers to take over the floor.

Acharya Han de Wit begins with a talk about the basic goodness that every person has within. If we build upon that and create a society based on trust, we feel connected to each other. And the distrust that we usually experience these days gives us a feeling of disconnectedness.

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

Josephine Green takes over and goes a step further. She starts straightforwardly, letting us know very clearly that a paradigm shift is happening. The old hierarchical models we are used to, based on competition, winners and losers, scarcity and testosterone, obviously aren’t working. The only way humanity can survive in the future is through cooperation. Long story short, we either fly or die. Yet her sense of humor reminds us not to take it too seriously.

If we as humanity are interested in surviving or even thriving, we are going to have to start working together. That means entering the age of abundance, beyond the life and belief of scarcity. In fact, Josephine says, “Darwin never said that only the fittest survive. He said that in the moments of confrontation, those who cooperate and adapt are the ones who survive.”

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

The possibility of working only 10 or 20 hours a week might become reality, with this view. Her remark that impresses and touches me the most is, “We act as if humans were born to work. That is complete bollocks!”

This makes me think. If society is going to look like that in the future, work could be much more fun. In fact work could be play.

The last one speaking is Patty Kluytmans. She introduces her sustainable gardens using coffee residue for growing mushrooms and her new projects where the local community gets strengthened in the process. Their team even came up with an idea to make an artistic cafe out of the gardens. From there they are still working on how to expand it, make it as sustainable as possible. It is always inspiring to see people putting their ideas into practice.

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

photo by Sabine Lokhorst

After the panel speakers, I join a workshop called Being an Innerpreneur. It is led by Geertje Couwenbergh in a cute, playful and grounded way. I realize it is not about finding my bliss, but bringing it to whatever I am doing. It works better to replace passion (which lies inside of you) with intention (which is out there and naturally calls for leadership). Being an Innerpreneur, with words from the Shambhala tradition, means not being scared of who you are and constantly serving the inquiry of how can I serve my intention.

In the afternoon we have the privilege of being guided in meditation by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I become much more present, aware of my surroundings, and after a while I am so relaxed I find it hard to stay awake. Some people fall asleep, others are perfectly present. I realize I could start working on my meditative stamina.

Pieter Spinder presents

Pieter Spinder presents

On Sunday morning, Pieter Spinder opens up the day with his talk about the creative business school in Amsterdam he created, called Knowmads. I am reminded once again why I went to study here. To truly get connected to the world I want to live in, how do I want to contribute to creating it and how do I make such an organization work.

The other lecturers speak Dutch, but I am excited to see that there are other creative spaces running such as het technasium and Hermitage for Children.

Group sharing inside of 'Getting in touch with brilliant sanity' workshop

Group sharing inside of ‘Getting in touch with brilliant sanity’ workshop

After that, I join a wonderful workshop called Getting in Touch with Brilliant Sanity. We start doing a sharing exercise and I dive into a wonderful and deep conversation with an interesting lady. We start talking about how the personal areas we see are not always working and I get in touch with weird behavior or attitudes I sometimes have that really don`t work, for example withdrawing myself from a conversation with people that I don’t agree with. Seeing this gives me freedom to choose another behavior next time and opens the possibility of connection and acceptance with everyone, no matter how their view on the world is.

The weekend is approaching its end and I find it hard to accept that I haven’t been able to join all the workshops as many of them were running simultaneously. Maybe there is also an intention behind it, an opportunity to practice choosing. I feel I am going to miss all the beautiful marble halls. But more importantly, the love I received from all the peoples eyes will stay in my heart wherever I go.


photo by Helen Vink

photo by Helen Vink

Congratulations Shambhala Amsterdam! A profound Festival was achieved, manifesting the Sakyong’s wish for such an event to occur, bringing both the Shambhala teachings out to a larger community, and bringing the wealth of the larger community in to meet Shambhala! Please see the Bright Now Festival website for a full expose on all the speakers, workshops, seminars and photos of the event: brightnowfestival.nl/en

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2 responses to “ Surviving and Thriving ”
  1. Thank you Klemen for sharing the Amsterdam Festival with us. How inspiring!

  2. Sherab Gyatso
    Oct 7, 2014

    In Darwin’s theory, the “fittest” simply means those that are best adapted to their environment, and nothing else.

    The basic nature of things is to relax into the dharmakaya — or in physics, for ordered phenomena to revert to a disordered state (the Second law of Thermodynamics). Living systems do the opposite, creating order from disorder, but can only do so by collecting and using energy to do so. Not all systems can absorb energy from their environments, but systems adapted to their environment can. Should sources of energy change, those systems that happen already to be best positioned to use the new source of energy will survive. Systems that can adapt to use the new sources will also survive. Nothing in Darwin’s theory either requires or forbids cooperation. Humans and ants happen to survive by cooperation. Viruses happen not to.

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