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Dec 19
Friday
Sakyong and Family
Imagining and Manifesting

Sakyong Mipham Ripoche, photo BHH Studios

Sakyong Mipham Ripoche, photo BHH Studios

report on the Sakyong’s visit to New York City
by Andria Cheng

It was a message about basic goodness in each one of us, and about how we can conduct our lives with genuine confidence – that unconditional trust and feeling in one’s innate goodness that can be infectious and become building blocks for an enlightened society.

A year after he visited New York and gave his first public talk since 2008 to a crowd of 800, the Sakyong’s return to Manhattan on November 1st was more intimate this time around – it was meant specifically for the New York Shambhala Center members.

And his message did pack that extra punch and came at a critical time as the New York sangha, Shambhala’s largest metropolitan center with over 500 members, is moving to a yet-to-be finalized location early next year after a 19-plus-year history in the current Chelsea neighborhood.

“It’s a historical testament to where we are,” the Sakyong spoke at the New York center to about 200 members, including some who came from other centers and became New York members just so they could hear the Sakyong’s words in person. “New York being so strong is an interesting cultural shift.”

And the importance of how New York moves forward next wasn’t lost on the Sakyong.

He spoke about having a vision and intention for the new center, where it would be a place for conversations to take place; where “human connectivity can be the foundation of human dignity;” and where it would be a testing ground that allows the messages of genuine confidence and basic goodness to flourish and expand from the individual level to the broader society.

“It’s important to think how this culture can manifest,” he said. “It doesn’t cost anything to have imagination. The notion of building a community is the most difficult but also the most important.”

The Sakyong continued saying, “Nothing arises without a level of struggle and some pain. We are trying to rise up to a sense of vision. If we do it in a way that’s genuine and strong, we’ll have lots of friends.”

As he travels around the world and engages with other communities, the Sakyong said the notion of “Who am I?” is a “global and societal question” as “the principles we are all looking for” share common themes. He gave the example of hearing the following words from a different community when he visited Amsterdam: “I think people are good.”

“We have ideas that we as a community are trying to act on, a community that can embody it,” the Sakyong said. “We are a culture in believing life is worth living….The trick is to work with the multi-layered color of human confidence, to say ‘We are going to live this way.’ If we do, there’s going to be energy.

“In New York, is this something strong enough for us to manifest and not to convince someone? How can we participate in a non-aggressive way?” the Sakyong asked.

How the New York center manifests itself next was also a central theme of Acharya Eric Spiegel’s talk earlier in the day to set the stage for the Sakyong’s teaching that afternoon.

The Acharya gave a brief history of Shambhala and the New York center and encouraged the community to see the move and the change, “as part of the evolution of the dharma.” He also led sangha members to contemplate “richness” in their lives, instead of the habitual pattern of focusing on negativity.

The sangha also participated in group contemplations to answer the following questions: What led you to Shambhala? How does Shambhala enrich your life? What vision do you have for Shambhala?

Some members spoke about being agents of change and doing more outreach, while others talked about engaging with other communities or working more closely to bring Shambhala principles to the corporate world.

And some of those visions may well play a role in the new center’s blueprint.

“This isn’t the time to think just about the next five years, but the next 50 years,” the Sakyong said later in the day. “We might be here for good. To think that way, it takes courage. From that, there’s a spark and energy released. People like to gift wrap their spirituality, but it needs to be engaged. By creating strong intention, a seed is planted. Through action the seed can be watered.”

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A special thanks to Andria Cheng for guest reporting again for the Shambhala Times!

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2 responses to “ Imagining and Manifesting ”
  1. ralph asher
    Dec 27, 2014
    Reply

    Sounds beautiful – but it is not Buddhism. Seems he is doing a pre-Hinayana type of teaching here. If he can build a proper “container” with the Shambhala teachings then Buddhism can be presented and practiced. Seems to be based upon the vision of the Vidyadhara when he presented “enlightened society” in the only book he ever wrote – “Memoirs of Sir Nyima Sangpo.” Hopefully those teachings will not be degraded into some hybrid of the “liberal religious political philosophy” while picking and choosing from Buddhist tenets – as so many Catholics, Jews, and others before us have done. It is imperative that no teacher even speak the words “enlightened society” without referring to this important text – in my humble opinion. I certainly will never waste a moment on one who does not base his “insights” on the teachings of the Vidyadhara. But that is just me. .

  2. ralph asher
    Dec 26, 2014
    Reply

    Proof is in the pudding. If this kind of message gets them sitting and seeing the four noble truths then it is great. If it is just about therapy and living in samsara more comfortably – well that is their karma I guess.


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