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Shambhala Day Address: Year of the Wood Sheep

Transcript of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s Shambhala Day address
19 February, 2015
Year of the Wood Sheep
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Click here to view the video recording of the address
Click here to see the annual roll call video
Click here for the Spanish translation off the address


A very good morning everybody, and good morning and good evening to all of you who are joining us. [To assembly:] You can say, “Good morning.” [Assembly: “Good morning!”] Congratulations, everyone, for making it here. It wasn’t easy!

I would like to take a moment on this particular Shambhala Day to acknowledge that it marks the twentieth year since I formally took my seat as the Sakyong. Even though this is obviously personal—and for those of you who were there—it’s gone by incredibly slowly. [Laughs; laughter] At the same time, what has occurred over those years is amazing.

This is the Year of the Sheep, as we are aware. This morning as I sat in the Kalapa Court, my personal residence, I viewed a calligraphy that was written by my father, the Dorje Dradül, Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, sixteen years before the Sakyong enthronement, when he empowered me as the Sawang. That means it has actually been thirty-six years. In some systems of astrology, it is a complete cycle. There is a real sense that it has taken this much time to plant a seed—and a very powerful seed. Myself being enthroned as the Sakyong is something that is not personal, but which represents our journey as a community. In particular, it represents the vision and inspiration that the Dorje Dradül intended.

On this day we celebrate a new year and a new time. At the same time, what has occurred in the past is coming to fruition. Part of what has happened is that my own personal journey of sakyongship, as “earth protector,” is really analogous in terms of all of us. This notion of human dignity was planted at the heart of our Shambhala teachings. What we are celebrating—and continuing to discover—is the journey of Shambhala, which is based on the essential notion that humanity is awake. Humanity is good. Humanity is complete.

As we have discovered over the years, this simple theme has profound implications. Therefore, the premise of Shambhala is the sun rising. In fact, the whole cycle of the Shambhala teachings uses the image of the sun; it is our logo. It is the rising of human consciousness. On the one hand, this is deep, profound, and meditative; it can be esoteric. On the other, this notion of humanity rising up—being awake, good, strong, and dignified—is the core theme that still pervades our world. With so much fear and instability, it gives us a real sense of where we’re going. We all realize that there is a notion of humanity; that’s why we are interested and involved in connecting: there is a tremendous opening or softening, a willingness and wantingness for some way in which to lead life.

Today is the beginning of a year, and the basic message is that Shambhala is about life. It is about the energy rising. This is not ignoring that we have birth, aging, sickness, and death, in a cyclical existence. There’s a quality of looking at whether we are really engaged in life, if we are living life fully, and what is our notion of living. Or is our life shrouded in a sense of setting—not in the sense of being judgmental, but in the sense of energy dissipating? The new year is an excellent time to look at how we lead our life. We come together; all cultures do it. In terms of the way we can lead our life, a particular koan of Shambhala is: Is it something that is at our fingertips? That is the biggest question.

What was planted twenty years ago is the lineage of Shambhala, which is now coming into fruition and determining how we go into the future. Humanity arising, humanity being awake, is our lineage. Yet there is far to go. I am realizing—as many of you probably are—that this is multigenerational. It is a big view. It’s important today for us to celebrate our accomplishments.

I want to thank everybody for persevering. In particular, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to Mr. Richard Reoch, who has served, dedicating his life. Today he is joining us from Istanbul. He’s running as far away as he can [laughter], but . . . we see you, Richard, and you are always welcome back. He is an exemplar in terms of dedication and humor. Even right now, he is exploring new ground as to how we can take this vision forward.

Richard’s being in Istanbul and Europe is an indication that Shambhala in this last period of time has grown from being fairly regional communities into being a global community. This year we established Berlin as our European center and held festivals in the United States. Many people are joining us now via the Web. Shambhala Day has become a cultural event. All these indicate the global element of Shambhala vision.

I also want to show my appreciation and gratitude for the strength of the Sakyong Wangmo, who will be sending a message to everyone. During this time, the principle of the feminine warrior has been incredibly nourishing and strengthening for me personally, and also for the community. I certainly hope that she continues to be an inspiration to all of you, as she is to me.

Where we need to go next as a community is taking these principles and bringing them home. I see this Year of the Sheep as a time of stabilizing and domesticity. Shambhala needs to be wherever we are. We have been working with its principles and theories, but as everyone knows, the best place to try them is at home. There it becomes very evident how strong these principles are. We have taken them from a sense of vision to the centres, and now it is about bringing them into our home. Regardless of what our home situation is, we should feel a sense of good fortune to have a home, a sense of belonging and being.

The ability for Shambhala to continue resides not only in the Shambhala centres, but also on these teachings actually landing in our homes and lives. Over this next period of time, I’d like to put effort into what this means. We have had time to contemplate the principles of basic goodness and enlightened society. If we are going to create a culture and a society, those principles need to be strong within our own lives. The home is where we are able to relax and strengthen. At the same time, it can be a trap; it can generate positive or negative energies for us. Much of what is happening in the world is connected with this notion of home, how we are living, and how we are getting along. Many of our teachings have to do not only with ourselves, but also with community and society. By emphasizing the home, we are establishing the basis of ethics, communication, and how we can live and survive as people. This is one way Shambhala can offer and be of benefit to the world.

Another way to express this is that it is time for us to manifest. In the last few years we have had different levels of confidence manifesting. We were not even sure about the principles of basic goodness. Having dialogue and discussion on that has allowed for some maturation to occur. Now where does it land? It lands in the household. Household is the seed of enlightened society. Can that seed be watered and grow? It all depends on our lungta as a community. It depends on our personal heart.

For myself, this journey has been very much of the heart. I’d gladly say that it is not a journey of the head, because no “head” would do this [laughter]. But as everyone knows, it’s hard to control the heart. So I’d like to invite you all to look at your heart and see if your heart is in it, because if this is going to occur—as we are overwhelmed by many things—it is going to occur because of the miracle of the heart. Before I came here today to address you, there were many possible subjects to talk about. One thing is that it is amazing that we are here. And it is amazing that our community, in many and humble ways, has the possibility of making a difference.

What’s happened over the last period of time is that we are trying to get our own house in order. Already, around the world, you are all doing amazing things. I see more and more that for whatever reason, one part of the teachings strikes us, and an idea is born, an inspiration is born. That is Shambhala. It is that act of bravery. It is the act of engaging, the sun rising. We are trying to build a culture based on that, the culture of strength and possibility.

This is very much the lineage I’ve been asked to hold, and it’s actually taken us this much time to align and be strong. I see this lineage of basic goodness as the sun, and enlightened society as the rays. Put the sun and the rays together and you have brilliance. I am happy to say that the sun and the rays have come together, and it has taken thirty-six years.

Certainly, on this day, I would like to extend those rays out to everybody, and I’d like to encourage all of you who are joining us. I know that many of you are struggling with personally or with your health. Many of you are experiencing change; many are experiencing growth. But on this day when we are connecting to some primal energy of humanity, it is important to reflect that we are on this fantastic journey of life. It is important, just for a moment, to recognize that time has passed.

The most brilliant people have tried to communicate the nature of reality. In our tradition, the nature of reality is having the strength to appreciate and connect to the sadness, the joy, the strength, and the fragility of our experience. This is demonstrated today. Everybody had to make their way here. Everybody had to put energy into being here, and somehow it came together. From this we can launch into the New Year, which is an excellent way to follow the Horse, in terms of stabilization and bringing it into our personal experience.

As we are hooked up globally, on this particular Shambhala Day I ask you to join me in making an aspiration for what this next year will be. If you feel good about that, I would like you to extend your mind and say what the next twenty years would be. What is our vision? Shambhala Day is an excellent time to release the last year and in that space of not knowing, to raise our energy and project it into the future.

Okay. Please take a seat. As we gather, personally and globally reflect on what has happened in the past that has dissolved. As we gather as a community, with all of our anticipation and unknowns, allow for your confidence to arise. Now, from the ground of strength, dignity, and goodness, make an aspiration for this next year, and if you wish, beyond. By the simple act of intention, conditions and causes are initiated. [Pause] As we take this moment globally, letting the sun of Shambhala extend out, let us make an aspiration to be of benefit: to strengthen those who need to be strengthened, to help those who are suffering, and to create a culture based on the principles of strength, kindness, and intelligence.

Please join me in a bow to conclude. [All bow.]

Thank you, everyone. At this point, we could continue with the program.

THE SAKYONG WANGMO: Cheerful Shambhala Day and Happy Losar. I’m speaking from the Kalapa Court. We woke up early this morning to celebrate Shambhala Day with Jetsun Drukmo and Jetsun Yudra. I hope you celebrate with family, friends, and community.

This year is a special year because we are commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Sakyong enthronement. Since that time, the Sakyong has worked tirelessly to establish and strengthen our lineage. During that time, the community has strengthened and flourished under his guidance. I hope that this new year, we can all make deep aspirations to continue his great vision of enlightened society. I again encourage you to manifest in your home lives as warriors. Whether that be in your job, family life, or practice, the new year is always a great time to raise one’s lungta and to show appreciation for this precious life.

So please celebrate. May the new year bring lots of happiness, good health, joy, and prosperity. Once again, cheerful Shambhala Day, happy Losar, and please enjoy.


And here’s Jetsun Drukmo, wishing you all a cheerful Shambhala Day.

Jetsun Drukmo: Cheerful Shambhala Day and happy Losar. KI KI SO SO!

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