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Aug 02
Sakyong and Family
The Sun is Just Rising

photo by Mike Levy

photo by Mike Levy

Celebrating 20 Years of Our Sakyong

Twenty years ago, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on May 14, 1995, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche was formally enthroned as the Sakyong of Shambhala.

His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche (Penor Rinpoche), then the Supreme Head of the Nyingma lineage, conferred the enthronement in the midst of the Shambhala Celebration known as Joining Heaven & Earth. This festive celebration, held at Pier 23 in Halifax, lasted nine days and had thousands of Shambhalians in attendance. As part of the celebration, Penor Rinpoche auspiciously conferred the Kalachakra Empowerment for Enlightened Society.

The title of Sakyong means “earth protector.” It was previously conferred on the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche on May 24, 1982 by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The Sakyong’s enthronement was only the second time that this rare ceremony has been conferred in the West and, at the time, marked a milestone in the then 25-year history of Shambhala International.

The Shambhala community celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Sakyong’s Enthronement in a gathering in Boulder, CO on July 5th which was broadcast internationally to Shambhala Centers around the world. The morning began with the practice of the Shambhala Sadhana, a liturgy composed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2011 to illuminate basic goodness. Following that, Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown provided the context for the celebration with a brief account of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s journey to the west and the establishment of the Shambhala lineage.

Once the Sakyong arrived, there were a series of mandala offerings, one from the Sakyong’s family, offered by the Sakyong Wangmo, Khandro Tseyang, assisted by Lama Pegyal and Gyurme Dorje, and another from the Shambhala community, offered by Acharya Susan Skjei, assisted by the Kasung Ki Khyap Jesse Grimes and Melanie Klein, Center Director of the Boulder Shambhala Center.

The Sakyong donned the cloak and crown that he wore during his enthronement as Sakyong to receive these offerings (shown in the photograph above).


You have performed goodness and genuineness.
You have lived up to the standard of genuine son.
Your chuckle has turned out to be great humor.
Your bravery is better than Garuda’s cry.
I appreciate your being a real person.

As much as we celebrate,
You should join the Tiger Lion Garuda Dragon Dignities.
Your icicle is good and your fire is magnificent.
Your meaningful smiled have turned out to be chariots
Which will bring along the Great Eastern Sun.

~ The Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

March 22, 1978
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire

Excerpted from Royal Songs, a collection of poetry published on the occasion of the Sakyong’s enthronement in 1995.

Shastri Holly Gayley read the poem, “Anniversary,” composed by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on the occasion of his son’s coming of age, one year prior to his empowerment as Sawang in Boulder in 1979, thirty-six years ago. As if to herald the occasion, church bells sounded throughout the reading. To cap off these offerings, Julia Emory offered a stunning cello solo.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche addressed the community on this occasion. Below is an edited excerpt from the address:

I very much feel the blessing, humor and timing of my father, the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo, who thirty-six years ago in this very room planted a seed of human goodness and continuity in my empowerment [as Sawang] and sixteen years later that came to fruition in the enthronement of myself [as Sakyong]. Even though this day marks that occasion, I really think what happened is that it was essentially the enthronement of Shambhala, the enthronement of all of us. So I see this not just for myself personally, but all of us.

The notion of enthronement is a ceremony of taking our seat, of taking our principle. And, in a sense, on that day, we all took our seat of basic goodness. So you could say that what was enthroned was basic goodness. What was enthroned was human dignity. What was enthroned was the notion of good human society. So that is something that occurred.

At the same time, I feel like what we are celebrating today is not just the past. But really, we are on the precipice of the future. On the one hand, I feel like what has happened over the last twenty years is that we have ourselves worked with this notion: are we worthy to be here? It feels like there is a sense of strength and kindness and good confidence that has developed. Right now we are at this interesting crossroads where, in a sense by taking our seat, we can take our seat at the table of global society. We have the opportunity to take our seat and also to determine and participate in how the future unfolds.

So this is very much a time when all of us have to gather our strength, gather that sense of who we are, personally and communally, and look towards the future. People have plans, but society has to have a vision. In many ways, the focus over the last twenty years has been myself. Right now, the transition is that it is on all of you, all of us. We must manifest as a community. And, If we are to embody these teachings, which have so much power and possibility, we have a community and we’ve worked hard…

Building community is not easy, but we have somehow persevered and succeeded. Yet I feel like there is more to do. So it is important to take this moment in the continuum of our community to reflect on what we would like to see in the future. What can our community be in the future? Can we participate in a world that is right now in a very fragile situation?

So on the one hand, this has been my responsibility. The word sakyong means “earth protector.” On this day, when you are supposedly celebrating myself, I’m going to do a big switcheroo. I’m going to make all of you earth protectors. I’m going to need some help. So, on the one hand, I am delighted and honored by this responsibility. But this notion of how a human being can wake up to their potential and wake up to who they are is so powerful.

If we can create a community where this becomes the norm, this becomes the community, then we are all protecting wakefulness, dignity, human culture, ethics, all these elements.

So we have to become not only protectors of humanity, we have to become protectors of the environment, and we have to become protectors of society. How do we do that? It is us all realizing that we have this precious human life.

On this day, I would encourage all of you to reconnect to your own sense of journey and warriorship. It’s so easy right now to loose our way in life. So on a personal level, please connect with your own particular practice, your our own sense of journey, meditation. But not just leave it here, also connect with what we can do for others, for society. If we as a community can do this, there is so much that is possible.

As a community, can we have the courageousness to raise our gaze and look out?

Just by that gesture of looking up, it create possibilities for future generations. So it is no longer about the past, it’s not even about the present. It’s about how we can evolve. On this day, we are now enthroning and acknowledging future generations who will be in this space and around the world in the Shambhala Centers and having the opportunity to look up.

So I would like to ask that we bring this sense of vision to our homes, to our Centers, and to all those activities that we are doing in trying to help the world. When we do this, it gives such power.

This is something that’s beyond us. In many ways, the sun is just rising. So I would like to celebrate this golden dawn of Shambhala vision of human dignity and goodness.

You can watch the full recording of the Sakyong’s address and the celebration in Boulder on Livestream via Shambhala Online.

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