The Dorje Kasung and the Mamos
As we enter Dön Season, an exploration of how this time of year relates to a major Shambhalian service organization, the Dorje Kasung
by Darryl Burnham, Kadö,
Dorje is a Tibetan word that means indestructible or diamond-like, and Kasung refers to a command (Ka) that is protected by wakefulness. So the Dorje Kasung are the protectors of the command to be awake in the indestructible and diamond-like quality of primordial mind. That is a lot to fathom. Nevertheless, each member of the Dorje Kasung aspires to protect the teachings, the teacher, and the sangha from this perspective.
A Kasung begins service by relating to a “post.” The post is symbolic, akin to the seat we take on our meditation cushion. The post is an opportunity to extend our meditation experience from the cushion out into the world. The post could be a seat in a chair behind a desk at the entrance to our Shambhala Center. The post could be standing at the entrance at the shrine room doors. The post could be the seat of a car when driving the Sakyong or one of our acharyas (senior teachers). These posts are viewed by the Kasung as opportunities for practicing meditation in action.
The Dorje Kasung are trained to acknowledge the atmosphere, or the environment, where practice is taking place. From that awareness, a container is identified and that container and all that is active within that container is protected. All who enter into that container have fewer obstacles to hearing teachings, studying, and practicing when Kasung are present, performing their duty.
Here in Los Angeles, starting February 16, the Dorje Kasung will sponsor a daily practice to acknowledge Dön Season, the 10 days before Shambhala Day. (Editor’s note: the start of our new year derived from the traditional Tibetan lunar calendar.)
What are döns? (Pronounced: duns.) Interestingly, I looked up the word dun in the dictionary and there is a similarity in definition between dön and dun. In English, dun is a demand for payment. It could be a persistent, pestering demand like some kind of plague on our attention). Dön happens when we are not mindful of taking care of our debts, karmic or financial.
What do the Kasung have to do with a dön or döns? By example, the Kasung acknowledge that it is during this season that we, collectively, as a society, are subject to overwhelming incidents of colds, flus, accidents, and heightened stress. One year I checked with my auto insurance company to find that most claims for auto accidents happen during this season. Our mindlessness is met with the wrath of energies called the Mamos that are responsible for the döns. To appease this energy and its influence on us, in the forms of mishaps and illnesses, we recite “Pacifying The Turmoil of the Mamos” liturgy. This is a protector practice. Such a practice gesture puts us in touch with the karmic tendencies that have come to fruition from last year’s deeds and speedy mind. With this practice we begin to see through our speed more clearly, and to open the way to a good beginning for the new year, marked by Shambhala Day. To read more about the Mamo chants, click here and here.
In Los Angeles, this practice will be offered daily from February 16 through February 25 (10 days), with opening, explanatory talks on February 16 and 17.
Darryl Burnham, Kadö, is the Windhorse Regiment Commander of the Dorje Kasung for the Southwest, which includes the Shambhala Centers of Los Angeles (Eagle Rock, Westside and Orange County,) San Diego, and Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona. Mr. Burnham lives in Monrovia, California with Laura Burnham in a small house under a huge spreading oak tree. Forty-two years ago, Mr. Burnham was sparked by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Two years later he was drafted by the Dorje Kasung. That spark and service continues with his son Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. When Mr. Burnham is not studying and practicing Shambhala disciplines you will find him dancing with his camera. He aspires to protect the world with an open heart.