Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Shambhala Day Address
Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center, Colorado
27 February 2017
The Kongma Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: A very good morning, everyone. [Assembly: Good morning!] You look marvelous. [SMR laughs; laughter] Can you see me? I would like to welcome all of you who are joining us online. We are in the moment of now.
I would like to begin this very important Shambhala Day with all of us joining hearts around the world. Here and everywhere, let’s begin by offering a Shambhala bow. Let this bow be your first bow of the year, and if you have never bowed, may this be your first bow! [Laughter] As we do this, please raise your energy—fresh start. In particular, think about what is your aspiration, what is your wish, and what is your intent for this year. As we know from practicing meditation, the power of the mind is very strong. This is an excellent time, astrologically, and within the calendar year, to have a sense of who you are and how you would like to go forward. At the same time, as we gather internationally as a Shambhala community, we are sharing this moment and connecting with our own basic goodness. [All bow.]
A very cheerful Shambhala Day, everyone. I am delighted to be here with the Sakyong Wangmo and our family, to join all of you and your families in this New Year celebration. Already I feel a sense of tremendous warmth coming from everyone. It’s good to see the shrine room here so full, and people raising their energy and good cheer. This year and this Shambhala Day are particularly poignant, as we have made a transition into a very uncertain time in the world. Much change, much fear, and much unknowing are taking place. It is an excellent time for us to gather, reevaluate, and deepen about who we are and what we are doing.
In many ways, the tradition of Shambhala is based on a prophecy of an age of intensity. It said that as times become difficult and as humanity becomes increasingly more aggressive and there is more fear, there will be dimness and lack of vision, lack of spirit, that will begin to affect each of us and our life-force energy. It does not just affect the individual; it affects nations and the world.
Even though this prophecy is many thousands of years old, it was the Dorje Dradül’s inspiration and it is our inspiration. It was his inspiration to come to the West to teach dharma and meditation in the spirit that these wisdom teachings are for this particular time. There is darkness, which is the sense of things becoming more solid and more intense. At such a time, the reaction could be to become more aggressive, selfish, and fearful.
But according to the prophecy, there is a group or clan, which is traditionally known as Shambhala, that rises to the occasion when it is most dark. Those individuals respond with gentleness, fearlessness, kindness, and a sense of magnanimity and openness. On the one hand, we might say that this seems fanciful. How can these seemingly weak and soft traits deal with the intensity of what is going on? But really, to rouse these elements in the human mind takes tremendous strength and bravery. So the individuals who do that are known as warriors—not warriors of aggression, but warriors who are able to rouse their own spirit and energy. So it is said that at that time, the warrior cry is proclaimed. KI KI SO SO!! Did you hear me? [Laughter] The warrior cry is proclaimed, and those who hear that cry come. That is how those gentle warriors know where to gather.
The warriors’ response is actually not to abandon the situation, not to retreat. Rather, they see instability and uncertainty as an opportunity to actually build a society, to build a culture with these themes that are deep within the human heart. Gentleness, fearlessness, kindness, and a sense of magnanimity and openness are the virtuous traits of the warrior. As the Dorje Dradül has said in his Shambhala teachings, terma, and lineage, this is the notion of the sacred path: connecting to something inherent, which is the fundamental principle of human decency and bravery.
By the way, this is not Level One. [Laughter] It is Level One. [Laughter] As we gather at this New Year, it is important to remember the basic ground that our own community is founded on. On the one hand, Shambhala sounds like a story, a fairytale. But somehow, all of us have been attracted to this message. We feel that there is something we can do; that we must participate in the future of the planet or the future of society. On this Shambhala Day, I would like to encourage, remind, and proclaim that at a time when uncertainty and trepidation are increasing, we need to actually self-reflect, dig deep. Even more, we need look at the principles on which we are founded, and rely on them. It could be a time when we could retreat; we could be swept up in that fear. What we are doing has been echoed long ago, and as we go forward now, we are finding ourselves at this particular time. It is really an opportunity, within this chaos. Chaos can be seen as a collapse, but it also can be seen as an opportunity.
Can we be those warriors who were predicted so long ago? Can we look at our own being, rise, and create society based on our conviction? Shambhala is not just a path of meditation; it is a social vision, a life vision. As we gather on Shambhala Day, this is the time to remember that vision and share that openness and gentleness. This is the time where we might be very challenged. Can we be fearless? Can we be patient? Can we engender these qualities that we have been studying and contemplating so long? Now is the time, ladies and gentlemen, for us to manifest—to bring these principles into the world, to not just leave them in our shrine room and our practice pages. They cannot just remain as simple esoteric mantras. We need to be able to actually harness them and make them real.
You might think there is some other group—in the Himalayas or somewhere else—that is doing a better job than we are. But unfortunately, there is nobody else. We should be humble, but at the same time we should realize that actually, this is our opportunity. It is sitting right in front of us. We have the technology—the means, the skills. Here we are not just celebrating a change in the calendar, we are actually celebrating a passage in time, and that time is moving forward. What will happen in the future will be determined by what we are doing now. How we relate to each other—at a family level, at a personal level—is creating waves, invisible waves, that are determining the future of society at a micro and macro level.
This is a day when we could share simple human qualities of love, friendship, openness, trust, dignity, and fearlessness. Those become our ethics, the basis of our society. When we are brave enough to allow ourselves to be generous and to be able to look at another, it is not just simple decorum, but it is the foundation of social strength and building society. Basic elements of human decency and dignity, basic respect, are now becoming very, very challenged. This is a time for us, to take these elements and put them into practice at our homes, in the Shambhala Centers, and socially. So I am really glad that this year we established an office of social engagement to be able to involve ourselves in things.
At the same time, we are continuing our deep retreats, working on our own sense of who we are. Can we have that unique balance of bravery and vulnerability? Can we allow ourselves to be fearless and gentle? We could easily fall into a sense of polarity ourselves. It is up to us to have a big mind, an open mind, and to work with these qualities. It is hard to do it by ourselves. We need to develop and cherish the friendship and the community that we are building. Traveling to many parts of our community over the last year, I see that there are seeds of this community all over the world. On this day, I particularly would like us to raise our gaze, to expand, so that we don’t fall ourselves into a social cocoon, ignoring everything else. The teachings are very simple: as the response to aggression and selfishness, we have these remedies.
In many ways, when things become tough, you begin to realize what you really believe in. When there is turbulence on an airplane, you see which mantra you rely on, and it may not always be of a certain faith. [Laughter] Our training, what we actually believe in, comes down to this: Do we believe in and trust these principles? This is a time when we warriors who are engaged in the notion of bravery will arise. I believe that we can. Part of the secret is our ability to raise our lungta and to mix a unique flavor, as the Dorje Dradül has said, joining survival and celebration. Can we work with our basic survival without abandoning the notion of celebration? Can we realize that this is essential as human beings? What is our response, you could say? How should we go forward? I believe it is kindness, Great Eastern kindness.
I would like to share with you that this winter I did a retreat in Cape Breton where I wrote a sadhana of kindness. As the world is going through its stages, for some reason the practice of kindness came to mind. Could our Shambhala centers be places where kindness is a strong element? You can feel kindness when you walk into a space, just like you can feel aggression. It takes strength to look at another and hold them without accepting or rejecting. Here kindness is not just a simple and anemic response to what’s going on. The word kin means family. It is connected with the notion of rigden, “possessor of the family of awakened ones.”
Can we hold the human family in our heart? Because we are such a diverse culture—and becoming more so in Shambhala—and because there is an expedited cultural pushing together of a global culture, it is very easy to see the difference between people. In many ways, the notion of kindness undercuts that. It is one of the inherent qualities that we all have as human beings. It is the foundation of Shambhala itself, which was said to be located at the very west of the East and the very east of the West—and I suppose at the very north of the South and the very south of the North. [Laughter] Geographically, it is considered to be a place of intersection. There is something about the legend that inspired Tibetans, Indians, and even Europeans in terms of how we live as a culture. That is still going on even with our expedited technology. Even if things are happening quicker, the issues we are dealing with are still the same as we sit on the meditation seat. They are fundamental principles.
My hope is that we can be a society where elements such as kindness are embraced. What kind of a society can do that? A strong society. It is not easy to be kind. At the same time, what kind of society is kind? An advanced society, an intelligent society. Even noticing another, you are interacting with another culture. You are mixing your mind with another’s opinions, ideas, and how they relate to the notion of existence. If we have openness, we can then be enriched by that exchange as opposed to being threatened by that exchange.
For all of us, at an emotional level, I think we can feel basic goodness. We can also understand it at a philosophical level, what basic goodness is in human nature. But without kindness, one of our most important of themes, enlightened society cannot happen. It will be challenging, but at the same time, it is an opportunity. Those societies that can engender kindness will be the societies that survive. Otherwise, those societies will be split apart.
We have these tools. We instigate kindness simply at a meditation seat. We can do it by simply starting a conversation. We can start simply by how we relate to our home, how we relate to each other. We can start by how we relate to our clothing and the times of the day. We can do this.
Shambhala Day is an important time where we reset our sense of how we are living life. What are the principles by which we are living our life? Do we have principles? Or are we swept up so quickly so that every day is just catching our breath, and we don’t have time to think about big things, while those very things affect every pore of our being? Gathering at a deep level, as we do today, is based on tremendous wisdom. At the same time, it is very palpable. We know that. So please keep awakening that sense of curiosity, the sense of cheerfulness, where we can smile a little bit. In the middle of chaos sometimes it takes bravery and relaxation to smile because we think, “I can be more serious than you can be. I can out-serious you.” [Laughs; laughter] Sometimes when we see someone smile, we say, “Oh, that’s frivolous. You are a fool. You don’t know what’s going on.” But when I look at the deities in our vajrayana practices, I see that most of them are either smiling—or they are really terrifying looking! [Laughter] There is some cosmic secret. We all know it is a big joke, and it’s on us. Sometimes we can laugh at it, and sometimes we can’t. But today we can. [Laughter]
A few years ago I gave a Shambhala Day Address where I talked about how we are at a crossroads, and I have given many public talks about this. Recently somebody said, “I never really believed you. But I believe you now.” [Laughs; laughter] There is something happening, and so we are at this very interesting point. Whatever level of practice you are doing, there is a famous slogan that says, “All dharmas agree at one point.” There is wisdom in all of it. It is important for us to have confidence in who we are and what we are doing. I would really like to encourage you to appreciate your existence, as a person. When we do that, it is called “dignity,” which affects our life-force energy—even how we move through space. This is the time to realize that we are people, we are here, and we should be that.
On this wonderful day, as we enter another year, I feel that many things we have been working for years are coming more and more into fruition. Many of you—and certainly many people in Shambhala who are in roles of leadership—are working very hard. I would like to share my tremendous appreciation for all the hard work. There is a lot of effort that has gone into sustaining this, and it has brought us this far, and I feel that now there is a great opportunity for us to raise our gaze and go further. I would be remiss if I didn’t say, “Please practice.” Take a moment to revisit your path and also contemplate how you can help, even at a very simple level, and expand that out.
I send my love and blessings to everyone. May you have a wonderful Shambhala Day, Shambhala week, and the rest of the year. Please stay supportive of each other as we go forward. I am delighted that all of you in the various time zones have stayed awake or gotten up early to be with us and to celebrate this New Year. So again, a cheerful Shambhala Day. Let’s conclude with a bow. [All bow.]
The Sakyong Wangmo: Cheerful Shambhala Day and Happy Losar to everyone who has gathered here and at the different centers worldwide. Tashi Delek to all of you also. Each year, we begin the new year by raising our lungta together—personally and as a community—to reconnect with our basic goodness and our path of warriorship. In this way, Shambhala Day is a very important moment for all of us because whatever is happening to us personally and socially, we can raise our energy on this day and begin our new year with freshness, raising our courage as we move forward and engage in our daily life. In this way, today is the day for bravery as we rededicate ourselves to the sacred path of warriorship, which takes both gentleness and toughness. I encourage all of you to touch your strength and embrace your family and friends, to reflect on how fortunate we are, and to send our strength and compassion to the world as well. So today is indeed a good day to raise our lungta. I wish you all a very Happy New Year, Happy Losar, Cheerful Shambhala Day, and lots of good health, prosperity and lots of happiness to begin our new year. Much joy to all of you!
Let’s raise our lungta and say it really loud: “Cheerful Shambhala Day and Happy Losar!” All of us together, and everyone who is watching us online today, we will do it together. Cheerful Shambhala Day and Happy Losar! [All say it aloud together.] Tugje che, thank you.
Auf Deutsch: https://shambhalatimes.org/2017/03/18/neuanfang/
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