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Shambhala Day Talks

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s Shambhala Day Address, and a greeting from the Sakyong Wangmo

Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center, February 16, 2018

The Kongma Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche:

Very good morning, everyone! You are looking beautiful, marvelous.

I would like to welcome everyone joining us worldwide to this Shambhala Day. I know this is being translated, so I will do my best to speak slowly.

I would like to take this moment to acknowledge that we have a beautiful and powerful ceremony to mark the New Year. It is marking a “fresh start.” At this moment I would invite everyone to reflect on your own humanity, to look at the sun of basic goodness. In some ways this is a ritual that we have been doing for many, many years. But it seems more poignant than ever in this particular time in the world, when there is a lot of uncertainty, fear, and hesitation. At the same time, there is a lot of strength.

We gather as a community both to celebrate and to take this moment to reflect to the core of our being, to who we are. It is very easy to get caught up in the power of life and the busyness. Then as time goes by we don’t actually delve deeper in terms of the purpose of life.

I find this ceremony very powerful in itself, that we actually mark this occasion. It is very simple: we are marking the passage of time. We are all getting older, and some of us are getting younger, but we are all in it together. As the Shambhala community it is important that we take this moment and reflect. As we enter this new year, what sort of attitude are we going to take? How are we going to be human? What is the basis of our manifestation? What is the basis of who we are?

For many of us, the world is challenging in terms of what is going on. What is being challenged is our own humanity. Are we becoming more human? Or less human? It’s clear that the principles of basic goodness are deep and profound. And in Shambhala we often talk about human goodness. We talk about it in terms of our own worthiness. What is it? It is feeling respect for ourselves at a deep core level, accepting who we are, and valuing who we are. At the same time, it is valuing others, respecting others.

Although this is very simple, these very principles are being challenged. People are not necessarily respecting themselves or others. This is a moment of hesitation about how we hold ourselves, and that split second sets in motion our whole attitude toward life.

I feel that now, in this particular time, as a community, we must have the strength to look at that level of depth and subtlety. Not respecting ourselves or others can lead to emotional and mental strife, abuse, and harm. It can lead to disrespect, and it can eventually lead—as it says in the teachings to plague, famine, and war. It can lead to environmental devastation.

While we are human and it might seem like we don’t have a lot of power, it is our humanity, and how we relate to it, that is determining the outcome of the planet and our world. More and more, it is being challenged because we are seeing the seeming imperfection of humanity. But that is no longer simply something that is out there in the world. In our Shambhala community, we are facing the same challenges: whether we are respecting ourselves, how we are holding ourselves, if we’re respecting fellow citizens and members. We are not separate; we are the same. We are influenced by the world and we participate in it. To me, this is revealing our own humanity. We have meditation, we have powerful teachings, and we have methods. But we also are imperfect; we have our faults. We make mistakes. We are not always kind. That leads to a deep sense of hurt, and it can lead to a sense of “challenging.”

In many ways, I see this community as on a journey. And I’ve discovered that one of the most difficult things to do (and this is me talking slightly personally) is community. It is not just us, but everybody is challenged by community—how to live together, how to be a family, how to share this amazing journey called life. And the world is now so connected that it is easy to lose our way, individually or socially.

In many ways, our community is like a person, like a child, and I’m not sure if we’re quite out of the diaper phase. I can see us trying to go by ourselves to “potty.” I can see us trying to walk and trying to play nicely with other kids, but we have a long way to go. At the same time, this is what it’s about. We use the word sangha sometimes. The word is “noble.” If our community is to be strong and vibrant, and if it is to continue into the future —are we noble enough to call ourselves “noble”? That means there is some depth of character and honor.

This is a journey. For the future we have to create a community that is innocent, in that we do not lose a sense of appreciation. At the same time we have to become durable. We have to not be naïve, because in our humanity mistakes will happen. That is the nature of humanity. If we create a community that is able to work with those, one that has the depth and fabric to deal with those challenges, then the community will thrive.

Just like in meditation, we deal with the ecology of our own mind—with bad thoughts and good thoughts, no thoughts and many thoughts. This is how meditation is a great, self-contained, self-reliant ecology of basic goodness. In the same way, we work in our community, and we work with ourselves. In order to do this, I feel that the key element is kindness.

Last year at the Shambhala Day address I mentioned that I had been working on a practice—a sadhana of kindness, a meditation on kindness—that is based on the moon of kindness. In Shambhala we have, in the sky, the sun of basic goodness. Now, if we are inspired to create enlightened society, we need to invoke the moon with its cool, soothing rays.

As it says in one of the root termas, or teachings, of the Shambhala tradition, regarding how to educate a warrior: “That mind of fearfulness should be put in the cradle of loving-kindness.” That kindness is key is therefore a key transmission. It’s not as exciting as love or as excruciating as exertion, but kindness makes life livable. When we personally do not give or receive kindness, it’s hard to live. Society is the same. There needs to be kindness. Kindness is a virtue because it makes a very durable culture.

Within the Shambhala tradition, even though we talk about warriorship in the sense of bravery, in the heat of aggression we use gentleness, which has the twin virtues of intelligence and patience. Thus when we say it is a kind society, it also means it is patient and intelligent. It is an intelligent way to live. This is challenging because when difficulties arise, we want to use aggression, and it is hard to build anything with aggression. With aggression, the point is to destroy. We are trying to actually create, not just destroy, and in that process of creating, we need gentleness. As challenges arise, if we are going to engender these principles that we hold so dear, we will be tested to our core.

As a community, as a culture, and as humanity, this is where we are. Kindness and patience are not just niceties; they are actually the fabric of our survival. By having these words we are fortunate, but now it is a time to actually build a culture based upon their meaning. In our community it is not just simply words, it is also the feeling that is created. If we are going to manifest, we need to be enjoying what we are doing. And in order to enjoy, we need to have kindness, which allows for some soothing to occur.

In the dark sky, the moon comes out, and it is soothing. Can we, in the darkness, be that moonbeam of cool, sentient kindness? Can we manifest that? I believe we can, and it has happened throughout history. That is the inspiration of Shambhala, a community that in the darkness is able to find the light within and shine it, not falling into the vacuous pool of darkness, but rising. In order to do that, we do need bravery and strength. We need cool lungta, the cool soothing lungta of the moon. With that we’ll have the virtues of both strength and nimbleness. I invite you to find that spirit of warriorship that is within all of us. It is there.

As a community, what is powerful about today is that we help support each other in finding that strength. Just acknowledging that we respect and admire this culture of kindness and bravery, just seeing others do it, shakes us out of our ambivalence and allows us to go to a deeper place. It is hard to do it on your own. You’re welcome to try. But for most of us, we need some warmth— just a little bit of love and encouragement. Like a gentle breeze out of nowhere, and at just the right time, that slight gust of wind allows us to unfurl our lungta and move. Our sails are no longer dormant.

What I have noticed about life is that it’s hard to push “pause.” Whether we like it our not, it’s just going. Today is us communally recognizing that we are on a journey. When we look up at the sky, we realize that to be on such a journey is a miracle. Today we are appreciating that miraculousness. I don’t think I’m overdoing it. When you don’t feel good, when you’re sick, you wish you could just feel bad and get out of bed.

When we have these moments when we’re hesitant, we need to support each other. I thought we could begin today by opening and releasing the moon of kindness and, on this new year, do a short meditation as a way of taking this energy into our own lives personally and into the world. May our community provide some relief for the world and may it provide some soothingness.

[Guided meditation:]

Don’t forget to breathe. Where is the sun? It’s in our heart. Where is the moon? It’s in our heart. The heart and mind are very powerful. If we can hold in our heart that core, undeniable kindness and strength, it will permeate our whole body and begin to permeate our environment and the world.

So please, if you wish, sit, breathe, and allow the moon of kindness to appear in your heart. Just like the moon in the night sky, this moon radiates a cool light of luminosity.

Connect to that underlying kindness, that simple feeling of inter-connectedness. It is like a river. It is not particularly intellectual or emotional. It is just that feeling of wanting to be connected. Kindness is the ability to be able to see others and realize that we are innately connected. It’s the ability to exchange self for other. It is the ability to have the strength.

Therefore, we now allow the cool moon rays to touch those we love—family and friends. We are not on an island unto ourselves. There’s a naturalness in connecting with those we hold dear.

Now let those moon rays touch those who are neutral to us, who we do not necessarily know well. Let kindness be a way of connecting to even those individuals we’re not intimate with. Let this power generate from our heart center. If you wish, you can touch your heart. Find that source of power, kindness, intelligence, and patience.

Then let those moonbeams radiate out and touch even those who we are challenged by. Let it include them, realizing that ultimately we are not very different. Let it expand out.

And on this Shambhala Day, let us extend that moon of kindness throughout our whole Shambhala community, worldwide, as we are all practicing together in this moment. May we be a community that is able to be kind to each other. May we create a culture based on this. As a Shambhala community, may we extend this out to the world. May the moonlight of kindness extend around the whole world, soothing pain and suffering. May this come from the core of our being.

I invite us all at this moment to make an aspiration to lead our life and to begin this new year with this spirit of warriorship that allows us to have the strength to touch that kindness and not be overwhelmed, but to extend the very core of our humanity out.

If you wish, you can do a bow to conclude.

Thank you everyone. My deep love and appreciation. Please do try to have some enjoyment, if you must. Sometimes when you work hard at something, then the celebration is much better. Let us truly be able to celebrate humanity. Okay?

Cheerful Shambhala Day!

The Sakyong Wangmo, Dechen Chöying Sangmo:

All of you look very beautiful and radiant! It’s perfect for starting the day and the New Year!

Tashi Delek and Cheerful Shambhala Day to all of you, and to everyone who is participating worldwide. Tashi Delek and Happy Losar to all of you and to all the children of Shambhala. Happy Shambhala Day! I know there’re a lot of children gathered here this morning, waiting outside of this room. I know many of you are listening and watching today.

For me, Shambhala Day is very much about family and community.

As a young girl growing up in a Tibetan community in India, we would say in Tibetan, “Losar,” which means “Happy New Year.” New Year is all in one—Christmas, birthday, and New Year, of course! As children, we were excited about waking up early. It was a time when, no matter what, families would gather in welcoming the New Year with lungta and windhorse, and celebrate being alive and being grateful. I invite everyone to join the Sakyong and me in welcoming the New Year with good energy and lungta.

This seems particularly important at this time, because these days the world, as we know, is a very challenging place. As Shambhalians, we are not separate from these challenges, but we are very fortunate that we actually have a way of handling them by embodying dignity, kindness, and care. Us manifesting these principles as a community is important, because it is an example for our children and future generations.

I’d like to encourage all of you to continue and deepen your practice.

I’m inspired by how much the Sakyong is doing for the world. It’s amazing to see how much exertion and dedication he has for the vision. And I’m especially happy that he is working on his conversation skills! You know what I mean. [Laughter]

I know my children are very excited and very happy that it is the Year of the Dog, because they hope that they can get a puppy, which they have been wanting for a long time. [Laughter]

Cheerful Shambhala Day once again to all of you. Please enjoy the rest of the day, and celebrate with your friends, family, and community. Happy Losar! And Happy Losar to all who are watching this online!

In other languages:

Dutch: https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/03/04/shambhaladag-toe…-de-sakyong-2018/

French: https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/03/05/allocution-du-jour-shambhala/

German: https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/03/05/ansprache-zum-shambhala-tag/ 

Spanish: https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/03/05/discurso-del-dia-de-shambhala/

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2 responses to “ Shambhala Day Talks ”
  1. Timaree Bierle-Dodds
    Feb 21, 2018

    Thank you for the wisdom teachings of Your Majesties! Cheerful New Year of the Earth Dog to the Royal Family. Seeing the Jetsunmas was delightful!

  2. Is there an mp.3 file to listen to these talks?? That would be great if so.

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