Home     Contact Us         Log in

Dharma Teachings - Category Archive

Mar 12
Tuesday

Considering the Future of the Treasure of Shambhala

Filed under Dharma Teachings, Opinion Pieces

Este artículo ha sido traducido al español aqui.

Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici.

In these heartbreaking days, while we are committed to redesign the entire structure of our community and practice, I wanted to add an element that may provide some historical perspective for our considerations.  This is not meant to in any way dictate what we decide to do; those directions will be shaped by the community input to the Process Team, and by auspicious coincidence.  Certainly, I have no idea or recommendations for the future.  But the Buddhist and Shambhala teachings are often predicated on the question of what we are to accept and what to reject.

As a student of my root guru, the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, I have tried in the decades since his passing to understand who he was and what he did.  I have puzzled over the final ten years in which he continued teaching the profound Buddhadharma, but he obviously prioritized the Shambhala teachings as chief among his heart treasures.  As a scholar-practitioner, I have witnessed how the Shambhala teachings became primary sometime after his passing, and I have increasingly understood this decision as core to the Tibetan tradition and lore of terma itself.

Terma are “discovered treasure” teachings, also known as “close transmissions,” especially associated with the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition.  They are contrasted with the Kama teachings, that are the “long transmissions” through historical lineages of greatly realized adepts like Naropa, Milarepa, and the Karmapas.  Terma teachings are called “new transmissions” because they arise without a long lineage of adepts and are destined to address the new conditions that arise throughout history in fresh and immediate ways.  The Shambhala teachings are primary among the terma teachings discovered by the Vidyadhara, the Druk Sakyong, over a series of years.

Historically speaking, there have been many terma discovered over the centuries by “treasure discoverers” (tertons) like the Vidyadhara.  Most of those terma have remained obscure, and have even disappeared, because there is more to a terma than its discovery.  Scholars have identified the prevailing historical skepticism that terma have faced within Buddhist traditions over the centuries in Tibet;  tertons have been accused of being charlatans, eccentrics, and frauds, even among the most traditional yogic practitioners.  Even the great 18th century Jigme Lingpa, discoverer of the Longchen Nyingtig, was deeply concerned with providing legitimacy for his discovery, given the skepticism of his age. The dissemination of a new terma is scrutinized closely, and terma are eventually considered legitimate only in special circumstances, such as whether they lead to palpable realization of some kind or provide clear benefit to beings in the dark age. 

Tertons have typically relied on a lineage-holder to propagate the terma, a terdak.  That is, the terton discovers the treasure, and the terdak provides commentaries and support for practice for the principal discoverer, and so the terdak is a key figure in the destiny of the treasure teachings.  Sakyong Mipham has committed his life to being the terdak of his father’s Shambhala terma.  Another key element has been the practitioners who engage in the practice, and whether they develop realization of the teachings.  In the case of societal teachings like Shambhala, a great deal depends upon the community of practitioners.

This suggests that for the first generation or two, the future of terma is most fragile and subject to scrutiny.  If the teachings do not take root, traditionally the dakinis whisk them away to the lha realm where they may remain until a future, more auspicious moment.  Certainly, the career of the terdak can influence the future of the terma, which we are witnessing in a major way in our community right now.  But also the practice and realization of this first generation of practitioners has a tremendous impact on the future of the terma.

Among some members of the Shambhala community there has been enormous bitterness about the Sakyong’s decision to make the terma central in our community, sidelining the precious Buddhadharma teachings.  I have at times felt that way myself, as I continue to hold the Buddhadharma transmissions of the Vidyadhara as central in my life.  Could it be that at least some part of the Sakyong’s decision had to do with the commitment to sustain the terma?  That is, would we as a community have explored the depth of the Shambhala terma if it had remained sidelined in our lineage?

And now, the conduct of the Sakyong that has surfaced is definitely threatening the future of the terma.  He has devoted the last ten years of his teaching to deepening our realization of the power of basic goodness and creating enlightened society, and many of us have felt the transformative power of those teachings.  The flourishing of Shambhala has been directly related to the power of the terma for individuals and the whole community.  I like to think that current events are the way the protectors and dralas are cleaning out our lineage’s closets and basements so that the terma can deliver on its promise.  There is no way we could or should continue with secrets that are in direct contradiction to confidence in basic goodness and enlightened society.  There is deep health in the breakdown of our damaging structures and behaviors, but whether the overall outcome will be beneficial to our community and humanity depends in part upon what we decide to do.

As we make decisions and plans for our future as a community, it is important to recognize that we are the generation of practitioners who have received the precious Shambhala teachings in the introductory curriculum, the intermediary practices, and in the advanced retreats.  The future of those teachings rests in part on how we respond to this crisis.  In my devotion to my root teacher, I wonder about this essential part of his legacy.  Can we embody the core teachings of basic goodness and enlightened society as we experience the heartbreak and make the necessary changes in our community?  Can we continue to highlight the Shambhala terma in our practices and community life?  Will the terma continue beyond this generation of Shambhala practitioners, or will it go the way of the obscure or irrelevant ones?  The Vidyadhara, the dakinis and dralas, and the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, are closely watching.

 

For further historical context, please consult:

Andreas Doctor, Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005).

Janet B. Gyatso, Apparitions of the Self:  The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1998).

Janet B. Gyatso, “Drawn from the Tibetan Treasury: The gTer ma Literature” in Cabezón and Jackson, ed., Tibetan Literature: Studies in Genre (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1996).

Tulku Thondup, Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism (London & Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1986, reprint edition 1997).

 

Judith Simmer-Brown is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University, where she is a founding faculty member.  She has been a Shambhala acharya for 19 years, and was previously Dean of the Teachers’ Academy.  She is author of Dakini’s Warm Breath (Shambhala 2001) and Meditation and the Classroom (SUNY 2010), and numerous articles and book chapters.

Entries filed under Dharma Teachings


Discovering Basic Goodness Through Conversation

Discovering Basic Goodness Through Conversation – HIGHLIGHT

New: Shastri Column! This is the first in a series of articles by Shastris – senior Shambhala teachers – on themes that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has been emphasizing in his teaching since he ended his year-long retreat in early March, 2011.This article is by Shastri Susan ... continue
Posted September 14, 2011 by
Moving with the Mind of Meditation

Moving with the Mind of Meditation – HIGHLIGHT

Have you heard? The Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche, has written a book on running and meditation. The forthcoming book is entitled: “Running with the Mind of Meditation.” The publisher, Crown Doubleday, has expressed real excitement about the book, and given a definite commitment to get it on ... continue
Posted August 19, 2011 by
Mythology and Everyday Life

Mythology and Everyday Life

I’ve been wondering lately what Joseph Campbell would think of Shambhala Buddhism. He attributed many of the problems we face today, particularly our disconnect from nature and the resultant chaos & confusion found in our global society, to a lack of a working mythology. ... continue
Posted July 28, 2011 by Travis_May
On Basic Goodness

On Basic Goodness – HIGHLIGHT

This video clip of a recent teaching by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche hails from the recent sangha retreat at Dechen Choling, entitled Being Brave: Transforming Our World. This message of basic goodness is something the Sakyong would like us all to hear, so please, take a few ... continue
Posted July 22, 2011 by
Bravery: Taking a Leap

Bravery: Taking a Leap – HIGHLIGHT

by Sakyong Mipham Bravery is a highlight of the Shambhala teachings. On the sacred path of the warrior, it is one of the unconditioned qualities that arises from living with virtue and valor. It is defined as “the act of both personally and socially manifesting.” To put it ... continue
Posted July 19, 2011 by
Bravery: The Vision of the Great Eastern Sun

Bravery: The Vision of the Great Eastern Sun – HIGHLIGHT

by Sakyong Mipham Bravery is a highlight of the Shambhala teachings, which were introduced to the West by my father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In an an earlier teaching I describe the first form of bravery, freedom from deception. I’ve also introduced the second bravery, abruptness — the ... continue
Posted July 13, 2011 by
From the Archives: The Fourth Moment

From the Archives: The Fourth Moment – HIGHLIGHT

In anticipation of the 24th Parinirvana of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche on April 4th, the Shambhala Times shares an excerpt from a lecture by Trungpa Rinpoche during the first summer session of the Naropa Institute in July 1974. Originally titled, “Meditation and the Fourth Moment,” ... continue
Posted April 3, 2011 by

Shambhala Day Address – HIGHLIGHT

Shambhala Day Address by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche May the dawn of basic goodness arise. May the confidence of goodness be eternal. May goodness be all-victorious. May that goodness bring profound, brilliant glory. I am back! [Applause and cheering] I’m rested, and I’m ready to go. And I love you all. Thank ... continue
Posted March 12, 2011 by
Meeting Don Season with Mindfulness

Meeting Don Season with Mindfulness – HIGHLIGHT

Sakyong Mipham teaches on meeting don season with mindfulness. This year, don season begins Tuesday, February 22nd and concludes on Thursday, March 3rd. In the lunar calendar, the weeks preceding each New Year can be fraught with inner and outer obstacles. In these teachings, offered to the ... continue
Posted February 21, 2011 by

Bravery without Deception – HIGHLIGHT

By Sakyong Mipham My father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, introduced the teachings of Shambhala to the West. These teachings are called “the sacred path of the warrior,” for they emphasize bravery as an important factor in determining the outcome of our personal future and that of the world. Bravery ... continue
Posted February 20, 2011 by
The Cool Realm

The Cool Realm – HIGHLIGHT

Acharya Michael Greenleaf attempts to bring equanimity into the world of teenagers. “Look at you two with the signs on your jackets. You look funny.” My wife, Jeanine, was referring to the logos on our fleece jackets, the ones worn by our oldest granddaughter, Camille and me. ... continue
Posted January 15, 2011 by
Six Ways to Lasting Happiness

Six Ways to Lasting Happiness – HIGHLIGHT

By Sakyong Mipham Bodhichitta has many translations: “mind of enlightenment,” “seed of enlightenment,” “awakened heart,” “open heart.” It is a venerable word and a venerable practice that has been done for thousands of years. When we think of bodhichitta, we have a hard time putting a shape ... continue
Posted December 24, 2010 by
Less Like School, More Like Life

Less Like School, More Like Life – HIGHLIGHT

This is the fourth in a series of articles by senior Shambhala teachers invited to share their personal impressions of the Way of Shambhala curriculum. Thanks to Jim Northcote of Kootenay Shambhala Centre for creating this series. By Henry Chapin When Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche was developing the ... continue
Posted November 29, 2010 by
Wisdom in Times of Transition

Wisdom in Times of Transition – HIGHLIGHT

This is the third in a series of articles by senior Shambhala teachers invited to share their personal impressions of the Way of Shambhala curriculum. Thanks to Jim Northcote of Kootenay Shambhala Centre for creating this series. By Rebecca Hazell We are in a time ... continue
Posted November 27, 2010 by beckyhazel

RSS feed for the Dharma Teachings category

View all posts from authors in Dharma Teachings: Travis_May AnnicaCrouse alexvangils Luz_Rodriguez Alexandra_Kalinine Jody_Larson jsimmerbrown MichaelGreenleaf

Sites with content in this category: https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ arrow.shambhalatimes.org https://shambhalatimes.org/



Website Development by Blue Mandala using Wordpress MU.
All content and source Copyright © 1994-2019. Shambhala International (Vajradhatu), Shambhala, Shambhala Meditation Center, Shambhala Training, Shambhala Center and Way of Shambhala are registered service marks of Shambhala USA

Facebook

Get the Facebook Likebox Slider Pro for WordPress
Translate »