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


Giving and Knowing

Giving and Knowing – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Dharma Teachings Investigating the Practice of Generosity by Acharya Michael Greenleaf, Barnet, VT Generosity is our genes. The word comes from the root genus, meaning of good or noble birth. Noble, in turn, comes from the root gnosis — to know. Generosity speaks to the natural expression of ... continue
Posted April 25, 2014 by
Obstacles and Antidotes

Obstacles and Antidotes – HIGHLIGHT

Ekajati: Queen of the Mamos, thangka painting by Chogyam Trungpa RinpocheTeachings on Don Season by Shastri Andrew Sacamano As we move from winter to spring to summer to fall there is a natural process that takes place in the earth. There is a period where the earth needs ... continue
Posted February 22, 2014 by
The Virtuous Leader

The Virtuous Leader – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Dharma Teachings Exploring the Shambhala Path of Warriorship and the Wisdom of the I Ching by Acharya Daniel Hessey For the past fifteen years I have been deeply engaged in studying and translating the I Ching from the ancient Chinese into modern English. In fact, I have translated ... continue
Posted December 27, 2013 by
Un-Freeze Tag

Un-Freeze Tag – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Dharma Teachings by Acharya Noel McLellan from his blog broken leaf We are utterly overwhelmed. It’s tempting to let that be the whole post. Courtney Martin, activist, author, and a wonderful spokesperson for the millennial generation, addresses Gen Y’s current state of collective mind: “We are not apathetic. What we ... continue
Posted October 26, 2013 by
Tears, Tails, Dickey and Duane

Tears, Tails, Dickey and Duane – HIGHLIGHT

“My friends, we have each other.” by Susan Piver “I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it…I will seek knowledge from those wiser and teach ... continue
Posted October 19, 2013 by
Cooking "Me" into "We"

Cooking “Me” into “We” – HIGHLIGHT

The Marriage Vow…and the culture of Enlightened Society COLUMN: Acharya Corner by Acharya Susan Chapman This summer I performed two wedding ceremonies. Both couples were obviously in love and expressed their vows to each other with deep, tearful authenticity, witnessed by family and friends. My husband was there to ... continue
Posted October 8, 2013 by
Casting Spells: the Magic of Letters

Casting Spells: the Magic of Letters – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Dharma Teachings by Russell Rodgers, Nelson, B.C. Consider for a moment the letters on this page. On one level, letters have been familiar since we were four years old. You might feel impatient: “no big deal, let’s move on. I know all about letters.” However, as a meditator, ... continue
Posted August 30, 2013 by
broken leaf

broken leaf – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Dharma Teachings by Acharya Noel McLellan Walking from here to there on any given day we might encounter, among other things, a broken leaf on the sidewalk. Most likely, we will not see it. Our eyes see it, but our minds are elsewhere, preoccupied with things that ... continue
Posted August 24, 2013 by
The Path of Goodness

The Path of Goodness – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: In Everyday Life Interview with Acharya John Rockwell by Will Brown Shambhala Times Column Editor I recently had the extreme good fortune to interview Ashe Acharya John Rockwell for the Shambahala Times column “In Everyday Life”. Of course, being infinitely curious and having the rare opportunity to interview an ... continue
Posted July 24, 2013 by
What is at the Heart?

What is at the Heart? – HIGHLIGHT

A Request by Susan Piver A show of hands, please. What do you believe in? What are your values? What do you believe is at the heart of human nature? What kind of world do you want to live in? Here is what I say. continue
Posted July 22, 2013 by
Yeshe Tsogyal: Lady Warrior of the Sakyong Lineage

Yeshe Tsogyal: Lady Warrior of the Sakyong Lineage – HIGHLIGHT

Yeshe Tsogyal by Cynthia MokuCOLUMN: Dharma Teachings by Acharya Melissa Moore Yeshe Tsyogyal’s life is extraordinary not only because she was a fully realized Buddhist practitioner in 8th century Tibet, a woman who attained Buddhahood in her own right. She is also exceptional for having been the spiritual ... continue
Posted June 24, 2013 by
The Family Mandala, part two

The Family Mandala, part two – HIGHLIGHT

Living on the Edge Part Two by Irini Rockwell Co-emergent Wisdom and Mandala Principle The two most powerful and transformative aspects of the Five Wisdoms perspective are, 1) co-emergent wisdom: wisdom born from confusion, intensified emotions transmuted into brilliant sanity, and 2) the mandala principle: the totality of interconnected dynamic ... continue
Posted June 12, 2013 by
Stories of Who We Are

Stories of Who We Are – HIGHLIGHT

Shambhala Dharma Teachings by Acharya Susan Chapman photos by Laura Chenoweth Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche opens his book, Ruling Your World, with the story about a case of mistaken identity. A pauper who didn’t realize that he is of royal blood learns he is heir to a kingdom. “We are ... continue
Posted May 6, 2013 by
Sakyong Address Live Online This Friday

Sakyong Address Live Online This Friday

Imagining Peace; Enlightened Society Gatherings April 26-28 Chicago Shambhala Center and Shambhala Online present Live from Chicago, Illinois, USACreating Enlightened Society: A Keynote Address by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Friday April 26, 2013, 7:30 pm Central (9:30 pm Atlantic, 8:30 pm Eastern, 6:30 pm Mountain, 5:30 pm Pacific) Rockefeller Chapel, University of ... continue
Posted April 24, 2013 by
So Much is at Stake, 3

So Much is at Stake, 3

Maintaining the Heart of Practice Part 3 by Acharya William McKeever photos by Jessica Bizub and Patricia Hayward Now we come to specific recommendations to continue our practice. For some of you with established practices and who have been around Shambhala for a while, this will be “old hat.” But ... continue
Posted April 12, 2013 by

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 »