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Re: “Dissent in the Shambhala community

As a long-time member of the Shambhala community, and a student of both Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, I don't feel the Radio Free Shambhala website or this article about it accurately represents the state of the community or the organization that is Shambhala.
As the first comment notes, there are always human shortcomings, and the transition between teachers and leaders of a lineage can be difficult. Some people will connect more with the previous and others more with the next teacher; some will feel a continuity of purpose, teachings and spirit, and connect with both. For those who don't, outer differences in style and expression may be perceived as inner differences in meaning and substance.
While there are issues of organization and finance in Shambhala, I feel that these have more to do with a diverse group of amateur volunteers who are primarily dedicated to a spiritual path attempting to run the organization of a large, international community with a network of major city and retreat centers, all funded by donations. The best way to approach these issues is to be open to raising them, but to work together and to support each other in addressing them and running the organization.
The founders of Radio Free Shambhala are all dedicated students of Trungpa Rinpoche. They haven't, however, connected with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. They also represent a vocal minority in the measure, form and content of their dissent. In Shambhala and Buddhism, connection is needed to share what the teachings are about, which is the essential wakefulness that all of us possess and that an authentic teacher represents. When there is a lack of connection, it is possible to doubt a teacher's authenticity; the only true evidence we have is a personal, open heart-connection. But this presents a case of the logic that lack of evidence for something (e.g. a teacher's authenticity) does not count as evidence against it. While a shift in connection can be painful, the antidote to it is not to start a blogsite to complain about the teacher with whom you haven't connected - esp. when that teacher has been so well-trained, is so well-respected and has been confirmed and supported in his important role by many other important, respected, authentic teachers - but either to make a sincere attempt to connect, or to follow the teachings of another teacher - or just to ask a teacher whom one does respect what to do about one's feelings of lack of connection! It's also just the polite and decent thing to do.
Contrary to the Radio Free Shambhala "take" on Shambhala, The Sakyong has not abandoned the Shambhala teachings in favor of a regress to questionably materialistic and merely culturally exotic forms of Tibetan Buddhism. Instead, he has fulfilled his mission of completing the Shambhala path, introducing important forms, teachings and commentaries that allow practitioners to progress from the introductory Shambhala teachings given by his father Trungpa Rinpoche to the most advanced teachings Trungpa Rinpoche revealed. There are aspects in common with this complete Shambhala path and the teachings of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism - but this is a good thing: those are just the tried-and-true, and even ultimately necessary, methods of waking ourselves up provided by the Vajrayana - its essence, which is something that Trungpa Rinpoche also taught. The RFS people seem to have a very limited view of the Shambhala path, its current unfolding and its deep historical and substantive relationship with Vajrayana Buddhism. Many of them seem just not to have come around for many of the important recent events, teachings and gatherings in Shambhala, and so don't have a well-informed, first-hand view of actual participants. My own experience has been that it's hard to doubt the authenticity of The Sakyong if you attend and practice his teachings, and also if you just pitch in and help with the various initiatives he's started.
What's upset me most about RFS is a disrespectful attitude and ungrounded, personally-targeted negativity in many posts by its founders, not just toward The Sakyong, but also toward his family, which includes revered Tibetan Buddhist teachers. This to me seems to give a hint of what's really going on at RFS.
If you would like another view of this, here (http://www.daylife.com/photo/05bea5NbjoeHO) is a photo of His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, the Sakyong's father-in-law and a close friend of Trungpa Rinpoche from their early days in Tibet, with His Holiness The Dalai Lama this past week, at a blessing ceremony for His Eminence's new monastery in Orissa, India. H.H. The Dalai Lama has also supported The Sakyong in his important role, and visited our retreat center in Colorado to conduct special blessing ceremonies for the memorial to Trungpa Rinpoche there. Personally, I'd rather go with the view of H.H. The Dalai Lama than with those on RFS.

6 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by C. on 01/14/2010 at 2:56 PM

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