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The term Shambhala Buddhism was introduced by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in the year 2000 to describe his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, originally conceived by Chögyam Trungpa as secular practices for achieving enlightened society, in concert with the Tibetan Buddhist Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.[1] The Shambhala Buddhist sangha considers Sakyong Mipham to be its head and the second in a lineage of Sakyongs, with his father, Chögyam Trungpa, being the first.

Distinguishing characteristics of Shambhala Buddhism

Shambhala Buddhism partly derives from the teachings of Shambhala, as originally proclaimed by Chögyam Trungpa, which state that "there is a natural source of radiance and brilliance in the world, which is the innate wakefulness of human beings. This is the basis, in myth and inspiration, of the Kingdom of Shambhala, an enlightened society of fearlessness, dignity and compassion." [1] Furthermore, "Shambhala vision applies to people of any faith, not just people who believe in Buddhism... the Shambhala vision does not distinguish a Buddhist from a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Moslem, a Hindu. That's why we call it the Shambhala kingdom. A kingdom should have lots of spiritual disciplines in it."[2] In terms of our forefathers this is called Buddha-nature.

The Shambhala Buddhist sangha expresses this vision within a Tibetan Buddhist container, while continuing its ties to contemporary Kagyu and Nyingma lineage holders, among them His Holiness the Karmapa (Ogyen Trinley Dorje), H.H. Penor Rinpoche, and other important lamas. Many prominent lamas come and offer teachings to the community on a regular basis. However, there are also aspects of Shambhala Buddhism that are unique to the sangha, known as Shambhalian practices. Among them are:

File:Great eastern sun.png

The Great Eastern Sun

Shambhala and Shambhala Training

In 1976, Trungpa Rinpoche began giving teachings, some of which were gathered and presented as Shambhala Training,[3] inspired by his vision (see terma) of the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala. Shambhalian practices focus on using mindfulness/awareness meditation as a means of connecting with one's basic sanity and using that insight as inspiration for one's encounter with the world. The Shambhala of Chögyam Trungpa is essentially a secular approach to meditation, with roots in Buddhism as well as in other traditions, but accessible to individuals of any, or no religion. The greater social vision of Shambhala is that it is possible, moment by moment, for individuals to establish enlightened society. Trungpa's book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior provides a concise collection of the Shambhala views.

Shambhala Training is administered worldwide by Shambhala International.

Shambhala Training is presented in a series of weekend programs, the first five of which are called "The Heart of Warriorship" and the latter seven, "The Sacred Path".

The Warrior Assembly is the fruition of the Shambhala Training Sacred Path program. During Warrior Assembly, students study the Shambhala terma text, The Golden Sun of the Great East, and receive the ashé practices of stroke and lungta.

Shambhala Within Shambhala Buddhism

After the year 2000, with the merging of the secular teachings of Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings of Vajradhatu into Shambhala Buddhism, completion of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary (which itself requires taking Buddhist refuge and bodhisattva vows, as well as Buddhist vajrayana samaya vows) became a condition for receiving the highest Shambhala teachings, such as those of Werma and the Scorpion Seal Retreat. In turn, Warrior Assembly became a prerequisite for attending the Vajrayana Seminary.

The Shambhala Seminary is a two-part seminary designed to deepen students' practice and understanding of the Buddhist and Shambhala teachings and to enter them into the vajrayana practices of the Shambhala Buddhist mandala. The seminary lasts two months. Part 1, Sutrayana Seminary, is led by a Shambhala acharya and provides in-depth training and study of the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Shambhala teachings. Part 2, Vajrayana Seminary, is led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and authorizes students to begin their Shambhala ngöndro—the preliminary practices for receiving the Rigden Abhisheka.

The Rigden Abhisheka enters the student into the practice of the Werma Sadhana. It is open to graduates of Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary who have completed their Shambhala ngöndro and to students who have already received the Werma Sadhana and completed their Kagyü Ngöndro.

Shambhala Terma

Certain Shambhala practices derive from specific terma texts of Trungpa Rinpoche's such as Letter of the Black Ashe, Letter of the Golden Key that Fulfills Desire, Golden Sun of the Great East, and the Scorpion Seal of the Golden Sun, in long and short versions. Trungpa Rinpoche is believed by his students to have received these teachings directly from Gesar of Ling, an emanation of Padmasambhava, and the Rigden kings.[4] Their terma status was confirmed by the esteemed Nyingma master His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

The Shambhala dharma practices derived entirely or in part from these texts include those of werma, drala, Wind Horse (Tib. lungta), and meditations on four "dignities of Shambhala": tiger (tib. tak), lion (Tib. seng), garuda (Tib. kyung) and dragon (Tib. druk). Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso, a great 19th century Nyingma lama and the predecessor of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, wrote about many of these practices and concepts as well. Some, such as the "stroke of Ashé", have no known precedents.

The Kalachakra, the Rigden Kings and Gesar of Ling

The Kalachakra tradition is central to Shambhala Buddhism. Trungpa Rinpoche requested that the Kagyu Kalachakra master Kalu Rinpoche perform the initiation for the Shambhala Buddhist community, which he did in 1986 in Boulder, Colorado. The Rigden Kings of Shambhala are central figures to the community, and a thangka of the Rigden king is the centerpiece of all public Shambhala Buddhist shrines. Gesar of Ling, a mythical Tibetan king, is also an important figure to Shambhala Buddhists, to whom he represents an example of enlightened wisdom manifesting in the world as a leader. A great deal of the teachings of the Shambhala lineage derive from the Epic of Gesar as propagated by Mipham the Great.

Zen and Japanese arts

Trungpa Rinpoche was highly influenced by his friend Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, a Zen master who was one of the first accomplished teachers to present dharma to Westerners. As a result of this influence, certain attributes of form in Shambhala Buddhism are derived from Zen rather than Tibetan Buddhism. The shrine rooms in Shambhala Buddhism, reflecting the Zen aesthetic of kanso (simplicity), tend to be sparsely furnished and decorated, whereas traditional Tibetan Buddhist shrine rooms are elaborate, ornate, and colorful. As in Zen but unlike in Tibetan Buddhist practice, meditators engage in group practice of shamatha-vipashyana.

In addition, Shambhala Buddhists have adopted the practices of kyūdō, ikebana (kado), tea ceremony, oryoki, calligraphy, and other traditional Japanese arts as a means of extending the mind of calm-abiding and awareness to more active practices.

Elements of Bön, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto

To a lesser extent, Trungpa Rinpoche incorporated other elements into Shambhala Buddhism that he thought would be beneficial to practitioners. From the Bön religion, the lhasang ceremony is performed; other elements of shamanism play a role. From Confucianism comes a framework of heaven, earth, and man for understanding the proper relationship between different elements of compositions of all kinds. From Taoism comes the use of feng shui and other incorporations. From the Shinto tradition comes the use of kami shrines to honor natural forces in specific locales.

Dorje Kasung

The Dorje Kasung are a paramilitary organization within Shambhala Buddhism not unlike the Salvation Army in that they use the forms of military life as a support for a very different sort of objective—in this case, meditation practice.

The motto of the Dorje Kasung is "Victory over War". Roughly the idea is to overcome aggression in all its forms. A fundamental aspect of the practice is working with the reality that aggression can exist in oneself and the world. The Dorje Kasung use various practices and attitudes based on ancient Buddhism to work with one's own mind and learn how to defuse or possibly transmute aggression when it arises in oneself or in others.

The philosophy of the Dorje Kasung is expressed in eight slogans, written by Trungpa Rinpoche for memorization.

1. Have confidence to go beyond hesitation.
2. Alert before you daydream.
3. Mindful of all details, be resourceful in performing your duties.
4. Fearless beyond idiot compassion.
5. Be a warrior without anger.
6. Not afraid to be a fool.
7. An invisible heavy hand.
8. Be precise without creating a scene.

Maitri and Mudra

Maitri is a therapeutic program that works with different styles of neurosis using principles of the Five Buddha Families. Mudra practice, first explored by the Mudra Theater Group, is based on traditional Tibetan monastic dance training and the teachings on mahamudra.

Shambhala Art

Shambhala Art can be seen as a process, a product, and an arts education program. As a process, it brings wakefulness and awareness to the creative and viewing processes through the integration of contemplation and meditation. As a product, it is art that wakes people up. Shambhala Art is also an international non-profit arts education program based on the Dharma Art teachings of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Other Practices

Trungpa Rinpoche experimented with many different innovations of practice, including practices of elocution and other disciplines which are still utilized in the community today.

History of Shambhala Buddhism

The term "Shambhala Buddhism", as used to describe the lineage and community led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, came into use around 2000.

In 1970 the Shambhala community had its origins with the arrival of the 11th Trungpa tülku, Trungpa Rinpoche, in North America. The first established center of his teachings was "Tail of the Tiger" in Barnet, Vermont (now Karmê Chöling).

In 1971, a second branch of the community began to form when Rinpoche began teaching at the University of Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Dharma Center is established, now known as Shambhala Mountain Center, near Fort Collins, Colorado. In the early 1970s the community grew rapidly and attracted the involvement of such notables as Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and many others.

In 1973 the Shambhala community was incorporated in Colorado as Vajradhatu. Vajradhatu hosted visits by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa (head of the Kagyu School) in 1974, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (head of the Nyingma School) in 1976, and His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in 1981.

In 1974 Naropa Institute is founded, a contemplative studies and liberal arts college, now fully accredited as Naropa University.[5]

In 1975 Shambhala Lodge is founded, a group of students dedicated to fostering enlightened society.

In 1976 Trungpa Rinpoche began his cycle of Shambhala teachings and, with his students, manifesting forms of Shambhala society. Kalapa Court is established in Boulder, Colorado, as Trungpa Rinpoche's residence and a cultural center for the Vajradhatu community. Thomas F Rich is empowered as Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin and lineage holder in the Karma Kagyü and Nyingma lineages.

In 1977 Shambhala Training is founded to promote a secular approach to meditation practice and an appreciation of basic human goodness.[5] His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyü lineage, confirmed the Vajra Regent's appointment as a lineage holder 1977. Ösel Tendzin was the first Western student to hold such a position in the Kagyü lineage.[6]

In 1978 Trungpa Rinpoche conducted the first annual Kalapa Assembly, an intensive training program for advanced Shambhala teachings and practices.[5]

In 1979 Trungpa Rinpoche empowered eldest son, Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo, as his successor and heir to the Shambhala lineage.[5]

In 1986 Trungpa moved the international headquarters of Vajradhatu to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he died the following year. A large number of his disciples emigrated from the United States to Nova Scotia along with him.

In 1987, after Trungpa's death, Tendzin's role as spiritual head of Vajradhatu lasted until around 1989. Citing an AIDS related infection, allegations arose that Tendzin had passed the HIV virus to a male partner in the Colorado congregation.[7] Tendzin was apologetic for his ignorance at believing he and others were protected from AIDS.[8] After the death of Ösel Tendzin in 1990, Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo became spiritual head of what would become Shambhala International.

In 1995 Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo was recognized by Penor Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Ju Mipham and enthroned as Sakyong. The Sakyong—literally “earth-protector”—is a chögyal—“dharma king”—who holds and propagates the teachings of Shambhala.[9]

In 2000, at the Kalapa Assembly,[10] Sakyong Mipham's made a proclamation [11] that started the process of enclosing the previously secular teachings of Shambhala within the container of a new buddhist lineage, Shambhala Buddhism.

In 2001, on a visit to Tibet, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche met the 12th Trungpa tülku, Choseng Trungpa Rinpoche. An incarnation discovered by His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche in 1991.

In August 2007, The Sakyong married Khandro Tseyang Palmo with a ceremony conducted by His Holiness Drupwang Penor Rinpoche during the Kalapa Festival in Halifax. Khandro Tseyang Palmo is currently the Sakyong Wangmo, a title held previously by Lady Diana Mukpo, now the Druk Sakyong Wangmo.

The Shambhala Buddhist community today

Today the Shambhala Buddhist community is perhaps the largest community of Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. Presently there are a few thousand Shambhala Buddhist practitioners, with the largest communities in Halifax, NS; Boulder, CO; northern Vermont; and New York, NY. There are over one hundred Shambhala Meditation Centers around the world, mostly in the United States, Canada, Europe and South America.,.[12][13]

Shambhala Inspired Schools

  • Naropa University in Boulder, CO
  • The Shambhala School in Halifax, NS

Shambhala International

The umbrella organization that encompasses many of the distinct institutions of Shambhala Buddhism is called Shambhala International. Shambhala International, which is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, links a worldwide mandala of urban Buddhist meditation centers, retreat centers, monasteries, a university, and other ventures, founded by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher the Trungpa Rinpoche under the name Vajradhatu. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the present spiritual and executive head of the organization, which he renamed and reorganized in 1990.

Spiritual teachers

  • Druk Sakyong Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
  • Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche
  • Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin
  • Acharya Pema Chödrön

There are presently thirty-one "acharyas", or senior teachers, in the Shambhala mandala.

Shambhala land centers

The Shambhala "land centers" are retreat centers, generally located in more rural settings around the world.

  • Gampo Abbey in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Dorje Denma Ling in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
  • Sky Lake Lodge in Rosendale, New York
  • Dechen Chöling in Mas Marvent, France
  • Karmê Chöling in Barnet, Vermont

Larger Shambhala Mandala

Many entities are considered part of the larger Shambhala mandala inspired by Chogyam Trungpa, although they may not be legally part of the Shambhala International organization.

Choseng Trungpa, the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku, along with the other tulkus and leaders of Surmang, asked Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to assume stewardship of Surmang Monastery and its people. Sakyong Mipham has also been asked to assume responsibility for Weyen monastery, the Gesar orphanage, and the Mipham Institute in Golok, and Khamput Monastery in Kham.

Related publications

Shambhala International has inspired or sponsors a number of publications, and others exist in some degree of relationship to the larger Shambhala International/Shambhala Buddhism mandala. For instance, Shambhala Publications was founded and is published by Acharya Samuel Bercholz, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, but has no legal relationship to Shambhala International. The Shambhala Sun, a bimonthly magazine, and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, are now published by the Shambhala Sun Foundation.

  • The Dot Quarterly Newspaper of the International Shambhala Mandala
  • Buddhadharma Quarterly Journal of Buddhist Practice
  • Shambhala Sun Buddhist-Inspired Monthly Magazine of Buddhism, Meditation, Culture, and Life


External links

ru:Шамбала буддизм