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Shambhala Congress

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: New Directions

by President Richard Reoch
Kalapa Assembly, August 2003

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has re-examined his plans for next year in light of what he believes will be best for our mandala, for his own path, and for the benefit of beings in these difficult times. A new pattern is emerging for the future.

The Sakyong is taking this opportunity to make the following statement to the entire Shambhala mandala:

I want to make it very clear that from November onwards there is going to be a definite shift in how I lead my life and how I am best used. Rather than simply entering a sixteen-month retreat without people seeing me or hearing from me— I now want to begin working in a mandala where I can mix the elements of practice and study, teaching, and writing. I want to have a balance of these throughout the calendar year.

November will mark the beginning of this shift. There will be periods where I will definitely do retreat practice, but also other periods where I will be writing, a process I very much enjoy. It is a very effective way for me to reach a lot of people and reaching the world in this way seems to benefit our own community.

The Sakyong’s decision can also be seen as the beginning of a significant organizational shift for our community. As he is the center of our mandala, his plans affect our core energy, not only nourishing us as practitioners, but enabling us to reach outwards with increased confidence. His decision has particular significance at this time in view of the fundamental changes we need to strengthen Shambhala.

Following Kalapa Assembly and his teachings in Europe and Karmê Chöling, Rinpoche will attend the Shambhala Congress, a historic gathering to take place in Halifax in November. He very much hopes that this will be attended by representatives of all centres and groups and other bodies within our growing mandala. It will be a major occasion during which he will be able to hear from all parts of the Shambhala community and work with the leadership of the mandala on plans for our future development.

After the Shambhala Congress, Rinpoche will begin working on his next book, to be published by Riverhead. It will open up the principles of ruling your life, based on the teachings and training he received from an early age to prepare him for the responsibilities of a Sakyong. Rinpoche is in a unique position to tell this story and share its wisdom with a wide reading public.

In early 2004, it is possible—but still under discussion—that Rinpoche might make a small number of public appearances in key US cities in connection with the appearance in paperback of Turning the Mind into an Ally, now established as a national bestseller. The hardback edition is now in its 5th printing and sales are estimated at over 23,000 copies.

His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, now released from arrest by the Chinese authorities, has extended an invitation to Rinpoche to visit him at his monastery in Tibet. This is one of the main seats of the Mipham lineage. Rinpoche is now exploring the possibility of including such a visit in his schedule for the New Year.

Early in the Tibetan New Year, Rinpoche will travel to His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s monastery, Namdroling, near Mysore in southern India. He will spend up to two months receiving the reading transmission (lung) for the thirty-two volumes of the collected works and teachings – known as the kabum -- of the previous Mipham Rinpoche. The lung will be conducted by His Holiness and this will be the first time he has performed it.

This reading transmission of the Mipham kabum will be a major event in the Tibetan world and is expected to draw large numbers of monastics and lay practitioners. We are also going to explore ways of enabling the Sakyong’s Western students to attend part of this historic event if they wish.

Speaking at a meeting of the Kalapa Shambhala Society in Halifax just after Shambhala Day this year, Rinpoche said:

Khyentse Rinpoche did this once, so it has been a long time since this was done. It is very important to the Tibetans that I have these teachings so that I can teach them and propagate them. Though many people here see me mainly as the Sakyong and son of Trungpa Rinpoche, the Tibetans regard me mainly as Mipham Rinpoche. That’s my job, and that’s what they want me to be doing. I get it from both sides (laughter)… Penor Rinpoche also wants to pass on the Palyul Dzokchen lineage to me, so I’ll receive those abhishekhas and teachings as well.

Following the kabum, Rinpoche and his party will travel to Dharamsala, North India. We hope this will be an opportunity for Rinpoche to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness’ representative in New York met Rinpoche during the recent book tour to discuss this possibility, and confirmed His Holiness has accepted the Sakyong’s invitation to visit The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

While he is in North India, Rinpoche will also meet His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa. This will be a historic moment, continuing the deep connection of the Shambhala mandala with the Kagyü lineage. You will recall that Lady Diana Mukpo, Lamen Mitchell Levy and others travelled to India to meet His Holiness at the end of last year and were very warmly received.

From there, Rinpoche hopes to travel to Nepal to perform a longevity practice in the Cave of Marathika. This is reachable only by foot or helicopter. This will fulfill a prediction contained in a Gesar of Ling prasena (divination) performed in 1988 by Lama Khasatapa in Tibet at the request of the Sakyong’s mother, Lady Konchok. This same divination, incidentally, foresaw that he would hold the Mipham lineage. Rinpoche will return to North America in time for the Vajrayana Seminary to be held in July at Shambhala Mountain Center.

After seminary, Rinpoche will resume his personal study and practice. Speaking of this period of practice in his talk to the Kalapa Shambhala Society earlier this year, he said:

One of the main yidams that Mipham Rinpoche is associated with is Manjushri. He is considered to be an emanation of Manjushri, an embodiment of Manjushri. There are two kinds of Manjushri. There’s the peaceful one that we usually see, with the sword and the text. The sword in the right hand represents prajna and the text in the left represents the Prajnaparamita Sutra. The wrathful form of Manjushri is Yamantaka. That’s the practice I have to do. I’ve already done some of it, but I have to do more. I will also do the complete six yogas.

Rinpoche will also be working on a third book, about the paths and stages, a presentation of the Shambhala Buddhist path. His publishers are interested in this book, which will appeal beyond the general audience to more serious students of the buddhadharma.

I personally see this new pattern in Rinpoche’s schedule as a shift towards his becoming more of a global figure, in the same way that we are starting to see Shambhala itself as more of a global community.

I think more and more people will come to understand that, regardless of his geographical location, the Sakyong is always manifesting as the center of our mandala. Periods of deep practice and study are not time "away from us," but are what is needed to intensify and radiate the energy of the Earth Protector in these dark and turbulent times.

Rinpoche will retain ultimate authority over the governance of the Shambhala mandala, and continue to guide us in many areas, including relations with other teachers and the Tibetan world. His increased emphasis on practice and study, teaching and writing will greatly strengthen the central energy of our mandala, supporting all of us in our efforts to deepen our own practice and radiate outward together.

Yours in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Richard Reoch
President of Shambhala Kalapa Assembly, August, 2003
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