Realizing Enlightened Society

This article is based on a seminar entitled "Realizing Enlightened Society," which took place at Karmê Chöling, Vermont, in February 1986. It is edited by Judy Lief and was first published in the Shambhala Sun in June of 1991.

Talk One: Ground of Basic Goodness

We are definitely turning the wheel sunwards. And it is my greatest privilege to announce the inseparability of the Shambhala approach and the buddhadharma.

How are we going to incorporate two seemingly different approaches into one entity? We have Buddhists and we have Shambhalians. How are we going to mix them together?

I think it is very simple in my way of thinking, anyway. The Shambhala approach could be regarded as the river or the trees, and the buddhadharma as the mountains on which the trees will grow and the river will flow. So buddhadharma is basic nature. In other words, white paper could be regarded as the buddhadharma, and what will occur or develop on that white paper, which is known as calligraphy, is Shambhala. In this approach, buddhadharma is regarded as the basic intrinsic nature, or background, and the Shambhala teachings will grow out of that, as the foreground. It is very basic.

We had a certain amount of difficulty in interior-decorating this particular building and this particular room [Karmê Chöling shrine room]. The architect argued with us, saying that we could not put up these columns. Finally he came to the conclusion that it was geographically and architecturally necessary to provide such columns, let alone the gold-leafing and other decorations that went along with it. It is a very interesting perspective. According to the architect, if you looked at it from the point of view of architectural possibilities you wouldn't suggest such columns unless it became technically necessary-but apparently it is technically necessary. That is known as basic goodness strikes once more. Basic goodness is not just embellishment, but basic goodness is required in order for us to concentrate on such a situation. If you would care to ask any questions, you are more than welcome.

STUDENT: Sir, with mountains as the background, as buddhadharma, and the Shambhala teachings as the trees and rivers, where do the world's other religious traditions fit in?

VIDYADHARA: All of them.

S: Just like that?

V: Just like that!

S: Specifically then, where does Christianity fit in?

V: Sometimes it is a part of the foreground, and sometimes it is background.

S: Judaism and Hinduism?

V: Same thing.

S: What part does the sky play in all of this?

V: What?! [Laughter]

S: What part does the sky play in this scheme of mountains and trees and rivers?

V: Big rock.

S: Is it a beginning?

V: It's a beginning, yes. You'll be surprised how large it will be.

S: Sir, in the past you've used another analogy in discussing the relationship between Shambhala and buddhadharma. You've said that Shambhala is the vessel that will contain buddhadharma. The analogy that you're using tonight seems the opposite of that.

V: I think it's saying the same thing. Shambhala is more embellishment; buddhadharma is more what is being embellished.

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