After the Mediation (March 25, 2022)

Selected Quotes

On the Mediation Results

We have a problem because we don’t all agree on what the ground rules are. We don’t all agree, and we’re afraid to talk because we don’t agree. A lot of people feel like they don’t have the right to talk because they’re not in some exalted part of the hierarchy. Or else, they’re angry because they’re not in some exalted part of the hierarchy, and nobody’s listening to them. I used to see this at all sorts of levels from international to my local level, where everyone was always talking about “they”, “they’re” doing this, “they’re” doing that. My experience was that there was no “they”, it was just a bunch of people trying to do their best to make sure that we had a place to sit together, and I think we find ourselves in that situation again. We still don’t know who we are, what we’re trying to do together, what we want.

I am studying with the Sakyong. I came into Shambhala in 1980 with Chogyam Trungpa. I personally don’t believe you can separate out lineage, lineage holders and their Shambhala teachings. And I think the letter was left intentionally vague in unanswered financial and legal questions. And the Sakyong, I think, took a step back so that the organization, quote unquote, could figure out we can all figure out how this is supposed to work because the lineage of Sakyongs is not really going to go away. There’s going to be a third Sakyong; people who don’t like this Sakyong, very well might like the next Sakyong. That the Scorpion Seal is based on the Lineage of Sakyongs and the Shambhala teachings are based on the Scorpion Seal, I think we’re basically stuck with each other in one mandala. Obviously we don’t know what the Sakyong has in mind. And right now he’s outside of Shambhala, which is a ridiculous statement in itself. I think we have to work with each other. I think that to remove part of the mandala because of people’s personal concerns is not the answer.

I’m reminded of a divorcing family, where sometimes for the sake of the children, you have to break up, you have to live apart. And I am thinking about the students coming in, whether they really want to come into a kind of divorcing arguing set of parents. So I wouldn’t be scared of a real divorce at all. And somebody said, Well, we’re all lineage holders now. I thought, yeah, that’s actually true. You know, the lineage is not just located in one place. And particularly when the lineage goes into a new culture, all kinds of things happen. We should give it a bit of freedom to to make a new space.

I’m a Sakyong student, and it’s clear for me personally where I’m going. We are now opening our center and most of the leadership are Sakyong students too. And the first thing we decided amongst us is we are not offering Levels one till Five as it was. We can offer weekends where maybe I can talk about warriorship and basic goodness, we can talk about the Four Noble Truths, there’s tons of stuff we can talk about. But to go on with it, we just continue level 1 to 5 and Sacred Path, but then it’s already starting warrior assembly and then, question mark.

And from a teaching point of view, even when you’re, particularly when you’re teaching level one, you have to come in with that view, not that beginner. The beginner says, What is this all about? And you have to come in and his starts with the pictures, and the whole situation and you hold that seat. And if that’s already shaky, I don’t know that I’m thinking, karmically speaking, for a new person who comes from confused situation, wants to see clarity.

Someone said last week, they had a Level One with two teachers, one was a Sakyong student and one was not. This is for me where it’s really comes down to the grinding stone. I love this community. From there, whether there was the Sakyong or not, I feel that. But when we are thinking now, how do we present it to the new students? That’s my big question. I don’t want to bring more confusion in; it’s already hard enough to live.

Moving Forward

Is this the best way to to teach Shambhala and Buddhadharma anyway, to make it a graduated path where you’re getting goodies all along, and you’re being asked to go further and further? Over the years, I’ve seen people who go much further than they’re really ready to, or that they’ve had time to absorb. For example, when I went to Scorpion Seal One, people can’t even slow down when it’s time to leave the tent to let the guy who was who is quadriplegic have some space. That says that people aren’t actually learning what they’re studying. They don’t have time to work with it.

Local leaderships at many centers really need as much support as we can afford them, with how to have difficult conversations, because I think a lot of the centers aren’t having them. I think a lot of the centers are just sitting out there in kind of a stasis with people leaving because they can’t stand the space.

I feel that there is a great opportunity for local and regional sanghas to really take initiative to figure out what works locally. To make efforts to regionally communicate and support one another, without requiring people to be doing the same thing, but to be in support of one another’s efforts and to share resources and teachers and folks from beyond Shambhala who are teachers and have threads of of growth for us. Working regionally I think could be a great opportunity for us.

There is a lot of strength, and a lot of integrity in the centers and regions. That has to be challenged to come forth, to do more defining, before central starts dictating things and how things are going to be. There’s been this lack of definition. And I think that the centers and regions should be challenged to talk about what really is going to work for them, how they can work things, before the center starts dictating.