Shambhala Diversity?

I’ve started on my paper for the level 5 shambhala training. The trainings take place at the Shambhala Center in Boulder, CO. And in the meditation hall there is a banner hanging above the shrine with the Stroke of ASHE, a symbol that Chögyam Trungpa created which means confidence beyond ego ?. It is also the symbol given to persons who complete the graduate courses in Shambhala Training.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been seeing people all over the place wearing this symbol. I feel drawn to it and am considering continuing with the trainings once I leave Boulder Naropa.
During the trainings there were some things said by different Directors that I didn’t fully agree with, that my experience didn’t agree with. But the meditation instruction and essence of the teachings were very helpful and did agree with my own experience. I’d like to find a sangha with the Shambhala community but I’m concerned with the lack of racial and ethnic diversity I’ve encountered. I know there is a center in Lexington and I wonder if there is more diversity there and at other Shambhala Centers around the country.
Next time I visit New York I’ll visit the center there. If NYC has an homogeneous it certainly isn’t by accident.
Here are some of my responses to questions after taking level IV:
How is communication between the warrior and the phenomenal world described in the Shambhala teachings? How do you understand the aspects of natural order and elegance in the world as discussed in the reading and from your own experience?
A warrior is able to communicate with the phenomenal world through his sense perceptions. Rather than viewing the sensual world as problematic to spiritual development, in Shambhala the sense perceptions are sacred. Sense perceptions allow human beings to communicate with the deep wisdom of the world.
Through living in accordance with Basic Goodness the warrior’s life becomes spacious and relaxed but not sloppy. The perfect balance between being relaxed and being sloppy is elegance.
When we have confidence we have elegance. In Tibetan, the word for confidence is ziji ?, which means, shining out ?. When we shine out with our Basic Goodness, we will be confident in a way that is not conditional. We will be gentle, fearless, and elegant.
For a long time I tried to hide my Basic Goodness. In school, if I knew an answer I would pretend I did not know it. In my personal relationships I would also hide my wisdom. I followed the other person’s example even when I knew it would be harmful. I believed that people would not like me if I did my best.
But eventually I decided that if someone loved me they would love me no matter what. I began to let myself shine. I did my best at work and wasn’t embarrassed by my intelligence or dedication. I began to speak up for myself in my personal relationships and say no ? when I did not want to do something. I developed confidence that did not depend on outside approval. This is the ziji ? that arises from living in accordance with Basic Goodness.
What is the role of inquisitiveness in the path of the warrior? Include in your discussion both the notion of cocoon and Great Eastern Sun vision.
Using the analogy of the bow and arrow, a warrior has discriminating awareness and inquisitiveness that is like the arrow. When the warrior harnesses his inquisitiveness with the bow of skillful means, he is able to look into every situation, open himself to the phenomenal world. He does not need to rely on belief alone, but can trust the world to give him a message, either of success or failure. In meditation practice, awareness enables the warrior to regain his balance when he loses it. His awareness of the phenomenal world is not a distraction but a help.
Chogyam Trungpa talks about two worldviews: Great Eastern Sun and the Cocoon. He stresses that the Great Eastern Sun is not a concept but is based on experience. In Great Eastern Sun view the world around us is sacred and taking care of it is a joy. This is the view founded on Basic Goodness.
Contrasted with Great Eastern Sun is the Cocoon. This is the worldview based on fear and darkness. When we surround ourselves with the familiar so that we can become numb we are living in the Cocoon. But at some point we may experience a longing for openness, for something other than our Cocoon. When we let ourselves become aware of the dark cocoon, we find it repulsive.
But we cannot just reject the Cocoon. If we do we will only take a momentary break. Instead, we must maintain our awareness of our Cocoon so that we can develop sympathy for others and ourselves. We can be inquisitive about our Cocoon and our Cocoon can actually help us to wake up.
Contemplate the warrior’s approach to exertion and patience. How would you describe these two qualities of the warrior and in what ways are you familiar with them from your own experience? Describe the role of exertion and patience in sitting meditation as well as in daily life.
The warrior has a balance of exertion and patience. Discipline brings the warrior into balance. He uses just enough exertion to take his seat in the world, but not so much that he lacks gentleness and genuineness. The warrior has sympathy for himself and others, so he has patience and gentleness.
The balance between exertion and patience is important. If I over exert myself I am not able to sustain my practice. Instead I can let myself expand gradually. For example, I am a writer and have a daily writing practice. But when I push myself too hard to write I burn out and go long periods without writing. Instead of forcing myself to write, I can allow myself space and do other activities around writing, like reading. This way I can come back to my writing practice sooner and I feel better about it.
In sitting meditation, one must have some level of exertion in order to sit upright and focus ones awareness on the breath. But over-exertion becomes a distraction. Patience is necessary so that one can be aware of ones own mind. Long weekends of meditation are helpful to me for developing patience. If I am over exerting myself during a day of meditation my body will communicate very loudly to me: I will feel tired.
The same principle is true in daily life. We must exert ourselves in the world, but over exertion is counterproductive. Patience is necessary so that one can be aware of the message the world is giving.
Describe, awakened heart ? in your own words? Please consider this well and offer some depth of your own understanding and experience.
When we are willing to become aware of our own thoughts and emotions we being to have an awakened heart ?. Instead of wrapping ourselves in the mindlessness of the cocoon we can pay attention to our state of mind and allow ourselves to open to our experience. This openness is awakened heart.
When I am open to my experience my heart is full of love, sadness, and tenderness. In fact, what I call love is similar to what Chogyam Trungpa calls tenderness. To love I must let the world touch my open heart, I must let myself be sensitive to experience. Being truly sensitive feels tender.
Awakened heart is related to Basic Goodness. It is because of Basic Goodness that I can let myself open. I can trust my awakened heart because the world is basically good. I don’t have anything to fear. The world is communicating with me, sending messages. I can be open to those messages of success or failure without fear.
Being open to the world I can experience the world deeply. The world can also help to wake my up even more. When I am sitting I notice the pull of gravity on my body. When I notice how gravity feels on my body I wake up and notice even more, like how the cushion and floor support me, how my arms hang from my shoulders, and how my spine holds up my body.
With my awareness on my breath, I notice my lungs fill up. I notice the breath leave my nostrils and expand into the world. Noticing my breath wakes me up to my experience of nowness and awakens my heart. Awakened heart is sad and tender because it is connected with the world. My awakened heart is in love with the world. Sitting meditation helps me to cultivate openness and awakened heart.

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