Buddhist Geeks & Shambhala Training III

Three Boulder Naropa students have gotten together to start their own blog/podcast. It’s less than two months old but seems pretty cool. If you’re interested check it out: Buddhist Geeks.
I’m working on my paper for Shambhala Training V and so have been going back over my past Shambhala papers. I noticed that I stopped posting my responses up here after level II. So now I’m playing catch up.
Here are two of my responses from level III:
What was the difference between the conventional notion of renunciation and the Shambhala notion of renunciation?
The conventional notion of renunciation is about giving up worldly pleasures to focus on spiritual life. For example, monks and nuns may renounce worldly possessions, sexual relations, or even personal identity, as these things are believed to be obstacles on the spiritual path. This idea of renunciation is connected with asceticism and arises from a belief that the world is a bad place that needs to be avoided.
In Shambhala, the notion of renunciation is about opening to others, being gentle with and available to the world around us. What is renounced is anything that is a barrier between others and ourselves. With the Great Eastern Sun view, there are no specific things in the world that are bad. Sexual relations and worldly possessions are not harmful to us and do not need to be rejected. What is rejected is small-mindedness and attachment. Renunciation is about cultivation of gentleness so that we have no room for selfishness.

What is your understanding of discipline in the Shambhala tradition? Relate this to the bow and arrow principle. Describe what it means to you from you personal experience.
In Shambhala, the warrior discipline is not about control or punishment. Discipline is how we become gentle and genuine. A warrior’s discipline is all pervasive and ever-present, like the sun. When the sun shines it shines everywhere, not just on one spot. Even when clouds pass overhead or when it turns night the sun is shining behind the clouds or on the other side of the planet. Similarly, the warriors discipline is unwavering and is therefore joyful. Unwavering discipline makes working with others and ourselves a joy.
The warrior’s discipline is also like the bow and arrow. The warrior is aware and interested in the world, in experience. He is sharp and penetrating, able to discriminate. In this way, the warrior’s intellect is like the arrow.
The arrow requires a bow to function. The bow is like the warrior’s skillful means. The warrior is able to use his intellect in the world through skillful action.
Before coming to Naropa I was an after-school teacher at an inner-city community center. I practiced listening to the children in my class and understanding them. Not all of their communication was verbal, nor was it always clear. I had to rely on my discriminating awareness to understand their emotional states. And as the teacher I also had to make decisions about what to do. Sometimes I would recognize that a child needed some time alone, so I would let him sit in the hallway if he wanted. At other times I would know a child needed me to sit with him. Every individual and situation was unique and required me to be interested in my students and to act with skillful means.

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