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Buddhist advice for tough times ~ via Sakyong Mipham

March 26, 2009

Waylon Lewis
The Huffington Post
March 24, 2009

Two Tibetan American Buddhist gurus, back in the
day. Best-selling Buddhist author and teacher
Sakyong Mipham (right) with his father, Chogyam
Trungpa (founder of Shambhala, Naropa, author of
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism). Photo via Flickr.

I grew up in an American Buddhist community, now
called Shambhala. Instead of playing little
league (which I did, too) I grew up practicing
kyudo, ikebana, attending Buddhist seminaries at
Shambhala Mountain Center and serving as sergeant
major at Shambhala Sun Summer Camps (kinda the
Buddhist version of Boy and Girl Scouts).
Basically, my world was centered around a
meditation-happy community whose aim it was to
achieve, then export, inner peace. Converting
people? Nah, that's for theists. As the Dalai
Lama says, stick to your own tradition, begin
what you start. Our aim, rather, was simply to
work with other similarly-inspired communities in creating enlightened society.

And so, in these days when our news is filled
with the karmic results of our Greed is Good
ways--AIG, Merril Lynch, Madoff and Ponzi
schemes...with climate change, pine beetles and
bust mortgages...with wars abroad and obesity,
drugs and depression at home...I personally find
it helpful to turn back to my Buddhist tradition.

Wondering what Buddhism might have to say about
these 'dark ages,' I found this pithy talk by my
Buddhist teacher, best-selling author (and
marathon-er) Sakyong Miphm. May it be of benefit! ~ Waylon Lewis

Advice for the Dark Ages, a message to the
American Buddhist Shambhala community. For the
full text, go to the Shambhala site.

This is a very difficult time. The upheavals in
the financial world are causing widespread
distress, as are fears about climate change,
intensified political polarization, and rising
aggression. It is what the Buddhist teachings
call a "dark age." We experience the darkness as
confusion, unhappiness, and lack of purpose.

It was for times like these that the Buddha gave
the teachings on enlightened society to King Dawa
Sango, the first sovereign of Shambhala. At
present, the truth of those teachings is clear.
For a society to be truly harmonious, it cannot
be based on greed and anger. When we understand
this, we see that what is happening around us is
literally caused by the absence of [enlightened]
vision [meditation practice, compassion and
aspiring to work toward a peaceful society].

Uplifting our minds and increasing our life-force
energy begins with that vision. So I am asking
all of you, as citizens of [enlightened society], to rise to this occasion.

     First, take these precious teachings
[meditation, compassion] to heart and practice
them. That includes meditating for a short period
every day to stabilize your mind and generate
compassion. Contemplate your unshakeable karmic
connection to the lineage [of brave, decent
peaceful warriors who practice meditation and
study peace] and reflect on your nature as the
profound, brilliant [fundamentally good king or queen of your own world].

Second, see fear for what it is: a lack of trust
in your genuine being, which naturally radiates
compassion and kindness. Take the big view of
what is most important in this and future
lifetimes: to become stronger and more realized
in order to help others. Take care of yourselves,
but don't hide behind the false security of
self-protection. From the ground of basic
goodness, open your heart and serve others.

Third, be generous. This is not a time to close
down or hold on, but to offer from the natural
well-spring of generosity. Be generous with those
you love, but also with those you are tempted to
blame or dislike. Be generous, too, within your
community, which needs your support more than ever.

Practicing, serving, and giving: this is the path
of the warrior bodhisattva. It is both
transcendent and earthy. When we orient our minds
this way, we are creating a sustainable
environment. The wealth that it generates is inexhaustible.

I love you and am with you as we tread this golden path together.

The Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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