A JOURNEY TO SHAMBHALA KINGDOM THROUGH NEW YORK STREETS
Music: Light Onto You-Adolf & Wolfe feat. Neobe
Almost 5 years ago from now, I placed the book I read about the Sacred Shambhala Way in a box to give to my daughter when she turns 18. It felt like all the secrets, the whole truth about life and pure happiness were in that book… This was the best gift that I could give her, I thought.
Year 2011. Here I am, in front of Shambhala Center’s door in New York City. I had the chance to meet with the Shambhala Way and Teachings the first time in South Africa years ago and finally I found myself here after all this time, to carry Shambhala Tradition’s teachings to a higher level through meditation. I guess I needed this time to process and reach the maturity to at least try to let myself go through my journey of life, practicing acceptance and surrendering myself to life’s experiences…
‘We rise by kneeling, we conquer by surrendering and we gain by giving up!’
The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
New York – Above and Underground
I let myself in the streets of New York every night, after the meditation trainings. Hundreds of streets criss-crossing each other.. Quick steps under the rain… While walking, my mind is pre-occupied with the Shambhala Kingdom and the teachings… I am feeling the vibration coming from the old Subway railroads underground. I go down under the ground; just observing people coming from all backgrounds, profiles and colors:
While the subway is shaking from one side to another on old rails with full speed, I am watching the lady sleeping across from me with colorful makeup and lots of colorful wool bits and pieces on her. And next to her, is wsitting a black man with a beard, wearing a hat and a trench-coat. It seems that they are homeless, they are holding an old baby stroller tight which is full of things they ‘own’… Even though they seem like they don’t have any home, it seems even they cannot let go of ‘attachements’ and owning things… The interesting thing about this whole picture is that they seem -especially the lady- to be professors at a University and yet it seems they chose to lead this kind of life…
Another time, a caricaturist who sits next to me draws pictures of everyone who gets into the subway at every station. The people who can not change things in their lives see their surroundings and what’s happening around them as they wish. The caricaturist draws everyone with a whole different face and expression… At least, he has the freedom to draw however he likes to.
At another underground trip, a white lady with too many plastic surgeries on her face, standing next to me, starts dancing to the music coming from her earphones. She is gazing around while she does the small, somewhat weird moves, she probably wants us to think that she plays the lead role in one of the musicals at Broadway. Three black teenagers start to dance with her rhythm, without even hearing the music, grinning to her in a naughty way.
The peak point of quietness makes it more possible to be still and motionless, which enables meditation practice to be more reachable… The city’s noise cannot be heard from the room we are in.
Our teacher is the student of Chogyam Trungpa, who brought the Shambhala Tradition to the West for the first time. After 16 years of working at Wallstreet, our teacher met the Shambhala Tradition, and it became his life. He is an ordinary-dressed person, who explains the teachings in a simple and easily understandable way….But when the training is over, the effect he leaves on us is not so simple. I really can’t tell if experiencing this meditation practice here & now in New York with 50 people for a few days is all about Shambhala’s mystery or whether it is the humble wisdom of our teacher that creates this effect…
Acharya tells us the following during the meditation sessions;
‘You and your thoughts change all the time. There are more subtle thoughts, thoughts that come and go, and thoughts that are deeper, which are harder to let go; about our attachments, connections with people, incidents and important things happening in our lives… During meditation, thoughts must be not too loose and not too tight….’
My back feels great, no pain at all… But my right foot starts to tickle and to become numb. After a while, I start to move my foot, now it begins to hurt with a strong tingling sensation, I carry on moving slowly…. My breath starts to speed up, I feel hot… I look at people around me, nobody is moving, everyone is either deep in thoughts or they are truly and successfully ‘here and now’….
‘An effective meditation practice is all about coming back here and now, over and over again. It is not important how long you stay here but how many times you come back to here and now.
Coming back every time to the breath, without ‘entertaining the thoughts’… Holding on to neither hope nor fear, letting go and surrendering everything to the flow, no attachments… Just following the thoughts, without holding on to them.. Like the clouds in the blue sky, letting them come and go…’
I am listening. Motionless and in peace, I try to come back to my breath every time I drift away. I am determined not to make any big movement or change my position. I am not indifferent or unresponsive, I just choose not to be disturbed by my foot. I focus on my breath, in fact, I am very content right now- at least my attention is at a single object- my foot- and the moments that I sit with total awareness are among the happiest…
‘Meditation is not enough on its own, ‘the path’ is important as well. To progress on the path, for contemplation and transformation, patience and time are needed… The path, transformation and how you see the world depends on the basic goodness inside every human being and the warrior spirit one has in his/her life journey… We have to contemplate and self-study. Meditation creates the environment for us for cultivating wisdom, insight and transformation…
Sanity is contagious. Our meditation practice is not only for ourselves. But, we have to first be our own hero, then radiate light around us… Stay at the present with your breath, just follow your breath… Even breath changes every moment… And right now, your previous breath has no importance any more.’
I am taking a deep breath. I am taking in Prana-life energy-and sending it to my foot. I am only thinking about my foot right now. Waiting, till the end of the end. ‘If we pass the point of giving up, then what happens? Actually, success comes just right after the moment of giving up, just be patient’, I am telling to myself. And it passes. Just like the fluctuations of the thoughts, the numbness of my foot makes its peak, and then finally the pain dissolves, evoporates slowly… Or maybe I feel that way, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Perhaps, pain and disturbances dissapear when you totally accept them with all the love you have got… To supress feelings or to escape from them does not really work. In any case, pain and all kinds of suffering are overcome not by time, but with love.
And at the end of the first half-hour session, the long awaited sound of the gong is heard which will start the walking meditation…
The Shambhala Kingdom and Chogyam Trungpa
The Shambhala Kingdom is a mysterious and secret kingdom that was situated at the skirts of Himalaya’s cloudy peaks, north of Tibet. The meaning of Shambhala is ‘peace, serenity and the place of happiness’. The community of Shambhala, whose king’s name is Kalpa and the capital is called Kalapa, is believed to be completely enlightened. There was no war or injustice there… Shambhala tradition and teachings take its sources from Tibetian Budism spiritualism and teachings, and spread through generations by word.
Chogyam Trungpa is a Tibetian Buddist lama (a spiritual leader) and a meditation master. He is a leader, whom for the first time brought the Shambhala Tradition to the West and presented it inEnglish. According to Trungpa, Shambhala tradition takes its roots from the wisdom of humanity, it does not belong to any culture -West or East- or any religion, on the contrary, a lifestyle that studies the possibility of bringing the differences together… Chogyam Trungpa establishes the first University that studies Budism and Shambhala Tradition in North America, and writes many books about the tradition and the teachings and dies when he was only 36 years old. Did he achieve and complete all the things he wanted to do and his Dharma, the purpose of his coming to life?
Shambhala teachings are based on the path to peace for people and societies, depends on the universal characteristics of human beings’ wisdom, compassion and courage. Through meditation practice, by following the ancient knowledge and principles and by leading an ‘awaken’ life, the Shambhala Tradition has the power to enable ‘transformation’ in a person’s life, for people and societies. The teachings are not only related to Budism but also and most profoundly consist of wisdom about life. The Shambhala tradition emphasizes not the reasons of the situations and incidents happening in our lives, but the importance of how they are occuring.
The symbol of the Shambhala tradition is ‘Garuda’, the Eagle. To be as strong, couregous and determined as an Eagle, to live awake with a sharp eye, to have the spiritual power to deal with life’s difficulties…
Acharya talks about ‘Basic Goodness’… Every human being has basic goodness deep inside, a treasure that has to be unveiled… I remember a picture my friend took at a zoo; the moment of a child’s hand with henna, offering a piece of bread to a monkey behind the cage, both streching their arms out to eachother.
Basic goodness comes from the depths of the heart and it means knowing who you truly are, deep down. That comes before everything, sincere, pure, clear goodness.. To feel this in ourselves results in these kinds of emotions: To be completely open, vulnarable, defenseless and being soft. Still, the more the heart is raw, wide open and out there, the stronger it becomes. When the doors are open, there is no situation or no one to resist… Tenderness and power, sorrow and joy are inseparable pieces!
Seeing the world this way, seeing the divine quality, the moments that we are open and awake… These moments that touch us, are actually always there… Shifting repeated patterns, changing addictive behaviors and habits, the dawn that overcomes confusion, enlightenment, wisdom, becoming clearer and living the transformation occurs when we truly open our hearts and ourselves…
Mindfulness Meditation-Shamata and Vipassana Practice
To increase awareness and mindfullness, we do concentration practices such as Shamata or Vipassana meditations. Shamata meditation is a technique that helps us to learn skills for an unbreakable concentration and for a single-object attention. It is an easy but effective method for attention and concentration. Shamata means – unlike its Turkish meaning- peaceful abiding, while Vipassana means insight.
Who wouldn’t want to be in total ‘peaceful abiding’ in anything they do -even while doing the simplest things at every stage of life? Like the village woman on the side of the road, who places each tomato from her field carefully into a box with total awareness, patience and in ultimate peace… Being able to collect pieces and bits of our thoughts and mind, over and over into the box. Awareness of the mind. Being here, now. Just ‘being’. Even this must be a good beginning for ‘the path’.
‘There is no need to make an effort for awareness. It comes when there is space. Awareness is like the wind. If you open the doors and windows, it will come in, no matter what’. Chogyam Trungpa
Last walk in New York:
At the end of Shambhala Meditation Trainings, walking in the streets of New York for the last time, I remember one of my meditation practices and the words of our teacher at the Kripalu Retreat Center- the biggest Health and Yoga Center in North America, beautifully surrounded by lakes and amazing nature -where I went for a yoga teacher training course: ‘Our body isn’t only made of what we see with our eyes’, the instructor says, ‘There is also the emotional body, energy body, mind body and bliss body.’ All the words that she taught reached my heart and grabbed it. I am thanking her, all my teachers that I have come across until today, but especially my guide within. Suddenly, I feel a complete happiness. Tears want to come out from my ‘bliss body’, pushing my eyes to burst, my throat and nose aches. I meditate, looking at the half-frozen lake, listening to the only sound coming from the frogs living at the reed-bed, in a continous harmony. The next day, I go to exactly the same place but another time, and there is absolute silence and no sign of frogs, but different sounds welcome me. ‘Nothing stays the same, everything changes. Just let yourself with the flow, just accept what comes and what goes…’ I am telling myself. I come back from the lake mentally and emotionally half-exhausted half in serenity…
I totally let myself go into the streets of New York and into my life, with a vulnerable but ‘ready’ heart, wide open but strong; and my mind is serene yet alert… I am thinking about Osho’s sayings on acceptance:
To accept all
is the highest peak of meditation-
all the sweetness of life and
all the bitterness of life,
with equanimity, choicelessly,
with no likes, no dislikes.
Once this starts happening
you become a rejoicing,
you become a serenity,
you become utter silence-
and a silence which is not dead,
a silence which sings,
a silence which dances,
a silence which is not empty,
a silence which is overfull.
This is going to be your method:
Learn to accept life as it comes.
When something happens….
When it disappears….
accept it; let it go….
When pleasure comes,
when it evaporates….
And the same with pain.
just a silent witness to all.
This is the most profound secret
of all the Buddhas,
of all the awakened ones.
Osho on Acceptance
Divya Beste Dolanay