Foreword by Sakyong Mipham
My father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was in the last generation to receive the full spiritual wisdom and culture of Tibetan Buddhism. His teachers, some of the time’s most renowned, poured into him their spiritual wealth. Even among his peers, he was regarded as exceptionally gifted. When he was escaping from the great Tibetan plateau into the plains of India, he stood at the top of the Himalayas, reflecting deeply on the purpose of his own spiritual tradition and the human condition. Amidst the tumult, what arose in his mind was the vision of Shambhala, a society rooted in humanity’s basic goodness. Later, at Oxford University and then in North America, he taught not only the rich tradition of Buddhism but also what was dearest to his heart: a vision for enlightened society.
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior was my father’s first public attempt to explain this approach to personal and social well-being, a journey of understanding and realization he called “warriorship.” This path revolves around two key themes. First, humans are innately awake and dignified, “basically good.” And second, society, as an expression of human nature, is also basically good. Thus, becoming a Shambhala warrior has nothing to do with making war or acting aggressively. Rather, it is the discovery of the seed of bravery within us all.
The geopolitical make-up of the world has changed significantly since this book was first published thirty years ago. However, its teachings and message are more vital now than ever before, for humanity is at a crossroads. Either intuitively or explicitly, we are all wondering what kind of world we have created, and what its future might be. As we look at the news, there is a palpable feeling of uncertainty about our goodness and dignity. Why, with such a broad base of spiritual and worldly knowledge, did my father choose to expound so intently on Shambhala? He had a deep intuition about the future plight of humanity. He believed that if we are brave enough to cultivate our own dignity, we will be able to engage in life with a sense of worthiness and heroism. These teachings are not simply the wisdom from his own particular tradition. They are an acknowledgment of the deep-rooted wisdom inherent within all cultures and traditions—the universal desire to live a good human life. In this way the message of Shambhala is presenting the truth of humanity itself.
When so many of us feel overwhelmed and frustrated, it is essential to understand that how we regard ourselves and our society can affect the outcome of the entire planet. This book encourages us to reconnect to how we feel and think, and to recognize that when we touch our own humanity, society reflects it. A society that has awakened to its natural inborn strengths becomes illuminated with kindness. This is enlightened society.
Since its first publication, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior has affected many lives. A worldwide community has grown and is now flourishing. People have applied the principles of basic goodness and enlightened society to all aspects of daily life and in healthcare, environmental issues, the economy, politics, and education.
In my own life, these teachings have played a central role. From an early age I was trained in their disciplines, and now I am their lineage holder. Along the way, the messages of basic goodness and enlightened society have been themes of deep—and at times, challenging—contemplation for me. I discovered that the principles of Shambhala may seem simple at first, but that their profound depth and magnitude have seismic implications. Their wisdom is my father’s greatest gift.
In many ways Shambhala vision is still in an embryonic stage. I am delighted that you will be able to experience it through reading this book. May it enable you to touch your own goodness and dignity, and may it give you the strength and inspiration to uplift the world.
25 June 2014