Ashe – First Stroke – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Adi Da Samraj









The following is from Jeremy Hayward’s book, ‘Warrior – King of shambhala – Remembering Chogyam Trungpa. – Wisdom Publications, 2008

……………this and the traditional use of the term Ashe that is related ………….. to inner yogic practices.


Adi Da – Torque of Attention

“If attention is simply moving about, you’re always noticing its objects. But if that fitfulness relaxes, you can be sensitive to attention itself, because it’s steady and doesn’t just jump to objects. It has a certain kind of equanimity itself, such that attention can be comprehended. And it’s the last thing in the space – everything is epitomized as attention. When it is found in the Self-Condition, in Consciousness Itself, its something like the hearing matter. You’re in the position of that first contraction. In fact it is the hearing matter, but exercised at this later stage. Its like the original hearing understanding, because you suddenly grasp it – the self-contraction and the ability to feel beyond it.

So in this noticing and equanimity, this noticing of attention is the first stroke, really. It is the feeling of relatedness, the feeling of separateness. It is the root-disturbance, but you’re feeling beyond it. But yet you notice this is a sensation in the midst of Consciousness Itself, an apparition there. Suddenly you become aware of the Self-Field in Which that primary thought or gesture is arising. So this shift, in other words, is from being identified with attention, by focusing on it, to being identified with the Consciousness in Which its appearing.

So that is the basic event in which there is a transition to the Witness-Position”.

Adi Da – Torque of Attention


‘Warrior – King of Shambhala – Remembering Chogyam Trungpa. – Wisdom Publications, 2008 p. 138



In the fall, we began to hear rumors of amazing things happening at the Seminary, which that year was being held at the King’s Gate Hotel in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin. In November, the Regent came back from Seminary and asked the Directors to gather at Rinpoche’s house, also the dwelling of the Regent and his family. There he showed us a special mark that one made on paper with a calligraphy brush and ink. He told us it was called the Ashe (pronounced ah-shay) and explained something about its meaning, though I have long forgotten what he said. He seemed energized and excited by it and showed us how to do it, which we all did. It didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time except that I felt both energized by it and disturbed by a presentiment that yet another major change was about to happen in our lives.

A few weeks later we heard the full story. At the Land O’Lakes Seminary, Rinpoche began to undergo the same kind of visionary experiences by which he had received the Sadhana of Mahamudra in Bhutan in 1968. In Tibet, someone who has the natural capability to receive visions of new dharma teachings in this way is known as a terton (treasure finder, or revealer) and the teachings he receives are terma. Once he is recognized as such, a terton has to go through a rigorous training process.

There are antecedents for this visionary finding of teachings in the Indian Buddhist tradition, for example in the great masters Nagarjuna and Asanga. The terma tradition was introduced into Tibet by Padmasambhava, the great mahasiddha (Sanskrit, meaning “one of great accomplishment”) who brought Buddhism to Tibet, and from whom Rinpoche received the Sadhana of Mahamudra in his visionary experience in Tagtsang. Thereafter, the terma tradition became a way for a fresh perspective, and fresh teachings appropriate to the time, to enter into the stream of Tibetan Buddhist teachings and enliven the more systematic teachings passed down from teacher to student in the usual way in the formal monastic schools. During his youth in Tibet, Rinpoche was known to be a great terton and did indeed reveal many terma while still in Tibet. Terma are said to be revealed in accordance with needs of people at the time, and this seemed to be the time and place for the teachings of Shambhala to re-appear on earth.

In 1975, Rinpoche had mentioned to the Regent that he felt there was a terma coming, and he didn’t know anything about it except that it was black. One night at the 1976 Seminary, after Rinpoche had given a talk on compassion, he invited a small group of people to the tiny trailer that served as his residence some distance away from the main hotel. Rinpoche suggested that he and his guests listen to music and asked them what sound might symbolize the moment of enlightenment. Among the albums that he wanted to hear was a favorite album of Japanese koto music (the koto is a plucked string instrument). At one moment, there was a particular sound, a high, slightly dissonant and piercing note. At that moment, Rinpoche said, “That’s it!” The other main music that was played that evening was Handel’s “Water Music,” which Rinpoche played over and over throughout the night. Later, he often enjoyed having this and the koto piece played at Shambhala events.

After hours of listening to music and conversation, in the early hours of the morning before dawn, Rinpoche withdrew with one student, his cook, Max, to a corner of the kitchen where they began doing calligraphy. The three people who were present report that the energy was extremely strong, vivid, and fierce. At one point, Rinpoche executed the first Ashe stroke and he became very animated and energized, making a similar calligraphy over and over again, fiercely, as if he were slicing through the very earth itself. He also told Max to do the stroke repeatedly, urging him loudly to put more strength and energy into it. Nobody understood quite what was happening there. The session went on for about an hour, finishing after the first light of dawn.

One afternoon a few days later, when some people were gathered around in Rinpoche’s study, he suddenly started to write on some note cards. He tossed each completed card over his shoulder onto a table behind him, some cards even falling down onto the floor. He acted so casually that no one realized at first that something very significant was happening. This turned out to be the first Shambhala terma, The Golden Sun of the Great East, that described the significance of the stroke of Ashe and how to execute it, as I will explain in the next chapter.

The Regent was due to arrive at Seminary soon after this. Normally, when the Regent visited the seminaries, Rinpoche would wait for him in his suite. On this occasion, however, Rinpoche went down to the front entrance and very excitedly waited for the Regent to arrive. As they walked back to the suite together, Rinpoche was overheard saying to the Regent, “I’ve got it!”-a reference perhaps to his remark the year before that he felt a terma was coming and that it was black.

At a subsequent welcoming reception for the Regent, Rinpoche began speaking in a tone such that David Rome realized he was saying something important. David quickly got some paper and pen and started writing down Rinpoche’s words as fast as he could. When the

Seminary was over a few days later, Rinpoche went to Karme Choling and completed this dictation in the living room of BPB. The completed work was a commentary on the text of The Golden Sun of the Great East, known as the “Auto-Commentary.” When Rinpoche returned from Karme Choling to Boulder, a few of us were given type-written copies of the text and Auto-Commentary. I read-them with a mixture of astonishment, excitement, and even fear-but there was also a sense of immediate recognition.

The stroke of Ashe and The Golden Sun of the Great East were followed within the next year by other terma texts. Rinpoche’s discovery of these terma was a major turning point-perhaps the major turning point-of his life and teachings in the West. Together these formed the basis of an entirely new stream of teaching coming from the preBuddhist cultural tradition of Shambhala joined with the highest teachings of vajrayana Buddhism. When asked where these texts came from, Rinpoche said that they were dictated to him by the Rigdens, monarchs of the ancient Kingdom of Shambhala, a society in which the cultural forms and institutions were based on the Buddhist notion of egolessness and compassion and in which the citizens aspired to awakening. Shambhala was the model for a type of society that Rinpoche soon began to speak about with increasing frequency as “enlightened society.”



Meanwhile, the Shambhala vision of creating an enlightened society was beginning to unfold. I read with astonishment my typed copy of the Auto-Commentary to the terma, The Golden Sun of the Great East, sitting at the desk in my office. The title of the text refers to a vision of human life and society based on human goodness and the sacredness of the world. Although in its common English usage the word sacredness means “consecrated or made holy by association with an external deity,” this was the closest English word Rinpoche could find to describe a world that is fundamentally good and meaningful in its own nature.

The inherent sacredness of the world and the vision of a society based on this is symbolized in the Shambhala teachings by the image of the Great Eastern Sun. Great refers to a vision of sacredness shared by many human societies across all cultures arld ages; Eastern to the wakefulness of, such societies-east being the direction one first looks when one wakes up; and Sun to the limitless and unceasing wisdom and energy available to those who follow this vision. The image of a society guided by the Great Eastern Sun is contrasted with a society of the “setting sun,” a society that is dominated by materialism, absence of appreciation of sacredness, aggression, and narrow vision based on self-interest alone. Needless to say, most societies contain a mixture of these two, and it is really a question of which vision dominates.

The central theme of the text is a description of the stroke of Ashe and the meaning of Ashe. Ashe is the power of basic goodness to express itself in the world. Basic goodness is not merely a nice philosophy, or a sense of calm acceptance of everything, but it has a dynamic, active quality symbolized by Ashe. Ashe is said to be a raging great blade that cuts aggression-it is a razor-sharp edge of brilliant light. But it is a two-edged blade and it is held right up to one’s own throat, ready to strike at the first move of aggression. And it is said to reside in the center of the human heart. Hearing and reading these teachings, I gradually began to feel enlivened and empowered by this sense of a living, brilliant, blade of basic goodness, in the center of my heart. It gradually strengthened in me the confidence to cut abruptly through my own aggression and hesitation-doubt about who I was and how I could be useful to the world.

This practice of the stroke of Ashe is outwardly very simple: standing or kneeling in front of white calligraphy paper, with a bowl of black ink and a calligraphy brush, you make one stroke down on the paper. But the, primordial stroke is not merely a stroke of calligraphy. It is a message from awake mind of how to rend the veil that normally prevents direct experience of the sacredness of our world. The practice of Ashe takes us directly and immediately to mind beyond concept, while at the same time it is expressed in a thoroughly direct and physical way. Thus, by practicing the stroke we began to feel the reality of the Shambhala teachings at a profound level of mind and body; we saw the real possibility of fully joining mind and body, heaven and earth. We began to discover, for ourselves, that spiritual energy is not fundamentally different from physical energy. And we began to see how this might lead o being able to manifest this enlightened energy on this earth.



From Jeremy Hayward’s book, ‘Warrior – King of shambhala – Remembering Chogyam Trungpa. – Wisdom Publications, 2008



Adi Da Samraj – Aletheon

You must understand and actively accept that human life – in and of itself – is only egoity. The ego is not an entity or even a mere idea, but, rather an activity. The ego is the activity of “self”-contraction which manifests as the mental-emotional illusion of separate sense of ‘me’ or ‘I’.

As an ego you are doing ‘ego’ constantly, moment to moment and you are simply living out your egoic, the life-dramatization of “Narcissus” destiny – and nothing else.

This activity of ego, creates a sense of ‘you’, a sense of ‘other’ and a sense of ‘the world’, it is an all inclusive activity.

The activity that is ego is not merely “talking about yourself” or “being selfish”. Ego is the very nature of humankind in its un-Real (or “self”-deluded) disposition of un-Enlightenment. Therefore, the action that is the ego “covers the Earth”.

This understanding is absolutely fundamental to my teaching.

What should you do about the ego? If you are (in any manner, or to any degree) justifying yourself in your egoic position, you are actively presuming to that My Divine Avataric Reality-Teaching is “not correct”. You think, “Yes, I do have problems and a negative self – but I also have all kinds of virtues.” You believe your virtues are dominant – because of the fact that you feel the impulse of devotion toward Me and you confess that you want to Realize Me. However, all such ego-congratulating thoughts and presumptions are (in Truth, and in Reality) nothing but the out-rageous denial-game of “Narcissus“.

In the domain of un-Enlightenment, there is only egoity. Apart from Divine Enlightenment (or Most Perfect Divine Self-Realization), every fraction of what human beings do is ego-bound-all of it.

For your practice of the only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam (or Adidam Ruchiradam) to be fruitful and effective, you must accept My “Radical” Teaching-Revelation relative to egoity. My “Radical” Teaching-Revelation relative to egoity covers everything in one stroke – everything about seeking, and all the stages-of-life nonsense whereby you idealize the egoic life.

I have Given you the Unique seventh stage Way. In the only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam, all of the characteristic tendencies and motives of the first six stages of life are cancelled. In and of themselves, the first six stages of life are nothing but ego. Indeed, in and of themselves, the first six stages of life are the idealization of egoity. I have not Communicated to you a Way in which the seventh stage of life is the case only at the end of a lengthy process. The only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam is not the Way of all seven stages of life. Rather, the only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam is the Way of the seventh stage of life-first, always, and only. The only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam is the non-egoic Way. The only-by-Me Revealed and Given Reality-Way of Adidam is the intrinsically and immediately ego-transcending Way. This does not mean that ego vanishes merely because you become My formally practicing devotee, or merely because you read My Divine Avataric Reality-Teaching. The ego certainly does not vanish merely because you “wave a flag” or “raise a placard” insisting that you are “not the ego any more”.

Adi Da Samraj – Aletheon


Great Eastern Sun

The Wisdom of Shambhala

In the now-classic Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa offered a powerful vision of spirituality founded on basic human wisdom, a path of meditation and warriorship for people of any belief or way of life. In this chapter from the long-awaited sequel, entitled Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala, Chogyam Trungpa discusses “Working with Early Morning Depression.”

The whole Shambhala training process is connected with how to manifest, so that people can do things without deception. We have to start right at the beginning, take it from the top, so to speak, or from the ground up. You are invited to join us. As they say, charity begins at home. There are many international problems, and throughout the world chaos is taking place all the time-which is obviously far from the expression of enlightened society. In the past, various disciplines or faiths-such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism-had great dignity. There were extraordinarily sane people among the ancients who worked to make the world worthwhile and passed down their wisdom generation by generation. But there has been a problem of corruption. The world has been seduced by physical materialism as well as by psychological materialism, let alone spiritual materialism! The world is beginning to turn sour. Our measures may be small at this point, but we’re trying to sweeten the world up. In the long run, we want to offer something beyond a token. We want to make a real contribution to the development of enlightened society. That begins right here.

There’s always the primordial dot: that spark of goodness that exists even before you think. We are worthy of that. Everybody possesses that unconditioned possibility of cheerfulness, which is not connected purely with either pain or pleasure. You have an inclination: in the flash of one second you feel what needs to be done. It is not a product of your education; it is not scientific or logical; you simply pick up on the message. And then you act: you just do it.

That basic human quality of suddenly opening up is the best part of human instinct. You know what to do right away, on the spot -which is fantastic. That is what we call the dot, or basic goodness and unconditional instinct. When you have an instinct of the real instinct, you don’t think: you just feel, on the spot. Basic trust is knowing that there is such a thing as that spark of basic goodness. Although you might be in the worst of the worst shape, still that goodness does exist.

From trust comes renunciation. Renunciation is traditionally a term for rejecting or giving something up. But in the Shambhalian use of the term, renunciation is not giving up something like alcohol or cigarettes or sex. Renunciation here is connected with knowing-or with a general sense of discrimination. Discrimination, from the dictionary’s point of view, might mean throwing away something bad and picking up on something good. But discrimination in the Shambhala world means clear seeing or clear thinking.

What it boils down to is precision. Anything that is not precise is rejected. When we talk about a Shambhala style of livelihood or about synchronizing mind and body together, those points are connected with how to be there, how to be precise. By means of discipline and training, mind and body can be well groomed. Renunciation doesn’t mean that you develop one-upmanship and criticize or reject others who haven’t practiced. We simply take pride in our own life, our own existence, our sparkiness, brilliance, fearlessness and warriorship. The joy of basic goodness is the key to that.

Having experienced that first dot, what comes next? What comes next is the appreciation of that first good thought, which is called the stroke. Coming out of the first dot is the brushwork, just like when you touch an actual brush and ink to paper. First you touch the ground, the canvas or the paper, and then you create a stroke, a calligraphy or a painting. The stroke of goodness is connected with second thought. From the first thought, the dot, you extend the second thought, which arises from gentleness. You are not trying to fight with your world or to destroy anything, nor are you trying to gain anything personally. There is just the first flash, and then there is the sense of continuing that.

If you’re true to yourself, as you draw out your stroke, you begin to realize what is good for you and what is bad for you. We’re talking here about working further with our basic instinct as human beings, rather than operating on a purely materialistic, scientific or analytical level. However, we’re not saying that human beings are animals who need to be made into human beings. That is not the idea of enlightened society. Rather, we’re saying that you have yourself, your existence as a human being, and you can work with what you have. You can develop that sense of basic instinct, which is pure and absolutely immaculate. There will be obstacles: questions, criticisms, moral and ethical choices, but you can overcome the obstacles by acting as a true human being-which is bound to be good. You are a dignified and capable person already. So why don’t you do it? That’s the idea.

The starting point, that first delight, the dot, could be anything in your experience. Suppose you are very thirsty, and you are presented with a glass of ice water. The first thought or the dot occurs when you hold the glass of ice water and you are about to drink, knowing that it is the real thing and that it will quench your thirst. Then holding the glass in your hand, you bring your arm close to your mouth, you bend your neck, you raise the glass and you begin to drink. Having had the idea, the connection, the first delight, the stroke is that you proceed with the appreciation of that basic goodness. Strangely enough, when you are very thirsty, while you are drinking a glass of water, your mind is almost completely without anxiety at all. You can try this yourself. While you’re drinking a glass of water, you have no thoughts. You are purely synchronizing your mind and body together in drinking that nice cool glass of water. That is the concept of the stroke.

The stroke is the smoothness that comes along with the appreciation of basic goodness. With anything in life, it works that way. The closest analogy I can think of at this point is the general basic goodness of drinking a glass of ice water. It might be the wrong season to discuss this, but you can imagine it, I’m sure. You have an idea and then you proceed with it. When you go along with that process, there is nonthought-almost. The joy of goodness. That goodness means that you are not creating pain for others and you are not indulging yourself either.

Then we have the second part of renunciation, which might be slightly painful. It is a sense of being put off, joined together with a sense of sadness, towards what is known as the setting-sun world. In that world, there is no perpetual vision, no forward vision, and your vision is purely connected with death and with things ending. Everything is getting dark. Dark pitch blackness is about to come along, and we can’t even see each other in this pitch darkness without sunshine. The setting sun is the notion of eternal depression. When you feel depressed, when you feel bad, it is sometimes for no reason at all. You wake up in the morning and feel hopeless, terrible. We may use our experiences to justify that feeling: I feel bad-because I don’t have any money. I feel bad-because I don’t have any friends. I feel bad-because something has gone wrong in my life. I feel bad-because I’m not up to the challenge of firing someone at work this afternoon. I feel bad-because my husband left me.

In fact, our early morning depression is not all that logical. It is the curse of the setting sun. Out of nowhere, you just don’t feel so good. Then you come up with all kinds of logical explanations for why you are depressed. There is a feeling of death. For some people that feeling is completely extended, further and further, leading to a suicidal mentality. The other approach is to replace or repress your depression by doing something very crazy or reckless. Everybody knows this fundamental depression.

We do all sorts of things to avoid depression: waiting for the arrival of the newspaper at your house in the morning; even watching Sesame Street with our children-or without our children. There are lots of aids to forget depression, and billions and billions of dollars are spent on those attempts to cheer up. In England many people like to bring their tea to their bath, and they drink their tea and take a long bath. Many of us use magazines and food to cheer ourselves up. We call up a friend to make a lunch appointment so that our early morning depression can be relieved by having a chat with somebody and making a lunch date. But what about the evening-that hasn’t been worked out yet!

You may want to plan ahead, knowing that you might have this depression every morning, every day. So you plan a holiday to go skiing, surfing, or swimming. You need to take some time off-from what, one never knows, but you plan to take time off, telling yourself that you’ll have a good time here and there. You try to keep things organized even a few days ahead so that you can avoid your early morning depression. In three weeks you’re going to go here and here and here, and you’re going to do this and this and this. You tell yourself that you shouldn’t be depressed, because you can look forward to what you’ve planned. You can keep on doing that almost indefinitely.

That is the basic idea of the setting sun. Hotels are built to promote that and airlines to accommodate it. Everything works towards helping us forget our early morning depression. From the point of view of basic goodness, we are capable of generating our own dignity and goodness. So yielding to that setting-sun mentality seems pathetic and quite sad, very sad. It is only going to get sadder as time goes on, unless we do something about it. No doubt the twentieth-century world will come up with further and more sophisticated aids to forget any reality of depression at all and to provide a million percent setting?sun world. The alternative is that, having experienced the joy of basic goodness and the sadness of the setting?sun world, we develop real renunciation, which is knowing what to accept and what to reject.

At this point, we need to understand another reference point, which is our habitual tendencies. I would like to make it quite clear that I am not saying that you’re stuck with your habitual tendencies. When you are nice to a dog, it will always waggle its tail. In the same way, if you say hello to a person, they will automatically smile. But those are just reflexes rather than habitual tendencies. The habitual tendencies that I’m talking about here are the medium-level tendencies, which definitely can be overcome. Whether it is according to the wisdom of the Buddha or whether it is according to the wisdom of Shambhala, we are basically good. We possess what is known as basic goodness. Then we develop an overlay of unnecessary tricks and occupations. We develop little tricks to shield ourselves from being embarrassed-or from feeling too painful or naked.

Those are habitual tendencies, but they are not fundamental. They are simply temporary habitual tendencies. It’s as though you had a building with nice white smooth plaster walls. If you can’t stand the plain white walls, you might decide to put colorful wallpaper on top of them to cheer yourself up. The habitual tendencies we’re talking about here are like the wallpaper that you put on but which can be taken off. The paper doesn’t go all the way through the wall; it’s not that deeply ingrained. It’s a veneer of some kind, called habitual tendencies-which have to be renounced, definitely.

Seeing the basic goodness in oneself and seeing the sadness of the setting-sun possibilities, one is willing to make some kind of sacrifice. We can take off the wallpaper, take off the veneer. The negative aspect of renunciation, so to speak, is what you reject or avoid. In this case, you are rejecting self? indulgence, purely pleasing yourself. If you reject that, you have a clean white plaster wall. What you accept, on the positive side, is the development of genuine warriorship. In the Shambhala tradition we talk about how fearlessness comes out of the realization of fear. Similarly, when you experience morning depression, it is possible to cheer up. That situation is genuine and quite workable. From morning depression and its terror, we can step right into basic goodness. We learn to reject the terror of morning depression and to step into morning basic goodness, right on the spot.

The result is that you have a better relationship with your mate, your kitchen is cleaner, your daily schedule is accomplished on time-all because you don’t have a tremendous struggle, even on the smallest, most mundane level. You might think this is purely a “Dear Abby” concept of happiness, but in fact we’re talking about developing enlightened society. Enlightened society comes from the kitchen sink level, from the bedroom level. Otherwise there’s no enlightened society, and everything is purely a hoax. So genuine renunciation is knowing what to accept and what to reject and how to step out and appreciate depression as a staircase. When you put your foot on the first step of this very feeble staircase, you wonder whether it is going to hold you. You might fall. But as you take the third, fourth, and fifth steps, you realize that although it’s wobbly, it is going to carry you upstairs. And the journey is worthwhile.

In this way, you can begin to work with your early morning depression. First you wonder whether you can work with it or not, but once you take at least five steps, or have five thoughts-which is very fast, naturally we think very fast for our own security-then you find that your early morning depression is fine. You can work with it, you can walk on it, and it will lead you into basic goodness. Walking on the staircase of your early morning depression is the concept of the stroke. The dot is taking the first step on the staircase, which is wobbly. One wonders…. Then you keep going, and it is fine.

You should have a sense of self-respect and self-comfort throughout your life. When you walk down the street, don’t rush. Just take a nice walk. Be yourself, appreciate yourself. Even appreciate your subconscious thoughts. Appreciate that you are a human being in one piece. Your arms and your legs and your head are not flying off everywhere because of your wild thoughts, but you remain as one good human being with your shoes and your hairdo, perhaps wearing glasses, a tie and jacket, walking on the good earth, on the good street. Just do that, just walk nicely. Just do it. Then you will begin to feel that you are doing your real job. It’s not even a job, but you are actually being what you should be. After that, you can learn to eat properly, drink properly, even pee properly.

Everything comes from that basic sense of being and wholesomeness. You are one piece rather than disjointed. This is a very ordinary experience, which happens to people all the time, but they don’t regard it as a good message. They just think, “Oh, forget it.” According to the Buddhist teachings, people always have that flash of buddhanature in them, always, but they don’t acknowledge it. This is the same thing.

The wisdom of Shambhala is not the product of some accident. It’s not that somebody just happened to do the right thing; and now we are relaying their message to you. Rather, this wisdom has tremendous heritage and background. It comes from several thousand years of basic tradition, from a society of enlightened people, great warriors of the past. This tradition comes from Shambhala-oriented people who achieved this; in turn, they are so kind to let us use their wisdom and to let us practice in this way.

We can find this wisdom even in the midst of the worst of the worst situations. The politics and the policies in South Africa were terribly problematic for many years. However, South Africa still produced the Krugerand, such a good gold coin. In any situation, there is always some dignity, some goldlike element. Tibet is a lost country, at this point. The Chinese occupied my country, and they are torturing my people. It is quite horrific, every bit as bad as South Africa. We Tibetans were unable to avoid that situation. Nonetheless, the Tibetan wisdom has escaped. It has been brought out of Tibet. It has something to say, something to offer. It gives us dignity as Tibetans.

On the other hand, however, although the West possesses tremendous technology, it comes along with enormous arrogance. Even though you are able to land on the moon, technology in itself is not a saving grace. We should appreciate the basic traditions of wisdom that have been preserved. It is absolutely wonderful to have respect for wisdom. You are not receiving the wisdom of Shambhala because you won the lottery. You come to this tradition with genuine interest and genuine respect. It’s not random at all. It’s not that you happened, by chance, to have the right number and therefore you are here. You aren’t a subhuman being wandering around in a lost paradise, trying to find answers to your questions, hoping to bump into the right way to do things.

The training of Shambhala is geared to educate you to be an honest person, a genuine person, not fake. The sitting practice of meditation is the main vehicle to accomplish that, so I would like to reiterate the importance of practice. When you practice, hold your seat and have a sense of your breath, without questioning or slumping halfway through. Just let the breath flow. You are sitting on the earth. This earth deserves you; you deserve this earth. That is a very important point. The basic concept of joining heaven and earth is that you are there fully, personally, genuinely.

By practicing in that way, we come to experience the Shambhala teachings very directly. Our appreciation of the teachings brings a natural appreciation of the teacher. Because of our respect for wisdom, we can appreciate the spokesperson for the wisdom, the elder.

Elder in this case does not mean someone chronologically old. Rather it is someone who has worked and practiced and tested the Shambhala wisdom. It is someone who is able to survive in the world of the setting sun. In fact, they are able to glow and project a good message that will influence others. It is quite remarkable that they are willing to share their compassion and their limitless kindness with others. There are such people, and that lineage and warrior tradition are worthy of respect.

Often we think that we can buy wisdom. People have spent lots of money trying to do that, but they are unable to accomplish very much. It is very important to realize that wisdom cannot be bought or sold, but wisdom has to be practiced personally. Then we begin to realize the value of wisdom. It is priceless.


From Great Eastern Sun by Chögyam Trungpa, edited by Carolyn Gimian.