CONVERSATION WITH KENNETH GREEN
(Introduction w Julia Sagebien)
Listen – Chronicles Radio
Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to our latest interview from dispatches. Today I am delighted to have with us Mr. ken Green who was the first director of Aduatu and was also the Nangsi kalon or the Minister of the Internal Universe which in a sense was the position within the Board of Directors of Aduata and of the Kingdom of Shambhala, the Home Office Minister and we are taping from Boulder, Colorado.
(JS) So good morning Ken, welcome.
(KG) Good morning to you. Thank you. Welcome to Boulder.
(JS) Thank you very much and thank you for receiving us. One of the big great inspirations to have the opportunity to spend time with you is that you really were one of those people who were very very fortunate enough to have watched the creation of the Government of Shambhala, the creation of the Government of Aduatu, the whole notion of how sentient beings can actually be ruled by someone like Bora Bajai and how individuals can play a part in creating that mandala
And you were one of those people who were literally inside the video game. Your life was part of what Cooper Rimpoche was creating. Can you get us acquainted with your sense of when Cooper Rimpoche first started talking about government and how we might as a community work with the notion of rulership in government?
(KG) Sure. Well, it started very early. I did meet Rimpoche in 1971. That was in Los Angeles and very shortly afterwards moved to Vermont in a small township called Kirby with Helen who is soon to be my wife and with Naraina who became the Vitro Regent and his soon to be wife Lela.
At that point my relationship with Rimpoche, I was out of a yoga background, I was interested in self-liberation and enlightenment and had written a lot and I thought Rimpoche was the embodiment of Milarepa to me and I had all these thoughts about going into the mountains ultimately and being a wandering yogi and doing all these tantric esoteric practices I was reading.
So that was kind of my orientation. So it was 1972 that Lela was getting ready to give birth.
(JS) Lela being.
(KG) Lela Rich, right.
(JS) Lela Rich.
(KG) Then that is the regent’s wife and Rimpoche came over and spent the entire labor, that period, which went on for days.
That’s an entire story unto itself because naraina, the regent, Rimpoche and I were going to deliver the baby and it was not working out very well but I was spending hours and hours.
Rimpoche slept over and we spent a lot of time chatting and he looked at me and said we need to bring the community together. I said well what do you mean? He said, “It’s that time in history where we have to gather the tribes, gather our tribe.”
I said, “I don’t understand.” I said, “Aren’t we going to be practicing doing these practices and going on retreats and developing our own personal sadhana?”
He said, “No. That’s not what it’s about. What it’s about is I want to see the community start to work together.” He says “There’s a time in history, and it was certainly a time in Tibetan history once the monasteries were set up where yogis could wonder and be individual tantrikas but this is not that time and we are in that time now we have to gather people together.”
I was very disappointed to hear that because I had just spent a previous six years doing an ashram, doing the yoga thing you know working with Swami Satchitananda who was my teacher before in this kind of gathering process.
(JS) You sort of make a face.
(KG) And I wanted to let go of that.
(KG) and I thought, Oh well, this absolutely outrageous enlightened being that you know is in my life now and I am part of his life. This is my chance to become enlightened as a yogi and I was you know, my take where I wanted to go and he was very firm, gentle but very firm, and he said, “No, we need you to do a gathering together.”
(JS) How big do you think the community was around that time?
(KG) A hundred people.
(JS) And mostly in Colorado and Vermont?
(KG) Yes, Tail of the Tiger in Kama Zong.
(JS) And he already wanted to bring some kind of weaving, kind of texture to what he wanted to do.
(KG) Gathering. I think the word he used was, “Bringing it together, gathering” And I really did not, I kind of understood, but of course I didn’t understand where we were really heading.
But there was something on his mind and my perception of Rimpoche over the years was, it’s not that he knew what was happening tomorrow but he had that continuity of mind of path and so the seeds of the kingdom were there. They were there.
(JS) What were his first set of instructions to you in relation to gathering the tribe? What were you supposed to do? Did he say?
(KG) Well that happened in the context shortly after that of the snow lion.
(JS) In Wyoming?
(KG) In Wyoming. I got a phone call from Rimpoche.
At the time living in Kirby we had a bakery called ‘Shikiya Bakery’ and it was Helen, the Regent and myself. That’s how we supported ourselves.
(JS) Taylor the Tiger was just this Hippie farm where you would all go?
(KS) Yeah and Rimpoche did not want the four of us to live there and I think he had a personal reason because he wanted an escape place. He would come visit us a lot and people at Taylor the Tiger, a lot of them really did not like us because we were stealing the girl but in reality we were not stealing him but he voluntarily came and spent a lot of time with us.
So I got a phone call from him saying, “Krishna, I need you to come to Wyoming to help me run a ski lodge.”
And I said, “Sir, I don’t know anything about skiing and where the fuck is Wyoming?” He said, “Just head west,” and I said, “Well what do you want me to do?” He said, “I want you to be my archbishop.”
I said, “I’m Jewish. What does that mean?”
He said, “Leadership. It’s time for you to take leadership.”
This was happening just about the time that he had let Naraina know that he was going to be a regent. This all happened within that month.
(JS) It was all secret?
(KG) It was a big secret. It really was. Very few people knew about it. After the regent found out about it, I found out about it and ten minutes later, he told the regent, he could tell myself and Lela and Helen.
(JS) Did he use the word regent? He actually said, “I want you to be”.
(KG) No, Dharma Heir.
(JS) Dharma Heir?
(JS) Which is very different.
(JS) There’s a topic in and of itself. We’ll get back to.
(KG) Okay. But it doesn’t fit into this dialogue.
(KG) The regent told us right after he got the word in that meeting with Rimpoche that he would be a Dharma Heir. We were driving back in our volkswagon van, and there was… Lela.
Actually there was just the two of us and he told me on the way back and then when we got back to Kirby to the farmhouse we were living in and we spent the whole night talking about it and the next day I went to see Rimpoche and I said, “This is amazing,” the idea of continuity.
I said, “Sir,” wanting to be part if it, “I don’t care what but don’t leave me out. I want to be part of what you’re doing,” and he broke into a big smile and he said, “Great. Good. You will be part of it.” He said, “We need to create leadership.”
And he said, ‘the regent’, I have been studying and watching him and he spoke almost like he was looking through a microscope as a scientist and I think he has the ability to do this and I’m going to spare you but you’re going to be part of it.
(JS) Spare you from being the main leader?
(JS) But you’re going to be part of it.
(KG) Yes and he cracked up laughing. I said “Thank you.” He said, “We’ll be talking about things. He said, “Right now I want you to know what I am doing is not just one person but I have to start somewhere.”
(JS) This is 1975? 1974?
(KG) No. this is 1972.
(JS) 1972. Okay.
(KG) This is probably the spring of ’72. So I was you know still living in Vermont but soon to be going to Wyoming to be so-called Archbishop. The Snow Lion Inn was actually the backdrop for a lot of conversations with Rimpoche about the creation.
Rimpoche came out to visit the Snow Lion and he wanted to go to Yellowstone to see some buffalo so I drove him out with a few people and again we were in a volkswagon van which was an old friend and we were sitting in the front.
I was driving and on the way back he looked at me and he said the word “Vajradhatu” which meant absolutely nothing to me.
I said, “Excuse me?”
He said, “Vajradhatu.”
I said, “What is that?”
And he said, “That is what I am thinking about. That’s going to be our organization.”
I said, “What organization?”
He said, “I’m thinking of an umbrella,” his exact words.
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “We need an umbrella organization.”
I said, “Why,”
He said, “I’m very concerned about what’s happening with Tail of the Tiger and Kama Dzong.”
I said, “What’s that?”
He said, “Who know, politics.”
He said, “Cowboys in Kama Dzong, farmers, Tail of the Tiger, you know. Everyone’s competing and they think they’re going to get me in one place or the other and we need to bring them together so I want to form an organization.”
I said, “Oh.”
Then he looked at me and said, and this is a theme of my life with Rimpoche and he said, “One of us is to govern. We cannot split the Dharma.”
And then he said,”We need to talk about Mao and how the Chinese communists talk about, they talk about splitism. This has come up in conversation with him many times subsequent where he felt the worse thing that could happen to his work and to us as a community is to split it apart by fighting and creating territory.
(JS) Which Is one of the root Somalya Malachians
(KG) Right. Yeah. So that was the end of the conversation until about six months later when Rimpoche came back and I believe this was during the Crazy Wisdom Seminar in Teton Village and he called Chuck, Lief and myself into a room and he said, “I am starting an organization. I am setting it up. It’s going to be called “Vajradhatu,” and he looked at me and I said, “I remember.”
He said he had chosen a board and he was going to choose one person from Tail of the Tiger and he explained that was going to be fran lewis and then he picked one person from Karma Dzong in boulder and that was Marvin Casper.
Then he picked one person from the snow lion inn and he said I want you to be that person and I was rather shocked and overwhelmed by the whole idea of his organization and that was the original board along with him and he particularly said that he did not want to bring the regent, Brian at the time, and he needed time to work with him and he wanted him to be protected and I immediately felt that we were the lambs out for slaughter and it’s kind of the way it was for awhile.
So the first board was set up to be in boulder. He asked John Roper to draw up the corporate articles. This is something I think it is important to talk about.
Vajradhatu was never truly a corporation in terms of what the vision of Rimpoche was as far as I heard it. he worked with the language and the tools of where he was at. It’s very Buddhist when Buddhism travels from culture to culture and takes on the cultural trappings and the forms of that society so we had no choice but to set things up corporately and legally.
(JS) As a legal entity.
(KG) As an entity. So in that spirit of adapting to a culture, we set up a corporation but the principals of that corporation from the very beginning were in retrospect were clearly the seeds of Shambhala Kingdom.
John was shortly afterwards put on the board and over the course of the year of course the board did expand and more people were brought on.
The regent was kept off the board at the beginning because Rimpoche very clearly did not want people to be focusing on him. He was kind of being protective.
So I was one of the guinea pigs on the first wave along with Fran and Marvin to experience the wrath of the community and it was pretty wrathful in those days, especially when Boulder comes on.
I moved down from Wyoming. We lost the ski lodge. It was reprocessed by the prior owner and Rimpoche had a community meeting at Eleven Eleven and he introduced myself and Marvin and Fran and because I came out of a Hindu tradition and was kind of somewhat separate, The people perceived i wasn’t a boulder Buddhist and at that point, I got pretty much ragged upon and beat up but that was the tradition at that point.
Rimpoche, the instructions he gave me then was that the most important thing was to be kind to the community and be strong and not take things personally.
He said, “You will be beat up. It will happen for you through the years,” but he was very specific and he said, “I am confident and proud to do it. You can be Krishna. You can work with people but be prepared. We are going on quite a journey and it’s much more than you think.
(JS) Did you feel that you had access to him though in terms of as you were being beat up you hardly say, Well it hurts over here. I mean you weren’t simply sent out there to be tomatoed.
(KG) he was very accessible, in those days particularly. he worked with us very closely every day. It was 24/7 with him. He was accessible by telephone when he was travelling. When he was in town he was always available. We all worked very closely. We set up offices at Eleven Eleven fairly quickly and Brian the regent and I shared offices with Fran, the three of us.
Marvin was much more kind of doing the scholarly work. He wasn’t really, never administratively that plugged in meeting even with the formation of uropia which he worked on as a dynamic administrative type.
(JS) Scholarly type then.
(KG) Definitely. And there was a very nice balance we had on the board where Fran and Norian and myself were hands on during the day with Rimpoche. He was and remained for years a hands-on government leader and he did everything.
It was like at that point there was very little structure but we began to have board meetings and he took the lead and he felt John Roper would be very important and so John came on board to create more of a legalistic shape to the organization.
(JS) It was necessary in terms of living in North America but as you were saying, it was actually a kind of constitution of the kingdom
(KG) It was.
(JS) you were beginning to draft laws, legislation for lack of a better word in terms of the way you do things or what the relationships between people are.
(KG) Uh hum.
(JS) Or relationships between centers, the flow of the money,
(KG) Right. Also the first controller was Steve Roth and that became, that developed into a very major component and had to actually become solvent which always was a problem, especially in the early days.
(JS) And how about your role as a representative of the people so to speak because I remember how visible you were for many many years in terms of organizing seminaries and when peoples’ desire to attend seminary, in some ways you were the focal point of people trying to make their case about how to be ready to go to seminary.
And in a sense of a government being almost like a membrane function between the community and the head of the community and government being the kind of organizer of that relationship, can you talk a little bit about that?
(KG) Well 1973 was the first seminary and that was just when we were really formulating Vajradhatu but wasn’t barely there and that was kind of done almost ad hoc.
There was very little organization but after the seminar Rimpoche called me over and he did ask me to administrate the seminary but then as of 1974 we set up the formal application process which there was not in 1973.
So those were really what I was kind of sort of being ah humorously thrown to the lions because I had to start to sort of interview people, talk to people, and again the Regent was just brought in from Vermont and Rimpoche really didn’t want him to be again that much involved with kind of public relations so I was the front man.
Fran was to some degree but she was much more domestic and she was the kind of behind the scenes and moving and shaking that way and so I was kind of his front man.
It was a very powerful experience and over the course of all the seminaries, it was a sphere I was responsible for because over the course of all the seminaries while Rimpoche was alive, it was a sphere I was responsible for and it was very painful and you know we had to make choices.
I had a short list of things. I had to bring a list of options to Rimpoche and we had to develop a committee and it was really based on, “I want students who have an authentic connection who are serious.”
He said, “We are doing very important work. It is not just for their liberation. It’s not just from their practice. So he expected me, which was a lot to be asked to do, to try to be some sort of litmus test with people and to talk with people on the phone, in person, talk to people who knew people if I didn’t know them but in those days we all knew each other.
I was very personal. We got to know each other as individuals and then I would have to come back and give my initial short list to him and he would have a lot of questions and then it got too much.
I said, “We need people outside in the dharmadatus which were not called dharmadatus just yet. it happened pretty quickly though, but in the urban centers we could do recommendations because of the organization’s grown very quickly.
(JS) In a sense you were almost recruiting people for the revolution rather than simply trying to find out who was going to be a consumer or part of a spiritual program.
(KG) Yes. We had these conversations a lot and it was a golden age with Rimpoche because you could stop by the house or give or spend hours in the office, just walk in and chat with him. I think there is a little bit of a simple mindedness I think due to the fact that Rimpoche did not like democracy.
It’s not quite the way I understood it. He was very critical of democracy but he really liked Jeffersonian democracy. We spoke a lot about that, strong leaders.
Things had gotten out of hand lately, politics in America but he felt, he talked about enlightened leadership and he said, “Our so-called corporation is really a government.”
But he was beginning to stay that way before he talked about Shambhala and even before I became technically Nangsi Kalon. When we went to a seminary it became more and more government. how are we going to organize. How are we going to set up delegates. How are we going to do rowthers.
He paid attention to every detail and anytime we expressed our feeling that it was just a camp, he would get pretty irritated, that this was a mandala that we had created.
(JS) One of the things that has been amazing to me and the more I read Diana’s book or reread Fabrisa’s book, is the level of intimacy that Rimpoche was capable of evoking in his relationships with people even when there was a massive government that had been created at a later point but that people felt that somehow or other he knew them or that he could relate to them and also that the leaders of the community could rely upon him.
Maybe that’s part of the trick that even the leadership felt close enough to talk to him and therefore the people as such. The citizens as such were close enough to the leader because there was kind of a working system of communication.
What was your feeling?
(KG) He was joining heaven and earth way before we knew those terms and pretty much from day one we started when he said “We have to gather people together.” He was the Sakyong before he called himself the Sakyong.
It was a majestic vision from the very beginning and he let us in fairly early those of us who were close enough and willing to listen to him, we knew something was really afoot and you know having had the good fortune to watch the evolution almost on a day by day basis, When I think back on the continuity, the dynamic continuity of our growth was so cumulative that every day for like a month we hardly slept for all those years with him.
It was painful at times for what he was dragging us through but his world kept getting much bigger and suddenly there was the notion of the kingdom and suddenly things began to make sense. Even again before the formal chiefians began to come down, there was authentic presence.
He was fierce with the directors, any time we would start to overly fight. He liked debate. He liked discourse and it was never a problem questioning him if it was done out of intelligence. He took feedback.
He was able to attend board meetings. We had study sessions once a week every Monday. We had board meetings every Wednesday and he was at most of all those meetings, especially the board meetings.
First he came to the study sessions and then he let us be but he was building leadership.
(JS) Was there a time when you consider it to be the golden age of the Shambhala Government and what was that like?
(KG) I could date this really well, December 3rd, 1975. The reason I know is that it was the day my daughter Alicia was born. Helen gave birth to Alicia a Boulder Community hospital and Rimpoche calls me, “Did you have the baby yet?”
I said, “Ah hum.”
He said, “Great,” and talked to Helen on the phone. He said “Well you have to come down when you have some time because we need a board meeting.”
We were up the whole night and he said, “I have something very important to say to you.” So shortly after that, I go down to Eleven Eleven and he had gathered the Regent and himself and I think David Rome.
I might have been there for that board meeting and Marty Chanless was there and that’s when he said, “We’re going to Nova Scotia and that was the beginning of the Shambhala Wisdom for me that very day. He really shifted.
He said, “This is going to happen. We need it to happen” and he said something interesting. He said, “North America is like the three Kalashas: Mexico, his passion, the U.S., his aggression, and Canada, his ignorance and ultimately we have to work with ignorance.
There was a question about well what about America. He said, “It’s going to be too problematic. It’s actually workable now but it’s going to get extreme.” And then over the course of the month and the months to follow we spoke about prophesies that came up a lot, the Shambhala prophesies, and he asked me to look into the native American prophesies.
Many years later I went down to Hopi Land to meet a medicine woman and questioned her about that. That’s a very interesting story and maybe we can talk about it to some point.
(JS) Give me a tiny little preview. I can’t hold back.
(KG) Grandmother Caroline, she’s probably passed by now. She was quite old. This was 1986 I think. She had met Karmapa. Karmapa wanted to meet a medicine woman from the Hopi Nation and more conservative ends of the Hopis did not want the orthodox natives and medicine women meeting with karmapa if he found her or they found each other. And they shared stories. And when I went down there with Alicia and my sone Mitra.
We were in the second nation and we found her house and we waited for her and this old women with shopping bag comes and she said, “Yes. The Tibetan prophesies and the Hopi prophecies are one in the same” and she said come the turn of the century, the first ten years between 2000 and 2010 there would be tremendous environmental disaster and economic upheaval.
And it’s the turning, the Hopi call “the Fifth Time or the Fifth World” I believe. They measure in time cycles and were entering into the fifth time and will be difficult but we know we will have a new age and having met Karmapa, my Tibetan brothers will take care of a lot of this vision.
So shortly after having that meeting with Grandmother Caroline, I was back at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center and this was one of my last business meetings with Vidyadhara because shortly after that he moved up to Halifax and things took a rather dramatic turn. He wasn’t doing any business and there was a lot of instruction he gave me with that.
One of the first things we spoke about was my trip to Hopi Land and he got really interested and he wanted to know all about it in great detail.He really wanted to know one thing more than anything else. He said, “When do the Hopis think things will change? Did she give you a date?”
I said, “Well, she gave me an approximate date and she said it would be somewhere in the first decade of the new millennium,” and he smiled and said, “She has it right,” and then he proceeded to talk about how important it was to really establish shambhala vision every possible way we can.
He very much expressed how he wanted all the board to come up and he wanted me to be one of the last ones for internal affairs to come up and he said that something he told me many times, he brought it up again, that the most powerful tool we have is culture. We are not trying to bring a religion to the kingdom.
We are trying to create a container for many traditions and that is culture and that is how we are going to transform people. That is how we are going to conquer the setting sun by doing Great Eastern Sun Culture.
He then went on to say or reiterate, “it’s not Buddhist and It’s not just a school.”
He said, “it’s much bigger than the Umrapa Institute and it’s much bigger than Vajradhatu.”
And then he said, “It will eventually become the cultural center that people could come to, not a museum but a living place where we could invite the cultures of the world.
(JS) And what is the expectation on us as holders of that vision in terms of making sure that the best of humankind can be preserved in the midst of the Dark Ages?
(KG) Well that’s a really good question and that brings us to the present because all of these stories are useless if they don’t bring it to the present and we could be the French foreign legion talking about old boars and dying with old memories and that’s not what we were told to do.
So that brings us right now, I feel that we’ve been given, We met this man who is a cosmic force. He came both through the past and to the future into the present. That was my experience. It was just an unbelievable collision of time and space and the old commute will just melt you down.
The verbs were destroyed. The nouns were destroyed, the adjectives. Everything melted with him. He was not a man as far as I am concerned who was not interested in just giving us a nice bourgeois life. He really wanted us to go out and begin to carry the banner of Shambhala.
There have been years of problems. The community from my perspective has been shattered and has mended to some degree but there are a lot of people who are outside who should be inside, people on the inside who should be outside.
We don’t have leadership right now that’s turning things around. We’re not being nurtured the right way and that’s mutual responsibility from top to bottom. The idea of these visions, of prophesies, the idea of going to nova scotia, all that only makes sense if we learn to look outward more and start to work with other people.
There’s an interesting story. This was shortly after Rimpoche told Ken Rimpoche about his vision of the kingdom. Ken Rimpoche looked at the Regent and he said, “I have a special teacher for you.” Come see me about that.” The Regent began to prance around and said “I’ll give you a special teaching. It’s going to be this topic thing. It’s going to be a sadhana.
And every day the Regent would go up against Rimpoche and Rimpoche would say, “come back tomorrow.” Well it happened the next day. Well the next day he’s getting ready to leave the airport that’s in the aurora seven building and we’re all gathering and he’s ready to go to the airport and leave. I remember that and he’s freaking out. He’s saying, “Where’s this special teaching?”
And at that point I was right there and I saw it was only this gesture to the Regent and he whispered something to him and they talked a little bit with a translator and the Regent was kind of white, almost dazed and then shortly after he left, actually the Regent took him to the airport and came back, I didn’t, and he said, “What happened?”
He said, “This special teaching I have for you, the way to fulfill Trungpa Rimpoche’s vision is to be kind to others,” and it blew his mind because we always got caught up on these complex things and the way to govern has to be based on kindness. It is a Mayan teaching but it’s much bigger as well because it’s creating an entire world but it cannot be a little club. It has to be much bigger and in some ways going back to the original meeting with Rimpoche when he said, “There are times to gather us.”
There’s another instruction I hear in my life that’s very vivid and very real. It’s time to really reach out and by reaching out we’ll gather a much bigger basket.
(JS) And what do we do when we fail? What do we do when we’re not clear? What do we do when we do not understand. What do we do when we are afraid and we’re cowardly? What do we do when we corrupt?
(KG) We cop to it. It’s hard. It’s that quality of shyness and embarrassment which corrupts which creates the split. It’s pulling back. I think we’ve got to stop doing that.
The project of creating a kingdom, the project of creating government and the complexities of Vatra politic, it creates a level of aspiration and brought along tremendous sanity and it also brought along a lot of arrogance and my own experience of working through arrogance which always to me leads to corruption when it’s kind of based on a self-centered perspective.
It happened when I misused some funds. It’s not an alcoholics anonymous confession but more or less, there was a kind of a certain bon vivant quality that would happen within government.
We were riding very high and I was certainly no exception, far from it, being so close and feeling so protected and because of that there were times and we want to keep this in perspective because it was not systemic on an ongoing basis but it was kind of flopping, a collapsible awareness that would happen and we were very tight on funds.
Money tends to be one of the ways corruption comes in and without being salaried for a long time, trying to maintain a certain lifestyle and maintain an organization, money might sometimes flow in inappropriate ways. For me it was a $5,000.00 screw up that I’ve lived with in terms of misspending it. Part of it highly justified in my mind that it went toward starting projects that were not particularly blessed by the budget and part of it was just taking care of by staff byJason and Saki. but nonetheless, it was mismanagement of funds.
Interestingly enough because the sadha got so sensitive about it, in my case I was ultimately accused of about I think $200,000.00 for a cocaine habit. That was completely beyond being bogus even but the lesson there is that and I think it’s a lesson I see for the Regent as well, and for others in the organization in the government, is a lack of accountability and in some ways I think it brings up something I think I mentioned earlier is that there tends to be a view that democracy is a bad thing in the sadha and I think Rimpoche cautioned us about how democracy could be about dropping to the lowest common denominator but he also spoke of democracy being very much a Mahayana tradition as communism was a Illiyana tradition and a monarchy was a vajrayana tradition.
Part of his teaching in terms of government was very much based on Mahayana and democracy which does apply accountability and I feel for us as kind of young students this Mahasitta is that we abused, we thought we were vajrayanas but we were just striving to be Mahayanas.
I think there is a seed of corruption that can come up for you where you grab power before you understand how to use it for others. So for me it was a great Mahayana lesson dabbling in a certain arrogance thinking I was above the same democratic rule of the Mahayana and I think that is a lesson hopefully people could understand for themselves as well.
The vision of Tiger Lion and crew of Frankin is the ultimate moment of Linta and happens all the time. It’s to me no longer a long path. It’s the path of every day. The path of Dharma Art which I had the great honor of spending so much time with Rimpoche on, is not a path of progression. It’s how you’ve lived moment to moment.
We have to stop seeing things as a path that is happening tomorrow. We could be dead tomorrow. Hey look, all the great teachers we’ve known almost that we’ve met, they’re dead! They’ve died.
That generation of Karmapa and cancer of the chin and Trungpa Rimpoche and Sakia and we’re just lining up to the group next to the pior of us except if I have anything to address, it is dispatch, particularly to the senior students.
My brothers and sisters like yourself is like we’ve just got to do it and if we make mistakes, so what. Rimpoche made mistakes. He made lots of mistakes but they were not mistakes in like failure. It’s an experiment. It’s like a great experiment.
There is no guaranty. There is no guaranty Julia we will succeed. It’s not a kind of farieistic fairytell. We know that and it makes it much more exciting. There is no script.
People have to wake up to that you know but all the buddhas and buddhasatas you know and dakas and dakinis and deities and narukas and yitaps, they’re not going to save us if we don’t wake up ourselves and start to take care of each other.
And it has so much to do with meekness and gentleness and the whole thing with the Regent, arrogance got him poison, my best friend for many years. It wasn’t political. It became politicized but arrogance got to him, arrogance got to me and we have to deal with that.
The Board of Directors, they did great things and were a part of that. They also were puffed up and pompous but we did have a leader then that worked with us day to day that punctured our trip.
The way I see it, I see no government, no organization which must carry it right now and I’m not apt to be blamed but I don’t see it. A government is to serve, to extend out, to really help the world. The world is, we all know the world is in a difficult bind now between the environment and between the energy crisis.
It’s so obvious. This is the time of the prophesies and what’s going to happen? We don’t know. It hasn’t been written. No. It’s a great time to be alive.
(JS) It’s just thinking about it as you speak, think how can we inspire all the citizens of shambhala to take a nonconceptual stance, a stance, but a nonceptual one, meaning you’re willing to stand up to MULTA and actually embody what you were taught, not necessarily conceptional.
It’s based on fundamental freedom of mind, an absolute commitment of heart and willingness to roll up your sleeves and do what has to be done even if costs you your life, even if it costs you your place, even if it costs you your comfort, even if it costs you your privacy because I think that at least in my own time, probably one of the most powerful times I spent with Trungpa Rimpoche, it was when I was with the, I can’t remember which American Indian leaders it was encountered, and I said, “Sir they were such wonderful people. Whatever happened?”
And he said, “They lost heart,” but I think in many ways many of us may have lost heart because we can’t find our place but we can’t find our place because we are not willing to inhabit where we are already and we’re running out of time.
(KG) We are. I think you have answered your own question but I’ll add to it. The first thing is listening to each other. This is wonderful you are doing this dispatch program. It gives a chance for people to listen. We don’t do enough listening.
That’s one of the first things, really clear listening but invitation and sacrifice. It’s such a wonderful opportunity and when I say erasing MULTA, become a drala, become an absolute drala on the spot. It’s a sacred world. He taught us that. Sometimes I think we lose sight.
We think we’re going somewhere. If we could just come back to be together, I think things could work out. I do feel practically speaking and someone trained as a minister that if the Shambhala Organization was to fulfill its namesake, it needs to be a government and that has to happen from the top down.
Individually though we have, every household is a kingdom, but we have to make that into a connected kingdom, so I think we have to invite each other and open up and step into the world.
You know Rimpoche came out of Tibet. He was by himself. Where I take refuge day by day is that bravery he had to be brave. I’ll never be fearless but I can become brave.
(JS) To close, Ken, in terms of leaving behind your wisdom as an elder statesman, having seen the golden age of the Shambhala firstnot, by having seen how we were not able to necessarily cut through all the corruption at the time at certain moments, what is your advice for future statesmen and stateswomen?
How do you recognize corruption and how do you apply basic, “No.”
(KG) It’s a very interesting question because I think the way we could extend out is one to one if why I look back at the years with the Sakian, he always worked with us individually and he worked with hundreds of us if not thousands if not more.
We’re not the Sakian so we understand that but I think we are all in his jet stream really big time.
(JS) You mean the Druke Sakia.
(KG) THE Druke Sakian thing. Many of us don’t want to be acharians. We don’t want to be teachers. In some ways that’s very constrictive and sets up a particular form that I personally feel can almost be an obstacle for intimacy when people start to put you too much on a pedestal.
So it’s a great question because how can we as people who have seniors who have been veterans of the great wars share. I think working with younger people is really important and it’s very individual finding formats in ways to truly be personal and we can get intimate as in having a cup of tea.
You know it has to be simple. It was with rinpoche as well always down to the cup of tea. It was always down to a small detail. It was always down to lighting his cigarette as it was then or just hanging out watching a movie.
He taught me by talking about why he liked “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with David Bowie and why the monkey chant from Bali were expressions of enlightened mind. It’s the ordinary every day life right? That’s not just for Arvis. That’s the whole point.
If it’s not, how can we do it. We have to set the example of being brave. We will all screw up. We have screwed up. We do screw up. We will make mistakes. I don’t feel that’s a problem anymore. I feel honesty is very important being brave when you do make mistakes not to cover things.
There use to be a period where you know there was a lot of covering up and embarrassment. I don’t think we need to do that anymore. I don’t think we should do that.
So I think we have to find opportunities to be with people. That’s the bravery to invite people into your home, sip some gin, have some tea, talk to old friends, talk to new friends and I don’t think it could happen right now with the organizational umbrella because it’s an NGO approach.
If and when it becomes government again, that’s different. But now we’re in an interim period and again no blame. We’ve been through a lot. I think the way to reform is to extend out and this was a big message I got from Rimpoche again and again.
(JS) And going back to your ancient descriptions of government, it’s transformative government, it’s the government that manages to bring everything into the path because it organizes ordinary reality into an opportunity to practice.
(KG) Uh hum. It self-organizes actually why it works probably. You just have to show up.
(JS) You just have to show up.
(KG) that’s it.
(JS) And keep going. Get back on the horse.
(KG) Honestly I think a big problem is we have stopped showing up and I feel myself being the case so how do we, where do we show up to the show. Where’s the movie, the dancehall where we’re going to show up?
And we need to, I guess my bias, my training in internal affairs is having created cultural events and all that, is we need to create containers, different containers, dispatchers who can contain the great one.
What Walter Fordham is doing is a generally great container to allow all people but we need all types of containers to allow people to show up because if we don’t show up we’re dead.
(JS) One of the inspirations that Walter had and we had and we had lots of discussions about the show was to cast the biggest broadest widest possible net of what Shambhala means so that everybody can find their place in it.
(KG) There was a conversation I had with Rimpoche at the beginning early stages of forming KOLS. He said it’s a charnal ground. The kingdom comes out of a charnal ground and I think this is a really critical point.
It has been for me and it has taken me years to come to terms with this. If the kingdom arises from a charnal ground, we are dead to begin with, all of us, but it sometimes takes years, it has with me, to realize I’m a dead man.
I don’t see that in a depressing way. It’s like you could live your life every day as your last, in fact beyond the last, we don’t have to fear it. It’s all about fearing death and uncomfortable changes in destruction.
I think senior students, I think we can actually come to terms with we’ve done it and we don’t have to climb the mountain anymore. We could actually just be. It was such a relief.
You know when Rimpoche came into the world a dead man that way he was totally, totally with the moment. So how do we create this community again or new community, not again? People are fearful. People are afraid to say the wrong thing. Who cares? What’s there to lose?
I think as long as we’re kind we can say anything. I mean we can be vindictive but that goes nowhere and I think we know that. I got paralyzed about ten years ago. I contracted a Romanian disorder that basically stunned my body into being quadriplegic for a year.
I was devastated physically. To me it was a metaphor for the songha Mandela. This all happened after Rimpoche died. After the whole thing with the Regent, after he died, and to me it was a metaphor for being an organ of the kingdom and just shut down, just got demolished.
The neuro pathways stopped. They broke down. We have paralysis in Rimpoche’s Mandela and I still have that paralysis. I don’t have any simple answer but the only answer I can call upon is how I’m becoming mobile again is actually cell by cell nerve by nerve moment by moment breathing life, breathing drala, breathing malenta back into my body where cells of a bigger body were nerve cells of the kingdom.
The kingdom is damaged but that’s not bad news. It’s been a war. It’s a dark age. We would be foolish to think anything other than this had happened. People say, “Did Rimpoche know he was going to get aides,” and all this?
Who knows. It just happens. There is no script. Stuff happens. Shit happens and we’re dealing with a lot of shit and when I got paralyzed and I could only blink my eyes and I was on you know a respirator, shit happens.
What are you going to do about it? You have to get your priorities rearranged and breathe life back into your universe. So I know as an individual if I can walk around, well why can’t we as a community walk around. Why don’t we as a potentially enlightened society really begin to express ourselves so I know we could do it.
How do we do it? Cell by cell, individual by individual. There’s no other way right now and I say
(JS) Hip Hip Hooray for all the dead men who can still speak of that which is true.
(KG) Thank you.
(JS) Much love.
(KG) You too.
(JS) Thank you. I really appreciate your honesty, your candidness and sense of a very long path and freshness and very many other paths for all of us.