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Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 59 IN SEPTEMBER, 1980, Senator Charles Percy invited His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, the leader of Tibet’s Kagyu lineage, to lunch with senators and representatives in the U.S. Capitol building. As his entourage (in- cluding the young incarnation of one of Tibet’s most important teachers, Jamgon Kongtrul) made their way through the grand entrance and the halls of congress, they were escorted by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a half-dozen of his students, attired in suits and ties. The events of that afternoon left a strong impres- sion on those students, who could cast their minds back to a time seven or eight years ear- lier when they had started just “hanging out” with their newfound teacher, having arrived fresh from lives taken up with psychedelica, experiments in communal living, and protests outside of buildings like the Capitol. To be in- troducing themselves to members of congress as Buddhists in the company of their guru, ex- plaining who the Karmapa was, jangled their reference points about who was the establish- ment and who was not. Celebrating Buddhism in America: 30 Great Years Buddhism in America has changed dramatically in the three decades since the Shambhala Sun was founded. It’s been a fascinating time of growth, scandal, deepening practice, and ever-increasing impact on American society. The late Rick Fields, a former editor of the Sun, wrote the definitive history of Buddhism’s early days in America. Now our senior editor, BARRY BOYCE, picks up the story. as mindfulness and contemplative practices have started reach- ing into a wide variety of secular applications. These themes are just highlights. They can’t begin to encompass every trend, type of Buddhist, or manifestation of Buddhism. History is elusive. It’s like the ego. It’s composite. It doesn’t exist. But looking into it can be instructive just the same. 1. Out of the Counterculture Luncheon at the U.S . Capitol in honor of His Holiness Sixteenth Karmapa, September, 1980. Clockwise from center: the Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, translator Ngodup Tsering Burkhar, Senator Charles Percy, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. PHOTOCOURTESYOFSHAMBHALAARCHIVES