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Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 17 WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME what practices I’m doing, I say that I’m working on a conundrum—“creating enlightened society.” Every society is a ceremony that reflects the attitude of individuals toward themselves and others. We have been participating in somebody else’s ceremony— a ceremony of being asleep. But we have the power to shift the direction of our destiny by engaging in enlightened society—a ceremony of being awake. Its foundation is acknowledging our subjective and communal experience of basic goodness. Together we root our activity in further illuminating that core principle. Thus society is enlightened. This is the vision of the Shambhala teachings introduced to the West by my father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He felt they had arisen in our particular time because humanity is at a crossroads. These teachings, he said, have the power to shift the direction of our global future. He offered many medi- tative practices to help us do this, but behind them all there is a fundamental view: We are basically good. Enlightened society is rooted in an underlying feeling of goodness. Modern culture does not support the view of basic goodness. We are living in an atmosphere of heightened speed and super- ficiality, characterized by constant reaction. We are bombarded with stimuli telling us we need something else to feel complete. Many people have been taught at home, school, or church that they are bad. To move beyond these constraints, we must learn to value the principles of basic goodness and enlightened society as much as the feelings that now drive our world—such as fear and selfishness. Only by making time to self-reflect each day can we deepen our awareness in this way. Through the regular practice of contemplating our elemental nature, returning to a moment of self-possession and self-respect, we can become brave enough to manifest basic goodness, our most valiant quality. Conventionally, “good” is the opposite of “bad.” But basic goodness precedes good and bad. It is goodness in the sense that fundamentally there is nothing wrong, nothing incomplete, and nothing missing. At the root of our being there is a beating heart that can manifest awakenment. “Basic” means “fundamental.” Basic goodness is fundamental because it is primordial. The nature of humanity has remained unchanged from beginningless time. Underneath all the confu- sion we witness, the character of humanity is inherently stain- less, without fault. Joined at the Heart We can brighten the future of modern society, says SAKYONG MIPHAM, by cultivating our communal basic goodness. PHOTO©DEBORAHJAFFE/CORBIS