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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 50 the dharma could only work in the West if it was applicable to householders, to people who had careers and families and children. So he worked to bring the concept of dharmic society into people’s homes and into their lives all the way through. I think an offshoot of this was that he appreciated all of these different disciplines and saw the potential for wakeful- ness and beauty within the different Western traditions. I think one of the unique things about Rinpoche was that he appreci- ated many different cultures, traditions, and religions and was able to see the potential for human wakefulness within them. You make it clear in your book that Rinpoche was very supportive of your own independent identity and, in particular, your prac- tice of dressage. I had enjoyed riding throughout my entire childhood and dur- ing my teenage years. I started riding again after we moved to Colorado, and at some point I realized that my dressage com- ponent was very weak. I took a year off to study dressage and completely fell in love with the art and the discipline. Then I realized that I couldn’t get the proper training in Colorado if I were to really become good at it. So I told Rinpoche that I wanted to go to California to study dressage. He said, “You’re not going to be at home, I am going to miss you,” and I said, “That’s fine, but if I don’t go I’m going to give it up, because I’m not really interested in pursuing something if I can’t really be good at it.” He thought about it for a little while, and from there on he encouraged me all the way through. In fact, he was quite delighted when I wanted to go to Eu- rope to study there. We took a trip to Vienna together to see the Spanish Riding School, and he was overcome with the beauty of the school. He cried, in fact, when he saw it, because he had a real feeling that the genuine Shambhala tradition was being manifested there. He thought it was absolutely fantastic. Later, before I went to the Spanish Riding School, he said something very interesting to me: “Sometimes people who really achieve the pinnacle of their discipline—not only in their riding but in other arts—these people who are great artists, they have a lot of problems in their personal life.” I said to him, “Why is that the case?” and he said, “Because they really have such a profound experience of wakefulness when they’re performing their art but they don’t have the tools to bring it into their life. So they’re al- ways missing that in their day-to-day life.” And I did observe that to be true. As your home situation became more formal and elaborate, as it evolved into the “Kalapa Court,” how was that for you? Did it seem like a natural progression of your role in the community or did it feel odd to suddenly have these people serving you dinner and that sort of thing? Queen-Consort By the late seventies, having established himself as the leading Buddhist teacher in the United States, Chögyam Trungpa began his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, a non-religious meditative path bringing dignity, confidence, and wisdom to every facet of life. He and his Sakyong Wangmo, his queen-consort, would lead the establishment of this enlightened society. RINPOCHE FELT THAT the teacher in this situ- ation has to set the example for the students, as is true throughout the Buddhist teachings. In present- ing the Shambhala teachings of enlightened society, he felt that his own life should be an example, his life should be an open book, or an open court, I guess. In some way, this had always been true, but clearly this was moving to another level. In Tibet, Rinpoche’s teacher Jamgon Kongtrul had talked to him about how a monk might have to become a king for the teachings of the Buddha to survive in the modern world. At first, Rinpoche seemed to think that this mainly meant that the presentation of Buddhism in the West would need to be more secular, less monastic. Beginning in this era, however, he began to see this as more literal ad- vice. I think he felt that he was to be a messenger for the Rigden kings as well as their servant; he felt that he had to embody the enlightened energy of Shambhala as best as he could. And the model for that, in terms of everyday life, was the court of the king and queen. Voilà the Kalapa Court. Voilà its occupants: Rinpoche and me. [Later, when I became uncomfortable in this role] he explained to me that the future of the dhar- ma in the West would inevitably involve pain and chaos. That made sense to me because I could see that the way he was working with people was pre- paring them to take on more responsibility, either within Vajradhatu or the larger society. You could see that people were becoming much more tamed and much more commanding at the same time. At that point, I was more able to relax and accept the situation. After we talked, things seemed better to me. I decided that we weren’t really nuts, although we were decidedly eccentric. What we were doing had a purpose that was founded in truth. Rinpoche ➢ page 119