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Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 9 I WRITE THIS at the end of October, 2008. Ex- actly thirty years ago this month, in October, 1978, thousands of students of the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche were enjoying the very first issue of their new community newspaper. The Vajradhatu Sun was very different from the magazine you are holding in your hands now, but in a couple of important ways the Vajradhatu Sun of 1978 and the Shambhala Sun of 2008 are the same. The Vajradhatu Sun was the most important and widely read Buddhist publica- tion of its day, and I’m proud to say that’s still true. The Shambhala Sun is not only the most widely read Buddhist publication in North America, it is today the largest circulation English-language Buddhist magazine in the world. Second, the Sun’s basic inspiration and mission, based on the Buddhist and Shambhala teachings of its founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, has never changed over these thirty years. The strength of the Sun is and has always been his definitive formulation of Buddhism’s basic principles, an understanding of dharma that is at once strong and open. His teaching has allowed the Shambhala Sun to advocate a strong position on the dharma while at the same time wel- coming teachers and practitioners from all traditions of Buddhism. It is this unique combination, recog- nized in many of the messages of support that follow this editorial, that is the key to the Shambhala Sun’s success. Here are some of the basic principles that guide our work at the Sun. Genuine dharma. We often say that our job at the Sun is to promote genuine dharma. It’s easy to say but hard to define. The simple way to look at it is that any- thing that helps us to cut through or weaken ego—the false sense of permanent identity and security that is the basic cause of suffering—is genuine dharma. As the saying might go, “It’s the ego, stupid.” Cutting through spiritual materialism. This famous formulation of Trungpa Rinpoche’s keeps us on con- stant guard against ego’s attempt to co-opt spiritual- ity. While genuine dharma takes all the crutches and hiding places away from us, spiritual materialism uses Buddhism to build an even more exalted and secure sense of self. If Buddhism had a concept of sin, this would be at the top of the list. Not too tight, not too loose. But we can’t get too rigid about it either. We all have mixed motives for coming to spiritual practice, and I find that’s still true for me thirty-five years after I first called myself a Buddhist. So if the author’s heart is in the right place, not everything in the Shambhala Sun has to meet some standard of theological purity. Sometimes it’s just compassionate to offer people a port in a storm. Head and heart. Too much head and we become hard and cynical. Too much heart and we can be- come soft and gullible. In choosing articles for the Sun we try very hard to make sure head and heart are well-balanced. I think we do it well. Many Buddhists, one buddhadharma. This is the slogan of our other publication, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, but it applies to the Sun as well. We recognize genuine dharma and great teach- ers in all the Buddhist traditions, and we welcome the wisdom they have to offer. Mindful living. All people share the same basic nature of awareness, wisdom, and goodness. That is our human birthright. People of all spiritual paths, or none at all, increasingly want to live in a mindful, lov- ing way, and they see that meditative traditions like Buddhism can help them do it. “Breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in.” This simple meditation instruction by Thich Nhat Hanh expresses the essence of Buddhism. If the truth of this simple practice, without the trappings of philosophy and religion, is where more and more people want to start, then that is a cause for great celebration. It is, after all, exactly where the Buddha himself started. And look where that led. As I look back on thirty years of Buddhism in America, and ahead to another thirty years, and to another three hundred, I think with joy about where this simple act of awareness will lead us. May it benefit all. -M E LVIN MCLEOD For 30 Years the Best of Buddhism in America PHOTOBYMARVINMOORE