The editorial introduction to the January 2013 issue of Lion’s Roar, written by Editor-in-Chief Melvin McLeod.
The first time I met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—this was in 1980 in Sikkim during the funeral ceremonies for the Sixteenth Karmapa—he said something that changed my life. Describing his and his students’ work to establish Buddhism in the West, he said simply, “We’re thinking of the next five hundred years.”
Up until then, my commitment to Buddhism, although deep and sincere, was purely personal. Trungpa Rinpoche showed me a bigger view. Our task is the development of genuine dharma in the modern world, and because these are still early days, the seeds we plant now are vitally important.
Of course, a greater goal doesn’t mean we sacrifice the personal. A longer time frame doesn’t mean we ignore the present. That never works. The mission of the Shambhala Sun Foundation has always been to do both: to create benefit now and to plant seeds of benefit for the future.
So in every issue of our magazines—the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma—our first goal is to help people’s lives today. We work to offer the best of Buddhist wisdom, powerful meditation techniques, beautiful writing and art, and a hopeful vision of a more enlightened society. It’s certainly not like we have all the answers and you don’t. We are all on the same path, facing the same challenges, and when we select material to publish, it’s because we find it so helpful in our own lives. And what we find most helpful is genuine dharma.
That is true now; it will be true in the future. That is why it is so important to do everything we can to plant those all-important seeds of a genuine, complete, and sustainable Buddhism in the modern world.
At the Shambhala Sun Foundation, we try to do that in many ways. Through our magazines, books, websites, and conferences, we work to support practitioners, teachers, and Buddhist communities. We launched Buddhadharma for committed Buddhists who want to deepen their practice, study, and sense of community, and our mindfulness initiative for those who want a meditation practice but not necessarily a new spiritual path. In the last twenty years, the Sun itself has grown from a small community-oriented newspaper to the largest Buddhist magazine in the English language. But with your help, we’ll do much more.
I just had my sixty-first birthday. It’s odd, but for me, as for many of my colleagues here at the Shambhala Sun Foundation, it feels like a time to look forward, not back. This is a good time for us to stop and consider what the Shambhala Sun Foundation can do in the next decade to make the most effective contribution to the future of Buddhism in the modern world. We’d like your help doing that.
What are the challenges and possibilities for Buddhism in the coming decades? What’s your opinion of what the Shambhala Sun Foundation is doing now, and what can we do better, or more of? How can we support your practice, your community, your teacher or teaching? How, together, can we help plant the seeds of a genuine, complete, sustainable, and effective Buddhism in the modern world?
These are the questions we’re going to be asking in the coming months. We’ll be asking ourselves and we’ll be asking you. This is a crucial time. These coming years are precious. Let’s all work together to use them well.