The Shambhala vision is based on a simple, commonplace experience, says Chogyam Trungpa. Noticing it, we discover the basic goodness of our world and our lives as human beings. Cultivating it through meditation, we can cheer up and help others.
With the great problems now facing human society, it seems increasingly important to find simple and non-sectarian ways to work with ourselves and to share our understanding with others. The Shambhala teachings or “Shambhala vision,” as this approach is more broadly called, is one such attempt to encourage a wholesome existence for ourselves and others.
There is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. This wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come only from the West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history.
Warriorship here does not refer to making war on others. Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution. Here the word “warrior” is taken from the Tibetan pawu, which literally means “one who is brave.” Warriorship in this context is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness.
The key to warriorship is not being afraid of who you are. Ultimately, that is the definition of bravery: not being afraid of yourself. In the face of the world’s great problems, we can be heroic and kind at the same time.
If we are willing to take an unbiased look, we will find that, in spite of all our problems and confusion, all our emotional and psychological ups and downs, there is something basically good about our existence as human beings. Unless we can discover that ground of goodness in our own lives, we cannot hope to improve the lives of others. If we are simply miserable and wretched beings, how can we possibly imagine, let alone realize, an enlightened society?
Discovering real goodness comes from appreciating very simple experiences. We are not talking about how good it feels to make a million dollars or finally graduate from college or buy a new house, but we are speaking here of the basic goodness of being alive—which does not depend on our accomplishments or fulfilling our desires.
We experience glimpses of goodness all the time, but we often fail to acknowledge them. When we see a bright color, we are witnessing our own inherent goodness. When we hear a beautiful sound, we are hearing our own basic goodness. When we step out of the shower,
We feel fresh and clean, and when we walk out of a stuffy room, we appreciate the sudden whiff of fresh air. These events may take a fraction of a second, but they are real experiences of goodness. They happen to us all the time, but usually we ignore them as mundane or purely coincidental. According to the Shambhala principles, however, it is worthwhile to recognize and take advantage of these moments, because they are revealing basic nonaggression and freshness in our lives—basic goodness.
Every human being has a basic nature of goodness, which is undiluted and unconfused. That goodness contains tremendous gentleness and appreciation. As human beings we can make love. We can stroke someone with a gentle touch; we can kiss someone with gentle understanding. We can appreciate beauty. We can appreciate the best of this world. We can appreciate the yellowness of yellow, the redness of red, the greenness of green, the purpleness of purple. Our experience is real. And when we appreciate reality, it can actually work on us. We may have to get up in the morning after only a few hours’ sleep, but if we look out the window and see the sun shining, it can cheer us up. We can actually cure ourselves of depression if we recognize that the world we have is good.
It is not just an arbitrary idea that the world is good, but it is good because we can experience its goodness. We can experience our world as healthy and straightforward, direct and real, because our basic nature is to go along with the goodness of situations. The human potential for intelligence and dignity is attuned to experiencing the brilliance of the bright blue sky, the freshness of green fields, and the beauty of the trees and mountains. We have an actual connection to reality that can wake us up and make us feel basically, fundamentally good. Shambhala vision is tuning in to our ability to wake ourselves up and recognize that goodness can happen to us. In fact, it is happening already.
From Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, © 1984 by Chogyam Trungpa. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.