Shambhala by Chögyam Trungpa. Inner homesteading.

ShambhalaMy job has recently required me to travel and the quiet times at night are a good time to explore something I’ve been curious about, Buddhism. I visited a Shambhala Meditation Centre for an introductory session and picked up a recommended book, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa.

What is Shambhala? What is this warrior thing all about? (I could not help but think of Klingons.) Trungpa was a Buddhist teacher closely associated with the Dalai Lama. He was a scholar who researched the legendary kingdom of Shambhala and used it as a metaphor for a secular discipline. It does not teach Buddhism, but rather the principles of warriorship that were embodied in ancient India, Tibet, China, Japan and Korea.

I very much like Trungpa’s description of meditation as “developing a sense of our spot, our place on this earth” (20), a kind of psychological or inner homesteading that helps us be at peace. Gentleness and bravery create a regal sort of person fit to rule a kingdom. He suggests that many of us have a “setting sun” attitude toward life and advises visualizing a “rising sun”. Seems a bit too simple, but I tried it and it does facilitate a change of attitude. There’s more to it than that, so if it piques your interest, grab the book to learn more about it, and also about the powerful windhorse metaphor.

Trungpa’s basic aim is to show that the best of life can be enjoyed in even the most ordinary of circumstances. Its secular approach appealed to me. The best Buddhist teachings do not fuss over theological details, and my favourite book so far is Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor (see my review).