We use our habitual patterns to seal ourselves off and to build ourselves up

March 2, 2011

Overcoming Habitual Patterns
“The process of freeing yourself from arrogance and cutting off your habitual tendencies is a a very drastic measure, but it is necessary in order to help others in this world.

Arrogance comes from lack of gentleness, as we have discussed already. But beyond that, lack of gentleness comes from relying on habitual patterns of behavior. So habitual patterns are also an obstacle to invoking drala. By clinging to habitual behavior, we are cutting ourselves off from the warrior’s world. Habitual patterns are almost like reflexes: when we are shocked, we panic, and when we are attacked, we become defensive. On a more subtle level, we use habitual patterns to hide our self-consciousness. When we feel inadequate, we employ habitual responses to patch up our self-image: we invent excuses to shield our inadequacies from other people. Our standard emotional responses are often reflections of habitual patterns, as are mental fatigue, restlessness, irritation over something we don’t like, and many of our desires. We use our habitual patterns to seal ourselves off and to build ourselves up.

The Japanese have an interesting term, toranoko, which literally means “tiger cub.” It is a pejorative term. When you call someone a toranoko, you mean that he is a paper tiger, someone who appears brave but is actually a coward. That is the description of clinging to habitual patterns. You may make feeble attempts to expose your cowardice. Using eloquent language, you may make a confession, saying.”I know I’m not all that fearless,” but even your confession is still an expression of toranoko, a fat tiger cub who is afraid of his own shadow, afraid to jump and play with the other cubs. p. 121

[Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior]


How to Invoke Magic

February 28, 2011

“When you express gentleness and precision in your environment, then real brilliance and power can descent onto that situation. If you try to manufacture that presence out of your own ego, it will never happen. You cannot own the power and the magic of this world. It is always available, but it does not belong to anyone.

The phenomenal world that all human beings experience is fickle and flexible and also merciless. You often wonder whether you can ride on that fickle and merciless situation or whether it is going to ride on you. To use an analogy, either you are riding on a donkey or the donkey is riding on you. Ordinarily, in your experience of the world it is questionable who is riding on whom. The more you struggle to gain the upper hand, the more speed and aggression you manufacture to overcome your obstacles, the more you become subject to the phenomenal world. The real challenge is to transcend that duality altogether. It is possible to contact energy that is beyond dualism, beyond aggression – energy that is neither for you nor against you. That is the energy of drala.

Drala is not a god or spirit, but fundamentally it is connecting the wisdom of your own being with the power of things as they are. If you are able to connect those two things, out of that, you can discover magic in everything. But there is still a question as to what it is that allows you to make that connection. In the last chapter, the drala principle was likened to the sun. Although the sun is always in the sky, what is it that causes you to look up and see that it is there? Although magic is always available, what allows you to discover it? The basic definition of drala is “energy beyond aggression.” The only way to contact that energy is to experience a gentle state of being in yourself. So the discovery of drala is not coincidental. To connect with the fundamental magic of reality, there has to be gentleness and openness in you already. Otherwise, there is no way to recognize the energy of nonaggression, the energy of drala, in the world. So the individual training and discipline of the Shambhala warrior are the necessary foundation for experiencing drala.

The setting-sun world, based on fear of oneself and fear of death, has no connection to drala principle. The cowardice and aggression of the setting-sun outlook actually dispel any magical possibilities, any possibilities of experiencing the genuine and brilliant qualities of reality. The opposite of setting-sun outlook and the way to invoke drala is to manifest the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Great Eastern Sun vision, which we discussed in earlier chapters, is the expression of true human goodness, based not on arrogance or aggression, but on gentleness and openness. It is the way of the warrior.

The essence of this way or path is transcending cowardice and manufacturing bravery. That is the best and only way to invoke drala: by creating an atmosphere of bravery. We have already talked in earlier chapters about the qualities of bravery. The fundamental aspect of bravery is being without deception. Deception in this case is self-deception, doubting yourself so that you can only descend onto your existence when you have properly prepared the ground. If there is the slightest deception, you will dispel drala. From that point of view, deception is the magic of the setting sun.

Usually if we say someone is brave, we mean that he is not afraid of any enemy or he is willing to die for a cause or he is never intimidated. The Shambhala understanding of bravery is quite different. Here bravery is the courage to be – to live in the world without any deception and with tremendous kindness and caring for others. You might wonder how this can bring magic into your life. The ordinary idea of magic is that you can conquer the elements, so that you can turn earth into fire or fire into water to ignore the law of gravity and fly. But true magic is the magic of reality, as it is: the earth of earth, the water of water – communicating with the elements so that, in some sense, they become one with you. When you develop bravery, you make a connection with the elemental quality of existence. Bravery begins to heighten your existence, that is, to bring out the brilliant and genuine qualities of your environment and of your own being. So you begin to contact the magic of reality – which is already there in some sense. You actually can attract the power and strength and the primordial wisdom that arise from the cosmic mirror.” p. 109

[Shambbhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior]

Shambhala Training


The warrior who experiences windhorse feels the joy and sorrow of love in everything he does.

February 25, 2011

Letting Go
“When you live your life in accordance with basic goodness, then you develop natural elegance. Your life can be spacious and relaxed, without having to be sloppy. You can actually let go of your depression and embarrassment about being a human being, and you can cheer up.

Everyone has experienced a wind of energy or power in their lives. For example, athletes feel a surge of energy when they are engaged in their sport. Or a person may experience a torrent of love or passion for another human being to whom he or she is attracted. Sometimes, we feel energy as a cool breeze of delight rather than a strong wind. For example, when you are hot and perspiring, if you take a shower, you feel so delightfully cool and energized at the same time.

Normally, we think that this energy comes from a definite source or has a particular cause. We associate it with the situation in which we become so energized. Athletes may become addicted to their sport because of the “rush” they experience. Some people become addicted to falling in love over and over again because they feel so good and alive when they are in love. The result of letting go is that you discover a bank of self-existing energy that is always available to you – beyond any circumstance. It actually comes from nowhere, but it is always here. It is the energy of basic goodness.

This self-existing energy is called windhorse in the Shambhala teachings. The wind principle is that the energy of basic goodness is strong and exuberant and brilliant. It can actually radiate tremendous power in your life. But at the same time, basic goodness can be ridden, which is the principle of the horse. By following the disciplines of warriorship, particularly the discipline of letting go, you can harness the wind of goodness. In some sense the horse is never tamed – basic goodness never becomes your personal possession. But you can invoke and provoke the uplifted energy of basic goodness in your life. You begin to see how you can create basic goodness for yourself and others on the spot, fully and ideally, not only on a philosophical level, but on the concrete, physical level. When you contact the energy of the windhorse, you can naturally let go of worrying about your own state of mind and you can begin to think of others. You feel a longing to share your discovery of goodness with your brothers and sisters, your mother and father, friends of all kinds who would also benefit from the message of basic goodness. So discovering windhorse is, first of all, acknowledging the strength of basic goodness in yourself and then fearlessly projecting that state of mind to others.

Experiencing the upliftedness of the world is a joyous situation, but it also brings sadness. It is like falling in love. When you are in love, being with your lover is both delightful and very painful. You feel both joy and sorrow. That is not a problem; in fact, it is wonderful. It is the ideal human emotion. The warrior who experiences windhorse feels the joy and sorrow of love in everything he does. He feels hot and cold, sweet and sour, simultaneously. Whether things go well or things go badly, whether there is success or failure, he feels sad and delighted at once.”  p. 85

[Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior]


On the other side of cowardice is bravery.

February 22, 2011

Renunciation and Daring
“What the warrior renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others.

The situations of fear that exist in our lives provide us with stepping stones to step over our fear. On the other side of cowardice is bravery. If we step over properly, we can cross the boundary from being cowardly to being brave. We may not discover bravery right away. Instead, we may find a shaky tenderness beyond our fear. We are still quivering and shaking, but there is tenderness, rather than bewilderment.

Tenderness contains an element of sadness, as we have discussed. It is not the sadness of feeling sorry for yourself or feeling deprived, but it is a natural situation of fullness. You feel so full and rich, as if you were about to shed tears. Your eyes are full of tears, and the moment you blink, the tears will spill out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks. In order to be a good warrior, one has to feel this sad and tender heart. If a person does not feel alone and sad, he cannot be a warrior at all. The warrior is sensitive to every aspect of phenomena – sight, smell, sound, feelings. He appreciates everything that goes on in his world as an artist does. His experience is full and extremely vivid. The rustling of the leaves and the sounds of raindrops on his coat are very loud. Occasional butterflies fluttering around him may be almost unbearable because his is so sensitive. Because of his sensitivity, the warrior can then go further in developing his discipline. He begins to learn the meaning of renunciation.

In the ordinary sense, renunciation is often connected with asceticism. You give up the sense pleasures of the world and embrace an austere spiritual life in order to understand the higher meaning of existence. In the Shambhala context, renunciation is quite different. What the warrior renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gently and open to others. Any hesitation about opening yourself to others is removed. For the sake of others, you renounce your privacy…p. 66

In order to overcome selfishness, it is necessary to be daring. It is as though you are dressed in your swimsuit, standing on the diving board with a pool in front of you, and you ask yourself: “Now what?” The obvious answer is” “Jump.” That is daring. You might wonder if you will sink or hurt yourself if you jump. You might. There is no insurance, but it is worthwhile jumping to find out what will happen. The student warrior has to jump. We are so accustomed to accepting what is bad for us and rejecting what is good for us. We are attracted to our cocoons, our selfishness, and we are afraid of selflessness, stepping beyond ourselves. So in order to overcome our hesitation about giving up our privacy, and in order to commit ourselves to others’ welfare, some kind of leap is necessary.” p. 68

Chögyam Trungpa

[Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior]


Warriorship here does not refer to making war on others.

February 20, 2011

“Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution.

Here the word “warrior” is taken from the Tibetan pawo, which literally means “one who is brave.” Warriorship in this context is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness. The North American Indians had such a tradition of wisdom and it also existed in South American Indian societies. The Japanese ideal of the samurai also represented a warrior tradition of wisdom, and there has been principles of enlightened warriorship in Western Christian societies as well. King Arthur is a legendary example of warriorship in the Western tradition, and great rulers in the Bible, such as King David, are examples of warriors common to both the Jewish and Christian traditions. On our planet earth there have been many fine examples of warriorship.

The key to warriorship and the first principle of Shambhala vision is not being afraid of who you are. Ultimately, that is the definition of bravery: not being afraid of yourself. Shambhala vision teaches that, in the face of the world’s great problems, we can be heroic and kind at the same time. Shambhala vision is the opposite of selfishness. When we are afraid of ourselves and afraid of the seeming threat the world presents, then we become extremely selfish. We want to build our own little nests, our own cocoons, so we can live by ourselves in a secure way.” p.28

[Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior]


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