Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Elephant Journal - Shambhala Buddhism’s Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Back in the spring of 2006, Elephant Journal interviewed Shambhala Buddhism’s Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on many topics, including his then new book, Ruling Your World.

Shambhala Buddhism’s Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: relationships, loneliness & “Ruling Your World.”

Photo by Corey Kohn

What about You/What about Me: A Conversation with Sakyong Mipham” from the Spring 2006 issue of elephant journal.

Sakyong Mipham is sometimes referred to as a Buddhist monarch. His family lineage is, indeed, royal—he’s the son of Chögyam Trungpa, a guru credited with pioneering the transmission of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings to the West—and he’s a distant descendant of Gesar of Ling, Tibet’s King Arthur. But sitting with him at 7:30 a.m. over breakfast, I had to keep pinching myself. For, despite being in the midst of promoting his second book, Ruling Your World—and despite having just fallen in love and wedded a lovely, Western-educated Tibetan princess fluent in six languages—and despite having a long day of meetings, audiences and travel ahead of him—Sakyong Mipham has a way of making you feel at home.
In Buddhism, the goal is enlightenment. But as the Zen saying goes, before enlightenment you “chop wood, carry water.” After enlightenment? More of the same. So enlightened mind is ultimately NBD; it’s ordinary mind. And, with the Sakyong, it is tantalizingly easy to get a glimpse of such a way of being.We only wish the interview could have gone on forever. But, thankfully for our transcriber’s sake, it didn’t. Enjoy..
! —ed.

WAYLON H. LEWIS, for elephant: Well, thank you very much, Rinpoche. Your majesty. We’re joined by Emily Hilburn Sell, the editor of your new book, Ruling Your World. So…I forgot the date…late October 2005?

SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE: Halloween! [laughing]

ele: And it’s very early in the morning. Partially because of your having just been married, I wanted to ask about how Dharma [Buddhist teachings] relates to life—

right livelihood and relationships. And talking with Ted Rose at your [book release] party last night, he encouraged me to ask you why you named [your new book] Ruling Your World.

Rinpoche: The title came to me fairly quickly after I had written my previous book [Turning the Mind Into an Ally], which had been about meditation. It did pretty well. Still, it’s a meditation book—and ultimately, if you are not interested in meditation, you will not pick it up. So I wanted to write a book that encouraged people to proactively engage their life. The next book had to have a quality of “Where do you go from the meditation seat, and how do you engage in daily life?”

Ruling Your World conveys a sense that you have the power and potential to fully interact with your world. Ruling here is outside of the connotation of aggression. We are not talking about domination, we’re talking about engaging as opposed to receding. The key is that a lot of times people think spirituality is something sedentary, reclusive…that you have to draw back from the world. Ascetic. And then you basically become a spiritual meditator when, really, the fruition of the path is that you can completely interact with your world. You are able to have confidence in whatever you do. The notion of rulership here is having confidence in how you live your life.

The title is about life, as opposed to about meditation. Everybody lives their life—and do you want your world to rule you, or do you want to rule your world? We’re not talking about Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler—ruling the world. If you can’t have harmony with your own world then anything beyond that is a fantasy.

ele: The other night [at a lecture held at a church, and attended by 1,200 persons], you used the term ‘authentic presence’—that if you can have an authentic presence, you can do anything in a mindful, powerful way.

Rinpoche: The Tibetan word is called wong tong and wong is power, tong is field or domain. You exude a sense of confidence, compassion and genuineness. Within your own domain, sphere, field. Authentic presence means that an individual is so genuine that they actually have resilience and power. A lot of times we feel like if we are authentic then we can’t really get what we want—we have to manipulate the world. So the notion here is that being authentic is actually a genuine source of power. And if you have that, you’re able to accomplish what you want—benefiting, helping, uplifting others. So it’s not self-centered. And then when an individual has that, they radiate goodness. If you are talking about individuals that we might respect, they have that authenticity. In a conventional sense, you can call it charisma—but if they don’t have genuineness and authenticness, that charisma is short lived.

Read the whole interview.

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