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Advice for the Dark Ages, a message to the American Buddhist Shambhala community
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Shambala.org, March 24, 2009
New York, USA -- This is a very difficult time. The upheavals in the financial world are causing widespread distress, as are fears about climate change, intensified political polarization, and rising aggression. It is what the Buddhist teachings call a "dark age." We experience the darkness as confusion, unhappiness, and lack of purpose.
It was for times like these that the Buddha gave the teachings on enlightened society to King Dawa Sango, the first sovereign of Shambhala. At present, the truth of those teachings is clear. For a society to be truly harmonious, it cannot be based on greed and anger. When we understand this, we see that what is happening around us is literally caused by the absence of [enlightened] vision [meditation practice, compassion and aspiring to work toward a peaceful society].
Uplifting our minds and increasing our life-force energy begins with that vision. So I am asking all of you, as citizens of [enlightened society], to rise to this occasion.
First, take these precious teachings [meditation, compassion] to heart and practice them. That includes meditating for a short period every day to stabilize your mind and generate compassion. Contemplate your unshakeable karmic connection to the lineage [of brave, decent peaceful warriors who practice meditation and study peace] and reflect on your nature as the profound, brilliant [fundamentally good king or queen of your own world].
Second, see fear for what it is: a lack of trust in your genuine being, which naturally radiates compassion and kindness. Take the big view of what is most important in this and future lifetimes: to become stronger and more realized in order to help others. Take care of yourselves, but don't hide behind the false security of self-protection. From the ground of basic goodness, open your heart and serve others.
Third, be generous. This is not a time to close down or hold on, but to offer from the natural well-spring of generosity. Be generous with those you love, but also with those you are tempted to blame or dislike. Be generous, too, within your community, which needs your support more than ever.
Practicing, serving, and giving: this is the path of the warrior bodhisattva. It is both transcendent and earthy. When we orient our minds this way, we are creating a sustainable environment. The wealth that it generates is inexhaustible.
I love you and am with you as we tread this golden path together.