My daughter was three years old when I took her to see Kung Fu Panda 3.
Enrapt from start to finish, she was particularly attentive during the great battle scenes between the adorable ninja Panda and his scary nemesis.
As we left the theater, she turned to me and said,
"Mom, I've noticed something...the good always defeats the bad."
Happy New Moon and Diwali!
This has been an auspicious day throughout India—a festival of lights celebrating the radiant triumph of divinity over the darkness of confusion--a sort-of "Good Defeats Bad" Day.
Various Hindu mythologies exemplify the power of righteousness over demonic forces, like the return of exiled Rama and Sita, the victory of the Goddess over the wicked Mahishasura, and the sacred marriage of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
It's an age-old story: the universe is animated by dueling forces, and we all hope desperately for the virtuous to prevail. The question is who decides who is virtuous? History has made this grand narrative into an "us vs. them" story. When taken literally, it becomes the foundation for division and alienation: whomever is on "our side" is virtuous. On the "other" side is evil.
In his work, Creation of Consciousness, Edward Edinger explains that consciousness is only possible in the presence of an "other." Therefore, all human awareness is dependent upon this dichotomy: self and other, me and you, us and them. But when we project the shadow side of our own selves onto an outside "other" we set up a never ending war zone.
The teachings of non-dual Tantra assert that all things are individualized aspects of a single, dynamic pulsation of universal LOVE. ...A LOVE beyond all opposites. ...A LOVE so pervasive, perfect, and powerful that it encompasses everything.
So, I explain to my daughter: "Sometimes it doesn't look like it will, but the good always wins in the end...because LOVE is the biggest, most powerful thing. In fact, LOVE is all there is. When people do bad things it's only because they have forgotten LOVE.
When you remember that you are LOVE, you become as powerful as a superhero ninja."
The new moon is a time of introspection and self-examination.
Tonight provides a sweet opportunity to turn inward and get real with your Self.
Who is your scary nemesis?
Do you project all evil onto an outside "other?"
Can you embrace the dark qualities of fear, anger, confusion as aspects of your own psyche, too?
Can you envision a LOVE so vast it extends beyond all opposition?
That LOVE is so pervasive it can actually include your fears, sorrows, and confusion without losing a single iota of its infinite brilliance.
YOU ARE THAT LOVE...you superhero ninja, you!
On mindfulness and discomfort within the Shambhala Tradition, written by R.R. Shakti, PhD.
Recently Naropa University announced that Sakyong Miphan Rinpoche, leader of the global Shambhala community, has stepped down from his venerated role in response to allegations of sexual assault.
As many of you know, I am a graduate of Naropa University and the teachings I share from the Shambhala Tradition, including Mindfulness Meditation, Maitri, and Tonglen, have been passed down from a lineage of teachers through Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who brought the tradition to the West in the 1960s.
My direct teachers, including those at Naropa University and Pema Chödrön, have transmitted these practices with kindness, humor, humility, and grace.
...But Sakyong Miphan is not the first Tibetan Buddhist leader to cross the lines of ethical conduct. In fact his father, Chögyam Trungpa, was notorious for controversial behavior, alcoholism and sexual misconduct, in a time when women's voices went generally unheard—before the #MeToo movement opened the floodgates of accountability.
Since his death in 1987, people have been questioning the life and teachings of Trungpa with an understandable scrutiny. It is a considerable challenge to reconcile his transformational teachings on awakened living with the more savory aspects of his own lifestyle.
In a 2013 interview with Tricycle Magazine, Pema Chödrön speaks of her teacher:
"Trungpa Rinpoche was a provocative person. In Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism he says the job of the spiritual friend is to insult the student, and that’s the kind of guy he was. If things got too smooth, he’d create chaos. All I can say is that I needed that. I didn’t like being churned up and provoked, but it was what I needed. It showed me how I was stuck in habitual patterns..."
The Shambhala Tradition is based upon being absolutely truthful. Mindfulness is cutting through the bullshit of ego's habitual self-serving patterns. Maitri is courageously staring right into the heart of the shadow, and cultivating compassion within that conflict. It is making peace with the inevitable discomfort of being human.
I am uncomfortable.
The day before hearing the news of Sakyong Mipham, Drew reminded me of the recently released film documentary on the incredible story of Osho's renegade commune in 1980's Oregon. Six hours of footage in "Wild Wild Country" tells the story of how easily corrupted the human ego can be. Three days later another friend sent me this article on the "Dangers of Tantra". It is a commercialized warning of the dark magic that has been associated with Tantra's left hand path.
I close my eyes and remember stories of perversion within the Catholic Church—the insidious abuse of power. I recall the first time I learned of the Christian crusades and the millions of people brutally murdered in the name of Christ. I was a teenager. I was devastated.
It is deeply disturbing, heart-breaking, maddening--profoundly uncomfortable—to face the shadows of humanity: to realize that no matter how pure the intentions, anything on Earth can be manipulated and used for the glory and power of the ego.
The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, and the non-dual Tantrik texts tell a different story. They offer a message of unity, compassion, freedom from suffering, and LOVE.
That is where my heart is.
Pure light is without shadow. As soon as light makes contact with any matter, a shadow is cast. Darkness is not the absence of light. It is the obstruction of light.
For some, that obstruction is as simple as holding eyes closed.
But patience cannot be cultivated without trial.
Courage does not exist in the absence of fear.
Compassion is awakened within my own sadness.
As we cried together over the world's madness, Gretchen reminded me of this:
"It hurts so that we never forget why we are here"—to Love.
It is time to open our eyes...to get courageously honest...to face the shadows that accompany the human experience as uncomfortable and as painful as it may be. Together, we must cultivate compassion for ourselves, and compassion for each other, even within the conflict.
As Chödrön writes in The Places that Scare You: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
R.R. Shakti, PhD
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
PSYCHE + SOUL