Drove Fri. with Linda Lipps, a Shambhala practitioner and dear friend who runs a mindfulness group at Oasis Center in downtown Petaluma, to Grace Cathedral, SF, to hear Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, His Royal Highness of Shambhala Buddhism, son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, teacher to Pema Chodrum and other wonderful humans.

This Buddhist stuff sticks to me – I love it because it digs into what I’m thinking and doing and helps me do whatever with more focus and integrity. I do want to be kinder and more clear as I age. What else is worthwhile?

A card from San Francisco Shambhala Meditation Center quotes the father:

The Shambhala teachings are
founded on the premise that there is basic
human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s
problems. This wisdom does not belong to any one
culture or religion, not does it come only from the
West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of human
warriorship that has existed in many cultures at
many times throughout history.
– Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Was deeply pleased with the whole evening at Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill – from the ride over in fantastic early spring afternoon sun (Wow! The gleaming OCEAN to the right of Golden Gate Bridge – that hump of red rock just before you go onto the Bridge. Wondering where the boats are going if you see one. Looking for just one bird.)

And then there is Grace itself. Lived 1 1/2 blocks from there as a single parent and by myself 18 years. Grace was where I walked when others may have gone to a bar. Adore a slow walk inside when late afternoon sun floods your whole being with stained glass light. Nothing like that. Immense.

My eyes feasted on the views from the outdoor labyrinth (had to walk it, recalling how it once helped me heal), Huntington Square Park, full of purebred dogs and their people, my son’s early childhood neighborhood park, the Fairmont behind it with its amazing elevator to the stars, the energetic jonquils and irises in the Grace landscaping, the Gold Door of the Cathedral itself with its marvelous bas relief. I am at home outside and inside Grace.

But what was this Rinpoche/teacher, son of a great man, to say to us? More of the same from a deep place. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in his forties but the grin of a guy in his 20’s, faces fear that the human race may not make it. He doesn’t know if we will. But our situation, as I understand it through him and readings, is like the old Buddhist parable about a person on a cliff with a tiger behind and another at the bottom of the cliff. A strawberry is available to hand. You reach out and grab it!

So the conversation, the talk, was about worthiness and bravery. Not how much do you earn or how many degrees do you have or who you bested – but the sense that your life is worthy, that you pledge to practice civility throughout life – you learn to actually listen to whoever comes to you, you are kind to whoever comes and you learn to see what is rather than what you thought it was. Hard work! Must be done over and over and over. But you know the work is good; each day it is good.

Looked around at over 1,000 people, a room filled with gentleness and intelligence. A great gathering. Must go find them where they practice; lots of choices. Close to Petaluma, you can visit Sonoma Shambhala Meditation Center, 255 Napa Street (I will), or Santa Rosa Shambhala Meditation Center. Ten in our area including a Tamalpais Center in San Rafael. Wonder if Petaluma will come along and start up a center.

Enlightenment, as I got the concept in my 20’s, was about perfection – becoming a Buddha through generations of work in that direction, and, somehow, through NOT wanting it but becoming it. But Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche was teaching a variety of enlightenment I hadn’t encountered – enlightenment as civility in each day. If the world chose to be kind – no more war, famine, most tragedies gone. When death comes, it is part of a cycle we are all in together. Hi, there!

For more, visit a center or www.shambhala.org/centers/