Invoking Sophrosyne

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‘Sophrosyne is the greatest virtue, and wisdom is speaking and acting the truth, paying heed to the nature of things.’ – Heraclitus, fragment 112 It happens fairly often. Inside ourselves or in others while in conversation with them, or when we’re alone. Suddenly a light goes on, a flash of insight hits home. With relief and perhaps a satisfied smile, we feel and we say, ‘ah, so it’s all a matter of balance then.’ As if we have found the one key that is so essential. As if in the end, the freedom of ‘enlightenment’ can be had if only we may have that one […]

Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior

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Like much of Chogyam Trungpa’s writing, this little book is somewhat deceptive. The language is so simple. But soon the attentive reader realises that she is being spun into a many-layered world of vast depths. Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior is one of two Trungpa books released by Shambhala meant to contain ‘secular’ teachings. Of course, the Lama remains rooted in his Buddhist lineage. But this little volume, being part of Trungpa’s Shambhala vision, was delivered in the spirit of providing everyday teachings to westerners, unadorned by the ‘other-worldliness’ of traditional Buddhist teachings. As the name suggests, these teachings tap authentically and […]


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In his book The Myth of Freedom, Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa provides some clear guidance on what frivolousness really is: ‘Frivolousness refers to the extra and unnecessary mental and physical acts with which we keep ourselves busy in order not to see what actually is happening in a situation.’ In other words, it involves our habit of indulging distractions that actually dislodge us from being deeply present with the moment. Trungpa differentiates frivolousness from spontaneity: ‘Spontaneity sees situations as they are. You see, there is a difference between spontaneity and frivolousness, a very thin line dividing them. Whenever there is an impulse to do something, […]


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In his book Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa uses the Tibetan word drala, which he says, is a magical quality we start to experience when we have come to live on the edge of the vastness of existence. About this, he says: ‘By magic we do not mean unnatural power over the phenomenal world, but rather the discovery of innate or primordial wisdom in the world as it is. … In Tibetan, this magical quality of existence, or natural wisdom, is called drala.’ He goes on to explain that the literal meaning of the word means, ‘above the enemy’ or […]

The primordial mirror

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In his book, Shambhala – the Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa uses the phrase ‘the primordial mirror’. He visualises it as: ‘The unconditioned, original ground of nowness, which exists and existed before history began, before thinking began’. He says we can be in contact with it … ‘through relaxing beyond our minds, letting go of the anxiety and concepts and depression that normally blind us’. Which he says, is a matter of ‘relaxing and resting continuously in nowness.’

Spiritual materialism

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‘The mind can wind up embroiled in very unhealthy states of mind. And easily get caught up in what might be most appropriately described as delusion. Although we would not see it that way. … [We easily] zone along on auto-pilot most of our lives. Meanwhile thinking, “Oh, yeah, we know what’s happening. We know who we are and where we’re going.” … How much do we actually know with certainty, who we are? … All of this are just obsessions around self-centeredness. … From that point of view, it is not like meditation is saying, “you should know who you are.” It is much […]

‘Seeing’ the world

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Seeing the world

‘Arrogance and habitual patterns are obstacles to experiencing drala.π In order to discover magic in the world, we have to overcome the individual neurosis and self-centered attitudes that prevent us from experiencing the greater vision beyond ourselves.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior Description of the world It is striking how people often behave in ways that are contradictory to the truths they proclaim to believe in. Of course, we easily notice this in everyone else, but rarely see how we do it ourselves. But this simply illustrates how much of what we do and say are ripples emanating from […]

The discipline of openness

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The discipline of the path

‘It takes tremendous effort to work one’s way through the difficulties of the path and actually get into the situations of life thoroughly and properly.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism Openness When we hear the word ‘discipline’ we usually understand it to mean forcing ourselves into doing things against our will and our instinct. We feel we have to hold our breath lest we slip up or make a mistake, until we get to that goal the discipline is supposed to help us achieve. But in fact, this kind of discipline is only an obstruction to cultivating soul and being on the […]

Fundamental uncertainty

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Federica Gionfrida

‘And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from The Holy Longing We are going to die. Our continued existence is uncertain in every moment. And if we’re absolutely truthful with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we really do not know what will happen to us as we die and after we die. Whatever our beliefs. For believing is not knowing. None of us have gone through the passage of death, yet. The more deeply we drop into being truthful with ourselves about […]