KI KI SO SO- Practicing Engaged Buddhism on a Night Out in Seattle

Our content director recently took a trip down to Seattle to see Sakyong Mipham- the head of the Shambala tradition of meditation. Her experience below: 

Tonight Andrea and I are heading off to Seattle to attend “Rising to the Occasion: Social Engagement in a Chaotic World”, an event that the Sakyong will present. Everything looks like a normal shopping weekend in Seattle. We leave early, we have our Starbucks, and good conversation (with only a little bit of gossip).

We are excited. We have a delightful hotel, weather is great, and we grab a sandwich. We are light hearted, almost as if we are going to the movies.

And yet, we are not going to the movies. We are going to Seattle Town Hall, to listen to a master, a teacher, an enlightened soul, and a special,  very special, teacher. The Sakyong was recognized as an incarnated lama early in his childhood. He was a student of the very famous Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, only to then become her teacher.

The Seattle Town Hall is in our same good mood, it seems. We, and everybody, are excited; warmhearted, and light like the breeze outside. Older folks, with sun kissed and happy faces. Younger folks, talking and smiling to each other., What is with this audience?  Everyone looks so radiant.

The opening is left to Fleet Maul, a meditation teacher, who before becoming a meditation teacher actually spent a remarkable number of years in jail for smuggling drugs. He has now become an advocate of meditation in prisons.

And then he comes. He is handsome. He is radiant. He is smiling. Not just a smile on his face. His all being is smiling. Someone whose life revolves around inner practices. And yet a husband and a dad of 3 young girls. And a runner. A marathon runner. I can not say he is one of us, but he is for sure a “modern” lama.

His message is intended to give us some guidance in this age of chaos. So simple, yet so deep. The Sakyong reminds us that in his tradition, humans have innate qualities. Hold on tight, these qualities are: humanity, dignity, kindness, and compassion.

Humans are innately good.

And these qualities are the foundations upon which to rely to feel less lonely and create a sense of Social Fabric. When we connect with these qualities, we turn on a switch in how we hold our humanity. This is real bravery, real courage, real warrior-ship: being totally and fully exposed. This is real confidence.

Then, he teaches us the cry of the warrior. And he actually asks us to shout out loud with him.


-which translates to: May the wind carry my intention.

Image source unknown 

Image source unknown 

A cry of courage. The cry of the warrior. We all shout with him.

Alas, not your normalshopping weekend. Rather a  weekend “shopping” for joy, social engagement, enlightenment.