Ashe Mahamudra retreats

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Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by DGA » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:14 pm

I'd like to follow up on a comment that was made in a now-locked thread on the current state of the Shambhala Int'l organization, but is 100% about Dharma.* This:

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=29290&start=40#p462731
The most interesting thing the organization has going these days I think are the Ashe Mahamudra retreats. I think that's where a lot of the strongest senior practitioners have been putting their energies in the past few years. I think they're sesshin-style MM retreats using the Letter of the Black Ashe practice text as a rubric.
Questions:

Who teaches these retreats?

Who taught this practice to those teachers, and who authorized them to teach this practice?

Under what circumstances is this practice taught, and can those circumstances (pre-requisite teachings) be altered in the future (if, for example, the superstructure of the organization in which it is taught is altered, perhaps radically)?


*My motivation to raise this topic is to follow up on a question I've been sitting on going back some twenty years.

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:31 pm

Not sure, but I think they were John Rockwell’s baby. He is the Ashe Acharya after all. I’ve seen notice that he leads them and Fleet Maul leads them. A little googling would probably yield more info, tho I bet not a lot more.

There is also Reggie Ray’s mahamudra presentation, which may, ironically, come to eclipse the SI stuff as long as he’s kept his nose clean.

Rigdzin Shikpo/ Michael Hookam in the U.K. teaches MM and dzogchen as well, though I believe it’s Khenpo Tsultrim who empowered him to do so, not CTR (his original teacher)
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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by justsit » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:32 pm

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:31 pm
Rigdzin Shikpo/ Michael Hookam in the U.K. teaches MM and dzogchen as well, though I believe it’s Khenpo Tsultrim who empowered him to do so, not CTR (his original teacher)
Is that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso or someone else?

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:49 pm

KTG, yes.
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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:50 pm

justsit wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:32 pm
passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:31 pm
Rigdzin Shikpo/ Michael Hookam in the U.K. teaches MM and dzogchen as well, though I believe it’s Khenpo Tsultrim who empowered him to do so, not CTR (his original teacher)
Is that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso or someone else?
KTG, yes.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:50 am

Ashe Mahamudra
with Ashe Acharya John Rockwell
February 27 - March 3, 2015
Ashe Mahamudra with Ashe Acharya John Rockwell

The Sakyong has written a beautiful practice text that brings together the Shambhala dzokchen path of Ashe, windhorse, and the four dignities with the mahamudra vipashyana investigations into the nature of mind. Whether we directly experience body, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, or awareness, all transmissions agree at one point—liberation on the spot. This essentially formless insight can help us be skillful with any practice, activity, or experience that we have.

Schedule

The retreat will begin at 7:30pm Friday night with a lung for the text and a talk on the view of the practice and the retreat. Starting on Saturday, the daily schedule will include short sessions of mahamudra practice, talks, discussion, body exercises, and study. The program will end on Tuesday evening with a feast.

People are warmly invited to attend the full 5-day retreat. It is fine to do just the weekend program, but it is essential to attend all the sessions to receive instructions on the full practice. People who want to come for sessions during the week during the week or for the final feast on Tuesday night must have attended the weekend program.

In order to attend the retreat, one must receive the lung on Friday night. Exceptions can be made for those who have received it this summer at land center programs, yet it is important to be present for the opening talk.

Prerequisites:
This retreat is open to all Shambhala vajrayana students who have attended a Vajradhatu Vajrayana Seminary or a Sacred World Assembly. This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire vajra sangha to gather and be of one mind, one heart.

Pricing
Karmê Chöling values its commitment to making programs affordable and available to all who wish to study with us. To support this commitment we provide two program price options.

FULL PRICE: $680
Those who can are encouraged to register using this option.

DISCOUNT PRICE: $530
To encourage all to study, we offer this discounted price to those who cannot afford the full price. Charitable donations provide the funding to make this pricing option available. We thank our donors for their generosity.

Daily Fee: $135

Financial Aid
Karmê Chöling offers interest-free payment plans, scholarships, and other financial assistance.

Please Note:
Price includes meals but not accommodations.

Online registration is not currently open.

Teachers
About Ashe Acharya John Rockwell


Ashe Acharya John Rockwell has been a student, teacher, and leader on the Shambhala Buddhist path for over 40 years, under the guidance of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. His inspiration is to open the heart and senses through meditation and find innate awareness within everyday life, the natural world, and the challenges of awakening society. He teaches Daoist qigong as taught by Eva Wong to uncover the natural unity of body, energy, and awareness. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with his wife, Rhiannon Wells, and travels internationally to teach.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:53 am

The four dignities are meek, perky, outrageous, inscrutable, aka lion, tiger, garuda, dragon. From the first (5?) Shambhala levels.
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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by justsit » Thu Aug 30, 2018 7:02 pm

passel wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:50 pm
Is that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso or someone else?
KTG, yes.
Okay, thank you.

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by DGA » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:53 am

passel wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 3:50 am
Ashe Mahamudra
with Ashe Acharya John Rockwell
February 27 - March 3, 2015
Ashe Mahamudra with Ashe Acharya John Rockwell

The Sakyong has written a beautiful practice text that brings together the Shambhala dzokchen path of Ashe, windhorse, and the four dignities with the mahamudra vipashyana investigations into the nature of mind. Whether we directly experience body, perceptions, thoughts, emotions, or awareness, all transmissions agree at one point—liberation on the spot. This essentially formless insight can help us be skillful with any practice, activity, or experience that we have.

Schedule

The retreat will begin at 7:30pm Friday night with a lung for the text and a talk on the view of the practice and the retreat. Starting on Saturday, the daily schedule will include short sessions of mahamudra practice, talks, discussion, body exercises, and study. The program will end on Tuesday evening with a feast.

People are warmly invited to attend the full 5-day retreat. It is fine to do just the weekend program, but it is essential to attend all the sessions to receive instructions on the full practice. People who want to come for sessions during the week during the week or for the final feast on Tuesday night must have attended the weekend program.

In order to attend the retreat, one must receive the lung on Friday night. Exceptions can be made for those who have received it this summer at land center programs, yet it is important to be present for the opening talk.

Prerequisites:
This retreat is open to all Shambhala vajrayana students who have attended a Vajradhatu Vajrayana Seminary or a Sacred World Assembly. This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire vajra sangha to gather and be of one mind, one heart.

Pricing
Karmê Chöling values its commitment to making programs affordable and available to all who wish to study with us. To support this commitment we provide two program price options.

FULL PRICE: $680
Those who can are encouraged to register using this option.

DISCOUNT PRICE: $530
To encourage all to study, we offer this discounted price to those who cannot afford the full price. Charitable donations provide the funding to make this pricing option available. We thank our donors for their generosity.

Daily Fee: $135

Financial Aid
Karmê Chöling offers interest-free payment plans, scholarships, and other financial assistance.

Please Note:
Price includes meals but not accommodations.

Online registration is not currently open.

Teachers
About Ashe Acharya John Rockwell


Ashe Acharya John Rockwell has been a student, teacher, and leader on the Shambhala Buddhist path for over 40 years, under the guidance of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. His inspiration is to open the heart and senses through meditation and find innate awareness within everyday life, the natural world, and the challenges of awakening society. He teaches Daoist qigong as taught by Eva Wong to uncover the natural unity of body, energy, and awareness. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with his wife, Rhiannon Wells, and travels internationally to teach.
Thank you for this. For me, it raises a number of questions. Some of them might not be useful (what's an "essentially formless insight?"), so I won't bother you nice people by digging into those.

I notice that the text that Rockwell is teaching from is not the terma of the 11th Trungpa tulku, but is instead a new text composed by Mipham Mukpo (that's his legal name, correct?). It also appears that this new text is prepared for those who are fully fluent in Shambhalese (I have reason to suspect that the terma is not presented in the context of Shambhala training and its sequels).

Which is to say that, as it stands now, it would take significant revision of this retreat series for it to make sense to practitioners who may be prepared for this practice, but gained that preparation outside the context of Shambhala Int'l.

I suppose one of the problems of the reorganization of Vajradhatu as a distinct tradition of "Shambhala Buddhism" some twenty years ago is that whatever teachings may be transmitted through the organization become tightly bound to the brand identity (seriously, I mean it when I say brand identity) and culture of that organization. What happens to the teachings and the practices when that organization is facing an existential crisis?


I can't let this slide: what does it mean for "the entire vajra sangha to gather and be of one mind, one heart?" What does it mean to "find innate awareness within everyday life, the natural world, and the challenges of awakening society?" there's a lot there

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:42 am

Those are good questions, I enjoyed reading your post. I’d like to mull it over and give a decent response but it’s late and my thumbs are tired. My quick take is that these questions are going to become a lot higher stakes for all of us and the ones to come. W the collapse of the monopolies and the surge in interest (big mindfulness has a through line to dzogchen and mahamudra via Mind & Life), plus waves of counterfeit dharma (‘Neo-Advaita’, Deepak Crap), status anxiety (are you transmitted? But is that a valid transmission?), plus the MONEY that’s sure to come when insurance agents are the ones writing the teacher training manuals.
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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:00 am

If anyone is going to pull it off, it’s going to be Mingyur w some kind of techno boost. If Karma Kagyu went full ChNN DI via livestream, they could pretty much corner the global dharma market. Adyashanti would have to get a job.
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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by DGA » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:59 am

Buddha Dharma has its own logic. The way Dharma is taught and learned corresponds to that logic.

What happens when a Dharma institution chooses to reorganize itself, its teachings, its practices, and its mode of teachings around the logic of marketing and branding and PR, instead of the internal logic of Buddha Dharma?

I think Shambhala International offers a useful example. This is what happens, or rather what is lost, when Dharma teachings are commodified and made into a brand identity. Brands contain contradictions, like all identities. When practitioners become aware of those contradictions and see that there is no necessary "there" there... then what? There are several now-locked threads at DW that discuss that topic extensively. I would simply like to mark, with sadness, that the creation of the "Shambhala Buddhism" as a brand has proven to be a failure for both the Shambhala/Vajradhatu organization, and the Buddhism it was entrusted to uphold.

All of us are the less for it.

I'm still interested in the Black Ashe terma of the 11th Trungpa Rinpoche. Does this tradition persist?

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:22 am

Agreed. There is always the overhead. Which will always increase because you have to cast a wider and wider net to put butts in the seats, but then those butts need to be catered to or they will find other seats. A core problem is that almost no one is really interested in meditation. People want to party or be entertained or feel safe or find a mate. The idea of meditation draws, but it mostly remains an idea- keeping the center/organization/guru going is the focal point. You get administrative mini-states built on free labor and emotionally-driven fundraising. This has consequences.

DGA wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:59 am
I'm still interested in the Black Ashe terma of the 11th Trungpa Rinpoche. Does this tradition persist?
I think so- I think it's one of the texts in the latter 5 Shambhala levels. I've never read it, although I used to see it around a bit. It may be as simple as a short poem describing "stroke practice"- very simple calligraphy that some Shambhalians do regularly. I think now that Ashe Mahamudra retreats don't seem to have a particular connection with LotBA terma, any more than any other Shambhala terma.

https://www.kalapamedia.org/ProductDeta ... ode=BVN176

from this page,https://www.nalandatranslation.org/arti ... new-again/:

"From The Letter of the Black Ashe

That mind of fearfulnesssmall-terstek
Should be put in the cradle of loving-kindnesssmall-terstek
And suckled with the profound and brilliant milk of eternal doubtlessnesssmall-terstek
Then the fearful mindsmall-terstek
Can change into the warrior’s mind,small-terstek
And that eternally youthful confidencesmall-terstek
Can expand into space without beginning or end.small-terstek
At that point it sees the Great Eastern Sun.small-terstek

In January 1978, on a Sunday morning in Boulder, the Dorje Dradül went to Dorje Dzong. There was a nyinthün scheduled, but nobody was there. The Dorje Dradül went and sat in his office. He requested paper, which Kate Stein, translator and kasung on duty, gave him, and then she sat outside the office. Inside, he was writing down The Letter of the Black Ashe. Kate felt that the energy was quite intense, and at one point Lady Diana came bounding up the stairs, banged on the door and insisted on speaking with the Dorje Dradül. She was furious that he had come to the office and was working on Sunday rather than spending time with the family. The Dorje Dradül had a conversation with her and then she went away and he continued writing. Later, he invited Kate to come in. He showed her the text, and she asked what the title of it was. It appears that he had not written the title down, so he wrote the title down. They then translated the title of the text together, which was The Letter of the Black Ashe. He translated the rest of the text with David Rome later that day. The translation was later reviewed with the Translation Committee.

From The Werma Sadhana Manual, “Shambhala Terma and Transmissions,” by John Rockwell."

Another, https://shambhalatimes.org/2010/11/21/s ... ing-times/

"By Ben Hines

Through the Way of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is bringing stronger medicine, vajrayana wisdom medicine, to the many more quickly in this dark age. The elements prominent in the terma text of The Letter of the Black Ashe, which include the “dignity” energies of Tiger, Lion, Garuda and Dragon, now become part of the introductory classes in our Shambhala Centers. These add confidence and insight to the developing faith of the beginning shamatha meditator. If The Letter of the Black Ashe is an arrow, then it is an arrow touched with the “poison” of gentleness and confidence, and is meant for our hearts. The Dorje Dradul and Sakyong Mipham mean this arrow also for the heart of the present dark age where fear, anxiety and dread are so much of the air we breathe today and the loss of dignity is so common."

It goes on.

From Jeremy Hayward's book, but on an Add Da apologist's page, https://www.beezone.com/ashe/ashe.html:


"THE DISCOVERY OF THE ASHE

In the fall, we began to hear rumors of amazing things happening at the Seminary, which that year was being held at the King's Gate Hotel in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin. In November, the Regent came back from Seminary and asked the Directors to gather at Rinpoche's house, also the dwelling of the Regent and his family. There he showed us a special mark that one made on paper with a calligraphy brush and ink. He told us it was called the Ashe (pronounced ah-shay) and explained something about its meaning, though I have long forgotten what he said. He seemed energized and excited by it and showed us how to do it, which we all did. It didn't make much of an impression on me at the time except that I felt both energized by it and disturbed by a presentiment that yet another major change was about to happen in our lives.

A few weeks later we heard the full story. At the Land O'Lakes Seminary, Rinpoche began to undergo the same kind of visionary experiences by which he had received the Sadhana of Mahamudra in Bhutan in 1968. In Tibet, someone who has the natural capability to receive visions of new dharma teachings in this way is known as a terton (treasure finder, or revealer) and the teachings he receives are terma. Once he is recognized as such, a terton has to go through a rigorous training process.

There are antecedents for this visionary finding of teachings in the Indian Buddhist tradition, for example in the great masters Nagarjuna and Asanga. The terma tradition was introduced into Tibet by Padmasambhava, the great mahasiddha (Sanskrit, meaning "one of great accomplishment") who brought Buddhism to Tibet, and from whom Rinpoche received the Sadhana of Mahamudra in his visionary experience in Tagtsang. Thereafter, the terma tradition became a way for a fresh perspective, and fresh teachings appropriate to the time, to enter into the stream of Tibetan Buddhist teachings and enliven the more systematic teachings passed down from teacher to student in the usual way in the formal monastic schools. During his youth in Tibet, Rinpoche was known to be a great terton and did indeed reveal many terma while still in Tibet. Terma are said to be revealed in accordance with needs of people at the time, and this seemed to be the time and place for the teachings of Shambhala to re-appear on earth.

In 1975, Rinpoche had mentioned to the Regent that he felt there was a terma coming, and he didn't know anything about it except that it was black. One night at the 1976 Seminary, after Rinpoche had given a talk on compassion, he invited a small group of people to the tiny trailer that served as his residence some distance away from the main hotel. Rinpoche suggested that he and his guests listen to music and asked them what sound might symbolize the moment of enlightenment. Among the albums that he wanted to hear was a favorite album of Japanese koto music (the koto is a plucked string instrument). At one moment, there was a particular sound, a high, slightly dissonant and piercing note. At that moment, Rinpoche said, "That's it!" The other main music that was played that evening was Handel's "Water Music," which Rinpoche played over and over throughout the night. Later, he often enjoyed having this and the koto piece played at Shambhala events.

After hours of listening to music and conversation, in the early hours of the morning before dawn, Rinpoche withdrew with one student, his cook, Max, to a corner of the kitchen where they began doing calligraphy. The three people who were present report that the energy was extremely strong, vivid, and fierce. At one point, Rinpoche executed the first Ashe stroke and he became very animated and energized, making a similar calligraphy over and over again, fiercely, as if he were slicing through the very earth itself. He also told Max to do the stroke repeatedly, urging him loudly to put more strength and energy into it. Nobody understood quite what was happening there. The session went on for about an hour, finishing after the first light of dawn.

One afternoon a few days later, when some people were gathered around in Rinpoche's study, he suddenly started to write on some note cards. He tossed each completed card over his shoulder onto a table behind him, some cards even falling down onto the floor. He acted so casually that no one realized at first that something very significant was happening. This turned out to be the first Shambhala terma, The Golden Sun of the Great East, that described the significance of the stroke of Ashe and how to execute it, as I will explain in the next chapter.

The Regent was due to arrive at Seminary soon after this. Normally, when the Regent visited the seminaries, Rinpoche would wait for him in his suite. On this occasion, however, Rinpoche went down to the front entrance and very excitedly waited for the Regent to arrive. As they walked back to the suite together, Rinpoche was overheard saying to the Regent, "I've got it!"-a reference perhaps to his remark the year before that he felt a terma was coming and that it was black.

At a subsequent welcoming reception for the Regent, Rinpoche began speaking in a tone such that David Rome realized he was saying something important. David quickly got some paper and pen and started writing down Rinpoche's words as fast as he could. When the

Seminary was over a few days later, Rinpoche went to Karme Choling and completed this dictation in the living room of BPB. The completed work was a commentary on the text of The Golden Sun of the Great East, known as the "Auto-Commentary." When Rinpoche returned from Karme Choling to Boulder, a few of us were given type-written copies of the text and Auto-Commentary. I read-them with a mixture of astonishment, excitement, and even fear-but there was also a sense of immediate recognition.

The stroke of Ashe and The Golden Sun of the Great East were followed within the next year by other terma texts. Rinpoche's discovery of these terma was a major turning point-perhaps the major turning point-of his life and teachings in the West. Together these formed the basis of an entirely new stream of teaching coming from the preBuddhist cultural tradition of Shambhala joined with the highest teachings of vajrayana Buddhism. When asked where these texts came from, Rinpoche said that they were dictated to him by the Rigdens, monarchs of the ancient Kingdom of Shambhala, a society in which the cultural forms and institutions were based on the Buddhist notion of egolessness and compassion and in which the citizens aspired to awakening. Shambhala was the model for a type of society that Rinpoche soon began to speak about with increasing frequency as "enlightened society."



THE MEANING OF ASHE

Meanwhile, the Shambhala vision of creating an enlightened society was beginning to unfold. I read with astonishment my typed copy of the Auto-Commentary to the terma, The Golden Sun of the Great East, sitting at the desk in my office. The title of the text refers to a vision of human life and society based on human goodness and the sacredness of the world. Although in its common English usage the word sacredness means "consecrated or made holy by association with an external deity," this was the closest English word Rinpoche could find to describe a world that is fundamentally good and meaningful in its own nature.

The inherent sacredness of the world and the vision of a society based on this is symbolized in the Shambhala teachings by the image of the Great Eastern Sun. Great refers to a vision of sacredness shared by many human societies across all cultures arld ages; Eastern to the wakefulness of, such societies-east being the direction one first looks when one wakes up; and Sun to the limitless and unceasing wisdom and energy available to those who follow this vision. The image of a society guided by the Great Eastern Sun is contrasted with a society of the "setting sun," a society that is dominated by materialism, absence of appreciation of sacredness, aggression, and narrow vision based on self-interest alone. Needless to say, most societies contain a mixture of these two, and it is really a question of which vision dominates.

The central theme of the text is a description of the stroke of Ashe and the meaning of Ashe. Ashe is the power of basic goodness to express itself in the world. Basic goodness is not merely a nice philosophy, or a sense of calm acceptance of everything, but it has a dynamic, active quality symbolized by Ashe. Ashe is said to be a raging great blade that cuts aggression-it is a razor-sharp edge of brilliant light. But it is a two-edged blade and it is held right up to one's own throat, ready to strike at the first move of aggression. And it is said to reside in the center of the human heart. Hearing and reading these teachings, I gradually began to feel enlivened and empowered by this sense of a living, brilliant, blade of basic goodness, in the center of my heart. It gradually strengthened in me the confidence to cut abruptly through my own aggression and hesitation-doubt about who I was and how I could be useful to the world.

This practice of the stroke of Ashe is outwardly very simple: standing or kneeling in front of white calligraphy paper, with a bowl of black ink and a calligraphy brush, you make one stroke down on the paper. But the, primordial stroke is not merely a stroke of calligraphy. It is a message from awake mind of how to rend the veil that normally prevents direct experience of the sacredness of our world. The practice of Ashe takes us directly and immediately to mind beyond concept, while at the same time it is expressed in a thoroughly direct and physical way. Thus, by practicing the stroke we began to feel the reality of the Shambhala teachings at a profound level of mind and body; we saw the real possibility of fully joining mind and body, heaven and earth. We began to discover, for ourselves, that spiritual energy is not fundamentally different from physical energy. And we began to see how this might lead o being able to manifest this enlightened energy on this earth.


From Jeremy Hayward's book, 'Warrior - King of shambhala - Remembering Chogyam Trungpa. - Wisdom Publications, 2008"
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Ashe Mahamudra retreats

Post by passel » Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:27 am

More Ashe links- kind of interesting but a bit of a hodgepodge:

http://balkhandshambhala.blogspot.com/2 ... -ashe.html

http://shambhaladzogchen.blogspot.com/2012/09/ashe.html

Then there's this:

https://shambhala.org/about-shambhala/t ... -training/

Describes the franchise model. Maybe Trungpa was not so much the Hendrix of TB as he was the Ray Croc.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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