500 words, are you kidding me? That’s the number of words I’m allowed to quote without needing special publisher permission. If I could, I’d quote for you most of chapters six, seven, eight, and eleven. I found those chapters the most profound and life changing. I’m not saying that lightly. Here’s one quote I put on Twitter while reading this book: “Every moment has its energy; either it will ride us, or we can ride it.”
Let’s start with some definitions. Shambhala is a word that means “source of happiness”. From my understanding, it was the area of Shangri-La, now obtainable through meditation. The author goes into much greater detail of this, some of which is abstract for folks like me, who come into this mostly uninitiated. The author’s title of Sakyong means to be “an earth protector, protecting the goodness by awakening other to it.” It is much like the Indian dharmaraja (dharma king), or the Chinese sheng huang (sage ruler). The author inherited the title from his father; this book describes much of that transition.
Now let’s get to the good stuff. “The principle of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It is about how humanity at the core is complete, good, and worthy.” The author says THE SHAMBHALA PRINCIPLE moves “beyond the parameters of Buddhism” and goes to talk about supporting “the unique qualities of various traditions”. He says that everything boils down to this: “humanity is good, and good is the nature of society.”
It’s a lot to take in, but the process is a worthy endeavor. No matter your religious belief system, you have much to benefit from this book and its practices. Both Eastern and Western cultures are blended together to reveal the virtue of mankind. The author mentions Plato (virtue meaning humanity), Aristotle (virtue meaning “manifestation of the good”), Buddha (“Let whatever you are doing become your meditation, and your path will deepen”), and many others. The author states you become virtuous by “being mindful, feeling compassion, and exercising patience” which leads to “pleasure and lightness of mind.”
One of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s books comes to mind when the author states, “Appreciating where we are right now is a helpful antidote to depression.” That quote came spawned from the author’s father’s teaching of, “Be where you are and who you are. That’s how to cheer yourself up.” Furthermore, what I learned from another book called HARDWIRING HAPINESS was reflected in this statement by Mipham: “Even if it is only finding time to take a shower or to feel good that we made it to work after missing the bus, we need to find small victories in the day—and slow down enough to appreciate them.”
As with my review of THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, and as alluded to above, some thoughts may appear abstract to many. Such things include non-weaponed warriors with visions of the future and communicating through snapping fingers and touching chests. Also, the end-book applications to global economics and health were interesting, but a bit too far reaching for my understanding.
For what I gained from reading this, the value is immeasurable. Many ideas are gleaned from others; this is a nice crystallization that presents a new vision. My life is bettered for reading this.
Thanks to Harmony, Crown, and Random House for providing this book for me to review.
And one last quote, “The day does not have to be perfect in order for us to feel a sense of celebration.” Let us all go and enjoy our special day.
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