Making the journey of Shambhala warriorship, opening our hearts and developing awake fearlessness, depends first on our own personal realization of genuineness and basic goodness. However, in order to continue the journey, it is necessary to have a guide. Ultimately, giving up selfishness, or ego, is only possible if we have a living example, someone who has done so before. This is the notion of lineage in the Shambhala tradition: that is, how the complete realization of sanity can be handed down to a human being in the Shambhala world so that he or she can embody that sanity and promote its attainment in others.
Origin of the teachings:
It is said that the first Shambhala teachings were given by the Buddha to the first king of Shambhala, King Suchandra. It’s said that the king requested teachings from the Buddha and that the Buddha then asked, “What kind of teachings would you like?” Suchandra´s reply was very specific. He wanted teachings that would help him and his subjects, but that did not require them to become monks, to give up their lives and their sensory pleasures. He was concerned that if all of his subjects became monks and nuns, his kingdom would fall apart. In response, the Buddha sent his monks out of the room and gave the first Shambhala teachings.
Transmission in Tibet: Padmasambhava and Gesar
Padmasambhava was one of the principal teachers who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Considered an emanation of the Buddhas, he was an accomplished tantric master who transmitted the full teachings of Buddhism into Tibet in a fearless, uncompromising manner. Gesar of Ling is an epic Tibetan hero, a warrior who is the subject of the Epic of Gesar of Ling and countless stories, real or mythical. However, he was not only a legendary warrior: he was also considered to be a fully enlightened king who manifested the Shambhala teachings in ruling his kingdom. He helped the propagation of the Buddhist teachings in Tibet by making them a part of the fabric of society.
Transmission to the West:
When Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche came to the West, he began instructing interested students in the Buddhist teachings and practice of meditation. He managed to plant true Dharma in the West, and a large body of students grew around him in the West. Given all that he had already accomplished, it was surprising when in 1977 he began to introduce the Shambhala teachings, in order to present the practice of meditation to a broad audience with diverse religious and spiritual affiliations.
However, his interest did not arise suddenly. His connection dated from his training in Tibet, where he studied various texts relating to this tradition. In fact, when he fled Tibet, he was working on a manuscript about Shambhala. Although he did not say much about the Shambhala teachings at the beginning, Trungpa Rinpoche was thinking about how to present these teachings in the West. Then in 1976, they burst into the scene: he began receiving texts related to the Shambhala teachings. In Tibetan Buddhism there is a tradition of certain teachers uncovering or finding texts that were buried in the subconscious mind (or some might say in space) by Padmasambhava. These teachings are said to be received rather than composed. Trungpa Rinpoche began to introduce his students to these teachings, and Shambhala Training was born.
In 1978, Trungpa Rinpoche empowered his son, the Sakyong Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, as his Shambhala heir. Not only had he raised his son as a Shambhalian from early on, but Mipham was also the reincarnation of a famous nineteenth-century Buddhist teacher who wrote prolifically and taught on the Shambhala tradition. It is said that when the first Mipham was about to die, his students asked him when he would be reborn, as was common tradition in Tibet. He responded that he would not be reborn in Tibet, but would go instead to Shambhala.
The Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is now the leader of the Shambhala community and holder of the lineage of Shambhala teachings.