In an earlier post, I argued that many in-person events at your local Shambhala center may not be that useful to those looking to become advanced Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. And in many ways, I think I have a point. However, the online teachings and resources available at Shambhala are pretty terrific. The site is huge, however, and can be overwhelming. Where do I start? How do I know what to do? Here are my two cents about how you can make the most of these resources.
- Online Courses
Every so often, a course is made available that is based on Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings. Shambhala, primarily Judy Lief, has edited the teachings into a series of 3 volumes entitled The Profound Treasury. I am no expert, at all. But this is a great place to start. I do recommend that you have someone like Judy Lief, or someone as super experienced, to guide you a bit.
- Video Teachings:
Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche has a son named Sakyong Mipham, and he is carrying on the vision, in many ways, of his dad. You can watch a ton of videos. If I had it to do over again, I would look for basic videos about what meditation is, on the Buddhist view, and how to do it. What I want newcomers to realize is that while meditation is a huge component of Tibetan Buddhism, it is not quite as simple as I thought it was just by watching these kinds of videos. I sort of got the impression that Buddhists just sat on their cushion for a while every day, and that was what it meant to be a practicing Buddhist. Well, that is not exactly accurate. In fact, it is almost misleading.
In the title of this post, I say that these are “breadcrumbs”. This is because, ultimately, you have to find your way to a physical Tibetan Buddhist center and retreat land. You need to have in-person teachings in a smaller setting, learn the intricate Tibetan Buddhist liturgies, how and when to use ritual instruments, how to act in the presence of a lama and more. Little, if anything, in these videos truly prepares you for the actual practices you will be expected to participate in later on in your Tibetan Buddhist life. Just know that these resources are the tip of the largest iceberg you can imagine.