Touching Grace -Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche & Bishop Andrus at Grace Cathedral, 2012


Touching Grace [church bells] Good evening. I’m Marc Andrus the Bishop of the Diocese of California and welcome to Grace Cathedral your Majesty Sakyong Rinpoche [Creating Enlightened Society. March 2 2012. San Francisco] it’s a great honor for Grace Cathedral to host an auspicious event like this. Just a few words before we hear blessed words and inspired words from the Sakyong. [Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche] Grace Cathedral exemplifies what Episcopal cathedrals, Anglican cathedrals, hope to be; and that is a house of prayer for all people. We also hope to be a container for human energy as it seeks to transform and connect to divine energy. So it is very special to have one of the great spiritual leaders of our day and our world to speak here. This is a moment of global transformation. Today Pancho Stierle, a young man who was arrested in Oakland meditating in front of City Hall during Occupy in a completely non-violent protest, was interviewed on Alternet; you can read it there. He is a native of Mexico and a citizen of Mexico and is undocumented in our country. Immediately he was put in jail and proceedings began to deport him. Thousands of people rallied around Pancho because of his non-violent witness and he has been able to remain in San Francisco and in Oakland continuing his work of non-violence. In the interview today he said that it is time for spiritual people to become active and for active people to become spiritual. I think this is our common goal and our task. It is with great honor and pleasure that I welcome you and you your Majesty.>>Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: We are living in a culture where if you mention the words kindness or love, especially against greed and aggression, they seem futile. And it feels like at this point we are going down a road where aggression and greed are going to take over. However as I talk to more people in any sphere, whether in business or spirituality, there is an inherent sense of “What are we doing?”. So part of the notion of this enlightened society; and I want to just discuss these two words, that the notion of enlightenment here is not a Utopian fantasy; enlightenment here means to illuminate or be aware. And it means to be aware of what? Of our most inherent principle. So the notion of enlightenment is not necessarily we are all knowing; but we are aware and feel good and there’s a recognition of some inherent worthiness. Often the word enlightenment is being used to mean that we are other worldly; but the word enlightenment here specifically means we are self aware, as opposed to being hidden or deceived or ignorant. And society is generally understood to be the network between individuals. And so any society has to have some basis of communication; so that basis of communication of any society can be monetary; it can be based upon wealth. It can be based on our principles; but the notion of enlightened society is, that it’s a society based on humanities most inherent principle: that of goodness, completeness and worthiness. In our society we are so busy we do not have time for others. And that’s a very powerful situation because when somebody is not acknowledged, they are not respected. And to a certain degree a lot of the difficulties in society and the anger is somewhere; somewhere along the line somebody was not acknowledged, and they became angry or hurt and that escalated. So I think at this point, even though the global issues are enormous, there’s a quality of we are all human and we’re trying to find our way. So it is a time where it’s more important than ever to ask the question, of “Who am I and what am I doing?”. So we are living at this time where if we can step back, especially with the recent financial difficulties, which are still continuing; we have all been shaken to the ground about what’s real. So we actually have an opportunity to say, “What are we doing and what kind of world are we creating?”.>>Questioner: I had an experience the other night, a personal experience of totally overcome with fear, which I recognized immediately was attachment, of losing something and it…. That night I couldn’t sleep and it just was relative to everything else in the world at that point; of people being overcome with fear and the economic crisis and all the changes in the world and out of that reaching out and being more compassionate, out of a forced situation, to their fellow human beings. And it seems like this timing right now is kind of really relative to that; and is this part of the unique nature of everything that is happening economically around the world at this time in a way to force our goodness; bring it to the surface?>>SMR: Well I think part of the… this one part of the economic situation I feel like is that the economy is there to support life and make life livable; but clearly the economy is incredibly mixed now with the purpose of life and what the values of life are. And I think, to a certain degree, that structure has been there in a sense to make us feel safe; and now we don’t feel safe; and it brings us back to what you’re saying letting go of something that’s going to save us. And we need to now be there and recognize that. So it’s good you know you started with letting go, but not giving up. This is exactly where we are at I feel like this is that.>>Questioner: I have another quick question, what do you wear when you play golf? [laughter]>>SMR: This is a secret.>>Questioner; No [laughs, laughter]>>SMR: Well I don’t run in the robes. [laughter] Even although many people have said, “It would be so cool if you ran in the robes”. And I go, “Not for me”. [laughter] Thank you. Thank you everyone. EDIT: Etan Neville. CAMERA: Ethan Neville, Stu Sweetow. PHOTOGRAPHERS : Andrea Roth, Ethan Neville. © 2012 Shambhala Media

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