NYC Photo-Report: Spirituality in the Modern World with Traleg Rinpoche
September 22, 2006 17:18
The original inspiration for traveling to New York City, Ken and Traleg Rinpoche’s two-day teaching event began on Friday evening (the 8th). Held at the stunning New York Society for Ethical Culture building, Eddie Kowalczyk opened with “Lightning Crashes” and “Heaven,” two of his most beautiful songs. Rinpoche and Ken started things off with a two-hour Q&A session to help gain an understanding of what people felt the most relevant issues were, and how to spend the coming time together. From what audience members expressed, and what Ken and Rinpoche themselves had discussed, it was clear that the overarching title for the event was quite appropriate: “Spirituality and the Modern World.” It’s hard to locate yourself more firmly in the modern world than in downtown Manhattan, and yet here was an auditorium full of people clearly interested in the gifts of contemplative spirituality, and Buddhism in particular.
However, wrapped up in what we often call the “modern world” is at least two distinct worlds, or worldviews: the modern-rational world, born of the Enlightenment, and the postmodern-pluralistic world, born of the revolution of the 60’s—and these two worlds relate differently to anything born of the premodern world, in which nearly all the great spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, began. Modernity believes that religion is irrational, childish twaddle with no basis in reality whatsoever, and postmodernity believes that religion is one of the great bastions of social marginalization, where cultural preferences are held to be eternal truths. While both of these critiques have merit, particularly for mythic-literal, exoteric forms of religion, it’s also true that contemplative, esoteric religion and spirituality hold some of the great jewels of humanity’s collective wisdom—jewels that we simply cannot afford to ignore, and that have not yet found a worthy home in the modern and postmodern world.
On Saturday (the 9th), Rinpoche and Ken continued to look to the audience for what questions to address next, from theoretical queries to personal issues surrounding practice. After the morning session, Rinpoche led people in various pointing-out exercises designed to ground the overall presentation in one’s direct experience. Ken and Rinpoche then finished the afternoon with more interaction with the audience before shifting to the capping event of the day at Tibet House.
As you can see below, Tibet House is home to an astonishing collection of Tibetan Buddhist art, and was a perfect venue for the casual reception and book signing with these two authors. Thanks to the efforts of Shambhala Publications, copies of Ken’s most recent book, Integral Spirituality, were on hand a full month before its formal release date (October 3rd). (Incidentally, Ken wrote the foreword for Rinpoche’s forthcoming book, The Practice of Lojong, which you can find here.) Needless to say, there were many excited people lining up to have their books signed by Ken and Rinpoche, both of whom happily met with folks for several hours. Finally, in a very touching gesture, Rinpoche presented Ken with a small golden medallion emblazoned with Manjushri—the bodhisattva of wisdom (see the photo below). It was the perfect end to an extraordinary two days together....
Traleg Rinpoche is one of our valued teachers at Integral Spiritual Center, and this teaching weekend was a wonderful example of the types of events and outreach we will be continuing to develop (and if you haven’t taken a look around, it’s really one of the coolest sites out there, with live conference calls with Ken, and more). Traleg’s organization, E-vam Institute, did an enormous amount of legwork putting this event together, and we can’t thank them enough for their efforts (and for those interested, Traleg Rinpoche has a teaching center in Chatham, NY).
Below are a series of photographs to help you get a sense of the incredible buzz and energy surrounding this entire event.
The New York Society for Ethical Culture Building
Sam Bercholz, founder of Shambhala Publications, MC’d the event
Rinpoche lightening the mood
Rinpoche leading a guided meditation
Ken teaching in one of the famous "Wyatt Earpy" t-shirts (google it)
Tibet House socializing
Ken and Alex Grey
Alex Grey and Eddie Kowalczyk
Rinpoche signing a book
Traleg Rinpoche presenting Ken with a Manjushri (bodhisattva of wisdom) medallion