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How to Invoke Magic

Excerpts from: ‘Shambhala – 
The Sacred Path of the Warrior’
By: Chogyam Trungpa

Compiled with Italic notes added

(Copied without permission, I just can’t be bothered and this stuff needs to be shared and lived. Ed.)

“The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. This wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come only from the West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of human warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history.” P. 28

Look for and find the basic goodness in all aspects of life, even if it is an imperfect situation.

“Through the practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be, as you are, you develop genuine sympathy toward yourself.” P. 45

" Acknowledging fear is not cause for depression or discouragement. Because we possess such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear.” P. 48 “Without that heart felt sadness, bravery is brittle.” P. 50

Shambhala bravery is not being fearless of enemies or intimidated, but having courage to be - to live in the world without deception and with tremendous kindness and caring for others, never swayed by the confusion of life.

“When mind and body are synchronised, then you have no doubt. Synchronizing mind and body is not a concept or a random technique someone thought up for self-improvement. Rather, it is a basic principle of how to be a human being and how to use your sense perceptions, your mind and your body together.” P. 51-52 “The more you look, the more inquisitive you are, the more you are bound to see... Listening and hearing; touching and feeling; Intense emotion and passion; Aggression and jealousy - don't have a language. Synchronising mind and body is looking and seeing directly beyond language. P. 53

The vision of the Great Eastern Sun is based on celebrating life in this awakened state. If we see our messes and our fears, we can clean them and restore them to their natural 'basic goodness', which begins by telling the truth, being honest with ourselves and others no matter how unpleasant it may seem at first.

However, we are more accustomed to the darkness (enclosing ourselves in a familiar world in which we can hide). In this cocoon we eventually feel claustrophobic, so we open our eyes and see the light of the 'Great Eastern Sun'. But if we don't look back to the cocoon, we will create a new one containing some of this light. By constantly looking back, it inspires us to go forward in our journey of warriorship. This journey can make us daring to open ourselves to others. Paradoxically a warrior then finds himself alone with his own truth and love of the 'basic goodness' of the world. This love and loneliness enables a warrior to constantly reach out to help others.

A warrior is never amazed; he stays seated in the saddle of life. To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life. Be ego-less. A warrior never gives up. A warrior's duty is to generate warmth and compassion for all others. A warrior avoids temptation and is always inquisitive, so that he won't be fooling himself by relying on belief alone.

When you have trust in your world, you are willing to expose yourself, and you trust it will give you a message, either of success or failure. Those messages are neither punishment nor praise, but a seed for further journeys forward.

When you begin to enjoy the discipline of warriorship, when it begins to feel natural, even though it may still feel very imperfect, that is the time to 'let go'. Relax and enjoy the challenge (in the light of the great eastern sun), as opposed to the setting - sun version of letting go (to escape reality for a while eg: vacation, getting drunk). Letting go is also being without deception of self and others.

Now-ness is being aware of everyday life (eg: driving, cleaning etc.). When corruption enters a culture, it is because that culture ceases to be now; it becomes past or future. Vision and practicality can be joined together in now-ness.

The magical quality of existence (Primordial Wisdom) is beyond any enemy or conflict, because it has no duality only now-ness.
“There is some principal of magic in everything, some living quality.” (P. 104) We see things display their harmony and their chaos at the same time. Establish ties to your world, so that each perception becomes unique. “To see with the heart, so that what is invisible to the eye becomes visible as the living magic of reality.” (P. 105)

When you are fully gentle, without arrogance and aggression, you see the brilliance of the universe. Avoid habitual patterns and beliefs, because they are like blinkers, stopping your widened perception. Humanity must stay connected with heaven and earth, therefore look at pre history and pre thought, but you must apply this wisdom with now-ness.

Chapter Thirteen: 
‘How to Invoke Magic’

(PP. 107-115)

The phenomenal world that all human beings experience is fickle and flexible and also merciless. You often wonder whether you can ride on that fickle and merciless situation or whether it is going to ride on you. To use an analogy, either you are riding on a donkey or the donkey is riding on you. Ordinarily, in your experience of the world it is questionable who is riding on whom. The more you struggle to gain the upper hand, the more speed and aggression you manufacture to overcome your obstacles, the more you become subject to the phenomenal world. The real challenge is to transcend that duality altogether. It is possible to contact energy that is beyond dualism, beyond aggression – energy that is neither for you nor against you. That is the energy of drala.

Drala is not a god or spirit, but fundamentally it is connecting the wisdom of your own being with the power of things as they are. If you are able to connect those two things, out of that, you can discover magic in everything. But there is still a question as to what it is that allows you to make that connection. In the last chapter, the drala principle was likened to the sun. Although the sun is always in the sky, what is it that causes you to look up and see that it is there? The basic definition of drala is “energy beyond aggression.” The only way to contact that energy is to experience a gentle state of being in yourself. So the discovery of drala is not coincidental. To connect with the fundamental magic of reality, there has to be gentleness and openness in you already. Otherwise, there is no way to recognise the energy of nonaggression, the energy of drala, in the world. So the individual training and discipline of the Shambhala warrior are the necessary foundation for experiencing drala.

The setting-sun world, based on fear of oneself and fear of death, has no connection to drala principle. The cowardice and aggression of the setting-sun outlook actually dispel any magical possibilities, any possibilities of experiencing the genuine and brilliant qualities of reality. The opposite of setting-sun outlook and the way to invoke drala is to manifest the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Great Eastern Sun vision, which we discussed in earlier chapters, is the expression of true human goodness, based not on arrogance or aggression, but on gentleness and openness. It is the way of the warrior.

The essence of this way or path is transcending cowardice and manifesting bravery. That is the best and only way to invoke drala: by creating an atmosphere of bravery. We have already talked in earlier chapters about the qualities of bravery. The fundamental aspect of bravery is being without deception. Deception in this case is self-deception, doubting yourself so that you are cut off from the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. The dralas can only descend onto your existence when you have properly prepared the ground. If there is the slightest deception, you will dispel drala. From that point of view, deception is the magic of the setting sun. [Deception is also what Wallace Black Elk calls a shadow of doubt. Ed.]

Usually if we say someone is brave, we mean that he is not afraid of any enemy or he is willing to die for a cause or he is never intimidated. Here bravery is the courage to be – to live in the world without any deception and with tremendous kindness and caring for others. You might wonder how this can bring magic into your life. The ordinary idea of magic is that you can conquer the elements, so that you can turn earth into fire or fire into water or ignore the law of gravity and fly. But true magic is the magic of reality, as it is: the earth of earth, the water of water – communicating with the elements so that, in some sense, they become one with you. 

When you develop bravery, you make a connection with the elemental quality of existence. Bravery begins to heighten your existence, that is, to bring out the brilliant and genuine qualities of your environment and of your own being. So you begin to contact the magic of reality – which is already there in some sense. You actually can attract the power and strength and the primordial wisdom that arise from the cosmic mirror.

At that point, you begin to see how you can influence your environment so that the drala principle is reflected in every activity of your life. You see that you can actually organise your life in such a way that you magnetise magic, or drala, to manifest brilliance and elegance in your world. The way to do this is divided into three parts, which are called the three ways to invoke drala.

The first is external drala, which is invoking magic in your physical environment. This may be as small and limited as a one-room apartment or as large as a mansion or a hotel. How you organise and care for that space is very important. If it is chaotic and messy, then no drala will enter into that environment. On the other hand, we are not talking about a course in interior decoration and spending a great deal of money on furniture and rugs to create a “model environment.” For the warrior, invoking external drala is creating harmony in your environment in order to encourage awareness and attention to detail. In that way, your physical environment promotes your discipline of warriorship. Beyond that, how you organise your physical space should be based on concern for others, sharing your world by creating an accommodating environment. The point is not to make a self-conscious statement about yourself, but to make your world available to others. When that begins to happen, then it is possible that something else will come along as well.

That is, when you express gentleness and precision in your environment, then real brilliance and power can descend onto that situation. If you try to manufacture that presence out of your own ego, it will never happen. You cannot own the power and the magic of this world. It is always available, but it does not belong to anyone.

There are many other examples of invoking external drala. I have read, for instance, that some American Indians in the Southwest grow vegetables in the desert sands. The soil, from an objective standpoint, is completely infertile. If you just threw a handful of seeds into that earth, nothing would grow. But the Indians have been cultivating that soil for generations; they have a deep connection to that earth and they care for it. To them it is sacred ground, and because of that their plants grow. That is real magic. The attitude of sacredness towards your environment will bring drala. You may live in a dirt hut with no floor and only one window, but if you regard that space as sacred, if you care for it with your heart and mind, then it will be a palace…

In summery, invoking the external drala principle is connected with organising your environment so that it becomes a sacred space. This begins with organisation of your personal, household environment, and beyond that, it can include much larger environments, such as a city or even an entire country. [Or even Earth. Ed.]

Then, there is invoking internal drala, which is how to invoke drala in your body… [This is basically caring for your body with all your sense perceptions working in harmony. It is also about caring for your clothes and making proper relationships; relationships with your food and diet, and relationships with what you do in everyday living, and the way that you do it. For example the way you use your mouth, which is at times overused. Ed.]

The basic idea of invoking internal drala is that you can synchronize, or harmonize, your body and your connection to the phenomenal world. This synchronization, or connectedness, is something that you can actually see. You can see people’s connection to internal drala by the way they smoke their cigarettes, or the way they run their hands through their hair. Whatever you do always manifests how you are feeling about yourself and your environment – whether you feel kindness towards yourself or resentment and anger towards yourself; whether you feel good about your environment or whether you feel bad about your environment. That can always be detected by your gait and your gestures – always. It is as if you were married to your phenomenal world. All the little details – the way you turn on the tap before you take a shower, the way you brush your teeth – reflect your connection or disconnection with the world. When that connection is completely synchronized, then you are experiencing internal drala.

Finally, there is what is known as invoking secret drala, which is the product of invoking external and internal drala principles. Because you have synchronized your body so beautifully, so immaculately, therefore you provoke tremendous wakefulness, tremendous nowness in your state of mind.

The chapter on “Letting Go” introduced the idea of windhorse, or riding on the energy of basic goodness in your life. Windhorse is a translation of the Tibetan lungta. Lung means “wind” and ta means “horse.” Invoking secret drala is the experience of raising windhorse, raising a wind of delight and power and riding on, or conquering, that energy. Such wind can come with great force, like a typhoon that can blow down trees and buildings and create huge waves in the water. The personal experience of this wind comes as a feeling of being completely and powerfully in the present. The horse aspect is that, in spite of the power of this great wind, you also feel stability.

You are never swayed by the confusion of life, never swayed by excitement or depression. You can ride on the energy of your life. So windhorse is not purely movement and speed, but it includes practicality and discrimination, a natural sense of skill. This quality of lungta is like the four legs of a horse, which make it stable and balanced. Of course, in this case you are not riding an ordinary horse; you are riding a windhorse.

By invoking the external and internal drala principles, you raise a wind of energy and delight in your life. You begin to feel natural power and upliftedness manifesting in your existence. Then, having raised your windhorse, you can accommodate whatever arises in your state of mind. There is no problem or hesitation of any kind. So the fruition of invoking secret drala is that, having raised windhorse, you experience a state of mind that is free from subconscious gossip, free from hesitation and disbelief. You experience the very moment of your state of mind. It is fresh and youthful and virginal. That very moment is innocent and genuine. It does not contain doubt or disbelief at all. It is gullible, in the positive sense, and it is completely fresh. Secret drala is experiencing that very moment of your state of mind, which is the essence of nowness. You actually experience being able to connect yourself to the inconceivable vision and wisdom of the cosmic mirror on the spot. At the same time, you realise that this experience of nowness can join together the vastness of primordial wisdom with both the wisdom of past traditions and the realities of contemporary life. So in that way, you begin to see how the warrior’s world of sacredness can be created altogether. In the following chapters, we will investigate that world more thoroughly.

“A warrior never needs to take time off. Trying to relax by slouching or indulging in habitual patterns only produces schizophrenia.” (P. 122) “The constant search for immediate entertainment is a big problem.” (P. 123) “By stopping habitual patterns, we can appreciate the real world on the spot. We can appreciate the bright, beautiful fantastic world around us; we don’t have to feel all that resentful or embarrassed. If we don’t negate our habitual patterns, we can never fully appreciate the world. But once we overcome habitual patterns, the vividness of the drala principle, the magic, will descend, and we will begin to be individual masters of our world.” (P. 124)

“Some people feel that the world’s problems are so pressing that social and political action should take precedence over individual development. They may feel that they should sacrifice their own needs completely in order to work for a larger cause. In its extreme form, this kind of thinking justifies individual neurosis and aggression as purely a product of a troubled society, so that people feel they can hold on to their neurosis and even use their aggression to try to effect change.” (Page 125 - 126)

“The basic message of the Shambhala teachings is that the best of human life can be realised under ordinary circumstances. That is the basic wisdom of Shambhala: that in this world, as it is, we can find a good and meaningful human life that will also serve others.” (P. 145)

Warrior: A person who is balanced, physically, psychologically and spiritually.
Truthful: Not just spelling out truth, as it becomes your truth or mine.
Imply truth: Study the imprints or steps that lead to truth. Begin at the beginning.
Drala: Heavenly-love-energy, beyond aggression and arrogance.
External drala: Home, room, city, country, and earth. If your home is chaotic and messy then no drala will enter into that environment. Make your world available to others.
Internal drala: Relates to the way you treat your own body, both inside and outside.
Secret drala: Comes from combining the other two, and communicating respect for others.
Renunciation: Giving up self-indulgence and being ego-less. Learn to be genuine. A warrior never gives up.
Primordial Wisdom or Cosmic Mirror: The magical quality of existence. Primordial, meaning unconditioned or before anything, including a thought, is formed or created. It is neither for nor against. In science it is what the Big Bang came from, The Great Mystery.


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