I’m attending a “rights of passage” session with my eldest son for one week at the Shambhala Mountain Center. It is a retreat designed to help a child begin the process of separation from his/her parents in a healthy manner.
Most cultures around the world have some kind of ceremony or activity that marks this transition. Perhaps you are given a sling shot and must now tend to the safety of the family’s herd of yaks. Maybe in an agricultural community you become responsible for an important part of the harvest. Whatever it is, it signifies the first change in your status from child to young adult. You begin to take responsibility for yourself and your immediate community.
In the West, there aren’t too many opportunities for this kind of new responsibility to be assumed by a child. One area that each of us can be tasked with is to begin to understand our minds. In particular, how to quiet our minds so that we may better understand ourselves and thus be a better citizen of the community. At this retreat, my son will be engaging in activities that cultivate a quiet mind- calligraphy, Kyudo (Japanese archery), haiku and of course, meditation.
Sounds good, no?
BTW- The Shambhala tradition was begun by Chogyam Trungpa in the early 70’s. Historically, when Tibet was occupied by the Chinese in the 1950’s, the great teachers fled and ended up scattered across the globe. Chogyam was one of those teachers who made it to the States. He took Tibetan Buddhism and combined it our western cultural mentality to make the Tibetan wisdom more approachable. As with many forms of Buddhism (so I’m told), it is centered around sitting meditation. Being, not doing…
Here are some wonderful photographs taken by Chogyam Trungpa during his life. They are really quite fascinating.