Cynthia Kneen is a senior student of Chogyam Trungpa (1939 - 1987), the renowned Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditation master who brought the Shambhala social vision to the United States in the 1970s. She is a co-founder of Naropa University, author of Shambhala Warrior Training (a series of best-selling audiotapes), and a workshop leader for more than 25 years. Kneen is also a practicing management consultant in Boulder, Colorado. In a time when the power of military warriorrs is covered daily in the news, it is important to celebrate the sacred path of the warrior that emphasizes compassion not violence.
Kneen's inspiring interpretation of the Shambhala training begins with a salute to the basic goodness within all human beings. The path of the warrior calls this "the soft spot." Kneen then discusses the importance of heart: "When we say a person has heart, it doesn't mean they are weak and sentimental. We mean they are willing to be exposed, willing to be touched nakedly by the world. They are strong enough not to wear a suit of armor. They are not afraid of their experience. In this sense heart is one hundred percentness of experience. . . . With a strong heart, you are able to be gentle and sympathetic to all your experiences, not only the pleasant ones." The times desperately call out for people with "a joyful and a sad heart" that is able to empathize with others.
Kneen moves on to a discussion of meditation as a practice that leads to an awake mind. The warrior is challenged to step outside of his or her comfortable cocoon and to see clearly. The author quotes Chogyam Trungpa who once quipped: "No state of mind is a V.I.P." The warrior learns how to work with fear and courage but not in the standard ways.
A really terrific chapter is devoted to discovering greater vision, capitalizing on windhorse energy, and attaining dignity. The warrior also has a highly developed sense of equanimity that is perfectly summed up in the phrase "Couldn't care less." Or as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche said, "Couldn't care less is what allows you to get up in the morning and work for others' benefit without having a stake in the outcome. It allows you to transcend grasping. It allows you to take a fresh look."
By all means, take a long, hard look at Shambhala training as a way of developing gentleness and tenderness in your heart. Think what a world we would have if these warriors were leading the way!