It’s Losar, Shambhala Day, the Eastern New Year of the Tiger! But first—Dön Season. (Watch Out)

Via on Feb 10, 2010

year of tiger "marguerite sands"

The [Metal Tiger] Keng Yin 2010 year symbolizes toughness, generosity and wealth earned with hard work. 2010 year is a dutiful, family oriented and dependable year. 2010 year of the metal Tiger, may show his love in terms of how hard he can work for the loved ones. Now in 2010 year of the Tiger you may not express your feelings in words but make up it by deeds.

Illustration of the coming Eastern New Year, year of the Iron Tiger by Marguerite Sands. Check her web site here.

Every year since I was a child, New Year’s Eve was special, but little more than a lead up to Shambhala Day, when my American Buddhist community gathered, pulled our “Sunday best” out of storage, meditated, chanted, burned damp juniper in a sort of purification blessing and drala-magnetizing ritual, danced in a full-on fancy British-style Ball, listened to an international Dharma address by our guru (with funny commentary preceding by our own resident comedian, Marty Janowitz), attended brunches at households all over whatever town I happened to live in…it was a full, special, helpful week of celebrations.

But the 10 or so days preceding, we’d do very little. Stick close to home. Practice meditation, chant sacred reminders about wakefulness. We’d avoid travel, big decisions, business moves—the week or so directly before the Eastern New Year is considered a time for contemplation and cleaning up the accumulated karmic dust bunnies from the year before.

It’s called Dön Season.

From the Shambhala Web Site:

Shambhala Day marks the beginning of the New Year, and is the most important holiday of the Shambhala Mandala. Based on the traditional Tibetan new year’s celebration of Losar, the day is calculated astrologically according to the Tibetan lunar calendar, and changes every year to coincide with the annual lunar cycles.

On Don Season, via one of our community’s most senior teachers, the Dorje Loppon:

Protector Principle

Averting the Negativity of the Old Year

by Dorje Loppön Lodrö Dorje

The year end Mamo Days practice [chants] is a means of clearing up the environmental negativity of the whole year.

It is traditional at this time to invoke the transforming power of realization in the form of the Dharma [Buddhist teachings] Protectors’ practice. The karmic forces which shape our world are both personal and collective. We are caught up in the momentum of conditions around us, for good and ill. We share virtue, exertion, beliefs, conflicting emotions, prosperity, difficulty and sickness with our family, our community and our country. We are continually reacting to and contributing to the general energy.

Just as the motion of the earth and the cycle of the seasons take place, there may be also a cycle of the karmic forces on a psychic level. Traditionally the end of the old year is seen as a time of the ripening of karmic tendencies. The Protectors’ practice at this time is a way of actively purifying and transforming the accumulated negativity.

Outwardly, this negativity manifests as discord, opposition, desires, accidents. Inwardly, it manifests as emotional fixations, sickness and unbalanced inner energy in the psycho-physical body. Secretly, it manifests as fixed beliefs concerning ourselves, and the reality of subtle and spiritual aspects of existence. For instance, we might think that the psychic and spiritual forces of life are solidly and definitely external from our own awareness. Or we might think that such dimensions positively don’t exist and don’t function at all. Both extremes create trouble for us.

To help deal with this accumulated karmic force, we attune ourselves to the lineage blessing in the form of the larger and compassionate mind of practice, and invoke the Dharma Protectors, who are the form of enlightened energy with the role of transmuting and overcoming such environmental negatively, outer, inner and secret. The Drala Principle [invoking and connecting with sacred energy, wakefulness] also has this function, in part.

What makes this a real communication, rather than just a religious practice done with wishful thinking? Perhaps we could think of our four factors: First, keeping our own conduct and awareness straightforward and kind. Second, keeping openness to the fundamental nature of our awareness, which is inseparable from the awakened Masters of our tradition. Third, keeping familiarity with taming, riding, and transmuting our own personal energies, through our lungta and our vajrayana practice. Fourth, paying attention properly to the details of our lives. These factors tune us into the energetic background of our life in a sane way.

Bonus, an old Shambhala Day talk.

For old times’ sake, here’s Trungpa Rinpoche’s 1984 talk. Remember specifics about the year may not apply, but the general spirit was so touching I had to put this in. Again, courtesy the Chronicle Project, a site worth supporting (it’s working to preserve history and teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche in the West:

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: Cheerful Shambhala Day.

Students: Cheerful Shambhala Day Sir.

CTR: It is a great pleasure for me to talk to you all. Not only in this room alone, but overseas and students of Vajradhatu. I hope that we all will have good time and good year, particularly good practice. We had a very positive year, and no doubt we will have also positive year in this year.

It is particularly year for us to develop sense of humor. Particularly it is year for [us to] express non-theism, and no doubt that it is year for further cheering up. It is year of experiencing interesting gap in our lives. Some people might feel that there is a sense of loss, confusion, and some people might experience year of making decisions of our lives. But we shouldn’t be afraid of those problems.

The reality, strangely enough, has four legs and it’s hairy [laughter]. Occasionally it has two wings. Sometimes it is ornamented with two horns. Life is not all that bad. It has enormous cheerful possibilities. Wherever you are, you will find great smile. One never knows who is smiling, or for that matter, what we are smiling for. In short, please make sure that there is no frivolity, and make your decisions [in] accordance with the practice of meditation, and with sense of humor. This is year of making decisions: economic, social, education, and so forth.

As far as the Vajradhatu is concerned, we are grown up, growing further. We are learning more. We have learned from both mistakes and wisdom. It is year for us to not panic, and develop sense of humor.

I am very pleased with all the students — how much exertion they put in their practice, and effort. It will cause longevity for me, and therefore I would like to thank all of you. But let us continue, let us go on. Let us expand. Cheerful Shambhala Day to all of you with lots of love. Let us play together.

Thank all of you. Please enjoy today, and rest of the year. Don’t give up. Continue. Thank you.

© 2008 Diana J. Mukpo

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12 Responses to “It’s Losar, Shambhala Day, the Eastern New Year of the Tiger! But first—Dön Season. (Watch Out)”

  1. [...] all for the non-theistic understanding of all the infinite points of dharma, but when it comes to Don season I revert to a strictly superstitious interpretation. In one of the more memorable Don Seasons in my [...]

  2. [...] a small space and sees no options. So, it’s easy to fall into the trap of Little me in the Don Season — especially if you don’t pay [...]

  3. In Boulder, you're all invited to join me and hundreds of others for Shambhala Day. Probably in your hometown, too, wherever you are.

    Brunch info in Boulder:
    Shambhala Day Brunches
    Directions are from downtown Boulder.
    Copies of this list will also be available on Shambhala Day morning at BSMC)
    Sunday February 14th, 2010

    Erie: Paul and Fiona Cattermole (720) 887-2819
    1172 Conway Street, Erie Village, Erie, Co 80516
    Take Arapahoe Ave. East out of Boulder, and cross Hwy. 287
    Take a left on E. County Line Rd.
    Continue North about ½ of a mile after the Stop Sign near schools.
    Turn left into Erie Village (CW Bixler Street).
    Take left onto Allen Parkway. Circle left around the park and then take a first right onto Conway St.
    The house is about a block North of this turn (red house with a pig as a weather vane) on the left.

    Jamestown: Wendy and Tim Stokes (303) 449-7145
    14 Main street Jamestown, Co 80455
    Take
    Broadway North out of Boulder to N. Foothills Highway
    Go about 5 minutes (about 5 miles), then take a left on Lefthand Canyon Dr
    (CR-94)
    Go 9 miles up to the town of Jamestown
    Go left at the only stop sign (in front of Fire House)
    We're the 5th house on the left.
    PS Cell phones don't
    work in the canyon, but ask at the Jamestown Mercantile cafe if lost.

    Niwot/Longmont: Bill Lyford and Trudy Van Leuven (303) 678-5462
    1104 Holly Ave Longmont, CO 80501
    From 28th North turn right onto Diagonal Hwy.
    Turn right onto S Bowen St.
    Turn left onto Holly Ave.

    Central Boulder: Hamish and Sophie Maclaren (303) 444-2889
    445 Marine St Boulder, Co 80302
    Take Canyon Blvd West to 6th Street
    Turn left on 6th Street
    Turn right on Marine Street, house is on the right.

    North Boulder: Marlene Zaleznick (720) 771-1257
    2975 13th Street Boulder, Co 80304
    From BSMC, go West on Spruce
    Turn Right on 13th; house is on left between Cedar and Elder.

    South Boulder: Kim and Blair Hansen (303) 499-2215
    990 Hartford Dr. Boulder, CO 80305
    West on Table Mesa Dr.
    Left on Ithica.
    Left on Table Mesa Dr. East
    1st Right on Hartford Dr, 2-story house on left.

    Marpa House: (303) 444-9307
    891 12th St. Boulder, Co 80302
    Drive South on Broadway 0.7 miles
    Right on Pleasant St.
    Left on 12th St, Marpa House is on the right side of street.

  4. [...] This year is supposed to be kick-ass. No more painful, horrible, hypocritical 2009 or 2008 or, really, any of the 00’s. How better to get into the spirit of the Year of the Tiger than act 12 again, close the door, dance alone in front of the mirror, and pretend you’re Rocky? [...]

  5. [...] of 47 (Sol Halpern and I think that’s it, anyway), Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche just announced, on Shambhala Day, the celebration of the Eastern New Year of the Tiger, that he and his Lady are expecting a child. The first trimester having been completed, it’s [...]

  6. [...] friend @DirkJohnson recently forwarded me a link to a video of this year’s Losar celebration, the Tibetan New Year, at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s [...]

  7. [...] Buddhist thought, it’s particularly easy to fall into the trap of Little Me during the Dön Season—the time just before the Eastern New Year, each year—especially when we don’t pay [...]

  8. [...] Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (Videos), my Buddhist teacher, on the cover of an early elephant [...]

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