Sakyong Mipham—Is Meditation Selfish?

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Sakyong Mipham

The King of Shambhala comes to Hotelephant


Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis.

Waylon sits down with Sakyong Mipham, Shambhala Buddhist Teacher, and talks about how meditation can help us create a more enlightened society.


Last year, Waylon sat down at the home of Sakyong Mipham, a leading Buddhist teacher, to discuss his “Shambhala Principle”—his book that shows us how simple it is to save the world from ourselves, by re-rooting ourselves in our fundamental goodness and acting mindfully from that powerful place of love.

About two years ago, Waylon was honored to speak with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, an avid marathon runner, leader of the international Shambhala community and meditation master, about his book, Running with the Mind of Meditation:

The New Yorker Features the Sakyong:

Elephant is psyched to be working in partnership with Google+ on our new live video series, which features three live videos a week (that can be watched later, too).


The Sakyong believes revealing humanity’s natural worthiness and strength is the key to creating good society. Our meditation is not to hide from the world, but to allow us to be more socially active and intelligent with how we help our world.

Over the past year, the Sakyong has been actively working with the youth violence occurring in Chicago by working with over 20 partner organizations and City Hall. The Mayor of Chicago just accepted a Peace Platform from the Sakyong.

In May, the Sakyong and Pema Chodron are leading a retreat near San Francisco aimed at helping us understand how our meditation helps us to be more socially active and work with compassion to benefit our world. Find out more about the retreat here.




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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photos: Sakyong Mipham

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Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis is fun, yet fundamentally serious. We aim to be “The Daily Show of mindfulness,” spreading the good news beyond the choir to those who weren’t sure they gave a care. Our videos are featured on more than 20 sites, including Fan us on facebook too.

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anonymous Apr 4, 2014 12:29pm

As someone who has tried to meditate and found it quite difficult to do, I think Sakyoung's way of explaining it made it feel more accessible. No talk of imagining lights, energy, colors, etc. I always had a problem with that. I'm really glad I tuned in.

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 7:39am

Great interview! You both look + sound great!

anonymous Apr 2, 2014 10:15pm

Great job with interviewing Rinpoche, Waylon. you should get a screen grab of your goofy expression as you were trying to read Laura's question. It was priceless.

anonymous Apr 2, 2014 6:14pm

I meant to say "slang" on #4. My parents are critical of me using the word mindfulness all of the time. They just don't understand how deep it runs and think it is like the hokey pokey. Ahh. . . The differences between generations. Laura

    anonymous Apr 2, 2014 6:21pm

    I think, personally, if I were to answer your question, I would say that being able to be focused, present, pay attention…is timeless as a skill. It's basic, nothing hokey about it. Whether we connect with truth through prayer, meditation or other means, it's a helpful thing to do.

      anonymous Apr 2, 2014 6:29pm

      My parents do that and are quite bright, but the word bothers them. Not sure why. They see it as a trendy word that is popping up everywhere and find it silly. They ask me why I use 'that' word so much!

      But I understand where you are coming from and agree 100%.

anonymous Apr 2, 2014 4:45pm

Questions/Comments from the Live Google+ Conversation with the Sakyong & Waylon Lewis:

1. Secular mindfulness is widespread in the popular media. Given the proliferation of mindfulness, how can we apply the principles of mindfulness to various contexts while staying true to the tradition and the essence of the teachings? ~ Aaron Manier

2. If there was one thing you would ask viewers of today's broadcast do every single day, what would it be? ~ Lodro Rinzler

3. Rinpoche, thank you kindly for this opportunity, and for your generosity. Could you share your views on how meditation/Shambhala can address issues of extreme trauma, such as from violence, child abuse, experience of war, etc.? Thank you. ~ Lorre Fleming

4. There is a sub-set of the older community that feels this is a slag word or a 'hippy-movement' of sorts. It would be good if we could draw more of these people into these ideas so they see the benefit. How would you decide to address a person like this? ~ Laura Kutney

5. Nice question Lorre Fleming, we all have trauma. Mine happens to run deep. I would like to know how the effect of meditating and healing can effect people with PTSD and how that translated to more healed people in society. ~ Laura Kutney

6. We talk about mindfulness, but do you feel it has more to do with the mind or the heart? ~ Laura Kutney

7. He said that we should do our own work and decide for ourselves to follow his teachings or not. Do you think The Buddha’s action to leave his family is selfish? Is The Buddha a good example of an enlightened person in modern day society? ~ Edane Padme

8. Have you thought about Hypnagogia (the moment before sleep) is important to think about during meditation. do you try to reach that state when you meditate. I am very interested in this state of having the body asleep but the mind in hightened awareness. ~ Laura Kutney

9. In the story of the Buddha, it’s mentioned in the beginning that he had left his wife, Yasodara and his new born son, Rahula to seek an end to suffering. He went through years of trials and later on found ‘Enlightenment’. ~ Edane Padme

10. Good question, Edane — one a lot of people have. As I've come to understand it, a lot of it has to do with different times. And Buddha did reunite with his family later. ~ Albert Melfo

anonymous Apr 2, 2014 2:20pm

That was incredible! Thank you so much! xo, Laura

anonymous Apr 1, 2014 2:03pm

Please ask the Sakyong why he feels it necessary to replace the existing secular Shambhala teachings and the existing Kagyu and Nyingma teachings with a new form of Buddhism, called "Shambhala Buddhism". What is the benefit versus presenting the existing teachings in a way more adapted to the modern world?

    anonymous Apr 2, 2014 6:19pm

    Sorry to miss this! Happy to ask. We were taking questions mostly if not exclusively through Google+, that's where I was looking during the interview. I am happy to do a more Shambhala-focused conversation, and I think Rinpoche would be interested in going over such confusing and sometimes divisive subjects for the sake of clarity and re-fired-up community.