Who Is Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche?

Senior Shambhala teacher, Shastri Matthew Lyon speaks in the video above about the Sakyong and why he is such a special teacher and person.


Hear about the meaning of the title 'Sakyong' as it relates to being the leader of the Shambhala community and the keeper of ancient Tibetan wisdom. As well, find out what it means to 'transmit' wisdom and how the Sakyong actually personifies what he teaches, making it much more powerful. Yet, for as much as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is a master of these teachings, he is also an example of how we can live them -- as a regular person who embodies the natural qualities of a good human being. And hear about how he is a unique teacher, having both eastern and western influences.

"On one hand he is a visionary but on the other hand he embodies the natural qualities of a good human being"


Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Meaning of the Title Sakyong

The title Sakyong means earth protector and in the Tibetan wisdom tradition the title of Earth protector is only held by one person at a time. His father Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche held that esteemed title and now the Sakyong has inherited it as a transmission from his father. What does that mean? As a earth protector the Sakyong embodies and transmits some of the highest wisdom teachings that are available to us on this planet. How is that a protection? He holds in his being in his mind some of the highest wisdom that humanity has ever developed and the protective aspect of that is that with his integrity, he is holding the preservation of that wisdom for future generations as a beacon for Humanity. He represents some of the best qualities that we can aspire to and in this kind of tradition in the Shambhala tradition, which comes from Tibetan wisdom.

What It Means to ‘Transmit’ Teachings

We speak of this principle of transmission. That awakened mind and wisdom teachings are transmitted from one person to another as a living reality not just as an intellectual set of ideas or philosophy or a set of principles but they actually transmitted energetically as a real living experience from one person to another. As the protector of these wisdom teachings, the Sakyong also has that particular gift -- that ability to transmit  the real experience of awakened mind, awakened heart, and essential human wisdom to others. This comes from many, many direct generations of development, many generations of this kind of transmission being given from one person to another. The idea of transmission is one has to him embody and actually manifest the teachings that one is talking about one really has to walk the talk.

Sakyong Mipham Lives the Shambhala Principles

In addition to being known as the earth protector and protector of these high wisdom teachings the Sakyong is also known as master warrior. The meditative warrior is a person who manifests bravery, courage, skill, wisdom, and exertion in the service of compassion. The Sakyong manifests as a master warrior and that he is a supreme example of the actual living embodiment of those principles. His vision for the world has to do with the fact that he embodies the basic goodness of humanity, the basic potential that humanity can achieve and aspire to. That basic goodness is regarded as in our inherent wisdom, our inherent potential, our inherent wakefulness, our inherent ability to make a contribution to this world.

In order to do that in the context of a master warrior one has to really develop oneself to a high level. One has to really have the gift, hold the gift, of deeply inspiring other people. That inspiration doesn't come from just being smart or skillful. It comes from a very profound sense of connecting with a larger vision beyond oneself. It comes from the ability to uplift people and help them to see that an awakened mind is possible for individual human beings. As such, his own sense of awakened mind is a beacon for others. It's a light for us in that’s dark and chaotic times as well showing us that human being can be like this. A human being can be extremely skillful and brave and vision area in the service of a more compassionate world and the Sakyong manifests and embodies that vision.

The Sakyong’s Vision for a Better Society

A part of that vision is his commitment to his proclamation to the principle that enlightened society is possible on this earth. It's a vast vision. It's a very provocative aspiration. Extremely profound. As such, he is very courageous in promoting this vision not just as some kind of ideal that could exist far off in the future, some kind of utopia that’s maybe a fantasy. But the Sakyong is very assertive in teaching and promoting the idea that enlightened society can be very real on this earth because of the basic inherent goodness and basic inherent wisdom that exists in all human beings.  Because individuals are basically good, society can be good. His continual persistent and indefatigable expression of that message characterizes him.

Combination of Visionary and Regular Person

So on the one hand he is a visionary but on the other hand he embodies the natural qualities of a good human being.  A person that you can relate to that you can talk to about ordinary things. He's very unique in terms of his background. He’s the son of Tibetan mother and father, born in India born at the place in India where the Buddha attained enlightenment.  He traveled to the west when he was around seven years old. He has this Tibetan Heritage's in his blood and the Tibetan wisdom teachings in his blood but the same time he grew up in the United States mostly and is totally immersed in Western culture so he is a person bridges two worlds.

Shambhala Brings Eastern Wisdom to the West

This is really symbolic of the auspicious situation that we’re in the Shambhala community and in this culture in general, in which Tibetan wisdom teachings that have been debated over many, many centuries are available to us in the West. In the very nature of his life and his life experience the Sakyong manifests that situation that he embodies and transmits this Tibetan wisdom but he's also thoroughly immersed and engaged with modern culture. In many ways he's an embodiment of the principal enlightened warriorship that we aspire to and those qualities are present in his being. They're also present in his life story so he's very fascinating individual.  

Definitely in my experience having studied with him for many years, he’s a master warrior who truly has the powerful ability to inspire people not only in his visionary teachings but in his manifestation as a human being. He is a person who has a very large vision. He is a person who we also can connect with on a personal level through the heart.