Sakyong Mipham: The Foundation
Sakyong is a lineage of teachers of the Buddhist tradition who have helped enhance the world during times of dispute; the word itself means “earth protector”. The previous Sakyong was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the current Sakyong’s father. Before Trungpa brought Shambhala to the West, where the Sakyong Mipham’s foundation is centered, the lineage had thrived for over a thousand years in Tibet.
Dedicated to spreading compassion and peace, the Sakyong created The Sakyong Foundation to help the growth of the Shambhala community. The foundation acts as an umbrella organization that helps support, both financially and spiritually, the Buddhist vision. Shambhala Buddhism is dedicated to contemplative growth of human courage as a basis for universal peace.
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The Foundation’s main goals are to increase the Shambhala impact over time via endowments and to inspire kindness through working with communities. The Foundation has been doing well since its establishment raising “over $2.6 million in gifts, earned over $400,000 of investment profits, and made grants of over $2.2 million” (Sakyongfoundation.org/about-the-foundation). Apart from this the foundation has extensive endowment funds reaching around 300,000 with hopes of having 20 million by 2020. An endowment is a fund that’s preliminary investments do not disappear. Every dollar given remains in the fund. Typically one needs about 25,000 dollars to start an endowment, but they can continue to grow and are self-sufficient helping whatever organization they are named after.
The Sakyong Foundation has several endowment funds. The Sakyong Fund is arguably the most obvious. Directly guided by The Sakyong, this fund is the main financial backing for the growth of the Shambhala vision. Every year half of the funds will be directed towards humanitarian projects like building roads in Tibetan refugee towns, or supporting children in the Surmang region. The other half of the fund goes to Shambhala projects like starting retirement funds for aged teachers. Another endowment fund is directed for the dorje kasung, otherwise known as the Shambhala Buddhist military. Often misunderstood as a violent organization, the dorje kasung is based on an old Tibetan dharma protection tradition. The purpose of the group is to protect spaces of meditation practice and study, though they offer other services that invoke compassion and wellbeing.
The Boulder Shambhala Center is the first strictly Shambhala center to receive an endowment fund. Having been created with 60,000 dollars in 2010, but it quickly grew to 100,000 by 2012. The Center helps the Boulder community and hopes to reach over one million in funds soon. Unlike the center, a more recent endowment was started by the Shambhala People of Color Scholarship Fund. The fund is directed as aiding people of color to further their education in a way that will benefit the society as well as people of similar backgrounds. While these are few in number, the endowment funds have seen substantial growth in the last few years and are all dedicated to providing financial aid to those dedicated to making a better world.
Named after The Sakyong’s mother, the Konchok Foundation was created after his first visit to Tibet in 2001. When in Tibet, The Sakyong took responsibility of the Surmang dynasty and its people. The foundation is centered on aiding the traditional, educational, spiritual, and philanthropic needs of Tibetans in the Surmang, Kham, and Golok regions. The fund has helped generate several schools and a monastic college where over three hundred kids are learning languages, literature, writing, and mathematics.
The Living Peace Award
Along with the endowments and organizations of the Foundation, The Sakyong created the Living Peace Award in 2006. The award recognizes a group or individual who has had a global impact of compassion and amity. The XIVth Dalai Lama was the first recipient and there have been several since, inspiring acts of kindness in the world.
Legacy of Kindness
The Sakyong Foundation is an amazing umbrella organization that started at a run. In a world where pain is prominent, the foundation helps plant seeds of peace. The endowments help nurture the growth for ongoing humanitarian efforts around the world. In being an umbrella organization, the Foundation does not discriminate against religion, race, ethnicity, or gender; it simply strives to help all individuals as much as possible. As its mission statement says so simply:
“Established by the Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, the Foundation and its partners provide leadership and financial support to organizations and projects whose activities exemplify the vision of Shambhala: a contemplative tradition grounded in the view that the path to peace for individuals and society is based on the cultivation of universal human qualities of wisdom, compassion and courage.”
Sakyong Mipham is an important Buddhist teacher and world peace leader. The Foundation marks only a fragment of his ongoing contributions to humanity.
- Kate Mattes
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