Sacred World and Meeting the Sakyong

Sacred World Assembly, Dechen Chöling 2017 – an experience encompassing past, present, and future. The preparation, the reflection and the experience itself as it happened, which then becomes the past as it unfolds. This in itself is a mind conundrum! It felt like a long time coming, a lifetime of preparation, in a way, leading to this special event. A precious opportunity to deepen my practice and a crucible for anticipation, doubt, hope, and fear. I read and studied a lot in preparation, virtually online, which was interesting, and also contributed to the doubt of my readiness for this big event. Doubt, doubt, and more doubt. The mundane decisions to be made that could affect my mental equilibrium. The sleeping arrangement!- finally going for the tent option and glad to be sharing it with someone I knew. Pondering how these small, but affecting changes to my normal routine created anxiety and fear. How would I manage without the elements that make my world comfortable: fluffy pillows, soft towels, a hot shower whenever I wanted it, and no queue for the loo. Eventually steadying the mind with practice and choosing to get excited and let go and relish the prospect of 3 weeks of teachings with two of the possibly most inspiring Acharyas and some kind of meeting with the Sakyong, whatever form that would take. My mind whirled with possibilities.


Now I’ve been home in Bristol almost 2 months, Paul asked me to contribute my experience to the newsletter. So it’s now immersed in the beautiful, precious Vajrayāna Ngöndro practice and feeling so connected to my fellow Tantrikas that reflecting on those 3 weeks that now seems like one long golden dream it’s difficult to know how to describe it. Words seem so limited and just cannot capture the visceral sensory experience of what it was like being in a large white tent in rural France with around 150 magnetising humans and the embodiment of our lineage, the earth protector, the Sakyong. But try to picture this.


The bluest of skys, deep azure, cloudless. Sizzling, shimmering heat. So hot all the sides of the tents needed to be opened by the Kasung revealing the most beautiful rural French countryside. Despite the intense beauty of the outside vistas – inside was equally mesmerising. The Sakyong in all his golden, glorious goodness, exquisitely dressed in the brightest silks, seated on a throne, the most beautiful Rigden shrine I have ever seen, dazzling, the delicate aroma of juniper from the lhasang pot, the human arms and legs of the shrine, meticulously attended by the gifted chöpön Alexandra, Acharyas, Shastris, MIs, 135 fellow Tantrikas from all over the world, two benches full of translators, a vast array of audio equipment at the back, to provide the clearest sound. All of this surrounded by Dralas. Definitely the crackle of the Dralas was everywhere, the 35 degree shimmering heat, the gigantic trees, the deep azure cloudless sky, the crickets, the snakes, the owls at night, the loudest thunderstorms I have ever heard. The rumbling of the thunder when the Sakyong first gracefully entered the tent. It was indeed a feast for the senses.
The biggest realisation for me is that you can’t experience another human being from books alone. To see the Sakyong and to be in his presence was so precious and so delightful. For me it was a very personal and deeply affecting experience that really endures. The gentleness, the compassion, the generosity, the dignity, the love, the intelligence, the grace, the humour, and the wisdom have to be experienced in the real to be fully understood and appreciated.

I am now closer to understanding this beautiful paragraph from Shambhala the Sacred Path of the Warrior: “The challenge of warriorship is to live fully in the world as it is and to find within this world, with all its paradoxes, the essence of nowness. If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, we will find that this world is a magical place. However the discovery of that magic can happen only when we transcend our embarassment about being alive, when we have the bravery to proclaim the goodness and dignity of human life, without hesitation or arrogance. Then magic, or drala, can descend into our existence.”

It is the vivid dreamlike magical, Drala-filled experience of Sacred World Assembly that has changed me forever and I am forever grateful.



Fiona Hull started her Shambhala journey at the London Centre, and now lives in Bristol, where she is the new Culture and Decorum Representative.


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