Inspired Kasung

Newcomers to a Shambhala Center are sometimes taken aback by the presence of the uniformed Dorje Kasung whose motto is “Victory over War.” Darryl Burnham is a longtime practitioner and senior member of the Dorje Kasung. We asked him to share his experience and to illuminate a bit of this powerful practice. 

Darryl BurnhamHave confidence to go beyond hesitation. This is the first slogan of the Dorje Kasung. This slogan is more profound to me now than when it was first introduced to me 36 years ago. That slogan and the sixth, “Not afraid to be a fool,” have kept me on the dot through their incessant popping up into my life almost daily.

Each time they do, I am inspired. Not only inspired to be reminded to be present to my life, but also inspired by the tremendous appreciation I have for this path of meditation in action––the Dorje Kasung.

The Dorje Kasung is a protector practice. Once a practitioner of the Shambhala Buddhist path begins to open to the world there are so many things that sabotage such openness. The ka of kasung is about command. Here the command is to awaken to our inherent goodness, to the genuine sense of our being. Sung refers to protection.The Kasung protects the mind of open heart, wakefulness. Dorje refers to an indestructible quality. It is diamond-like. The command to open for wakefulness has a sharp, indestructible quality to it.

The Dorje Kasung are those who have been inspired to proclaim, embody, and manifest such a command to protect open heart and awake mind on the path of kasungship.

My favorite posting as a Kasung is at the front door, especially for public meditation practice and programs. This is where I have an opportunity to represent our sangha, our lineage of teachers, and our teacher. This is where I best realize the meditation in action aspect of Kasung practice. The seat I sit in at my desk post is likened to my meditation cushion. Being on post requires an allegiance to that seat just as in my meditation practice. Extending the genuineness of presence becomes a powerful reminder for all who pass across the threshold into our practice center.

For a Dorje Kasung, establishing presence in such a situation provides a unique experience where the directness of perception and experience is heightened. I feel an intimacy in my engagement with everyone I encounter. When there is an exchange in genuineness, my confidence is realized. Such confidence cuts through any fear of my being a fool. There is no hesitation to go beyond preconceptions and habits that undermine my sense of wakefulness and genuine presence.

I look forward to put on a uniform as a Dorje Kasung to serve our sangha. I am inspired to be open and awake in the world––on this earth. I am inspired to protect the openness inherent in all beings where an appreciation for living becomes an expression of wakefulness and joy.

Please join us. Every Thursday night at 7:30 we have Kasung Night. Our conversations, what we have to share with each other, brings us into a heartfelt reminder about what being a refugee and a bodhisattva is all about.

I am inspired.

Things are happening.

Good, bad, happy, or sad . . . . hope to see you there.

Darryl Burnham is a longtime student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, having met him in 1974. His practice and study of the Buddhist and Shambala teaching began in the San Francisco Bay area. It has continued since his move to the Los Angeles suburb Monrovia in 1998 when he became a member of the Los Angeles Shambhala Center. In 2004 Laura and Darryl, sharing the buddhist/shambhala path, were married. He is the Windhorse Regiment Commander for the Dorje Kasung that includes the Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix, and Albuquerque Shambhala Centers. He is a student and teacher of the Sun Tzu classsic Art of War. He is a Shambhala Art teacher, meditation instructor, contemplative photographer, musician, poet, writer, and co-leader of the Healing Circle. Practicing life constantly expands his intimacy with his teacher, the sangha, and Laura in the company of their two aged cats, Louis and Cali.