Tales of Gesar at Thursday Open House

By Larry Steele

Seattle Shambhala welcomes David Shapiro, author of “Gesar of Ling: A Bardic Tale, as a visiting speaker at Thursday Night Open House on January 16th, 2020. The book translates the epic tale of Gesar, whose magic is palpable in Shambhala culture; it was recently reviewed in the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa.

The story of Gesar is an epic tale of the Tibetan plateau, long sung by bards. As described on the book’s website, “King Gesar was not an ordinary human being but rather a manifestation of the enlightened activity of all the buddhas, brought forth by the strength of their great compassion at a time of despair in the land of Tibet.”

The stories of his life were compiled as woodblocks in the late nineteenth century by a close student of Ju Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912). The first three chapters (volumes) were subsequently translated by Robin Kornman, Sangye Khandro, and Lama Chonam, and published in a meld of prose and poetry by Shambhala Publications in 2012.

“In his reflective and sometimes humorous retelling,” as described on the book’s website, “David Shapiro shares the epic tale of Gesar’s birth, his rather rambunctious and troublesome early years, and his eventual ascendancy to become a heroic legend and leader of Tibet. It is filled with the ancient folk wisdom of Tibet and the guidance of Buddhism, relayed through proverbs, prose, and verse. It is a coming of age story and an epic tale that has the power to change one’s mind.”

“Much of the language of Shambhala found its voice first within the historical bardic renditions of the Gesar Epic,” Shapiro says. “This tale has been told and retold throughout the Tibetan Plateau. Today it continues as a cultural reference of great spiritual and historical import for the Tibetan people. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, apart from the Dalai Lama, there may be no reference of greater import for the promotion and understanding of Tibet and its people. For students of Shambhala and of the Vidyadhara, having a clear understanding of the Epic and its history, its content, and the sense of its meaning is critical.”

The talk will begin at 7:30 PM on January 16th, and will be preceded by one hour of meditation. All are welcome!

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