This is part of a series in which I conduct short interviews with teachers from different Buddhist lineages in an attempt to promote non-sectarianism while at the same time developing a deep appreciation for our differences. Acharya David Hope is a senior teacher with the Shambhala Community and a student of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and his father Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
How did you discover Buddhism? At what point did you know you had found your path?
I met a man from Sri Lanka who impressed me with his calm and cheerful disposition. I learned that he had spent time in a monastery there, and had learned meditation. He gave me my first instruction. Later I practiced TM for many years, but it was not till I started to encounter some of Chogyam Trungpa’s senior students that I realised that his Buddhist approach was the right path for me.
Could you describe the qualities or personality of your particular lineage?
I see it as strongly experienced based, rather than philosophical, theoretical or academic. It is also totally accepting of our human idiosyncrasies, seeing them as fuel for our path rather than as problems that have to be solved. It is joyful, life affirming and celebratory.
What is the importance of love and compassion in your tradition?
They are regarded as fundamental qualities of our human nature that are inherent, though they can often be somewhat blocked or inhibited. It is therefore important to encourage and develop our ability to express these qualities freely.
Has your experience of reality changed through your practice of meditation and could you say a little about that?
Yes, it has changed in many ways that are somewhat hard to describe. I can say that I now see reality as more fluid, indefinable, non-conceptual, rich and multi-faceted than I did before.
What obstacles do you foresee for Buddhism in the west?
The prevailing materialistic outlook that dominates human thinking and behaviour almost everywhere in the world today tends to undervalue or ignore the ’spiritual’ dimension of life. Buddhism and all genuine spiritual traditions will face a challenge in reaching those who are caught up in those ways of thinking.
You can find out more about Acharya David Hope and the London Shambhala Centre here.