Core Dharma or Personal Offerings?

A Question

After taking part in a  Tele-course on The Tapestry of Being ( with myself and 50 other folks, Trillium Awakening Teacher Cielle Backstrom asked a very good question about the difference between teachings that are personal offerings and core Dharma teachings.

After receiving my reply she suggested I post it saying:

Dear Krishna,
Thank you for taking time to clarify the distinctions between Core Dharma and Further Dharma and how we don’t expect the Core Dharma to change.  It is like a solid tree trunk that supports the branches of  Further Dharmas.
Maybe some time you will take this writing and post it to your website and/or the site for others to read. Of course, not everyone will care to penetrate so deeply into these distinctions but for those who do you have been very clear.
love,Cielle ( Iowa)

I think that’s a good idea and I thank Cielle for suggesting it.

BTW, I’m not sure that I would go as far as to say that Core Dharma will never change, but that it would take a level of agreement among the teachers as a whole that would be no small thing, like a constitutional convention… that’s a pretty high bar.

On the other hand, personal offerings or further dharma need no such agreement.

So yes, the trunk is quite solid.

Here it is:

Hi CL,

Again I’m very happy that this speaks to you so well.

About Core dharma and the Tapestry orientation, you write:

“Oh.. a question… how do you feel this relates to core dharma?  Are you thinking of this as something more of your personal offering. I personally wish it would be considered core dharma…as what you have taught in the Tapestry of Being and this widens the teacher more fully for me…I feel more included in the map when the spirit world or subtle realms are included.”

How does all this relate to Core Dharma? …A very good question.

It’s not particularly a Tapestry question per se, but since most who took this particular tele-course are involved in Trillium Awakening, I’ll address it with my “Trillium Awakening Senior Teacher hat” on.

Not a question that is necessary to get into in order to do any of this, but one that I would have to address in detail at some point, so this is as good as any. Its probably useful to explore in some detail.

Please be warned: Those who are not interested in such a fine point should know that this exploration might not matter much to you, it might even bore you.

I’ll answer in a short version and a detailed version:

The Short Answer:

So the short answer is that The Tapestry of Being is definitively not Core Teaching and is my own Personal Offering.

It’s not even necessary to be in Trillium Awakening at all to use this orientation well.

There is a real way in which the whole Tapestry can be taught entirely outside the context of Trillium Awakening without any problem, because it’s really about the whole of the spiritual traditions, including Trillium Awakening.

I even think some folks who might otherwise not see the value of Trillium Awakening might become interested in it after exposure to the Tapestry Orientation.

And I’m happy to say that it seems to help many in Trillium Awakening to make further sense of things.

That said, since you’re asking about the relationship with Core Dharma, I’m happy to lay it out in that context.The rest of what I write here may help to clarify things.

The Detailed Answer:

Core Dharma, Basic Teachings

Core Dharma is the most basic of the teachings that are the “big tent” huge umbrella foundation of our Trillium Awakening community.

They are the teachings relating to the Rot, Core wound, Second Birth, Shakedown and Second Life that all the Teachers of all levels of Trillium Awakening are in agreement with and have been understood as such since the founding of the Trillium Teachers Circle (and its previous name, the Waking Down Teachers Association).

They are the basic teaching paradigm that brings so many folks into their second birth and into the Trillium Awakening community. Spend time with the Trillium Awakening Orientation course taught by Trillium Awakening teachers by phone, or the on-line Foundation course offered by IAM to get a basic sense of what we mean by Core Dharma.

As you know I’m quite dedicated to making sure that the core dharma is preserved, protected and passed down, especially as a Senior teacher in Trillium Awakening and a founder of the Institute of Awakened Mutuality (IAM). I wear those hats quite soberly and seriously, as that core dharma is quite precious to me.

Core Dharma teachings are those that when taught, every other Trillium Awakening teacher would recognize and teach the same as well, all in their own individual styles.

Trillium Awakening Teachers’ Further Dharma, Personal Offerings

This Tapestry orientation is one example of what is known as a personal offering of further dharma. These come out of the experience of Trillium Awakening teachers, particularly the more senior teachers in the work. Further dharma is the discovery of those who have been applying and embodying the core dharma over the long haul, and it can have a lot of variety. In the case of the Tapestry it’s my own personal offering, my further dharma.

Certainly my own Personal dharma offerings like the Tapestry are in alignment with and growing out of my own particular long time experience of applied core dharma to my life, but it’s not core dharma in itself. It can certainly support it and shine a greater light on it though. It’s actually a larger context, my own context, in which I see the Core Dharma. But it may not speak to everyone, and I’m not expecting that any other teachers will necessarily hold things this way at all. To the degree that any others might find it helpful, I’m very happy to make the Tapestry orientation available and share it.

Trunk and Branches

So in this regard, when looking at Trillium Awakening in general, it might be useful to think of the Core or Basic Dharma like the trunk of a tree, and the Personal Offerings of long time teachers as specific branches that you may pursue from the trunk.This is true with everyone’s Personal Offerings that are other than Core Dharma. It’s all optional in terms of your own awakening process unless it’s actually Core Dharma.

Whereas embodying the basic core dharma (trunk) is what it means to do Trillium Awakening itself, not every branch (personal offering) will speak to you or be necessary for you as you pursue your own work. On the other hand many find the core dharma only brings them so far before the personal offerings become important for them. Not everyone has needs in the same area and once the basic core dharma is embodied there are a variety of ways this can look.

In terms of the teachers. We all have the trunk in common, but we may (or may not) also have our own teaching developments as branches.

To use another metaphor, we are all descendants of the same family lineage, so we all share that basic DNA.  But while we have that common DNA and are a family, that’s not the only DNA we have, so we are not all identical twins either. This makes our individuation in teaching possible, especially in the more mature practitioners, along side our commonality and harmony.

Core Dharma is a Very Big Broad Tent

That big tent approach has its up sides and down sides.

The upside is that it is very purposely broad enough that many people will feel welcomed into it. It purposely does not require anyone to take on much in terms of group assumptions or beliefs. It’s as pared down in terms of baggage as we could manage.

People from all kinds of places find themselves comfortably and mysteriously under a huge tent of awakening.

The other side of this is that sometimes that very broadness allows for some things to happen that become limits in themselves. This is not so much a “flaw” as something to be conscious of, it can’t be helped really.

Folks who dive into the work make good use of the Core Dharma.  They awaken to dimensions they never thought possible. They  go through the huge transformation of the shake down with their lives tremendously enriched. Their relationships move to new depths of intimacy. And they are thankful.

And… It may take years (or not) but at some point they ask, “What’s Next?”

Now because the Core Dharma has been purposely such a big tent, and purposely vague, people yearn for a more defined picture that makes sense of things. There are many different kinds of people in this position.

At that point there actually are many, many things that can be “next,” there is a huge cultural wisdom among those further down the line who have lived this process, but it’s both very diverse and very particular.

Why we don’t make Further Dharma into Core Dharma, but Why We offer it Passionately When We Do

In terms of those who are elder in this process: Very simply, not everyone has developed in the same way, so our further offerings can be quite different.

For example, not everyone relates to devotion or shamanism, or spiritual guides.

Part of what makes Core Dharma so effective for so many and such a big tent teaching is that it asks the least it possibly can in terms of people being attracted to it’s teachings. You can be an atheist and do Trillium Awakening, no problem at all.

Even after being part of Trillium Awakening for years there are folks who will never even be slightly interested in exploring some things.

There are people who decidedly will not think of the Divine in any personal terms whatsoever, let alone a having a relationship, and that’s really fine.  It’s not necessary for anyone who is in Trillium Awakening to do so, nor do we want to burden anyone with having to who is not moved or curious in that regard.

For that reason there is a lot that may be very meaningful to us personally that will never be part of Core Dharma, nor should it be.

Some folks in this work have found that what has become alive in them as time went on was a passion for “making things happen” or starting new businesses and making money in ways that are reflecting the values they hold. This too is not Core Dharma.

Others might find Tantric openings and finding the Skilled and Superlative Partner to fulfill their Tantric quest for Union and ecstasy is where this has lead them, that too would not be Core Dharma.

Any of those would be fine examples of further dharma that a particular practitioner might be attracted to at a particular time in their lives, but they wouldn’t be something that we’d want to make as a core dharma teaching of Trillium Awakening… we have that big tent, and it serves us all well.

The Tapestry

So CL, coming full circle, I want to say how happy I am that you find that it widens the teacher more fully for you and that you feel more included in the Trillium Awakening map when the spirit world or subtle realms are included.  That’s the reason I’ve wanted to teach this, so that anyone who is naturally inclined to any of these details may find themselves there. It’s the context in which I find myself and all of my process.

While I don’t see this as becoming Core Dharma, I certainly hope that if you find it useful that you will bring it as deeply into your own life and teaching work as you feel moved to.

With Much Love,


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