Part of what makes me feel like I belong to Shambala is the training, the way the Shambhala Training program has been set up. I feel like we’re in a period of offering Buddhism and Shambhala together again, which I feel like I benefited from greatly.
I’m a Dharma art person, and that was so important to me, that the arts are a big part of Shambhala. So there’s certain things about Shambhala, the culture of Shambhala, that are so awe-inspiring to me. That’s why I feel like I belong in Shambhala.
I feel decorum, and it is different than rules. I feel rules can be flexed and move, but I do feel there has to be some strong kind of core. I know what drew me to Shambhala was was the fact that there were rules. I’ve been part of New Age meditation groups, and they would always deteriorate into people arguing over, “Don’t you do it this way? No, you do it that way.”
And I was just so delighted to go to a group where it was like, “This is how we do things. We’ve been doing this way for 2,500 years.” And that’s sort of delightful. Although it has at times been oppressive, there’s some kind of middle way there.
People have so different feelings about the Sakyong, but overall there seems even to be an empathy for what he has taken on that perhaps really reflects each of our own personal predicaments. Lots of responsibilities, and sometimes falling on our faces.
The sanga and the dharma is what fills my bowl.
I feel that the Three Jewels as presented by the Sakyong(s) is too precious to not preserve and promote and make available to the wider world.
I came along with Trungpa Rinpoche, and he had the Buddhadharma teachings and the Shambala teachings as separate. And that’s what I appreciated about them, because it made a route for people who didn’t want to become Buddhist to be able to practice meditation. And when the Sakyong put them together, for me, that was problematic.
I get the impression that there’s this temptation to make Shambhala into a kind of a business model, to attract the most people. And there’s something just really wrong about that to me. So much is already accessible in the mindfulness movement, and I feel like there’s something about us holding an integrity so people can go deep if they want to go deep.
I don’t think we’ve hit our stride with relating to harm. I’m the same way: when I came into this in the late 90s, I heard little stories about this and that, and I didn’t care. I was suffering and I wanted relief, and I was trying to learn how to meditate and I thought you guys had some answers.
And 20 years later, I’m thinking, What would I have wanted to happen differently, even though I would have been on that cushion no matter what was going on? What I would have wanted was to know was that there was some accountability and a sense of collective relating to dysfunctions in in the Sangha. I don’t think we’ve found that yet.
I can remember being at the the first center directors’ conference with the Sakyong at Dorje Denma Ling in ‘89, I think it was. People were asking, Well, what does it mean to be a Shambhalian?. It was a lively discussion, and I was kind of leaning towards, anybody who says they are Shambalian, that’s it. You don’t need to have a pin, necessarily. I mean, you don’t stop somebody on the street who says they’re a Catholic, and give them shit because they don’t go to church every Sunday.
New people come along and want to know where to go and how to do things. One of the things that makes me feel like I belong, is being part of that doorway, part of that gateway.
And what I what I really dislike is feeling as a teacher, or a meditation instructor, or somebody who just shows up, telling people what rules they have to follow. Feeling all these boundaries and hoops and ladders that that are floating out there now.
I would feel much more hopeful if I didn’t have to sort of wait for someone to tell me what was okay and what was not okay.
If I were to move the priorities of my life as departments of Shambala, one of them would be diversity and activism. One of them would be sort of a collective understanding of human trauma. And I think that fits with with what’s has happened in our community in spades, both in terms of white trauma and Tibetan trauma. And the third one would be really the quality of training we have in meditation.
If you took all those pieces in some of them hooked up with the Sakyong and the Potrang and became really inspired by that central stream, and some of it hooked up with Ocean of Dharma and that stream, and some of it hooked up with Open Torii and that stream, that would make me very happy.
So the big oval of Shambala includes people that have stayed in the lower yanas and some people that have advanced in the other yanas, but through these different wondrous areas that never have conflict, or when they do it’s benevolent conflict, like the debate between the Nyingmas and the Kagyus or something like that.
There’s so much going on now that has brought a spotlight—onto the body, trauma, emotions, thoughts, spirituality, neuroplasticity. We are in a world now of potential. And if we become too provincial, or parochial about what we have, we’re gonna miss the boat.
The lineage will continue in different streams, and that feels okay. Ultimately the precious teachings are within us, and we practice to hopefully manifest them in the world.
The world is in a really different place than it was in 1990, when when we went through another trauma in Shambhala. The possibilities seem bigger. For one thing, we’re all so much more connected than we used to be.
We could belong under an Umbrella if we have a sense of respect.
I appreciate this. I’ve learned so much just feeling, and I think it’s a very important part of what we do. I think that we’re finding our sea legs as a community, to understand how this fragmentation and instability has so much opportunity for creativity and connection.
This has been just such a wonderful experience. This is why I’m part of Shambala, because there’s such heartfelt, sincere, genuine caring and wanting to really go deeper and just really include everyone. I love that. It’s the greatest thing on the planet.