Shambhala Governance, February 24 and March 5, 2021

Selected Quotes

Governance, Buddha Principle, and the Sakyong

Me with my teacher is starting to become a very personal thing, like a secret love affair. I don’t like it at all. It’s very uncomfortable.

You can’t practice when you’re surrounded by people who hate your guru. It’s very, very difficult when you don’t feel safe in your practice environment, or in your meditation centre.

The Sakyong is clearly the absolute leader of the lineage and makes all decisions with that regard. He would benefit from a council that he listens to and would that would not simply rubber stamp whatever he says. He would further benefit if his council included significant diversity. Changes like this will require some “growth and maturing” of the Sakyong. Perhaps that is wishful thinking.

If the Sakyong comes back heavy duty with appointing its own board, asserting his authority in all matters, and requiring oaths of loyalty, our local group would probably sever their connections to the Shambala organization, as some groups already have.

In our group, there was some talk about the Kingdom of Shambala, and how it depended on a charismatic king that everybody was loyal to. And we don’t have that anymore. So we need a governance form that will allow us to manifest these teachings on basic goodness, and how to uncover it. That includes everybody, not just people who want to be part of the kingdom.

We need to clarify what the role of the Sakyong will be—what does he want to his role to be?

Governance and Dharma

We aspire for latitude in the range of teachers who can be invited to Shambhala Centers, preserving the core Shambhala values of wisdom and compassion.

I think that that’s a governance issue, the extensive Shambala branding of everything, and exclusion of other teachers and other traditions.

My curiosity is, does governance lead the ship? Or do the teachings and aspiration for what we offer to the world lead? And does governance support that?

I’m really struck by the difference between the form of governance and the quality of conduct in governance—genuineness and leadership with heart is more important perhaps than how the building blocks are arranged.

To state that the role of governance being a practice, I love that concept, that school that’s been around for many decades of servant leadership.

Governance is practiced as life is practice, right? As Buddhists or Shambalians, or so on. And then we step into these roles and responsibilities.

Governance, Sangha Principle, and the Community

Wanting to propagate a view of the basic goodness of everything, and the workability of everyone, and the workability of situations is what’s holding our local community together.

I personally feel that each of us need to begin to be responsible for transparency and accountability, and not put it all on them, by learning about power and learning about sexual harm and learning about the issues that have been in disagreement that have created so much harm, so much pain over the years.

I feel like the culture of Shambala, the environment, the banners, the Kasung—the whole culture is involved in governance, and that everybody involved can help to support that.

Governance and the Community: Division and Inclusivity

Our crucial question right now is, How are we going to heal this? Or are we going to, I mean—I think we’re headed for a polite divorce. That’s what it sounded like from the letter from the Board and the Potrang.

It feels like in the centers that have real problems and divisions and schisms, that it is this certainty that one side or the other is right, and then the others are completely wrong.

I think maybe one of the biggest needs to address is the business of being inclusive. I think we need to kind of look more at, How do we really accommodate all these different points of view without sort of throwing people?

Inclusivity is very important, including both groups of Sakyong students and those who aren’t.

Inclusivity is the most important quality—we will need it to begin anew here in our local center—full membership and mutual respect among those needing or wanting the Sakyong for their spiritual path and those not wanting to relate to him.

We all want to avoid the “boys’ club” aspect of VCTR’s and SMR’s governance teams.