Shambhala Governance, March 10, 2021

Selected Quotes

Governance and the Community: Hierarchy

I really think that what we need is a very clear hierarchy. And I know the word hierarchy is not popular. But I think the clearer the hierarchy is, the safer everyone feels, and the more the communication can flow up and down and all around. And so I want to destigmatize the word hierarchy, and ask that we have good hierarchy, that hierarchy is okay. And that the clearer it is, the better people actually feel.

I think I’d like to see more distributed authority and responsibility from Shambhala governance. It can it can be clear and and still distributed. I think centralized authority and responsibility creates a single point of failure potential. That can break down; I think we’re experiencing that.

And people are feeling a gap in leadership from the top down. And one can help to avert that by having distributed authority and responsibility. Distributed also can help with the burnout problem.

So I’m really a fan for more of a distributed model. But it does have to be clear. And the lines of communication and how that distribution works.

I’m contemplating the bottom-up aspect of a hierarchy when it’s done the way I think a mandala is done. I see that it can look like a hierarchy, if you think in terms of hierarchy. But every person in the mandala is empowered, and they need to hold their seat in order for the model to work. And so they have authority; they rule their own worlds within the world of the model.

I’ve seen a lot of confusion about who what empowerment individuals have. I think we lost the bottom-up quality, and that felt oppressive. There’s something—it might be in the training or just, I thought of it as coaching for the lower rung of a hierarchy, which is actually just the outer rung of a mandala—as maybe be the way to help things work better.

Governance: Challenges

What is the relationship of the local Shambala centers to the international organization? I think centers feel like they have more authority than they really do under the current structure. I think there is a a potential confusion that comes into play.

We had an experience where the council and the director of my center took on a huge project that was strongly supported by the center of the mandala, and it turned out that many of the members really did not agree with this, and with the project. This was over five years ago, and that underlying tension continues to this day.

The Director model is problematic: the Director has all the authority and has mandate from the center of the mandala. The Council has none. I was part of a center where the director dissolved the council. Although Council members complained to SGS staff, they talked to us but in the end nothing was done.

Centralized authority raises concerns about too much power in one place, and centralized responsibility leads to burnout.

The old problem is not being addressed—the same people in leadership positions, burning out, without newer people to replace them.

Regardless of the model, and the structure, there’s human tendencies, right. And one of our human tendencies is to actually want to give away our authority. And then we begrudge that after we’ve done.

Governance and the Community: Congress

I’m on the Governance Models group in the Process Team. We came up with four different models, and the one thing that those four models have in common is something along the lines of a Congress.

I really believe that that’s the way we need to go. But I’m not sure how much real real interest there is in it a Congress; how many people are really willing to put that time into doing that?

I went to all of the congresses in the Richard Reoch era. And that was when I started to feel like the Shambala ideas started to land real in samsara, very, like earth, joining heaven and earth. And when they stopped, I remember being very upset.

I really feel like the current Process Team could turn into a Congress. Like the seed of it is there. And there could be more and more people, representatives from different groups, and places and, you know, factions and whatever could be on the Process Team. The Process Team has already established itself as a functioning group. And we could head that way if people had interest in it. But I don’t know if people do.

One thing about Congress could be that it wouldn’t just be geographies, but it could be representatives of groups. And I love that idea, because there are natural, like affinity groups that form along many different identities. And if they’re substantive enough, they should be represented, right? Especially since now, we’re communicating with people all across boundaries.

Governance and the Community: Delegs

Our deleg was a little bit like the sociocracy sounds. We had a center, and then we had four autonomous little groups that had their own gatherings within our center. It removed the bottleneck of the Leadership Council, which was really a major bottleneck for us. And we had thriving little projects and things and we just checked in, and it eliminated that bottleneck.

And it created a lot of close associations. We were like a family in that. I was like a little stem group within the center. We all got together on Sundays and on programs, but we had our own things that where you saw other people, the same people, more regularly.

A deleg was an original neighborhood. People would gather in each other’s houses, and have fun, and food, and also discuss issues. And there were deputies who would represent all deleg desires and concerns, and bring that to governance. It was both that people have good relationships with each other, and also send in messages to the authorities. They feel more comfortable talking about the hard things because they know each other, and they care about each other.

I really loved the the salon idea that the Sakyong had some years ago. We started doing that in our area. We had salons, which is much like a deleg.

The deleg idea fits with the Congress idea too, because the dekyongs could be on the Congress.