Shambhala Practice and Study Paths, March 11, 2021

Bringing Students Together

We tend to be siloed. Sometimes the Vajrayana practitioners are very separate from some of the newer people. And so we’re trying to find ways to bring together older generation with newer generation students, and just find situations to connect on a human level.

We’ve done many more classes now that have no prerequisites and are not prerequisites for anything else. Those classes tend to be filled with people from all the different levels. We’re finding it tremendously refreshing.

It’s like a one room schoolhouse, and there’s a tremendous healthiness about that that I used to miss in our stratification system, which constantly separated us into smaller and smaller specialty groups.

I realized I made a cocoon out of Shambala. And on some level, every level of Shambhala that I did gave me another credential and another club membership.

Looking Forward: Opportunities and Inspiration

I think we have more than we need to support each other and students in the foundational teachings. We can draw from many, many Shambhala resources and beyond.

Coming from a small center, it’s always been a challenge for us doing more than one kind of program at a time. The wealth of experience that’s been gained in the last year with doing programs online opens up a whole lot of possibility for people in smaller centers to access different programming.

The local programs that are not affiliated with a process or a path can bring all different levels of people together. That’s a plus. On the other side of the coin, one of the great things I believe that Shambala has is that there is a path and things are interconnected. And there is a sense of clan and camaraderie when you go along the path together. There are people that I remember very clearly in each of the different levels.

And so I think where I land is there’s value in both. It just takes some planning, and how we organize the offer, so that we can have a sense of community and have offerings that engage people at different levels to come together.

Looking Forward: Suggestions

I came wanting to talk about what is the nature of path altogether: if it is not for somebody who doesn’t to become a Vajrayana student of the Sakyong, or maybe doesn’t want to become a Vajrayana student at all, but still wants a path, like a Mahayana path, or that has a strong relationship with Pema’s teachings, or the arts. We have many people like that.

I feel like Shambhala should support these diverse paths. It feels like it might be up to us to do some thinking about what a path looks like all together for these diverse possibilities.

Will the Sakyong maintain the primary teaching role for people who want to go on into the Vajrayana? Or will there be a Shambala that is more umbrella-like, and welcomes teachers from other traditions? There’d be merit in it going either way, but without some clarity around that, I don’t know how to support advisory on our future.

Every level of practice needs to have a level of embodiment along with it. It might have something to do with community service, or better commitment to decorum and Code of Conduct kind of things, how we relate to each other.

What did we learn in this level, and how can I apply this to my life? Rather than going through all these and then coming out thinking that we made progress, but still not really treating the world very well.

It feels like it would be helpful is to learn how to be in our bodies: both to understand our own our own trauma and where we get stuck, but also where wisdom comes from in the heart and the body.

I don’t see a lot of emphasis on that in our community. For me, part of the frustration is, Where did our body go? Let’s bring it back.


The breadth of views and the insights people shared are very hopeful to me. They inform my considerations and direction in the discussions we have at my local centre, and I am optimistic about the ongoing directions in the larger sangha. Thank you everyone.

Appreciate what everyone shared and giving expression to many things that I’ve felt but have not been able to articulate well. Reminded me that we’re all going through this painful-joyful journey of Shambhala together — that no matter how we feel there are others who feel similarly.