Sharing Shambhala, Part II, November 13, 2021

Reflections on Part I Summary

Sadness seemed to be pretty common among all the groups, and I think that may be part of our path to reconciliation. We all are familiar with the genuine heart of sadness, certainly now firsthand, if we weren’t before.

So hopefully that is some of the lubricant that we can use to understand each other better, and realize how deeply personal each person’s and each group’s feelings are. Not to change each other, but to understand and to put ourselves in each other’s place. We can’t become someone else, but we can try to understand other people.

I’m a trauma therapist, and I’m looking at it with a trauma lens. And I feel like what stops us from moving forward is really being activated by our own feelings. The deeper we go into our feelings, if they’re trauma triggers, that creates a lot of disruption. The deeper we go into this, there is more activation for some of us. That’s where it feels stuck to me.

I’m studying with the Sakyong, and my primary concern is the survival of the Shambhala vision, which my understanding is actually a very inclusive vision. I think trying to limit things down to any particular group is a disaster. I hope we can avoid that.

What I’ve understood from the more advanced teachings of Shambhala is that the blessings for understanding the teachings come from the lineage. And so without a teacher, you wouldn’t understand the deepest teachings. You just wouldn’t have the means. And that’s something I can’t explain in a Western language, but I’ve experienced it myself, so I have faith in it. So maybe there’s a part of Shambhala that everyone can’t access without having a relationship to a teacher. And I know that’s always been the case.

I think the difficulties are that people on all sides of this question have something in their life that is that is absolutely too precious to lose. And a fear of what will happen if that is lost.

What actions can we take to move further?

I’m definitely not in favor of going back to business as usual. The same sort of Tibetan medieval, totalitarian, patriarchal governance structure is a disaster for the modern world. It doesn’t work. And it’s probably never worked, and caused harm to a lot of people for many years. We can’t do that. We’ve got to have a far more representative, comfortable system of governance.

Traditionally, it takes time, place, teacher, teachings, and students for the teacher to teach. And I think until there’s some degree of harmony, the teacher won’t teach in Shambhala. I’m not saying people have to change their beliefs to create harmony, but somehow we have to work out in our own local communities and our international community. Addressing harm, addressing inequality, addressing power issues. And I want to put out a word of optimism that that we are doing this—just slowly, slowly, in our Shambala way.

I am sensing that other people who are studying with the Sakyong are concerned about how others are impacted or perceiving them. And I think that’s why we need to have these conversations. Because I don’t think any of us are bad people, you know. But somehow, from a relative perspective, we can’t really move forward until we have these conversations with each other.

It’s this process—this talking, this struggling with each other but not quitting, just staying with the process. There’s there’s a lot of groundlessness here, we really don’t know, we really can’t figure out some way to solve this problem. And I think we just have to stay with it and keep with it. Sometimes I feel like maybe I should just quit Shambhala, but I think no, I’m not really ready for that yet. I need to stick with this a little bit longer and keep trying to communicate. I think on both sides, we need that.