May 2019

The Shambhala Process Team (PT) work is in full swing, as the May updates demonstrate!

The Process Team Steering Committee (SC)

The Steering Committee facilitated a full-PT gathering via Zoom for the first time on April 27th (which you may remember from last month’s update). During this two-hour meeting, PT members engaged in the practice of Storytelling and generated a conversation and feedback about the proposed Code of Ethics developed by An Olive Branch. The PT was able to use this document as a way to experiment with relational methods for gathering community input. Please see the update from the Code of Ethics Sub-Group for details on results of this conversation.

In our weekly SC meetings, we continue to discuss developments in the Working Groups and sub-groups, and brainstorm strategies for coordinating the many initiatives that are underway. You may review our meeting minutes for further information. We are proud of all the good work that the PT is doing and grateful for the inspiration and exertion of PT members.

The Healing, Learning and Protection Working Group (HLPWG)

The HLPWG continues to meet bi-weekly while sub-groups meet in the interim. In our main working group meetings, we have been sharing updates on sub-group activities and developing a view of healing for our community. The sub-group updates are as follows:

    • The Response Team has replied to several emails, as well as read and learned from emails that do not require a response but have been sent as an offering of view or experience within the community.
    • The Code of Ethics Sub-Group has met twice since receiving initial feedback from the wider PT about the Code of Ethics that was developed by An Olive Branch, and is evaluating all feedback while seeking input from a wide range of community groups. Please see below for their full sub-group update.
    • The European Healing and Learning Discussion Sub-Group continues to meet and refine its mission.
    • The Trauma-Informed Care Sub-Group is working on the development of professional guidelines for working within Shambhala programs with individuals who have experienced trauma. Additionally, sub-group members are discussing possible trainings for understanding and working with individuals who experience mental illness or experience emotional challenges during programs. They are also reviewing professional guidelines for trauma-informed care and developing ideas about how this training can be included in teacher/MI/Shambhala Guide trainings.
    • The Dorje Kasung (DK) Exploration Sub-Group formed in response to the interests of some HLPWG members to learn about the healing needs of the DK community. The group has met twice and is considering possible outreach to voices at all levels of the DK Pillar.

The Healing, Learning and Protection Group members are eager to hear from anyone through the email address. We can listen, learn, and bring your voice into our conversations about skillful means for healing the community.

Code of Ethics Sub-Group

The Code of Ethics Sub-Group, following the full-PT call discussed above, proposed to the SC and the Interim Board that the Code of Ethics document be divided into two areas:

    • A Code of Ethics that clearly states the values and conduct of good civil Shambhala relationships, and
    • A Grievance Procedure that details a progressive process of how to hold people accountable for their actions when there is misconduct.

These documents have yet to be written, but as a sub-group, we have reviewed the existing Shambhala Care and Conduct policy, the proposed An Olive Branch Code of Ethics, and the Rigpa Buddhist Community Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedures. We continue to work toward developing a community-wide process of engagement around the Code of Ethics, in particular to invite community input on how we all can be accountable for our actions in order to support a healthy, trusting, safe, and vibrant society.

The Survey Working Group (SWG)

The goal of the SWG is to support the PT and the IB in using research-based tools, particularly surveys, to accurately gauge the views and interests of the Shambhala sangha as we move forward. Our aspiration for May 2019 was to take the request of the Interim Board for support in conducting a membership survey as an opportunity to pilot conceptual and technical issues. Many issues have been identified, and we are happy to report that the first brief, multilingual survey of the membership has just been distributed.

The SWG will shortly be sending a letter to other PT working groups introducing our capacity to conduct surveys and encouraging them to identify areas where survey-based member feedback could support their work. We have discussed ways to guide working groups and other entities in crafting good survey questions, as well as encouraging a positive reception and high response rates from sangha members. We have also identified a need for a shared task management system to keep our increasingly complex and ambitious undertaking moving along.

The Processes Working Group: Process Design Sub-Group

The Process Design Sub-Group is nearing adoption of a framework of methods for use by the PT and the Shambhala community. These methods will include ways of engaging in difficult conversations and community dialogues, a timeline/map of our shared journey of transformation, and a project design for information gathering and synthesis. We expect to communicate these methods, with links to resource and support contacts, through the PT website and other means in June. Facilitator training will also be finalized and begin in June.

The Processes Working Group: Dialogic Methods Sub-Group

The Dialogic Methods Sub-Group has completed work on a basic set of guidelines for conducting community dialogues, and will be posting them to the PT website in early June. Work is also in progress on the use of body movement exercises for in-person or Zoom meeting use, deep listening/feeling/focusing trainings, and storytelling methods for addressing deeply divisive issues. We expect to be releasing these on the PT website by the end of June.

The Communications and Technology Working Group (CTWG)

The CTWG carried out a number of activities in the month of May beyond our ongoing work responding to emails from the community, compiling working group updates, drafting communications from the Steering Committee to the PT and community, and maintaining the PT website. These include engaging in conversations with other PT working groups on developing “skillful means workshops” to support our work moving forward and co-developing an implementation plan for the processes that are being rolled out by the larger PT. Also note our new website feature, “Community Experiences,” where groups and centers can share ideas, experiments, and experiences that may be of benefit to the rest of us. If you have a community experience you’d like to share, please Contact Us!

The Culture Change Working Group (CCWG)

The CCWG continues to engage in contemplative processes to explore and navigate the many facets of Shambhala culture. Our personal reflections on Shambhala culture are influenced by how we define it, as well as experiences of what we believe comprises this culture. As one might expect, our experiences and interpretations of Shambhala culture are vastly different depending on our ethnicity, race, gender, abilities, geography, etc. We have now begun the process of determining the areas of cultural growth and change we wish to explore more deeply – for ourselves and the community – and of finding ways to engage in difficult conversations about how this growth and change might proceed.

The Community Building Working Group: Offerings Sub-Group

Offerings met as a full working group on May 18 and again on May 25. By June 1 we will have completed rough drafts of four “framing” documents designed to help structure and identify the key questions for a community-wide discussion on the Shambhala practice path. The four documents are:

    1. Identifying key questions around practice offerings
    2. Compiling a history of Shambhala practices and cataloguing them by category
    3. Determining “What we think we agree on,” and
    4. Identifying and cataloguing student groups

The Charter Working Group (a combined Sub-Group from Governance and Processes)

The Charter Working Group has just finalized proposed Mission and Vision statements for the PT, and are now sending them to the wider PT for review. We are also in the process of building a PT Charter that will clarify our purpose and direction while also establishing boundaries and work practices. Next, we plan to collaborate with other PT working groups to integrate their various aims and objectives into the charter. We are investing the time required to develop a charter that will reduce confusion about the objectives of the Shambhala Process Team. Once completed, we hope that the charter will serve as a guide for the PT in its important work, as well as a reference point for the wider community.

The Governance Working Group: Models Sub-Group

The Models Sub-Group is in the process of pulling together a Ground, Mission, and Plan about who we are, what we are tasked with, and how we will go about fulfilling our responsibilities, as well as gathering resources about governance and models. We are currently working on a second draft of the “Ground” statement, which we hope to complete by the end of June, along with a Mission draft and initial ideas for the Plan. At 15 members, we are the largest of the Governance Sub-Groups, which creates challenges for communication and coming to agreement. At the same time, the group represents a full and rich spectrum of views, questions and aspirations. We have worked to establish basic communication protocols, and aspire to continue developing relationships with each other and as a group. Our human relationships are critical to our work and we are recognizing that this takes time.

The Governance Working Group: Finance and Legal Sub-Group (FLWG)

The Finance and Legal Working Group (FLWG) has 12 members covering all four USA time zones, Quebec, Czechia, and Australia.  Our goal is to help the Shambhala community provide the earth with which we can join the heaven of our vision – the nuts and bolts of a heartfelt and potent global organization that carries high aspirations but operates in phenomenal reality.  Some of our people are professionals in legal and financial fields and others simply have a strong interest and concern; some have been involved with this community since the 1970s, while others only been active in the past decade or so.

The FLWG is currently gathering information about the status and configuration of finances and legal entities in Shambhala, focusing on four interest areas:

    • Historical development of Shambhala legal and financial arrangements,
    • Revenue generation (fundraising and product marketing),
    • Accounting systems and controls, and
    • Legal matters (including the nature of Shambhala entities and the workability of a Shambhala justice system).

In June, the FLWG seeks to gather enough information to provide a solid basis for understanding Shambhala’s current financial and legal status.  We also intend to strengthen our connection with the Interim Board and Shambhala central administration, in order to develop mutual support and assistance in the challenging task of maintaining the organization while looking to future forms that embody and express Shambhala vision the best way possible.

Although the nature of this undertaking may seem dry, it is actually engaging with the blood and bones of our global community.  Without establishing a strong sense of earth, there will be nothing with which to connect our heavenly aspirations.  The FLWG has a strong commitment to helping the community and the lineage find ways to establish and maintain financial and legal forms that foster transparency, sustainability, accountability, and windhorse in everything we do.