The Next Buddha Project

“It is possible the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community; a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

The Next Buddha Project is a 10-month community conversation series to support Shambhala culture in becoming more inclusive, equitable, and socially aware.

As Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “It is up to each of us individually to find the meaning of enlightened society and how it can be realized.”

Experience has clearly shown our community that, to create an enlightened society, we must open to the realities of one another’s lived experience. If we ignore or bypass these elements, we will cause harm, and our community will be exclusionary.

To create an enlightened society, we must open to one another’s lived experience.

Both our community and our broader world are thirsting for a place of real belonging for all. Making this vision a reality will require stretching beyond our comfort zones, and with The Next Buddha Project we hope to contribute to this process.

Who These Conversations are For

We are offering The Next Buddha Project to gather together to explore social realities that have led to the “othering” of many people, especially in Shambhala as well as in our broader society. We offer these sessions from the view of basic goodness of all, in the spirit of kindness and mutual support.

As organizers, we recognize that we ourselves hold implicit biases and prejudices, and we apologize and are committed to working with any harm these blind spots may cause. If you are willing to notice, accept, and work with your own blind spots, and if you have a genuine wish to learn together and to help to heal the culture, we welcome you to attend.

If you have a genuine wish to learn together and to help to heal the culture, we welcome you to attend.

Conversation Details

Each two-hour conversation will explore issues of identity that have often been blind spots in Shambhala, and in our broader culture. All sessions will emphasize embodied and experiential learning, and will be led by one or more expert facilitators. We will examine how our personal stories relate to broad social systems and structures.

You can sign up for as many individual conversations as you like. We also strongly encourage you to sign up for the full program. (You may find that you learn most in the sessions whose topics feel less front-and-center for you!) If you would like to be registered for all sessions, please email fredclaymeyer@gmail.com.

These sessions are donation-based. The suggested donation amount is $25 per session, and 100% of all donations will go to session presenters. Please donate what you’re able to so we can give the presenters an honorarium that matches their generosity. We can accept donations through PayPal, to fredclaymeyer@gmail.com.

Conversation List

Belonging and Othering

with Denise Blanc, Frederick Meyer, Janet Ryvlin

How the basic experiences of sameness and difference lead to inclusion and exclusion.

April 27, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

About the Presenters

Denise Blanc, MA, EQCC has over 23 years in Organization Development as a Leadership Coach, Facilitator, and Mediator. Her primary areas of focus include Conflict Transformation, DEIB, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership Development. She has supported thousands of leaders from universities, healthcare, and for-profit organizations to develop their Emotional Intelligence and create more inclusive cultures. She has been a member of Shambhala since 2003 and co-taught programs exploring whiteness and white privilege within Shambhala centers over the past eight years. She is the author of RiverLogic: Tools to Transform Resistance and Create Flow in all of our Relationships.

Janet Ryvlin, R.N., has had a lifelong interest and concern about the racial and social injustices in our world. Since retiring from Oncology nursing in 2018, she has prioritized her efforts to learn about and facilitate education on inclusivity and diversity. Having co-facilitated programs in Shambhala to address white awareness, white privilege and racism, she considers herself a learner and facilitator, not a teacher, and values collaboration in her social justice explorations. She is active in the Societal Dharma working group and is part of the design team for The Next Buddha, a project to help bring cultural awareness and change in Shambhala. Janet has been a student of Shambhala since 1976.

Frederick Meyer is a lifelong Shambhala practitioner. He first connected with Shambhala as a participant at Sun Camp, and has followed the Shambhala path through Rigden Abhisheka. Frederick is the Director of Writers.com. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, Clara, their daughter, Anna, and their dogs, Lucy and Beignet.

Power and Power Dynamics

with Susan Skjei and Jon Ransohoff

This session explores the multifaceted nature of power, including personal, role, status, systemic, and collective power. It aims to help us understand and feel the inherent power dynamics that exist within personal relationships and societal structures. Along with some short talks, we will use experience and interaction to illuminate key points.

May 11, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Susan Skjei, Ph.D., has been a community member, practitioner and senior teacher in the Shambhala community for decades. She has practiced and studied with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche as well as many other teachers from both spiritual and secular traditions. She is an organizational consultant and coach and enjoys working with leaders to cultivate mindfulness and authenticity, strengthen relational, coaching and strategic skills, and effectively lead the changes they want to see in their organizations and in the world. Formerly a Vice-President and Chief Learning Officer in the technology sector and an international consultant, she was also the founder and director of the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University. She lives in Longmont, Colorado.

Jon Ransohoff grew up in an activist family in Cincinnati that also carried the cultural blind spots of patriarchy and privilege. He met Trungpa Rinpoche in 1975 and has steeped his life in practice, study and teaching. He served in his career as a youth and family therapist, later joining the corporate world, eventually spending the last decades before retirement imbedded in mental health departments to integrate new software solutions. During that time, he became a keen observer of power dynamics within and among county departments and also within himself & employers. He ruthlessly advocated for those having the least power – therapists and workers with positions directly benefiting patients and their families. Since retirement Jon was instrumental in promoting Right Use of Power™ as a template to understand and potentially shift power dynamics within Shambhala. He is actively involved in the unTraining, resourcing the unhoused, showing up for intercity youth. He feasts on a variety of spiritual disciplines.

Systems of Exclusion and Oppression

with LaDawn Haglund and Deinya Phenix

How the development and current state of Shambhala is embedded within broader systems: racism and caste, economic inequality within capitalism, and sexism and patriarchy.

June 15, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

LaDawn Haglund is a sociologist, professor, and researcher in the areas of human rights, social and environmental justice, and socially transformative processes, and has authored numerous articles and books on these topics. Her teaching focuses on guiding students in bringing their intelligence, compassion, and bravery to confront the structural and cultural violence that perpetuates injustice in our world. In addition to her work at the City University of New York, she serves as a meditation instructor and has practiced Buddhism for more than 30 years.

Deinya Phenix, Ph.D. is a sociologist, mother, and child of the African Diaspora. Deinya is Social Director for Research at the Vera Institute. She supports and advises Vera’s Restoring Promise initiative in collaboration with incarcerated individuals, their mentors, and system-impacted communities. She holds a PhD in sociology from New York University and an MA in sociology from the University of New Mexico. Deinya is also part of a sisterhood of Black women who attended Williams College. A native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Deinya spends her spare time deepening connections with her ancestors and family around the world through percussion and dance.

Understanding White Privilege and White Conditioning

with Denise Blanc and Janet Ryvlin

How racial identities are constructed, what it means to be “white,” and how white identity shapes perspectives.

July 20, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Denise Blanc, MA, EQCC has over 23 years in Organization Development as a Leadership Coach, Facilitator, and Mediator. Her primary areas of focus include Conflict Transformation, DEIB, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership Development. She has supported thousands of leaders from universities, healthcare, and for-profit organizations to develop their Emotional Intelligence and create more inclusive cultures. She has been a member of Shambhala since 2003 and co-taught programs exploring whiteness and white privilege within Shambhala centers over the past eight years. She is the author of RiverLogic: Tools to Transform Resistance and Create Flow in all of our Relationships.

Janet Ryvlin, R.N., has had a lifelong interest and concern about the racial and social injustices in our world. Since retiring from Oncology nursing in 2018, she has prioritized her efforts to learn about and facilitate education on inclusivity and diversity. Having co-facilitated programs in Shambhala to address white awareness, white privilege and racism, she considers herself a learner and facilitator, not a teacher, and values collaboration in her social justice explorations. She is active in the Societal Dharma working group and is part of the design team for The Next Buddha, a project to help bring cultural awareness and change in Shambhala. Janet has been a student of Shambhala since 1976.

BIPOC Experiences in Shambhala

with Elvia Garcia

August 17, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Elvia Garcia bio coming soon

Gender Dynamics and Patriarchy

with Holly Gayley

Examining social conditioning and patriarchal structures, deconstructing gender binaries, and enacting culture change in Shambhala.

September 21, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Holly Gayley, Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a scholar and translator of contemporary Buddhist literature in Tibet. Her research areas include gender and sexuality in Buddhist tantra, ethical reform in contemporary Tibet, and theorizing translation, both literary and cultural, in the transmission of Buddhist teachings to North America.

Elvia Garcia bio coming soon

Socioeconomics, Class, and Income Inequality

with Kathryn Rile and Tavita Martinez

Socioeconomics, Class and Income Inequality: Developing sensitivity toward and working with experiences of socioeconomic disparity in Shambhala.

October 19, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Tavita Martinez serves youth and families of color — primarily American Enslaved Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) and Latinx families experiencing grief, loss, and intergenerational trauma as a result of psycho-social economic oppression. She provides community and individual instruction in mindfulness/meditation, work-life stabilization, ancestral repair work, somatic experiencing (body-based techniques), ecotherapy (nature-based therapy) and trauma-centered therapies to bring individuals to a sense of Self.

Mental Health and Trauma Sensitivity

with Jonathan Kirkendall

Opening awareness to the challenges of trauma and mental health differences.

November 16, 2024, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Jonathan Kirkendall grew up in Beirut and Tehran, returning to the US in 1979 for college at Wake Forest University. He first moved to Washington D.C. in 1985, and spent six years in an anarchist collective working with homeless families before moving to Boulder to work on his masters in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University. He and his husband Scott moved back to Washington in the mid 90’s. In 2006 Jonathan began volunteering his services to military families who had experienced the death the of the military member, and from 2015 – 2017 served as the clinical director for TAPS, the nonprofit which offers bereavement services to military members. He now splits his time between his private practice and as a board member for The Warrior Connection, a nonprofit that offers mindfulness retreats to veterans with PTSD. He has been teaching in Shambhala for over 20 years.

LGBTQ+ Experiences in Shambhala

with Sara Todd

January 18, 2025, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Sara Todd is a licensed clinical social worker based in Madison, WI, who provides teletherapy for teens and adults living in Wisconsin, Oregon, and Kentucky. Her approach is grounded in psychoanalytic theory and integrates mindfulness practices, which are informed by her meditation practice of over 20 years. She sees the relationship between the therapist and patient as core to the healing process of therapy, especially as it relates to unconscious dynamics that allow for processing of past traumas and creating new and more alive ways of being for the patient.

Age, Ageism, and Generational Diversity

with Joanne Martin Braun

Working with age differences, ageism, and generational dynamics in Shambhala.

February 15, 2025, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.

Joanne Martin Braun, Ph.D. has been a Shambhala teacher for over 35 years. She has joyfully engaged in teaching all the Shambhala levels up through Warriors Assembly, Seminary, and Shambhala Teacher Training. For some years she has also taught a Shambhala approach to Financial Well-Being. Professionally, Joanne does money coaching, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and Mindful Communications for numerous healthcare and business organizations. She lives in Sonoma, California, with her husband Lou and their dog Caia.

Moving the Culture Forward

Panel discussion

Next steps for our community.

March 15, 2025, at 1 PM Eastern time

Register here. Registration will be limited to 25 participants and will remain open until one week before session start.