What could an abuse-free Shambhala look like?

 Spring Romance, by Karen Tarlton

I was having an exploratory conversation with someone on the Project Sunshine team yesterday, and he said, 

“I want to help make Shambhala safe. We all want to be safe, we all want to be loved. People want a society they feel good about, where every single person is safe, not targeted for sexual violence. What I want is to feel proud and feel safe – that is what I long for. I’m an optimist. I believe it is possible for a community to heal.”

I appreciate him daring to dream about what he truly longs for. It would be good for all of us to give ourselves permission to explore a community that is truly satisfying, and even inspiring for our dharma path and our lives as Shambhalians.

Shambhala is a very unique path, and has so much potential to help this world. We don’t have to look far to see the degraded and even frightening places some parts of the world have sunken into. Our Shambhala teachings and practices evoke abilities within us to take on these challenges and attend in a visionary and inspired way to uplifting the world.

This is why it is so very important for us to clean up our own house – our lineage – so we can bring these teachings into the world in new, powerful, and much needed ways.

I have done a lot of work with business leaders, helping them to move beyond the borders of the box with their thinking. One of the techniques that can be helpful is to envision what it will *feel* like to be in a healthy Shambhala community, where people are emotionally safe, where we know we can count on the integrity of our leaders and feel safe in our relationship with them, where there is space to feel a gentleness as we do our daily practice and open to new dimensions of connection with these sacred practices… you get the idea.

What would it feel like to be in a nurturing community like this?

I’m imagining my own body relaxing, and feeling more present in my body – feeling my skin, muscle, bone. I’m imagining my chest feeling warm and relaxing into a greater spaciousness, and how wonderful that would be for my Prajna Paramita practice when I am gazing into the wide open sky, mixing my mind with space.

I’m imagining feeling even more relaxed and open when I’m having conversations with people. Feeling more resourceful and safe to pay attention to the sparks of energy, and being able to be curious and explore them in the conversation rather than shutting down and just moving on. I’m imagining feeling more confidence to stay present in the uncomfortable moments, so these moments have a chance to reveal their brilliance and insights into new ways of thinking.

I’m imaging being able to move in the world, especially Point Pleasant Park, with my senses being far more open and free to experience the beauty, the smells, the life that is in this city forest. I’m imaging my spirit being more easily fed by the pure sensing of natural beauty.

I’m imaging being able to walk into the Halifax Shambhala Centre and feeling I can totally be me (whoever that is!), moving about the center and connecting with people of all races and colours, enriching my sense of connection with the vibrant richness of all humanity. And there is the space and peace for us to take our time in our communication so we can learn about each other’s culture and our different ways of understanding things – Ah! what an expansion this would give to my way of seeing things!

I’m imaging on this same visit to the Halifax Shambhala Centre that I go to a room where we are meeting about some exciting initiative that is significantly impacting the local Halifax community. That everyone in this room has their own connection with the stream of lineage blessings, and that we invoke those blessings together as we begin the meeting.

There is a natural spirit that flows through our conversation, again feeding all of our hearts, and there is a wide open space for each of us to bring our very best to this worthy initiative. There is peace, respect and love. 

Love is an overused word, but we all still know that love is the basis of goodness in our connections with each other. It includes respect and honour, fondness and a genuine desire to see another grow. So, yes – I envision a love that supports us being at our best and forming relationships that embody freedom, flow and joy.

So this is a taste of what I envision for a healthy Shambhala community this morning. I’d love to hear what you envision for *your* healthy Shambhala. I invite you to share in the comments space at the bottom of this page.

And if you want to be part of the group that is about making us safe and creating a healthy Shambhala, you can do one or both of these things:

1. Contribute to the Project Sunshine fundraising campaign (no donation is too small, even $5 is a help!)

2. Sign up for the Project Sunshine email list


  • Lee Weingrad

    I believe in the commitment to the people who are members and the ones who are not and everyone in between. However it may be possible that the organization you seek to influence may not be susceptible to influence, since, like many religious institutions, the power and the leadership is strictly top-down.

    This is not to make a traditional Tibetan religious group unworthy of its mission for that reason alone. But the reality may be that for the highest leader or leaders, the kind of change you are proposing and implying would undermining the clubby and autocratic nature of the beast.

    In this kind of environment the core of leadership does not care to rock the boat. If they saw value in your inspiration they would be unbridled in their enthusiasm, that someone, an outsider, had proposed something for a listing ship that everyone knew about for a long time, but didn’t know how to right. You’d think they’d be beating a path to your door.

    That’s the optimistic scenario. Another is that in the absence of any critical intellegence nobody wants to rock the boat because there is no payback, no reward for emerging from behind the screen.

    Another is the cynical view, which is despite what anyone says to the contrary about compassion and enlightened society, the leadership is the equivalent of your HS’s “cool kids,” no one really gives a damn.

    So how do you know which is the correct surmise? I would think that if you created your own Taiwan from among those who likewise feel either confused or angry or both, that you might be contacted for reconciliation. But it would be, to say the least a carrot, along the lines of what what proposed to the Ojai group: when Patrick was given the option of becomoning an Acharya among acharlyas, and the the group membership becomes folded into the big organization.

    The institutional ego is such that, as long as you do not have your own power base, you will not be taken seriously no matter how sincere or worth your analyses and prescriptions are. You are an outsider.

    So I would propose organizing the people who have become organizational detritus. And see what happens. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

    May 1, 2018
    • As a bit of organizational detritus left floating on the monsoon floods of Nepal for over 20 years now, I was sad to read the news of late. I do however wish the best for my old sangha sisters and brothers; so many amazing and creative souls.

      July 18, 2018


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