20 Years of FundingShambhala Trust Funds Anti-Violence Work, Tibetan Culture, and Shambhala Technology for Spring 2015
article by Ginny Evans and Greg Lubkin
The Shambhala Trust held its Spring 2015 meeting in a familiar location – Boulder, where the Trust hosted a small reception at the Shambhala Center to celebrate 20 years of identifying, mentoring, and funding innovative and strategic projects that advance the Shambhala vision of awakened society. Naropa University generously made a space at its Nalanda Campus available for the weekend meeting.
The Trust has provided funding in the past for major projects central to the Shambhala mandala, including the four land centers, the Great Stupa, the Way of Shambhala curriculum, and expansion into South America and New Zealand. The emphasis now is on projects that “turn the flower outwards,” benefiting the wider world and expanding the vision of awakened society. However, the Trust still considers “internal” projects that Shambhala’s current budgeting does not cover.
Four proposals were considered at the Spring meeting. Trust pledges will fund over 90 percent of the amounts requested for those projects and current administrative needs. Proponents for three of the proposals were able to attend the meeting and give the Trust a more personal connection to their vision and inspiration. The project requests are being funded as follows (all figures in U.S. dollars unless stated otherwise):
Mind Body Awareness (MBA) Project: The MBA Project in Oakland has worked with at-risk youth in the San Francisco Bay Area for fifteen years. Roger Miller, MBA’s executive director, presented his proposal to convene a gathering of insightful and experienced people in this field to create an updated curriculum for conveying the life skills need by this population. The Shambhala Trust was asked to provide 25% of the amount required to fund the curriculum development activities. The Trust has raised $8,600 of the $10,000 requested.Believe in Tibet (Gesar Opera): The Gesar School in Golok, Tibet, is located at the traditional site of King Gesar’s palace in Ju Valley. The school teaches both basic modern subjects (e.g., math, science, English) and Tibetan culture. The school asked the Trust for a modest amount to help with staging the Tibetan opera of the life of Gesar at a major cultural festival where important Chinese officials are expected to attend. The grant will pay for transportation, costumes, and other related expenses. Helena Bolduc, who had brought the Trust this project, was unable to attend the meeting, so the presentation of the project fell to Lama Chonam Wazi, who is the school’s primary liaison in Boulder.
Lama Chonam provided details about the importance and impact of this particular version of the Gesar Opera. The Chinese government looks favorably on this event as a cultural and educational manifestation. Lama Chonam offered an unexpectedly positive and encouraging glimpse of the relationship between the Tibetan and Chinese communities. The members of the Trust have been so inspired that they have raised $7,200, much more than the $6,000 requested.Shambhala Online: Most Shambhala Times readers will be familiar with the offerings of Shambhala Online, which requested a Trust grant to support captioning all the Way of Shambhala on-line courses (including both the Everyday Life and Basic Goodness series). The purpose was to facilitate the use of those courses by the hearing-impaired, by non-native English speakers who can read English more readily than understand its spoken form, and for eventual translation into the 15 languages in which the global Shambhala community provides teachings. Dixie Good, who has been directing Shambhala Online for two years, presented this proposal in person. The Trust has raised $4,500 of the $5,000 requested.
Shambhala Meditation Smartphone App: In a competitive market of meditation timers and related smartphone applications, Shambhala member Gordon Shotwell spent his own resources developing a Shambhala meditation app. With recent changes in the iPhone platform making that app obsolete, Gordon applied on behalf of Shambhala for a grant to update the existing app, extend it to the Android platform, and provide additional content, including talks by acharyas recorded for the purpose.
The Trust decided to fund the proposal with some suggestions to make it more widely attractive and raise its profile. Those suggestions included pursuing some mutually supportive interface with Shambhala Online, cross-marketing with other Shambhala organs, providing further information about Shambhala centers that interested users could attend, and ensuring that the development process stayed within platform protocols, to protect the app’s security. James Hoagland generously offered the use of the new Centre East studio in Halifax to ensure that production quality is top-notch. The request was for a grant of 10,000 dollars Canadian (currently, about US $8,300 at bank exchange rates), of which the Trust has raised $6,900.For those unfamiliar with the Shambhala Trust, it is a group of individuals from the Shambhala community who combine an inspired vision of awakened society with substantial experience of working with the world. Its mission statement begins, “The Shambhala Trust is an expression of enlightened society. We are a community that explores and cultivates the heartfelt practice of generosity.”
The Shambhala Trust does not manage an ongoing body of funds but meets twice a year to consider project applications. The Trust has had an upsurge in fresh energy and membership recently, having made it easier for people with a sense of inspiration and generosity to participate. Members make various levels of financial and energetic commitment to the Trust, and their specific contributions are not revealed publicly.
Trust members decide individually whether and how much they want to allocate to a given project. Not all projects are accepted for funding; some are considered unsuitable for one reason or another, while others may be viewed as deserving but in need of further development. In general, the Trust regards its mentoring function as an important part of its value, helping applicants to sharpen proposals and strengthen implementation.
The Trust welcomes inquiries from community members who are interested in its work and would like to offer support for worthy projects or to submit a grant proposal. For more information, visit the Trust website at www.shambhalatrust.org.