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May 25
Monday
Mandala Projects
Making Shambhala Accessible
Sakyong's Council members engage in an accessibility exercise at Shambhala Mountain Center in 2005.

Sakyong's Council members engage in an accessibility exercise at Shambhala Mountain Center in 2005.

By President Richard Reoch

When people from all over the mandala gathered for the first Shambhala Congress, one of the most pressing issues to emerge was the urgent need to make Shambhala locations far more accessible to a much wider range of people.

Part of that challenge was taken up by the Diversity Working Group, which has people linked to it in dozens of Shambhala centres. Their annual reports chart the steps being taken to open Shambhala’s doors to people across a far broader social spectrum.

Another part of the challenge was taken up by the Accessibility and Disability Working Group, whose first annual report is now published. The group has been led from the very beginning by Hamish Maclaren of the Shambhala community in Boulder. He and his team have spearheaded a long and often painstaking campaign to raise our community’s awareness and get Shambhala centres to commit to making themselves accessible.

Sakyong's Council members Cortez Rainey and Sangyum Agnes Au participate in accessibility exercise at Shambhala Mountain Center.

Sakyong's Council members Cortez Rainey and Sangyum Agnes Au participate in accessibility exercise at Shambhala Mountain Center.

This kind of work is often dispiriting. It takes tremendous perseverance to champion a cause like this one. There are so many other competing demands. And the painful truth is that, in many cases, we have not kept pace with the rest of society in acknowledging the need to provide appropriate facilities that will make our centres accessible.

So it was all the more wonderful when Hamish told me that he had found out how much was now going on, and that he was able to begin the working group’s first annual report with the words: “There is excellent news to report.”

The report tells us what is happening in 52 centres, mostly in North America, but also including Europe and Latin America.

“There is a great deal happening in Shambhala to accommodate individuals with disabilities,” says the report. “In fact many centres are now fully accessible. In addition there are several that are looking into moving to more accessible premises….Often despite very difficult structural obstacles, almost all centres seem to have found some way to improve accessibility, and are using an impressive variety of approaches.”

This is a truly moving report. It really shows the depth of our commitment, radiating out with the aspiration that all beings may enjoy “profound, brilliant glory”. To read this report for yourself, click on the following link:

Report on accessibility and disability

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