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Jun 05
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Kalapa Centre: Heart of the Capital

An interview with Steve Baker by Johanna Lunn. Steve Baker has recently been appointed Director of the Kalapa Centre in the capital of Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Sakyong has been talking a lot about manifesting. …. now it’s time to show the world what Shambhala actually looks like.

Congratulations on your appointment! What was your inspiration for throwing your hat in the ring?

When I first heard about the Kalapa Centre Project I didn’t know what it was; it sounded like a building. I hadn’t realized how much work had been done on the project already. I started talking to people. I talked to Marty Janowitz, Wendy Friedman, Landy Mallery, and Richard Reoch. In the beginning people were talking about turning the flower outward, opening to the global community, and using words like “beacon.” As I spoke to more people I got the idea that it was much bigger than a building, that it represented something much larger. We are building the capital of Shambhala where the first stroke is executed – the place where all our activities are initiated. So I started to think, “Wow. It’s a real place and it’s Halifax.” It’s on the scale of building the Great Stupa. It will draw people. Someday people will come to Halifax and will see the Kalapa Centre in the heart of the capital of Shambhala, like one would on entering any great world capital.

We have to start somewhere and Shambhala begins in the capital, in Kalapa.


It sounds really big, almost mythic. What exactly is the function of the Kalapa Centre?

I suppose it is mythic, or legendary, but it’s tangible, concrete. We talk about the legend of Shambhala and where it literally might have existed on a map. In my mind it has always existed in a spiritual realm as well. And we practice the teaching in a very real way everyday. Now I’ve started to see Halifax as the actual capital of Shambhala. And if that’s so, then we need a physical structure to house the king, the queen, the ministers, and the government. And we need to have a building into which we can invite the larger community, a convention hall where we will host domestic and international events, a cultural centre for the city of Halifax, and of course the home of the Halifax Shambhala Centre. There might be an art gallery, retail space, meeting space, whatever would be helpful and practical. That is what the Kalapa Centre will do.

What is the value of doing that, of taking this vision and making it concrete?

The Sakyong has been talking a lot about manifesting. My impression is that we have painted a good picture, told a good story, and now it’s time to show the world what Shambhala actually looks like. We have the opportunity to make that happen right now. It’s not only for the local Shambhala community. It’s for the global Shambhala community. It’s for the welfare of the planet. As the seat of the international mandala the Kalapa Centre is energetically where all activity originates. As the capital, we have the responsibility and the honour to host the world. When you invite someone to visit, you clean the house, make up a bed, and put towels in the bathroom. It’s like that, on a very large scale.

What is Kalapa going to look like? Well, this building is what it’s going to look like. The Druk Sakyong challenged us to imagine a future when tourists will come to Halifax and the tour guide will say, “And over here we have the Kalapa Palace, that’s the capital of Shambhala, where His Majesty has his government and which also houses the Shambhala Symphony and the Outrageous Theatre Ensemble. And moving on to the next point of interest, the Shambhala Citadel, where you can look out and see the ships of Shambhala coming in and out of the harbour.”

It sounds a bit like magic. You create the visualization and it becomes real.

We are building it out of concrete and steel and wood and carpeting. And yes, that is invoking drala. The building does invoke drala and I suppose from that point of view it is magic. And it will certainly require some kind of magic, the blessings of the dralas, to achieve it.

We’ve never done anything like this, yet. There’s no manual. But there are so many people with talents and devotion, students of the Druk Sakyong, students of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, students of both, who have such loyalty and devotion and all kinds of skills developed over many years, that we can draw on. There are so many accomplished people in the Shambhala world, musicians, jazz guitarists, artists, publishers, contractors, developers, business development people, venture capitalists…

And we need them all.

Yes. It might be hard to know how we’ll need a jazz guitarist, but I’m sure we will. In fact, we already do — We are very much involved with the Nova Scotia Jazz Festival, for example.

It’s not only for the local Shambhala community. It’s for the global Shambhala community. It’s for the welfare of the planet. As the seat of the international mandala the Kalapa Centre is energetically where all activity originates. As the capital, we have the responsibility and the honour to host the world.

So what does creating the capital do?

We have to start somewhere and Shambhala begins in the capital, in Kalapa. We have been talking about enlightened society for so long that sometimes it sounds like meaningless jargon. But building the capital gives us the opportunity to invite other people, artists, companies, countries to see what we do. And we go to them to learn and to share the Shambhala magic. And this enlightened kingdom begins to grow, to spread to other nations, maybe through leadership programs, international business connections, consulting services, maybe through music, theatre, painting, or rock and roll, or fringe theatre. And through making the practice of meditation real and practical, so that it helps people better navigate their lives. People go out into the world as citizens of this place whose capital is Kalapa.

We are building the Capital of Shambhala where the first stroke is executed – the place where all our activities are initiated.

How does it feel to be living in the capital?

My wife Jeanne and I just moved here in January, so I am pretty excited to be here after waiting so many years. There was a youthful passion that I and my friends and colleagues felt when we were first introduced to this Shambhala world. Over time with the Vidyadhara’s death, with business obligations, with aging, with families growing up, with life moving on, that youthful passion, fresh with so much energy, for some of us started to fade. But I don’t think we ever lost the vision, and this project has reignited that passion for me. It’s the next phase, the next stage. If I can help this happen before impermanence gets me, then that’s a wonderful thing.

Steve invites readers to contact him at: [email protected]

Steve and Jeanne Baker

Steve and Jeanne Baker

Steve Baker has been a student in the Shambhala mandala for 38 years, first under the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and now Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He served as Ambassador to Los Angeles (1978-1983) and then as Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Europe (1983-1990). He has taught extensively in Europe and North America.

His broad business background includes work as a creative writer and film producer, as well as part owner, President and Chief Operating Officer of a major international travel services company that was sold in 1999. He has been a practitioner of martial arts for the last decade and was Regional Director, Western Canada, for the world’s largest martial arts company.. Steve and his wife Jeanne recently moved to Halifax. They have three grown children, Sabrina, Kate and Winston (all members of the Shambhala community.)

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5 responses to “ Kalapa Centre: Heart of the Capital ”
  1. Since when did Halifax become Kalapa? As far as I knew, Kalapa was in Cape Breton!

  2. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
    & Ki Ki So So…..

    at last – and hopefully before impermanence gets us – as Steve said !
    and if it does – then at least we will have somewhere to relate to when we return to Kalapa in our new bodies!

    Jolly Good Luck!

  3. Cliff Esler
    Jun 7, 2009
    Reply

    Sounds wonderful and deserving of our support. On the other hand, while I admit my own uncertainty as to what exactly is meant by the exhortation to “manifest,” I sort of doubt it includes continued outpourings of visionary generalities. Maybe the interviewer simply forgot to ask, but readers surely would like a few more details on what “tangible, concrete” progress has actually been made.

  4. david walmark
    Jun 6, 2009
    Reply

    Having just returned from Dorje Denma Ling helping with their summer setup , why not spend a fraction of the money for a Kalapa Palace in Halifax and enable this vital land centre to do many things they can not afford at present e.g proper drainage , another building for teachers and staff. If we can do both , fine , but surely some of the funds for this ‘lavish building ‘ could be spread around the mandala . David Walmark , Rose Bay , Nova Scotia

  5. Nancy Porter-Steele
    Jun 6, 2009
    Reply

    This is a wonderful project, and will uplift the spirits of all who are fortunate enough to relate to it either directly or indirectly.


Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.



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