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Nov 11
Community Articles, Featured Stories
Taking Our Seats

By Lois Lungta, on-the-scene blogger in Halifax

It is fascinating to experience the full richness of Shambhala. The Vidyadhara once described the physical environment of Shambhala as dripping with gold and jewels, and being here for this week of celebration is actually an experience of this. Everywhere I turn, there is a brilliantly expressive jewel – it might be someone’s face, an event, a poignant sentence, a luminous idea, a genuine expression of the direct experience of an individual that lights up a conversation for many.

I am positively drowning in richness.

This leaves me in a conundrum: I’m not sure what to say. I don’t know how to capture everything that is going on, that has happened, that has struck me as profound. So I have to trust in what arises, have faith in my own experience, and a sense that what I actually offer in the next hour as I type will reach you as you sit in front of your glowing screen, maybe touch you in some way, and hopefully resonate and enrich your sense of what Shambhala is – in this moment.

Our Challenge: Overcoming Speed
A major theme that is emerging here, and that even flowers in my mind as I engage the practice of writing, is working with speed. Our world is so very fast, and we are easily seduced by it. It manifests in our thinking, the rate of our emotional responses, and in the activity we perform on a daily basis. Sitting on his throne yesterday, the Sakyong communicated this as our greatest challenge. And we are watching it arise in our minds as we navigate a full schedule (which pervades our lives – no matter where we are) and collaborate in our working groups.

In my experience, overcoming speed seems to require all of our resources and training. It is an ongoing practice – moment by moment – in which we notice ourselves being swept away. People here are labeling it when it arises. That is actually effective because in a situation, the moment we become aware of the speed, we naturally pause. We return to our physical experience, or environment, and the qualities of the situation we are in. This is a simple practice, but it seems effective.

Showing Up
It is interesting to notice who has shown up here and who has not. I don’t want to delve into the complex arrangement of our social landscape, but I find that the people who have gone through the hassle and expense of getting here are of a particular mind. But that does not mean our diversity is not being represented. As we gather in small groups to discuss issues at hand, our minds are in fact very vast. There is a potent intermingling of personal experience with collective experience, of people truly representing their centers. When they open their mouths to speak, I have the strange sense that I can hear a mandala of voices, which included the disaffected, the offended, and the silent. Some of the topics are painful and confusing because they go to the very heart of our challenges. Representatives are very, very aware of the delicacies, the subtleties, and also of the inspiration to unite. We all experience longing for fundamental expressions of goodness. And maybe it is this simple longing that unites us.

There is another important aspect of showing up, which is taking your seat. Left and right I see fellow delegates engaging in the working groups and discussions that they care about, that are personally meaningful to them. As I listen to them (and myself) contemplate topics, there is this quality of bringing ourselves to a state of mind in which we have the confidence to realize our place in the mandala. When I say mandala, I am speaking of our international community, yes, but I am also speaking of the mandala of a conversation amongst four or five people. It is the mandala of the moment.

Sometimes, coming to terms with this is acknowledging the reality of our particular situation: whether we are young or old, what place we come from, the style we express, and the way our mind works. Sometimes it is leaning into the powerful emotions that arise when we are inspired and when we are challenged.

Rousing the Confidence to Be Here and Relate
The key here is that we have confidence in our experience. Retreating is not a bad experience, turning down a generous offer is not wrong. Closing our eyes and taking a moment to gather ourselves before opening our mouths to say something we feel passionately about is a practice in speaking so that we are heard. While we may not be attached to hitting a target, we’re not shooting arrows in the dark.

Today, many of us may declare our inspirations to shepherd projects into the future. To accept leadership positions and take responsibility for making something happen. It strikes me that we need to do this with a feeling of empowerment – the mandala has a need and we are creating the activity that will address it. We are the right person, in the right place, at the right time. And we have the right motivation.

The Druk Sakyong asked us to take our seats. And the Sakyong has faith that we will take our seats while he is on retreat.

Isn’t this the kindest thing we can do?

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