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Mar 29
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California, Arizona, Featured Stories
A Dzong in San Francisco

The Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco has moved to the heart of the city! The new location is at the corner of Stevenson at Gough, just south of Market Street. As one blogger put it, “this utterly urban location was chosen to connect the city of San Francisco and the local community with Shambhala’s mission and services.” This new Shambhala Center is also the new Sharchen Dzong and serves as the Northern California regional headquarters.

What is a dzong?

The term dzong means “fortress” in Tibetan. It is used to denote a Shambhala headquarters which also serves as a seat for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Traditionally in Tibetan Buddhism, dzongs have been akin to state capitals or cathedrals in a diocese. They are located in key spots where power and energy gather.

Inside a dzong, one experiences a sacred and uplifted environment that allows the mind to open and relax. Dzongs contain a “Tenno Room” which serves as the formal seat for the Sakyong. There is also a regional governance office with staff who offer administrative services to the sangha and do outreach to the surrounding community.

In San Francisco, the Dzong will also house the San Francisco Shambhala Center. The building we have now rented has two shrine rooms, a bookstore area, two kitchens, a community gathering area, a suite for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and an office for both the regional and San Francisco center directors.

In a posting for One City Blog on Beliefnet this fall, Davee Evans said:

Some things poignantly remind me that I’ve just moved back to San Francisco — a city that I so dearly love — like cold, foggy evenings; bells ringing from street cars; or discovering my housemate has a naked yoga practice (nothing quite like urdhva dhanurasana to greet you in the morning.)

And I’m excited to move back just as the SF Shambhala Center takes a leap: more than doubling in size and moving from the boonies to downtown, assuming the final permits are approved. This will crown the center the regional dzong, a Tibetan word for “fortress.”

Why a dzong in Northern California?

The dzongs of the mandala are places that introduce the world to Shambhala. Through their activity, presence, and community of meditation practitioners, dzongs emanate the compassion, wisdom, and generosity of the Shambhala lineage out into the broader community. One key mission of the Dzong is to create ways for our sangha to engage in the world in generous and compassionate activities. Enlightened society is the vision of Shambhala. A dzong is a place where that society can be experienced.

Also, a region like Northern California that has seven Shambhala Centers needs a hub or center of the mandala that serves as a central gathering place for our widely dispersed community. The dzong staff will also assist centers with consolidated and streamlined services and best practices so we aren’t reinventing the wheel at each Center.

Last but not least, the Dzong will create an office for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, which means the presence of our lineage holder is here both tangibly and on an energetic level.

Why a dzong now?

The world needs the teachings and vision of Shambhala more than ever. Shambhala is a tradition with the skillful means to help individuals contact more peace and goodness in their lives. As individuals joining together, we can bring these unbelievably beneficial practices and teachings into the world to help dispel the suffering that we see every day.

Also, the San Francisco Shambhala Center is a hidden jewel in the city that we want to reveal! The previous location was not centrally located. The Center and its activities can grow and flourish in a more central location.

View photos of the construction this January.

Watch a video of the Opening the Mandala ceremony:video

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