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Aug 05
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Please, Hold Your Applause

New: Shambhala Culture Column!
by Sangyum Wendy Friedman

The Shambhala Times is pleased to present a new column on the topic of Shambhala Culture and Decorum. Hosted by Sangyum Wendy Friedman, the Director of the Office of Culture and Decorum, the purpose of this column is to pose frequently asked questions about Shambhala’s rich culture. As Ms. Friedman says, “I receive so many questions from individuals and groups regarding points of decorum, protocol and iconography in Shambhala, that I thought it would be good to share some of the more “fun” ones with the sangha in the form of a Q & A column.”

Upon the creation of this new Shambhala Office, the following description was offered:

Culture is the binding factor of a society, and reflects the embodiments of the Shambhala teachings in a community and a kingdom. Through shared rituals, symbols and experiences – we become a people, give our children a rich sense of heritage, and invite others to share in the celebration. This is how we invoke drala, infuse the community with authentic presence, and create an atmosphere that is conducive to practice and genuine communication.

The decorum of Shambhala is a series of gestures and forms used to invoke wakefulness, uplift ourselves, the environment, and therefore other beings. All forms should be based on generosity, put others at ease and create harmony with a bit of perky edge. It is essential that Shambhala forms always evolve and progre ss, so that they do not become a conventional system of rules, but rather serve as a setting within which the jewel of dharma can sparkle.

Now, to the column…..

Question: Is it appropriate to applaud in the shrine room at Shambhala events?

Answer: I’ve heard this question many times lately. In recent years, we seem to be experiencing an outbreak of applause in Shambhala. On one hand, we could say that we just have a lot to celebrate and want to share our enthusiasm.

On the other hand, I’d like to propose that we play with that energy in a variety of ways. When someone starts to applaud at every piece of good news, we all feel obliged to join in, and the impact of applauding for very special announcements becomes diluted.

I’ve even heard applause when someone is reading a list of names, staff or Head Table guests, which can turn into some sort of creepy popularity contest.

A friend who was recently coordinating Seminary wrote to let me know that they held a talent show at which they suggested that guests “let go” of applause. He said that after each performance, they just ended up smiling and really enjoying the space, though “jazz hands did eventually kick in as a humorous way of coping.”

Perhaps we could try letting good news linger in the air a moment before we jump to respond. In the Shambhala tradition, we can also acknowledge announcements or special occasions such as weddings or birthdays with “E, Ma, Ho!” repeated three times. (This means “How wondrous!”) And, of course, for spontaneous eruptions of support – applaud at will.

Wendy Friedman is the Director of the Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum. She welcomes your questions for this new Shambhala Culture column in the Shambhala Times. [email protected]

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4 responses to “ Please, Hold Your Applause ”
  1. Manuel Medeiros
    Aug 15, 2011
    Reply

    I appreciate Sangyum Friedman’s offering as an invitation to look at our inclination to applaud. Are we ourselves actually moved to applaud? Is there a sense that the applause is being “cranked up”? Does applause make sense at all? Personally, I think spontaneous applause as an expression of delight or appreciation can be a genuine and wonderful gesture. And, I think there’s also an appropriate western style of decorum that calls for applause as a polite and communal expression of gratitude — even if we personally were not especially moved by a presentation or performance. Here, the question concerns applause in the shrine room particularly; does that context add additional considerations? Interesting to consider! Thank you!

  2. Travis May
    Aug 13, 2011
    Reply

    Good point Janet.

  3. Janet Bronstein
    Aug 12, 2011
    Reply

    I have always thought that applause is the response in Western culture that expresses the same kind of enthusiasm that Eh Ma Ho does in Tibetan. I like that we can express enthusiasm and appreciation in Shambhala in our customary way, rather than pretending that a Tibetan phrase comes naturally to us and means something to us. When is applause not spontaneous?

  4. Thank you for this! I was always horrified when people applauded for color party. Let the dralas do their thing!


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



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