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Shifting the Conversation

photo by Peter Welte

photo by Peter Welte

COLUMN: In Everyday Life

A first glimpse of an exciting new project — the launch of a journal devoted to shifting the conversation about the issues facing our world from aggression and destruction toward social wakefulness and compassion.

Interview with Gabe Dayley and Kai Beavers
by Jayne Sutton

What would it look like to explore and examine the world’s enormous social, economic, and environmental problems from a perspective rooted in the principle that human beings and society are basically good – possessing dignity and worthiness to exist on this planet? This question, posed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, led Gabe Dayley to the inspiration to create a new and unique interdisciplinary journal of politics, culture and society. “The idea started to form between my freshman and sophomore year in college,” Gabe says, “but it ended up on the back burner while I was finishing school.”

Gabe and his friend Kai Beavers — both of whom grew up in the Shambhala sangha — got together after graduation in May of 2012. When Gabe shared his inspiration, the response from Kai was, “This is awesome — let’s do it!”

“It was a moment of windhorse — it could have easily gone the other way,” says Gabe. This moment of windhorse has led to more than a year’s effort spent in refining the concept and developing an identity and framework for the journal, which is currently under the working title, Enlightened Society Journal. The aspiring editors have been most fortunate to have the enthusiastic support, guidance and advice of Kalapa Acharya Adam Lobel, to whom — quite auspiciously — the Sakyong had previously expressed the need for a journal that could explore these themes.

The Vision

Currently, humanity as a whole may value selfishness and aggression more than care and kindness. At a global level, we are all engaged in a giant meditation on humanity’s pitfalls. But collectively, we can’t be naive and think the world we live in now was created by anyone other than us. Somehow, throughout the evolution of human history, we have come to this point, and the future ceremony of humanity will be determined by what value system we next put in place.
—Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, The Shambhala Principle

Gabe Dayley

Gabe Dayley

Gabe and Kai see their journal as a forum for sophisticated conversation about how to shift economics, politics and other social systems. They envision a holistic examination of issues and topics that invites participation from multiple disciplines. As an example, a discussion of alternative approaches to economic development could include contributions from political philosophers, economists, ecologists, health professionals, and contemplatives, so that the exploration transcends disciplinary stovepipes of “economics” or “politics,” and shifts the conversation to the societal realm.

They describe their approach as “scholarly, but not academic.” They are aiming for serious scholarship, argument, and discussion — but not at the expense of accessibility. The journal will not compete with popular, newsstand publications, but in the spirit of broad engagement of as wide an audience as possible, readability will be highly valued in potential submissions.

The journal will be seeking out contributors from a wide range of professional disciplines, both from within the Shambhala community and from “communities of affinity” — organizations and individuals whose view, work and mission align with and embody Shambhala principles.

Gabe cites as an influence Charles Eisenstein’s work Sacred Economics as an example of how a deep level of technical understanding and knowledge can be brought forward in the context of sacred outlook and basic goodness. And both Kai and Gabe point to Breakthrough Journal and n+1 as current journals that are thinking outside the box and holistically. As Kai puts it, “We’re not trying to model ourselves after another journal, but it’s interesting to see that there are other approaches.”

Reaching Out
Just as the universe of contributors is seen as wide and interdisciplinary, the long-term vision is to develop an audience for the Enlightened Society Journal that encompasses a broad community of individuals seeking ways to uplift society and manifest wakefulness — both Shambhalians and citizens of society at large, from government officials and professionals to scholars and artists. It invites those who see themselves exclusively as activists and practitioners and those who see themselves exclusively as contemplatives to see the journal as a ground to meet and engage an exploration of nonaggression and nonviolence in our world. For those in the Shambhala sangha, it can be a connection to a larger dialogue about and avenues for wakeful action.

Through the power of our global mind, we can shift our whole value system. But first we must realize the power of the mind. Next we must shift our contemplation to the goodness we already possess. Then, when we ask people why they are being kind, they will answer, “Because that is what others are doing.”
—Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, The Shambhala Principle

The journal envisions a blend of personal contemplation with collective action — connecting theoretical understanding of social problems with a deep examination of human experience, and bringing the personal exploration of spiritual practice into engagement with the problems of society. The goal is to wake up society, not just talk about doing it. The journal hopes to offer a shift in the discourse that will allow for a fundamental change in the way we personally and societally view our political, economic, social and legal systems.

Coming Soon to a Website Near You

Kai Beavers

Kai Beavers

The journal is planned as a quarterly with a calendar of topically-themed issues exploring a particular issue or subject not only from the perspective of various disciplines, but also in various forms — features, case studies, essays, and artistic contributions. The hope is to gradually build a web presence, and to fully launch by Shambhala Day 2014.

Gabe and Kai are now turning their attention to the format and presentation of the journal, researching aesthetically magnetizing page design as well as user-friendly web platforms and digital formats. They are committed to keeping the publication as available as possible to a wide audience inside and outside the US.

Though many of the particulars are still on the drawing board, the Enlightened Society Journal promises to be an inspiring new effort in the service of creating good human society on this earth.

~~
Kai Beavers is a graduate of Hampshire College, where he studied political philosophy and cultural studies. His senior thesis explores experiences of empathy in film, dance, and photography. He is interested at present in current debates around establishing a philosophical basis for universal Human Rights, as well as the cultural and economic effects of globalization. He continues to write about experiencing artwork. During college, he developed an interest in investigating the intersection between his studies in European Philosophy and the cultural values and meditation practice he grew up with.

Gabe Dayley is a graduate of Pomona College, where he studied International Relations. His formal focus is conflict resolution and peacebuilding, particularly between groups in intractable conflicts, and he is currently exploring graduate programs within these fields. Gabe hopes to employ Shambhala principles and various meditation techniques when helping members of groups in conflict to develop empathy and compassion for one another. Gabe is also interested in social change in a broad sense, and particularly in the connection between the personal experience of basic goodness and enlightened society and how actual elements of society (e.g., government, the economy) would manifest if based on the collective recognition of these principles.

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10 responses to “ Shifting the Conversation ”
  1. Congratulations, Gabe & Kai ! I look forward to your publication. Let me know how I can help.
    I publish info to increase financial literacy and help build wealth beyond money.
    -Fern LaRocca CFP Publisher of Mindful Money magazine

  2. Ellen Fasano
    Mar 12, 2014
    Reply

    Very exciting! Congratulations to you both! I am looking forward to reading Arrow.
    I have some ideas for an article regarding political asylum and refugees in the U.S.

  3. Samten Kobelt
    Mar 4, 2014
    Reply

    Congratulations to both of you to the birth of Arrow.
    How wonderful to read about your project at this new year.
    May it pierce ignorance and sloth and inspire and connect many people!
    I look forward to having it in my hands!

    Samten A. Kobelt

  4. Bill Gross
    Oct 30, 2013
    Reply

    Looking forward to reading this new journal.

  5. Gabe Dayley
    Sep 30, 2013
    Reply

    Thank you all for your encouraging comments, and Jayne, thank you again for writing this piece.

    Sala, Kai and I would love to talk to you at some point about your areas of interests and what you might like to contribute. We definitely plan to address issues that are relevant to people living in different parts of the world.

    Juliet, our medium- to long-term vision is that the journal’s audience (and contributors) will go beyond the Shambhala community. Initially, we expect that most of the readership will be Shambhalians, but we hope that making connections with non-Shambhala contributors will also help to expand the audience.

  6. Juliet Shapiro
    Sep 24, 2013
    Reply

    This is very exciting news, congratulations! Do you see this as pitching to within the Shambhala community, or bridging it and a general audience?

  7. Sala Sweet
    Sep 23, 2013
    Reply

    Looking forward to reading and maybe even contributing to the journal. I am living in Ghana, physically far away from the sangha and this interaction will be most welcome. I am guessing the issues will cross continents. I am certainly finding that to be true in practice and daily life here.

    Thank you

  8. Robert W French
    Sep 20, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds great and thanks for the article Jayne!

  9. Very proud of you both! Congratulations on the official launching of the journal!! I’m excited to read it…and to submit an article as well.

  10. Christine Labich
    Sep 20, 2013
    Reply

    Kudos to Gabe and Kai for following through on the initial inspiration for this journal. I am looking forward to reading it!


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



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