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Oct 05
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Ziji Collective in Berlin

Two weeks ago, 75 young meditators from around the world gathered in Berlin, Germany for the third annual Ziji Collective International Summit

by Lia Duggan

14433050_10153709127227331_9039607099773997534_nThe Ziji Collective, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is a global network of inspired young people empowered within the lineage of Shambhala. Many of us have experienced the strength and potency of the Shambhala teachings, and feel the visceral opportunity to carry that vision out into society.

The umbrella organisation of the Ziji Collective looks to connect and support the activities of young sangha members and affiliated individuals in their centres and in the world. Facilitated by practicing various forms of meditation, we engage in community activities, arts events, group retreats, and social activism. These are all considered expressions of Ziji–youthful, boundless confidence in our world.

Whoever comes are the right people

14480625_1065490216839583_3514887119684291361_oThis is the first of the guidelines for hosting “Open Space Technology,” a social practice we immersed ourselves in during the summit under the guidance of Marguerite Drescher. It is a rather apropos place to start, as a direct part of our identity is tied up in this very question–who is Ziji? We self identify as a group of “young” people, but in actual terms this identity is transient and flexible by its very nature. Those in attendance spanned from 18 years to early 40s and a little beyond. The potential to see an exclusivity in this situation was clear to everyone, but nonetheless the organisation holds the view and recognition that younger people tend to face similar issues, life situations, and sources of inspiration which enables the creation of powerful and cohesive groups that have the potential to bring about real personal and societal transformation.

The other vivid dynamic present among the group was the delightful swath of different cultures that we had managed to assemble, from different geographical locations, representing nearly 50 cities on three continents, as well as from markedly different social backgrounds. This proved to be a colourful ground from which to begin working together as a group, immediately recognising the challenges of communication and sensitivity when we open ourselves to socially engaged conversations with people in such a diverse space.

Whenever it starts is the right time

We found ourselves with at least three different starting points through the Summit. The structure devised by the dedicated teaching team–Kalapa Acharya Adam Lobel, Shastri Douglas Toth, Faradee Rudy, Bartek Kociemba, Marguerite Drescher, Shastri Trinley Busby, and Shastri Nick Kranz–emulated the very nature of the topics which we wished to work with: disruption and instability in our world, and living on what some see as the brink of societal collapse. In the same way, the structure and schedule of the summit was visibly birthed on shaky ground and constantly under threat. Thus, it was imperative to be gentle and kind with ourselves and one another, an atmosphere cultivated by practicing together.

The opening two days opened with gathering together and tuning into our bodies, our presence, and our personal intentions for being there. We began to explore one another’s motivations, too. This work was reinforced by introductions to the practices of samatha meditation, social meditation and Shambhala meditation, a wonderful mix of elements which enabled us to settle, open to ourselves, and open to one another.

14359144_10153705319867331_7312465498019292544_nThe next phase and starting point was having the discussion handed over to us to perform open space technology, where a dozen conversations are hosted on a variety of different topics simultaneously. Everyone was free to delve in or roam from conversation to workshop to performance to whatever other offering they might find. Discussions covered topics such as romance, economics, healthcare, finance, mental health, mindful eating, the benefit of anger. We looked at how to approach an apocalypse, how to relate to our elders, how to build a more inclusive environment, how to freestyle, and there was even a group that started a new record label. This space opened the group to recognising all of the simultaneous motivations and disparate passions of Ziji-ites in the group. It offered a way of finding our collective and individual identities and passions with no boxes, boundaries, or definitions.

Whatever happens is all that could have happened

A third starting point followed on Day 4 as all the forms and direction from our teaching team were dropped entirely and we were left to experience ourselves on the brink of the chaord (ordered chaos), which is certainly the most creative and fruitful space to hang out.

This guideline, whatever happens is all that could have happened, encompasses a very useful perspective toward the activities of the Collective, allowing a looseness and freshness to always come knocking and to detach us from fixation. As one primary intention of the Ziji Collective is to work together to organise ourselves and coordinate our activities further, there also needs to be recognition that no “umbrella organisation” will ever fully encompass or capture the energy and activities that it magnetizes. Thus, even during the summit, we were very clearly relating to our experience of what we thought should or could happen, of what was actually taking place, of what our immediate experience was, and the value of honouring that in itself.

When it’s over, it’s over.

14358814_10153705319982331_4026762217179887971_nNot one of those in attendance welcomed the end of our (clan) gathering, a bittersweet moment marked by a delightful dance party and a marathon of saying thank you.

The slogan of the Ziji Collective is “Spark. Radiate.” Although the summit is assuredly over, it feels to me like that it was merely the spark portion of our activities that has concluded. I feel energised and shaken up, buzzing and bursting. I’m radiating. I’m certain the impact of this gathering will be immeasurable and definite, felt in unexpected ways. We ourselves will radiate the inspiration and wisdom which was harvested in such abundance at the Summit. The actions, both big and small, of the young warriors born from this space, will find their way out into the world, manifesting themselves infinitely. Look out–here we come!

aibeiaiaaabecizq8kv8oqj-ogeic3zjyxjkx3bob3rvkig1n2u3yjfkytg5mjjlmmq0y2rmywuwzdlhyzhlnmjmmgi1yzaymdu0magp-nelyd8d0rxbb_accybaz4p46gLia Duggan is a 25 year old, second-generation Shambhalian, originally from Ireland and now living in Brussels, Belgium. With strong connections to the Shambhala mandala, she has devoted time to working with children and youths at Shambhala Sun Camp, Family Camp (DCL) and Ziji-related events. She is inspired to support inter-generational relations in Shambhala communities.

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1 response to “ Ziji Collective in Berlin ”
  1. Carolyn Mandelker
    Oct 7, 2016

    Exciting! Thank you Lia, for a great write- up!

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