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Shambhala at Standing Rock

Flying the Shambhala Flag, practitioners join the Water Protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipe Line

by Stephen Wood

standing-rock-flagsYou may have heard and are hearing many different viewpoints and opinions to Sunday’s extreme escalation of violence and peaceful protest between the Water Protectors and the militarized law enforcement, private contractors, and National Guard.  We have very limited access to the outside world here, and are hearing about very honest reports about the Stand on the bridge, and also hearing about blatant lies being told.

What I want to share is about the spirit, prayer, ritual, community at Oceti Sakowin Camp.  The camp is clean, organized, and well prepared.  It is a large tent camp with a population of a small rural town.  Their kitchens, medic tents, art center,  legal tents,  registration tents,  donation areas, construction barns for winter platforms and shelters, and much more. There are porta potties and dumpsters that are cleaned on a daily basis.  The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is providing all the systemic support.

At the Center of all camp focus is the sacred fire.  I cannot properly articulate what happens there.  We are very honored and blessed to be apart of many sacred ceremonies from Natives American Tribes and Indigenous People from all over the World.  What is happening is a gathering of Chiefs and Tribes unlike any other in the known history.

Lauren and Stephen Wood

Lauren and Stephen Wood

We practice our Buddhist Shamatha Meditation in the mornings and afternoons, look for ways to help around camp during the day, and participate in communal Sacred Fire gatherings and offerings in the evenings.  The Shambhala Flag flies in our little camp.  We will then donate the flag to be flown along side all the Tribal and community flags along Flag Road, the main entrance to the camp.

We are outside all time.  Which may be a little cold at times but is very nice.   Tomorrow we will go to the Fort Yates High School for a large community Thanksgiving gathering with prayer and food.

Monday, 11/21/16

At Oceti Sakowin Camp. Got here yesterday. It’s so beautiful and amazing. But very real, raw, cold, and intense.  Limited cell service. Today we spent the day getting all the donations to all the correct camp tents. It’s a small town. Truly beautiful. Very peaceful spiritual camp.

defend-the-sacredThe front line of “protests” is much different. The water protectors are always peaceful, holding a protest line along the bridge of the main road. The military is hosing everyone down with water cannons mounted on tanks. They shoot people at point blank range with “rubber” bullets. Tear gas grenades are launched into the middle of the crowds holding the line. Last night I found out what’s it’s like to be tear gassed. It hurts really bad. There is lots to do in camp. Today we had a regular morning welcome and introduction. In a little bit, there will be a Direct Action daily training session.

The community here is truly wonderful. The surface can sometimes seem chaotic but the organization is constantly happening to keep everyone together, fed, and aware.  It is something to experience. Phenomenal. The most exceptional part is the constant message this is a Native American Indigenous movement. The Elders making the decisions are often spoken of. The spiritual respect needing to be observed at all times is constant. Sacred fires and sacred areas are the centerpieces of all the camps.

Editor’s note: this blog post was previously published on the website of the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta.

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12 responses to “ Shambhala at Standing Rock ”
  1. Kristi Anderson
    Dec 28, 2016

    Dear Lauren and Stephen, I am so happy that you are, or have been, at Standing Rock and that the Shambhala Flag is flying there. We need to support our Native brothers and sisters and the Government should respect the wishes of the residents on Native lands. I am glad that for the most part the tribes have taken a peaceful approach. If you are able to stay I hope you’ll update us. Thank you, Kristi

  2. Damita Brown
    Dec 12, 2016

    I am very happy to hear of a Shambhala presence there. Thanks for your presence and practice there and for writing about it.

    Another way to support the water protectors is to demand an Environmental Impact Statement. The pipeline cuts diagonally through the state of Iowa where I live. The Quad Cities (Iowa) WaterKeepers and Sage Sisters of Solidarity are collecting affidavits that demand that the Army Corp of Engineers do an Environmental Impact Statement before any work on the pipeline continues. Anyone in the U.S. can make a demand for an EIS.

    The form and instructions you need to do this are here:

    I hope to make it to Standing Rock soon.

  3. michael brandt
    Dec 10, 2016

    Dear Lauren and Stephen, Grand that you are there.
    The connection of ChögyamTrungpa, the Sakyong and the Shambhala community with Native Americans is very profound, as can be found for example in the teachings of the Lion’s Roar (Nine Yana Seminars, 1974)
    Warm greetings,
    Michaèl Brandt, Arnhem, the Netherlands

  4. Very happy to see Shambhalians are present there and the flags for ES flying. It is very important that we stand in solidarity with this movement of the Native Indians. They can invoke something that we have forgotten. We too can invite and send the energies of GES, windhorse and drala there and in our hearts. Very moving to see Veterans ask for forgiveness and thousands of buffalo appear out of nowhere.


  5. Doris Wrede
    Dec 3, 2016

    Thank you so much for your support…thank you for being there and thank you for sharing.

  6. Tarney Baldinger
    Dec 2, 2016

    Bless you for what you are doing. This is real warriors’ work. Please continue to keep us posted. The future of the world and the planet are in the hands of people with your courage and vision.

  7. Paula Mosman
    Dec 2, 2016

    Thank you, for this posting. I have been very sad that I cannot be there. I would at this point be a burden to the situation. So it makes me happy that the Shambhala Community is represented. While I am so sad for the suffering, I am so grateful for the courage and dignity and unwavering commitment of this gathering of the mother and warrior lineages. My most profound gratitude to everyone there. KiKiSoSo

  8. Alan Anderson
    Dec 2, 2016

    Thank you, Thank You very much.
    This is so important.


  9. Linda V. Lewis
    Dec 2, 2016

    It’s good that there is daily clean up at “the kitchen-sink level” as VCTR would say! And it’s really important that non-Indigenous folks pitch in with chores and not try to be the closest to the fire. It is wonderful that the tribal leaders are leading in this demonstration and appreciation of the sacred, and that this movement which started in April has gained great momentum, even now as winter has set in–eight months under the vast sky, on the prairie, peacefully defending the Missouri River.

  10. phyllis segura
    Dec 2, 2016

    Thanks for going and posting this information. How long were you there? Or are you still there? Stay warm and well.

    I see that Irene Woodard and Adam Lobel were there as well and perhaps they could write something about their experience getting there and being there. I don’t understand about the dirty dishes.

    In solidarity, Phyllis

  11. Craig Adams
    Dec 1, 2016

    Thank you Lauren and Stephen for being there. I am so glad to know the Shambhala flag is flying there and wish I could be there with you. Here in Ecuador indigenous people are attempting to protect their (our) sacred water and lands as well. As in many parts of the world, greed for more wealth has won the day and the sacred earth is being violated, especially in the Amazon region, considered the “lungs of the world”. We must try to stop this if we can, in ways that maintain our dignity and keep the peace. Thank you Standing Rock defenders for daring to show us the way.

  12. Irene Woodard
    Dec 1, 2016

    Thanks for this posting Stephen. Your description is accurate . Adam Lobel and I were there in early November when a call went out for Clergy to come. Yes , the Sacred Fire is really a special spot , and it was a coming together of prayers and announcements about who can go to the medic tent and pick up 10 dirty dishes …to get washed..
    Again thanks for this

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