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Jul 12
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Social Action LA

West Coast Shambhalians lay plans to bring their practice into the wider world of political action

by Jason Elias

After the last presidential election, a few of us in the Los Angeles Shambhala Community started to wonder what was the relevance of our practice within the political realm. If the promise of our meditation practice is to increase resilience and deepen compassion in order to address the challenges at hand, what might the marriage between meditation and activism look like? This was the question we decided to contemplate, discuss, and organize around.

From the outset we decided that though motivated by recent political events, this group would not be anti-Trump. Instead it would focus on taking Enlightened Society principles off the cushion and more directly into society itself.  So, as a starting point for organizing, we laid out a few central objectives:

  1. Become actively engaged within the larger political realm, supporting what we felt were Enlightened Society principles.
  2. Reach out for more inclusive dialogue and understanding across the political and socio-economic spectrum, hopefully repairing fractured discourse.
  3. Deeply explore what Enlightened Society means within the politics of society building.

After getting excellent guidance from Acharya Emily Bower, we scheduled listening sessions at our two larger Centers. There was a lot of energy in the room at both, with a lot of people wanting to get involved in myriad ways.   We were, however, mindful of taking time to get it right before beginning to take action. 

At this point, leadership of our little (and vocal) group had coalesced around myself and Chris Bomba, another Los Angeles practitioner. After more discussion, he and I refined the View.  We wanted it to be authentic, heartfelt, non-partisan, actionable, scalable and replicable across the entire worldwide Sangha. We also landed on a name: Shambhala Social Action LA. 

VIEW: Following the Sakyong’s View that all aspects of society are gateways to manifesting Enlightened Society, Shambhala Social Action LA will focus on non-partisan aspects in the political/social realm, supporting groups we feel are doing work in accord with Enlightened Society Principles. Though motivated by recent political events, this View is specifically NOT anti-Trump (to the dismay of some who attended our initial meetings). What we are attempting is to move beyond politics.  Of course, these days one could argue that nothing is non-political, but we have to start somewhere.

We plan to engage in three main areas: 

  • Environment – Focusing more on stewardship and recovery than on advocacy, particularly in areas that cut across all political viewpoints.
  • Voter Education/Rights – Possibly more partisan, but we will focus more on countering disenfranchisement than anything else, in essence making sure the rights and voices of all citizens are equally supported.
  • Political Diversity Discussion – This might be the most interesting, but the hardest to do. We plan on creating places where people of differing political viewpoints can discuss issues with active listening and open hearts. Given that most people in our L.A. Sangha are fairly liberal, we hope to adopt a conservative “sister-group” and begin regular discussions in hope of breaking down “Us v. Them” divisions. 

Finally, we scheduled our first Action In the World event, participating in a Heal the Beach cleanup day in Santa Monica. We will, initially, hold one of these events each quarter, and see where that leads. We’d love to hear from any other Shambhala Center doing anything similar, to compare notes, chat about what is working, and coordinate for larger actions across the Sangha.

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1 response to “ Social Action LA ”
  1. Without being personal about the silly man, I don’t see any problem in terms of the four karmas in being against the policies and ethical behaviour of the Trump junta. It is also obvious that they are in cahoots with Russian and native gangsters and British fascists like Farage to further neo-liberal globalised Capital and try to crush liberal democracy where there is public investment in health, education, social care, anti-poverty, families etc.
    So if we don’t ally ourselves with non-violent manifestations of opposition to the plan to squash socialistic , Green and social democratic movements and economics, including the EU and the left of the Democratic Party, we will in my opinion be less than effective.


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