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Sep 04
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Social Engagement Letter

A message to Shambhalians regarding recent events in Charlottesville

by the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement

We have witnessed and felt the heartbreak of the violent atrocities committed by hate groups including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, white supremacists, white nationalists, ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Our Shambhala society condemns these deplorable and hateful actions.

In the United States, hate groups gathered together from all over the country to instill fear as they marched with tiki torches in Charlottesville, Virginia demanding the country become a nation of white people. The next day, a car drove into a crowd of counter protesters, killing a 32 year-old-woman and injuring 19 others. In Spain, one of the most violent days in recent history occurred with multiple terrorist attacks occurring in Barcelona and around the country that took the lives of 14 people and left more than 80 injured.

Many of us may be feeling sad, angry, numb, confused and a range of other emotions. In this past year, we have witnessed so many hate crimes, acts of terrorism, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and injustices in our world.

Now more than ever, we are being asked to step up as Warriors. What this looks like may be different for all of us, nevertheless, we are all being asked to search deeper within ourselves than we ever have before, and to act.

Earlier this year, our Sakyong and our community decided to begin an Office of Social Engagement. In the upcoming year, this office will work with members of the community from all around the world to further encourage Shambhala approaches to social action, social justice and activism.  All of your voices are important and are welcome as the office unfolds.

Before we take action, it is important for all of us to deeply feel whatever pain, fear, anger and sadness we may be feeling. Then, it is important that we begin to engage in dialogue as much as possible using the wealth of forms we have in our community. As we gather together, we can find our voices and collectively speak out against racism, systemic oppression, hatred, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  From there, we may discover as a community how we will choose to act. There may be other organizations with which to volunteer your time, you may choose to be part of local marches, or you may choose to have a deep conversation about racism within your family or to take a closer look at your own biases. No matter how we each choose to be involved, now is the time to find some way, no matter how small, to be involved.

We encourage Centres to host conversations, and community members to gather at each other’s homes or in a public space for dialogue. We will be hosting two open spaces on Shambhala Online for us to discuss our feelings as a community. Please encourage kind, fearless, and skillful containers for conversation, relying on methods such as circle practice, Social Meditation, dyads and small groups, deep listening, and speaking from the heart. The Sakyong’s instructions on conversation are a resource. Beginning and ending with Shambhala Meditation or simply sitting or tonglen is always helpful.

Here are some contemplations and conversations based on the practice of Shambhala Meditation that you may wish to discuss as a community:

  • How can we feel what is arising in our regions, cities and world without closing down and without becoming overwhelmed?
  • How can we be with what is arising and be with each other without adding to the violence but also without ignorance or distraction?
  • How can we touch and act in a way that nourishes enlightened society and proclaims justice?

Let us come together as a community and support one another, listen to one another, care for one another, and be unafraid to gently call out any acts of ignorance, violence, bias or hatred that we see in each other within our own community. This is the only way we can grow stronger together.

With love and appreciation,

Shambhala Office of Social Engagement

Aarti Tejuja – Director, Office of Social Engagement

Minister Joshua Silberstein – Chair, Kalapa Council

Minister Jane Arthur – Kalapa Council

Minister Adam Lobel – Kalapa Council

Marguerite Drescher – Social Engagement Council

Acharya Arawana Hayashi – Social Engagement Council

Acharya Gaylon Ferguson – Social Engagement Council

Charlene Leung – Chair, Diversity Working Group

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3 responses to “ Social Engagement Letter ”
  1. Linda V. Lewis
    Sep 8, 2017
    Reply

    While these contemplations are good, it seems Shambhala is always so slow to respond to critical events. The build up and normalizing of these hate groups began w/ the questionable ascendancy of Donald Trump, whose actions even more than his words show him to be a racist, as well as a sexist and narcissist. I do not see Shambhalians feeling, being, or touching in a way powerful enough to deter these forces of the Dark Age. Whatever happened to Meditation in ACTION?

  2. Chris Lane
    Sep 9, 2017
    Reply

    Agree

  3. I still work at Meditation in Action. Since the 70s. Still not a Shambhalian. No need. Got the tools I need.


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