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Dec 27
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The Eleventh Hour

I believe the eleventh hour to be upon us, and perhaps coincidentally, I have witnessed a thrilling shift within Shambhala.

by Anne-Marie Keppel

October 2017 was a new dawn in Shambhala for me. Though I have been sitting on cushions since I was five, and gobbling up any available dharma from the teachers, books, and open talks at Karmê Chöling since 2005, I could in fact be the world’s worst Shambhalian.

After twelve years of “being on the Shambhala path” I really should be on Scorpion Seal 64, right? Meh, well, through a variety of reasons including being a single working mother, combined with a slight skepticism regarding how much merit actually emanates from shiny pins, I’m now thrilled to be registering for level 3. Don’t laugh! Understanding the extent of the cocoon teachings in level 2 is worth spending several years on.

The last reason I have been such a delinquent student is, I have not witnessed a lot of action. I have not witnessed a lot of bold extension by practitioners into the grief zones and confused pockets on the planet. For Shambhala to really pull me in, I have been waiting for the “and now get out there” part of the path.  The part where you say, “enough about me!” and organize volunteer groups in your town to scrub out old buildings and create new drop-in meditation centers for teens.

The Growing Brave Shambhala Children and Families Conference in Boulder moved at such a pace I was dizzy with inspiration and motivation. The program was led by Acharya Lobel, Sangyum Wendy Friedman, and Minister Jane Arthur. Yet the program was run by participants. What?!  Shambhala doesn’t do that! I know. I had no idea how such a flip in structure would turn out, but when the wisdom of the group is allowed to flow out into the program space, is then formed into tangible orbs, and the Acharya leads from behind…well, magic happens.

Eighty participants gathered to discuss children. However, when we all spoke about what we wished to discuss, the topics ranged from bullying, to media/cell use within Family Camps, to adults who wanted to discuss feeling that they were unwanted as children, and there were many more topics needing to be addressed. As an underlying current we had a powerful, painful, and urgent reminder of the importance of our work, from the recent suicide of a beloved teen sangha member.  How could each of these diverse topics be explored when each topic is so uniquely and direly important?

Growing Brave breakout group

With careful planning and foresight, the Growing Brave Council modeled an Open Space conference where participants led their own topics, combined with similar topics, and broke out into groups. Throughout the weekend, participants went from room to room and entered into conversations and plans that vibed most deeply with their hearts’ desire. The only downside was that we all wanted to attend more than the eight breakout sessions we had time for. This is good. This means there is much work to be done.

Come degree of higher atmospheric temperatures (or high water), I have the intention of being at the next Growing Brave Conference. If you’re anxious to delve in now, you can always join one of the multiple organizations that have emerged since the conference.  I would highly recommend getting with Acharya Lobel’s  Awake Society Now programs, and paying special attention to the Sakyong’s work with Chicago’s inner city conflicts. There are positively amazing people doing wonderful work, but the inner, inner, inner secret is that one does not have to be a Shastri or an Acharya to change the world. The Growing Brave council sprouted from personal clarity and passion regarding the well-being of our children–not by directions that came out of the complex workings and hierarchy of Shambhala.

Stretch your spines, Shambhalians, we are capable of so much.

Anne-Marie Keppel lives in a magical dwelling in northern Vermont with her husband Pablo Coddou, three children ages 20, 16 and 2, and two guinea pigs.  She is Head Teacher at Karmê Chöling’s Family Camp, is an Executive Council member of the camp, greatly loves Kasungship, and teaches tightwire as a mind/body awareness practice. Currently launching a business in Community Deathcare, Anne-Marie is a Hospice volunteer, trained death midwife, and is in school to become a Celebrant with a focus on funerals and memorials.

Editor’s note: a version of this posting originally appeared on the Families Hub: https://families-hub.shambhala.org/blog/28522/.

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2 responses to “ The Eleventh Hour ”
  1. Sharon hopwood
    Dec 30, 2017

    Well said! Thank you for writing this piece. It is inspiring.

  2. Christine Heming
    Dec 29, 2017


    Thank you for this wonderful, refreshing perspective and the invitation to everyone to jump in where ever they are drawn. There is so much to do and now we have the teaching on how to have even better conversations. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Keep going.


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