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Introducing Shambhala Community Conversations

 

If there is an “it,” we are it.

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

This year, a growing team of Shambhalians has hosted more than 30 Shambhala Community Conversations: group discussions on key topics in our community that are open and welcoming to all. More than 350 community members worldwide have participated, with new discussion dates added in multiple languages and time zones each week.

Shambhala Community Conversations was born within the Shambhala Process Team, with the initial mission to host difficult conversations on the divisions in our community.

As the project has gained momentum, our mission has broadened: we find that these open, gentle conversations are directly manifesting enlightened society in Shambhala.

How Shambhala Community Conversations work

The design of Shambhala Community Conversations takes inspiration from the Shambhala view of basic goodness and enlightened society, from specific practices within our community such as contemplation practice and social meditation, and from related social practices such as Theory U.

Each conversation includes eight to 20 participants, and is hosted by two trained facilitators. Facilitators do not participate, but help hold the container for the participants.

Conversations start with meditation and a brief check-in, followed by discussion in breakout groups of three to four participants. Lastly, there is an open discussion among all participants.

We continuously refine topics and the format itself based on participant feedback.

The Shambhala Community Conversations archive

All conversations are documented and shared with the community, and with Shambhala’s leadership structures. Participant names and identifying details are not shared. You can view the full archive at https://shambhala-process-team.org/conversations/.

To create this archive, we record a transcript of the group conversation. We then anonymize the text transcript and delete the recording. We also provide spaces for written reflection during the conversation, and after the meeting, participants can share any further insights they wish to via email.

What we’ve discussed to date

We design each conversation around a key topic in our community. Our first conversation topics have been:

Belonging in Shambhala

Wide-ranging conversations on what Shambhala is to each of us.

Shambhala Governance

What we’re learning about leadership, hierarchy, and community structures.

Shambhala’s Practice and Study Paths

Issues and opportunities along Shambhala’s teachings and practice paths.

We have additional topics planned, including follow-up discussions on Governance and Practice and Study Paths, and one on the relationship of conduct to enlightened society.

What we’re learning about enlightened society

These conversations have a quality that is hard to describe. They are not hard-driving contests of ideas. Participants describe them as follows:

“I felt a deep sense of being Shambhala.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

“Thank you all. I didn’t think I would contribute, but I feel very welcomed, and heard.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

“What I love about these kinds of meetings is, I feel like I can bring who I am to the table. And I’m not afraid to be judged by this group of people. And I think if we can expand that out, and feel like who we are, and where we’re coming from our life journey could be held and respected. Even if it doesn’t, if other people don’t agree with us, they could love us. Because we’re part of a tribe in a way, you know, a tribe of people who sit on our asses, and work with our minds and our emotions. And that’s a remarkable thing.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

“I realize now that I am not as isolated as I sometimes feel.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

“This process itself is enlightened society, painful and groundless as it is.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant

 

We are learning that being together in a particular way has great power—which isn’t confined to, but can include, anything we’re gathered to do or discuss together.

And we’re learning the enormous importance of container principle in helping establish and support this “particular way” of being together.

An image for how we feel that often surfaces on our team is Indra’s Net: a huge net of jewels, each jewel reflecting the others, and hung together by threads of connection.

Indra’s Net

How to participate

Please join us in an upcoming conversation. You can view the full schedule and register at https://shambhalaonline.org/community-engagement-initiative/.

To see what participants have shared in previous Shambhala Community Conversations, visit https://shambhala-process-team.org/conversations/.

 

“The connection that I feel is quite magical, and I’m thinking ‘This is Shambhala’ in a way: this, what we’re doing, seems like the real Shambhala to me.”

-Shambhala Community Conversations participant


The Shambhala Community Conversations team consists of Process Team members, community volunteers, and dozens of trained facilitators from across the community.

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3 responses to “ Introducing Shambhala Community Conversations ”
  1. Nicki Dayley
    Apr 30, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this and reminding us of this wonderful opportunity. I needed the extra “nudge”/invitation to sign up. I’m so glad this process is happening, creating a container of safety, openness and non-judging.

  2. Kristine McCutcheon
    Apr 29, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you Fred for clearly communicating how these conversations work and inviting us all to participate. May the conversations never stop :)

  3. Eric Laufe
    Apr 29, 2021
    Reply

    Everyone with a connection to the Shambhala teachings should take part in at least one Shambhala Community Conversation. We are all part of Indra’s Net. We all belong.


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