August Update from the International Shambhala Board

Dear community,

Recently, a letter from the International Shambhala Board was released to the Shambhala community. This letter is shared to the broader community based upon its strength of vision and honesty of intention.



We should not give up:
We are the children of the vajra world.
We should sing the anthem of the lion’s roar;
We should cry the shriek of fearlessness.
Come and join us!
Let us be wakeful for our own sake;
Let us be decent for others’ sake.
My love to you.

From First Thought, Best Thought; poem 76 “Eternal Guest”; Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche; 6 April 1978

Dear Shambhala Community,

We hope that you are taking good care of yourselves in this time of the pandemic and that you are finding both nourishment and inspiration in your household life, work and path. The Shambhala Board wants to acknowledge this time in which we are all working to sort out how to go forward with our lives and also with Shambhala. There is, of course, no lack of challenges!

The Shambhala Board, now 10 members strong, has continued to rely on the open view that we all can go forward together and to find strength in different views. At the same time, the Board wants to encourage growth and change in our organization. We acknowledge and are working with many tensions and opportunities in our community. We wish to express our view and commitment at a time when dynamic tensions could become harmful divisions.

The tensions and opportunities have been reflected in the recent thoughtful communications from different parts of our mandala: a letter from the “pilgrimage organizers” who spoke to the Sakyong’s view based on their experience in Nepal; Lady Diana Mukpo who proposes to open up access to Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings; the Process Team presenting their “Sense of Shambhala” survey results; the open letter from the “Dharma Brats” to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche; the letter from a group of Acharyas who have resigned, and a letter from a group of Acharyas still active.

The Board has been able to meet with these groups and individuals: the Sakyong and the Sakyong Wangmo, Lady Diana and Ashoka Mukpo, representatives of the Sakyong, different groups of the Process Team, and various groups of Acharyas. All of these meetings have been heartfelt, respectful and clarifying.

In addition, the Board continues to receive letters from individuals and centers expressing sincere views on these and related subjects. We also are individually and collectively, with the staff of Shambhala Global Services (SGS), engaged in the work of Shambhala: seeing daily the challenges and opportunities, strength and weakness, our resilience in the face of two major, almost existential, challenges—the pandemic and our own community’s crisis—as well as our vulnerability to division. Thus, as a Board, we believe that we need to begin to articulate our view more clearly at this time.

We have been encouraged to see that there is genuine integrity and bravery in what people are trying to accomplish and embody. We also recognize how much intensity is occurring as people feel they need to make decisions about their relationship with the teachings and the teacher. We are not immune from this intensity.

The Board sees that its role in these times is to hold the space for these dynamic tensions with an open mind, to allow change to evolve, to avoid division and factionalism, and to support a broad and inclusive mandala. That said, we are not “merely trying to be all things to all people.”

We believe that a vital and contemporary Shambhala must sustain the interplay between the vision and wisdom of the Shambhala lineage and our diverse community of dedicated practitioners. Thus, we, as a Board, remain firm in our commitment to serve the best interests of both. We are engaging in conversations with the Sakyong and the Sakyong Potrang about these and other issues, and how to go forward.

We feel it is important to communicate to you that we are committed to creating and maintaining:

A mandala centered on the teachings of both Sakyongs, the Shambhala terma and the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

A view of the Shambhala sangha as a community of practitioners at various points on the path, from entry level meditation practitioner through the Vajrayana, joined by the Shambhala dharma and its lineage, united in a view of Basic Goodness and the principles and practice of warriorship and Enlightened Society.

Inclusive, supportive, and responsive local and regional communities which invest in ongoing initiatives and training, to promote and sustain community health and well being.

An uplifted society, interested in working with the arts, the environment, physical warrior practices, the household, the family, personal recovery, and health and wellbeing, as well as social engagement, governance, and leadership.

A well-run non-profit organization with excellence in compliance, legal and financial affairs with transparency and community input.

A supportive organization, caring for its members and staff, with well-conceived policies and codes with appropriate and responsive supportive structures.

A governance approach in which there is radiance and responsiveness back and forth between center and fringe.

Inviting and listening with an open mind to all the diverse views and insights throughout our mandala to learn from the past and carefully guide necessary organizational changes for a prosperous and harmonious future.

That it is the Board’s responsibility to provide governance and an organizational container that supports these paths which requires us to take a long view into our future.

We acknowledge there are challenges to meet and healing work to be done, but we should not give up. May the Shambhala lineage, teachings and practice persevere, overcome obstacles, and thrive.

Please see below for our monthly update including information on the organization’s latest financial report, release of the new Shambhala Code of Conduct, and more.

With all heartfelt intentions in the lineage of the Great Eastern Sun,

The Shambhala Board

Veronika Bauer
Mark Blumenfeld
Phil Cass
John Cobb
Susan Engel
Lilly Gleich
Peter Nowak
Tai Pimputkar
Susan Ryan
Paulina Varas