Overview of the Community Visioning Day

Dear friends,

On Sunday, February 24 about thirty people gathered to reflect on our past, discuss our present situation, and begin envisioning our future.  Though some were only able to attend a portion of the day the gathering was well attended throughout and most remained from start to finish, 9-5:30.  While a lot of attention was given to the challenges we face and lessons we have learned or still wish to learn, there was wide agreement that we have much to celebrate and appreciate.  This is a report on the general goings on with more targeted follow up yet to come.

The day was skillfully facilitated by Chris Kreeger and Yeshe Clarke.  The morning session focused on view, vision and inspiration and included a beautifully poignant teaching by Shastri Stephen Clarke that was precisely relevant to our immediate situation of transition.  Following the lineage invocation and a period of meditation together individual inspiration was brought into shared vision through personal statements and dyad exchanges.  Chris Kreeger then gave a powerful tour through the history and growth of the Shambhala Center from its founding in the mid-70’s, through many years as a small group of dedicated practitioners into the 90’s, followed by rapid growth in the mid to late 90’s and numerous changes of venue before coming to our present home which many feared would be too large when we first moved.  Chris then asked us all to stand before numbered signs indicating the year when we first came to the center and each person spoke of the initial inspiration that brought them and what made them stay.  It was very powerful to see the many dedicated sangha (newer and older) spread across time and hear the commonality in our experience.

Shastri Clarke closed out the morning with a teaching drawn from The Treatise on Enlightened Society and The Letter of the Black Ashe (of which Chris Kreeger wonderfully recited from memory a lengthy portion).  He reminded us of the ever present reality of impermanence and the fragility of the Shambhala Center, warning us against the danger of taking it for granted.  And he spoke of the essential principles that must be at the core of our community to ensure our continuity; Basic Goodness, embodied through fearlessness and gentleness; kindness brought forth through the six paramitas.  He pointed to a quote from the Letter of the Black Ashe about the people of Shambhala, “They were always without quarrel, ever loving, and very generous,” saying this is the essential practice of enlightened society.

The afternoon was dedicated to the earthy realities of remaining true to such brilliant inspiration and accomplishing our purposes amidst the difficult challenges we face.  In groups of four we were asked to discuss three questions.  How can we increase our collective lungta?  How can we cultivate a culture of kindness?  And how can we strengthen, support and deepen the practice of our core community?  The feedback from this discussion highlighted three areas we believe are important to focus on in the coming period.

  • Society and Culture
  • Relationship and communication
  • Strengthening practice (individual and group)

In closing we talked about practical steps to move forward in these areas.  This report on the day’s events is the first step.  In short order we will continue a more detailed examination of the suggestions brought forth in each of these areas with the intention to implement meaningful policies and practices.  The extent to which this process will involve further community participation will be based on the level of interest and enthusiasm within the community.  In the meantime, additional communications will be sent as appropriate.

Thank you to all those who offered yourselves to attend in person and to everyone who was not able to come in person but sent your very best wishes for a fruitful outcome!

– Jonathan Hanna

One thought on “Overview of the Community Visioning Day

  1. I am interested in joining your community. I have dropped in for the Sunday meditations occasionally throughout the years but have come to realize that in order to strengthen my practice I must connect with a community. My upcoming retirement will hopefully allow me the time to do this. Thanks for all you do. Tom

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