Frequently Asked Questions
What is Shambhala about?
It is the Shambhala view that every human being has a fundamental nature of goodness, warmth and intelligence. This nature can be cultivated through meditation, following ancient principles, and it can be further developed in daily life, so that it radiates out to family, friends, community and society.
In the course of our lives, this goodness, warmth and intelligence can easily become covered over by doubt, fear and egotism. We tend to fall into a kind of sleep or stupor, believing in the conditioning we have as the ultimate truth, and coming under the sway of fear. The journey of becoming fully human means seeing through fear and egotism, and waking up to our natural intelligence. It takes kindness to ourselves and others and courage, to wake up in this world.
The journey of awakening is known as the path of the warrior, as it requires the simple bravery to look directly at one's own mind and heart. The essential tool for doing this is mindfulness meditation. As we continue on the Shambhala path, we learn many other practices, to help us break through the ancient crust of ego and awaken to the joy of fully living in this world. Awakening and opening, we discover the world to be naturally sacred - pure and full of beauty. We begin to see clearly the goodness and wisdom of others, and to feel compassion to help them in myriad ways.
What exactly do you do?
Primarily we get together to practice meditation. That is the ground that everything else rests on. Frequently, after the meditation practice, one person will offer a short reading or presentation, which the group can then discuss. Sometimes we do more specialized meditation practices such as tonglen (a way of opening your heart to the suffering of others) but you don't need to know how to do that to participate. We also do some special events, such as offering additional programs, helping out with the community food drive, or taking field trips to local sites of interest. Finally, we are actively concerned with the health and well-being of others, both within our meditation group and in the larger community. For example, we sometimes organize bringing meals to someone who is ill. Participation in all of this is entirely voluntary - you may, if you wish, do nothing beyond coming to sit with us in meditation practice, or just help with the health and well-being group.
Is Shambhala a form of Buddhism?
Yes and no. Our lineage draws on the wisdom of the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism as inherited by founder of Shambhala, Chogyam Trungpa, and his son and spiritual heir, Sakyong Mipham. In the mid-1970s Chogyam Trungpa began to introduce teachings on Shambhala vision, based on his encounter with the Western world, and on the specific wisdom imparted from the Buddha to King Dawa Sangpo, the first sovereign of the legendary kingdom of Shambhala. This tradition teaches how to live in the secular world with courage and compassion.
What does the term "Shambhala" mean?
In order to provide an environment in which Buddhism can flourish in the West, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche presented the spiritual journey in the cultural context of Shambhala--a personal and social vision of awakening that is accessible to everyone, all the time, even in the midst of busy daily life. The name and outlook for his approach comes from the legendary kingdom of Shambhala. This land has for centuries been seen throughout central Asia as a source of individual and cultural virtue: a place in which inhabitants led meditative lives of bravery, gentleness and intelligence, where they acted with responsibility and delight in caring for one another.
Do you have to be Buddhist to participate?
Not at all. Shambhala vision is rooted in the contemplative teachings of Buddhism, yet is a fresh expression of the spiritual journey for our time; it is available to practitioners of any tradition. It is never dogmatic - you are encouraged to question the Shambhala teachings, always holding them up to the light of your own wisdom and experience, rather than taking them on blind faith.
How do I learn to meditate?
We offer introductory meditation instruction at the beginning of each practice session, the first Sunday morning of the month at 9 a.m., and on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. A special program, Beginning to Meditate, is offered approximately every other month. Check the calendar for dates. If you want to go further, we can help you connect with a meditation instructor who will work with you one-on-one for an extended period.
I already know how to meditate from a different tradition. Can I attend?
You're welcome if practicing a silent mindfulness awareness practice; we encourage you to come and be exposed to the Shambhala tradition, receive meditation instruction, and try it.
Why have a Shambhala group in Longmont, when there's a large one right down the road in Boulder?
On the practical level, many people from Longmont and surrounding towns find it very helpful to have a local group available - for example, if you don't like driving into Boulder at night. Beyond that, Longmont has certain advantages over Boulder - this is a much smaller and more intimate group, where you can soon get to know everyone and make an immediate, real contribution with your participation. We are not trying to duplicate all the wonderful things Boulder does better than we can - instead, we focus on the special opportunities arising from our location and smaller size.
Can you recommend books about these teachings?
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: Ruling Your World; Turning the Mind into an Ally; Running with the Mind of Meditation
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche: Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior; Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Anything by Pema Chodron
Also we have a small lending library of books which you can sign out on any Thursday evening and return a few weeks later. These books are in a basket near the door, with the signout sheet.
When and where do you meet?
Every Thursday evening from 7 to 9 pm we meet at The Meditation Place, 940 Kimbark, Longmont. The Thursday evenings generally consist of meditation practice from 7-8 (a mixture of sitting and walking meditation), and a short reading followed by discussion and tea from 8-9. You are welcome to come for part of the evening - you can arrive late or leave early, as you wish. Also, we have a full morning session from 9-12 am the first Sunday of every month, also with open attendance. Besides that we sometimes offer additional programs on other dates.
Is there a cost?
There is a suggested donation, but whatever is affordable to you.
Do you have to sit cross-legged on the floor?
No. At every meditation session we always have several chairs available for anyone who is more comfortable that way. There is no problem - you're welcome to use whatever posture works best for you. Many of our long-term members routinely meditate in a chair.
Do you offer child care during your sessions?
No, at least for now. It may be possible for your child to attend, if they can sit quietly and not disrupt the meditation time for other people. Realistically it will probably be hard to handle for kids younger than teenagers.
I have questions about all of this. Who can I talk to?
One specific person you can call is Eric Meyer at 720 352 6663. He is what is called a Shambhala Guide, which means he can try to answer your questions or, if he doesn't know, refer you to more experienced teachers. More generally, if you come to any Thursday evening session, there will be a person sitting near the door who welcomes any questions or concerns you may have.
You say you help people. I need help. Who can I talk to?
Ask anyone at the thursday night sitting. Depending on the particular kind of help you need, she may be able to get assistance from within our group, or refer you to someone in the larger community. Also, see the question above - that answer applies here too.
How can I help you?
Again, ask anyone at the Thursday night sitting. Look at the Projects section of the website to get an idea of the various kinds of activity the group is engaged in and see what interests you. We also have an ongoing need for filling various support positions for our Thursday evening sessions - for example, helping with the tea, leading a discussion, or serving as timekeeper. For more information about those support positions, or to sign up, use the link on the Home page.