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This is the third in a series of Kootenay Shambhala member interviews conducted by Bobbie Ogletree to explore the notion of “creating enlightened society,” a central theme of Shambhala, and celebrate our community’s diversity.
JIM NORTHCOTE, a retired wilderness outfitter, enjoys living in Nelson and serving the world however he can.Bobbie Ogletree: How long have you been practicing Shambhala Buddhism?
Jim Northcote: About 15 years.
How long have you been a member of the Kootenay Shambhala community?
About 13 years.
What initially drew you to explore Shambhala Buddhism?
Suffering―I had a history of depression. During that time of my life, I learned from books on Christian mysticism and cognitive behavioral psychology how much my thoughts could influence my sense of well-being. A little later I visited the Shambhala Centre and discovered Pema Chödrön’s books and audio/video recordings. Pema helped me understand what it meant to befriend my experience. She helped me make a deep shift in my worldview. She’s one of my heroes.
You have been a member of the Shambhala community for a long time. What have been some of the major changes in the community since you joined it?
One thing is the number of people involved. In the first course I attended, there were just two students. I don’t think there was much publicity beyond word of mouth at the time. To me, the Shambhala Centre feels a lot more vibrant now and members have more interest in interacting with the greater community. I’d say this has to do with dissolving a false dichotomy between “us” and “them.”
What aspect of the Kootenay Shambhala Centre currently inspires you?
The benefits of the view, practice, and community I observe in myself and others. Nothing special really―just a calling to be fully human.
Could you describe something that keeps your practice invigorated?
I’m aware of the world’s immense suffering, and it touches me deeply. I want to use my life to do what I can to help. My practice on and off the cushion is the best way I know to do this.
The world seems to be getting increasingly more chaotic. How do you reconcile this chaos with your view of creating enlightened society?
Everything depends on one’s point of view. From one viewpoint, the world appears to be getting increasingly chaotic and problematic. From another, the world is worthy of respect and appreciation as it is―chaos and all. I see the latter as the basis for a genuinely kind society.
The Buddhist Youth Project provides opportunities to:
• explore Buddhism and meditation
• be part of a diverse global community of like-minded people
• find or create local and international initiatives
• have fun, connect, meditate, discuss, create, practice, learn, celebrate, explore, party!
Interested? Click here.
While our education programming starts to wind down for the summer, other aspects of our community’s activity continue to hum along. See the June issue of Kootenay Shambhala eNews.
The collection, available for loan to members, features a wonderfully rich selection of new and classic Shambhala Buddhist and related materials. Materials are catalogued according to format―book, CD, DVD or VHS―in documents now posted in the Kootenay Shambhala Members Area. See Library Catalogues.
Maria invites you to suggest additions to the collection. You can use the comments section below or contact her at email@example.com.
Michael Foster, who stepped into our newly created Volunteer Coordinator role yesterday, has been working over the last couple of months compiling information about the Centre’s opportunities for volunteers. This information, adapted for our website, is now available on our (nascent) Volunteering page.
Watch for periodic updates and other developments.
The Pacific Northwest Winter Retreat resumes this year after a one-year hiatus due to construction at Camp Pringle (Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia), the retreat site. The retreat is set to run from December 18, 2010 to January 1, 2011. Stay tuned for details.
Learn more about the Pacific Northwest Winter Retreat―and our regional community―on our Pacific Northwest Shambhala Community page.
The interview is available as a podcast and a transcript in the following post on the Buddhist Geeks website: BG 170: Enlightened Society
This is the second in a series of Kootenay Shambhala member interviews conducted by Bobbie Ogletree to explore the notion of “creating enlightened society,” a central theme of Shambhala, and celebrate our community’s diversity.
MARIA STELLA is a Shambhala meditation instructor and Shambhala Training coordinator. She is also an East-West Psychology PhD candidate.
Click on the images below to enlarge them.
Bobbie Ogletree: How long have you been practicing Shambhala Buddhism and how long have you been a member of the Kootenay Shambhala Centre?
Maria Stella: I have been practicing for 10 years and became a member of the Kootenay Shambhala Centre in June 2009.
What inspires you at the Kootenay Shambhala Centre?
Being part of Shambhala Training weekends. It really inspires me to see people go through the levels and open up over time, to see them experience the teachings, not only at the Kootenay Shambhala Centre, but also in other Centres.
How do you think this can be enhanced at the Centre?
By being aware of how much volunteers can help. It is not just about how many volunteers there are at Shambhala training levels. It is their presence; the presence of the volunteers and their sharing the meditation space always helps creating openness.
What is one way in which you apply your vision of enlightened society to your work, your family, or a significant relationship?
One way I do this is by watching myself at home to see where I open up or shut down and how to work with all of the situations that occur.
How does the practice help you do this?
The practice is a way of putting a spotlight on whatever state I am in by slowing down and observing and by being with whatever is.
How do you maintain your vision of enlightened society in the midst of our chaotic world?
By slowing down, being mindful and practicing. If I do that, I can recognize how much the energy can change in a positive way. It has a ripple effect.