This is the fourth 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.
STEVE CAUTHERS describes himself as “a semi-retired postal worker, father, husband, and aspiring meditator.”Bobbie Ogletree: When did you become a member of the Shambhala Centre?
Steve Cauthers: Six years ago.
Did you have other practices or another path before you became involved with Shambhala?
In my early twenties, I was having a rough go of it emotionally, and I was abusing drugs and alcohol. So, I went to AA and learned about a higher power. I hadn’t been raised with any religion and I investigated this idea on my own. I became involved with prayer and I prayed on a daily basis for about twenty-three years.
What attracted you to the Shambhala Centre?
There was a man at work who went to the Centre. I was attracted to his centered energy. I was coming out of a divorce and my mind was very discursive. I really like to read, but my mind was so discursive that I couldn’t concentrate on reading. I also thought that I wasn’t getting enough out of prayer and that I needed a shift.
How has the Shambhala practice helped you?
I am a fairly anxious type of person and the practice has helped in this area. I can still be quite anxious, but the practice has reduced the level of the anxiety, if only a little at times.
What kinds of hindrances do you experience in your practice?
I tend to be very busy in my life. I wake up very early, go to work, stop off at home, get on the computer etc. I sometimes really fill up my life so that I feel I don’t have enough time to practice. Another obstacle I experience is maitri/self-love. I sometimes have trouble being gentle with myself. But the practice has increased my ability to do that. So that is also a benefit of the practice.
Do you practice regularly?
Kind of semi-regularly. I have a shrine set up, and I will go a few weeks practicing for an hour daily. I feel the positive effects of this quickly. But then I let the practice go for awhile and that can make it hard to resume it. I do try to remember to bring my practice into my day even if I am not sitting.
How do you apply your practice to living the Shambhala vision in our seemingly chaotic world?
I see people’s pain and suffering; I see their anger and their lashing out. I can be affected by this. However, more and more I can see where they are coming from. The practice has helped me develop more empathy. My outlook is that we are all on the planet together.
What is an aspect of your Shambhala vision?
I see Shambhala as a place where everyone opens doors for each other.