Kootenay Shambhala Blog
March 23rd, 2011 by Michael Foster
By Russell Rodgers
One of the key commitments in vajrayana Buddhism is to experience the world as sacred. Sacred in this context doesn’t mean that some deity proclaimed it so; it just is, primordially, in the present moment of fresh, pristine awareness. In our business, however, we live in our thoughts and concepts about the world rather than the world itself, and we lose touch with its sacredness and basic goodness. Our concepts can be so subtle and pervasive that we don’t even realize that they are there. We just feel deadened and disconnected from the magical, living quality in our surroundings. At the same time, we feel haunted by the feeling that something is missing.
In 2009, we did a retreat called “Touching the Earth”, which explored our connection with the natural world in dharmic terms. This summer I thought we could dig deeper into the aspect of pure perception and self existing, natural ordinary magic. We’ll use meditation and contemplation to dissolve barriers to direct, non-conceptual experience. We’ll do a lot of awakened heart practice to connect to our fellow sentient beings in the forest and in the world at large. We’ll use the Mahayana teachings on empty/fullness to explore our perceptions and establish an authentic relationship to our surroundings. Based on our meditation practice, we’ll look into drala, the naturally existing power of places that wakes us up into sacredness.
At this time in our history, we humans have extraordinary power over nature, and at the same time, we have become more disconnected from it. Over the past many years of doing outdoor meditation retreats at Senge Ling, I have been impressed with the power of practicing in the forest to restore my connections. The meditation pavilion, screened but open on all sides to the forest makes this possible. This summer, I think the time is ripe to use the wisdom of our tradition to deepen our relationship with the world more fully. Ultimately, our place in nature must be realized from the inside if we are to make a difference to the planet. This journey is not particularly political: it’s simply a profound and deep appreciation of what we have.
Here is a message from King Gesar to his subjects in the land of Ling in the 11th century in Tibet. I think it applies today:
The world is healed or harmed each instant
In the stillness of our hearts.
Whether we struggle or rejoice, this is so.
People of Ling, this is our power and the power of all.
We must open the true kingdom in our hearts.
For more information please see our program listing for the 2011 Public Weekthün.
August 26th, 2010 by James Northcote
The Kootenay Shambhala Centre has been offering online courses and other online programming for a number of years. This service is meant to support students, extend our Centre’s reach, and build community.
If you have any questions about the service―or if you participated in any of our core path programs (such as Shambhala Training weekends or other Way of Shambhala offerings) in the last few years and would like to revisit the teachings, but you’ve lost the info you need to access the participants-only webpage(s)―just let us know, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 13th, 2010 by James Northcote
This year’s Pacific Northwest Winter Retreat―at Camp Pringle, on the shore of Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island―is set to run from December 18, 2010 to January 1, 2011.
The retreat comprises two two-week programs (each with one-week participation options): a Half-Dathun mindfulness-awareness meditation retreat open to all; and, for Shambhala Vajrayana Seminary graduates, a Ngondro and Werma Retreat.
Click on the following links for full descriptions, on the Victoria Shambhala Centre’s website:
• Pacific Northwest Half-Dathun
with Margaret Jones Callahan
Camp Pringle, Shawnigan Lake, BC
December 18, 2010 – January 1, 2011
• Pacific Northwest Ngondro and Werma Retreat
with Brian Callahan
Camp Pringle, Shawnigan Lake, BC
December 18, 2010 – January 1, 2011
Learn more about our regional community on the Kootenay Shambhala Centre’s Pacific Northwest Shambhala Community page.
August 2nd, 2010 by James Northcote
This is the fifth 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. Click here for all member interviews.
LYNN DRAGONE is a longtime resident of Nelson, a movement educator, caregiver, and the Kootenay Shambhala Centre’s current Director.
Lynn Dragone at Gampo Abbey
Bobbie Ogletree: You recently returned from Gampo Abbey. How long were you there?
Lynn Dragone: Nine months. Three months as a lay person plus six months as a monastic.
What motivated you to leave here and go there?
I was looking for a strong practice environment. I had kind of scouted that out by doing different programs at Shambhala Mountain Center, Karme Choling, and Dechen Choling in France. I felt like the big land centres have so many programs with a lot of people coming and going. You work more like an eight-hour day. You do have practice at different hours, like I am used to at home. At Gampo Abbey, the workday is four hours and there are at least four hours of practice a day, usually five or six.
Did being at Gampo Abbey meet your expectations?
It did. It was exactly what I wanted. I had a curiosity, though, about monasticism as a way of life, and I found that it is not for me. Our lineage is the only one that offers a temporary experience of monasticism. It is a great thing to do for a period of time. It’s really good practice to be in a strong environment with 30 people where you are faced with what kind of world you are creating, noticing and working with that and being dedicated to that. It matches up with the Shambhala vision.
Did you have periods of silence and interaction with community members?
Yes, from 7:30 pm until 12:30 the next day, we were in silence. 12:30 is lunch time and lunch is the main meal. It is a social time. The work period follows. During this period, we are also encouraged to be silent. The silence helped us examine what makes speech mindful. We brought the social atmosphere to awareness. Some people were bothered by small talk, but others felt it is part of human nature. The social atmosphere provoked different things in different people.
What kind of hindrances arose from doing so much practice and being in community?
The first week I was there, I noticed the people I didn’t like. I decided right away to move towards them because I was there to examine this kind of thing. They didn’t become people I loved, but I noticed taking responsibility for my attitudes, for my thoughts was the theme of being there. Doing so really helped me change my attitude towards parts of myself that I don’t like. It helped me be more accepting. Sometimes I could feel the karma burning (laughs). There were cycles of opening to difficult stuff, clearing, feeling new growth, and again the experiencing of difficult stuff.
Did anything there really surprise you?
Sometimes it was my reaction to communication from the outside. It could really provoke me. I went through a period of time where I couldn’t have this communication. I needed to rest in the immediate space. I felt it was the gift of being there to allow myself that luxury. In nine months, I only went to town two afternoons.
Was re-entry difficult?
No, not at all. I had planned to visit ten households before I came home. I thought it could be overwhelming. It was fine, but I had to work with noticing what I was anticipating. I didn’t want to be a hothouse flower. That is what I felt vigilant about in relation to monasticism. I want the practice to encourage the Shambhala vision of more turning to the world, more openness, more flexibility.
Have you noticed anything different about the Centre or do you feel a sense of continuity?
Summer is a quiet time. I just feel very happy to be back here. I love the sangha so much. I feel its preciousness. I think I had to reconnect with what it means to be going back as Director with a renewed sense of what I have to offer as who I am.
April 23rd, 2010 by James Northcote
The Kootenay Shambhala Centre is pleased to present Earth Dharma, a five-class course with Russell Rodgers, on Thursday evenings, from May 20th to June 17th.
We will explore our relationship with the earth, our present ecological predicament, and how meditation and other practices can help.
Everyone is welcome. Online participation (through audio recordings and other resources) will be possible. For a full program description click here.
March 25th, 2010 by James Northcote
Shambhala members from across the Pacific Northwest are gathering in Bellingham, Washington this Saturday and Sunday (March 27 and 28) for the Pacific Northwest Shambhala Leadership Conference. The program includes practice, teachings, workshops and celebration to build our regional community.
Warmest wishes from Nelson to all conference participants!!
If any of you―Amber, Ann, Bonnie, Cynthia, Dan, Dian, John, Katherine, Ken, Lesa, Lisa, Marcia, Mark, Paul, Rick, Shelley…?―want to share your impressions of the conference, you can use the comments section below.
February 26th, 2010 by James Northcote
The 100 Mile House Shambhala Meditation Group has just launched a blog, and they’ve wasted no time putting it to work. One post publicizes the Great Eastern Sun – Drala – Windhorse retreat they’re hosting at Mahood Falls, BC from August 30th to September 5th, 2010; another features Mahood Falls photos from a recent retreat.
To follow the Group’s activity, visit their blog: 100 Mile House Shambhala Meditation Group.
May basic goodness continue to flower in central BC!
Retreat at Mahood Falls
December 27th, 2009 by James Northcote
The document linked here―Practices for the Earth (PDF)―contains an essay written by senior Kootenay Shambhala Centre teacher Russell Rodgers outlining the teachings he presented at last summer’s Kootenay Public Weekthun 2009: Touching the Earth meditation retreat, and describing the approach used to deliver the teachings.
He submitted the document for the possible benefit of Shambhala teachers, environmentalists and others.
• Container Principle
• The Root of Ecological Problems
• The Senses: Our Gateways to the Natural World
• Making a Heart Connection to All Living Beings
• The Eco-dharma of Emptiness
• Drala: Working with Presence
• Introduction to the Lhasang
An “Afterthoughts” section provides additional material.
You can offer feedback by leaving a reply below, or by emailing Russell Rodgers at email@example.com.
December 26th, 2009 by James Northcote
“The success of our community, and its future, is going to depend heavily on the visible and ‘feelable’ kindness that is in our mandala,” said the Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, at the concluding session of the Fourth Shambhala Congress, which took place in Halifax in November. “We can be doing a lot of things right when it comes to programs, but if there is not a feeling of kindness, nothing is really going to stick.”
The Sakyong’s Council has now formally decided that the key strategic objective for the immediate period, in line with the Sakyong’s wishes and the aspirations expressed by the Congress, would be to “deepen community and manifest a culture of kindness.”
The aim of this post is to invite anyone in the Pacific Northwest Shambhala community (or beyond) to participate in a collective contemplation of what it means to deepen community and manifest a culture of kindness.
What inspires you about your local Shambhala community? How does kindness manifest there? What do you find challenging―or even alienating? What else…? Join the discussion in the comments section below. All respectfully expressed thoughts and feelings are welcome.
For related pre-Congress discussion, see the post Exploring community.
November 26th, 2009 by James Northcote
The Abhidharma is the collection of the Buddha’s teachings on the composition and functions of the human mind.
If you are looking for a Buddhist Studies course offering a more in-depth exploration of these teachings than is presented in the Way of Shambhala curriculum, consider taking this one: Looking at Mind: An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology.
Taught by David Marshall, this course is scheduled to run at the Kootenay Shambhala Centre on six consecutive Thursdays, from February 11th to March 18th, 2010. Everyone is welcome. Online participation―through audio recordings and other materials―will be possible.
For a full course description, go to our Looking at Mind: An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology page.