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?
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?
As we start each Thursday night session, anyone is welcome to ask for a review of meditation instruction. Even experienced meditators are happy to hear it again - that's fine. For a more in-depth introduction to meditation, you may want to set up a meeting with a qualified meditation instructor. It's free, and can happen whenever is convenient to both of you.
I already know how to meditate from a different tradition. Can I attend?
You're most welcome if you come from another 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?
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
When and where do you meet?
Currently all our sessions are meeting online via Zoom. At first that was a precautionary measure because of the pandemic. Later we found that some people actually prefer Zoom, for various personal reasons. Also, the place we used to meet, The Meditation Place in Longmont, unfortunately closed at the end of June 2021. We have not yet found a new place to meet.
Is there a cost?
Basically it's free, but we do have expenses for teacher gifts, technical costs, and other things. We welcome any donation you'd like to make, in whatever amount. You can do that at the bottom of the main web page, or if you prefer, you can send a check in whatever amount to the LSMG treasurer, Eric Meyer, 1645 Gillette Ct, Longmont CO 80501.
Do you have to sit cross-legged on the floor?
No. Since we're currently meeting online via Zoom, it doesn't arise. But when we were meeting in person, lots of people would choose to meditate from chairs rather than sitting on cushions. This is gentle and accommodating practice, not any kind of torture.
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, you can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and either ask via email, or set up a live meeting to talk to a good person for your particular questions.