Vision and Lineage

We recognize and believe that everyone possesses innate goodness. By recognizing that in each other, we can work together to create a better world.
-Shambhala Member, Florida, USA

We are a global community of meditators, spiritual practitioners, and people who believe that human beings are basically good.

Shambhala brings together people from all walks of life to learn, through the practice of meditation, to be kind to ourselves and others. We are committed to creating communities where we support one another on our spiritual paths and celebrate life’s journey together, and to creating a society that brings out the best in each of us.

At the heart of our spiritual path are the Shambhala teachings first offered by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a meditation master in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The Shambhala teachings draw from these and other wisdom traditions.  The tradition holds that these principles do not belong to one culture or religion. This is a secular non-religious approach that teaches the way to cultivate courage, dignity, and kindness, and therefore a good human society. The Shambhala tradition holds that these noble qualities are inherent in all beings and are ultimately more stable than aggression and greed.

Shambhala Vision

Shambhala vision is rooted in the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness: the inherent wisdom, compassion, and courage of all beings, and even of human society. It acknowledges our inherent human dignity, worthiness, completeness and non-faultiness, and leads us to have confidence in that. This nature can be brought into daily life so that it radiates out to family, friends, community, and society.

In this time of great difficulty for ourselves, society, and the planet, the Shambhala teachings can help us show up with fearlessness and gentleness, to meet the challenges brought on by intense materialism and aggression.

Our vision is to help people discover their basic goodness. From this place of kindness and confidence, we can work together to create compassionate, sustainable, and just human societies. We call this “creating enlightened society.” In this tradition enlightened society is not a Utopian state, but it is a society that has enough confidence and trust to acknowledge humanities most innate principle: basic goodness.

“Shambhala” is the name of a mythical kingdom in Central Asia where the people enjoyed harmony, good health, and well-being.  The basis for such an enlightened society is the people’s confidence and respect for inherent goodness, wisdom and dignity–in themselves, in each other, and in society.  The wisdom that enabled the culture and community of Shambhala to flourish has been handed down from teacher to student, and is the core of Shambhala’s offerings.  The kingdom of Shambhala is a model for the creation of enlightened society here and now.

Shambhala Teachings

The teachings are grounded in ancient wisdom and practical knowledge from many traditional cultures, especially teachings from ancient Tibet. These teachings begin with the understanding that all beings are basically good, and that life is worth living. We call this a path of spiritual warriorship, which here means living a life of fearlessness, gentleness, and intelligence. The Shambhala teachings emphasize being in the world, and bringing together everyday life, work, family, and social action with the path of meditation.   The teachings focus on how to help this world. In essence, Shambhala is about living a full human life, right in the midst of challenges.

“The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. The wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come from the West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of human warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history.”

— Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

The Shambhala Path

Discovering one’s own innate goodness and the goodness in society

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. 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 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.

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. Our lineage draws on the wisdom of the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism, as inherited by founder of Shambhala, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In the mid-1970’s Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche 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.

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Shambhala Culture

Shambhala vision includes a rich culture—ways of living that incorporate our practice and principles into everyday life. Shambhala culture involves seeing ordinary moments as opportunities to practice, by expressing beauty and elegance, hosting others, marking occasions, and extending awareness into simple tasks.

As elements of this culture, we have our own flag and anthem, as well as a trove of unique iconography that has developed over the lifetime of our community. This iconography can be seen on banners, pins, and artwork throughout our community and at Shambhala Centres and Groups.

We also have a deep connection to numerous contemplative arts, which are ways in which we contact and express wakeful mind.