Why does a Buddhist Tradition Care About Leadership?

GC_eo_JaneArthur_515On September 13th, SMCLA is delighted to have Minister Jane Arthur visit our community. Over decades, Ms. Arthur has held many positions within Shambhala, including the Director of the Boulder, Colorado Center (the largest Center, currently with 600+ members), and Director of the oldest of Shambhala’s residential retreat centers, Karme Choling in Vermont. Beyond these positions, she was Director of Vermont Leadership Institute and Vermont Leadership Network at the Snelling Center for Government, alongside being trained as a nurse and an attorney.

The Pillars

Ms. Arthur’s current title within Shambhala is the Minister of the Pillar of Government. Different from many Buddhist traditions, Shambhala is deliberately organized as a “society.” There are four Pillars: 1) Practice and Education, 2) Kasung, 3) Economy and 4) Government. All four Pillars are led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, with key figures following his lead in administering each area.

This structure shows that no aspect of life is outside the dharma. How we handle our money is dharma (Economy). How we participate in our communities (Government). How we meditate and come to know ourselves (Practice & Education). And how we deal with challenging situations, caring for our own and others’ vulnerability (Kasung).

The Pillar of Government includes the work done at every level within the organization, from the various councils that allow our Centers to function, to coordinating special events and projects that arise, to the people who clean our spaces, create our flower arrangements on the shrine, create signs and flyers and websites, those who answer emails and telephones, and many many more. This aspect of dharma is the day-to-day work aspect of life. We all do “work,” even if our work is just getting through our day, feeding ourselves, brushing our teeth, cleaning up the kitchen… Many of us do other work as well. Careers. Volunteerism. Childcare. Helping friends and family. If we don’t understand all of this work to be inseparable from dharma, we risk creating a “religious bubble” around meditation practice, keeping us from progressing along the path. Likewise, mixing our work life with the insight from meditation accelerates our understanding and allows us to be more effective and compassionate in our attempts to “Create Enlightened Society.”

As “Citizens of Shambhala” (whatever that means to us) and as Bodhisattvas in the world, Leadership becomes more and more important. If we look around in the world, enlightened Buddhist teachers aren’t just religious figures. They are also leaders, organizing projects, forming committees, deciding on agendas, and helping others to become more involved and invested. In our own lives, we aren’t just passive participants in our “work.” In many ways, large and small, our decisions affect those around us. We can feel empowered to participate with the mind of making our world (our home, our family, our community, our country) a saner, kinder, gentler and more engaged “society.” The effect of this work is what Buddhists traditionally call “merit” — the relaxed, open mind that results from putting out effort to care for the wellbeing of others.

In light of this, SMCLA looks forward to hearing from Ms. Arthur about her perspective about this mixing of life and practice, and how to create “The Kingdom of Shambhala” — a vision of how to make our lives and meditation seamless — in our day-to-day world.


Join us for Minister Arthur’s public talks at each of our L.A. Centers:

The Path of the Shambhala Warrior: Cultivating gentleness and strength in these aggressive times

Orange County: Sept 13th – 7:30pm

Westside Center: Sept 14th – 7:30pm

Eagle Rock: Sept 15th – 7:30pm

There will also be a

Farewell Celebration For Minister Jane Arthur

Eagle Rock: Sept 18th – 3-5:30pm