Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Free

What Is Shambhala Buddhism?

Gain a better understanding of this Westernized strand of a meditation, dating back thousands of years.

523
Author Image
Meditation Advisor
SHARE:

There’s a beautiful legend that I’d like to believe is true. At the time of the Buddha there lived a king named Dawa Sangpo. He heard tales of the Buddha in whatever way people heard news back then (YouTube? Times of India?) and was inspired to study with him. He traveled a great distance only to find himself disappointed when he encountered the monastic community. He approached the Buddha and said, “I would love to study with you, but I cannot run off and become a monastic like the rest of your students. I’m a king. A large number of people rely on me to serve as a householder and rule that kingdom. Are there any teachings you can offer me?”

It is said that the Buddha asked his monastic followers to leave the area before he imparted what is now known as the Kalachakra teachings on Dawa Sangpo. These teachings cover how to live with mindfulness and compassion. Dawa Sangpo took them to heart and returned to his kingdom. Based on his own practice and study going forward he became known as a wonderful leader, and his kingdom became home to people from all religious traditions, socio-economic positions, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. The shared values for that kingdom were those imparted by the Buddha: mindfulness and compassion. Under this common banner this kingdom became a culture where people became awake and kind. This kingdom was known as Shambhala.


Related: A Simple Guide to the Complex World of Meditation


Flash-forward several centuries: The head of a Tibetan monastery, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was forced to flee his native land and enter India. He then got a scholarship to study at Oxford and, upon immersing himself in the Western world, discovered that some translation was necessary if he was going to continue to offer the Buddhist teachings. It wasn’t just taking the Tibetan Buddhist words and turning them into English. He needed to shirk his monastic robes, dress like Westerners, speak their language fluidly, smoke, and do everything they did. He was branded a black sheep in the Tibetan Buddhist world for a number of years but ultimately was welcomed back when the powers-that-be realized how many Westerners were able to access the teachings because of what he was doing.

Realizing his Western students weren’t, for the most part, going to become monastics or even traditional Buddhists, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche emphasized the Shambhala teachings, creating a secular track of meditation study that could make the traditional teachings accessible to people from all walks of life. He designed a series of weekend meditation retreats that eliminated all Buddhist jargon, simultaneously introducing Western terms to point at the truths of meditative experience. As a result of his work bringing Buddhism to the West, over 200 Shambhala Centers exist worldwide. After his passing, his son and my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, became the head of the lineage of Tibetan Buddhism that his father represented. He placed a further emphasis on the Shambhala teachings, making the lineage distinctly known as Shambhala Buddhism. He teaches across the globe while overseeing these hundreds of centers, with tens of thousands of people studying mindfulness and traditional Buddhist studies without necessarily becoming Buddhist themselves.

I was born into the Shambhala lineage in 1982. My parents were students of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and identified more with the Tibetan Buddhist side of the tradition than the teachings that were uniquely Western. However, I was thrown into the introductory Shambhala Training Level I weekend when I was 11 years old and took to it. I had years when I did the typical teenage rebellion thing, going so far as to spend a summer studying other Buddhist traditions (I know, I’m not much of a rebel) and ultimately came back to Shambhala. Why? Because it emphasizes not just meditation teachings for our own enlightenment but so that we can create a more enlightened society. With the original kingdom of Shambhala as a template, the Shambhala community strives to welcome all types of people and offer teachings on how to live your life with more mindfulness and compassion, so that individuals can positively affect society overall.


Related: How Meditating as a Child Shaped My Life


 

One aspect of the Shambhala Buddhist teachings that fascinates me is that we don’t idolize the original kingdom of Shambhala, the Buddha, or our forefathers in the Tibetan Buddhist world such as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. These are all examples or templates for what we can create right now, in this very moment. The Shambhala lineage has placed a fair amount of onus on individuals manifesting the principles of mindfulness and compassion day-in and day-out. Well-known authors and teachers such as Pema Chodron, Susan Piver, and Ethan Nichtern are all Shambhala Buddhists who are actively showing how to take one’s meditation practice off the cushion and into your everyday life, including your relationship, your work, and how you create social change.

While the original template for Shambhala may have existed some 2600 years ago, and the story is somewhat legendary, we can see a framework for how one individual can show up, deepen her practice and study, and have a profound influence on society overall. That individual does not have to be a king, a great spiritual teacher, or an author. It can be you. You can choose to contribute to the society you are a part of—your workplace, your yoga studio, or your home, for example—and transform it into a more mindful place. Or you can lay low and give in to the aggression and speed that may currently exist there. When you choose to take on mindfulness and compassion as the qualities you want to bring into your life, then you are creating an enlightened society on the spot.

Photo by Hailey Wist; Outfitted by YogaSmoga

By

SHARE:

Comments (0)

An Expert Guide to Crow Pose

Download Sonima’s comprehensive guide to this exciting “reach” posture and enjoy the benefits of expert instruction at home!

Get the Guide

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • This is our third week of ‘Thankful Thursday’ in this month of gratitude. #gratitudemonth2019 🙏🏽 Today we give thanks for our health. 
Strengthening the mind-body connection is crucial for our emotional wellbeing, especially during times that may feel stressful. 
Ayurveda, the ancient medicinal system from India, provides some good advice that can help you stay calm and carry on.

See the link in our bio to learn more about Ayurveda’s approach to mental and physical health because they go hand in hand. .

Tell us how you are grateful for your Health. 
We can’t wait to read your thoughts during our November #gratitudechallenge co-hosted by @malasbyemma 📿

Remember to tag us and use #thankfulthursdaysonima 💜
.
.

#malasbyemma #gratitudegiveaway 
#nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudejournal #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth 
#attitudequotes #attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima
  • It’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu, and we have 30 clean eating recipes that will tantalize your tastebuds and amaze your guests! 🥧 
Healthy eating may seem like a challenge around the holidays, but the truth is, these crowd-pleasing recipes, made from wholesome ingredients, are worthy of any family gathering. 🙏🏽 .

Discover many vegan, paleo and gluten-free options for you and your loved ones to enjoy! ✨
Click on our bio link to start planning your grocery list! .
.
.
.
.
.
Article by Clean Eating Expert and Chef @amievalpone 
#veganthanksgiving #paleothanksgiving #glutenfreethanksgiving #veganrecipes #paleorecipes #glutenfreerecipes #thanksgivingdinner #thanksgivingcookies #thanksgivingrecipes #cleaneatingrecipe #cleaneatingideas #cleaneatingaddict #cleaneatinglifestyle #healthythanksgivingrecipes 
#amievalpone #cleandiet #eatingclean #antiinflammatorydiet #flightinflammationwithfood #vegetarianrecipes #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices #balancediet #mindbodyconnection
  • No one likes needles—until they've tried acupuncture! 
In this article (linked in our bio) we take a closer look at how this ancient Chinese practice works and why it's giving new meaning to healthcare. 
Curious? 
Read the full article in our bio link. 📍
.
.
.
.
.
#painfree #painfreeliving #acupuncture #acupunctureworks #acupuncturelife #mondaymotivation #mondaymornings #focusonwhatyouwant #healingenergy #bodytransformation #mindmedicine #mondayinspiration #mindbodyconnection 
#yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #alternativemedicine #tcm #healthylifestyle
  • This weekend try these gluten-free Vegetarian Fajitas with guacamole! .

Our wellness expert Amie Valpone @amievalpone shares another healthy, detoxifying recipe to make your body feel good.

Simply sauté a few vegetables, mash avocado with fresh lime juice and garlic to make guacamole, and if you like, thin some hummus for a flavorful drizzle to add on top. 🌮
.

Find the full recipe and ingredient list on our website. Follow our bio link! .
.
.
.
.
#amievalpone #cleaneatingrecipe #cleandiet #detoxdiet #eatingclean #thehealthyapple #resetyourbody #antiinflammatorydiet #flightinflammationwithfood #eatingcleanrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #veganrecipes #veganfoodlovers #veganfood #vegetarianmeals #healthyrecipes #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #balancediet #mindbodyconnection #vegetarianfajitas #veganmexicanfood #veganfajitas
  • Today is the second Thursday of November #gratitudemonth2019 - “Home is where the heart is.” 🙏🏽 On this Thankful Thursday we are grateful for what makes us feel at Home. 
Those spaces and places where we can relax and unwind. The faces of those who make us laugh and love. All the people that we share our joy and sorrow with, because home isn’t just a place, it’s the people who fill your heart. 💗

To really be present and enjoy your home, it’s  important to learn how to truly leave work at the office and create a more balanced, and conscious life with the ones you hold dear. ✨

This week we share an article to help you set boundaries and more clearly define your different roles, so that you can get the most out of the time you have in the home you love. .

Click on the link in our bio! 
We look forward to seeing your thoughts on Home for #thankfulthursdaysonima in our November #gratitudechallenge co-hosted by @malasbyemma 📿
.
.
.
.

#malasbyemma #gratitudegiveaway 
#nationalgratitudemonth #gratitudechallenge #gratefulheart #gratitudeattitude #gratitudedaily #thankfulgratefulblessed #thankfulheart #gratitudepractice #attitudeofgratitude 
#gratefulforlife #gratitudemonth 
#attitudequotes #attitudeofgratitude #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #homeiswheretheheartis #homesweethome #loveyourhome
  • It’s World Kindness Day! Feel good. Practice random acts of kindness today. 💞

Recently, a Harvard University study demonstrated that even witnessing acts of kindness can produce a positive physiological response in the observer. . . ✨Meaning, when you act with compassion you improve the health of others as well as yourself! 
Do one of these 3 things today:
.
🔸 Compliment a stranger .
🔸 Give abundantly: Pay It Forward .
🔸 Call on your inner child and spend some quality time with your children

Let us know how it goes in the comments below! . . . ✨Read the article linked in our bio for more ideas on other acts of kindness and for more details on the Harvard University study. .
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#worldkindnessday #worldkindnessday2019 #randomactsofkindness #kindnessmatters #bekind #compassionateliving #compassionovercruelty #yogalifestyle #yogaliving #positivenergy #positivelifestyle #positivemindpositivelife
#mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #livefit #sonima #livesonima #healthylivingrevolution #healthierchoices  #balancedlife #createbalance #createhealthyhabits #brainhealth #mindbodyconnection #introspection #meditatedaily #meditationinspiration #actsofkindness #lovewins
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!