Shambhala Lineage

The origins of Shambhala are sourced in an ancient, possibly mythical, kingdom of Shambhala,  renowned for the compassion and wisdom of its citizens. According to the legend these qualities were the result of unique teachings on enlightened society that the Buddha gave personally to King Dawa Sangpo, the first sovereign of Shambhala.

These instructions have been preserved over the centuries and are held by a hereditary lineage of teachers that hold the title Sakyong, an honorific title that means “Earth Protector ” in Tibetan.

 

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The first Sakyong in the modern era was the Tibetan meditation master, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (the Tibetan title, Rinpoche, means “precious one” and denotes a rare and profound teacher). Prior to his escape from Tibet in 1959, he was the holder of numerous meditative lineages and leader of a large monastic complex in Eastern Tibet.

Having witnessed the demise of his own homeland of Tibet at the hands of the communists in China, Chögyam Trungpa went into a long period of reflection and meditation. He came to realize that the ancient teachings of Buddhism and Shambhala were more relevant than ever, given the immense challenges facing humanity.

Beginning in the 1970s he began to present a societal vision based on the Shambhala terma (hidden teachings) that proclaims the inherent goodness at the heart of humanity.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 

“The world is in absolute turmoil. The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help solve the world’s problems… Shambhala vision teaches that, in the face of the world’s problems, we can be heroic and kind at the same time.”
– Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught extensively in the west for over 17 years, during which time he started Naropa University and founded several land centres for deep practice including Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Chögyam Trungpa felt that humanity was at a crossroads. If we wish to create a better world, it would need to base its approach on global respect for fundamental human dignity. This is the core message of Shambhala.

Trungpa Rinpoche’s body of work is extensive and includes multiple translations of ancient Tibetan texts, over 30 published books and transcripts, and a systematic deep training in Buddhism and meditation that has spanned the globe.

The pith of these profound teachings were gathered together into his best-selling book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, and many other writings, films and recordings.

 

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

The current lineage holder is Chogyam Trungpa’s son, Jampal Trinley Dradül. Enthroned as Sakyong in 1995, he went through extensive training in both Eastern and Western schools of thought.

Jampal Trinley Dradül was recognized in the Tibetan tradition as the incarnation of Mipham the Great, one of the most revered meditation masters of Tibet. His books include Turning the Mind into an Ally, Ruling Your World, and The Shambhala Principle.

In June 2018 reports appeared online accusing the Sakyong of sexual misconduct and other forms of harm. In response to these allegations, Shambhala initiated a formal, independent investigation to be conducted by two neutral third-party investigators, Wickwire Holm and The Olive Branch.  You can read their reports on the Shambhala Community Care website (scroll down).  Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche issued a number of responses to these allegations, the first of which you can find here.

After further informal allegations by community members emerged in the winter of 2018, senior leadership (Acharyas) requested that the Sakyong step back from teaching and leadership duties for an indefinite period of time.

 

Shambhala in Transition

In addition to the Sakyong stepping away from his role as leader of Shambhala, the Kalapa Council, the governing body of Shambhala also dissolved to make space for a new and independent Interim Board.

Knowledge of the Sakyong’s conduct has affected the Shambhala sangha in many ways. The international community is currently engaged in restructuring its governing and financial operations with the intent of creating a new organizational model to prevent future abuses of power and harm.

A Process Team made up of members from around the globe has been tasked with engaging the community in activities that promote healing and support Shambhala to transition to a new organizational model.

We fully support the work of the International Care & Conduct Panel as we aspire to learn from this, about this, and to make this exploration part of our path of cultivating awareness.