What is Shambhala?

You may have heard the word ‘Shambhala’ before. Some of us may know Shambhala as a mythical kingdom in Central Asia where the people enjoyed harmony, good health and wellbeing. The legend of Shangri-La, also a vision of earthly and spiritual happiness, may be based on the Shambhala myth.

In 1959, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a young Tibetan Buddhist meditation master and the holder of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, escaped to India and then the West. In the late 1970s, he expressed his long-term desire to present the path of meditation in secular terms and began to introduce teachings on ‘Shambhala vision’. This vision was 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.

The ‘kingdom of Shambhala’ is a model for the creation of enlightened society here and now, teaching us how to live in the secular world with courage and compassion.

The 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 emphasise 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 life’s challenges.

Shambhala today is led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s son and spiritual heir. The Sakyong has developed his father’s teachings into a complete system of training for students.

Shambhala is now a global community of people inspired by the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness.

‘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.’ Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

In this video extract from a talk given by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, he says: ‘We are trying to shift a culture’

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche