Community Gathering June 4th

Thanks to Ruth Blackburn for offering a summary of the event! Stepping in to help with the reporting and sharing of our community events is really the spirit that makes the community flourish, and it’s at the heart of why we gather as a community.

We believe that running this community is part organizational know-how and part magic. This means that getting together and talking about our direction is CRUCIAL and we encourage anyone connected to this community to play a role in knowing what we’re up to and where we are going.

We plan on offering community gatherings on a regular basis, our next Community Gathering is on August 28th. Register Here to attend and add your voice!

This June gathering was an opportunity to invite the community into the mapping and organizing process we’ve been developing. At the January Gathering we outlined 3 big themes to focus on: Building Capacity, Moving into Boston, and Inviting the Sakyong back to Boston. Of these, Building Capacity emerged as the central focus which will enable both of the other goals. So over the last few months we’ve been clarifying what capacity building looks like for us. This inquiry evolved into a map using both the Four Pillars of Shambhala and Eva Wong’s Taoist domains of a balanced life, which we are applying to a community scale.

Below is just a taste of the mandala map we are working with in order to understand our structure and set our direction.
Curious to know more? Join the conversation on August 28th!


The 4 Pillars of Shambhala
Pillar of Governance
Pillar of Practice and Education
Pillar of Dorje Kasung
Pillar of Economy
Taoist Domains of a Balanced Life (adapted to Shambhala language, original pillars in parenthesis)
Hosting (Public)
Dojo/School (Private)
Community/Family (Domestic)
Drala (Spirit)
-Max Roberts-Zirker + Ashley Hodson

Some conversation and additions to the mandala map presented on June 4th.

On June 4 a dozen or so members of the Boston Shambhala community joined together to discuss where we’re collectively headed. Despite the early Saturday morning meeting time and a little disappointment about the relatively small size of the group, the room was full of energy and creative ideas, and we came away with renewed inspiration and dedication to expanding and deepening the interconnections of our community.

At the last community gathering (in January), we focused on three things: moving into Boston,  inviting the Sakyong back to Boston, and building the capacity of the Center. This last item served in a way as a starting point for the June meeting – in order to determine where we’re going, we need to look at where we are and have been. Ashley Hodson and Max Roberts-Zirker shared a “map” they’ve created to help us understand how the Four Pillars of Shambhala; Governance, Practice and Education, Dorje Kasung, and Economy and how they work together to create the space necessary to support the activities and mission of the center. The map was brought to life on the shrine room floor with zafus representing various “landmarks.” Once we got the lay of the land, as it were, we explored which activities and issues might correspond with a particular sector of the map (in which region, for instance, do meditation instruction or contemplative arts take place?).

With this map in mind, Ashley shared with us the concept of Open Space Technology, which is not something used for writing software but instead a set of guidelines for fostering group discussions. For those unfamiliar with it, when Open Space is used, it goes something like this: people in the group put forth an idea they want to discuss and choose a physical location in which to do so. The other people decide which of the ideas they’d also like to explore and join that particular conversation. By having the group participants rather than one or two leaders determine what needs to be addressed, there is more ownership of the issues and possible solutions/plans of action.

After Ashley’s introduction of Open Space, five different topics prompted by the idea of “where are we now/where are going” were suggested. Pretty quickly everyone settled on which group to join, and some earnest conversations ensued. At the conclusion of the discussion period, each group reported the highlights of what had been talked about:

BostonMoveMoving into Boston. Rather than leaving our current building, the group suggested “pop-up satellite space” as a way of physically integrating Shambhala in other parts of the metro area.

IntersectionPracticeCommunityIntersection of practice and community. It can be tempting to replace daily practice with service. How can community members support each other to find a balance?

ConnectingWebofProgramsConnecting the web of programs. Motivating people to staff programs seems one way to increase interconnectedness, as does disseminating information about how and why we do things (through newsletters, “gateway” gatherings, etc.). We want to remove barriers that might prevent people from getting further involved.

ResponsibilityResponsibility. A person has to be ready for responsibility, and the community has to be ready for the person to get involved. The more one gives, the more one gets.

CitizensInTheWorldBringing our Shambhala citizenship into our volunteer activities in the world. Having a partner could help, either when doing the actual work or just to provide support and feedback.

With these ideas percolating, the meeting came to a close. The consensus was that the next gathering should be held before summer ends – we hope to see you there.

Respectfully submitted,
Ruth Blackburn



See you at the next Community Gathering: Sunday, August 28th from 2:00 – 5:30pm: Register Here