Reflections on this moment in Shambhala, by Mary Lang

Reflections on this moment in Shambhala, shared by board chair Mary Lang at the August, 2022 Community Meeting


In November I will have been part of the Shambhala (Vajradhatu) community for 49 years. Needless to say, in those years I have witnessed many changes, many people who have come and gone, many other upheavals and crises. What follows is my personal reflection on this particular moment in Shambhala.

For me it is a time to recognize the richness and brilliance of our inheritance without trying to recreate the past. We are in a groundless place where “what it was” is no more, and “what it will be” is not here yet.

No matter which teachers we are following now, as Shambhalians, our inheritance is marked by what and how Chögyam Trungpa taught. If I had to say what our inheritance, what those unique transmissions from him are, I would mention:

  • His fearless proclamation that the traditional buddhadharma can be fully practiced by westerners
  • And, in doing so, one can liberate oneself from suffering
  • The secular, experiential, powerful language he used, understandable by westerners of all beliefs – gentleness, cocoon, discursive thoughts,  
  • Supreme among that are the 3 words – Unconditional Basic Goodness


Over almost 50 years on this path and in this community, that experience, that realization, is what strings it all together: all the times – in solitary retreat, in trying to teach Shambhala Training and watching someone raise their gaze and relax, in helping people prepare to die, at abhishekas and in the proverbial checkout line – the thread of unconditional basic goodness (by many other names – vajra nature, bodhicitta, awakened mind, natural state, etc) runs throughout. This is our inheritance…..

Not to mention:

  • Magic
  • Earth-based practices of lhasang, windhorse, drala, authentic presence
  • Bravery, fear and fearlessness
  • And windhorse or lungta – the ability to be “suddenly free from fixed mind” 

At this moment, I feel that we need to be open and patient and let “what it will be” reveal itself. It could be messy, it could be disheartening, it could be inspiring, it could be magical, but we need to be open to the not-knowing. What it was is no more.

Our current world is a different world than five years ago, both in Shambhala but more importantly the larger world. What are we called to do? Can we rely on our inheritance to answer that question?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, the board doesn’t have all the answers, maybe even our community doesn’t have all the answers, but can we be brave enough to ask the questions, question our assumptions, hold space for each other’s pain and joy, acknowledge what we have lost while being open to what in emerging.

And just be human beings together, in a community, on a path of realization, on a path of trusting unconditional basic goodness.