The Way of Shambhala

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The Way of Shambhala is an extensive path of training in authentic meditation practices and wisdom teachings available to anyone interested in exploring this path. This program of courses and weekend retreats offers an experiential overview of practices, teachings, contemplative arts, and physical disciplines rooted in the ancient traditions of Shambhala and Vajrayana Buddhism.

The program is open to people of all religious backgrounds or no religious background. It is recommended for new and experienced meditators as well as those looking to enrich their personal spiritual path and social action.

We welcome you to participate to the extent you wish. Sample a course or a weekend retreat—or a number of them—at any time.

The Annapolis Shambhala Meditation Group offers Shambhala Training Retreats, the In Everyday Life series, and the Basic Goodness series when the interest arises, usually two or three retreats and two or three courses each year. These are also offered along with more advanced courses at the Halifax Shambhala Centre, our land centre called Dorje Denma Ling near Tatamagouche, and elsewhere in Canada and the US.

The courses are interactive and aim to create a learning environment where the teachings are personal and relevant. Participants train in meditation, and use inquiry, dialogue, and contemplative arts to integrate the teachings. The weekend retreats are opportunities to deepen meditation practice in a powerful environment that meets the needs of a workweek and family life.

You may start with any series. The weekend retreats are designed to be taken sequentially, but the courses may be taken out of sequence. For example, Shambhala Training participants progress from Level I to Level V in sequence. A gradual way to begin is to take the Meditation in Everyday Life course first or the Level 1 Retreat first.

The Everyday Life Series and the Shambhala Training Series

Anyone may take either the Everyday Life courses or the Shambhala Training weekend retreats separately. We encourage concurrent participation in both, if possible, as the combination can profoundly deepen and extend meditation, but taking one or the other is fine.

Course 1: Meditation in Everyday Life
The Meditation in Everyday Life course is designed to provide participants with the introductory tools and teachings for working with meditation in daily life. With simple instructions and support, mindfulness meditation practice can become part of our lives, bringing greater stability, strength, and clarity. Open to all

Weekend Retreat 1: Shambhala Training Level I
Through the practice of meditation, we begin to glimpse that goodness—rather than confusion—is the unconditional ground of our existence. Opening to ourselves with gentleness and appreciation, we begin to see our potential as genuine and compassionate human beings. Open to all

Weekend Retreat 2: Shambhala Training Level II
Having experienced a taste of basic goodness in Level I, we want to learn more. Meditation practice allows us to observe how we create a cocoon of habits to mask underlying fear. We begin to appreciate that these habits are not a fundamental obstacle to experiencing basic goodness. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level I

Course 2: Contentment in Everyday Life
This course provides an exploration of genuine contentment, the foundational views of the Buddhist teachings, and meditation in action for daily life. With meditation practice, we can learn to appreciate ourselves and simple human experiences, free from self-aggression. Difficult emotions and the challenges of life can be met with gentleness, steadiness, and humor. Open to all

Weekend Retreat 3: Shambhala Training Level III
Examining our habitual tendencies, we begin to look at our willingness to experience our life without relying on the habitual patterns. We can engage the world directly and extend the attitude of fearlessness to all our activities. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level II

Course 3: Joy in Everyday Life
As meditation practice expands and we develop trust in basic goodness, we can begin to discover the confidence and personal energy to go forward on the journey. Joining gentleness with discipline leads to a sense of joy. The mahayana teachings on compassion can become the inspiration for a life of bravery and freedom from doubt. Open to all (recommended preparation: Contentment in Everyday Life)

Weekend Retreat 4: Shambhala Training Level IV
Trusting further in basic goodness and daring to experience the sharp edge of reality, we move forward with gentleness, increased awareness, and inquisitiveness about the world, as it is. We find that we can extend ourselves to others fully and with kindness. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level III

Course 4: Fearlessness in Everyday Life
Learning to work with our anxiety, we are not blocked by fear. Through an exploration of the Buddhist teachings on mind and the nature of reality, we learn to see clearly. We dare to face life and death as they are. The meditator, open to uncertainty, goes beyond the emotions of hope and fear to experience equanimity. All to all (recommended preparation: Contentment in Everyday Life and Joy in Everyday Life)

Weekend Retreat 5: Shambhala Training Level V
Communicating with the world gentleness and fearlessness, our awareness is sharpened and we find the open clear sky of mind—a delightful source of wisdom and uplifted energy. We learn to trust our nature enough to let go into the present moment. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level IV

Course 5: Wisdom in Everyday Life
Meditation sharpens our intelligence and uncovers our wisdom. Participants receive practical instructions for discovering trust and magic, even in the midst of challenge. No longer deterred or depressed by obstacles, we can include everything as part of the path. The challenges of daily life become opportunities for both contemplative practice and social and ecological action. Open to all (recommended preparation: Fearlessness in Everyday Life)

The Basic Goodness Series

The Basic Goodness Series is a three-part journey through the basic view and understanding of the Shambhala world, presented in an accessible way. The series is oriented towards universal questions, questions that have arisen in some form throughout human history, in most cultures and traditions. In this sense, the Basic Goodness series serves a larger purpose than introducing participants to the Shambhala and Buddhist worldviews: the courses are also designed to create learning communities where people of any background or interest could come together and reflect on their own experience and their world. The Basic Goodness Series is designed to invite the participation and experience of the class participants to be partners in the process of inquiry and learning. In a speedy world where there is little space for reflection, when our time is supposed to be “practical” and “productive,” this series is an opportunity for people to come together, look deeply and patiently, and have a unique kind of conversation that is difficult to have in most contexts.

Course 1: Who Am I? The Basic Goodness of Being Human
This course asks the question, “Who am I?” and explores the sense of self. It includes teachings on basic goodness, selflessness, the arising of ego and cocoon, buddha-nature, and the confidence of warriorship. We practice contemplative investigations of the self, based on the foundations of mindfulness. Open to all (recommended preparation: Meditation in Everyday Life, Contentment in Everyday Life or Shambhala Training Level I)

Course 2: How Can I Help? The Basic Goodness of Society
This course asks the question, “How can I help?” and explores our relationships with others, an aspiration to help our world, and specific aspects of social transformation. We look at a Shambhala understanding of society, and what enlightened society may be. Is society something that is ultimately confused, or is there goodness in human society? The course focuses on transforming four aspects of society: family life (household), professional life, entertainment, and economy. We learn the traditional mahayana practice of “sending and taking” (tonglen). Open to all (recommended preparation: The Basic Goodness of Being Human; and Meditation in Everyday Life, or Contentment in Everyday Life, or Shambhala Training Level I)

Course 3: What Is Real? The Basic Goodness of Reality
This course asks the question, “What is real?” and focuses on a study of the phenomenal world. It emphasizes core Buddhist teachings, such as impermanence, the process of perception, the “mind,” and emptiness. It is oriented toward the experience of sacred world, the magic and wonder of the natural elements. The course also has an ecological emphasis. Open to all (strongly recommended preparation: The Basic Goodness of Being Human, The Basic Goodness of Society, and at least Shambhala Training Level I)