What is Shambhala?

In this video, senior Shambhala teacher, Shasti Matthew Lyon talks about the basics of Shambhala teachings and his journey along the path.

He describes what is meant by the term ‘warrior’ - as a meditative warrior who bravely meets the world, not someone who uses aggression and engages in conflict. He also explores the impact of meditation and how it can make people more ready to give and do good in the world. And, finally how we can use our own interactions to create a better, or ‘enlightened’ society.

By simply repeating that practice something very powerful develops.


What is Shambhala?

The Meditative Warrior

So very quickly, I connected with the theme that Chogyam Trungpa presented from the beginning about this path of meditative development, which was the theme of warriorship. That actually a lot of courage is required. In this case, the theme of warriorship doesn't have to do with the aggressive warrior engaging in conflict. But it does have to do with warriorship in the sense of invoking courage and bravery, discipline, exertion, all kinds of human qualities that that we apply to any path of ongoing growth and training.  Like music for example, any musician who is striving to be good always encounters all of the obstacles to that that path.

Willingness to engage with those takes courage and persistence. Sometimes we want to give up because it just seems like too much. But in not giving up - even though I tried to do that at times - I really felt that I was on a path that I really had to proceed with so I decided at many different points not to give up when I was tempted to do so. That really clued me into the meaning of warriorship in the context of a meditative path and what that could mean. Awakening bravery, confidence, exertion, and compassion in the service of creating a better world, became a natural result that kind of vision became a natural result of what I experienced during meditation.

The Effect of Meditation

I began to feel my own sense of worthiness as a human being and a greater sense of confidence which came from that experience of again and again relating with a simple active presence, a simple experience of presence again and again, and discovering that that alone can bring about a great sense of confidence and self-worth. It can bring about a feeling that our human life has a good purpose. We just have to tap into those natural qualities to express that to a greater level. When I started to discover those qualities in myself and a greater level of confidence, I also discovered many other aspects of this path as well.

Importance of Community

Trungpa Rinpoche and the current Sakyong place a great emphasis on the meditative community as being a source of awakening and development. We might think of meditation for example, as a path of inward turning, a path of self-involvement, path of escape from the world perhaps. But what Trungpa Rinpoche and the Sakyong [have] represented consistently is the opposite and this became very inspiring to me.

We Can Make a Difference in the World, Together

The path of meditation begins with training own our minds but then it expands into a compassionate urge to make a difference in this world, to benefit society. The focus naturally changes from an obsession with our own mind, our own individual training and development. It naturally changes to an outward radiance of connection with others in the community and of the enjoyment of working together for a worthy goal, the context of a meditative society. A group of meditative warriors working together toward the same goal. That sense of camaraderie, the connection that people make becomes deeper when we are working together on a path of developing wisdom. A path in which there's a mutual commitment to personal growth and development. You know that became incredibly meaningful.

People who are willing to go through intensive meditation programs together and to meet all the challenges and requirements of that kind of discipline and it’s not always easy. And yet people who are willing to be persistent and go through that experience, really extraordinary, so the personal bonds that began to develop this sense of connecting deeply with other warriors in the path starting to become so fulfilling for me.

It began to expand my focus in life to open me up toward a sense of what my life could be in a larger sense. How my engagement with the world become could become inspiring to others even. That was kind of a long way from where I started - that my life could in some way be inspiring to others and make a real difference in this world. That kind of inspiration naturally developed from the experience of meditative training and from the deep experience of connecting with others on the path.

It All Starts With Being Present

That was a natural outgrowth of that simple experience of being present now, here, in this space, and meeting that moment of presence again and again and again. By simply repeating that practice something very powerful develops. We might think of meditation as sort of a passive experience but what actually arose for me overtime in repeating that discipline was that a lot of energy arises from it. That energy is really joined with compassion.  Compassion and energy became a natural arising of the experience. That natural, compassionate energy that arises naturally led me toward more engagement with the world. It led me toward a profession that I probably wouldn't have considered before. Trungpa Rinpoche for example, was encouraging his students to really become engaged and to not hold back in terms of joining in with the world in just about any possible profession that wasn't doing harm. The path became this arc from kind of a focus on myself and my own development to a greater path of communicating with others and this fulfillment of being on a very meaningful path, walking that path together with others. That experience then led to a sense of how I could make a greater contribution to the world.

A Better or ‘Enlightened’ Society is Possible

The Sakyong Mipham has developed his vision of creating enlightened society and really confidently proclaimed the fact that such a society, a good healthy society based on basic goodness, he proclaimed the fact that is possible. That creates a new level of inspiration for me because I see how my own development fits into that vision. I see that others could make that discovery as well.

It Starts at Home

By starting with our own mind and working with our own mind we can develop this inspiration to make a contribution to the greater world. In order to do that skillfully we have to train ourselves. There's this continual kind of circle between working with ourselves and then giving to others. The more that we do that, we enrich our personal experience and we enrich the experience of others. That cycle continues again and again. So then this larger sense of my connection and feeling about it is now developing. There's this really large vision that enlightened society is possible. That's another level of discovery too that is really very uplifting to me. To be a part of a community that's working toward a very large vision and a very worthy vision,  the sense of connecting with something much greater than oneself that will continue long after I'm gone. There are many, many different levels of connection and but I think the key is that emphasis right from the start, which was so important that meditation is preparation for action. There's this continual circle between the benefits of working on ourselves and how that can translate into benefits for others. That circle continuous in different ways.