Shambhala was a mythical Tibetan spiritual kingdom. Shambhala Buddhism as outlined in The Sacred Path of the Warrior is a secular attempt to appreciate and emulate the idea of that enlightened society.
Notice the word secular above. Despite having its origins in the mythical spiritual city of Shambhala the modern Shambhala teachings are meant to be applicable regardless of your beliefs.
The Shambhala teachings are not concerned with divine origins. The point of warrior-ship is to work personally with our situation now as it is.
Throughout the book and teachings, there is no appeal to a god or higher power. That being said, I found the mythical origins of Shambhala to be a little off-putting. It can be hard to accept a secular doctrine that has its start in obvious myth. There was also occasional discussion about certain forms of energy that I found a little hand-wavy. However, overall I found this flavor of Buddhism to be interesting.
Shambhala teachings focus on how individuals can be engaged with the world rather than removed from it through goodness.
In the vision of the great Eastern sun, even criminals can be cultivated and encouraged to grow. In the setting sun vision, criminals are hopeless so they are shutoff. They don't have a chance. They are a part of the dirt that we would rather not see. But in the vision of the great eastern sun, no human being is a lost cause. We are always willing to give things a chance to flower.
This is such a beautiful thought. According to Shambhala, the way of the warrior is accomplished by finding the inherent goodness in all, the vision of the great Eastern sun. Contrast this to the setting sun vision prominent, but not limited to, most western cultures. Sadly our culture focuses on the negative in everything.
We tend to think that the threats to our society or to ourselves are outside of us, but a society is destroyed from the inside.
The path of the warrior is to focus on individual people to change the temperature of society.
Truth is generated from it's environment. Truth doesn't need a handle. First you look for the ignition then cultivating that beginning you find a sympathetic environment to cultivate the action.
Similar to Eclkhart Tolle mentioning that his job as a teacher is to be a spark to light the fire in another, Warriors of Shambhala believe in cultivating an environment in which a spark of truth can ignite and grow. This is beautifully represented by their version of renunciation.
In the ordinary sense, renunciation is often connected with asceticism. You give up the sense pleasures of the world and embrace an austere spiritual life in order to understand the higher meaning of existence. In the Shambhala context, renunciation is quit different. What the warrior renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others.
Another beautiful concept. The warrior is expected to renounce anything that he feels gets between them and those they are serving.
Good behavior is not meant to build us up, the point of good behavior is to communicate our respect for others.
One of my biggest complaints with the cultures in which the setting sun vision is thriving is the lack of respect towards our fellow man. Shambhala warriors believe that good behavior is a way in which we show respect.
Below I'd like to quickly touch on a few examples of additional behaviors I found to be interesting or valuable.
A genuine sense of humor is having a light touch. Not beating reality into the ground.
So much of what is wrong in our culture today stems from a lack of a light touch, a lack of humor. We are too serious. This doesn't mean that everything is funny, nor that the topics at hand in society are a laughing matter. Rather, that by having a light touch, you are going to move more hearts and enable us to be in the right might to invoke the goodness in every being.
When you sit erect, you are proclaiming to yourself and to the rest of the world that you are going to be a warrior, a fully human being.
They go into a lot of detail on how you should site when meditating. This seemed a little odd at first but I slowly started grasping the importance. The strict methods are ritualistic in nature. By following certain best practices it helps align the mind and body. Not to mention that things such as posture can have great impact on your mental health. They sit tall, which is symbolically fitting for a belief system that promotes active engagement in society. Additionally, It helps bring dignity and self-respect by caring about their body.
Human dignity is not based on monetary wealth. Affluent people may spend a great deal on money making their homes luxurious, but they may be creating artificial luxury. Dignity comes from using your inherent human resources by doing things with your own bare hands on the spot. Properly and beautifully.
This aligns with the above thought as well. Anything in life can become a ritual when done mindfully and properly.
If a person does not feel alone and sad, he cannot be a warrior at all. The warrior is sensitive to every aspect of phenomenon. Sight, smell, sound, feelings; he appreciates everything that goes on in his world as an artist does.
This makes the Shambhala warrior both an artist and connoisseur of life. The senses allow him to take in the masterpiece and the way he interacts with the world a work of art.
Either you look and see beyond language as first perception or you see the world through the filter of your thoughts.
The above echos many other schools of eastern thought. Drawing emphasis to how language can limit our perception. The path of the Warrior takes this further, however;
A Shambhala person speaks gently. Gentle speech expresses your dignity. Often when you find yourself talking to someone who doesn't know english, you find yourself shouting. This is exactly what shouldn't happen.
I found the analogy of how one might raise their voice when talking to someone who doesn't understand English well to be very insightful. Will shouting help others to understand? How often do we simply say the same thing louder? A Shambhala warrior should speak gently. There isn't a need for anything else. For you ideas should be solid enough to be communicated gently and if someone does not understand you will make no progress by being more direct or forceful.
For the sake of others, renounce your privacy. When you do not say what you feel you generate confusion for yourself and others. Avoiding the truth defeats the purpose of speech for communication.
What percentage of our words do we speak truthfully? Perhaps the truth feels uncomfortable to speak. We say what we think others want to hear. We avoid saying the whole truth for fear of what someone may think.
This is one such opportunity to practice renunciation. In this case, our fear or value of privacy prevents us from speaking the truth. We must renounce everything that stands between us and being a conduit for truth and goodness.
Vision and practicality can be joined together in nowness.
I love this quote. Frankly, this sums up what I most admire about the Shambhala flavor of Buddhism. The Warrior isn't afraid to have a vision for the world. The Sacred Path of the Warrior is one of action. Natural action, a product of believing that the world and its inhabitants are possible of good and living in a way that invites this goodness through dignity.