Shambala Training Explained
Shambhala training is a secular form of meditation that can be undertaken by anyone from the novice to those experienced in meditation techniques. Shambhala training is a path of 'warriorship' that aims to foster both bravery and social responsibility.
Shambhala training takes place in three main stages, each of which takes approximately one year to complete.
The Three Stages
The three stages of Shambhala Training are: The heart of warriorship; The Sacred Path of The Warrior; Warrior Assembly.
The first stage teaches people to seek the natural goodness in themselves and in those around them. The individual is taught that people tend to unnaturally cocoon themselves off from the rest of the world, are encouraged, as 'warriors' to break out of that cocoon, which is itself built on fear. Once the individual had done this they are said to gain an increased awareness of the world.
The Sacred Path teaches the individual to apply their new found compassion and wisdom in the wider world. The sacred path is based upon Shambala texts, which were written by Shambala founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The first stage of this path is called 'The Great Eastern Sun' and requires the individual to accept the existence of a central energy, which links all that exists. From here the individual is taught to believe in the inherent 'magic strength' that exists in the world. According to 'Drala', a central principle of the path, we are all able to access this sacred energy when we step outside of our cocooned selves. The next element of this path calls for us to realise the energy of the 'sacred windhorse' in gong forth and spreading compassion throughout the world, whatever the opposition. In doing this the 'warrior' must cultivate meekness, perkiness (a sharpness of character and vibrancy of energy), inscrutability and spontaneity. All of this is done with a view to cultivating an awareness of a benevolent and pure inner presence, which can be projected onto others.
The Warrior Assembly involved further study of texts with a view to creating confidence and certainty in place of hesitancy and confusion. Following this the accomplished individual may take up the Kalapa Assembly, which entails spreading the message of compassion in whatever way is possible to that individual.
Shambhala is essentially a secular means of attaining enlightenment through following a path of bravery, which entails confronting fears and confidence issues in a direct way, incorporating wisdom handed down by spiritual disciplines. The warrior path entails engaging directly with the ills of the world, yet does not imply an aggressive stance. Rather, non-aggressive means are employed to address the false and aggressive ways in which people behave towards one another.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was a meditation master who had strong links to Buddhism. The title of 'his holiness' has now been conferred on his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, by the head of the lineage of Tibetan style Buddhism in 1995. Though this may seem to conflict with the 'secular nature' of Shambhala, Buddhism itself is not in fact considered to be a religion and requires no faith in God or spiritual beings. In this sense Shambhala may be seen to reinstate the down to earth and 'secular' nature of Buddhism.