A Letter from the Director

Great Sangha,

Happy Belated New Year! I hope you all have enjoyed the beginnings of Winter, either through holidays spent with family and friends, or through practice, like many members of our community did at the Winter Weekthün at our sister Center in Berkeley.

I’m writing with a few important and exciting announcements with a common theme: the strengthening and enriching of our Shambhala Community. As we head towards Shambhala Day and the beginning of the Year of the Wood Sheep, I hope we can gather together to practice, enjoy each other, and reflect on why our Shambhala Center is important to us. Please read on!

tea cupTea with the Director
To begin this contemplation in an especially dignified and festive manner, I’m delighted to invite you to an afternoon tea for members presented by our magnificent members Katrin Welch and René Fay. On Sunday, February 15th, from 12-2pm (after Sunday Open House and going long enough for our Yogis to join us after their Sunday yoga class), we will have a variety of teas and tasty treats and an opportunity for members to talk with me and other leaders about our Shambhala Center—to hear our new ideas and express your own visions for our space and community.

Greater Transparency and Invitation around Governance and Leadership
A Shambhala Center is most powerful and effective when its members feel a profound sense of ownership and connection to their sacred space and community. San Francisco Shambhala has always felt this way to me—it’s how all that we have accomplished has been possible. To increase that felt sense, and spread its reach to all our members, we’ve decided to make our various leadership meetings open to the Sangha. This means that you can come watch an Executive Team meeting or Governing Council meeting to witness personally how decisions get made and how projects get accomplished. The bottom line is this: if you are inspired to engage in our Center, we want to know who you are and how we can help you feel a sense of ownership and creative input. Our first Executive Team meeting of the year will be an experiment in this open style: Thursday, January 29th, from 6-7:30pm.

We’ve also posted a new Volunteer Board on the door to the Governance Office. All our recurring and upcoming Volunteer opportunities are posted there, so that anyone passing can read how our Center works and sign up to be a part of that.

Societal Health and Well-Being
We have not had a department of Societal Health and Well-being at our Center for some time. This is an important aspect of caring for each other and being a community of kindness, and several of us in the membership and leadership have an aspiration to bring this department back to life.

As a first step, our treasured member and Ikebana artist Alice Tarkeshi has written a beautiful invitation to a facilitated conversation about this aspect of our Center. I’ve attached this letter here, and I urge everyone to read it and, if you have the inclination, write to Alice and be a part of this important conversation.

HorsieWebGraphicDharma Night 2.0
Finally, I want to announce the long-awaited relaunch of our Dharma Night program. The first full-fledged Dharma Night of the year will be on Wednesday, February 4th, at our usual start-time of 6:30pm.

We are going to try something new with our Dharma Night program, in response to many requests and a lot of input from members and Wednesday night regulars. This year, we are going to reserve the full-on Dharma Talks for Fourth Wednesdays, starting with a “Fresh Start” talk from our beloved Acharya Melissa Moore on Feb. 25th.

On the other Wednesdays, we will still offer dinner at 6:30, followed by a full hour of meditation, and then tea and some lojong slogan contemplation (for those unfamiliar with lojong, check out Pema Chödrön’s Start Where You Are). We should all feel free to come at any time—food will be left out until 7:30 for those who want to only sit a half hour, for example.

I hope that you all will come check out our new Dharma Night format and practice together!

Thank you for reading this long email and for continuing to support our Center and Community and enrich it with your prensence and your practice. May all be virtuous in this new year!

Ki Ki So SO!

Alex Van Gils

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *