NorCal Shambhala Response to COVID-19

Dear Sangha, 

We send this message in care and concern for the wellbeing of all of you as we navigate this health challenge together. The Northern California Shambhala Board of Directors has asked the centers and groups in the region to close all public programs for the remainder of the month of March due to the COVID-19 outbreak in our region. Please check with your local center with any questions about specific programs and activities at your center. At the end of March we will assess the situation and evaluate how to proceed. 

Our decision came from lengthy discussion and is based in our desire to do what we can to protect the health of our sangha, as well as the community beyond. We took into consideration the vulnerability of much of our population and the knowledge of the long incubation period of the virus. Any of us could have been infected and not yet know it. 

The idea is to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus—an epidemiology term that you may hear in the news. While we may not be able to control the ultimate number of cases, it is in our power to slow down the spread of the virus which may ease the strain that hospitals and medical facilities could experience if a rapid spread occurs. 

While our centers are closed, it is important that we don’t isolate ourselves, and use this opportunity to practice mindfulness in how we engage with others and our environment to protect ourselves and others from becoming ill. At this time our dharma teachings and practice are of great importance — so we are working towards setting up online options for both practice and study. We will announce these to the community as they become available. 

We also encourage local centers to consider steps they can take to support the wellbeing of individuals in our community, such as setting up systems to communicate with and support our sangha members during this epidemic. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we welcome your input and ideas for how to stay connected with our practice and each other during this time.

On behalf of the Northern California Shambhala Board
Rebekka Martorano, Interim Regional Director
Dave Rapson, NCS Chagdzö (bursar)
Lory Poulson, Regional Board Secretary
Kathryn Rile, Regional Communications and San Francisco Liaison

We can be reached at: ncsiboard [at] gmail [dot] com 

Four Dharmas of Gampopa
(can be recited while washing hands for 20 seconds)

Grant your blessings so that my mind may be one with the dharma.
Grant your blessings so that dharma may progress along the path.
Grant your blessings so that the path may clarify confusion.
Grant your blessings so that confusion may dawn as wisdom.

For those who want more information
On social distancing:
Cancel Everything: Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately.
—The Atlantic

On flattening the curve: How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart —Vox