Shambhala's Day of the Dead

Below is a template for the Day of the Dead event, offered by Shambhala’s Dana Group for Shambhala Centres and Groups interested in promoting planned giving. We offer the advice below but understand that the local leadership will implement discussion on this topic in a way that makes sense for their sangha. 

It is important to note that this can be a sensitive topic as it touches on two scary issues: death and money. However, wise financial planning can provide for sangha members’ futures, that of their loved ones, and make a difference to Shambhala. As you may recall it was a partly a timely bequest that brought Shambhala Mandala Services out of its long-time debt. 

Schedule of events

  • shamatha                                                     10 minutes
  • introduce contemplations                                15 minutes

This should be led by an authorized teacher who has experience leading contemplation. If there is no one available to introduce contemplation practice then instructions can be read from the Appendix of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s Turning the Mind into an Ally


From the Four Reminders composed by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974:

Joyful to have
Such a human birth,
Difficult to find,
Free and well-favored.

From The Jewel: the Path of the Patron practice written by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2008:

Everything that comes together falls apart

Recite this contemplation and let it settle deeply in your mind and penetrate your heart. First contemplate how your own body and consciousness have gathered and one day will fall apart. Next consider that this world and universe have come together and will disintegrate. Now realize that just as fame arises, so will it dissipate. Just as wealth is gathered, so will it disperse. All of our property and possessions will dissolve.

  • hand out:
    • the model will that can be found and printed from here  
    • the planned giving brochure that is be mailed to you or dowloaded from here
  • introduce a silent reflection period during which individuals can contemplate how they would like to engage their will            10 minutes
  • host a group discussion on what comes up for people when contemplating this issue                                                     25 minutes
  • have a celebratory reception                           30 minutes

If you follow the template above the event would take an hour and a half and serve as a potent spiritual experience that includes a practical worldly element. The event might take place as part of a Sunday nyinthun or in the form of a Monday evening dharma talk. People who have already included Shambhala in their will can be invited to speak during the discussion portion or, if they are a teacher, lead the evening.

While the Dana Group is encouraging Shambhala Centres and Groups to host this event on the traditional Day of the Dead (November 1st or 2nd) it is of course acceptable to have a planned giving introduction like the one outlined above any day of the year.

To view more of the Dana Group’s planned giving resources click here. All questions can be directed to Lodro Rinzler, Shambhala’s Development Officer, at


Click here for information on giving to Shambhala