social action

Social Service Network

Welcome to the Social Service Network

The practice and study of Shambhala Buddhism is a natural training ground for compassionate action.  Our Social Service Network takes a big view of our capacity to be of benefit in the world.  

"The magical element that binds the words "society" and "enlightenment" into "enlightened society" is the wholehearted motivation by individuals to engage personally in a social transformation that will lead to the betterment of the society."
— Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche

VIEW
Shambhala vision uncovers, strengthens and provokes our awareness so that our actions can have the immediate and enduring effect of promoting kindness.   Mindfulness and awareness, together with the skilful means of the four dignities, are the practical foundation for Shambhala social service. By holding the view of basic goodness and creating enlightened society,  we are more fully able to engage on behalf of others with skill, warmth, and wisdom.

PATH
The number of people in Shambhala who are engaged in social service worldwide is impressive.  People are working in humanitarian aid, education, community development, healing arts, and many other fields.  The diversity of their service is a source of rich inspiration.  Rather than focusing on a single project or organization, the Social Service Network aims to provide inspiration and communication for all the forms of service offered by individuals throughout our community.  Our network offers a place of nurture and inter-generational sharing, taking a view that is unique in its perspective and outreach. The aim is to make it easy to network within our larger community, to share ideas and experiences, and to evaluate and gather inspiration and guidance.  In this way, wherever we are, we can draw on the experience of others.

FRUITION
Fundamentally the Social Service Network reinvigorates the mentorship aspect of our mutual aspiration to help in society.  It can help people who are already familiar with meditation enter the world of social service and make a worthwhile and joyful contribution. It opens up opportunities to expand our friendships and share inspiration to the people with whom we work. It provides those with years of work in different fields of social service a chance to apply meditation more deeply to the activity of everyday life.

TURNING THIS FLOWER OUTWARD
The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, has urged us all to "turn this flower outward." The Social Service Network has been created in response to that call. There is an inconceivable source of light and dedicated awareness that can inspire, support and transform the way we nurture compassion within ourselves, our families, our communities, organizations and the world at large.

The Social Service Network fully acknowledges the legacy of human kindness our community has inherited.  We are recipients of the most potent antidote possible -- the practice of meditation and the ensuing self-examination that cuts through projections and intolerances. It is a gift that can make us more fully available to others whose lives are caught up in suffering.

Everyone can contribute to the Social Service Network. Just as there is no way to measure suffering, there is no activity or aspiration that is insignificant. You may be working at home or abroad, in local community service or international aid, or aspire to do so. The Social Service Network is set up to support you by promoting and encouraging deep practice and sharing experience.

This Shambhala network does not promote one organization or project over another. What the Social Service Network does is provide access to practice, awareness and fearless involvement so that we can work from within to engender service to others as a way of life.  

We are resending a questionnaire to the Shambhala community, The aim is to become aware of the many ways people are serving in the world and at home. Part of the questionnaire includes questions about the effects of practice and perspective on practical work experience.

The mentor program lists long-term practitioners who are willing to converse with others about the ways in which practice can be used and promoted on the ground.

There will be articles, bibliographies, quotes and eventually a discussion area so that those working in intense situations can reach out to share their experiences with others and receive suggestions, and mutual support.

We hope you will find the Social Service Network a well to drink from, a place to find meaningful support, and a support for dialogue about how we can not only develop means of working in the world, but also work within ourselves to ransack the obstacles that render us merely useful when we could be transformative. As a community of practitioners, and as aspirants towards a society based on enlightened principles, we can work together on this.

CONTACT
The Social Service Network and this page of the website has been designed and coordinated by Laura Simms, an internationally renowned member of the Shambhala community who is a storyteller, writer, meditation teacher, and activist committed to dynamic storytelling and contemplative practice to support compassionate action in the world. She works worldwide with humanitarian organizations as a consultant on program and curriculum development. If you are interested in contributing to the Social Service Network please contact her at storydevi@earthlink.net.

Social Service Resources

Organizations and Mentors

Teachings and Bibliography

Shambhala Meditation Centres offer a practical path that deepens our capacity as peace makers, including programs in Shambhala Training, Buddhist Studies, Contemplative Arts, Dorje Kasungship, and the practice of Shambhala Governance. Beyond this, we have gathered materials into a set of social service resources.

These resources include a list of diverse organizations, recommended by Shambhala members, that provide possibilities and training for those seeking to engage in social service. There is also a list of possible mentors for people wish to see advice (see Mentor Program, below). The resources also include specific teachings for working in the world and a bibliography of relevant materials. These resources are designed to support a] profound understanding of the ways in which meditation, practice and study can transform our ordinary lives and social service work.

Mentor Program

members only (password required)

For those who have attended the Rigden Abhisheka (a ceremony introducing advanced meditative practice), there is a mentor program where Shambhala members with experience and knowledge in social service are willing to work personally as mentors.