The Shambhala community is organized as a mandala, a circular framework that connects the teachers and teachings with the community of practitioners. The legendary kingdom of Shambhala is traditionally painted as a mandala with the ruler at the centre, and the households radiating from and around that centre. The authority of such a mandala, combining sacred and secular roles of teacher and leader, is known in Tibetan as the tridzin, or “throne holder”. In the Shambhala tradition, this has been a family heritage, passed from one generation to the next.
The Throne Holder
The first throne holder of the contemporary Shambhala Mandala was Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who served as the first Sakyong (meaning “earth protector”). The current throne holder is his son and spiritual heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
The Vajra Regent
In 1976 Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche empowered Thomas F. Rich, one of his American students, as his Vajra Regent, Ösel Tendzin. He served as head of the organizations founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche from 1987 until his death in 1990. His teachings are preserved both in the Shambhala Archives as well as by Satdharma, the organization established to propagate the teachings the Vajra Regent received from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and in the Vajra Regent Library & Archives.
Teachers and Teacher Training
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the founder of the Shambhala Mandala, had the profound conviction that the teachings he held could be transmitted to students in other cultures and that they, in turn, could be empowered to teach and lead others. Thus, within the Shambhala Mandala, there is a strong emphasis on cultivating different levels of teachers and leaders.
There are programs to train Shambhala Guides. Meditation Instructors, Buddhist teachers and Directors and Assistant Directors of Shambhala Training.
In addition to the acharyas and shastris listed below, there are hundreds of meditation instructors and teachers worldwide, working with students at local centres and leading weekly classes and major programs. Click here to Find a Program.
Acharya is a Sanskrit word that means “teacher.” It refers to individuals that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has empowered to represent him and the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Shambhala lineages he holds. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche chose these individuals because of their knowledge, wisdom, and commitment to the confluence of teachings found in Shambhala.
Acharyas travel to Shambhala Meditation Centers to offer teachings, programs, and vow ceremonies. Click here to learn more about the acharyas, including individual biographies and teaching schedules.
Shastris are senior teachers in our Shambhala Centers who have been appointed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to represent and teach the integrated Shambhala Buddhist curriculum, The Way of Shambhala, including the “In Everyday Life” courses, the Basic Goodness courses and the Shambhala Training Levels.
The shastris’ role also includes mentoring and training other teachers and meditation instructors, providing guidance to students entering the Shambhala Buddhist path as well as supporting the leadership in Shambhala Centres in building community and strengthening the vision of enlightened society.