Harvest of Peace: Sunday, September 21

vegiesBy Pat Hoffmann

Dear Members and Friends of the Burlington Shambhala Center,

As we savor every moment of late summer, we also look ahead to the fresh start of fall as a time to reflect on our abundance, and to practice, study, and celebrate together. We especially look forward to our annual Harvest of Peace, on Sunday, September 21, when we will gather for food, conversation, meditation, and reflection on ourselves as a community of practitioners. This year our conversation will be energized by engaging with the vision of our global community.

The Burlington Shambhala Center is nourished by the wisdom and energy of the Shambhala lineage and our hard-working people of Shambhala International. We are connected to our beloved land centers, especially Karme Choling, and over 200 centers and groups worldwide. As individual practitioners and as a sangha, we have access to precious teachings and practical support due to the generosity of so many people, the vast majority of whom are volunteers.

We are now being asked, through the Unified Giving Plan, to realize and express our membership in this global community energetically and financially. Although our connection may be primarily local, we acknowledge that the culture and practices we enjoy have been offered and modeled by our teachers at the center of the mandala, and that we are actively engaging in offering and modeling this culture for others.

Strong feelings may arise as we consider our personal place in this mandala and whether we are willing to extend ourselves further to support the vision of Shambhala as a global community. Our membership is diverse; many different paths, traditions, and teachers have brought us to this place. On behalf of the Executive Council, I invite you to engage in conversation about these issues at our Harvest of Peace.

After much reflection and discussion, we on the Council have come to understand that our local health and sustainability and that of our global mandala are inseparable. This is true in all areas of membership commitment: practice, service, and financial stewardship. With this view, we are inspired to invite every member to contemplate the following questions in preparation for our conversation:

Practice: What are my needs as a student of meditation? How can I access local and global resources to meet them?

Service: How is membership a practice and a path for helping the world? What am I willing and able to do to promote that activity? What do I need in order to perform that loving service?

Financial Stewardship: What do I want to express and support with my money? What is my relationship to Shambhala beyond this local Center? How do I feel about financially supporting improvements to our space?

Engaging with these questions has led the Council to propose that we as a community invest in ourselves more fully and confidently in all areas, and we have outlined a plan, Full Support, to realize this vision. Briefly, Full Support is a financial model in which member dues and stable donations cover 100% of Center operating expenses. At this time the total operating expenses are about $4,000 per month. Member dues are at $2600 per month with donations coming in around $300 per month. This leaves a gap of $1100 per month, which is currently filled, or not filled, by program revenues.

Program revenue is not a stable income stream, and a more sustainable model would be for our membership to fully support our expenses. With this model, program revenue would support enriching local dharmic activity. We can increase scholarships to support our members’ practice and service. We can host Acharyas yearly, offering special programs and ceremonies. We can fully fund our local celebrations such as Harvest of Peace and Shambhala Day. We can fund improvements to our Center, realizing the Sakyong’s vision of offering Food, Conversation, and Meditation. Our strength will flow throughout our local and global community, for our benefit and the benefit of all sentient beings!

A start toward Full Support would depend on current members making increases in their monthly dues and a membership invitation to others who may be inspired by our community. We know that an increase is not possible for many people; sustainability applies to us all on a personal level first.

We on the Council see this as an opportunity to nourish ourselves as a practice community, energize our ability to perform service, and strengthen our financial stewardship. We look forward to talking with you about these matters on Sunday, September 21, at our Harvest of Peace. We need to hear everyone’s voice to truly act as a sangha.

With appreciation,

Pat Hoffmann for the Burlington Shambhala Center Executive Council