R and I are hanging out with the people from the local Shambhala center this weekend. A couple of years ago (wow), we attended their Level I Shambhala Training together. This was before R had taken refuge or attended any Buddhist retreats or events (as far as I know).
The basic Shambhala Training is offered in five classes (imaginatively labeled “Level I”, “Level II”, etc. though they do have other names). These five levels are an introduction to Shamatha practice with some Vipassana thrown in (at least from what I can tell, only ever having taken the first). Each class is taught as a weekend intensive. They do a Friday night lecture with instructions and maybe a short sitting session. Then it is group sitting all day Saturday and Sunday. We’re supposed to arrive at 8:30 AM on the mornings and it goes until about 7:00 PM, though there is a lunch break in there somewhere.
I’ve long been a fan of Chogyam Trungpa’s work and Shamatha/Vipassana practices are fairly similar, at least across Mahayana traditions. I’m interested in how they teach these in a graded series and how they develop the practice. It is also an opportunity to get some more intense sitting practice done in a supportive setting with other practitioners. It is also something that R and I can do together (even if it is a solo event in another sense).
We’ll see how I feel tomorrow or Sunday night but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to the Berkeley Shambhala Center though it is one of the oldest in the country.
I probably should not have had as much coffee as I’ve had this afternoon though… Unfortunately, R has had a bad cold for a few days and I have feeling that I’ve picked it up as well. This could turn an… enlightening experience into one of the hell realms. We’ll see how it goes though.
As an aside, there are a series of videos on Google Video on Trungpa’s vision of an enlightened society and the Shambhala Tradition. Here is the first one but there are at least four more:
Google Video Link