Story of the Shambhala Warriors

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Reflection: Allow a few moments to let this story settle into your being, letting the words and the images gently rest and resonate.  Then take your Joyality Journal and write down the parts of the story, or particular words and phrases, that leapt out at you.  What are the most important messages you got from this story? Spend a few minutes writing about these.

[Download MP3: Story of the Shambhala Warrior or you can use the Transcript text below to guide others.]

[Transcript Shambhala Warrior Story]

Preparation: This is the story of the Shambhala Warriors. It is an ancient prophecy, twelve-centuries-old, from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This particular version is adapted from Joanna Macy’s first hand account of the story as told to her by Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche of the Tashi Jong community in northwest India. So find a quiet place, close your eyes, open your imagination and listen to this ancient story.

Process: “The prophecy foretells of a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have arisen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.

You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always they move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.

Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made.

Now the Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are “manomaya”. They are “mind made.” Made by human mind they can be unmade by human mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on earth are not visited upon us by any extraterrestrial powers, or any satanic deities, or any preordained evil fate, but they arise, rather, from our own choices, our own lifestyles, their own relationships.

So now the Shambhala Warriors must undertake training in the use of two weapons. The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, the prophecy foretells. You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move; when you open to the pain of the world you move. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other. It is insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena—their interconnectedness, their deep ecology. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between the good guys and the bad guys, but that the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With that insight into our profound interrelatedness you know that actions have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern.

But by itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of the compassion. Together, within each Shambhala warrior and among the Shambhala warriors themselves, these two can sustain us as agents of social change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.

Many in the Tibetan lineage believe that this is the time of this ancient prophecy.  If so, perhaps we are among the Shambhala warriors.”

Reflection: Allow a few moments to let this story settle into your being, letting the words and the images gently rest and resonate.  Then take your Joyality Journal and write down the parts of the story, or particular words and phrases, that leapt out at you.  What are the most important messages you got from this story? Spend a few minutes writing about these.

Source: Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.

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