By David Schreier, Member of SMC’s Governing Council //
It’s been a tough couple of years.
Both my temporal and spiritual worlds have been shaken to the core.
First, my temporal world was turned upside down by the new political administration in Washington, D.C. And while it would normally have been a reliable refuge from conventional misery, my spiritual world was then rocked by allegations of clerical misconduct and abuse of power.
It’s been hard for me to find much to feel good about in either of these realms these days. I’ve experienced a quality of depression and groundlessness that I’ve never felt before; I’ve felt like a leaf blowing and drifting with nowhere to land. Watching the news has become too much to bear, and it’s been nearly impossible to find my practice mind.
It was in this context of sadness that I traveled to Shambhala Mountain Center in early April 2019.
The land was transitioning from winter to spring – muddy trails, patches of snow, running streams, and meadows coming back to life. During my first hour, I became aware that reconnecting with the trees, rocks, birds and sky was already having a profound effect on me. I felt the presence of 50 years of people visiting the land, working with their minds, and imbuing the atmosphere with the qualities of warriorship: bravery, pain, beauty, and dignity. It felt like this land was quite literally the ground of sanity and wisdom. I could visibly see its effect on a group of new program participants, there for the first time, as they became more open at each mealtime and as I watched their faces settle and relax over the days.
And if I had any lingering doubts about the potential to create enlightened society, they were extinguished once I began interacting with the SMC staff. These beautiful people have worked deeply, skillfully, honestly, and intensively with both the joy and pain of living 24/7 in a Shambhala community. For them, SMC is their home, their spiritual community, the source of their friendships and breakups, and their workplace.
I was so struck (once again!) by their courage, kindness and dignity. Even with the need to take care of themselves individually, I saw how they took care of each other and how they took care of every guest on the land.
The SMC staff exemplify and manifest what warriorship truly is and they continue to be a great inspiration and reminder to me.
All of these experiences served as powerful reminders of why I give both my time (on the Board) and my financial resources to this precious, precious place.
SMC is a salve that I wasn’t aware would work so effectively on my samsaric wounds from the past couple of years. Returning to the land, I felt much needed relief and a sense of restoration.
So, to others who might feel the weight of the world these days, I urge you to reconnect with Shambhala Mountain Center. The land and people offer a sense of relief and that is genuine and necessary.
About the Author
David Schreier is president of David Schreier Associates, a consulting firm serving nonprofit organizations in the areas of governance, management, collaboration, marketing, communication, programs, planning & evaluation, and philanthropy. David lives in Chicago, IL and is an adjunct professor at North Central College. He has served on Shambhala Mountain Center’s Board of Directors since 2014.