Shambala shindig

As the fourth Shambala congress starts this week, buddhists from near and far get together to party.

The fourth Shambhala Congress is upon us.

Yes, upon us. All of us. Because Shambhala Buddhism has been a central part of the culture of Nova Scotia since its founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, decided in the mid-'80s that Halifax was the most spiritually congenial place on earth to bring teachings on compassion.

"It's been what some people call a marriage," says Shambhala president Richard Reoch, "a marriage between the inherent qualities of the existing community and the ancient principles of generosity and basic goodness."

Well, in that case, welcome.

Some 200 Shambhalians from 46 countries will attend the biennial congress, November 9 through 11, to talk shop and guide the global Shambhala vision for the next couple of years. "It is, in a sense, the Shambhala parliament," says Reoch.

But mostly it's about getting together. "In the Buddhist tradition, we speak about the three jewels---the teacher, the teachings and the community. And the congress is all about this third jewel," says Reoch.

Shambhala "is not a tradition which is inward. It is about opening outwards out and appreciating others."

Fittingly, then, the congress is part party. Birthday party, no less, for the 48th birthday of Shambhala's spiritual leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, son of Trungpa.

Could be a big one---the Sakyong will enter a yearlong retreat directly after the congress.

"There are some people that have the image that all Buddhists are monks and nuns or have an aspiration to go live in caves," says Reoch, chuckling. "And when they hear there is a Buddhist party, they wonder, well, what would Buddhists do at a party?

"Buddhists party the same as people anywhere else in the world. We would normally have good food, good music, good dancing and good cheer."

Got a friend in the Shambhala community? Could be your ticket in....

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