How We Operate

About the Shambhala Council

The Ottawa Shambhala Centre is governed by a volunteer council of members who each hold responsibility for different aspects of our community. Normally there is a Director, who holds the overall well-being of the Centre along with a long-term vision of our sustainability, as well as people who hold responsibility for areas of the Centre’s  functioning in terms of finance, practice and education, social health, cultural and community events, and membership support.

The Council seeks to govern in a manner that ensures transparency and communication with the community. Minutes of Council proceedings are available to community members on request. Members are always welcomed and encouraged to take on roles within the Council and to attend Council meetings, which are always open.

Societal Health and Well-Being

The Ottawa centre is committed to creating an engaged and kind community, improving interpersonal communications, reducing barriers to accessing the dharma, and ensuring that everyone feels welcome.

The ability for people to be open and vulnerable within a kind environment lies at the heart of Shambhala’s aspiration for enlightened society. Our practice, study and work environments, as well as our relationships, should be free from harassment, intimidation, discrimination and abuse of any type.

The Shambhala Care and Conduct Policy emphasizes that each individual should be treated with respect and dignity in all aspects of diversity (such as racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, age, gender, physical ability). We are also citizens of the larger communities and abide by public laws. These include but are not limited to laws pertaining to alcohol, drugs, and sexual conduct. Each individual has the right to practice, study and meditate in an atmosphere that is free from discrimination.

We foster communication and contact among community members and caring for the health and well-being of members when illness, conflict or social difficulties arise. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Director of Societal Health and Well-Being at [email protected]

Compassion for People Who are Suffering: Group Meditation Practice For Those Who Are Seriously Ill

Maitri Bhavana is a practice in which we cultivate compassion by taking on the sense of suffering of others and acknowledging our interconnectedness. A sense of spaciousness is directed to those who are suffering, with the intention of providing relief from the claustrophobia that suffering creates.

If you know someone who is suffering from mental or physical pain, you are invited to send an email to [email protected] indicating the name of the person along with the nature of their pain (for example: cancer, depression, etc.) and we will include them in our monthly Maitri Bhavana practice.

In addition to our email, there’s also a sign-up sheet at the centre.

Physical Space and Set-up of the Centre

We have made many efforts to make the physical space welcoming and comfortable for people with different abilities and sensitivities, including:

  • Wheelchair accessibility
  • LED lighting and natural light
  • Variety of cushions and chairs to support people of different heights and weights
  • Considerations for environmental sensitivities and allergies, such as
    • Laminate flooring or low-pile carpet
    • Beeswax candles when candles are used
    • Nut- and seed-free policy
    • Scent-free policy (We have incense for ritual purposes but we don’t burn it; we use environmentally neutral products in the kitchen; etc.)

We do our best to minimize allergens, but we do share a building, so we can’t guarantee a scent-free environment. If you are interested in a program or activity at our centre and have severe allergies, asthma or any other condition that may cause health issues for you, please contact the Director of Societal Health and Well-Being at [email protected] before attending a program.

If you do not have allergies, please be considerate of those who do, including:

  • Please avoid bringing nuts or seeds or foods that may contain them, e.g., granola bars, crackers, hummus, etc. (including food for yourself or to share at weekend retreats, evening hospitality snacks, pot‑luck celebrations or get-togethers). If you’re not sure if something you’re considering is a problem, don’t bring it. Some people are allergic to even trace amounts of nuts in the air.
  • Please avoid wearing perfume, cologne, aftershave, hairspray, or any other scented products.
  • Please don’t light the incense.

Dorje Kasung

The Protector Principle

The Dorje Kasung is an organization within Shambhala modeled on the ancient tradition of dharma protectors and drala warriors. Its members are trained in protecting the space in which practitioners are able to hear and practise the teachings. The protection extends to the teacher who presents the teachings, the teachings themselves, and the community that practises the teachings.

This can manifest in simple functions like acting as a gatekeeper for the Centre to allow a meditation session to unfold undisturbed or holding a ceremonial role in a ritual. More elaborate functions like planning and executing the transportation of teachers and doing crowd control during large public events are also done by the Dorje Kasung.

In addition, Dorje Kasung can choose to specialize in psychological and physical crisis intervention, personal and building security, or ongoing personal service to lineage holders.

Victory over War

The motto of the Dorje Kasung is “Victory over War.” War represents the struggle created by the three “poisons” identified by the Buddha: grasping, aggression and ignorance. Victory is acknowledging these poisons and meeting them with insight and loving kindness.

Dorje Kasung training strengthens our capacity to work with heightened and chaotic situations (in our mind or in our environment) and to find non-aggressive means to solve conflicts.