A Week at Karmê Chöling

The time I recently spent at Karmê Chöling in Vermont taking Shambhala Training Levels I–III was so filled with teaching and opportunities to practice that I left the centre with the sense I had been there for much much longer than a week.

I got ushered into the Shambhala vision of creating an enlightened society through beautifully presented teachings; but to see the dharma in action at the centre had a profound effect on me.

Karmê Chöling is a microcosm of that ideology in practice. A living organism. It is the very first Shambhala centre, dating back to the early ’70s. I sat quietly in the exquisite shrine room. I listened attentively when the elders of the organization shared their insights. I interacted with the core staff and other participants as a member of a group of people whose wakefulness translates to a sense of being real and alive. Wakefulness—as I am discovering—doesn’t necessarily translate to being a better person, or even a happier person, but rather in radiating a sense of confidence in one’s authenticity.

I was offered instruction that has deepened my practice, and tools that enrich my practice—of life. In the process, and within the safety of the setting’s container, I was given space to go deeper into my own sense of self, where I apply these transformative teachings. I also got to sleep in a tent and commune with nature. I ran the Rigden Ridge Trail and the Tiger Trail through the beautiful land. I got to do the recycling, add to the compost heap, and take out the garbage. I got to chop onions in the kitchen and cry.

This all left me with a sense of awe and wonder, and I left with a feeling beyond simple inspiration. Yes, it is possible to live the vision. And there is proof.

The morning of my last day at Karmê Chöling I wrote this in my journal:
I sense that I am on the verge of discovering something profound. Yet I have a feeling that it will be something very, very simple and ordinary. Something I have always in fact known. I’m on the threshold and at the same time, a million miles away from it. It’s everywhere and nowhere, like the centre of the universe. When I look for it I miss it. But I see it everywhere.

By Michal George