Give a Day to Shambhala: A Generosity Practice

A couple years ago I participated in the sangha retreat in Halifax called Being Brave. It was an amazing week of practice and teachings and I felt happier and more inspired among a group of strangers there than I’d been in some time. Toward the end of the week organizers placed large bowls and baskets on tables near the doors so that we could make “heart gifts” for the teachers. It was the first time I’d seen such generous offerings of cash. A lot of cash. It impressed me but I also felt a bit squirmy with discomfort. We’d already paid registration fees—why should we pay more?

Fortunately the week of practice helped me to notice that despite the fact that I hadn’t paid registration fees (my week here had been a generous birthday gift from my partner and siblings) I was feeling pretty tight about money. Or rather, I was feeling tight-hearted about this money. It probably had to do with some fear about spiritual snake-oil salesmen: I was perfectly happy to stroll through the market to buy trinkets and nice meals with wine at Sakyong Mipham Rinpochedinner but I balked at supporting the teachers who had shone a light on the goodness in my own heart. I’d been here a week and there was no snake oil in sight! I’d learned so much about what bravery is and I could tell from people’s faces around me that there were a lot of open hearts here. These teachers give their entire lives to waking people up to basic goodness (in fact they give all their lives to freeing sentient beings but let’s focus on this life). I went to a bank machine and took out cash that I gave happily, with gratitude in my wakened heart.

Now that I know a bit more about the cost of programs and the precious value of these teachings, I appreciate even more just how generous Shambhala teachers are. What they receive from program fees is only a token and no measure of how important their work is. How do we show our appreciation? How do we support those whose kindness and sanity have benefitted so many? How do we contribute to enlightened society?

We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain–although what we gain should not particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens naturally, automatically.

–Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Gordon Shotwell wrote an article in the Shambhala Times about how many of us exchange our time for money but that we tend to be more generous with time when in fact they are inseparable. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to Shambhala International’s request for financial support.  They are at work on a new financial model so that all of us can benefit and so that we can benefit others with the lineage’s profound teachings and practice and they aim to raise $300,000 before the end of this year. They’ve set aside the month of July for the Give a Day to Shambhala campaign.  People are picking a day in July and dedicating the activity of that day to Shambhala. This could be simply a dedication of intention, or practice, or it could include a financial donation of one day’s wages.

I am giving Monday 15 July to Shambhala—to the centre of the mandala, to the Sakyong and other teachers, to the small dedicated staff because Shambhala is all of us.  I hope you’ll also be inspired to choose a day to offer!

Everyone can participate regardless of financial means – we may not all have the same income, but we all have 365 days in a year! Here’s the idea: Individuals can dedicate one day of work to Shambhala any time from now through July 31st. On that day, go about your regular work or activities, whether or not you are paid, with the deliberate intention of supporting enlightened society. —Carolyn Mandelker, Executive Director, Shambhala

If you wish to give a gift to support Shambhala’s activity for the rest of 2013 without participating in the Give-A-Day practice, you can do that here.

How the Give-A-Day practice works:

 1. Choose the date you would like to participate.  Here are some contemplations you might use.

2.  If you derive an income from your daily activities, you may want to extend your support by donating your income from that day, or part of the day, to Shambhala. Donate what you want to give from your day here.

3. Tell your friends if you are inspired to do so, by posting on facebook or tweeting with the hashtag #GiveADay. This will help everyone visualize the community of people dedicating our activity to enlightened society all over the world!

4.  Let Shambhala know how it went. Consider writing up what it meant  to be dedicating your efforts to support Shambhala (by leaving a comment at the bottom of the Give-a-Day page), or  by sending  a short video!

To read anecdotes of people’s experience of Giving-A-Day click here and go to the bottom of the page.

Basic goodness can begin to affect our homes, workplaces, hospitals, and schools, extending all the way to our economic and political systems.
~The Shambhala Principle, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

May our efforts contribute to enlightened society!



To understand our opportunities and challenges in the area of finances more fully, the Sakyong recently commissioned Robert Reichner, former director of the Seattle Shambhala Center and now Kalapa Envoy for Enrichment, to conduct a high-level independent study of Shambhala’s finances. Robert says, “This report is intended to spark conversations on what it means to shift the financial direction of Shambhala at all levels and to usher in a new age of how we relate to wealth and money.” The report is now available to you—in simple and easy-to-understand language. The right-hand side of the Give-a-Day site also has lots of background information.