The Shambhala Buddhist path, unique in the world of Western Buddhism, combines the teachings of the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism with the Shambhala principles of living an uplifted life, fully engaged with the world.
From the time when this center was founded in 1970 by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche through 1995, it was known as Karma Dzong.
The term “dzong” means fortress in Tibetan, and is used to denote a Shambhala headquarters which also serves as a seat for Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Traditionally in Tibetan Buddhism, dzongs have been akin to state capitals or cathedrals in a diocese. They are located in key spots where power and energy gather.
The dzongs of the mandala are places that introduce the world to Shambhala. Inside a dzong, one experiences a sacred and uplifted environment that allows the mind to open and relax. Through their activity, presence, and community of meditation practitioners, dzongs emanate the compassion, wisdom, and generosity of the Shambhala lineage out into the broader community.
Enlightened society is the vision of Shambhala. A dzong is a place where that society can be experienced.
Question: Why did you name your center here Karma Dzong?
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche: Karma means “action” as well as “Buddha activity,” and Dzong is the Tibetan word for “fortress.” Situations just present themselves rather than being deliberately premeditated. They are perpetually developing, happening quite spontaneously. Also there seems to be a tremendous amount of energy at the center, which also could be said of karma. It is energy that is not being misled by anyone, energy which is in the fortress. What is happening definitely had to happen. It takes the shape of spontaneous karmic relationships rather than missionary work or the conversion of people into Buddhists.
From “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism,” a book derived from a series of talks given in Boulder in 1970 and 1971.