Shambhalians Manifest at the Peoples Climate March

by Mark Rasmuson and Gabe Dayley

“A sacred activist is someone who knows that the world’s profound crisis is challenging everyone to act from our deepest compassion and wisdom, and who is committed to ‘being’, in the face of growing chaos, suffering, and violence. In Shambhala terminology we call this the way of warriorship.”

– Acharya Marty Janowitz, A Call for Meditation in Action on Climate Change

Though the mercury would later rise above 90 degrees for the April 29 People’s Climate March in Washington—perhaps a fitting statement by Mother Nature—the early morning air was deceptively cool, a refreshing breeze beneath an overcast sky. Over a dozen local Shambhalians joined Buddhists from many sanghas in the tree-lined Upper Senate Park near the U.S. Capitol to practice together and set intentions before joining the vast multitude for the march itself.

Co-organized by the eco-dharma organization One Earth Sangha and several members of the DC Shambhala Center, the group shared quiet moments of reflection and offerings from several different Buddhist traditions.

Following a welcome from One Earth Sangha’s Lou Leonard, Ani Losang Tendrol, from the Tibetan Buddhist Guhyasamaja Center in Virginia, described the severe impact of climate change in Tibet and shared a poem from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the interconnectedness of all beings and the natural world. Sister Trang Hai An, and her fellow monastics from the Blue Cliff Monastery in New York, led the group in a beautiful song from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of InterBeing, reminding us that “we are all leaves from one tree, we are all waves of one sea, we are all stars in one sky.”

Acharya Adam Lobel then led the group in a guided meditation to fully experience the fresh and open space in nature in which we gathered, rousing our windhorse and energy both in order to delight in the world’s sacredness and to live in the challenge of our times. He invited us to ground ourselves by touching the earth and feeling in our hearts the sadness of the ecological and political problems we face and our responsibility for addressing them. Acharya Lobel called on all of us to be warriors, to face the daunting challenges to our society and our planet with courageous vulnerability.

The event concluded with Amy Smith, a teacher in the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, leading the group in a heart-felt loving-kindness meditation, concluding with the familiar “may all beings be free from suffering, may all be happy, may all be healthy, may all experience great peace and joy.”

The Shambhala group, including members of the DC Shambhala Center and a number of out-of-town Shambhalians, assembled for a photo around a large banner emblazoned with the Shambhala sun and the words of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche: “If we open our eyes, if we open our minds, if we open our hearts, we will find that this world is a magical place.”


Inspired by the morning’s Dharma teachings and contemplations, the Buddhist assembly walked together to the starting point of the People’s Climate March in front of the Capitol Building. Here, we joined the “Keepers of the Faith” contingent, one of eight large blocs of marchers in a crowd that swelled to an estimated 200,000 people. As the sun seared foreheads and baked the air on this late-April day, we marched to the primordial call of bagpipes while piper Andrew Forbes played the Shambhala Anthem, making curious heads turn as we proclaimed the warrior’s cry. KI KI SO SO!

img_3095The march concluded with throngs encircling the White House for a silent sit-in to acknowledge the tremendous harm that people, animals, and ecosystems have already experienced due to climate change, as well as the ways in which the administration’s policies will exacerbate this suffering.

May we continue to march forward with kindness and fierce compassion to protect our sacred world and the multitude of beings in it.