Brilliance in Denver

Bringing the Sun and Rays of our Shambhala Community Together

The Shambhala Meditation Center of Denver is flourishing.  We are now tasked with revealing our strengths as a community.  With the year of the Wood Sheep, it is more about what questions we offer than what answers we hold on to.  Where does our richness as a community reside?  How can we cultivate genuine kindness?

Jo Fitsell, Laurie Lavine, and Karin Bennett

Jo Fitsell, Laurie Lavine, and Karin Bennett

In our Shambhala community, the definite coldness of winter, where possibility is hemmed in, is beginning to warm up. Spring is arising and hinting at what is to come.  Warmer and more accommodating environments, along with the possibility of growth.  Winter is commonly known in many cultures as a time to reflect on one’s path and life – making an aspiration for the vernal hard work and care that leads to a blossoming in summer and eventual autumnal harvest.  We are ready to reveal the strength of our community.  The Sakyong’s quote around the Sun and Rays coming together speak to this revelation on a global scale:


Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

This is very much the lineage I’ve been asked to hold, and it’s actually taken us this much time to align and be strong. I see this lineage of basic goodness as the sun, and enlightened society as the rays. Put the sun and the rays together and you have brilliance. I am happy to say that the sun and the rays have come together, and it has taken thirty-six years.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche,
Shambhala Day Address 2015


The ground of our communal success resides in the question, “what is wonderful about our community?”  We have come a long way especially since the Shambhala Denver community decided to set strong aspirations in Winter of 2011-12 during the Vision to Action project.  This set us on a course to manifest strongly our values of community, engagement and human dignity.  The audacity of that group led to some major developments, all of which were first started by the community deciding to engage. Each of the communal goals were met while more members began to join the community.

Over the last few years, the leadership of SMCD has been strengthened.  We currently have over 20 empowered leaders and a full Leadership Council that now includes a Societal Health & Well-Being Director and Culture & Decorum Representative – click here to learn more about SMCD’s leadership.

We also have grown significantly in our membership and finances.  Each of the last few years, we’ve grown in revenue by around 10%, a healthy sign for any organization, especially a non-profit.  The ground of our success has been the investment of an active community.  When you consider how many members are involved with the everyday activities and support of the Shambhala center, it is no wonder our membership has grown a full 13% in the last 6 months.  With around 180 members, we are positioned as a one of the larger Shambhala centers in the Western US.  We are close to stabilizing our finances and yet are still in need of becoming solvent where our annual revenue matches our annual expenses, currently we are about $5,000 short.


Purple Lotus from the Denver Botanical Gardens

Now, for the community, we need to address the heart of the matter, “how do we want to manifest?”  Including growth in leadership and finances, we are in a position to direct our energy in a constructive way.  Each of us are faced with a major decision on how to embody Shambhala principles.  There are many opportunities to genuinely delve into these questions, and the first is the Community Gathering on Saturday, May 9th, 1pm-3:30pm.  This is an opportunity to participate in developing SMCD into it’s next phase of growth.  

The next opportunity is to read the recent Shambhala Day article – The Sun and Rays Come Together, which has a section in how to contemplate your intentions for the next year.

Ultimately, we are engaging with our community and contemplating our intentions to cultivate a culture of kindness.  This may seem vague, but it is truly occurring at our center through how we interact with one another and how we view ourselves on a moment to moment basis.  From here we can be truly more accommodating: collaborating with other organizations, communities and businesses.  The entire Shambhala community in Denver and the Front Range, the many hundreds of us, could come together and continue this cultivation of kindness.

Our lives are so precious, so let’s be without delay in relaxing into our path as a community.  Enjoying each other’s company and nurturing our lineage of goodness, we can just be ourselves.  Major decisions, jam-packed programs, and financial budgets will come and go; and throughout any occurrence, the question is, “how are we bringing the sun and rays together and manifesting brilliantly a culture of kindness?”


Nathan Railla during the Brilliant Morning: Celebration of Art and Fundraiser

Nathan Railla is the Director of the Shambhala Meditation Center of Denver.  He is a student of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche since 2010.  He lives in the Speer neighborhood of Denver with his wife, Betsy and dog, Bette.