Shambhala Sunday Gathering—Montreal Shambhala Centre Celebrates 50 Years!

Date: Sunday, November 26, 2023 (15:00 -16:00)

Sunday Gatherings are LIVE every week at 3:00 p.m. EDT

Donations are welcome!

This program takes the form of a conversation between Jean-Luc Monfrais and Laurence Corman where we will discuss the various aspects of this fiftieth anniversary, which we celebrated on November 12.

What we celebrate in fact is the lineage, and even more than the lineage, the energy of that lineage. What difference we make between the two is that the lineage is a continuation of the Three Jewels from antiquity to the present day, and then continues after us through our students and the people who will follow us. 

This lineage is composed of elements that are the heart of the Buddha's transmission on an immaterial plane, that are the heart of the teachings, that are the heart of the teachers and the sangha. And this energy, this heart of the lineage, is dressed up over the ages of local traditions, cultures and languages. This means that there is an immutable energy in the core of the lineage, which cannot be changed. Then there's how it all manifests itself, depending on the time and the country. The form changes, the core, the energy is unchangeable.

This is what we have been exploring all year long in this celebration of our fiftieth anniversary, through the history of Montreal Center. How it was created, how the teachings were integrated into the local culture. Also evoking the people who have carried these teachings, who have carried the center, who have transmitted the Three Jewels and the teachings of CTR and Sakyong throughout these 50 years. 

There have been highs, there have been lows. There have been periods of enthusiasm, there have been very difficult times, but the lineage has never been interrupted. Thus we come to the present time which went through both the turmoil within Shambhala and around the Sakyong, but also the turmoil within the societies in which we live. There was the pandemic, as well as climate changes and the increase in aggression, ignorance and non-communication at the international level. "The age of famine and plague arose"…

So, the 2nd part we are going to explore, is what we are currently doing, how we have succeeded in the Centre of Montreal, thanks to our successive directors. They have been able to set up discussion circles from the very first days, which circles are still very active, and who have been able to set up communication systems that prevent our sangha from tearing itself apart and bursting. 

That's why we have people in our Center following the teachings of the Sakyong, people not following the teachings of the Sakyong, and people wanting to do different things. 

What allows our sangha not to break up, what allows us to remain united despite our profound differences, is precisely the respect of this central immaterial axis which is the energy of the lineage. This is exactly what we absolutely want to safeguard so that we can continue to work in peace, love and joy to build an enlightened society. That's an idealistic vision but one that serves as a guide for our practices. We can be different, practice different programs, but stay connected. 

The 3rd part flows naturally from this phase. This is how we want not to rebuild, but to build the future of our lineage. Not as it was, but as it has to be. I love the image given by CTR of building "beautiful castles of crystal." For me, the image of crystal palaces is very telling. 

Indeed, they are structured buildings, but at the same time transparent. Structured and unstructured at the same time. That's what we're doing together today and in the previous days in the brainstorming circles we still have and will be having. We're talking about structure, but we also want to be transparent. 

Clear and structured at the same time.

This sums up very simply for me how the energies of the lineage could support us in the troubled times that seem to be looming.

In conclusion, that's what this Fiftieth Anniversary means to me: a milestone, a moment to update our roadmap, illuminating the future of our path with the lights of the past, but leading with the energy of the present.

About the Teachers

Jean-Luc Monfrais is currently the Director of the Shambhala Centre in Montreal. He took refuge in 1980 with the 16th Karmapa in Rumtek, Sikkim. He was then a member of the Kagyu Centre of Dhakpo Kagyu Ling Dordogne in France, following in particular Shamar Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso. He came to Canada in 2004 to take up a position as a hospital anesthesiologist. He then joined a Kagyu group with Lama Gursam when his lama left to open a center in Mexico City. So, after enriching encounters, he decided to change lineage. This is how he decided to join the Montreal Shambhala Center in 2015. He followed the entire curriculum right up to the Warrior Assembly at DCL in 2018. At that time he was active on the Board as co-director of SHWB, then of the audio-video technique. He became director of the Montreal center on Losar Day this year.

Laurence Corman, A Shambhala member for over 15 years, Laurence has been on the Montreal Council for over five years, in charge of Societal Health and Well Being. With several years experience volunteering in Palliative Care, she is now changing her focus into helping support the dharma in prisons in and around Montreal. A meditation guide and co-host/co-instigator of the Heart of Recovery Program at the Montreal Center, Laurence is also in instruction training and will be beginning her Vajrayana studies/practice in the fall. A wife and mother of 2 young adults, Laurence has over 20 years experience working in sales in the Film and Television Distribution and Dubbing industry. Contact: [email protected]