About Shambhala

Shambhala is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and propagate the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings — both of which seek to help humanity wake up to our innate wisdom and compassion.

The founder of our community, the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, was an accomplished Tibetan meditation master and lineage holder in the Kagyu and Nyingma Buddhist traditions. He was also revered as a powerful visionary who received many special “hidden treasure teachings” (terma) which are revealed only at a time when people need and are able to hear them. Thus the Shambhala teachings were hidden by ancient Tibetan Bön and Buddhist visionaries to be revealed for our times by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

How are the teachings of Shambhala different from traditional Buddhist teachings?

Shambhala — the name, was taken from a mythical kingdom in Central Asia where the people enjoyed harmony, good health, and well-being. As explained by our current leader, Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche,

“The history and legend of Shambhala is based upon a great community that was able to reach a higher level of consciousness. This community could occur because its individual members participated fully in creating a culture of kindness, generosity, and courage.”

Although the Shambhala teachings have their roots in ancient Tibetan Buddhism, they have a broader vision which embraces all peoples, cultures and religions that share the Shambhala vision of creating kind and sane societies. Whereas the Buddhist teachings focus on the awakening and development of the individual, the Shambhala teachings seek to provide a culture and environment in which the individual and society can blossom.

“The Shambhala teachings are founded on the premise that there is basic human wisdom that can help to solve the world’s problems. The wisdom does not belong to any one culture or religion, nor does it come from the West or the East. Rather, it is a tradition of human warriorship that has existed in many cultures at many times throughout history.”

— Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

In action, Shambhala is both a spiritual path of study and meditation that helps us work with our minds, as well as a path of serving others and engaging with our world, regardless of whether we are Buddhist or not. These vital and timely teachings open the door to the compassionate care for ourselves and others.

The Shambhala Lineage Holders

As mentioned above, the Shambhala teachings come from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition called terma — which means “treasure” in Tibetan. Terma are hidden texts which are discovered in a later era by Buddhist masters called tertons who then offer them as a source of renewed wisdom and blessings for humanity during troubled times.

Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

The treasure teachings of Shambhala were revealed to terton and founder of our community, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. Trungpa was also recognized as a powerful lineage holder in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions, a revered Buddhist teacher eleventh in the line of Trungpa tulkus (incarnations). As such, he underwent a period of intensive training in mediation, philosophy, and fine arts, and was expected to lead the large monastic community in Surmang, Tibet. However, as did many Tibetan masters, in 1949 he escaped from Tibet during the Chinese invasion in order to protect and preserve the Buddhist teachings from destruction and suppression by the Communist regime.

From India Trungpa went to the United Kingdom, and then on to North America in 1970 and began teaching Buddhism in English — in a vernacular familiar to North Americans. He subsequently became widely known as a major contributor to bringing Buddhism to the West. Between 1976 and 1980, however, he began receiving the Shambhala terma texts, and these terma eventually became his major focus. At the time of his death in 1987 he had taken on the Shambhala title and role of Sakyong (Earth Protector).

Sakyong Jamgon Mipham, Rinpoche

In 1979 Trungpa Rinpoche officially named his eldest son Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo as his Shambhala heir and the future Sakyong. Ösel  was thoroughly trained by his father in the path of meditation, Shambhala arts and culture. His formal Vajrayana Buddhist education was entrusted primarily to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Penor Rinpoche — both highly revered spiritual masters. In 1994, a year before he was officially empowered as the new Sakyong, Ösel Mukpo was recognized by Penor Rinpoche as the incarnation of the great Mipham Rinpoche, the famous 19th century Tibetan Buddhist master in the Nyingma tradition. With this thorough training in both the Shambhala and Buddhist teachings, he has earned title of Sakyong and lineage holder for the Shambhala as well as Kagyu and Nyingma Buddhist lineages.

We now refer to Ösel Mukpo as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and reference his father as the Druk (Dragon) Sakyong.

The Sakyong is married and has three daughters who are being trained to take their place as teachers and lineage holders. His wife, Khandro Tseyang Mukpo holds the title of Sakyong Wangmo, or Earth Protector Lady, which is the embodied manifestation of the feminine principle.

The Sakyong Wangmo, Sakyong and their three daughters. This photo was taken in 2018 before the family left for Nepal. The children are now two years older.