Our History

The parcel of forest and farm lands that we now know as Dorje Denma Ling was originally part the 288 acres purchased by the Dorje Kasung arm of the Shambhala organization.

The Dorje Kasung Society purchased the land to host the training of youth and adults in the arts of gentle warriorship in a camp setting close to the elements. Subsequently in 1993, the Kasung Society expanded that mission and donated the land parcel now called Dorje Denma Ling to become a residential program centre for the regional and international Shambhala community.

The name Dorje Denma Ling means “Indestructible Place of Denma” — Denma being one of the great generals who commanded the troops of the Tibetan warrior king Gesar of Ling. This legacy is ever present at Dorje Denma Ling which continues to have a close bond with the Dorje Kasung Society and its training programs on the adjacent land.

The Dorje Kasung and the Protector Principle

The protector principle is an important aspect of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism — the tradition into which Chogyam Trungpa, the founder of Shambhala, was born and raised. The Dorje Kasung is a discipline modeled on that Vajrayana tradition of dharma protectors and wisdom warriors whose mission it is to conquer aggression itself. Its members are trained in protecting the space in which practitioners are able to hear and practise the teachings. The protection extends to the teacher who presents the teachings, the teachings themselves, and the community that practices the teachings.

The motto of the Dorje Kasung is “Victory over War.” Victory over war means making peace with your life and all the struggles and conflicts it brings. Victory is acknowledging these challenges and meeting them with insight and loving kindness.

Brief History of the Kasung Land Purchased in Tatamagouche

Senior members of the Dorje Kasung discipline were the first members of Shambhala to recognize the special magic of the Cobequid Highlands of Nova Scotia. In 1990, these students created a not-for-profit organization called The Dorje Kasung Society and purchased 288 acres of new- and old-growth forest and farmland meadows overlooking the Northumberland Strait, a few kilometers outside the village of Tatamagouche. This acreage included the properties of Dorje Denma Ling Retreat Centre (2880 Balmoral Road), a 19th century farmhouse (MacKay House) with outbuildings, and an old schoolhouse (336 Willow Church Road). A significant cleared meadow some distance behind the MacKay House was dedicated to the Magyal Encampment Grounds.

The purpose for the purchase of this land was: To host the training of youth and adults in the arts of gentle warriorship in a camp setting close to the elements. Since then, this land has hosted annual Shambhala Sun Camps, several Family Camps, and ten Magyal Pomra Encampments. In this way, the intention of purchasing and holding this property has been fulfilled.

In 1993, the land parcel now called Dorje Denma Ling was donated by the Kasung Society for the purpose of expanding the original vision to hosting expanded Shambhala programs. During this time, the MacKay House has been home to DDL directors and staff, Dorje Kasung and other local community members. In 1999 the remainder of the land was sold to Shambhala International.

The Dorje Kasung who arranged for the purchase of these lands, and planned for their use and stewardship, also began plans to enrich the forest using sustainable forestry practices. Professional forestry plans were developed, with modest harvests of softwood and hardwood carried out in 1992, 2000 and 2012. Eastern Hemlock, cut on this land provided the big timbers for the Torii built in 2009 and framing lumber for the new kitchen and storage building completed in 2013. The long-term goal is to restore the forest to the Acadian Forest it once was.

A more recent donation of land added 88 more acres to the Eastern end of the property allowed for the creation of a rugged path from the Dorje Kasung Land to Dorje Denma Ling Retreat Centre. This physical link allows the protective energy of the Dorje Kasung Land and the contemplative energy of the Dorje Denma Ling Retreat Centre to strengthen each other.