Intro: The Shambhala Journey – A Guided Meditation

The next several posts are a guided meditation called the Shambhala Journey, conceived by Lama Yeshe Jinpa and then compiled and revised by me under his direction. Inspired by classical Dharma teachings and Western humanities, it’s a truly unique practice, an example of Lama la’s integrative approach to dharma teaching.

Thinking about this series of blog posts made me think of journeys- the great journey of the Path, and all of the many journeys encompassed within.

Writing this guided meditation was a journey in and of itself. It was written over about 16 months, while I was having a long series of difficult medical procedures; Lama la kindly invited me to spend time at his office between them, and put me to work writing this piece. That journey- like the journey to Shambhala described within the meditation- was full of starts and stops, rough patches, getting lost in the fog, backtracking, and eventually, completion (at least, of that part of the journey.) Because of the nature of the procedures I had, the memory of the process has a very dreamlike quality, of a most precious and rare time and experience, in glimpses I don’t see with my eyes but with my heart-mind.

Throughout all our lifetimes, there are journeys within journeys. I recently moved, away from my beloved hometown and my beloved teachers and sangha, to a new city. I was scared to make the leap; Lama la advised me, “Don’t fixate on being scared. Make the drive there the journey to Shambhala, think of how it’s the same.”

So there was my guide, encouraging me to embark. As I got stuck for hours in traffic through Modesto, I thought of the times the Path feels so long, hard and tedious, but you persist. Resting and recuperating at the hotel, preparing for the rest of the journey, I thought of refuge. As we climbed the crests of mountain ranges, I’d recite “Om Mani Padme Hung” radiating it to all beings and as we drove mile after mile through vast desert valleys I’d say “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha”, propelling me on the way. Passing acres of green, blooming, fragrant orange groves I thought of Malaya, the cool grove, and the sweet scents of Shambhala. As I neared my destination, finally what I’d only seen on maps began to appear before my eyes, each turn taking me closer to the end – and a brief instance of becoming turned around in a strange place just a mile or so from my new home reminded me that even at the end, we can lose our way if we aren’t paying attention.

And suddenly/not suddenly, I was there at my destination, my Shambhala in the Mojave.

But really, as in this guided mediation, the journey doesn’t end there; this is a mid-point, a way station. I’m only part way up the mountain, and now that I’ve rested, it’s time to take those steps toward completion. I have the map – the precious Dharma gift – and my guide, my kind enlightened Lama, to light the way. The path is there, and everything I need – it’s time to embark on the rest of the journey, the journey of many lifetimes, and the one encompassed within every step we take on the path.

This guided meditation is the creation of Lama Yeshe Jinpa – I was simply fortunate enough to be the facilitator, trying to create a narrative from his vast wisdom. Any mistakes and misconceptions are mine – and if you find a typo, that’s mine too.

I hope it brings you joy, and encouragement and inspiration on your own journey. Let’s go together.

Stay tuned for part two.

Marie Gillies/Yeshe Dorje

August 2021