Leaving Our Space









Dear Friends of the White River Shambhala Center, and of Shambhala Centers across the Planet,

The White River Shambhala Center is leaving our long-loved space.  We are becoming disembodied, entering the bardo, losing our home, closing — and yet perhaps opening at the same time.

That’s how it feels to me, at least, as a member of this Center for 12 of the 16 years it has existed in its space above Cover, a resale store for home supplies, our area’s great organizer of charitable home repair, and our landlord.

When we started renting the space from Cover, it was a dilapidated former brewery, neglected for years.  Local Shambhala/Dharmadatu Buddhists in the area had been meeting in living rooms and temporary spaces for years before finding this space and signing the lease.  These practitioners renovated the space beyond all dreams.

Our local sangha membership seems to have an abundance of craftspeople, and they made the space absolutely gorgeous and wildly drala-inviting.  Cover gave us a big discount on our rent for many years due to the work done to the space.

And the years went on.  So many gatherings.  At the risk of sounding like a 70s song, I will say that there was joy and there were tears.  So much laughter, and a lot of pain, too.  Hurt feelings, sharpness, disappointment.  And coming back, remembering who we are in our hearts, what we can create together, what we can help each other find.  Relaxing — again.  Smiling…totally cracking up…simply appreciating.  Many cycles of being together, of seeing and being seen.

So many sitting sessions.  So many classes.  Levels, discussion groups, coffee and bagels. Potlucks, cocktail parties, feasts.  Hosting teachers, hosting guest presenters from the larger community, hosting people who had never meditated before, hosting each other.  Full-on Buddhist funerals.  Fabulous fundraisers, art made and art displayed, singing, toasts, oaths.  We even did an earring swap once!  Not too long ago, before the Internet totally took over, we put a lot of effort into making flyers and posting them widely.  Tons of meetings.  Tons of offerings to the space: cleaning, ikebana, DK protection, donations of elegant and sacred objects.  The many ideas and plans that didn’t come to fruition.  Children growing up before our eyes.  Members aging before our eyes.  New loves blooming, old loves maturing and sometimes changing.  Weathering the many changes in larger Shambhala.  Weathering the weather…sometimes just to get there.

And pretty much whenever someone first walked through the door to our Center, they would remark on the beauty of the space.  It is – it was – such a beautiful space.

Over the past several years, we fought as true Shambhala warriors – that is, without aggression, with love and longing – to keep our space.   White River Junction has been going through an economic boom, and our rent increased substantially.  Our membership rallied again and again to keep us in “our space.”  We finally had to agree, with sadness and yet urgency, that we need to let the space go.

We have been talking with Shambhala Global Services about whether we might continue to be a Shambhala Center without a physical space in which to meet.  So many of us have recently learned to adapt to virtual meetings in our professional, family, and dharmic lives; perhaps WRSC’s membership can continue virtually, as well.

Or maybe we will go back to living rooms, or maybe we will find a new space…

For now, we are working through the closing of the space.  Where do the many beautiful and precious objects go?  The handmade bench; the gorgeous rug; the gomdens and zabutons; the vases and the dishes; the liturgies, the shrine objects, and the thangkas; the dignified chairs and their dear friends, the dignified tables; and what about all the books?

We have indeed been a dedicated Shambhala Buddhist meditation center.  To me, as we dissolve, that is clearer than ever.  So much to let go of.  I pray that we can see it all as a dream, and that we can remain loving and tearful supports for each other on our essentially lonely yet deeply connected paths.  We have been through too much together to let the loss of a space, regardless of its beauty and its treasures and memories, dissolve us.

Wherever we next go, and however we next connect with each other: If we beckon them with our genuine hearts, the dralas will follow and bless us, and we will not be lost to ourselves or to each other.

We will have a closing ceremony at the Center, and we will provide everyone who is receiving this letter with a way to share their experiences of the Center if they wish to do so.  Please continue to check our website for further information about White River’s Shambhala Buddhist activities.

Dia Ballou
Devoted Member, WRSC


8 thoughts on “Leaving Our Space

  1. What a lovely tribute. How heart may be constant but everything else will change 🙂
    What arises from this will be GOOD and all the connections will be GOOD. Thank you all White River Junction practitioners.

  2. Nice to see many familiar faces and friends. I was in the area when WRSC opened and partook in many practice & social events. Heart breaking to see it dissolve along with my ex NYSC 22nd Street space. & so many others. We roll with so much change right now. Love to all.

  3. So sad to contemplate this, and appreciate your bravery in letting go. I taught a Windhorse level there, I believe, many years ago and remember how beautiful the space was – you didn’t mention the tinted plaster walls!!! Wishing you all best wishes as your navigate this bardo. Come down to Boston anytime to practice – once we re-open. Much love.

  4. Thanks, Rebecca. Agreed that living rooms are good places to gather. And we’ve always done a lot of that anyway. But we will miss the shrine, the thangkas, etc…

  5. Thanks, Becky. You were definitely part of the space’s good (and gorgeous) energy!

  6. Heartbreaking to lose a space where so much energy and love was invested ❤️ Holding all of WRJ sangha in my heart.
    I don’t see going back to sangha member’s living rooms as necessarily a step backwards—Shambhala Training is a householder practice, right? and things grown organically, without debt, are going to be more resilient to change. May much good come from kindness and care.
    Hope you all can continue to practice together

  7. Thank- you Dia for the beautiful tribute. This is sad news but understandable for the times. I am grateful for the time I spent there and all of the wonderful people I met at various classes and events. Although I moved away I still think of it as my spiritual center. I hope to see you all again in another time and place.