The Imagining Peace Conference opens Friday night, April 26, with a talk by the Sakyong followed the next day, Saturday April 27, with the Youth Congress on Peace. Sunday, April 28, will be a day of Peace Practices. You may remember my last post, in which Acharya Lobel offered a glimpse of the view and plans at that point. Over the past several weeks, the Shambhala Times has also been publishing a series of articles describing the amazing partner meetings and preparations laying the ground for this historic event.
Aarti Tejuja, one of the key organizers of the event from the Chicago Shambhala Center, wrote a beautiful letter to the Shambhala community in the greater midwest United States, and I want to share some of the highlights here:
“We were presented with a unique opportunity when our head international teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, said he was coming to Chicago to lead a special event. He asked us to determine what kind of program we could put on that could address a core societal issue in our region and be helpful to the whole community.
One issue presented itself with great prominence. Local and national news media were reporting that nearly 700 children were hit by gunfire last year in Chicago. This is an average of two children per day. 66 children died. Over the past three years, nearly one-thousand children and teens were killed in the State of Illinois from violence. We came up with multiple ideas for many different programs, but this one issue kept returning. How could we live here, in Chicago, and turn away from the fact that today, more youth are killed in Chicago than in any other major US city?
We in Chicago Shambhala have never held a program that holds so much meaning to us. We’ve partnered with organizations that work with violence every day. We’ve brought the city of Chicago to the table to work with us to look deeper into this issue. We’ve invited youth leaders, many who were at one time involved directly in the violence, and some who are still plagued by it every day.
As practitioners, we have developed some confidence that the first step toward peace in our own lives is in learning how to develop loving kindness toward ourselves. Without that, it becomes very difficult to extend kindness to others. These two kindnesses are at the core of Shambhala teachings and at the heart of what this program is about; it’s about the lives we lead, by ourselves, in our families, in our neighborhoods and cities. It is not only about violence in a city that’s far removed or in neighborhoods that we can stay away from; it’s about the inner and outer environment that each one of us is generating from this moment to the next moment. This is relevant to our lives whether we live in Chicago, Akron or a small town. Peace in our mind, life and community arises from direct contact with our own sense of worthiness and goodness. Having discovered that, we can take the bold step of discovering the basic goodness of society.”
This event is a milestone in our lineage.
Acharya Adam Lobel, who has been instrumental in helping in the development of this program, recently highlighted three reasons in his communication to the Shambhala Sangha. You can view his full letter here. The most important reason, he said, is that “this event will be a milestone in the history of our lineage. We will be taking a major step in the process of creating enlightened society by directly engaging a challenging and pressing societal issue: youth violence. For anyone curious about the meeting place of our profound practice lineage and social transformation, this event is not to be missed. For anyone longing to directly heal this world, this event is not to be missed.”
Please visit http://imaginingpeace.com/ or visit the facebook page for the event to learn more.