Dear Shambhala Sangha:

My paid position as the Director of the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement (SOSE) officially came to an end on Dec 31, 2018. It was a rich few years creating and then growing this office. It has been a pleasure to serve you. SOSE grew to include so many amazing humans from all over the mandala, and I have no doubt that if we had continued, that it would have grown to include more of you, especially those of you outside of the US. Thank you to all those who supported this work and this office, and to those of you I did not personally connect with, perhaps we’ll still meet in the future. I’d like to offer this final report that I wrote in December so that anyone who is interested can learn what we were able to do within 2 years and where we left off should the work continue in some capacity in the future. The report also includes the history of the formation of the office and names of those who were instrumental in making it all happen.

After my role came to an end, I asked those who were most involved with SOSE if they wanted to continue without me. I did not get very much response and much of that is because many of us are shocked and are processing whether we even want to continue with this community. Some of the work that got started such as the POC council, white awareness work, and environmental efforts might be continuing, and some of it may be on hold. I opted not to shut down the SOSE FB page. For some time, I stopped posting much content, however, recently I’ve been trying to maintain it again. There are a few other moderators apart from me, but I do believe all of us have taken a giant step back from what we were originally doing to maintain this page. What this page has primarily been is posting articles about current events taking place in the world, and articles about new and interesting things people are doing to create enlightened society in the wider world. I still very much believe that even though we are all trying our best to figure out our way and our place within or out of Shambhala.org, that enlightened society is possible, and that we can look outside of our community and begin to work with people who are really interested in these kinds of dialogues and actions. I personally have been very moved by Transformative Justice and Restorative Justice communities, Art of Hosting Networks, the Interplay community, Emergent Stategies, Radical Dharma, the work of so many collectives locally here in Chicago including interfaith groups, non-profit collectives and POC efforts. There are so many amazing and exciting things happening. There is so much re-imagining happening. I encourage that we all begin to look and to feel what is out there if we haven’t done that already. As we each find our way forward, we may find that we can bring our own skills into the mix of what others are doing, and that we all very much still have something to contribute. Whether or not we choose to leave the community, our own learning and our wisdom will always be with us to take and to offer wherever we go.

I have decided to take all of my knowledge, skills, learnings and turn this into a new organization that I call “Spiritual Activism.” This new organization will focus on two things 1- to offer contemplative practices, both personal and communal to those who identify as activists and 2 – to offer spiritual communities guidance on how to step out into the world and begin to engage. In addition, it will work with and raise funds for non-profits and educational entities on projects involving contemplatives practices. If you want to continue to support my new work, you can donate here. In time I will be fundraising for more new exciting projects that I hope to share with all of you.

My hope is that I can continue working with various Shambhala centers and groups who are inspired to step out, which to me right now feels more important than ever. While there is a lot of work to do internally, I hope that we are also inspired to take the skills and practices that we have each learned and offer them outside of the Shambhala walls. If your centers are interested in having me, I’m more than happy to work with the community in this regard, even if there is no formal SOSE at the moment.

I also hope to work with the Shambhala community on offering various contemplative communal tools we can use to dialogue among our own communities. In the long run, when Shambhala is ready, I hope I can offer my knowledge around community accountability and justice.

All this being said, gradually, I would like to stop maintaining this facebook page. If there are others who are inspired to continue to run this page, please let me know and we can slowly transition, although I’m only willing to do that if the heart of the page remains the same. I’m also willing to keep it going a little longer while I simultaneously run my new page, Spiritual Activism. After I transition, I will continue to post similar content on my new page, so please feel free to follow me there. In addition, I’ve begun a blog and will share my own writings on various topics here. I would love to see dynamic discussions take place there.

I’m sending love to you all and hope you all are well. I hope to see you all again soon.

Love, Aarti

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