Mandala Offering Fundraiser
In the summer of 2007 Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and President Richard Reoch asked that Shambhala Centres hosting the Sakyong organize a fund-raising event that would benefit both the local centre and Shambhala core services.
Outside of special circumstances we ask that Shambhala Centres hosting the Sakyong contact Shambhala's Development Coordinator Lodro Rinzler for more information and to discuss a percentage split of money received at this fund-raising event between the local centre and Shambhala core services.
The practice of Transcendental Generosity: Making an Offering to the Shambhala Mandala
“Changing our karmic tendencies…”
In May 2007, at the Shambhala Dzogchen retreat at Dechen Chöling, the Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham, Rinpoche, said he wanted us to change our communities “karmic tendencies” when it comes to practicing generosity. He had previously spoken to President Reoch about “being fed up with gimmicks” and wanted a different style of fundraising to take place in his presence throughout the mandala. That different style would link the practice of generosity to the rest of our practice, and to the experience of practice mind we have in our shrine rooms – and in the presence of our lineage.
As a result a series of fundraising events have taken place at major practice centres throughout the year, based on this principle.
These have taken place during the concluding feast of the program, following any final remarks of the Sakyong and immediately prior to the blessing line. The Sakyong may or may not make specific remarks about generosity (see below). An appropriate leader of the local (or international mandala) addresses the gathering and explains the method by which people will be able to make their offering to the lineage (see end of this page).
These events have been “open-ended” in the sense that the fund-raising is not for something in particular (such as a new roof), but instead a completely open-hearted gift to the lineage to support both the local centre and the heart of the mandala. Experience has shown thus far, that particularly with the vajra sangha, that this is extremely powerful and broadly appreciated since it transforms ordinary “fund-raising” into an offering to the mandala.
The speaker’s explanation concludes by telling people that they are invited to complete the “Transcendental Generosity” letter to the Sakyong and which they will place in a basket or bowl as they enter the blessing line,. There is a separate pledge card which goes to the finance office of the local centre which they are also invited to complete and place in the basket or bowl at the end of the blessing line. That way the lineage receives the personal letter and the finance office can follow-up on pledges and gifts.
Ground, Path and Fruition
Ground: For Shambhalians, practicing generosity is an honor and a privilege. The key view for this and other fundraising events is that it is completely delightful and part of our path to offer opportunities to the sangha to practice generosity, since the path of giving is a viable practice which allows us to practice the dana paramita.
Another important aspect of the view is that when one makes an offering to part of the mandala, we are reminded and given an opportunity to support, simultaneously, the center of the mandala as well. This reminds that we are part of a much greater, unified mandala – and that the offerings are going both to the local Shambhala entity and to the centre of the mandala, which supports the lineage and the central Mandala Services. The Dana Group is working on developing a model which would allow all potential donors to give to sangha projects in a much more coordinated mannter, instead of receiving multiple solicitations from various Shambhala projects. This fundraising event described here is one of the first steps in that direction.
Path: The set up for this particular fundraising event is relatively simple but recent experience has shown that the pitch itself is of key import to the size of donations received.
- copies of the “Transcendental Offering” document (below)
- your local method for receiving income (we recommend a pledge card that includes the opportunity to give a credit card number and an envelope so people can put in checks)
- baskets of bowls in which to receive, separately, the “Transcendental Offering” document and the pledge card
- people to hold the baskets or bowls during the event
We recommend that the pitch follows any remarks the Sakyong has made. Ideally he would set the stage by mentioning generosity as part of his talk but even where this has not happened, things went very smoothly. To that end we have included the transcript of the first talk he gave at Dechen Chöling (which launched this style of event) below. During the pitch the materials are handed out. At the end is a blessing line.
We recommend the local center director and an assistant or two stand stage left of the Sakyong so that when one goes through the blessing line they step up to receive blessings from the Sakyong, then offer the pledge sheet to the assistant (or secretary/kusung) on a silver platter, then the pledge card in envelope to the center director in a large bowl. At Shambhala Mountain Center the director had an assistant hand out small prayer flags as a thank you, which people seemed to enjoy.
The important part of the pitch is emphasizing the view. Particularly with Vajrayana audiences it is helpful to remind people that in mandala practice you offer everything imaginable in order to receive the blessings of the lineage. The blessings are more potent and valuable this way. Similarly in Asian countries it is unheard of to expect to receive blessings from a teacher without offering anything in return. The idea with this fundraising event is that we are offering to the lineage in the form of the Sakyong as we go through the blessing line and in return we receive the blessings of the lineage through him.
One way to emphasize the share between the local center and the centre of the Shambhala Mandala is to mention that the money being given will primarily go to the Sakyong’s home (your Shambhala Center, which is his domain) and the balance to support him and his staff, the people who carry forward his vision (both the support staff that travels with him and the staff that serves the mandala, with programming, materials and essential services like our finances…)
Also below is a sample pitch that was very well received at Karme Choling.
The Sakyong has agreed that the Dana Group should have on call someone well trained in the approach laid out in this document such that at community events and programs one weekend or longer he can weigh in on whether it is an appropriate audience to have this fundraising initiative take place. For more information or to be trained in this approach contact Shambhala's Development Coordinator, Lodro Rinzler at <email@example.com>
Fruition: This style of event completely embraces the practice of generosity within the concluding feast of a program with the Sakyong. It enables each individual to connect again through this with the lineage at the centre of our mandala and support not only the local hosting centre, but the sense of a far greater mandala. It is intensely personal: it does not require public displays or disclosure of one’s generosity or resources. It is also optional: whatever people wish to do, or not do – give or not give – is a matter for them. Experience thus far, however, shows that is enables people to make offerings in a way that is meaningful to them and as part of their devotional practice.
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