Questions for the Centre Director

Lee, how long have you served the Council?

I was appointed in September 2015 at the Harvest of Peace celebration, in a ceremony led by Richard Reoch, former President of Shambhala International and Personal Envoy of the Sakyong. All appointments have a three-year term, which can be renewed once if that is what is in the best interests of both the Centre and the individual Council member. I am therefore beginning my final year in this post, and the position of Centre Director will be advertised over the coming year in the hope of finding a suitable replacement who can take over in September 2018.

How do you understand your role?

My role is to continue to develop my own practice and understanding of the Shambhala teachings and vision, and apply this understanding to my work. I chair the Council meetings and so am responsible for facilitating exploration, discussion and decision making. I represent the Pillar of Government and am accountable to the representatives of this Pillar internationally. My role is to gather the collective wisdom of our community, and use it to move forward in becoming a more realised society based on the principles of basic goodness.

For what matters are you responsible?

Shambhala has three Pillars – Government, Kasung and Practice and Education (with a fourth Pillar of ‘Economy’ in development). My role is in the Pillar of Government. I work with others on the Council to develop our activities in all areas. With so many gaps in our volunteering structure, I find myself also fulfilling a variety of other roles such as communications and media, practice support, and premises development.

What is exciting in your work right now?

We have been working for a long time to fill all Council positions, in order to strengthen our ability to govern the Centre strategically. Now we are in a position to create an ‘executive’ team to work alongside this ‘strategic’ team and take responsibility for much of the day-to-day decision making and activity. For a long time now the Shambhala Centre has functioned on the hard work and commitment of a very small number of people (who have changed over time, but remained very small in number). I believe we now have the strength of core leadership to extend this out and involve more people in our operations. I am looking forward to seeing the creativity, energy and inspiration that will come from having increased numbers of people engaging more fully in the work we are undertaking.

What’s is challenging about working with the Council situation?

Nothing! I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful and talented group of people to work with, and I find our work together a great source of joy.

What about the Council inspires you?

The people. This is the best team of people I have ever worked with. I am always amazed by the quality and depth of thinking that goes into every aspect of our work. I have found being in a leadership position within Shambhala to be a profound path in itself, I have learned so much, and feel a shift in my whole outlook. I feel a great sense of good fortune to be serving the Sakyong’s vision for Shambhala in whatever ways I am able to.

If you have your own questions, please contact Lee at [email protected]




Lee Howson has been practising meditation in the Shambhala tradition since 1995 and is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He is Director of the London Shambhala Meditation Centre.

Paul Gerstmayr looks after the newsletter and blog of the London Centre, and supports Council in terms of Membership. He studies and teaches Sanskrit, Pali, and Yoga.

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