The mission of the Song of Shambhala brand is to help others find their own gifts, as Persian poet Hafiz so beautifully explains:
“There are so many gifts Still unopened from your birthday There are so many hand-crafted presents That have been sent to you by God. The Beloved does not mind repeating, ‘Everything I have is also yours.’ There are so many gifts, my dear, Still unopened from your birthday.”
Palmer Parker depicts that gnawing feeling that we all eventually find ourselves experiencing;
“The life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me. In these moments I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice. And in the spirit of the poet, I wonder: What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to be?”
When this question arises, as it most certainly will, the Song of Shambhala brand will be there with tools that, as Paramahansa Yogananda describes, “arouse your sleeping memory of immortality.”
It begins simply with inspiration – the stirring of the heart.
“When you are inspired…dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a far greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali
When individuals ask “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” I want to be there to echo Marianne Williamson’s response;“Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Our mission is to encourage the individual to remind himself; “I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.”
Once inspired, we desire to be there with media that give each individual tools for their own self-discovery:
“Let man, then, learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely; that the Highest dwells with him…He must greatly listen to himself, withdrawing himself from all the accents of other men’s devotion…The soul…saith, I am born into the great, the universal mind.… I am somehow receptive of the great soul, and thereby I do overlook the sun and the stars, and feel them to be the fair…the surges of everlasting nature enter into me…So come I to live in thoughts, and act with energies, which are immortal. Thus revering the soul, and learning, as the ancient said, that “its beauty is immense,” man will come to see that the world is the perennial miracle which the soul worketh…he will live with a divine unity. He will cease from what is base and frivolous in his life, and be content with all places and with any service he can render” ESSAY IX The Over-Soul – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our desire is not to perform the role of painter but that of an eye specialist; A painter tries to convey to us a picture of the world as he sees it but an ophthalmologist enables us to see the world for ourselves.
This is all we must do, to simply equip each traveler for their journey, leading them with guideposts along the way. For those who choose to live a life of heroic proportions, Joseph Campbell describes the trip:
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with the all the world.”
This journey “back home” is explained in Jesus answer when asked “what is the greatest commandment”: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.” Until we come to love ourselves it is impossible to fulfill the rest of the commandment to love others.”
The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life. Love After Love – Derek Walcott
Once an individual comes to understand the purpose of life they become a change agent for good in the world:
“…the people who plant the seeds of movements make a critical decision: They decide to live ‘Divided mo more’. They decide no longer to act on the outside in a way that contradicts some truth about themselves that they hold deeply on the inside. They decide to claim authentic selfhood and act it out – and their decisions ripple out to transform the society in which they live, serving the selfhood of millions of others…I call this the ‘Rosa Parks Decision’.” – Parker Palmer
Albert Schweitzer once said;
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.”
This is the experience I had over ten years ago when a friend faxed me a poem entitled The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. This one poem was enough to reignite my “inner fire” and begin me on my own journey of personal discovery. This poem asks questions one could take a lifetime to answer. And so, in conclusion, I offer you, this “Invitation”:
The Invitation It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
ry and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.