I think this gap was good to have, and to be in. And it continues in the question of what RFS, the Radio Free Shambhala website and community, is about, and of how it manifests that intention day by day, activity by activity.
One area to consider is the tone of articles and comments, which really is a matter of decorum. As the late Beverley Webster , who compiled the Shambhala Decorum Manual, says:
Shambhala Decorum is not to be regarded as a rigid set of rules or fixed code of behaviour, but as a flexible system of signs, symbols and signals, ceremonies and social gestures, in a continual process of adapting itself to the evolving needs of our evolving society.
There are two problem areas with comments:
- Toxic comments. These use inflammatory or aggressive language. They are somewhat easy to spot: I notice a physical reaction in my body when I encounter such comments. It’s clear that strong language can come from the author’s personal pain, or their meeting a sharp edge of perceived truth. We do not want to blunt experiencing the sharp edges, or deny the energy that arises at that point. However, what you do further with that, which includes _how_ you express it, is very much your doing, your creation of further karma, and your responsibility, and this affects others. “I hurt” is an important communication to make. This can be stated forthrightly. Bringing drama and sharp pointy gestures into the mix is unnecessary and, often, aggressive.
- Lengthy, multiple, and off-topic comments. Often these end up bouncing back and forth among just a few commenting regulars. They constrict the quality of the space, and drive out other people. There is ignoring the quality of the common space, and there is ignoring one’s personal space and its awake openness, which allows subconscious voices to eek out. Such comments often have good nuggets buried within them, but these get lost in the noise. When writing a comment, include the context: “am I dominating the space?”, or “am I using this topic in order to further my own new topic?”
Both of these problem areas call for us to manifest, moment by moment and in detail, the “enlightened society” we talk about. The medium really is the message: if we don’t talk about such a society in a sane and considerate manner, there’s little likelihood of actually manifesting it.
Critical Articles and Forward-Looking Articles
There will probably always be a need for critical, discriminating articles, such as regarding the setup of Shambhala International and its relationship to Chögyam Trungpa’s Shambhala Vision and to the greater Chögyam Trungpa sangha. However, what we are about is manifesting this vision, which includes supporting the emergence, community, practice, and study of the Vidyadhara’s sangha.
So this is one focus area for RFS: to provide resources on practice and study, meditation instructors and teachers, and sangha and programs.
We will tighten the commenting guidelines and software regarding length and frequency of commenting, and also explore moderating comments. Moderation basically means that comments go into a queue, and are only actually published when okayed by a moderator. This has upsides, but also significant downsides, including the time commitments required of moderators. It also calls for more explicit “right speech” guidelines that both commenters and moderators can refer to.
As part of a site redesign and refocus, we will be adding some new functionality, including groups and discussion forums. Joining groups and discussions will require registering with the site, and providing a verified email address.
Comments on this article are welcome: respect the floor as you take it.
Several more articles will appear in the next little while. We are particularly interested in contributions regarding study and practice resources, and ways that the Shambhala vision of Chögyam Trungpa can be found and shared in this world.