The Shambhala Warrior

Series: Following the crises up-stream: The Role of Worldviews & Values Systems in the Great Transition

The physicist Fritjof Capra suggested that if we follow the current ecological, social and economic crises upstream we begin to realise that they all stem from a deeper crises of consciousness. The stories we tell about who we are and why we are here no longer serve humanity. Our currently culturally dominant worldview and value systems are drivers of our unsustainable behaviours. In trying to Design for Sustainability we have to pay more attention to these worldviews and value systems and how they affect what we see, shape our real and perceived needs and inform our intentions, as well as the way we design solutions.

Gaia Education´s online course in Design for Sustainability offers you an opportunity to learn how to make a difference in your community and region. The Worldview dimension of the course starts on 21 May 2018 and there are still a limited amount of places left for this year, so sign up now!

This series of excerpts from the Worldview Key, a collection of articles collated in the book ‘The Song of the Earth — A Synthesis of the Scientific and Spiritual Worldviews, offer background material to the curriculum of the Worldview dimension of both Gaia Education’s face-to-face EDE and our online GEDS programmes. This series highlights some classic articles from that compendium. Enjoy!

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[A Tibetan Legend]

“There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have arisen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the kingdom of Shambhala emerges”.

“You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always they move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves”.

“Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made”.

“The Shambhala warriors know they can do this because the weapons are manomaya, mind-made. This is very important to remember, Joanna. These weapons are made by the human mind. So they can be unmade by the human mind! The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on Earth do not come from evil deities or extraterrestrial powers. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now, the Shambhala warriors must go into training”.

“How do they train?” I asked.

“They train in the use of two weapons.”

“The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary. We need this first one,” he said, lifting his right hand, “because it provides us the fuel, it moves us out to act on behalf of other beings. But by itself it can burn us out. So we need the second as well, which is insight into the dependent co-arising of all things. It lets us see that the battle is not between good people and bad people, for the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. We realize that we are interconnected, as in a web, and that each act with pure motivation affects the entire web, bringing consequences we cannot measure or even see”.

“But insight alone,” he said, “can seem too cool to keep us going. So we need as well the heat of compassion, our openness to the world’s pain. Both weapons or tools are necessary to the Shambhala warrior.”

— Joanna Macy

This article was originally published at

This article features in The Song of the Earth, the fourth volume of Gaia Education’s ‘Four Keys to Sustainable Communities’ series (officially endorsed by UNESCO). The book is available for purchase here and on Gaia Education’s online shop:

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Want to know what you can do? The Worldview dimension of the course starts on 21 May 2018 and there are still places left, so sign up now!

Leading provider of sustainability education that promotes thriving communities within planetary boundaries.