Shambhala was a mythical (or not) society near Nepal that became so enlightened that they disappeared up into another plain. This book is an insight into how they managed to get there. Not knowing exactly what to write, I wanted to write a review to remind myself of the key points in this book and share something that is likely not on most people's radars. Much of this book can't be summarized or fully captured in a blog post, but I think the quote below gives you an idea of what you'll find in here. The basic premise is that we need to fully accept what it means to be human, taking our "bad" with the good, and facing this fact—embracing our humanness—is an act of being a warrior. And actually it teaches to not think of things as "good" or "bad" in our nature, but merely as a state of being what we are. Once we can accept this, then we can begin to move forward in "uplifting our lives."
A great deal of chaos in the world occurs because people don't appreciate themselves. Having never developed sympathy or gentleness towards themselves, they cannot experience harmony or peace within themselves, and therefore, what they project to others is also inharmonious and confused. Instead of appreciating our lives, we often take our existence for granted or we find it depressing and burdensome. People threaten to commit suicide because they aren't getting what they think they deserve out of life. They blackmail others with the threat of suicide, saying that they will kill themselves if certain things don't change. Certainly we should take our lives seriously, but that doesn't mean driving ourselves to the brink of disaster by complaining about our problems or holding a grudge against the world. We have to accept personal responsibility for uplifting our lives.
In order to get the most out of this book, I had to be open. There are many phrases and whole chapters in here that are written in such a way that they almost seem like something from a cheesey, B-rated kung-fu film. Being open though, I was able to get past some of these awkward styles and really see the lesson being offered. There is also a whole chapter on meditation and the author admits outright that it's really just a beginning guide and that you can't fully grasp the concept without studying with a practiced mentor.
Much of the underlying message is guiding the reader through releasing fear: Acknowledging fear is not a cause for depression or discouragement. Because we possess such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear; but going beyond fear.
Another key point in this book is not just moving beyond fear but also hope. It sounds strange at first, but I think the point was that in hope, we often have expectation. And expectations often lead us to disappointment and resentment of others. I have found that practicing being in the present moment, the "now", has allowed me to move beyond fear and expectation, and therefore has allowed me to find moments of peace in the midst of my chaotic life. Most of my anger, depression, restlessness is due to regretting something that has already happened, or worrying about what will happen.
This book has been an invaluable guide for figuring out how to approach and overcome fear in my life. This book can be a lofty and awkward read at times, but if you're open, I think it's an excellent place to begin figuring out how to overcome many things rooted in fear (anger, stress, depression, resentment, etc.) It will at least provide a different way of looking at yourself and the world around you, and I think that's always something worth checking out.