Congress Invites the Noble Sangha to Connect Through Social Media
Our theme for the Shambhala Congress 2009 is "Exploring Community." There is an open invitation for all Shambhalians to attend, and we encourage participants to represent the entire community by keeping citizens who are unable to be in Halifax in their hearts and minds.
In keeping with this spirit, the coordinators of the congress are including the use of social networking within a container that preserves the safe, confidential and heartfelt spirit of the congress. Our global community can stay in touch with the congress, from wherever they are, though the Shambhala Times and their presence on Twitter and Facebook. This sense of inclusion is very much a part of the vision of congress.
Maintaining the Container of Congress
A major part of the magic of congress is the safe environment that is created, in which people can speak from their hearts about matters that are important to them. Therefore, it is crucial that a practice container is maintained - both at congress and in cyberspace.
The coordinators of congress have worked closely with the Shambhala Times to create forms and decorum that balance the importance of "going deep" in a safe environment with the sense of inclusion and "radiating outward" that social media can provide.
Reporting by the Shambhala Times
The Shambhala Times will be covering the congress, and hosting the social networking media. Jennifer Holder, content manager of the Shambhala Times, will be facilitating the exchange on Twitter and Facebook. She comments that,
"Shambhala is a global community, and it is exciting to offer a platform that has the potential to keep people in touch with the congress. This will be an experiment in communicating and radiating. Doing it successfully involves understanding both the benefits and limitations of social media."
Forms and Decorum
We invite you to join the Shambhala Times social media forum and share your experience of attending congress so that the greater mandala can benefit. As you participate, we ask you to use the following forms and decorum.
If you do not plan to participate in social media, we still encourage you to read the forms and decorum so that you understand the container we are maintaining for the congress in Halifax.
We ask all participants to read the following social media forms and decorum, whether you will be engaging in the online discussion or not.
A number of participants attending the Congress are users of social media and social networking tools. We welcome that and the use of the internet's power to radiate basic goodness. At the same time we want to respect the tender spirit of open dialogue, trust, and respect that congress offers, which in turn allows people to speak from their hearts.
We encourage all Tweeters, Facebook updaters, and others to engage with these tools fully, and also to follow these forms and protocols:
~ Please give presentations and discussions a chance to fully flower in your mind before broadcasting your experience: please do not tweet, update your Facebook page, or engage in social media during congress sessions. During all congress sessions, sit with your urge to tweet or record it in your notes to send later. At breaks in between sessions, you are welcome to use whatever social networks you wish to communicate your direct experience.
~ Please respect our atmosphere of trust and respect here in Halifax: do not refer to participants in the congress by name. This will ensure that everyone can relax into the container of confidentiality. So when you tweet or update your status, only broadcast your direct experience of what someone has said - communicating how their statement is meaningful to you.
~ If someone on a social network has a suggestion or question that you think would be helpful to share in the congress discussions, please take responsibility for doing this at an appropriate moment. We encourage that you choose suggestions or questions that you personally identify with and can elaborate on from your own heart.
~ Please do not use social media during the Abhiskeka and Tenshuk ceremonies
~ Please contemplate the following slogan before tweeting:
I tweet for the benefit of beings. All tweets arise from my heart to penetrate confusion and express Great Eastern Sun vision. May my tweet aid in the establishment of enlightened society.
This slogan will be posted by the media station at the back of the room, so please do refer to it if you need a refresher.
How to Engage in the Social Media Exchange
The Shambhala Times is hosting a discussion forum on Twitter, and will be streaming their tweets on their Facebook page.
If you are already on these platforms, the easiest way to join their social media presence for congress is to go to their homepage, www.shambhalatimes.org, and click on the icons on the right hand side of the screen, just above the list of sections.
To ensure that your tweets are a part of the congress discussion forum, please include the hashtag #shambhalatimes.org in your tweets. When you click on the hashtag, you will be taken to a webpage where everything said with that tag will be posted.
Answers to Your Questions
To find out more about what Twitter and Facebook are, how you can register, and ways to join the dialog, click on the following links.
What are Twitter and Facebook?
How can I join?
Thank you for taking this step forward into a new level of interaction as a global community.
Warm Wishes for Your Travels to Halifax,
Will Perkins and Marguerite Drescher
Chairperson, Congress Planning Committee