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Collective Identity and the Postcharismatic Fate of Shambhala International

Lynn P. Eldershaw
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Vol. 10, No. 4 (May 2007), pp. 72-102
DOI: 10.1525/nr.2007.10.4.72
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nr.2007.10.4.72
Page Count: 31
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Collective Identity and the Postcharismatic Fate of Shambhala International
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Abstract

This study examines the postcharismatic fate of Vajradhatu/Shambhala International, one of the largest Buddhist communities in North America. Throughout its thirty-year history, the Shambhala movement has experienced a number of internal and external challenges. Following the untimely death of its founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1987, the movement experienced a crisis in succession that garnered international negative exposure and threatened its stability. This analysis draws on recent theorizing on collective identity to examine the manner in which this movement has survived the crisis and gone about reconstituting itself. It is proposed that recent transformations in Shambhala International are indicative of larger changes in the organization of religion within contemporary pluralist culture. This study provides much-needed ethnographic data on an empirically neglected new religious movement and adds to a growing body of literature tracing the growth of Buddhism in the West.

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