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Jun 07
International Programs, Mandala Projects, Northeastern States
Extended Residency: Mukpo Institute at Karme Choling
Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Pedroza Martinez, Greg Wolk, Ashe Acharya John Rockwell, Laurissa Kowalchuk, the Sakyong, Carlos Abusaid, Jill Cohen, Dale Hollocher, and Ashley Davenport (left to right)

Mukpo Institute participants with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Fall 2006 (left to right): Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Pedroza Martinez, Greg Wolk, Ashe Acharya John Rockwell, Laurissa Kowalchuk, the Sakyong, Carlos Abusaid, Jill Cohen, Dale Hollocher, and Ashley Davenport

By Sara Demetry

You may have noticed that the length of programs continues to shrink throughout our Shambhala mandala. Seminary went from a three-month program to two, two-week programs. Path programs are now more accessible to people with busy lives, giving students an opportunity to mix their lives with the teachings over time.

It is said that the Buddha taught in thousands of different ways to accommodate the learning needs of students. For inspired students, an intensified period of practice and study serves as a catalyst at some point on the path. If you are like me, you might yearn for a punctuation mark, a change of course, and a way to bring dharma more fully into your life. For years I fantasized about spending time at Karme Choling as an antidote to the patterns and habits of my lifetime. Finally, there were no longer obstacles. I took a leave of absence from my job, gave away most of my belongings and moved to Vermont.

Sylvia Eneriz, Miki Giffune, Brian Schorn, Jade Meunier, John Stott (left to right)

Mukpo Institute students's self portrait, Fall 2008 (left to right): Sylvia Eneriz, Miki Giffune, Brian Schorn, Jade Meunier, and John Stott

Five years later, I am still in Vermont, living near Karme Choling and working for Mukpo Institute, an extended residency program at Karme Choling for people who are hungry for the dharma and ready to take a leap. Mukpo Institute was founded in 2006 to further the vision of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche that Karme Choling be a place to deepen meditation practice and connection with the Shambhala Buddhist dharma.

Students of different ages and backgrounds arrive for our fall and spring semesters eager to practice and study. They engage in consecutive programs that provide a solid foundation of understanding and experience. They also fulfill the requirements for Shambhala Seminary. At Karme Choling, they are first and foremost students. They share in the life of the Karme Choling community, and they experience the ebb and flow of living in a practice center where various practice and study programs come together, intensify and then dissolve. They are encouraged to learn our lineage’s traditional forms, including kasungship, ikebana, shrine keeping, oryoki and shrine shifts. They engage in Shambhala Training, contemplative arts, Buddhist study and dathun, and benefit from mentoring relationships with a core faculty of acharyas and senior teachers.

Doing Shambhala Art. Photo by Laurissa Kowalchuk.

Doing Shambhala Art. Photo by Laurissa Kowalchuk.

There is no typical Mukpo Institute student. Our alumni have many worldly talents, including writing, songwriting, computer programming and nuclear engineering. Students have ranged in age from 21 to 60, and have come from several continents. Most have taken time out of their careers to come to Mukpo Institute. Some have had very little experience with meditation or Buddhist course work. What they have in common is a willingness to listen, meditate and contemplate wisdom teachings and apply them experientially. In so doing, they transform into more of who they are. Each year, this transformation repeats itself. At the end of each semester, we celebrate with departing students, sending them back into the larger world with hearts ever more open and accessible.

Body disciplines on the lawn at Karme Choling

Body disciplines on the lawn at Karme Choling

I freely admit to an ongoing love affair with Karme Choling. Ever since I first came here for dathun in 1999, it has been a second home to me and nourished me in many ways. When I look around, I see that others feel similarly, that for them Karme Choling is a perfect place to engage in transforming and deepening. It has been a supreme gift to be able to participate in offering this environment and opportunity to others and a constant source of heartbreak to fall in love with each group of Mukpo Institute students. May Karme Choling continue to break our hearts and care for supreme practitioners!

For more information about Mukpo Institute, visit here.

Sara Demetry has been a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche since 1999. She moved from the Boston area to Karme Choling in 2004 to work in the Practice and Education department. She works part time for Karme Choling as Mukpo Institute’s Registrar, and is a psychotherapist in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

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4 responses to “ Extended Residency: Mukpo Institute at Karme Choling ”
  1. Ashley Davenport
    Jan 21, 2013

    I was lucky enough to do a semester with the Mukpo Institute. Its an intense experience, which allows you to really get in to the teachings of the Buddha and of Shambhala.

    So many years later I am still thinking of my experience. Thanks Sara, thanks everyone who makes this possible.

  2. Suzann Duquette
    Jul 7, 2009

    Dear Sara,

    You’ve captured the power and delight of Mukpo Institute. And the photos are wonderful, too. Thank you!

  3. Sara:

    Thanks for explaining Mukpo Institute. This is a wonderful thing.

  4. Sue Gilman
    Jun 5, 2009

    Great article Sara.

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