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What Her Birth Brings

Sakyong Wangmo on Children's Day

Sakyong Wangmo on Children's Day

Jennifer Holder reports on events surrounding the birth of Sakyong Mipham and Khandro Tseyang’s first child — including initial comments from the Sakyong — and explores the qualities of her arrival as a princess.

As the sun rises on the second day of our Princess’ second day of life, we also awake to the realization that she has arisen in our hearts and our kingdom’s history. From the moment of the phone call that informed me of her birth, my heart has been aflutter and my hands slightly shaken. Like many across the Shambhala mandala, I have made excited phone calls to friends and family, had to explain my dreamy demeanor to curious bosses, and basked in moments of gap when I could stare into space and let my heart celebrate.

President Reoch delightfully responded in this vein when I asked him for a statement, insisting that “this historic day in the life of Shambhala will cause a spike in the global market for Kleenex.”

The powerful response to the announcement of the birth of Lady Drukmo Yeshe Sarasvati Ziji Mukpo, first child of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Sakyong Wangmo Khandro Tseyang, that I was witnessing made me curious about several things. So I picked up the phone and asked two key members of our sangha.

A Birth Marked by Warriorship
Although it had been described to me that Mr. David Brown, Secretary to the Sakyong, was utterly tenderized and softened by the birth, when he returned my call not only was the joy palpable, but so was an even deeper sense of service and devotion — something I had not imagined could be possible in him.

When Mr. Brown described Sakyong Mipham’s “radiant delight” I could almost see the tears welling behind his glasses. Khandro Tseyang’s strong warriorship had been made so evident throughout the birth that even the hospital staff commented on it to those present, as well as amongst themselves. The qualities that permeated the scene were warriorship, joy, and celebration.

After the birth, Sakyong Mipham commented to his secretary that the baby was “amazingly developed and present.” It is clear to our Sakyong that she is a person who chose to be here, right now, and is bringing with her a lot of character.

Sarasvati

Sarasvati

A Female Form, in this place and time
Among the sangha, we have been contemplating the possibility of a princess. Now that it has occurred, I thought I would explore the significance of the first royal child taking female birth by turning to Sangyum Agness Au.

After the long catch-up and personal check in that is so true to the spacious and warm feminine principle, I asked Sangyum Au to speak about the momentous occasion. Her first impulse was to laugh gently and recall the joke that has been circulating within the Commission on the Status of Women and the Feminine Principle, a commission that she chairs.

“We have long been joking that our fingers are crossed in the wish that all the royal children will be girls. Then there could be no question that a woman would become Sakyong.” I could still hear her laughing when I asked why they felt a woman sakyong
would be such a benefit to our world. Her response was so deliberate and thoughtful that I was able to write it down verbatim.

“The question is, do we have the strength and stability to blossom, rather than fighting to break ground? With the right circumstances and conditions, having a woman hold the title of Sakyong would offer a fresh way of approaching reality. It’s a little spin because while our basic nature is the same, having to relate to being feminine changes things.’

‘A female Sakyong would have to truly practice union in order to rule. She can’t do it all based on wisdom – there would have to be a lot of skillful means. For us to see that union modeled in female form would be inspiring.”

In a profound moment, our Princess’ father Sakyong Mipham said to Mr. Brown that, “With the preponderance of male energy, this female birth is a strong step forward.”

Milarepa Children's Choir performs for the Sakyong

Milarepa Children's Choir performs for the Sakyong

Sakyong Mipham Manifesting in Father Form
After a celebration and toasts with few words and a lot of emotion, Mr. Brown told me how struck he was by the changes already occurring in the Sakyong’s demeanor. Both proud and humbled, his parental energy is surging forward. While he has been a dharmic father to so many, this moment has inspired a shift.

As this observation dawned in Mr. Brown, he turned to a colleague and said that the Sakyong “is the world’s best dad.” The colleague responded by saying “He is the Big Daddy,” which I interpret as the same as saying he is a “maha-daddy.”

Of course I began designing the t-shirt in my mind.

Sangyum Au described how much she looks forward to witnessing how being a father will infuse the Sakyong’s teaching. “Something about being with a child teaches bodhisattvahood in a most painful, delightful, and transformative way. It is a unique experience.” She anticipates that by becoming a father, the Sakyong will contribute greatly to our householder lineage. “While the Vidyadhara was a father to us all, inviting us all into his home, the Sakyong’s court is more structured, more homey, more private. It will be exciting when he begins to include these new experiences in his teachings.”

Universality of Childhood, and the Uniqueness of a Royal Upbringing
I think that none among us could imagine a more loving and nurturing mother than our Sakyong Wangmo, Khandro Tseyang. Her own royal upbringing as a semo, or princess, will surely influence how she raises her children at the Kalapa Court. She has never known life outside the center of a mandala’s vortex, and neither will this princess. No matter how much privacy her parents try to give her, or however they try to shield her from our adoring – but overeager – eyes, being born squarely in the center of a kingdom as interconnected as a Buddhist mandala will have its influence – on her, and on us.

When our excitement begins to relax and we settle onto our seats within the Shambhala world, we will begin to observe how East will meet West within this family. What will dharmic royalty be like in 2010, in North America?

As the streetlights reflect in the black lake before me, as voices shush to a whisper and August’s cicadas emerge, I find myself looking into the deep mystery of a child who has entered our lives so powerfully. The unknown future of this baby, and how she will manifest in our kingdom, was delightful to contemplate through the night until the sun rose on her second day of life. Now we have the delight of seeing her face for the first time.

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6 responses to “ What Her Birth Brings ”
  1. Betsy Pond
    Aug 13, 2010
    Reply

    This is a beautiful glimpse into the joyful arrival of our precious princess. I’ve been so hungry for news. Thank you for your lovely article.

  2. Responding to Meg R. ~ what you have written resonates so truly inside of me ~ I always felt /wondered if , the baby would be a girl. At a time when the Feminine is so much in need ~ I felt, feel ,really , so moved amazing how even never having met Sakyong Wangmo ~ I feel my heart open ~ what a gift! Just by being born she has brought so much love and joy! like a prayer answered ~let it be a girl… and reading the responses she is evoking in many others ~especially the tenderness, softening & protective nurturing form her parents , how welcome She is ~ all of this and it’s only the end of her second day!
    `it is so heart warming …truly.
    with warmth , Sara Cady

  3. Sharon Doucet
    Aug 12, 2010
    Reply

    Yes, thanks for this sweet article, Jennifer. What joy, what joy…

  4. An important question regarding the possibility of this child, as a female, becoming heir to the Sakyong title has been asked widely. This morning Debbie McCubbin posed the question to David Brown, and their exchange is below.

    ______________________________

    Hi David

    Wonderful news about the baby!

    One thing that I know will come up at our local celebration of the birth is, Will this baby be educated to be the next Sakyong even though it’s a girl? My recollection from discussions on the Sakyong’s Council is that it would be, but I don’t want to state that based on a vague memory. Perhaps there was something said about this publicly that I’ve missed, so wanted to check with you.

    If not, and given that this question will come up at most centres (given the feelings some women have about the Tibetan cultural history of being somewhat male-oriented), I wonder if there is a tactful way to include this information in some kind of announcement.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Debbie McCubbin

    * * * * *

    From: David Brown
    Sent: August 12, 2010 10:19 AM
    To: Debbie McCubbin

    Debbie,

    This question has indeed already come up – in fact in a
    live interview with President Reoch on CBC radio.

    The answer is that the qualification for the heir
    to the reigning Sakyong does not include the
    individual’s sex, but it is premature to
    speculate if this child will be the heir to the lineage.

    Long before the child was born, the Sakyong
    cautioned that we all should allow the child to
    first of all be a human, and to welcome and to
    love her/him. Then what role(s) he/she might have
    within our mandala would become apparent at a later date.

    With great joy,

    David

  5. Yes, Meg, I had the same feeling and the same acceptance of a gender I expected. Also, I noticed that throughout Khandro-la’s pregnancy the moment the imminent birth was brought up, conversations inevitably turned to the question: “What if she’s a girl?”

    To me, this is a demonstration of how connected we all are.

  6. meg rinaldi
    Aug 12, 2010
    Reply

    thank you jennifer for this thoughtful, heartful posting. what’s funny about all this, is that i ASSUMED their first child would be a girl. so yesterday when reading the announcement, it didnt hit me as anything special: til about two hours later. then i just smiled deeply and warmly, picked fresh flowers from our little garden and placed them on our home shrine as a simple way to acknowledge this special moment.

    this child’s birth recalls the stories and history of machig labdron: there have been and continue to be many strong female teachers around us. the question as to whether our community could be guided by a woman has never arisen in me. partly because along w. being a devoted student of the sakyong, i also partake of the teachings from lama tsultrim allione & i feel fortunate to enjoy the company of the strong and compassionate female teachers in our community.

    the feminine principle is alive and well in our world: it only takes our remembering and appreciating space. she is always with us. now we have the feminine principle alive & well in both our beloved sakyong wangmo and her beautiful daughter. we are truly blessed.


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