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Jan 25
California, Arizona, Community Articles
A Mahamudra Weekend of Joy

Recently, in Santa Rosa, California, a group of practitioners gathered to go deeper into the profound teachings and practice of mahamudra. This article by Peter Dobbin of the San Francisco Shambhala Center sheds a little light for us on what that experience was like.

For three days in January, twenty people gathered in Santa Rosa, California to practice and study the teachings and practice of mahamudra. The weekend was led by Jay Lippman, long-time student of Chogyam Trungpa, Sakyong Mipham and Khenpo Tsultrim. Vajrayana students came from centers around the San Francisco Bay area and as far away as Salt Lake City, Utah, and were royally hosted by the Santa Rosa sangha. The weekend was characterized by deep practice and intense discussions along with songs of realization, group meals, and amazing insights.

For most participants, this was their third mahamudra weekend devoted to the study and practice of the 9th Karmapa’s Ocean of Definitive Meaning, and the vast commentary on the text given by Khenpo Tsultrim to Shambhala students in 1991. Jay Lippman began teaching mahamudra in the San Francisco area several years ago after finishing his series of sutrayana weekends on karma, bodhicitta and emptiness. Jay also teaches mahamudra in Toronto, Canada. According to Jay, these are the only places in Shambhala where Khenpo Tsultrim’s transcripts are being studied and practiced in depth.

When we first started this series, some of us wondered what mahamudra had to do with Shambhala. Could we afford another weekend, especially one that is not ‘required’ by the Shambhala curriculum? But once we began, it soon became clear that mahamudra underlies all the other vajrayana practices of both Shambhala and Buddhism. To our surprise, we found we had arrived at the very heart of the teachings.

The weekend was a joyous opportunity to deepen our understanding of the vajrayana path and finish our study of the shamatha section of the text. Enthusiasm for the practice was very strong, and at the end we began organizing the first week-long mahamudra retreat in the San Francisco Bay area, probably to occur in September. That will be where we begin the vipashyana section of the text. Until then we plan to get together once a month to practice mahamudra shamatha and discuss Khenpo’s transcripts.

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