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Moving Forward…in Boston

Sakyong Mipham at Mile 19 of the Boston Marathon, 2005, photo by Mary Lang

Sakyong Mipham at Mile 19 of the Boston Marathon, 2005, photo by Mary Lang

Boston Strong in Everyday Life with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

article by Emma Cataford, Shambhala Times Reporter

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has had a strong connection to Boston through the years, most notably running the 109th Boston Marathon in 2005. When two bombs exploded near the finish line at last year’s race killing three people and injuring 264, he was deeply touched. In the aftermath of the bombings, he recorded a video message to invite the community to practice loving-kindness meditation with those affected in mind.

In this message he shared his memories of his cherished experience during the race and how he felt that the spirit and celebration of human goodness and solidarity appeared to have been shattered by the terrorist attack. Acknowledging the tendency for fear, anger and confusion as normal in such shocking circumstances, he then made a heartfelt appeal for people to resist the instinct of shutting down. By staying connected to our heart, we will find the strength to go forward, goes the teaching.

Thing is, for those who were affected by the marathon bombings, and for victims of violence in general, sometimes the trauma is just too great. All that is left in some cases is fear so intense that there seems to be no possibility for connection. So how can we open up a conversation on what makes us human? Far from offering a quick-fix solution to overcoming pain or a scholarly lecture on human nature, the Shambhala community is keen on hearing the city’s experience of kinship.

For that reason, the Boston Shambhala Center has sought the cooperation of Arlington Street Church, an organization that states among its principles the, “inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and “justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”

Asked about the upcoming event, Rev. Kim Crawford, Senior Minister of Arlington Street Church, said: “The people of Boston brought forth extraordinary courage, compassion, and generosity in the wake of last year’s bombings. We are deeply honored to welcome Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to guide us in an exploration of how we can live courageous, compassionate, and generous lives.”

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has visited our community a number of times, but the difference this year is the public talk at Arlington Street Church. As for the events in San Francisco, Chicago, London and New York City of the last year and a half, the message of basic goodness will reach people beyond Shambhala circles. The hope is that widening the audience will spark the conversation on many different levels.

The vision for this occasion came together through a bit of soul searching, as Dan Glenn, Executive Director of the Boston Shambhala Center, explains: “We knew as a community that we wanted the Sakyong to come back to Boston, and there was a lot of inspiration around that. With Rinpoche’s connection with the marathon, having run it and having been so tuned in to everything that happened last year, this just felt to everyone involved like the right topic. Then it became, ‘How do we make this about honoring and moving forward, rather than reliving a nightmarish week for our city?’ The city manifested so many enlightened qualities during that time – incredible kindness, compassion, and strength. It was like Boston’s reputation for being cold and hard just totally melted away in an instant. So in a sense, we’re celebrating that, and exploring the question of how we do that when there’s not a major tragedy.”

Others in the sangha share that intention to cultivate our enlightened qualities. Ashley Goodwin, Head of Communications and Center Operations, recalls her feelings as such: “The kindness and generosity that arose in our city over the course of the bombing and the aftermath was monumental. I’ve never felt so connected to my fellow Bostonians. Once the memorial started to grow around Copley square I saw a chalked phrase on the ground that said ‘We are one human race.’ That encompasses how I see our Shambhala community coming together and connecting to each other, human to human. The family of humanity has an opportunity to come together in conversation and actually decide how we want to be in this world with each other.”

It’s a busy and particularly stimulating time at the Boston Shambhala Center and has been for a few months now. To see how our members have risen to the many challenges involved in organizing this large scale event has been heartwarming and rousing. Much like in 2005, the sangha is coming together to support the Sakyong. This time around, there won’t be any actual cheering or Great Eastern Sun banners by the side of the road, but a more discreet but nonetheless powerful backing made of hard work, commitment, caring, and motivation.

Please join us on April 12th at Arlington Street Church at 7PM. Info and tickets available at www.movingforwardboston.com

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To view the recorded video message by the Sakyong from last year, click here.

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1 response to “ Moving Forward…in Boston ”
  1. For those that can’t get to Boston, the Sakyong’s live talk will be streamed via Shambhala Online and Livestream. Visit shambhalaonline.org to register.


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