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Shambhala Buddhist Upadhyaya Ordination

Acharya Judith Simmer Brown with Tracy Steele

Acharya Judith Simmer Brown with Tracy Steele

article by Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown

On Monday, May 12, 2014, eight members of the Shambhala community were ordained as Buddhist chaplains at the Boulder Shambhala Center. The Upadhyaya (preceptor) ordination was given to Gary Allen, Beka Davis, Fay Elliott, Ellie Hollyday, Melanie Klein, Margot Neuman, Tracy Steele, and Sue Vess by Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown. A small gathering of Shambhala members, family, and Naropa students and alumni were present at the Boulder Shambhala Center for the ceremony.

The Upadhyaya ordination was originally envisioned by the Vidyadhara as a “Buddhist minister” credential to enable Shambhala members to work professionally in spiritual caregiving and chaplaincy. This ordination was the culmination of training and practice within the Shambhala Buddhist mandala as well as academic training in the Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) program at Naropa University, or its equivalent degree or training.

New upadhyayas

New upadhyayas

In addition, each of the ordainees had completed clinically supervised chaplaincy internships in hospital, hospice, homeless shelter, managed care or treatment center settings. Letters of ordination from Shambhala International certified the preparation of the candidates. This ordination allows chaplains to apply for professional certification in several national chaplain organizations. This was only the second time that this ordination was offered, though applications for certification are periodically approved through Shambhala International for qualified candidates.

These chaplain candidates are currently working with clients in a variety of professional settings — the incarcerated, the mentally ill, the chronically and terminally ill — and with organizations that support these clients and their families.

Fay Elliott

Fay Elliott

The ordination ceremony included a ritual ordination exam, a renewal of the refuge and bodhisattva vows, a bodhichitta blessing, and a chaplaincy vow. Candidates were asked to publicly address their vocation for chaplaincy within the context of Shambhala vision and practice. The Sakyong designed a pin for the new Upadhyayas, and they were presented to the new chaplains at the conclusion of the ceremony.

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4 responses to “ Shambhala Buddhist Upadhyaya Ordination ”
  1. Dan Dlugose
    Jun 2, 2014

    I am delighted with this milestone after so much work and devotion you have all put into your study and work. Most of you I know pretty well, some from your Naropa years, and I wish continued success and good health to all. My contacts with the program also helped me on my path and to better understand what we share with all of genuine faith.

  2. A deep bow to each of you for making this remarkable offering to the world. Serving as chaplains is a visible and explicit way to help others connect with basic goodness, the path of warriorship, and the possibility of creating enlightened society. Thank you!

  3. Faye Halpern
    May 27, 2014

    Dear Ms. Elliott,

    I’m always glad to read about you; I think we are the only sangha members with the name, Fay/Faye.

    I’ve met you before too! Bon chance and congratulations!

    Faye Halpern

  4. Fay Elliott
    May 27, 2014

    It was such a delightful and heart-full experience to renew our Refuge and Bodhisattva vows and then to take the Chaplaincy vow. I really got that we are ambassadors of Enlightened Society out in the world. Thanks to Acharya Simmer-Brown for her commitment to support and carry on the Chaplaincy program started by the Vidhyara.

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