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Sep 18
International Programs, Sakyong and Family
Sakyong Mipham visits Szczecin, Poland

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

A truly historic occasion: The first visit of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to Poland
hosted by the Szczecin Shambhala Sangha

article by Seweryn Julien
photos by Sean Raggett
video by Centre Productions

“It is going to happen!”

Right from the magical moment the word was out (about the looming visit of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche), a transformation of the place and the people began.

For most Polish sangha members the day started early. Whether that meant getting onto a train, plane, car or tram, the journey brought us to the local Shambhala Center in Szczecin to help with the final details for the visit.

Szczecin is in the north-western corner of Poland and only a few hours drive from Berlin, Germany. The day dawned warm, bright and sunny. The home of the Szczecin Shambhala Group has for a couple of years been located in a large three-room apartment in the very heart of the city. Early in the morning, hands were busy cleaning and putting the final touches on the preparation and renovations that had been in process for many months.

Through a true labor of generosity, love and devotion, the old stately apartment had been shined up for this event, an occasion that had been talked about, planned, and longed for – for years. The shrine room was transformed and given a lustrous shine of Japanese lacquer with the kind help of the local Polish Zen Abbot. Platforms and shelves had been built and skillfully painted, while chairs and sofas were refurbished and sacred pictures framed and hung in appropriate places. Cupboards were bought, assembled and installed. Every nook and cranny was meticulously cleaned.

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

As the arrival of the Sakyong approached, people slowly started to arrive from all over, to see and meet their teacher, guru and leader. They came from Kraków, Łódz, Warszawa, Poznan, Katowice, Ostrów and of course Szczecin – really from all over Poland. Many came from far away Ukraine and also Germany to meet the Sakyong for the very first time while others had been lucky enough to meet him at Dechen Choling, in Cologne or in other places.

There were students of all levels present – both the seasoned and the green, the old and the young. For everyone this was a very special occasion. Many attendees expressed how amazing it felt that this was actually happening in their country and for some even in their own city, their own center.

Finally, people found their seats and began meditating in the shrine room. For this occasion, overflow practitioners were invited to sit in the suite and the adjoining community room. A hushed silence fell over the whole place. Most of the 60 – 70 people were sitting on black folding chairs, with only two rows of dark blue meditation cushions in the front, reserved for dignitaries, local leaders and a few for the Sakyong’s retinue. Members of the Dorje Kasung, the Sakyong’s ‘Vajra Guard’, were present at their posts as everyone waited, eagerly anticipating the almost unbelievable arrival of the leader of Shambhala.

(c) Sean Raggett 2014Just like the sun breaking through the clouds, the Sakyong entered the center and was smilingly led into the green room.

Arriving directly from Berlin, the Sakyong had already been in Europe for a couple of weeks. After briefly meeting with local leadership, Rinpoche entered the shrine room and took his seat in order to give his first ever address in Poland.

After kindly ensuring that everyone could hear him, the Sakyong talked about the importance of timing. He spoke about how sometimes one can try and try while nothing happens, and how at other times, there is a natural flow, allowing people and circumstances to come together almost effortlessly. He pointed out how the present situation was an example of the latter – a manifestation of auspicious coincidence or tendrel. Tendrel being the natural expression of interdependence, of auspicious circumstances coming together at just the right time.

Generously the Sakyong shared his love and wisdom with us, as if we were all his close family. In conclusion, the Sakyong led us in a short meditation and a Shambhala bow. The ceremony in the shrine room concluded with a blessing line, allowing each person present to receive a blessing from Rinpoche as well as a yellow protection chord.

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

Obviously feeling good, the Sakyong good-humoredly asked the assembly to sing. The Polish national anthem was then sung loud and clear by a proudly standing crowd. Following this we sang a traditional birthday verse for Professor Tomasz Pietrzykowski, who auspiciously celebrated his 80th birthday on this happy day. The Sakyong had mentioned Prof. Pietrzykowski in the beginning of his talk, lovingly pointing out how the karmic connection in this case had started with “Tomek,” as he is called among friends, becoming first a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the Sakyong’s father.

After returning to the green room, the Sakyong generously hosted an audience for the leadership of all the Polish Shambhala groups.

When the Sakyong eventually left the Szczecin Shambhala Center to join the Polish leadership for lunch in a nearby restaurant there was a very tender, memorable moment. The people who were left in the center all gathered on the balcony, waving, swinging paper Shambhala flags while loudly exclaiming the warriors cry: “Ki Ki So So … ” As the Sakyong walked along the street with his retinue he turned several times to wave and look up at us and the last time he did, with a broad smile he flamboyantly sent us a blown kiss. We were moved to tears by this unexpected blessing.

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

(c) Sean Raggett 2014

After lunching in the restaurant, which had been reserved entirely for Shambhala Poland on this occasion, the Sakyong returned to Berlin in a bright white car. People gathered to wave, cheer and cry happy-sad tears, as a truly magic day was coming to an end.

While all of us were more or less drunk with joy, Szczecin itself seemed to have transformed, suddenly reflecting the possibility and potential for creating a culture of kindness, generosity and courage to a degree that so far had been obscured.

As the Sakyong kindly emphasized in his talk, this was “only the beginning” and we are looking forward to sharing many more such highlights with you all in the golden years to come.

To learn more about the Sakyong’s upcoming visit to Berlin, please click here

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7 responses to “ Sakyong Mipham visits Szczecin, Poland ”
  1. Claudia Murray
    Oct 1, 2014

    I’m so happy to read this heart-warming account of the Sakyong’s visit with our Polish brothers and sisters. May there be many more such reunions spanning the globe in the years to come. Thank you for sharing this store.

  2. Tamara D Sell
    Sep 22, 2014

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a touching moment with us all, and reminding us of the preciousness of our human birth, as well as our incredible good fortune of being students in this lineage. I am so happy for you all to have realized your dream.

  3. Chris Montone
    Sep 22, 2014

    Thank you, Seweryn, for this beautiful re-counting of an event that I know the Polish sangha has longed for! Reading this article, I shared the Polish sangha’s joy that the long-awaited visit to Poland finally came to fruition! KI KI SO SO!

  4. Christine Sloan
    Sep 20, 2014

    My Dear Polish Brothers and Sisters,

    Reading this lovely story of the Sakyong’s visit to Poland has brought tears to my eyes. It awakened my Polish roots. I wish you great joy and inspiration in your practice, and I have made an aspiration to visit Poland soon.

  5. Lodro Dechen
    Sep 19, 2014

    Thanks for sharing the love and the joy! Gave me goosebumps! KI KI SO SO for Szczecin!

  6. Happy day for Poland! May the Guru’s blessings spread throughout all of Europe!

  7. Carolyn Mandelker
    Sep 18, 2014

    Thank you for this wonderful account of the Sakyong’s visit to Poland! Thank you to our Polish sangha, to Sean Raggett, Centre Productions and our Shambhala Times Editor, Sarah Lipton. I feel very included in the visit! Ki Ki So So!

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