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Jan 08
Sakyong and Family
Sakyong on Family and Community

The Sakyong gives his blessings to Melanie Klein, who will be assuming the role of center director in Boulder when the current director, Ulrike Halpern, steps down on Shambhala Day. photo by Mike Levy

The Sakyong gives his blessings to Melanie Klein, who will be assuming the role of center director in Boulder when the current director, Ulrike Halpern, steps down on Shambhala Day. photo by Mike Levy

The Sakyong Discusses Family, Community at the Boulder Shambhala Center

article by Sarah Sutherland

On the first Sunday of 2015, the Boulder sangha gathered for a day of community practice, conversation, celebration and an address by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. “I’m happy that our Sundays happened to match up,” smiled the Sakyong, whose unexpected visit to Boulder brought warmth to an otherwise frigid start to the year.

For the Sakyong — who will soon be reuniting with the Sakyong Wangmo, Jetsun Drukmo and Jetsun Yudra — family, relationships and community are important themes, which he wove throughout his talk.

Noting the leadership transition at the Boulder center, the Sakyong commented that it marked a growing process in which individual practice has shifted to a sense of community — the heart of Shambhala vision. In a gesture of building community (which the Sakyong deemed “the hardest thing you can do”) everyone had been invited to practice the Shambhala Sadhana earlier that afternoon, regardless of their level of training.

“The Shambhala Sadhana is an opportunity to connect with something innate — basic goodness — and an opportunity to come together,” he said. “It’s one thing to read it, it’s another to say it,” he continued. “A community that says it has lungta.”

Acknowledging issues such as inequality and race, Rinpoche remarked that it is an intense time to be a human being. “Around the world, the fabric of family and community is being challenged,” he said. He noted that so much pain stems from people not feeling worthy or respected. Yet when we look at the fundamental elements of society from the point of view of basic goodness, it is an excellent time to be who we are. “The tools and qualities we’ve developed are needed more than ever in the world,” he explained. “We can be part of the solution. We can contribute to the future.”

How? By facing outward rather than inward, and by making the teachings and wisdom part of the fabric of society. The Sakyong believes we can play a role in the direction of our world by having the confidence to connect with what he called the family of basic goodness and the family of dignity. “With relationships, we’re able to relax and express our sense of love, of family. Bravery and warriorship are about feeling those things and unlocking them.” For the Sakyong, this practice of feeling and connecting is the foundation of transforming society.

“The most important moment in any social movement is to have a sense of being worthy,” he said. “It’s difficult to know the future, but we do know we can work with what we have now.”

From the Sakyong’s point of view, mindfulness is the tip of the arrow. “I have hopes and dreams that our meditation tradition is about to become a social tradition.”

Changing Directors
On a day full of food, conversation and meditation at the Boulder Shambhala Center, the Sakyong shined a spotlight on center director Ulrike Halpern, who is stepping down after six years of “splendid” service. With an emphatic “Danke schon!” the Sakyong thanked Ulrike for persevering with elegance, grace, tenacity and optimism. He also expressed his gratitude to her for having made his family feel so welcomed. He offered her a khata as a sign of victory and said with a smile, “Thank you for taking care of our place.”

The Sakyong also welcomed and offered his blessings to incoming center director Melanie Klein. “I’m so pleased that you came forward with such interest and heart,” he said. “Welcome to the family!” The Sakyong described her role as “balancing fearlessness and gentleness mixed with the drala of nowness” and offered her much love and luck.

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