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Sakyong to Test Acharyas’ Physical Prowess, Strength, and Durability

Report by Shambhala Times Editorial Staff

Acharya Noel McLellan with his fencing coach

Acharya Noel McLellan with his fencing trainer

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche announced on Monday that he will put his acharyas through a rigorous series of physical fitness competitions at this year’s Acharya Retreat.

The Sakyong said in the announcement, “It has been three years since I released Running with the Mind of Meditation. That should have been enough time for them to get in shape. Now it is time for them to demonstrate it.”

Acharya Retreats have a reputation for being intense and demanding for the senior teachers, with full days of practice, along with required memorization and testing of the acharyas knowledge and understanding of the teachings. However, this year’s Olympics-style physical competition brings the intensity to a whole new level.

When asked if he was concerned about pushing the acharyas, many of whom are in their sixties or seventies, too hard, the Sakyong replied, “They should know at this point in their lives as practitioners that genuine practice brings about physical radiance, strength and durability. And they should understand fearlessness.”

The announcement drew mixed responses from the acharyas.

Acharya Mitchell Levy has been training for month with an experienced javelin coach

Acharya Mitchell Levy has been training for months with an experienced javelin coach

“Personally, I am very much looking forward to it,” said Acharya Mitchell Levy. “I am particularly excited about the shot put and the javelin event. I have been training for months.”

Acharya Noel McLellan also indicated he had hired a personal trainer to teach him fencing and had been working with the trainer daily for over a year.

Acharya Jeremy Hayward was less certain. “I think it’s rather silly,” he said. “He’d be better off testing our ability to perceive non-physical beings.”

Acharya Emily Bower expressed confidence in her ability to win the hurdles event. “I’m fast. Most people don’t know I’m very fast. I’m more concerned about whether any of us stand a chance against Acharya [Christie] Cashman in the long jump competition. I’m pretty sure she has developed some siddhis – and levitation may well be one of them.”

Acharya Cashman could not be reached for comment.

Acharya Michael Greenleaf said he’s ready to wrestle. “I was quite thrilled to hear the news that wrestling would be included…. wrestling’s my favorite!”

The events of the Acharya Retreat will be broadcast live on Shambhala Online.

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12 responses to “ Sakyong to Test Acharyas’ Physical Prowess, Strength, and Durability ”
  1. Dale Hinchey
    Apr 23, 2015

    The alleged surprise to be announced was that the entire cadre of Acharyas would raise money via a marathon jog from Halifax to of all places, Sarnia Ontario ,ending at the Stones N Bones Museum there. :-)

  2. Linda Mockeridge
    Apr 3, 2015

    Thanks for the belly laugh!

  3. Levitating in the long jump was really funny.

  4. Love love love it!

  5. Jinpa Heyer
    Apr 2, 2015

    Good April Fools Morning! Funny article- good characterizations.

  6. Jeanne Cain
    Apr 1, 2015

    Can’t wait for the online broadcast. Will Acharya Eve have her double edged sword there?

  7. Rebecca McAllister
    Apr 1, 2015

    Very funny :-) Thanks for the giggles

  8. LoL….

  9. Susan Gillis Chapman
    Apr 1, 2015

    Can’t wait! I’m in rigorous training with my once-a-month senior’s aquafit class!

  10. Lisa Wenrich
    Apr 1, 2015

    Love it! Happy April 1!

  11. Sheila Craig
    Apr 1, 2015

    Thanks for the 04/01 chuckle and good luck to our Acharyas!

  12. Kate Crisp
    Apr 1, 2015


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