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Jun 07
Scene and Heard
Remembering Jill Scott

Jill Scott in Vermont on May 25 2015, photo taken one week prior to her death

Jill Scott in Vermont on May 25 2015, photo taken one week prior to her death

On the morning of Monday, June 1st, Jill Scott passed away peacefully in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had entered palliative care only a few days before. Friends and family gathered on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Halifax Shambhala Center to honor Jill’s life and memory. Below are a selection of memories and tributes to this long serving member of the Shambhala community.

Jill lived her life in a manner that should be an example to our sangha. She was a close student of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and served him for many years. She also served as my attache in Boulder during the same time, and following his death she continued in this role in Halifax.

She then went on to serve Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the Shambhala community for the remainder of her life. Jill was a beacon of integrity and devotion. She faced death as she lived, with bravery and steadiness of mind. We all mourn the passing of a true Shambhala Warrior.

With Love to the entire Scott Family,
Lady Diana Mukpo

Jill Scott and Michael at their wedding, officiated by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Boulder, July 1976

Jill Scott and Michael at their wedding, officiated by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Boulder, July 1976

Remembrance by Acharya Marty Janowitz:
Grace, elegance and simplicity; warmth and wry humor; quiet strength; artfulness and directness; perceptive with insight and clarity; constant and patient; always showing up – steadily and without bias; meticulous and diligent in service to both Sakyongs, Sakyong Wangmos, Vajradhatu, Kalapa and Shambhala; a true and steady friend, a nurturing and cherishing mother and life partner. These are merely some of the images that arose during the Sukhavati for our dear Jill Scott, the essential lady warrior of Shambhala.

Jill Scott in Boulder, 1974

Jill Scott in Boulder, 1974, photo by Michael Scott

Jill represents the best of us and was the best of us, on the dot for more than 40 years. She first encountered Chogyam Trungpa in 1972 in New York and immediately knew that he was her heart teacher. She jumped in, living first at Tail of the Tiger and then moving to Boulder in early 1974 after the first seminary, where for more than 13 years she was fully present and involved in creating the world the Vidyadhara was unfolding and manifesting. She was among the first staff of Naropa Institute; an early tantrika and meditation instructor; a regular guest, as well as in service at the Kalapa Court; a tutor to the Sawang; and holding such a variety of staff roles at Karma Dzong and Vajradhatu that a simple recounting is difficult. Especially in the Vidyadhara’s later years in Boulder Jill was one of the few students and companions he really liked to have in the close space around him.

Jill Scott 60th birthday (with family), Halifax, April 2009, photo by Marvin Moore

Jill Scott 60th birthday (with family), Halifax, April 2009, photo by Marvin Moore

With her husband Michael she grew and nurtured a family, especially supporting their two boys, David and Daniel, who were born in Boulder and grew up in Halifax. Jill and Michael were among the early students to respond the Vidyadhara’s call to move to Nova Scotia and soon upon their arrival she leapt back in again, getting involved in study, practice and administration in service to Shambhala and the Sakyong.

For more than fifteen years she served as the one constant reference point in the Office of Practice and Education for Shambhala International, retiring just this past February as Associate Director. In this role, she was the consummate go-to person – handling endless details and communications, from the mundane to the most challenging, always with élan, subtlety and an uplifted demeanor, regardless of how she felt as she navigated her way through her 19-year journey with breast cancer and its complications. So many people came to trust and respect Jill and through her, to respect and enrich their connection with Shambhala.

Over the years she became a devoted and artful student of the practice of Japanese Tea Ceremony. A dedicated student of the two wonderful Senseis John McGee and Alexandre Avdulov, she became a mainstay, leader and instructor within the Kalapa Cha Society in Halifax, and in recent years the tea room was her most cherished home. She continued to offer and practice tea ceremony until the final days of her life.

Jill Scott at the Yukoan Teahouse, Halifax 2015, photo by Liza Matthews

Jill Scott at the Yukoan Teahouse, Halifax 2015, photo by Liza Matthews

Jill’s immediate and natural laugh, bright wit, time for everyone and shrewd eye for what to accept and what to reject were and will continue to be integral to the atmosphere and culture of Shambhala society – always accompanied by compassion and an open heart and therefore deserving of the attribute: enlightened.

Jill Scott, Atlantic Canada, July 2010, photo by Michael Scott

Jill Scott, Atlantic Canada, July 2010, photo by Michael Scott

Remembrance by Carolyn Mandelker:
Jill worked for Shambhala in one way or another for over 30 years. I had the privilege of working with her for the last 12. She was an incredibly steady person. She had a quality that I would call “positive stubbornness”, which she exemplified in her service to Shambhala. She weathered all kinds of upheavals in our organization and through sheer will power, never wavered — financial ups and downs, staffing and salary ups and downs, and lineage ups and downs.

I remember in 2003 when President Reoch had to lay off 18 of the 25 international staff for financial reasons and there was almost nobody to ask anything of. I was new at my job, and Jill was there. She never missed a day of work even while going through chemotherapy and radiation, and she attempted to answer every single email that came to her. Isn’t that amazing? She mentored many of today’s leaders in Shambhala in various ways, those who worked in close proximity to her, and the many who she communicated with across the mandala every day. We are fortunate to have had Jill’s steady and precise presence through all these years – because of her and others like her, Shambhala has grown stronger.

The Sakyong has said on several occasions that “there is no such thing as retirement in enlightened society.” Jill’s health was clearly declining over the last year, and on March 1st, when our new Director of Practice and Education arrived (Mr. Charlie Goetzl), having replied to every email and offered Charlie a very organized download of the Practice and Education files, Jill gracefully shut off her computer and went home. She died exactly three months later. Jill never retired, and we are so grateful.

Sukhavati for Jill Scott in Halifax, June 3 2015, photo by Marvin Moore

Sukhavati for Jill Scott in Halifax, June 3 2015, photo by Marvin Moore

An article of appreciation for Jill, written by Maggie Colby, can be read by clicking here.

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6 responses to “ Remembering Jill Scott ”
  1. Kerry Crofton
    Jun 12, 2015

    Jill, your grace and gentleness … We will miss you, and your ready laugh. Your eyes lit up. Always brought smiles to those around you.

    Your quiet dedication. You were the center of the mandala for many of us in the far flung corners. On the rare occasions when I returned to the Halifax Centre how wonderfully reassuring it was that there you were, there keeping the home fires burning.

    You were our touchstone, our constant, the cheerful go-to person in Halifax.

    Many happy memories flood back – doing tea together in Boulder – you expressed the heart of tea so beautifully, your wedding – that seems another lifetime, and so many years of touch and go.

    Seeing the picture of your noble tea corps flanking your flag-draped coffin was so heart-piercingly sad. We may toss around phrases like ‘the genuine heart of sadness’ – and there it was.

    Know you are soaring well on your way. Don’t forget us. We’ll never forget you.

  2. Andrea Roth
    Jun 11, 2015

    A friendly and touching email exchange I had with Jill in 2010:

    Thanks, Jill. I am very grateful to you for being the absolutely best responder to emails in the entire mandala!


    It may be the only thing I am good at anymore… but not entirely
    insignificant, eh? Would be a funny epithet when I depart his realm.

    Are you still taking photographs?


  3. Pawel Molenda
    Jun 9, 2015

    Thank you. I had a chance to interact online with Jill and she always was so warm and patient. I’m glad I had a privilege of working with her.

  4. Maga Meneses
    Jun 8, 2015

    I was away from internet for a week and I just learned about Jill’s passing. It was a very sad surprise. I wasn’t aware of her health.
    I met Jill in Halifax around 2006 and we remained in touch since then, we worked a lot by mail, she would allways answer and help me in anything with patience and warmth. I also met her beautiful son in Chile, in a Dathun. We became grandmothers toghether and, appart information, we exchanged pictures of our grandsons and family.
    I think I only saw her twice but I felt she was my friend.
    I’m very sad, and I know Jill has always been pure light.

  5. Susan Wright
    Jun 7, 2015

    Thank you for these touching and beautiful tributes to Jill. I did not know Jill well; having had conversations and interactions with her mostly via e-mail rather than in person, and I can say I am sorry for it. She was unfailingly kind, precise and dignified whenever we interracted.

  6. Dixie Good
    Jun 7, 2015

    Such lovely tributes to a lovely warrior. I never met Jill in person, but by phone and email she generously guided me and many others with questions about Practice and Education. In our first phone conversation 2 years ago, she mentioned that she hoped to release her OPE duties soon in order to spend more time with her family and other pursuits. Though it was a brief run, I’m glad she had a chance to do so this year.

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