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Jul 04
Sakyong and Family
Sakyong Wangmo Visits Karme Choling

Sakyong Wangmo, photo by Ian Bascetta

Sakyong Wangmo, photo by Ian Bascetta

article by Sarah Lipton, Shambhala Times Editor-in-Chief

The day dawned crisp and blue, not too hot, and finally not too cold on a recent Vermont June morning. The Sakyong Wangmo would be coming to Karme Choling for an auspicious regional gathering of Shambhalians.

Karme Choling staff busied themselves to set up, making huge amounts of the special desil – Tibetan sweet rice (a delicious combination of white rice, cashews, raisins, sugar and butter) and the special milky-sweet Tibetan tea. The invitation went out to the regional community around Vermont. Clothes were ironed, pins put on, the garden prepped and even one small baby gussied up to meet the Sakyong Wangmo.

At a quarter to four in the afternoon, the entire Karme Choling staff and visitors from St. Johnsbury, White River Junction and even Montpelier lined the driveway leading to Karme Choling. It had been three years since the Sakyong Wangmo had visited, and needless to say, everyone was very excited.

The very first visit of the Sakyong Wangmo to Karme Choling was a delightful and elegant picnic in the upper meadow, named Togal Ridge. As Acharya Suzanne Duquette recalls, “the Sakyong, Sakyong Wangmo and two of her sisters attended that gathering. There was a white tent and formal picnic service. All this happened on a beautiful fall day.” In 2012, there was a visit to Karme Choling as well as an appearance at the St. Johnsbury Shambhala Center for a tea and rice ceremony.

On this recent occasion, arriving to the melodious call of five conches, the Sakyong Wangmo was greeted by all present, and then ushered inside to be welcomed by the Acharyas and Assistant Directors of Karme Choling. Everyone else filed down the hall to take their seats in the beautiful main shrine room for the traditional tea and rice ceremony, performed to rouse auspiciousness.

Hosting the Sakyong Wangmo in this way, for a tea and rice ceremony, provokes auspiciousness in a variety of ways. The opportunity to share space with the Sakyong Wangmo, which does not arise very often, as she herself pointed out, she is a busy mother with three daughters, is a rare gift. Being in her presence, one is confronted with incredible elegance, grace, warmth and love. Partaking of the traditional ceremony also allows her to enjoy everyone’s presence and greet the community.

During the gathering, the Sakyong Wangmo engaged with those present, asking where everyone was from, what programs were happening at the moment and how many staff are currently working at Karme Choling. Tara Bass, Assistant Director, also introduced the Sakyong Wangmo to each person as people passed to offer her a kata. It was very touching for everyone to greet her personally and offered many moments of delightful interaction. With one person who was a musician for example, the Sakyong Wangmo said, “Oh, you’ll have to perform next time,” referring to the previous visit the Sakyong Wangmo had made to the St. Johnsbury Shambhala Center a few years ago at which live music had been offered (read more about that here). In response, Sal the musician said, “You, too!” There was much laughter.

Joyful too, was the introduction of this author’s baby daughter, Odessa Rose, to the Sakyong Wangmo. Both were clearly delighted to meet each other. Baby Odessa reaching out with a kata in her hands, the Sakyong Wangmo took it and tied it nice and snug back around Odessa. We parents could not have been more overjoyed!

Once the delightful gathering was finished, the Sakyong Wangmo very much enjoyed a Karme Choling garden tour in the beautiful afternoon light. She asked a number of questions about what was planted and in particular said that she was so happy that the garden has many of her favorite foods, including potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, and strawberries. The garden staff sent over a box of the favorites she mentioned to the Sakyong Wangmo that very night. The Sakyong Wangmo also loves hot peppers and Emily and Gary, who run the garden, were delighted and smiled when they promised to send a good sized shipment of their best hot peppers as soon as they become ripe, in late July or early August.

As Acharya Duquette shares, “the Sakyong Wangmo expressed such tremendous curiosity and interest throughout her visit to Karme Choling. She was very relaxed and engaging, exuding a warmth that helped everyone to relax and enjoy themselves. It was a totally delightful afternoon for all who attended.”

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2 responses to “ Sakyong Wangmo Visits Karme Choling ”
  1. Aimee miracle
    Jul 6, 2015


  2. jill Kelly
    Jul 4, 2015

    Ki Ki So So!

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