Alice and Richard Haspray
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Here's the transcription of their interview
Here's an audio from Chronicles Radio with just Alice dated October 25, 2007
Transcription by Alice Dill October 2017. Checked by DC and then Alice Haspray kindly corrected all the technical terms. Thanks Alices.
Radio Interview in Nova Scotia
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another episode of Dispatches
This afternoon we are taping in Studio 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and we have with us Alice Haspray. Alice has had a long and illustrious career - almost to the point of having perfected the gift of ubiquity - she seems to have been in many places throughout the history of the Shambhala community. She was co-coordinator of Shambhala Mountain Center - at that time, Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. She was Deputy Ambassador to the New York Dharmadhatu. She was Managing Director of Shambhala Training. She was the Governor - or currently is a Governor of the Council of Warriors, in charge of the international liaison. She is also vice chair of the Shambhala Commission on the Status of Women and the Feminine Principle. And she also is a very good teacher of dharma - both Buddha dharma and Shambhala and states of Shambhala Buddhism. Alice, welcome.
Thank you, Julia.
[speaking Spanish and laughing]
Q: Alice, how did you meet Trungpa Rinpoche and how did you get involved in this path?
A: I started doing Zen Meditation when I was in college - when I was 17 - with a woman there who was a student of a Zen teacher - and from that I became aware of Suzuki Roshi. After I graduated from college, and that's also where I met Richard, my husband, then we went to Zen Center and were students of Suzuki Roshi.
Q: What years...
A: We were married in 1970, so I think we went to Zen Center in late 1970, 1971. And while we were at Zen Center, although I had heard of Trungpa Rinpoche before, I hadn't met him. And when we were at Zen Center in San Francisco, he came and taught and we started going to all of his teachings. I sort of remember the first time I had an interview with him where he said something quite off, which was - he asked me how I avoided becoming a Scientologist, which I never asked him about again. I have no idea what he saw [laughing] -but at the same time, he also said that as long as Suzuki Roshi was alive, there was no other place that we should go. So we stayed at Zen Center and we were there the year during which Suzuki Roshi was dying. We were sitting the sesshin - Suzuki Roshi died during the first meditation period of the first day of the seven day sesshin, which was very kind of him because then everyone knew what to do - we just continued sitting. So - but after he died, I felt quite desolate and we then - it was after he died that we actually first went to Tassajara. But every time Trungpa Rinpoche came to town, we would go and see him and eventually he said to me "You can't keep seeing me like this - you can't keep running into town every time I'm here - you have to make a decision" - we were very connected with the Zen, even though Roshi was dead - still the decorum and the aesthetic and everything of the Zen community as very attractive to us, compared to what we had heard about Rocky Mountain Dharma Center, which is where Trungpa Rinpoche wanted us to go. But finally he really said that we couldn't keep seeing him like this - we had to make a decision. That's the one story I wanted to tell about him in terms of what he said to me at that point is - as I was standing in line in front of a lot of people to see him and when I finally got up to see him, he started hitting my chest and going "naughty, naughty, naughty girl - always looking for too much security." And that could be a kind of linchpin in a lot of discussions we could have about what my path has been.
The other story I wanted to tell is the story about Suzuki Roshi.
I was talking to him one day - he was talking about another Zen teacher who was going to move to Minnesota - I'm from Brainerd. It was Katagiri Roshi moved to Minnesota and Suzuki Roshi and I were talking about Katagiri Roshi moving there and Suzuki Roshi said "Is it very cold?" and I said, "Oh yes, it's very cold." and he looked at me and he said, "I wouldn't get cold." and in my mind I thought "Oh, because he has magical powers, he won't get cold" - but then he looked at me and he said, "Because I'd never go outside." [laughing] So that story from Suzuki Roshi is another part of my journey and realizing that these teachers are human, which I didn't really - I never looked at Suzuki Roshi as a human being and I never really looked at Trungpa Rinpoche as a human being, either. You know, a full human being. There was always something, somewhere - that I separated myself in that way.
So, those two stories have been kind of big stories in my life.
Q: Do you consider the book Crooked Cucumber, the book on the life of Suzuki Roshi, an actual depiction of what it was like to be around Suzuki Roshi?
A: Well, a lot of Crooked Cucumber is about his life before he came to Zen Center and before he came to the West and he never talked about that part of his life, except with close students and I knew, for example, that a student of his had killed his wife. I knew that when I was there, but only because someone told me. Not very many people knew. And what struck me reading that book, which - ya, I think it is - David Chadwick did an amazing job of seeing Suzuki Roshi's humanity - you know, of the kind of suffering that happened to him in Japan - the death of his wife, the death of his daughter - I think he really felt coming to the West, he really wanted to somehow - because in Japan, apparently, it says that there - when you hear his talks in Japanese in Japan they are not that - but somehow he found his voice when he came to the West with his students there.
And seeing Suzuki Roshi and Trungpa Rinpoche together, which I did a few times, was sort of one of the main moments of my life. One particular moment of seeing them drinking tea on the courtyard with Wisteria in bloom and just seeing them - there is like nothing better that I could see in my whole life ... just quietly drinking a good cup of tea.
Q: When you made a commitment, because you obviously did make a commitment to working with Trungpa Rinpoche, did you move to Rocky Mountain Dharma Center - that that how you..
A: Trungpa Rinpoche wanted us to go directly from Tassajara to Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. He said we could stay overnight in Boulder one night. And I think this is why - because he didn't want us to find out what it was really like there. He just wanted to take the Zen discipline and practice and put it there. But we started to find out - when we were still at Tassajara - what it was like there. That people had to sort of build their own houses and then we heard they don't even do communal trips to town together because everyone has to do their own thing - and it just - you know, we were just real Zennies and it seemed so - we told Trungpa Rinpoche that we did not want to move there, and we moved to Boulder.
So we were in Boulder for a while and one day Richard was - before there were kusung - Richard was helping him get dressed when he lived at Four Mile Canyon and Trungpa Rinpoche said to Richard, "Now, I want you to be in charge of all the construction at RMDC because I want to do this." and Richard said, "I don't have to move there?" and he said, "Oh no no - you don't have to move there - I just want you to do this." So then Richard started kind of commuting - this was to sort of convert the Loom Shop into a Meditation Hall - just started commuting from Boulder and then it gradually became clear after a few months - and then we moved there and the shrine room was ready for the first dathum, which was in 1974.
Q: You were co-directors?
Q: Co-coordinators... what was the energy of the place at that time and what kind of - how did you see your mandate being a Zennies?
A: Well, I had a very kind of self-righteous mission that we were going to bring this discipline and this practice to this place - so I was very insufferable might be a good word to describe it. [laughing] Such that people wrote graffiti about me [laughing] in the outhouses "Alice wears leather underwear" [laughing]. But to my credit, it's also Allen Ginsberg was forever grateful to me because I was the first person who gave him and Orlovsky a couple's discount for the program [laughing], so he was very happy about that.
Q: He will always appreciate that diversity. [laughing]
A: But, ya, I cooked for the first dathum and the first dathum there had over 70 people - all kinds of amazing people - and we did dathums pretty much every other month - I think I sat like 10 dathums or something - maybe 7 or 8 while we were there - they were happening every other month pretty much for the whole time I was there.
Q: You did need leather underwear to put up with that.
A: But I was very strict - it's taken me a long time to lighten up about that. [laughing]
Q: You may not remember, but how did you give meditation instruction in the first dathum? What did you tell people to do? There was nothing particularly packaged at that time, is that right?
A: I wasn't a meditation instructor then. Lodro Dorje and Richard were meditation instructors. Ya, it was "follow the out breath and the gap at the end of the breath" and the "no man's land" and all those - Rinpoche wrote the dathum letter and Trungpa Rinpoche came to that dathum and he came to the first dathums and would give a talk and so the instruction was "following the out breath" and "letting there be a gap" and just basically the same instruction.
Q: How long were you at Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center?
A: 1974 - 1977 - the end of 1976 - we were there like 3 years.
Q: And the end of '76 was already the beginning of the Shambhala era, as such.
A: Ya - Larry Mermelstein succeeded us as director.
Q: And all of a sudden, Trungpa Rinpoche encourages to take yet another leap and land in New York City. Can you tell us a little bit about that process?
A: Well, we got a call that we should come to town to talk and we actually talked with the Regent and he said that Trungpa Rinpoche had chosen people to go to different centers and then he listed them off. It was like a process of elimination - it wasn't San Francisco, which sounded like it might be good - or it wasn't L.A., which sounded alright and it wasn't Boston and then it was kind of dawned on that - oh my God - it's New York. And our son was very young - just month's old at that point and so it was shocking that he would ask us to go to New York City right from Rocky Mountain Dharma Center - but it didn't occur to us that we could say no. It was this sort of a command from Trungpa Rinpoche and it was shocking - completely shocking. When I saw, after we talked to the Regent and I think later that day - or the next day - there was a wedding or something where we saw Trungpa Rinpoche and he joked, he said, "Oh bring along some cans of air for the baby." [laughing]
Q: Always so encouraging. [laughing]
A: So going to New York was a real shock and it wasn't easy at all for me. It wasn't easy for Richard - and it wasn't easy for New York - but they looked around, like other people got ambassadors, just like one - they had to get a whole family. There weren't children in the Dharmadhatu - just Michael and Julie Chender had Claudia - Claudia and Noah are the same age.
But otherwise, when we first appeared and were introduced, I was sitting there nursing and it was like we were aliens. [laughing] And plus they were supposed to support us - financially...
Q: Expensive aliens
A: Ya, expensive aliens [laughing]
Q: With attitude
A: So it was an interesting process and you know, ultimately, we were there 6 years and after maybe 2 or 3 years we finally sort of found how to be there and it was amazing. It was amazing Sangha and so that's how we had a lot of interaction with Trungpa Rinpoche is when he came there. We hosted visits by Khyentse Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche, Shala Rimpoche, His Holiness Karmapa, the Dali Lama. The Sangha in New York at that time was - I'm sure it still is - but at that time it was just an amazing group of people. There were about 100 people, so you could always have parties together - it was big enough, but small enough, that you could do everything together.
During that time, the first Children's Day got introduced, the first Mid-Summer's Day, the deleg system,
Q: The suits?
A: Ya - the suits - everyone was in suits.
So, it was an interesting experience.
Q: What did it feel like to be among the first group of students of Trungpa Rinpoche that were given a mandate such as "be an ambassador" ?
A: Well, Trungpa Rinpoche had such enormous confidence in people and I think he probably couldn't understand why people didn't have that confidence in themselves. I think for Richard and I, we - the thing that is why we've actually stayed together is that we've always practiced together - we did the first Vajrayogini Abisheka together and the first Chakrasamvara Abisheka together and so I think the two of us together was an anchor - like the ambassadors the best in some way were people who were in a couple or a family because there was some kind of anchor of sanity there. Otherwise, it was difficult for people - it was difficult for us - but we sort of kept each other in line and kept each other sane and we had a lot of contact with Trungpa Rinpoche. He wanted that - the ambassador role was a role like the achariya role, except it also had the administrative thing - so it was kind of everything rolled into one and Richard and I became kind of the mom and pop at the New York Dharmadhatu because people were working so I was cleaning, I was setting up for visits - I remember setting up Khyentse Rinpoche stayed in the Dharmadhatu and I had to have red beds, so I was over there alone with all these beds being delivered and satin curtains going up and the delivery people are like "what is this?" it looks like a bordello in here. [laughing]
Q: With all the satin on the walls? [laughing]
Khyentse Rinpoche actually stayed there in the - stayed in the Dharmadhatu - other teachers sometimes would stay in our apartment and we would move out - but he - he stayed in the Dharmadhatu - in this loft.
Q: Did you move to Nova Scotia from New York?
A: At some point while we were in New York, we received a letter that Rinpoche wanted us to move to Nova Scotia so we set about trying to move to Nova Scotia but the time period that we were trying to do it the first time in 1983 was the time when the immigration quota was the lowest probably that it's ever been - or had been for a long time. And so we came here, but we couldn't stay. And so after we were here, then we went to Boston and lived in Boston for five years. And then when the immigration laws changed, we did the process again and it went very quickly and we moved back.
Q: And what year was it?
A: We moved back in 1990.
Q: It seemed like you always received very direct instructions from Trungpa Rinpoche to do a number of things. What was it like to know what your way would be after he died?
A: Well, for me the main anchor was doing the Chakrasamvara retreats because I felt that was like the last thing that I was given before he died. So I didn't - I sort of - that's what I did - I did a retreat every year and when I finished Chakrasamvara that's when I began to feel I wasn't quite sure where I was and then that coincided with other things sort of dissolving in my life. But - ya - I don't know what else to say about that.
As long as I had Chakrasamvara that felt each retreat I did, I would do a retreat every year for 10 years - it took me that long. I felt his presence. I felt his guidance; I felt I was directly connected.
Q: It was like finishing your assignment.
Q: You had asked us to do a number of things - we did them - and now what?
Did having the experience of your teacher dying, in terms of Suzuki Roshi, give you any kind of framework to work with when Trungpa Rinpoche became very ill and died?
A: Well I mean I couldn't believe that Suzuki Roshi would die because I really didn't even - I said this before - I didn't even think of him as being a human being. So when I heard that he was dying, that whole experience was very difficult and then when his Holiness Karmapa died, that was another - and so when Trungpa Rinpoche died, it was just a lot of sadness and then when Khyentse Rinpoche died, that was - I don't know what to say about it. It's just that's the truth.
Q: As far as your training, you have obviously been through this whole array of Vajradhatu then Shambhala now programs and seminaries and I believe you have worked with flowers and a number of different disciplines, but in my mind’s eye I always see you teaching the Shambhala trainings and leading Warriors Assemblies - that that is very much an important part of how you have defined your relationship to Shambhala. Can you talk a little bit about creating these environments that you created in Shambhala training and what you're taught to do and how to make them happen?
A: I guess from the time that I, you know, first received stroke transmission and lungta transmission and went to the first Kalapa Assembly and really heard Trungpa Rinpoche's vision of an enlightened society and that we could actually create such a place on this Earth - that it wasn't just a dream or a fantasy, that I began to strongly connect with the Shambhala terma.
From the point of view of - it's sort of what I call - you can get nervous about things and think you don't understand something; on the other hand, you can just spit it out - you can just do it. So I think that those practices are a lot about connecting with confidence in the most - in the deepest sense. You already know - all the teachings say that - that you already know...
Q: It's inherent
A: Ya - you don't have to go look for your basic goodness somewhere else - you don't have to look for your Buddha nature somewhere else - you don't have to look for lungta/windhorse somewhere else - you are not going to find it. So if you take that seriously - or really take it to heart, then you just settle and that’s one other thing I wanted to mention.
One particular thing that Trungpa Rinpoche said has really been pivotal for me in working with challenges and difficult situations in my life -which is - and it was in the old Vajradhatu Sun, it was the last - one of the last interviews he did at the Kalapa Court in Boulder - and it's about slowing down and that you don't - you know, you just slow down and not manifest aggression and regarding whatever seat you have as the best seat you could have - whatever moment you are in - whatever situation is happening is the best moment you could have. Because we are always looking for another moment to be better - so if you really take that to heart - which is - that's my connection to the Shambhala teachings is really about that. Okay, you raise lungta/windhorse - it's not about getting something from somewhere else or cranking something up, but connecting because they are all saying it. Suzuki Roshi said it; Trungpa Rinpoche said it - all the teachers say it. So those teachings have helped me and teaching Warrior Assembly, working with the Shambhala teachings has helped me to really incorporate that, personally so that I don't feel like I'm talking about something alien - I feel like I'm talking about something that's happening to me.
Q: Speaking of aliens [laughing]...
A: That's the second time "alien" has come up [laughing]
Q: That's because we're going to talk about Latin America. They want to know if they are legal or illegal. [laughing]
What attracted you to go going to Chile and Brazil?
A: Well, actually Julia Sagebien, it was you! [laughing] It's because of my friendship with you and you said, "Oh, why don't you go teach there."
So - different circumstances arose and so I first went there in 2001 and that was my - you've heard this story before, but for me it was one of those - another life altering events. And when I was flying there, after I had terrible visa problems and all kinds of groundless things occurred in trying to get there and I was also flying right after September 11th, 2001 happened, so the airports were quite chaotic.
So as I was flying to Santiago, I realized in my mind that I was thinking I was flying down and I realized "no there is no down" - the globe is literally a dot in space - there is no up or down. The globe, the way we have it, is just an arbitrary thing - you could put the other pole on top. And the maps, the way they are, is totally arbitrary. I really - that was a big thing for me [laughing] to realize that and to switch my sort of reference point - and also, for example, when I would be writing to them before I went there, I'd say, "You know since September 11th... " and then one of them in Santiago said, "Well you know, we had September 11th as well - September 11, 1973 the CIA backed coup happened that ended in the death of their president Salvador Allende and sent the country into a dictatorship." and so I realized that even my sense - my sense - in North America of what September 11th meant - it is totally - you know, we are so sort of obsessed with ourselves and that we are the center of things - and so that was the first - a big switch in terms of - you know, before that I had been to Spain, I had been to Japan, but I hadn't really had the sense, so much, of losing my center - of losing my sense of north and south and up and down and I'm really grateful to that. I've said this many times - I'm grateful to you for providing that opportunity for me.
So I’ve gone there now 4 times - I've taught teacher training in Chile and Warrior Assembly in Chile and Seminary in Chile and the last time I went, I spent a month in Brazil and the connections with - seeing people practicing dharma - seeing people practicing meditation and working with the Shambhala terma there, it's inspiring and I get an enormous amount of energy and lungta from that situation.
Also seeing - appreciating Trungpa Rinpoche's generosity of letting dharma take root in North America and also seeing - Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is also being generous and letting them evolve what they need to evolve to make it work there and they have a wonderful set of translators in both countries - in Chile and Brazil - and so they are able to translate the teachings and practice.
Q: You know, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has always demonstrated tremendous amount of interest and encouragement to the Chileans and Brazilians and that has been very encouraging to them.
What would you say is the difference in terms of style? If you have a Warriors Assembly in North America and you have a Warriors Assembly in Chile?
A: Well, for example, I'll talk about the seminary because the Sakyong was there at the Vajrayana Seminary. He stayed at the whole banquet and actually had a fabulous time and his teaching style there - he was completely relaxed and the Chileans and also the Brazilians and Spaniards and actually some people from Poland and someone from Germany and then some North Americans, Mexicans - who have I left out? I don't know - apologies to anyone I left out... They know how to celebrate without sort of losing their elegance and dignity. It's like celebration and festivity and enjoyment is natural in a different way, so that the banquet - I think it's rare for the Sakyong to stay [laughing] at a formal banquet for the entire thing - to actually have a good time - and he did that there. I think that's the difference.
Maybe a North American would go there and say - there's a swimming pool and, you know, people went to the swimming pool during the breaks and then they are studying by the swimming pool and the exam might be given by the swimming pool - but everything was impeccable in terms of people's devotion and all the preparation they did and how they came to talks and how they participated.
So I think it's the sort of sense of just knowing how to enjoy themselves in a seamless way and also how to have decorum that's friendly and completely personal, but at the same time has some respect and a distance to it - and there is a lot of play - playfulness. I gave up things like “let’s have a 5 minute break” for example – it doesn’t make sense.
Q: Things have their own life.
A: Ya – things have their own life and they sort of talk more. The Spanish language just goes. [laughing]
Q: So one of the things that you seem to have incorporated in your life from your experience in Chile and Brazil is an appreciation for diversity – not just diversity because one has a different sexual orientation or a different color or a different whatever – but because you can actually touch the heart of people, no matter what they look like or act like or …
A: Well, I think that the sense of diversity is that everybody’s got a world view – everybody has – we each have a different set of preconceptions. And so when you are around lots of different kinds of people and lots of different kinds of situations, different genders, different cultures, different languages, you begin to see beyond the sort of bubble – that we all go around in the bubble that we think reality is. We have a little thing and we think this is how things work and then you go into another culture and you see that is just a “way” – that is just one way – so it – I think that’s the best thing about travel or the best thing about working with diversity is that you begin to let go of your own preconceptions – so it’s a way of popping these beliefs that you may not even know you have. Finally I said, “I give up – I’m an uptight North American” – which I never thought of myself as that – but I started to see that part of myself. That is just sort of a humorous example. You just have to appreciate that dharma isn’t – the truth isn’t about things – the truth is about what’s inside of all that – the energy in all of that.
Q: Let’s take a short beak and we will be right back.
Announcer: You are listening to Dispatches on chroniclesradio.com – a production of the Chronicles of CTR.
Q: We are back speaking with Alice Haspray.
Alice, most of the community in Santiago – the Chilean and in Brazil, there have been some Trungpa Rinpoche students, but most of the students probably have had a direct relationship with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Do you think that that makes for a slightly different type of community?
A: Both of those – with the Chilean sangha has been established for – since Francisco Varella and Leonor Palma mid 70s – so that’s a very – that has kind of an established feeling to it.
I think just a couple – Leonor Palma and another person named Gustavo – I think they are the only people who actually met Trungpa Rinpoche. The people there have read his books and they are connected with practice and the Sakyong doesn’t visit there that often, so they are practicing.
They are connecting with practice and the Brazilian sangha is really quite young it is centred in San Paola which is a city of 23 million people
Q: … and no planning and lots of rain [laughing] and many cars
A: So just for people to gather, they come from all over the city and, depending on the traffic, it can take, you know, a long time to get there. So they are really connected to practice. There are now Vajrayana students there and they are struggling with a good heart because there they are kind of like back in that huge scene of that city which takes a lot of energy to make money – just to live. So, they are very different – both of those communities.
Q: One of the things you have also worked on, in this theme of diversity, is working with the status of women – the feminine principle. Can you talk a little bit about that?
A: The commission began – I don’t know – almost 3 years ago now, as an idea of Richard Reoch. He talked to me about it and asked me if I thought it was a good idea and I said yeah, I thought it was a good idea. So, Agnus Au is the Chair and Lady Diana Mukpo is the honorary Chair and there are several other people on the commission. It has 2 things going on in the title: The Status of Women and The Feminine Principle.
So it is trying to address that in this whole culture, particularly North American culture – but Latin American culture as well. Some of the post-modern whatever you want to call this world we are in - a lot of the emphasis is on masculine principle and that we are always doing, achieving – how can we fill up the time – what do we have – about “stuff” – it is really about the age of materialism, which is nothing about men – this is about the principle. The masculine principle is this energy, activity, tangible thing – and we all are suckers for that.
And so feminine principle, which is the intangible gift of space, hasn’t been appreciated and we all suffer from that. So how can we bring those elements into this community, into our lives – how do we mix these? The gentle, sort of gift of feminine principle in each of us – cause of each of us has both: masculine and feminine principles.
Also, the “status of women” because we felt, you know, for all of us in this generation of dharma, that we want to – we are all getting older, but what we want to leave – we want to leave this community completely as good as we can for women, as practitioners. So there are different things I’m looking at – the percentages of – the balance of teachers in terms of gender – the literature, so that you are not saying “son” when it just means the practitioner – so just making it so that it is inclusive in terms of language. The fact is that the world over, when feminine principle is not respected, then it is women and children who suffer – men also suffer, but the world over it has tended to be that way. So it was kind of controversial for some people that – why would you put this thing about women about the principle, but that’s why we did it.
Now the commission is working on – we are establishing links in each of the centers, so that has been my passion about that. Particularly hearing from the younger women that there have been some less than desirable things, shall we say, that have gone on in this community, that haven’t been easy for young women – getting hit on and that’s a whole story and people have a lot of opinions about it, but we wanted, from the point of view of the commission and speaking personally for me, I wanted to do whatever I could do so that it’s just – whatever is provided is equally available and open and free for men and women.
Q: What kinds of things, in specific, can someone do to add more feminine principle towards life?
A: Well you can just kind of – you can begin with the contemplation of looking at your life and thinking of activity and space – or tangible and intangible – or background and foreground. And you can just begin to tune in to something else. For me, I actually began to just contemplate “not doing” – like when I’d have a reaction that was to do something, I would actually like just let there be a gap there – to just see what would come, rather than pushing to make something happen. So it is just being open and appreciating space and gap and that you don’t have to fill everything up and then tuning into the intangible elements more and the background of a situation more. Feminine principle is also prajna or wisdom and if you let that emerge – like one of the things that Trungpa Rinpoche said that I always found useful is that when you have a question, it’s because you know the answer. But the question is the first tickling that you know – the first little tip of this iceberg or this emerging – when you have the question that means that you’ll be getting to know – and so paying attention to questions is very much feminine principle, rather than so being obsessed with like tying it all up and getting an answer. So, opening up your life in that way.
Q: Yes, I think that many of the old dogs are kind of hitting that stage in their life where dissolve is somewhat of a good idea – as opposed to so terrible threatening. They are beginning to relax.
A: Well, that’s the gift of the mother lineage – when you do this talk about the Stroke of Ashe – when you start to come down the stroke, you relax and that’s for the mother lineage because that’ the gift of the feminine principle that you can actually relax and begin to let go and that’s how things emerge.
Q: You also work with the Council of Warriors and you are governor of the Council of Warriors and in charge of liaison – international liaison – Council of Warriors is one of those things that is almost mythical in the sense that it is not particularly clear where it came from to most people. To the council it is clear, but to many other people – where it came from, what its mandate is, how people join in, how people exit it – recently you have a pin – it was years without a pin – that’s almost like an underground organization. Now you’re above ground with your pin. Can you talk a little bit about what is the Council of Warriors and it’s formed and what kinds of activities it’s in their mandate.
A: Well, the council has really been the Sakyong Mipham's idea after the 1996 Kalapa Assembly and, essentially, it’s the group or what he asked that group to do – in some ways you could say to make it so.
Trungpa Rinpoche’s, the Sakyong's now vision of an enlightened society and all of the transmissions connected with that – that’s what he asked the council to do – to make it so – to promote the Kingdom of Shambhala. Particularly Trungpa Rinpoche’s vision that Nova Scotia was the place where it could be the capitol – the Capitol of Shambhala and this kingdom and cultivating that and bringing that out. So that particular transmission for me was perhaps the most powerful one that I received from Trungpa Rinpoche, which I said before that he didn’t just have this idea of an enlightened society as a fantasy place, but he could actually make it happen – you could actually take part in that. So that’s the vision of the council and we’ve done different projects - Kalapa assemblies, Warrior General Marty Janowitz now does the transmissions at the Rigden Abishekas.
Q: How do people become part of the Council of Warriors?
A: The original group that you were also on, Julia, [laughing] sort of evolved from that Kalapa assembly and now it is like when people step forward and are interested – so we have had some expansion and we want to – the two newest members are Sarah Thompson and Claudia Chender because we want to have – bring in another generation of people.
Q: At one point it had very much an international presence, too, because the Warriors of the Lodges were also part of the council.
A: The Warriors of the Centers are part of the Council of Warriors and then the governors are the governors of that council and the main work that I do is communication with the Warriors of the Centers around the world.
Q: Do you think that we’re leaving behind a good legacy?
Q: “We” – the royal “we”. [laughing]
A: I mean all I can really do is relay with myself – and my family and that’s – our son Noah just visited. You know he is very challenging to us about what we think we’re doing – whether the dream is still alive [laughing] – you know, whether we're throwing our lives away in some way on something that won’t happen. I just said to him, you know, “I’m just doing what I’m doing with my heart – I don’t have any sense that I’m going to accomplish anything and that I’m just to do what I feel connected with as best I can and that’s really all I can speak to.”
I said it before when we were talking that when I first was at Zen Center with Suzuki Roshi, I looked at their organization – it was like Zen Center existed – it was a very solid thing and I wanted to be part of that solid thing and that solid thing – and Zen Center had something that it could give me. One day one of Roshi’s close students who I think was the president of Zen Center at that time said that people think Zen Center is like a rock – it’s like actually there’s nothing to do. I got the sense at that point of the whole cash flow problem and all the bureaucratic problems – that this thing that seemed so solid to me really was not solid.
The same thing is what I feel about Shambhala – it’s – I think it’s really what each of us does in our interactions with other people – to sort of narrowly define as an organization, as a non-profit, or an NGO or whatever doesn’t – it doesn’t really define it – it doesn’t really exist. And I don’t just mean that it has very few employees or anything like that – but it’s what each of us learned from Trungpa Rinpoche – what people practice – their connection with the Sakyong – that’s it – and how they can express that to whoever they encounter.
One final thing that Trungpa Rinpoche said that – and I think people know and I think describes the most amazing – is that he said he never separated the secular and the sacred in his life and I think that’s what I try to do. I don’t want anything to be pasted on me – what I am is what I am – the practice is – whatever I’m called by anybody else, it only comes down to “what can I manifest.” And as all the teachers say, when you’re on your death bed, it doesn’t matter what you were called … what you – it’s like who you are at that moment.
Q: Your innermost wish.
Alice – thank you very much for your lifelong service to bringing a sense of space and appreciation for diversity and north being south and south being north, not really mattering.
Muchas gracias _____ [ in Spanish]