A Letter from Lama Palden

A Letter from Lama Palden


Dear Students and Friends of Sukhasiddhi,     

Spring is here and glorious after all the rain. It brings us renewal and joy, while simultaneously we worry about the possibility of summer fires when all the grasses and new growth dry up. The reality of climate change is upon us reminding us of the teaching of impermanence before our eyes.

Daily, we hear of the suffering, cruelty, and violence that we as human beings are perpetuating against each other and the planet. How can we meet our human situation and each other with love and cooperation? This is a crucial time when we need to strengthen our inner resources, and an important juncture for us to develop further spiritual tools to sustain ourselves, our loved ones, and our larger community for the coming years ahead.

My new book, Love on Every Breath was released in May, and gives a special version of the Tonglen (exchanging self for others) meditation from the Shangpa lineage.  Recently I was able to share this precious practice with a group of men incarcerated at San Quentin, through a program that my chaplain friend Susan Shannon, has been working in for some years. It was wonderful to be with them, meditate together and hear how these men are turning their hearts and lives around through a great deal of inner work.

If you are local in Marin, please feel free to join me and my dear colleague Sylvia Boorstein, at Book Passage in Corte Madera on June 5th, at 7 pm. This will be the launch for Love on Every Breath and it would be delightful to see you there to celebrate with us. In September, I will be giving a daylong on the Love on Every Breath meditation at Sukhasiddhi, so do check our website later for details and information.

I am pleased to announce important changes that are happening at our beloved Sukhasiddhi Center. The needs of students and the conditions for the center have been changing. This has led to a big change in my life also. When I founded Sukhasiddhi 22 years ago, my vision was to create a practice center to benefit both individuals and humanity. I felt, and continue to feel unlimited gratitude and love for the stream of living dharma imparted to me by my teachers. I wanted to allow the stream of the Shangpa and Kagyu Lineages to continue to flourish in the Bay Area. My leadership vision was to create an inclusive, collegial governance at our center in order to support the transmission and taking root of the Dharma in the West. I am happy at this important junction, to be able to pass the torch to the next generation of teachers and leaders in our community.

I will be moving to a place, (to be determined!), where I can lead a quieter life and spend more time in meditation and contemplation. I will be available to students and the public by phone or video session. When requested, I will visit and teach the Sukhasiddhi community. The Lamas, Community Dharma Leaders, and the Board are working together to ensure a smooth transition.

The Sukhasiddhi Lamas will be working together as colleagues to spiritually and in other ways guide and support Sukhasiddhi students. Lama Dondrup, my successor, will be stepping up as Resident Lama after the first of the year. Lama Tashi (Annik Brunet), will continue to teach in the Advanced Training Programs. Lama Pat Berube will continue to teach and work with Clear Light Institute, our Death and Dying curriculum, in addition to teaching various Dharma topics. Lama Drupgyu will teach when requested. As Senior Lama, I will be in a consulting position with the Teachers and Community Dharma Leaders, and visiting to teach at Sukhasiddhi.

It will be exciting to see Sukhasiddhi evolve to meet the changing needs of the community in the time ahead. There are new possibilities with increased outreach through the internet in the form of online classes, in addition to local events.

With love to you all,

Lama Palden