In a moving investiture and authorization ceremony on November 4, 2017, Lama Palden, Lama Drupgyu Tenzin and Lama Döndrup, under the authority of Kalu Rinpoche, welcomed Annik Brunet, Pat Berube, and Stephen Gross as lamas of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage. Over the last 20 years, the three lamas have, through retreats, classes, pilgrimages and an extraordinary amount of individual practice within their everyday lives, accomplished the full range of the teachings and practices taught in the traditional 3 year Shangpa retreat. They also completed a four-year teacher training, and have taught classes, daylongs and programs at Sukhasiddhi, and offered their service to the growing Sukhasiddhi community.
This is a significant milestone, both for Sukhasiddhi Foundation and for the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the west. Lama Stephen, Lama Pat and Lama Annik are the first students in the west to study and integrate the full curriculum of Shangpa teachings and practices outside of a three year retreat. The rigorous and long term programs that replace the three year retreat take an unwavering and dedicated commitment to complete. Kalu Rinpoche, current holder of the Shangpa lineage, felt strongly that following their training and practice, these students should have authorization as as lamas.
The previous Kalu Rinpoche, with his great compassion, at the request of the Dalai Lama and the 16th Karmapa, came to the west in the 1970s to teach westerners. Kalu Rinpoche begun the tradition of three year retreats, with its profound meditations, for the west. This was a somewhat radical move at the time and even more so because he taught men and women equally and authorized them equally as lamas. Lama Drupgyu completed the first traditional three year retreat for westerners and was appointed by Kalu Rinpoche as the first western retreat master. He was Lama Palden’s retreat teacher on Salt Spring Island where she undertook a three year retreat.
Lama Palden established Sukhasiddhi Foundation to keep the stream of love and wisdom she received from her teachers flowing to students in the west. In response to her students’ requests, she teaches tirelessly, leads pilgrimages to India and Bhutan, and undertook the intensive teaching of Lama Döndrup’s three year retreat. At the same time as she was teaching the Sukhasiddhi community, and teaching the three year retreat, in response to students who could not undertake the intensive retreat, she planned and taught the Shangpa three year retreat curriculum for the first time outside of long retreat. Twenty years later, we have these three new jewels of the dharma.
The tradition of wisdom, love and kindness of the Buddha continues to be transmitted, through dedication and perseverance, down to the present day in our modern world. The inauguration of these lamas is a sign that, even in these very challenging times, the light of pure being, this light of pure goodness, of wisdom itself, continues unceasingly.