An interview with Joanne Molyneaux
After more than 22 years of loving and dedicated service to Sukhasiddhi and its students, Joanne Molyneaux is retiring from her role as Executive Director. Jane Brunette spoke with Joanne about her time as a key leader at Sukhasiddhi, and what she sees for herself going forward.
Tell me a little about your relationship to Sukhasiddhi and what you’ve seen unfold over the 20-plus years you’ve been so deeply involved.
It has been a long journey from when I first started with Sukhasiddhi. At that time, Lama Palden was holding Sunday morning classes in her living room. I was still working in business and had spent some time in Asia, where I heard about Buddhism. And so I had gone out to Spirit Rock to one of Jack Kornfield’s Monday night talks, and Lama Palden was filling in for him. I found out she lived close by, and so I set up an appointment with her. I told her I wanted to know more about Buddhism. She smiled and said, “Why not come to my meditation class?” And I did.
Though I could see right away I wasn’t really a meditator, the philosophy was fascinating. I knew I had a background that could help the organization, and I thought that would help me stay involved. I found the teachings amazing and challenging, so I’ve been with it since then.
A lot has happened during these 20 years. I was there when the first center was opened, when Lama Palden led Lama Döndrup in her three-year retreat, when the first program got started—and it all flowed so smoothly. At least in retrospect, it looks smooth. Of course, at the time we had plenty of challenges!
What do you see going forward as you step back from your role as Executive Director, both for yourself and for Sukhasiddhi?
We’ve gone through a 20-year cycle together. Something very important has been done in this cycle, and in a certain way it has concluded. A new cycle is starting. Lama Palden has taught a new group of lamas and now it’s time for them to carry things forward. It is still early in this new cycle so we can’t know exactly what it will look like, but it seems clear that Sukhasiddhi will continue to be made up of dedicated practitioners, and hopefully will add some online participation. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens under the new leadership.
I will continue on the Board for another year, and as financial manager of Sukhasiddhi. I hope to have more time to spend on making some of the recordings more publicly available, and preparing them also for online classes. So I am still going to be participating, but for me the day-to-day work won’t be so intense. I will have more free time, and I won’t feel so responsible. I don’t yet know what the extra time will bring, but I’m excited to find out.
All my life, I’ve had a habit of being busy. When I stopped being paid to work, I poured myself into Sukhasiddhi work and that habit continued. I realized it was time to finally let that habit go. I want to see what it will be like to wake up every morning without a big “to do” list. To enjoy every moment of my life. Maybe travel. So I don’t have any clear vision for the future yet, but there is one thing I can see: It’s time to play a little.