Portland News Magazine

Charlie and Ella’s first birthday

March 26th, 2013 by John David Smith

This post submitted by Nancy Smith:

Happy Birthday Charlie and Ella!On Wednesday, March 20, Charlie and Ella Rubin turned one year old!  When they were newborns, Charlie and Ella were held by their families and many of our sangha members.  We had weekly shifts with them, two hours each, to help their parents nap, be awake, eat, hold babies, do laundry, whatever.  Through the summer, fewer “baby holders” were needed as the babies became more used to being in the world and tried out several routines.  Over the summer, we amused them with walks in the neighborhood to consider the amazing flower garden two doors down, or just bouncing through the house looking out the windows at all the wondrous things outside.  Outside!  So fascinating!

Then the fall and winter brought toys, play mats and baby gates as they learned to crawl around the dining room, and now they are pulling themselves up on all kinds of furniture and people, standing up underneath the dining room table, standing on tiptoes to look out the window, engaging more and more with each other (they just pulled off brown bunny’s ear in a tug-of-war), family and friends who come to their house.  Winter brought also cargo pants and striped shirts for Charlie, looking quite the dude, and girly shirts and green cargo pants for Miss Ella Berry, every inch the sweetie.

Twins, but they are so different!  They keep the “baby holders” going, constantly adjusting to what will make each one happy.  We marvel at their parents who seem to have unlimited energy!

Many happy birthday wishes from the Portland Shambhala Meditation Center to Dan, Vanessa, Charlie and Ella Rubin!  May you ever be strong!  And please bring them to the Center often!

Posts from others about their experiences with the Rubins are most welcome!

Lesa Ricci kissing babies

March 25th, 2013 by John David Smith

Normally you don’t see leaders kissing babies after their term of office is over.

Lesa Ricci, Vanessa Rubin and twins at their 1st birthday party
photo: John David Smith

But on March 16, a full month after she stepped down from her leadership position as director of the Portland Shambhala Center, there she was kissing and  hugging and helping the birthday twins open presents on their first birthday.  Charlie and Ella and mother Vanessa Rubin (pictured) and father Dan Rubin (holding the camera on the left) were joined in the celebration by family (several generations) and a group of Shambhalians (including Jay Stewart, Lesa Ricci, Marc Otto, Melanya Helene, and Nancy Smith) who have been kissing and hugging and playing with and occasionally changing the twins’ diapers more or less every week for the past year.

So actually it’s not just Lesa, but a whole village that has been welcoming Charlie and Ella into enlightened society, which clearly goes beyond terms of office or even stage of life.

Learning about leadership from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

March 18th, 2013 by John David Smith

Sakyong Mipham on a video screen at the Portland Shambhala Meditation CenterOn March 16th some fourteen of the people who play a leadership role at the Portland Shambhala Meditation Center met in the main shrine room to watch a video recording of a talk that the Sakyong, Jampal Trinley Dradul, Rinpoche had recorded a week ago of a talk to Shambhala leaders all over the world.   Just as we all heard somewhat different things in his talk, we were all taking our own notes in our own ways.  But everyone was struck in one way or another.  Here are some of the reflections that people offered afterwards:

John Smith:  For those of us who think we need to take a break, the Sakyong told a story about asking his father what happens after you become enlightened. His father replied, “You go to work.” I found that very moving — a caution about any false notions of what enlightenment might be and a great encouragement to lean into our lives, not tempted to kick back or dream about flaking off.

Melanya Helene: What has really stayed with me is the teaching that our inner work towards inner enlightened society is the basis or ground of the true confidence to engage with the world, to handle challenges compassionately. That without that we are trying to use grafted on confidence and that will not help us hold our seat.

Taking it in at the Sakyong's address to leaders

Meditation Instructors coordinator Lee Scher takes notes on his iPhone and Membership co-coordinator Marc Otto writes it down on paper.

Aletha Eastwood: The thing that struck me the most was the emphasis on getting in touch with our own innate strength or basic confidence as a means of connecting with our own style of leadership. In order to truly lead or hold our seat, we have to be connected with who we are and what inspires us. Having this kind of deep connection with our own basic goodness is what enables us to stay more fully present when challenges come up. The suggestion, too, was that having this kind of deep inner connection with oneself mirrored and enhanced the connection we could build with others, or those we sought to lead.

The Sakyong also spoke about not having all the answers as a leader, but having bravery and confidence in the face of discomfort, becoming comfortable with discomfort. In being fully and resiliently in touch with our selves and our inspiration, we make good leaders. It made me think about how uplifting others, acknowledging and affirming the basic goodness in others, was a path of leadership. On one simple level, by first getting in touch with our own basic goodness, we reveal that possibility to others.

Nancy Smith: I liked that the Sakyong said we need to start by asking ourselves who am I, what do I want, and combined with our mind of practice, that relationship is the basis for our bravery and confidence. It begins to build enlightened society with oneself, which is the starting point for building enlightened society with others and in society.

Angie Reynolds: I was struck by the practicality of his advice. Near the close he told us something to the effect: I hope you are meditating, I hope you are exercising your body, and I hope you have and spend time with friends and socializing… reminding us not to become so absorbed into one thing but to create balance in our lives.

Gardner Murphy: I recall the Sakyong bringing up the issue of balance. Talking about how the fields of nyen and lu, covering all the details and working out relationships and bringing others along, can become the focus of leading, while the connection with lha, inspiration, and lungta can fade. It reminded me of the I-Ching reading from Shambhala Day with image of the lake of joy and richness draining away into the lowlands so that the energy becomes depleted. So the advice about that was to prepare on a personal level for the situations of depletion and to know that is not a permanent state, but it is necessary to attend to one’s own well being at that point.

Melanya Helene: I was struck to contemplate the ways and situations in which I withhold a sense of fundamental trust and encouraged to practice remaining open.

Alice Price: What resonated and awakened within me was his comment that confidence is an innate strength that all of us have. Discovering it is the jewel to hold on to.

Michael McCormick: I was struck, gently but forcibly, by the Sakyong’s framing of leadership as “sacred” – an opportunity to help. This cuts across the many times I have felt leadership as a burden, something that felt like a demand on me. To view it as sacred not only takes the focus off “me,” but reminds me of my fundamental motivation to provide leadership.