Portland News Magazine

Ann Cason and John Smith speak out on aging and sustainable learning

August 18th, 2013 by John David Smith

Community member Ann Cason recently contributed The Words of the Wise in  Elephant Journal, which is very youth oriented, has had almost no articles about aging, seniors, etc., (i.e. what they have to look forward to) so this is somewhat groundbreaking in that regard.  Here’s a snippet where she reflects on a visit to a memory unit at an elder care facility:

Reverend John asked a question of B. It was her birthday. “What wisdom can you share with us from having lived so long?”

After a long silence, B told us, “Take care of yourself and others.”

The elders clapped their approval.

Then, Father John asked another elder to say a prayer. J said, “May we be better than before and keep our eyes on the future. Amen.”

For a moment, I glimpsed The Shambhala Principle in action. Even with all of our foibles and hurts, our aggression or dumbness, there is something soft and open and feeling within. It might be covered over, but can’t be taken away. In spite of all of the details of each individual illness, these lovely beings are old and frail because they have been born human.They will die (with wisdom intact) because they were born, as I have been, as human beings.

Community member John Smith was interviewed by blogger, teacher, and systems thinker Howard Silverman. They discuss sustainable learning, including the connection between Shambhala vision and learning in daily life.  Here’s a snippet from the interview, titled “How does the community we belong to help us learn, and enable us to shape our community?

HS: What’s the difference between book learning and — other forms of learning? Learning as practice? What’s the appropriate counterpoint?

JS: Book learning for me, at that time, meant discussing the books as we did at St. John’s College. Whereas the whole enterprise of Tibetan Buddhism was much more “mind-in-body,” asking: “How do I show up in the world?”

Early on, the social element was not so explicit. Trungpa Rinpoche’s students were very individually motivated: “I’m here for my spiritual practice and goals.” Now, in traditional texts, a Bodhisattva vow clearly is about “all sentient beings” — and that’s a great example of book learning. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, I take that vow,” and then go back to doing my individual thing.

Then, over the years, it became more clear that there was a kind of social learning component to what Trungpa Rinpoche was talking about. He was talking about transforming society on a deep level that contested the Western notion of individualism, contested the Western stance of mind-in-opposition-to-body, and communicated the idea that “I am the product of all the causes and conditions around me.”


Birth of Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy

June 15th, 2013 by John David Smith

Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy

Camille Gwendolyn Talbot McCoy was born on Sunday June 9th at 7:05. She is amazing! We just got home with her last night (Wednesday, June 12) and are in complete bliss.


Kim McCoy, Jason Talbot, and Camille

John Kozel moving to Portland from Burlington, Vermont

June 15th, 2013 by John David Smith

It’s always great to hear from a relative you didn’t know about.  John Kozel introduces himself and describes his plans for moving here:


Adam, John and Makar the beagle

Greetings Portland Sangha!

The motivation of this blog post is two-fold: First, as a means of introducing myself, and second, to ask for a small measure of guidance and assistance from the Portland Shambhala community.

My name is John Kozel – I currently reside in Burlington, VT. Excitingly, however, my partner Adam and I will be moving to Portland at the beginning of September along with our beagle Makar. I will be starting a masters program at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Adam is currently looking for work with community-based organizations, preferably ones catering to Portland’s LGBTQA community. Makar will be along to smell flowers and distract passers-by with his charm. (I am on the right-side of this photograph).

My connection to Shambhala began in 2008 with a brief stint as a development intern at Shambhala Mountain Center, followed by a 2.5 year residency at Karme Choling as a member of core staff, working sequentially as painter, registrant, and development coordinator. Upon leaving Karme Choling I moved to Burlington to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont. During my time here I helped to form a weekly meditation discussion group for young people at the Shambhala Center which I have been guiding for the past year. I am a Shambhala Guide and practice a great deal of qi gong.

If Portland is anything like Burlington, finding a reasonably priced apartment or house to rent through the internet can be a veritable trial – the best deals always seem to pass through direct connection – which gets me to the second aspect of this blog entry: Adam and I are looking for some help in finding an apartment, preferably in the Northeast or Southeast areas of the city, two bedrooms, that allows dogs, and is reasonably priced for an indebted grad student and a non-prof community activist. If anyone there at the Portland Shambhala Center has ideas, recommendations, or connections you would like to share, we would be genuinely grateful!

Thanks for reading. I am immensely excited to be moving to Portland and to be joining with the Shambhala sangha there. I look forward to sharing time, space, and practice with many of you come September.

My very best,

John Kozel
j.e.kozel (at) gmail.com

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.

Lesa Ricci Thanks and Farewell

February 18th, 2013 by John David Smith
Outgoing Director Lesa Ricci

Photo: J. Forrest Hale

Dear Portland Shambhala Community,

I want to express my deepest gratitude for the incredibly generous gifts that have been offered to me for my retirement as Shambhala Center Director. In addition to a beautiful silver Ashe necklace and the complete set of The Profound Treasury of The Ocean of Dharma by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, there was a shockingly large monetary gift which I understand so many of you contributed to — so large in fact, that my mind stopped as I looked at the check. I thought someone must have accidentally added an extra digit when they wrote out the number!

To those of you I haven’t had the opportunity to say this to in person, I also want to express what a profound honor it has been to serve as your Center Director. I have learned so much from everyone over these last nine years — the kind of learning that only comes from sitting in the middle of the fire :). In the end, there is no better gift than to have had one’s mind and heart forged by the mutual bravery, care and warriorship of one’s sangha. This is a most amazing community and I am so proud and grateful to be part of the it. While I will be leaving Portland at the end of March for Toledo, Ohio where I am going to support my mother for six months, my intention is to return to Portland if auspicious circumstances don’t lead me elsewhere.

Photo: J. Forrest Hale

Photo: J. Forrest Hale

I look forward to our Center continuing to flourish and grow in new ways under the capable leadership of our new Center Director Lisa Stanley. I have complete confidence that with the fresh energy of her leadership, we will continue to discover how, as a local Shambhala community, to best meet the vision of our Sakyongs. May we all do our best to help this world through deep practice and expansive engagement based on the direct and profound experience of Basic Goodness.

My love and gratitude to you all,


Welcoming our new director Lisa Stanley

January 25th, 2013 by John David Smith

Lisa Stanley has moved to Portland, arriving on January 20.

Lisa has been the personnel director at Karme Cholling for the past 3 years and has taught Ikebana here in Portland and had been wanting to move here for years!  After interviews with the search committee and the Governing Council, the Sakyong appointed her and she quit her job to move here.  Someone in our community had just decided to move back to the east coast so at the last minute an apartment became available for Lisa to move into (sight unseen).  In a continuing series of auspicious coincidences, a small welcome party showed up at the Portland Airport at the designated time:

Welcoming committee arises from space

Even though we had never met, apart from a few Google Hangout meetings, there were hugs all around when Lisa arrived:

Hi we've never met before but it's GREAT to see you!

Further auspiciousness was revealed when we arrived at Lisa’s new apartment with  temporary bedding, a chair and a table hoping that the apartment would not be completely bare.  Lo and behold, someone had provided a few groceries!

The miracle of groceries

The next morning included bright sunshine and a friendly barista welcomed her with Portland style brightness.

Portland Welcome YOU

The Books of Esther by Willa Schneburg

September 17th, 2012 by Lesa Ricci

An Interdisciplinary Exhibit of the Life of One Woman Who “Talked” Through Writing 

September 12, 2012 – November 25, 2012

Oregon Jewish Museum

1953 NW Kearney Street, Portland

Website: ojm.org

Willa Schneberg’s mother, a first generation American, was a survivor of larynx cancer. Thus out of necessity she wrote what she would normally speak. In this body of work Schneberg utilizes ceramic sculpture, photographs, audio clips and personal objects to explore how memory, language, Jewish identity, work, disability and aging, shape people’s lives. Schneberg has created the echo of the voice no longer there, the contour of the hand that held the pen. This exhibit is about the artifacts of our lives, and how we infuse them with meaning. The Books of Esther also embodies the essential contribution of written language, and it demonstrates how one woman’s need to communicate allowed her to overcome adversity.