Reflecting with Gratitude

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Jennifer Kim, August 2015

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Jennifer Kim, August 2015

By Jennifer Kim

After nearly two and a half years of having the privilege to serve as Director of our Center, I have transitioned out of the role and have passed the torch onto Desmond Hosford, a dedicated practitioner, consummate professional, and good friend.  It was not such an easy decision to leave, as the mission is enlivening and the people are wonderful. However, it seemed the right time to go, as my body was calling for some rest, a job opportunity manifested in my dream-field of leadership consulting, the Center has been running pretty smoothly thanks to great people involved, and I will have an opportunity to serve the Center and the Dharma in different ways. I have also had a deep yearning for a while to integrate the spiritual and worldly aspects of my own life, and to help others do the same in theirs. Hopefully the time is ripe for this integration to occur.

This moment of transition has prompted me to reflect upon the past several years at Shantideva and my Dharma journey as a whole.  The word that comes to mind is GRATITUDE.  Shantideva has been this precious oasis of kindness, hope, sincerity, and loving kindness. The people have inspired me to become a better person and more diligent practitioner, and the teachings have enriched my life with wisdom and purpose. I’ve also had a deep sense that we are all cared for in our journey.  And through service, practice, and the good fortune of being cared for, there is gratitude and peace.

Where the journey started: <br>The Enlightenment Stupa at Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling in New Zealand

Where the Dharma journey started:
Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling in New Zealand

I rewind to a decade ago. It was a different world. I had climbed up the professional ladder quickly but felt a little empty inside, wondering if there was more to life than just succeeding and having a good time. Then my world came crashing down when my mother suddenly died from a swift form of cancer. After her passing, I was confused and felt this great divorce from what I was doing with my life and the deeper questions of life that had become apparent.  I was stuck in this pattern for a while until I took a chance that there might be a path to genuine happiness somewhere. I was drawn to travel and spend time with Tibetan monks, and looking back, it was the best decision I ever made in my life. The journey just unfolded from there, and fast-forward a decade later, I have this immense gratitude for taking the chance.

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This moment of transition has prompted me to reflect upon the past several years at Shantideva and my Dharma journey as a whole.  The word that comes to mind is GRATITUDE.

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Through these experiences, I have deep conviction in the power of Dharma to heal, strengthen and bring out the best in myself and others. I have seen the oceans of wisdom, compassion and joy that people have, often buried in heaps of sadness, anger and hopelessness. I have conviction that education of the heart is what is needed to create a world that we actually wish to live in.

I have received the fortune to see this goodness manifested in different religions, cultures, environments and people. Lama Yeshe’s vast vision of “universal education” moves me to tears, and his energy lives within my heart today. And despite the breadth of goodness in its myriad forms, I am continually amazed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and our Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which plunges the depths of philosophical inquiry, holds relentless compassion for all creatures ranging from Osama bin Laden to the mosquito, and offers a variety of skillful means to harness these forces of wisdom and compassion with simple practicality and stunning beauty.  It is simply mesmerizing to behold.

Shantideva students with Ven. Robina Courtin, November 2015

Shantideva students with Ven. Robina Courtin, November 2015

Out of the various conduits that bring this force of good into the lives of others, what can I say? I am in awe of Shantideva Meditation and our community that has developed over the past several years. The organizers of our Center are kind, harmonious and talented. The students are delightful, sincere and a true pleasure to know. Our teachers, so diverse and complementary, offer a rich education steeped in actual realization. Perhaps most exciting is our potential! I do believe that New York, a hotbed of samsara, can also serve as a locus (or lotus) of enlightenment. There is just so much energy here that can be channeled in positive ways. There is also great joy that emanates from the people here, and it is this type of joy that fuels the fires of our deepest hopes and aspirations.

And how fitting that Desmond, someone who emanates joy and a host of other spectacular qualities, is now holding the torch. I look forward to continue working with him (in new ways) and in sharing time (in new ways) with the wonderful people here who I am fortunate to know.  I also hope that others might be interested to help with our mission, as many hands make for light work, and it takes a village to raise a Buddha!

Sarva Mangalam to all our aspirations for great happiness!  May all be auspicious for goodness to prevail and for the light of the Dharma to shine brightly in all our lives.

Jennifer Kim, August 2015

Jennifer Kim, August 2015

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