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It’s been a real Winter here, for the most part. Cold weather but some unseasonably warm days, too. Blizzard-like conditions and some gloriously clear skies like the one above. Completely snowed in with cars sliding down our icy long, steep driveway and days when the river and pond thaw.

Everyone around these parts has their favorite weather app or site; each of which has slightly different predictions. People seem to rely on them. I laugh because none of the reports are truly dependable – not in our valley, at least, where weather defies even the idea of prediction.

I love living in the middle of nowhere and experiencing four real seasons, having spent most of my life in one- or two-season locals. Don’t get me wrong, I also love California and Hawaii‘i weather. The Vermont atmosphere though is still fresh, enlivens my body & mind, and reminds me of the impermanence of all things.

Even us. 🙂

The year of the Fire Monkey was quite the ride – I suspect you feel similarly. When I last wrote, several people whom I called friends exposed themselves as…let’s just say, not friends. In addition, a very sweet semi-regular love affair that lit up my life ended abruptly and unexpectedly with no explanation. It took all my gumption and your help to get to Sacred World Assembly – the program that opened me to the world of Vajrayana.

I took on my new role at Karme Choling as Programs Manager once I got back from Sacred World. The Director of Programs (DOP) had left by then and one of the Co-Deputy Directors, who was due to leave in November herself, was carrying the DOP load. The cards were stacked that, eventually, I would take on the Director of Programs responsibilities in addition to my own.

So after much contemplation and self-deliberation, I applied, interviewed, and was offered the Director of Programs position. This was no easy decision because my aim has always been to return home to Hawaii‘i and open a Shambhala Meditation Center. By accepting the new role, I effectively pushed that back two more years. I’ve been here two years already.

Training from the Co-Deputy Director for the Director of Programs position was wild and wooly. She was under a relatively short deadline to transmit everything to me. And there was a lot. To say my head felt like exploding by December is an understatement. By then I was carrying both Director of Programs and Programs Manager positions, training two new staff, creating new systems and view for the department, making relationships with teachers, immersing myself in strategic planning of our big international programs, plus trying to stay on top of my practice requirements so I can be accepted to the next program in my path.

My mind was going in so many different directions in any given 5-minute period that there were moments I didn’t even know my own name. I’m sorry to admit there were also days when I was not coming from a place of Aloha.

There came a point, though, when I realized that what I had done to myself by taking that position at that particular time is no different than what I had done throughout my entire life: put myself in a situation where I had to expand my idea of who I was even more. Before, I thought that meant bandwidth – of which I always had plenty. But this new spot I found myself in had nothing to do with bandwidth – there is no physical way to do it all. This called for something extraordinary: letting go – or as we say in Shambhala, making space.

I was holding onto wanting to get everything done in a situation where that was just not possible. By making space for things to play out as they will, something always happens and the outcome seems to always appear perfect.

Paraphrasing Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, if you leave a mad cow in the barn, it will kick and buck and destroy things. But if you let the cow out into a meadow, it can kick and buck to its heart’s delight and never cause any harm. Eventually, it even calms down.

The more we confine our ideas of what “has” to be, the more harm we do to ourselves and others.

I find in the space I give for all that I have to do, solutions I would never have considered. I also see clearer priorities. Sometimes, if I imbue what needs to be done with enough of the right kind of energy, things work themselves out seemingly all on their own.

Letting go. Planting a seed, watering it with the right energy, then letting it grow.

My very practical-minded friends may think, “He’s drinking the cool-aid, now!”

Am I?

At the end of December, I received a call from the Directors of the Kailua Shambhala Center – the little center on the Windward side of O‘ahu. They were retiring and wondered if I could come back and carry it forward. What timing, I thought; I had just signed up for another two years at Karme Choling.

Two weeks later, my Shambhala brother, Josh, (also a Hawai‘i boy) knowing of my long-term plans, emailed with the same news and said he is inspired to move back home from LA (where he lives now) to help open the center in Honolulu.

In Shambhala terminology, we call moments like these: auspicious coincidences.

Josh and I are at the same point in our practice path and he just happens to be coming to Karme Choling in Spring for a program. We’ll set aside time to talk, plan, and I’ll give him all my contacts and ideas. Josh knows as well as I do that an active center in the right place in Hawai‘i, would be a profound benefit for the local population.

Hawai‘i culture and Tibetan Buddhist culture are mind-blowingly similar. At the core of both is the very same thing: Aloha. In Shambhala Buddhism, we call that Basic Goodness.

It’s amazing what can happen when we let go of what we’re holding onto: attitudes, beliefs, expectations, habits…Just on the other side of all that is bliss, Aloha; within which, everything comes together seemingly just like magic.


Kit Kanohoaloha Wynkoop grew up in Hawai‘i and moved to Karmê Chöling to offer his skills, deepen his practice, and learn all he could so he can return to Hawai‘i to open a Shambhala Meditation Center. Kit is currently Director of Programs at Karme Choling.

 
 

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