Fern Alix LaRocca , Director Silicon Valley Shambhala Leadership November 2014-June 2017

 June 4, 2017

Good Morning Shambhala Warriors!

Here we are again -gathering in the midst of a transition of leadership and the chaos of unification. When I took the oath in November of 2014, and started to talk to each and every one of you then, I reached out to my mentor, Acharya Alan Schwartz, for a chat. He looked at me with this big smile and he said,  “This isn’t a crisis, Fern, this is Shambhala !”  And I really didn’t know what he meant at that time. I knew my Sangha and my community well, but now, as a Director, I was exposed to other directors and other communities,  and guess what? They had the same issues that we had- financial problems, scheduling problems, traffic problems, etc. I understood then when he meant.

All obstacles in the path that we make into a big deal are really little rocks along the path.

“Do or do not –there is no try”… Master Yoda

Here we are in this beautiful shrine room that will convert to a beautiful living room- both sacred spaces. But our lineage actually had more humble beginnings. It started in a London basement in 1968 with one teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and one student, Richard Authure and there was very little money and very little food. But it was there that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that he aspired to have a center one day.

Chaos and confusion ensued.

13 years later, in 1981 his vision came to fruition with one center in Boulder, Colorado- Rocky Mountain Dharmadhatu. He had 1,000 students at that time. It was then that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught about Deleks. Delek  means “good happiness”.

Again chaos and confusion arose as the community was divided not by people but by geography- sound familiar? He felt at that time that he wanted to reduce the large urban community into smaller social units- to extend our practice into neighborhoods and living rooms.  Why? He wanted to promote a culture of kindness and caring, and like a family- you don’t get to choose the people in it but you learn to get along and appreciate people who are different from ourselves—very much like we have today. This is the perfect training ground for Enlightened Society.

14 years later- our community was in chaos and upheaval over the death of our beloved Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Our Sakyong took his seat in 1995 during a period of much confusion.

Under the Sakyong’s leadership, our community has grown to 10,000 members over 220 centers, in 14 different languages with a monastery, university, school, many land centers. He has said that the success of a community depends on the culture we create.

In his Letter of the Morning Sun to our worldwide community in 2010, he said,

“Ultimately, the greatest influence on us and the larger world is the social culture we are fostering. With a deep certainty in who we are, we can extend our confidence and joy to others, which allows us to connect more easily with them. This is the external manifestation of our mandala, where we can interface with the world by offering myriad programs that connect with other organizations, communities, businesses, and government agencies, enabling healthy and productive networking to occur. Such interface will foster the growth of a greater community of enlightened culture.”

- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

When we asked how we are to do this? He replied that we need to deepen our Shambhala culture. Silicon Valley Shambhala has done this by providing intimate training and teaching (Shambhala Meditation Transmissions, 6 Ways of Ruling, 4 Immeasurable, etc.) and well as taking care of our members during periods of illness and homelessness.

He also said we need to clarify our structure and strengthen our resources. Silicon Valley Shambhala leaders and our community support the important process of regional and financial unification that our Regional Director, Mr. Cody McGough has initiated. This process will give us a strong foundation to build capital assets for future real estate purchases and leases. This process has not been easy or smooth- again more chaos.

Next year, the Sakyong will be teaching us on the Household text. Our practice will grow from the Delek living rooms to our individual homes. We will learn how to feel and be right where we live.

I hope that you will see that Chaos (transition, confusion, impermanence) is part of our lineage and we have grown and will continue to grow because of it. It helps us foster a community of kindness and caring and it helps us to become brave and confident in our basic goodness so we can help others. It is nothing to avoid, be afraid of or deny.

I would like to thank my mentors- Acharya  Alan Schwartz, Joanne Martin Braun, my life partner, Joseph, the NorCal Board, and all of you for being who you are and taking this journey with me.

I will continue to be a Shambhala teacher and meditation instructor, and I will continue my work of advising small businesses that are making a social impact and coaching and writing to promote financial literacy.

I would like to especially thank Ms. Kate Raddock for stepping up to the plate to be our Interim Center Director. I would not be able to take a business opportunity without her bravely taking this seat at this time.

I have a little gift for her. During the Shambhala Day festivities, I asked all of you to write down on these index cards your aspiration for the Silicon Valley Shambhala Center for 2017. Those cards have stayed on my desk to inspire me. I am joining my aspiration with all of yours in this envelope for Ms. Raddock. I am sure it will give her insight and guidance during the coming year.

Please do not let the turmoil of our community or of the world to affect your ability to be kind, and caring.  As the Sakyong said in his Shambhala day address to us, this is a time where we all are feeling challenged. We must engender the studying and contemplations we have done and manifest in the world now.

By the confidence of the golden sun of the Great East

May the lotus garden of the Rigden’s wisdom bloom

May the dark ignorance of sentient beings be disspelled

May all beings enjoy profound brilliant glory.

Yours Forever in the Radiant Vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Fern Alix LaRocca




Taking the Time to Write

by Fern on February 17, 2012

When I got out of the hospital, I wanted to write a memoir -not based on my life so much but based on my medical journey. I figured it could help out a lot of people. It’s not one of those brave medical survivor type bull shit writings that I see so much – but deep dark gory pain and suffering that is held in a container of grace, beauty and dignity- something that we all have inside of us and can tap into when these occasions strike- and they do strike fairly frequently.

So be prepared.

I took a wild detour into the internet marketing world- learning SEO, social media, and all. At one time I had 7 blogs. But now I am pared down and ready to write.

I have aligned with the famous local writer- Ellen Sussman  and am taking a class, Novel in a Year. It is more like a journey than a novel and I am on the path.


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