How Acharya Allyn Lyon Became My Teacher


Often, the teacher-student relationship is a strong, life-changing bond. Buddhist teachings are passed along from teacher to student. This lineage begins with the Buddha. Think of  Milarepa and his devotion to his teacher, Marpa. This blog by Chris O’Hare explores that deep connection with his teacher Acharya Allyn Lyon.  

I took my first class from Allyn in December 2002. Every time we are together, she continues to teach me, whether in the class or just chatting. She is my connection with the Sakyong, and our 2500 year old lineage.

This summerAllyn&Chris.SanJacintoTram-Top[Dec2009] copy, while staffing Acharya Allyn Lyon’s 2014 Shambhala Mountain Center dathun, I was the one who gave participants brief talks about the Teacher’s Gift. Easy to do when you feel great appreciation for your teacher. By the 4th week, the participants had heard everything I had to say spontaneously. In Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, I found an interesting discussion on gifting. Trungpa distinguished between the giver of a gift, and whether the other person was ready to receive the gift. They might not be, and so the gift would not be received. This process seems to point to how Allyn became my teacher.

In my introductory Buddhist classes, I always sat in the second or third row in front of Acharya Lyon. I was always asking questions, trying to nail down what the ambiguous buddhist notions meant. One evening, she 2003Allyn@Forum 2teased me with something like, “Well, it’s O’Hare again with his questions.” I felt an immediate upsurge of righteous rage, and the thought, “How can she dare to treat me this way!” And then I felt this wave of love. I looked at her and her huge grin was emanating love. I felt completely confused. This type of interaction went on through several classes, each time I felt the same klesha, but a little softer. But, my curiosity about her relating to me this way began to grow. (To this day, she continues to teach me in this manner.)

In 2004, I invited Allyn to teach a weekend Buddhist program at the Claremont Forum where a small Shambhala meditation group met on a regular basis. While she and I were waiting in the anteroom, which included a used book store, she browsed the Buddhist book section. In an off handed manner, she pointed out a book and told me, “You might find that interesting,” and continued to browse. The book she pointed out was very thick, Kindly Bent to Ease Us by Longchenpa, someone I had never heard of. I winced at the thought of reading it.

Somewhere along the line, I had heard that teachers sometimes communicated this way. I wanted her to be my teacher. I bought the book and read the whole thing. I found many aspects remarkable for their simplicity, insight and clarity. Altho there was a section on the “Hell Realm” that made Dante’s Inferno look second rate. When Allyn came back for her next visit, I had a discussion with her about this book and Longchenpa. I think this was the moment she became my teacher.
Vajrayana weektun 2009Allyn,C,etal.RedFeatherPorch
She had offered me two gifts: 1. The teasing was an invitation to engage with a different kind of reality… feelings and ambiguity; 2. Kindly Bent To Ease Us was a classic dharma text that in her off handed way she gave me the opportunity to read. I followed thru and accepted her gift – a suggestion to read Longchenpa’s famous teachings. That sealed the deal. She has been my teacher ever since. I feel very grateful.



Chris is currently helping to raise funds to support Acharya Allyn.  Allyn has been diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer.  She has taken a leave of absence from her Acharya duties while she is going through treatment and recovery.  Chris has asked that any of you who are so moved, please make a donation to support Acharya Allyn’s shortfall to cover her regular expences.  $16,000 has been raised so far.  He said that only $4,000 more is needed.  You can make a donation at the YouCaring link for Acharya Allyn Lyon:


Christopher OHare received his first meditation instruction at Gampo Abbey, March 1995, when visiting his son Gabriel. Chris is a devoted student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and has adopted Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as the teacher before Chris knew he had one. Allyn Lyon has been his Acharya teacher since 2002. Chris loves teaching meditation, and serves in many ways to do so.