We thought it would be a good idea to send out periodic updates on important happenings around SMCLA – recent accomplishments, new initiatives, upcoming events, news from your Governing Council – basically, where we’ve been and where we’re headed, all reported in the present moment.

“…This jewel is the wisdom and compassion that it takes to act not on behalf of ourselves but for all beings. This is where real confidence and competence come from. Once we possess this jewel, our life becomes blessed.” – Sakyong Mipham

From the DirectorsGreetings! We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying spring in Southern California.

If you were able to join us on Shambhala Day in Eagle Rock, you heard us share a very long list of accomplishments that we were able to manifest together over the past year. Thanks to the inspiration and joyful exertion of many of you, our Water Dragon year really took flight!

The theme of this letter is service.

Part I

This past Shambhala Day marked a partial change in leadership at SMCLA. Greg Lubkin ended his two-year term as SMCLA Co-Director and, as is our custom, took the Retirement Oath. Acharya Emily Bower served as Oath Preceptor. (Read Acharya Bower’s excellent blog post on oath-taking in Shambhala here) Marilyn Moore, who served as Head of Practice for five years also took the Retirement Oath that day. We send them both our heartfelt gratitude for their dedication and service.

Tom Gottlieb stepped into Greg’s place as Co-Director and will serve with Debra Dysart who continues in this capacity for one more year. He remains our Chagdzö (Head of Finance) for the present time. Marian English became our new Head of Practice, having served as Marilyn’s Deputy over the past year. Congratulations, Tom and Marian! Here are the hardworking members of your SMCLA Governing Council and the positions they hold:

Co-Directors: Debra Dysart & Tom Gottlieb
Westside Coordinators: Anne Saitzyk & Jason Elias
Head of Education: Sharon Owyang
Head of Practice: Marian English
Rusung: Jaime Marx
Chagdzö: Tom Gottlieb
Societal Health & Well Being Director: Faradee Rudy
Head of Communications: Eric Chau
Representative of the Office of Culture & Decorum: David Fraioli
Contemplative Arts Director and Regional Supervisor of the Office of Culture & Decorum: Guy Blume

Each Council Member sits at the helm of their area or “mini-mandala” with many others serving in important positions that help support and carry out the duties and responsibilities of that area. All, including the Co-Directors and Council Members, are volunteers.

Part II

One of the new initiatives that was put in place this past year is our Volunteer Sign-Up Page making it easier than ever to find out what help is needed and how you can become actively involved. We’d like to thank everyone who has already discovered the joy in working together and who continually volunteer to make things run.

But there are many more opportunities for service than our current loyal and dedicated volunteers can handle. One of the areas that we are having difficulty finding volunteers for is hosting the Wednesday night Kitchen Sink Dharma talks on the Westside and Thursday night public programs in Eagle Rock. Understandably, given LA traffic, it’s not easy to get to either location by 7 pm on a weeknight if you’re coming from another part of town. But if each member volunteered just ONCE a year to host a Wednesday or Thursday night, we would easily have every slot filled.

An important expression of our path is caring for the well being of others.

In Chapter 14 of Ruling Your World, entitled “The Confidence of Delight in Helping Others,” the Sakyong writes:

Once we’re inspired to uplift our mind and look out for the welfare of others, we can always find a way to help. The discipline of the lion is the starting place, because it lifts us above doubt and laziness. . . .The point is to generate a sense of warmth and openness while we are doing it, cultivating delight that we are able to help.

At SMCLA we offer many opportunities to serve. We encourage you to check out the volunteer webpage often and sign up for open slots. If there is some service that you wish to offer that you don’t see listed, we’d like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact the Governing Council member that heads the area in which you would like to serve or get in touch with either of us.

We’re all in this together.

In the Vision of Making Enlightened Society Possible,

Debra Dysart
Tom Gottlieb