What started out was a simple Sangha-Announce request to offer a place to rest has grown into a real relationship and bond between the Cape Town sangha, now called Shambhala South Africa and her sister sangha, White River Shambhala Center in Vermont.
Jennifer Woodhall, the director of the Cape Town Shambhala Group was looking out for Johann Vester who was making his first journey to Boston.
Johann would be going to the Mukpo Institute at Karme Choling for a year or more in order to become someone who could assist her in with the fledgling sangha in Cape Town, South Africa.
I responded by emailing, saying I was happy to offer Johann a room and bed to sleep after his long flight and travel and then drive him up to Karme Choling.
I had my own connection with Cape Town having spent three fascinating weeks there several years before.
After Johann rested for an evening, we headed off to Karme Choling the next morning.
During the drive, Johann shared his amazing and inspiring story. A Zen practitioner for 10 years when he met Jennifer and the Shambhala teachings.
Inspired, he sold his home, transferred his clients to another psychologist,found a home for his dog, packed up his belongings and made the long flight from Cape Town to Boston.
Johann was the consummate student and practioner while at in the Mukpo Academy at Karme Choling completing 33 dharma programs up through Vajrayana Seminary at Shambhala Meditation Center in 2010 and Warriors Assembly before heading back to Cape Town.
Our center had been sending donated dharma books to the Cape Town Sangha for over a year and in December 2010, we decided it was time to really step up and send one of our senior teachers. Donna Williams.
Donna was an early student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is currently a student of the Sakyong, having attended Scorpion Seal Retreat Three this past summer at Dorje Denma Ling . A seasoned teacher of the Shambhala Path and best yet she was willing to give a month of her time to teach and help in South Africa.
The catch was the airfare so a festive spaghetti dinner and silent auction was held at our center in White River Junction in early December 2010.
The money was raised and Donna headed off to Cape Town for a month of back to back Shambhala programs in late February 2011, bringing with her a gift from our sangha of a Great Eastern Sun banner.
This year, our center is holding the 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction this time to kick off a scholarship fund for the South Africa Shambhala Group to benefit those students who might not otherwise be able to finance the airfare and costs of the more advanced Shambhala programs.
What started out was a simple Sangha-Announce request to offer a place to rest has grown into a real relationship and bond between the Cape Town Sangha, now called Shambhala South Africa and her sister Sangha, White River Junction.
It is our aspiration that other Sanghas see the potential in this type of relationship and watch eagerly for an auspicious coincidence of their own to arise.