July 12, 2010

Memories of Midsummer’s Days in the Kingdom of Shambhala.

The 16th Karmapa meets Shibata Sensei; Mid-summer’s Celebration, Boulder 1980.Photograph by Blair Hansen

Introduction: growing up in the Vajradhatu (now called Shambhala) Buddhist community, or “Sangha,” Midsummer’s Day was probably the biggest, funnest, most elegant day of our year. It was all celebration, pomp, circumstance. Children, games, ceremonies, sun, food, community.

A definition from the Shambhala site:

Midsummer Day

Midsummer Day is an opportunity for families and friends in Shambhala to enjoy summer fun together. The day might include picnics, swimming and boating, outdoor sports, and music and dance performances. It begins with a lhasang (a traditional offering of juniper smoke) that purifies the environment and empowers the space, the objects, and the beings within it by invoking awakened energy. Everyone is welcome to join in.

Recently, I tried to recollect memories of that day, and found my caffeine-addled brain lacking. So I emailed my mom:

— On Mon, 6/21/10, Waylon Lewis <waylon at elephantjournal dotcom> wrote:

Subject: can you recall much else about Midsummer’s Day, that one year where it was huge out south of Boulder?
To: “Linda Lewis”

Midsummer’s Day, 1980. Date?

I remember driving out there on a long thin gray black road into the plains along the mountains I was used to and just beyond. A big hay-ful field, we parked and there were tents everywhere, I ate a full bucket of KFC, that was a treat ‘cause we never had junk food, I bobbed for apples in a kiddie pool, I remember Rinpoche like a military man out of the 40s riding in with entourage and wife, he on Drala, the white Lipizzaner. I remember some kyudo, maybe, and some volleyball, and hundreds of folks everywhere and banners in the procession. That’s about it. An amazing day, a fun manifestation of a sort of modern yet timeless kingdom.


Via my mom:

We actually went out there several summers, out past Rocky Flats…it was a huge ranch, the kind that used to be bumper to bumper from Boulder to Denver, a few cattle, a horse, and just vast, grassy expanse.  There were white tents at one end, the biggest one being a felt embroidery decorated one.  Once the Karmapa sat with Rinpoche in the tent.  At other times it was Lady Diana and the Regent sitting with him…Yes there were always volleyball games and in the races Josh Mulder of Stupa artistic fame always used to win.  He was the fastest man summer after summer.

1980 MidSummer’s Day is where I first met Simon Luna and Sarah…day after I divorced your father who ignored us there as he was preoccupied with [his new family].  Simon took us on and bought me beer which made for my playing some poor volleyball.  You got along swiftly with Sarah.

There were always the deleg parades with banners.  We were the Tsondru Deleg, exertion, perhaps the biggest deleg which embraced the Boulder Center.  Rinpoche on Drala, Lady D on some beautiful horse, and dressage ladies on horseback behind her.  If there were male riders I do not remember.  Also at least one year there was a sky diver who delivered a message of celebration to Rinpoche.  He came down in a multi-colored parachute.  It was a real community spectacle and celebration that lasted most of the day.

Here in Halifax they did the Mid Summer’s Day at St. Mary’s Boat Club—a great place as I always hop in a kayak or canoe and go up and down the NW Arm after the lhasang and picnic.  And it is a pleasant walk to and from home sweet flat,

Love to you,


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