Lama Shenpen Hookham and two months in France

In December I attended a week’s retreat at the Hermitage, in Snowdonia North Wales. It is the retreat centre of Lama Shenpen Hookham. In recent years, as well as looking after her own community – the Awakened Heart Sangha – she has also kindly given her time to helping some members of the Western Buddhist Order with their practice. Lama Shenpen is a disciple of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, a great teacher in the Kagyu/Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, who has authorised her to teach Mahamudra.

During this week, fourteen of us came together and explored with Lama Shenpen questions of lineage and transmission. The week was made particularly intense as during it Lama Shenpen received a the results of a biopsy that showed she had cancer. She has since been operated on, and is now recovering. That very strong reminder of impermanence gave a poignancy to all our interactions. Lama Shenpen spent a great deal of her week meeting people individually to talk about their practice. We were all very grateful to her for sharing herself so fully, at a time when she had a great deal to absorb, and many practical matters to attend to in preparation for her operation.

Since that retreat I have been in Cambridge. I have been very busy  clearing my desk before leaving on the 9th of January for a two-month retreat in France. This is a pre-retreat before starting a long retreat in late June. I shall return to the UK in late March, in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Western Buddhist Order.