Message from Josh Northcutt

It is a great honor to contribute to The Kailua Shambhala Meditation Group Newsletter to celebrate Shambhala Day for the Year of The Earth Dog 2018. I am excited for the new year being known as a “dog guy” and described as somewhat down to earth. I used to bring my beloved dog Kukui to the Meditation on the Beach since its inception around 2010. Kukui was a loyal, unconditional, loving yet highly excitable dog until her death four years ago. Highly excitable and wild followed by laziness described my state of mind when I auspiciously met Dr. Dean Nelson at the Kailua Shambhala Group at Aikahi Shopping Center in 2009 or 2010.

Little did I know that learning how to meditate in such a safe and supportive space would allow me to embark on a lifelong journey to work with my mind. Meditation and Shambhala helped light an ember inside me to grow as a human being and to help others in my decades long career as a Nurse. Starting to meditate and study the Dharma with the Kailua Sangha has been a life changing experience.

Dean envisioned decades ago that a Shambhala Location was much like a hospital or clinic where anyone could come to be helped by the medicine of meditation and community. Meditation practice has definitely helped me throughout the stormy ocean waves of balancing life, work, family and relationships in a gentle manner without aggressive self judgement and criticism.

I have a deep connection to Hawaii having lived most of my life there from 1989-2012. I graduated high school and nursing school on Maui. I moved to Oahu to work as a nurse and subsequently spent many years studying at the University of Hawaii. I enjoyed surfing, swimming, and hiking. Whenever anyone asks me about Hawaii and the weather and beautiful landscapes and ocean it makes me feel immensely thankful. Then after taking a breath or two I gently remind them that it is my love for all of the wonderful people in Hawaii who really helped shaped my world view. I have been very fortunate to have had many great teachers, mentors, friends, families and patients who enriched and influenced me.
I fell in love with Sunday morning meditation and the weeknight classes at the old Aikahi location. My favorite Shambhala volunteer activity was to help set up the tent every month at the Meditations at Kailua Beach Park. I used to try to rake the small pine cones so folks could do the walking meditation barefoot in the sand and grass without pain.

All of these invaluable experiences prepared me well (except for the cold) to complete a one month meditation intensive known as Dathün in the middle of Winter in Vermont. This extremely difficult experience of working with my mind continuously for a month really created more questions than helped answer any. I found out this side-effect was common and was happy to find out that I was not the only one to have major life changes after Dathün. It was not the best nor an easy decision to move away from Hawaii to the East Coast.

Dr. Dean helped me navigate the move but he was very adamant that I promised to return and contemplate what I would bring back to the people of Hawaii. It has been a complex contemplation and one that will take decades if not lifetimes to determine if I have genuinely helped benefit Hawaii. I hope my 17 years of Nursing in Hawaii have had an impact but it felt like I needed to deepen my connection to Shambhala. I am homesick everyday for Hawaii and never thought I would leave.

After 8 months of living outside of New York City I realized that Shambhala was important but that I needed to be closer to my parents and family. Los Angeles is another place I never thought I would live but besides the traffic it has been an overall great experience. I have been very active with the Shambhala Center of Los Angeles and have met lifelong friends and dharma sisters and brothers. I was also able to change specialty areas and actualize my career-long goal of being a Hospice Nurse.

Living in LA for the last five years, this path has resulted in wonderful road trips and travel to retreats and programs to: Shambhala Mountain Center, Karmê Chöling in Vermont, Dorje Denma Ling in Nova Scotia and even to Dallas, Texas. I have been fortunate to have the time and resources to travel and spend so much time but I know firsthand that this is not possible for most folks living in Hawaii. This is why I aspire to be able to bring some of these weekend programs on Oahu and perhaps all of the neighbor islands. I still have a ways to go before I can start teaching but would love to be able to help others find out if the Shambhala Path can also benefit their lives. Until I return to Hawaii I will continue my professional development and do as much Shambhala volunteer work and trainings as possible.
After hearing about him for years, I finally had the great honor of meeting in person a fellow Hawaii Shambhala Dharma Brother: Mr. Kit Kanoaloha Wynkoop. We met at Karmê Chöling in Vermont in Winter. Kit and I immediately connected having both lived in Manoa and having both been part of the Kailua Sangha. We have both been aspiring to move back to Oahu since we moved to opposites coasts of the mainland to grow as Shambhala students.

Kit made a very brave sacrifice to live and work at North America’s first Shambhala Land Center. Kit’s profound commitment to serve where the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche began teaching Tibetan Buddhism in the US and where Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche frequently teaches is truly amazing. As Director of Programs at Karmê Chöling, Kit is deeply immersed in both an ocean of traditional Shambhala forms and rituals as well as the fresh, rapidly flowing deep river of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s writings and teachings. I have been strongly verbally warned by many Karmê Chöling Leaders, Senior Teachers and Staff that Hawaii is not allowed to try to recruit their beloved Kit back to his birthplace and lifelong home!

I have been overwhelmed by the energy and excitement in Hawaii that has been developing over the last year. I was very heartbroken last January when I heard the Aikahi Shopping Center location was closing. I reached out to Dean and I wanted to immediately move back home to help keep it open. I felt a strong sense of wanting to maintain a sacred place for everyone to practice. I knew the decades of wisdom, compassion, dedication and hard work from Jaynine, Maria, Jaque, Shelley and Dean had to continue in a sustainable way. It is important for me to mention I would not be writing this if it were not for the countless warriors of the Kailua Sangha who have helped so many people in Hawaii and throughout the world.

After many emails, phone/video calls, texts and a tremendous amount of dedication from a great group of folks, I am happy to announce we are starting to make this dream a reality. In addition to the original Kailua leadership I would personally like to thank the following Hawaii People for their initiative, vision, ideas, hard work, research and action: Lila Edwards, Arleen Garcia-Herbst, Laura Dunn, Kathy Southard and Eric Shrager.

As this group grows some very interesting and important questions have come up. How can we best support the monthly meditation on the beach? Another question is how can we provide additional safe and supportive long term locations where anyone can learn about meditation for free? Do we want to rent or own a space? What does the community want and need from a Shambhala Sangha? What does Hawaii Society want and need? This will take an incredible amount of hard work, volunteering, creativity and fund raising.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche teaches about having confidence in the unconditional basic goodness of ourselves, humanity and society. This doesn’t mean there are not extreme challenge, traumas and hardships in our past, present or future. It is a somewhat radical yet simple belief that everyone has the natural ability and potential to work with these difficult situations by relaxing into their own wisdom, compassion and basic goodness. Examples of this have existed throughout human history and something one sees constantly everyday in Hawaii and the world.

To better have an idea about what a Sustainable Hawaii Shambhala Group would look and feel like, I would personally like to invite each and everyone of you to take some time to answer some survey questions:

Last month I was authorized as a Shambhala Art Teacher. I am looking forward to more programs in Pittsburgh in March and Vermont in June. On March 25th 2018 Los Angeles is proud to host Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for a workshop about his new book “The Lost Art of Good Conversation”. It will be an wonderful opportunity to hear The Sakyong Teach if you can visit Los Angeles.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to meeting everyone in person soon. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or would like to volunteer.

With Gratitude,
Josh Northcutt