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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 57 over the course of a show—anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours—it changes his constitution. “it’s a calming release from stress,” says hawk. “and once i feel clear, i end up singing things that could just as easily be mantras. “the space opens up and i’m working with what’s arising. that’s my excuse, anyway,” hawk laughs, “for not sitting every day.” But twenty-nine-year-old hawk has been sitting for almost as long as he can remember. in 1985, he and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado so they could be more involved with the shambhala community and hawk himself did the first level of shambhala training when he was eight. he never rebelled against his parents’ passion for the dharma. “there was nothing to rebel against,” he explains. “there was nothing i was forced to do. it was actually really inviting when i was younger. i could sit in on tea ceremonies and i enjoyed being around all the wonderful teachers. Who doesn’t love being around those people?” hawk found the traditional school system rather less inviting. particularly when he was a young child, his non-Buddhist peers didn’t accept his upbringing and they made fun of him for not wanting to kill ants or “who knows what the scenario would be.” plus, academically, hawk felt his interests weren’t nurtured. this led him to take a few years off after high school to focus on his music and work odd jobs. at twenty-five he enrolled at naropa, the Buddhist university in Boulder that was established by Chögyam trungpa rinpoche, the founder of the shambhala Buddhist community. “i wouldn’t have gone anywhere else that i know of,” hawk says. he majored in music. But at naropa all students are required to take contemplative courses, so he elected to study tai chi and do a meditation retreat for credit. these contemplative classes, he says, offered him a much-appreciated opportunity to balance his heavy course load. “What i like about meditation,” says hawk, “is that it doesn’t quell my desire for adventure and it doesn’t numb out my feel- ings of passion. But it does ease tension, so i can deal with situ- ations more clearly.” hawk doesn’t think of himself as “a preacher teacher,” but in his lyrics and in his music in general he wants the dharma to be subtly present. When his parents were young, there were a lot of Buddhist buzz words floating around—words that his songs don’t contain. “that makes the Buddhist element easier for me to digest,” he says, “and that’s what i hope is true for other people.” hawk is pleased to be doing what his parents raised him to do: to take the teachings and make them current. and the monk had a bet going. he said she’d never master the language and she insisted she would. When litven left upaya, she got a book and taught herself tibetan basics. then, in 2004, she decided to move to india to live in a tibetan community. in Dharmasala, she stayed at a hostel run by a monastery and was a volunteer english tutor. “for the first months,” litven says. “i didn’t have much oppor- tunity to speak in tibetan because everybody wanted to speak to me in english. there were just a few monks who were too lazy to want to learn english and they were the ones who saved me.” When litven returned home from asia, she got in touch with shambhala’s nalanda translation Committee and asked if she could apprentice with them. they said yes and she went on to obtain a permanent, full-time translator position with them. “it’s an amazing job,” she says, “especially when we have meetings with rinpoches and they get deep into one particu- lar tibetan term and what it really means. on the one hand, the discussion is linguistic, but on the other it’s an amazing dharma talk.” Left: Jessie (center) at a nunnery in eastern Tibet.