Clarke Warren

Cathy Pressman’s sudden passing is a deep shock to her family and so many friends.  She has been an indelible presence as a person in the Buddhist community and Native American circles for decades. She has left an imprint of a life filled with dedicated spiritual practice, enduring friendships, service to others, wonderful wit and intelligence, crystalline honesty, acute sense of living Dharma, and care for others on a grand scale. Catherina Pressman, maiden name Catherina Perkins, was born in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, on Jan. 12, 1945.  She attended the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in New York, and worked at B. Altman, an upscale department store in Manhatten. She later became a pastry chief after moving to the Bay Area of California.  So much for her secular life! During the adventuresome late 1960’s, she traveled to Sweden with the fabled Hog Farm, an itinerant collective of hippies gathered together by a colorful character named Wavy Gravy, a "mobile, hallucination-extended family, active internationally in both music and politics”. Then Cathy met Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She launched into a life of acute inquisitiveness, devotion, and endless service to others. One of her favorite songs in the 60’s was Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan. When she first met Trungpa Rinpoche, she said “I have met my Mr. Tambourine Man!” She went on to study and practice with Trungpa Rinpoche. Many times when he visited the Bay Area, she took care of his household and cooked for him, which strengthened her connection with him. In 1980 she attended Vajradhatu Seminary at Lake Louise, Canada. Cathy embraced Trungpa Rinpoche’s Shambhala teachings,  becoming the Director of Shambhala Training in the Bay Area, and for years taught Shambhala Training. The principles of Shambhala became firmly engraved in Cathy’s personality and life. In the early 1990’s she became the director of Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now Drala Mountain Center) along with Eamon Killoran and moved there with her husband, Ben Pressman. They divorced in the late 1990’s. Cathy was, for many years, the primary caretaker of Lady Konchok, and cooked for her and Lama Pegyal, and their son Gyurme Dorje. She was devoted to them and developed a close friendship with the whole family. Following the death of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Cathy connected with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. For the last few years, she attended his teachings in Crestone. She also made a connection with Anam Thubten, and was the cook for his first Chöd retreat in Canyon de Chelly in the Navajo Nation. One of her strongest spiritual connections was with the Native American community and spiritual practice when she was introduced to the Lakota Sun Dance ceremony. Cathy met Howard Bad Hand, a Lakota singer and healer from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. After a few years providing support for the Sun Dance he led at Rosebud, she began to dance herself, completing a 4-year commitment as a dancer. She was a strong dancer and loved her time in that circle.  She said that dance came along at a time when she was in great need, and she felt the Sun Dance had saved her life. Cathy made many friends on Rosebud and was greatly loved there, for her commitment to the dance and to Lakota spirituality, and equally for her wonderful generosity and sense of humor. In recent years, she worked as a companion for elderly people, cooking for them and spending time helping them. In every world she became a part of, Cathy extended her spiritual practice as unending hospitality, openness and care for her friends and for everyone she came into contact with. Cathy is survived by her two sons, Obie and Josh. She leaves behind a vast legacy of connections and care and she will be missed by so many. Thank you Cathy! -Clarke Warren