Cynthia Kneen

Cathy Pressman eulogy, August 14, 2022 Boulder, CO by Cynthia Kneen There are names you receive in human-oriented traditions like Buddhism, Shambhala, indigenous groups, religious rites of passage, tribal rites of Passage… So Cathy had received a refuge name, a bodhisattva name, and a secret name from Trungpa Rinpoche in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. These are meant to help you on your path. And then she also received a Shambhala name, which is not meant to help you develop. It’s your warrior name, the brave person you already are. The other warriors call you this when they need help. “Hey, ---SoAndSo---! The attack against the intangible is happening over here! Come here and help!” And you as a warrior say, “OK, I will!” Cathy’s Shambhala name is Incredible Peony. Think of your experience of a sunflower, an orchid, a pansy … they are so distinct. Then, what is your experience of a peony? “Oh, a peony! It’s going to open, and open, and open, and open, and open ---- petal by petal endlessly.” Heartfelt, and unstoppable. Cathy had deep trust in the universe, in herself, and that things would work out. Deep trust in what is obvious and true, that we miss all the time. This intangible dynamic we are in that is hard to speak about, hard to see -- she trusted it, and her place in it. And she worked very, very hard at the practicalities to make sure things worked out for her and those she loved. And when they did? “Oh” --- as if she had nothing to do with it! To me, she was like Dogen Zenji or an authentic Japanese samurai –-- full of contradictions, with a big heart, and very, very strong. One of the mysterious doctors she consulted said: “You are the most yang person I’ve ever met.” Sometimes she would get fed up with ignorance and people. Direct, gruff like Dogen looks he was, she’d say, “When I die, I’m not coming back here. I’m done with this. I’m going somewhere else!” She was disgusted with human cruelty, disgusted with society’s contradictions. If she thought you had a good heart, you were her friend. If she thought you had a bad heart, you were useless. It was breath-taking. I was attracted to the hint of danger in our relationship, that I could be fired if I was off, because 100% In the last year, she said, “OK, I’ll come back, but first I want a vacation! I want to go to a spa in a Buddha realm and just rest, then I’ll come back.” I think she felt being human was fundamentally absurd, and her hard work was to respect it and love it, be ready to play, and give everything she could to help. We had a wonderful walking practice. No gossip, barely catching up with our lives. Just observing, enjoying, looking, sharing, imitating people, dogs, plants, trees, --- thinking of metaphors, fast associating like comedians or jazz musicians do. It was joyous, definitely not politically correct. This is what we did together minimum once a week for years – practice affection for the observables in collaborative meditations, such a joy. More than anything, she let me love her. This was such a gift to me. It helped me understand what I could do to help. May the spirit of her Incredible Peony-ness remain in my heart. May it always be shown to all people. May the spirit of her bravery permeate the whole world.