Joseph Litven

Barbara was the first sangha person I ever met and my first MI. In 1974 I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, was studying psychology at Stanford and was looking to volunteer as a counselor at the Height Ashbury medical clinic. As I made it to the top of an old stairway in an old converted Victorian, there was Barbara as receptionist behind the desk. We immediately struck up a conversation and then one thing led to another and it turned out that she needed a roommate for her Berkeley house and I needed a place to stay. So we became roommates in Berkeley. One day there was a book on her coffee table called Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which sort of jumped out at me, partly because of the title, which I didn’t understand, and partly just because of something about the yellow colour of the book jacket. I started asking Barbara about it. She described Trungpa Rinpoche as a wild, uncompromising, beer drinking, non-conforming Tibetan lama and that was his book. That description seemed just right to me, given the spiritual supermarket in the Bay Area at the time. I went through the book right away and it spoke directly to me. Barbara invited me to the dharmadhatu in Berkeley where I met Carolyn Gimian, Mark Szpakowski, etc. I was hooked. I joined “the scene.” Barbara and I continued to be friends after I moved out of her house until she moved to Boulder a few years later. When I moved to Halifax in 1982, the sangha group was very small, about 25 people. Barbara and Denny were very welcoming to us, having us over to dinner numerous times and served as guides to the new culture. Barbara as always was critical, insightful and generous. As time went on and the sangha became much larger, Barbara and I saw less of each other but always connected based on our shared past. I appreciate Barbara for her directness and honesty and for introducing me to the path. Thank you, Barbara, and travel in peace.