Dear Family and Friends,
August 14, 2019
Another anniversary since Simon’s passing, twelve years ago. My dear Simon, the world today is not the world you lived in. Your inner peace and wisdom and calming presence are wanted so much at this time. What would you tell us in how to cope with life today? There are no immediate answers but you would give us a pathway leading us to calmness when there are no quick answers and no immediate resolutions.
I always wonder what were the major influences in Simon’s life that shaped his values and determined his life path? I think back to his junior high and high school days. Simon’s small bedroom was wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling books. I remember seeing Simon and my Father building the first set of shelves on one wall. Before I knew it, they were building shelves on another wall, which was filled floor-to-ceiling in a short time. Then a few months later, on the wall where there were windows, more shelves and more books under the windows.
Memorial fund: To honor Simon, we have established the Simon Luna Memorial Trust Fund. To make a donation, please make checks payable to “Simon Luna Memorial Trust Fund”, and send to: Juanita C. Luna, 355 Bryant Street, Loft 109, San Francisco, CA 94107. 100% of donations will be transferred to CTR or you may donate on the website directly in his memory. Alternatively, others have donated to their charities of choice in Simon’s name. We continue to be grateful for your tributes for Simon. Simon’s legacy continues and we extend our most sincere gratitude. Juanita, Mary Louise and Sarah.
Simon was born April 28, 1945 in San Antonio, Texas. His parents were Maria Luisa and Simon J. Luna (both deceased). He is survived by his daughter Sarah Luna of Boulder, Colorado, and his sisters Juanita Carmela Luna of San Francisco, CA and Mary Louise Luna of Tucson, Az.This tribute page will remain on the Chronicles as a permanent memorial.
Simon read every single book…thousands of them. I should have talked more to him then and learned from him. I do remember one of his favorite writers – Rod McKuen*, who wrote books, poems, and songs. His most famous book, and one of Simon’s favorites during his teen years was Stanyon Street and Other Sorrows. And I remember Simon had the album which he often played. McKuen’s first poems were about alienation, loneliness, awkwardness and love—to love and be loved and lose love. I think those poems spoke to Simon in a special way and helped create his sensitivity to people and the world around him at that time. I cannot be profound about Simon, but this is a memory from our teenage years that I always carry. And it reminds me how important it is to talk about things as they occur, and not to think that there will be time later on to talk about them. I really needed more time with him and look for ongoing messages from him…always in my thoughts.
Simon’s website on the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is wonderful and will soon be updated again. We hope you will Support The Chronicles in your giving plans.
My sister Juanita usually writes the annual message, but she recently had a fall and sprained one wrist and broke her other wrist. She is not able to communicate on the computer. She is having reconstructive bone surgery this week, will be in casts for almost 8 weeks, and then several months of rehab. Please keep her wellness in your thoughts and prayers. She is staying positive, and with me, extends warm wishes.
*Note: Rod McKuen was quite controversial. Some say he was a shallow poet and writer. Others say he was the spokesman for the 60’s generation. I think this Washington Post obit gives an objective overview of his talents. You be the judge.
Simon was a great, great person. Eleven years of missing him.
August 13, 2018
I was grateful to be with Simon in Washington D.C. when he had his special ceremony.
While I was filled with pride and joyfulness, this was a time when I was struggling with the basis of my beliefs. At that time, the United States had initiated a war, and the institution of the Catholic Church (I was raised Catholic) was in crisis.
Simon and I went for a walk and grabbed a bite and with much emotion I shared with him how lost I felt that my entire belief systems were cracking. His understanding and words of empathy and comfort and reassurance and hope resonate with me so often today as belief systems are again significantly challenged for some.
Simon remains my inspiration today. I reflect on his teachings of meditation that day, that I referenced a few years ago to you and on his CTR website.
… find a few minutes to just sit quietly with yourself every day, even if you’re really tired! (Although mornings are usually easier.) Feel your body and your breathing. Or sometimes the best we can do is just feel our tired minds thinking! And after settling down a while, feel some kindness around you, coming to you, and think kindly of those we love, and send good wishes out as light rays to everyone else in this troubled world….
Simon was a great, great man. He is fully present in my life and keeps me intact.
Simon’s website on the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is wonderful. We hope you will support CTR in your giving plans.
With love and affection to you all,
Dear Friends and Family,
August 17, 2017
Love and affection to you this August and always.
When Sarah, Mary Louise and I lost Simon ten years ago, we felt unmoored from life. As though our ground was gone. In time, we emerged to realize that you were all there for us, and have been since. We value you in our lives – near and far – and always grateful. We have looked forward to reconnecting at least annually in August, in memory of Simon.
Last winter I had a magical dream on my birthday, in Kyoto with Blane. In the dream I was in an unfamiliar place, and hurried and nervous, and could not get to my destination. The sun was very bright and I was on a journey, racing through a bustling, crowded area. And then I stopped suddenly to stare at a man way ahead, walking towards me. A brighter light was shining on him and it seemed as though he was a scholar.
He was full of peace, had a wonderfully happy expression, and he was focused on me. I kept staring at him, trying to focus. I dropped my belongings and walked quickly to him and when I reached him it was Simon. I was completely overcome with joy, and collapsed in his arms and felt the warmth of his embrace. I could hardly catch my breath. And I’m still happy from this dream. On this tenth anniversary.
The Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche has recently revamped its website, and it is wonderful. Please take a look. Simon’s website is more beautiful, more crisp, and as meaningful as ever. We hope you will support CTR in your giving plans.
Ten years has been long and it has gone quickly. And every year is eventful. And challenging. And wonderful. And Simon continues to embrace us.
With love and gratitude,
Dear Friends and Family,
Friday, August 17, 2016
Love and affection to you this August and always.
Sometime this month this note and photos will be posted on the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche Tribute to Simon Luna website. We continue to appreciate the great work of CTR and encourage you to support their efforts in continuing Simon’s legacy. http://chronicleproject.com/simon_luna/simon.html
Today is nine years since Simon’s passing. It’s hard to consider — he stays close. I wasn’t sure what I would write this year, and then caught a quote that reminded me of Simon. From the French author Arnaud Desjardins:
An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child, who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated, who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who, because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep. The wise man is a happy child.
This prompted me to take a look at a box of photos I had not opened in some time. I wanted to share two of these with you.
A wise man indeed, Simon continues to influence and inspire. During one of our visits, he guided me (a novice) with mediation instructions. He responded to my note of gratitude with:
I’m happy we shared some “glow” together from the teachings … If that meditation instruction still stays in your mind, find a few minutes to just sit quietly with yourself every day, even if you’re really tired! (Although mornings are usually easier.) Feel your body and your breathing. Or sometimes the best we can do is just feel our tired minds thinking! And after settling down a while, feel some kindness around you, coming to you, and think kindly of those we love, and send good wishes out as light rays to everyone else in this troubled world. Nice and simple and loving.
Simon often signed his emails to me — Enjoy every day of this precious life, or Enjoy your life dear sister! I think about that always.
I hope your life is nice and simple and loving these days, and that this greeting finds you enjoying life.
Much love and affection,
Juanita and Mary Louise
Dear Friends and Family,
Friday, August 14, 2015
On the anniversary of Simon’s death, you usually hear from Simon’s sister Juanita who has communicated with some of you on occasion. As always, I have feelings of great closeness to Simon, and decided it is my turn to write to his family of friends worldwide.
It has been eight years since our dear brother Simon left us for his next journey. He would have been 70 years old this year, but not old. He always asked: where will we gather when we get older so we can take care of each other? While he is not here physically to care for his sisters, his daughter Sarah, dear friends and family, he is present in his spirit and in his writings and in his inspirations. We have a copy of an article he wrote on The Kingdom of Shambhala as Daily Experience which I find to be quite moving.
He begins by speaking about journeys towards understanding what life is all about, and how things are always changing and yet we never leave home. He speaks of the important quality of the Shambhala journey: It is always fresh and there is always a process of discovery…and the process of finding some moments of AH! …those moments of surprise giving meaning to our lives.
The entire article is quite long to reprint here, but share the ending of which gives me much continuing comfort:
“… Actually, the more we allow the process to unfold, the more we discover the endless richness of the forms and energies and colors of the world around us and within us. In the tiniest detail, there is a vast space, a universe of suns. Within a knot of memories, we may discover a beautiful child, perhaps guarding an old wound, afraid and just wanting to be held. When we open to that child, he or she smiles and offers us the flower hidden in their hand.
That child is who we are, and who we aren’t. In the midst of all our secrets stored in the depths of our muscles and emotions and energies, there is just space. There is nothing more. In our nakedness, there is just beauty and simplicity. In the depth of our chest, in the core of our hearts, within the pumping rhythms, there is just space, pulsing, flowing. Nobody is home, just a simple flower blossoming in space.
I would like to share with you a brief meditation based upon Shambhala imagery. You could take a good posture, whether you are sitting on a cushion or on a chair. Think of all the things that have made you who you are: Your mother, your father, your grandparents, your friends, how you look, the way your hair curls, the way your heart feels. Beyond that consider all the different events and influences in your life that have made you who are at this very moment. What happened to you when you were four years old, when you were sixteen. Bring to mind the particular way you think and feel, how you carry your body, just who you are at this time, at this point in your life.
For a moment, if you would consider that in the sky in front of you there is source of goodness and kindness and wisdom that is perhaps like the sun or the presence of a great being. In the space above and in front of you is a source of warmth and light that is shining on you. It is accepting you just as you are. You can feel the warmth touching your whole body, and filling you with light and goodness. In particular, feel your heart, the goodness of who you are, just simply this simple human being. In your heart, there is also a source of wisdom and kindness and light, which is shining inside your body and shining out, out into our lives, onto those we love, into the world. Take your time, it is a good thing!
This simple imagery is very powerful. The more we connect with it, the more we discover we are in the kingdom of Shambhala right now, and the more we can share that reality with others.”
Thank you dear Simon,
From your sister Mary Louise
August. 14, 2015
Dear Friends and Family,
Thursday, August 14, 2014
It is hard to believe it’s been a year since I have written. Gosh I was certain this year I was going to write personally to each of you, to be a much better correspondent. I so want to keep in touch more personally. This is my heartfelt intention and perhaps this year … well, it’s a good goal, yes?
I’m doing well. I won’t go into the challenges of the last year — I’m sure we all had some. But I’m in a good place today and it feels wonderful and warm to reach out to you this time of year.
I wonder sometimes if I should instead reach out around Simon’s birthday in April, but somehow I’m more drawn to reaching out annually around the time of his passing in August. It’s always an emotional time for me. The other day I just stopped in my path and said out loud, “Cy — what are you doing? You’re supposed to be here with me. You’re supposed to be here with all of us!” And then I went through my circle of sadness and then anger and finally, laughter. I’m grateful for these emotions that sometimes overwhelm.
Recently I cleaned out a closet that I typically ignore — just a bunch of old stuff waiting to be pitched or donated. And there’s this big cardboard box of old papers that have long lost any use to anyone, even the I.R.S. I think it moved with me a few times and finally rested in this closet when Blane and I moved into our house in 2000. I have not opened it since.
Fortunately, no critters were waiting for me as I dug through. And to my great surprise, I found a treasure of old letters from dear Simon, from my dear father who passed away in 1996 and from my dear mother who passed away in 1980. I have not yet read through everything — I’ll go through this in my own way. But I’m happy, happy with these gifts.
An interesting letter from Simon written in November, 1994:
Hi little sister! Today is a holiday known as “Tihar” in Nepal. It has different aspects, but today’s aspect is a day in which brothers honor their sisters. The brother visits, the sister gives some hosting, then the brother gives the sister presents, like a new sari, or money, or jewelry. So I’m sending you at least my love and good wishes. Please pass these on to Mary Louise. I miss you both, and Papa and Sarah.
It’s incredible to me I’ve only been here two months — seems like a year at least…
My stay here is very rich. There are great spiritual teachers, the Nepali people are generally friendly, and the weather’s very similar to Costa Mesa…
We’ve heard this very interesting Nepali woman today, Angur Baba Joshi, a 63 old political and social worker type. Very wise. She had a lot to say about women’s roles in Nepal improving but a long way to go and she also had a perspective that fundamentally it all comes down to spirituality — to connecting with our commonalities as human beings and not getting caught up in petty differences. She reminded me of our aunts with their mixtures of wisdom and religion. I’ve thought of Mama lately, almost without realizing it was October 23, some dreams, and just having her come to mind. Funny how deep that is, our closeness with her. And I’ve been missing Papa a lot. I wish I could see him soon.
Life is very good for me. It’s sad to be away from family. And there’s a feeling that my life is about to take some definite new direction as yet unknown in the next year so.
But for now, what a delight to be here in this different culture and ways of thinking…
And Janet in Boulder shared this with me last year, a letter from Simon in March, 2000:
“… and we do go on, and the years roll by, sometimes inching along like a heavily loaded freight train. Sometimes like a leaf in a rushing mountain stream. I’ve been thinking these last two days what a chaotic mess my life has been: never stay all that long in a relationship or job; never doing anything all that well. And yet how it’s been strangely fortunate in terms of opportunity to hear and practice the dharma. And this path of dharma, this journey of life, mixing dharma and life, how precious it is and how much patience it takes — with ourselves and with others, especially those who are so close to us…
Something came to mind that Lady Pybus told me about relationships: “You shouldn’t think it will last forever and you should be really good friends.”
Please remember this very special and continuing gift:
The Tribute to Simon Luna website continues to be maintained by the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. As always, updates and photos are encouraged. I hope you saw Denma’s posting last autumn? Please remember the Chronicles of CTR with your support.
Know that I love hearing from you, whenever you have time. I hope to write, to post on Simon’s website, and to find and send that photo to Janet! I keep you all close, with much appreciation for our friendships, some of which were born seven years ago this month.
There’s a wonderful new song from David Gray, “Back in The World.” Sharing a few lyrics:
Every day when I open my eyes now
It feels like a Saturday
Taking down from the shelf
All the parts of myself
That I packed away
If it’s Love lifts us up from the dark
Is it God by another name
Who’s to say how it goes
All I know is
I’m back in the world again
I send you most fond wishes from my sister Mary Louise, Simon’s daughter Sarah, and me.
Denma’s Photos from Simon’s 2007 journey across Bolivia and Peru
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Continuing gratitude to the great work of the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. We are heartened that they continue to maintain this tribute to Simon. We hope you enjoy their work as much as we do, and will support them.
Many thanks to Simon’s friend Denma Peisinger who has graciously shared the photos (shown below) of his adventure with Simon in 2007. He has described his “adventurous and sometimes humorous pilgrimage across Bolivia and Peru, introducing the dralas of South America and the Dralas of Shambhala. It was a magical and intense journey that Simon often said felt like the completion of his life’s work.”
-Mary Louise and Juanita Luna
On the 5th Anniversary of Simon’s Passing
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Dearest Friends and Family,
We send our good wishes and keep you in our thoughts as we approach the fifth anniversary of Simon’s passing on August 14. We continue to express our gratitude to the great work of the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. All of their content is offered free of charge to thousands of readers and listeners around the world. We hope you enjoy their work as much as we do, and will support them.
As every year, the anniversary update will be posted to the Tribute to Simon Luna website maintained by the Chronicles. Website: https://www.chronicleproject.com/simon_luna/simon.html
It meant everything to me that Blane and I spent the week after Simon’s passing in 2007 with his loving friends in Santiago. After a few days of the most heartfelt services, Veronica and Sergio accompanied me to his home in Santiago to go through Simon’s belongings. (He was very well organized!) When we opened his suitcase that he brought on that final flight to Santiago, a handwritten note was laying on top of everything. Simon had written instructions of his wishes upon his death. All of these have now been completed.
As you know, in recent years Simon’s ashes were spread on Shambhala Mountain in Colorado and in Cuncumen, Chile. His final wish was completed last autumn thanks to the wonderful efforts of many very special friends, led by Gwen D’Ambrogi.
I have copied Gwen’s notes of that day below, and attached two of the photos she sent to us.
“On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Simon’s ashes were scattered at Gampo Abbey, Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia. It was a beautiful warm autumn day. Jim and I, our daughter Kim, and four other old friends of Simon’s drove to the Abbey from Halifax… Most of us met Simon in Austin around 1975 and then remained friends throughout the years. In photo from left: John Sell, Jim D’Ambrogi, Steve Ritchie, Gwen D’Ambrogi (holding ashes), Karen Ritchie, Kim D’Ambrogi, Conner Loomis, and Mary Mendel. We are standing in an area in the woods above Gampo Abbey that is designated for scattering ashes. Until we saw this photo, we didn’t realize that the sunlight was centered perfectly on Simon’s ashes.
The second photo is of Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia: Gampo Abbey is towards the tip of the cliff that you see to the distant left.
Remembering Simon: we each spoke about Simon, his big heart, generosity, sense of humor, love of life, and genuine interest and caring about people. There were some tears, smiles, and laughter that accompanied our reminiscences…It was such a special weekend. Thank you again for giving us the honor of taking Simon’s ashes to Gampo Abbey for you.”
It is compelling to consider that it has been five years since Simon’s passing. I still have not gotten around to compiling his writings, and hope I surprise all of us with this project before too long. I continue to enjoy many of Simon’s writings. His emails continue to inspire, and this year I wish to share a few notes. The first grouping is simply a list of “subjects” of some of his emails to me. It is wonderful to just glance through one of my “Cy” folders and see these titles:
“Time to appreciate what we have”
“Knock knock knocking on heaven’s door…”
“Things working out for the best”
“Looking at the full moon!”
“Praying for happiness”
“Shelter from the storm”
“The gods must be smiling!”
And a couple of messages:
“It’s definitely a time to appreciate all we have, and to send good wishes and prayers to those who have less or are having difficulties.”
“In Buddhism, contemplating death is a way to help us remember our priorities, and to connect the preciousness of this magical life.”
Finally, I read this following message from him often and on this milestone anniversary wish to share it with you. It is the last message I received from him, the day before he died:
Hi Dearest Juanita,
Your message is so lovely and straight from your heart. We’re lucky to have each other in our lives!
Something about White Tara makes me feel she is a good and important presence for you in your life. In truth, she is essentially the same unconditional love we felt with mom and perhaps too with the Virgin of Guadalupe. It is the same as your heart, and our hearts together. Isn’t that fortunate to know that! Someday I will tell you more about all of this, it’s all very beautiful.
I very much look forward to a time when we can spend more one-on-one time together. I know we both wanted it to happen, but it just didn’t work out during this too short visit. All you want from me, I will find a way to share with you! And as Mama always would say to us, you are always in my heart, and I in yours.
January could be a very good possibility, but let’s see how that looks in a month or so when all the dust of our travels settle down.
By the way, there is a lovely album with Tara music called “Refuge”. It is a bit rare and hard to get it, but maybe you can find it somewhere. It is performed by Boris Grebenshikov and Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors, and put out by Raven Recordings, PO Box 271, Cooper Station, New York, NY. I only know that because I was searching for it myself at some point.
Sleep well tonight dear sister! Dream of angels and buddhas and blessings.
Your brother, Cy
I enjoy the referenced music often, and I am grateful for all that my brother continues to share with me as he noted.
We appreciate and value your friendship, and our shared love with Simon. With best wishes for good health and wonderful spirits.
-Juanita and Mary Louise
On the Fourth Anniversary of Simon’s Passing
August 14, 2011
We send our good wishes and keep you in our thoughts as we approach the fourth anniversary of Simon’s passing on August 14. We express our gratitude to the great work of the Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and plan to post an update in observance of Simon’s anniversary every year.
This year brought more challenges to our lives. Keeping Simon close, we find ourselves with much hope and encouragement for better times ahead. Challenges are not new to any of us in this world, and we wish to share these inspirational writings from Simon.
-Juanita and Mary Louise Luna
Excerpts from Simon Luna’s letters to his sisters
Life is challenging, and as always, one step at a time. Mama used to say one day at a time, and when it was really difficult, one hour at a time. Maybe sometimes even one breath at a time.
May many of [your] blessings from all this rain gently into yours and Blane’s life!
If that meditation instruction still stays in your mind, find a few minutes to just sit quietly with yourself every day, even if you’re really tired! (Although mornings are usually easier.) Feel your body and your breathing. Or sometimes the best we can do is just feel our tired minds thinking! And after settling down a while, feel some kindness around you, coming to you, and think kindly of those we love, and send good wishes out as light rays to everyone else in this troubled world. Nice and simple and loving!
There is so much love in our family, and wisdom too. May it melt away all the obstacles so that we can all appreciate what we have and each other.
Stay well dear sister, appreciate every moment of this magical life, trust and share the love we have shared in our family.
On the 3rd Anniversary of Simon’s Passing
August 14, 2010
Thank you to so many of you who continue to remember our brother Simon with such affection. We recently found great comfort in finding an email he sent upon his arrival in Santiago, and want to share it with you:
Well, here I am in Santiago, Chile, seemingly far away from Colorado and California. But it’s been very interesting in that as soon as I arrived yesterday (after a day in Sao Paulo, Brazil), I have been feeling very much that I’m coming home. This feels like very much the place I should be at this point in my life. And so far, this city and the new friends I’m making are very warm and receptive.
Also, it’s summertime here, and very California-like in the temperatures. So that’s been nice too. And the streets in the part of town I’m in are very safe ……. So this is just a short note to let you know that I’m safe and doing well on my new adventure ……. And now more than ever, I know this is the place I need to be.
From Simon’s sisters Mary Louise and Juanita
On the 2nd Anniversary of Simon’s Passing
August 14, 2009
We remember our dear brother Simon on the second anniversary of his journey. We wish to express our thanks to his many friends all over the world who keep close to Simon and to us.
Juanita and Mary Louise
On the Anniversary of Simon’s Passing
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Our first year without Simon has been full of wonderful memories, discovery, sadness, smiles and hope. At some point we found the courage to get through unexpectedly dark days. Sarah, Mary Louise and I are grateful to have connected with many of Simon’s dear friends this year. And we appreciate many donations in Simon’s memory to the Santiago Shambhala Center.
Please click on the photo below to see a slideshow from the ceremony in Chile.
This week Sarah and I will spend time with Simon’s very special community at the Santiago, Chile Shambhala Center. We will spend a very special day with his and our dear friends spreading his ashes in Cuncumen, the beautiful place where he had last year’s Seminary and other Shambhala programs.
Simon is still with us. Some of you have shared your “Simon sightings” in a glimpse, a look, the moon, the wind, or a dream. We miss our brother and father very much and have enjoyed hearing of your experiences. I do not dream of Simon as often as I would like, but in my recent dreams he is in his next world and very happy. He looks like he did in our world, but I recognize him in many different ways.
Simon was a wonderful writer. In the coming year we would like to assemble a collection of Simon’s writings, with a goal toward sharing them by the end of 2009 We look forward to continuing his enormous legacy.
We need your help! If you have a writing of Simon’s (in any language) that you are comfortable sharing with us, we would be enormously grateful. Any format you wish to provide is fine — copies of letters, e-mails, articles and poetry. Please do not assume we already have it. My contact information is below. I look forward to hearing from you. Much love to you all.
Juanita C. Luna
Mary Louise Luna
Simon in New Zealand
Sunday, December 9, 2007
In January of this year, Simon directed a dathun in New Zealand, on the outskirts of a small town halfway between Auckland and Wellington. I was there as a meditation instructor, and I cherish the time we spent together. Simon was always “on,” in a relaxed, warm, humorous and insightful way, ever the first one to see the basic goodness in all of us.
Hanging from Simon’s neck is a pounamu, or greenstone, the sacred stone of the Maori of New Zealand. It was a gift from the dathun, and blessed by a Maori elder. Simon was very touched by this gesture, and spoke of feeling a kinship with the local indigenous people.
Simon felt a strong connection to New Zealand, and helped in the search for a land centre. His principal means of assessing a site seemed to be sitting – literally sitting on the ground, by himself, for as long as it took. While we were exploring together he asked me to take a photo of this valley, without explaining why…
I was sure I would see Simon again, and then would ask him about this valley.
His last words to me were, “Keep well, amigo.”
We miss you amigo,
From Clarke Warren in Nepal
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Hola Veronica and Sangha of Chile and Latin America,
I was in Vera Cruz State, Mexico, in Xalapa, when Simon died. I told the Mexican Sangha hosting me, not part of Shambhala Intl., about him and his dedication to working for Buddhadharma in Latin America. Amidst the shock, I was nonetheless touched that I was in Latin America when he went, and that my farewell wishes to him might transmit in Spanish!
Then a few days later, I visited Patzquaro, and Casa Werma. The property manager there had just met Simon a month before, when he visited Casa Werma, and conveyed fond memories and respect for Simon, from that brief meeting. She had been having difficulty with the more institutional and doctrinaire Buddhists who visited there. She said she hesitatingly informed Simon that she was not Buddhist, and Simon had let out a deep breath and exclaimed “Thank God!” That moment endeared her to Simon. She had been touched by the genuineness and warmth of his presence, She said that after even that very brief visit, she felt sad that Simon was leaving, and indeed Simon had turned to her upon leaving and said, “I feel very sad, and I don’t know exactly why!”
I raised Lungta there in the garden at Casa Werma, where the Dorje Dradul had received one of the main Shambhala terma, and wished Absolute Ashe to Simon.
I am in Kathmandu right now. The other day I revisited the road where Simon and I took our first walk a day after we both arrived in Nepal for the first time in 1994. We worked together that semester, with the Naropa Nepal Program. Over time, of course, Simon returned to North America, to three-year retreat, then eventually moved to Chile, and I remained here in Asia. Each of our hearts seemed to have fused with places which captured our karma, with auspicious connections and Dharma.
That day we took the first walk in Kathmandu is still clear in my mind and emotions. Half way to Pashupati, the national Hindu shrine of Nepal and the site of the funeral (cremation) ghats, a sudden downpour pinned us down under a shelter built next to the road. Fittingly, it was a “dharmasala”, a shelter built specifically for pilgrims. I remember just waiting out the rain, surrounded by a few venerable old Nepali gentlemen, hunched down on their knees and smoking, noone saying anything, just staring at the strong sheets of water pounding down all around us and thundering on the shelter roof. The world stopped, time disappeared. It was a freeze shot of Nepal, Nature, and an ancient setting. It was Simon’s and my first bonding with Nepal.
I also remember the Naropa Nepal Program Halloween party in the Bir Restaurant, Simon and I both dressed as ghouls. We got pretty drunk that night, danced alot, got feisty, and swore off hard drinks for the forseeable future the next day! There were three Rinpoches at that party, young thoroughly-trained tulkus who had more or less dropped out of their formal religious roles for a while. They were dressed in jeans, t-shirts, smoking cigarettes, two of them drinking beer, obviously checking the American girls out. When I told them we were dresssed as “rolangs”, Tibetan zombies, they were not at all amused. In Tibetan culture, dressing like a zombi can invoke the real thing, which many Tibetans very much believe in.
That only encouraged Simon and I to act more ghoulish!
We had some great and challenging ups and downs that semester, along with Stacy and Steve Tibbits, the latter our tutor and main reference point from past NU programs in Nepal. With Steve’s unwavering guidance and sheer enthusiasm for Nepal, it was our baptism into the third world. It felt more like being introduced to the “first world”, the primordial world.
A couple of years ago, I ran into Simon at the SMC Stupa Event. It was a warm and hearty reunion, if brief. We marveled about the different directions our lives had taken us after the time in Nepal.
This last summer, I again ran into Simon, for a brief moment at SMC. As he was engaged in a conversation, we did not have the time to chat. We were both about to jump into cars and depart. I remember jabbing him playfully in the gut, saying hi, then leaving. It was the last time I saw him.
At Pashupati, near where Simon and I waited out the rain torrent under the small roadside rest shelter, everyday the smoke from burning corpses rises above the sacred Bagmati River, into which the remains of the cremation are swept later. Simon is likewise now gone, swept away,and as I saw a furl of smoke from a cremation the other day, I thought of him, and how soon we will all take back to the elements. Simon was a sincere and warm person, with human complications and swings of karma like all of us. I will always remember those simple, unspoken moments under the shelter in Kathmandu, a haitis before all our further adventures together and then on our own. and remember it as a superb and simple gap of genuineness, friendship, and pure perception.
Adios Simon. Via con Vidyadhara!
Hola to you in Chile and Latin America, may your paths continue with genuine hearts of sadness.
With warm wishes
Offering for Simon Luna’s Tribute
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Setting Luna, rising Sun
To Simon Luna, Vajra Joyful Sun
The last image I have of Simon is of laughter, of the easy openness with which he greeted surprise.
I’m away, in a little town near lake Patzcuaro, for a permaculture course, a big adventure for me, a sacrifice for my husband Andres, who has advanced ALS, a terminal motor neuron disease. Now paralyzed, and unable to speak,we function as one organism, or at least try to. This trip is his gift to me, and though I know he is well cared for I fear he will die while I’m gone. I even made him promise me he wouldnt.
Sitting in a circle in the garden, after introductions, another student comes to me, asks If I belong to the Shambhala community. Deborah is the administrator of Casa Werma, a property in Patzcuaro where Rimpoche Chogyam Trungpa wrote a sacred text. She met Simon Luna, a couple months ago, when during his trip to Mexico, he stayed at the house. I haven’t gotten over the surprise of the connection, images of big gentle Simon fluttering about my hearts eye, when she says “Simon died this morning, he had a heart attack, arriving at the Santiago de Chile airport”.
Siimon Luna was an Acharya, one of few master teachers of Shambhala, Andres and I met him in Tepoztlan during the weekend where he taught us of Drala: the aspects of reality that awaken our perception to the power and magic of things as they are. He later visited us at our home -talk of teachers dharma and death under warm spring rain- and recommended the book we are reading now: “Peaceful death, joyfull rebirth” by Tulku Thondup.
Startled in the damp morning grass, dew beads glistening on deep purple lillies, the long mane of a willow swaying gently. I breathe the inescapable mystery of death, the unceirtanty of its arrival. When people meet Andres, and see sharpness of bone, the pure shine of mindfullness in his eyes there is an unspoken assumption that he will die first.It hasn’t always been the case.
Invited to spend my last night at casa Werma. I arrive weighted down by despair over the day’s intense mental work on future scenarios combining degrees of energy descent and global warming- all involving suffering and death. My spinning mind comes to a halt in front of a mirror flanked by a huge laughing skeleton woman in oversized hat blooming with flowers and elegant long dress. La Catrina is a symbol of mexican’s playfull defiance of death. Somehow, I feel comforted by her presence.
I meditate by the fire, in the room where Simon stayed, whispering gratitude to him, for his teachings, reciting prayers. Walking through the garden the next morning I am flooded by the notion that without death there is no dance, and the delicate feathery green carpet of leaves I trample regretfully with dew wet boots, will rot into rich humus, supporting life.
A big black and yellow butterfly lands close to me on a cone of orange trumpets unfurling its long tongue into the sweetness. I see Simon in the black velvet of this Drala, there is no death but transformation. The dark Mother, nurturing life, has taken him to another level of existence where bodhisatvas are hope for future consciousness.
I am told Simon spent his last night watching shooting stars in the Colorado sky. Some people feel he already knew. But when I close my eyes I remember our farewell. He had started up the steet when I yelled “Luna , caramba, come back here immediately!”. He turned around briskly, startled. It took me a couple seconds to realize our dog, Luna, shares with Simon the name of the moon. As I explained his shocked expression gently tumbled into surprised laughter and he walked away with that squinty whole face smile of his shining like the sun on the wet cobblestone street.
Written by Citlali Pena
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
una foto muy especial
Dear Simon of our heart!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It is so sad that you are gone, we need you so much!
We need you all the time but now you left this realm.
We love you, dear Friend, and we will always love you.
In this way you are not gone. You are alive in our
Dear All, thank you for you contribution to the
tribute to Simon. It is so fantastic to read it. It is
such a relief. If anybody has something more to write
about, please do it, do not hesitate. You know, just
do it. It is a good thing to do. It brings joy to some
people. At least it will be a great joy for me to read
about Simon again.
For the first time I saw him in SMC, RMSC at that
time, when he was attaining one of those Very
Important Meetings with Rinpoche. Then you just see
those guys passing unless you know them personally and
then they might stop for a minute to say hello.
I really met Simon in London where he was teaching
Drala level. That was a real magic. I was translating
this program in Polish for my girlfriend. Our flight
back to Warsaw was scheduled too early so we were
about to miss the last talk. At that time I could not
say that we were good friends with Simon but I had the
feeling that it would be good manners to say good bye
to the teacher. We did not announce ourselves and at
the time we had to hit the road I knocked at the door
of the teachers room. We thought if he would be there
that would be great, if not we would not bother him.
But he was there like waiting for us, sitting in his
chair completely present. What a pity he said that you
have to go. So if you are not going to be here for the
last talk I’ll tell you what this is going to be
about: at this point we started to cry and we were
crying till the end of our meeting: I don’t know why.
Later on one of our friends and teachers, Tomek
Pietrzykowski, had the idea that people in Poland who
are ready should go to the SY/VY Seminary in Chile. I
thought that it was crazy idea but it was a good
chance for me to help those who were helping me before
and I went to staff the seminary as the translator
with the arrogant idea “that this is their seminary,
since I did mine in 1999”. By now it is clear for me
how brilliant this idea was. Also Simon’s first talk
flipped my whole image about what was going to happen:
maybe for the first time I realized what the seminary
was about. I will be grateful to Simon, to Tomek and
all staff members and the participants of this
seminary in Cuncumen till the end of my life. Don’t
ask me why if you were not there with all of us, if
you did not join this fiesta. It is too difficult to
explain. If you would like a hint have some Carmenere
wine and listen to some good music like Omara
Portuondo, e.g. El hombre que me ame, spend a whole
month dancing, jump in the swimming pool at 2 a.m.
I’m not going to make it any ethnical here. On the
other hand I guess it is sooooo precious to meet the
local drala of Latin America to understand the gift
Simon had for us. I say “local” just to track it to
begin with. In essence it is universal, because it is
joy and love or love and joy, whatever you like. For
me it was somehow more present there.
How does it sound for you, friends? You know, all
those things were there already but maybe just for me
and few other people Simon evoked this, he gave a name
to it or he just sent us his smile when we were being–
let’s say–eccentric about the whole thing. Anyway
we could relax.
I think that the most important thing I have to say is
that Simon understood in the best possible way, in a
very encouraging way that we really all have the basic
goodness or the Buddha nature. He did not just assume
that. It was a simple fact for him and I guess we
were trying to live up to it ÃƒÂ¢â€šÂ¬” is it correct English?
With Simon we had the feeling that the basic goodness
had not to be sent from Lhasa, Halifax or SMC. He was
just going to celebrate it with us. Simon had no trace
of any postcolonial mentality like telling us
something we could not possibly know . He did not try
even to proclaim anything. His gentle presence made us
discover the basic goodness exactly there where it
always was. This is a real Shambhala for me and Simon
made it possible. So even if I’m European and I heard
about it in London, Paris, DCL, I really experienced
it fully not sooner then in Cuncumen with all my Vajra
brothers and sisters who were attaining this program.
What more can I say? Our house is open to all his
friends. We believe that meeting each other is a good
way to celebrate that we’ve managed to meet him in our
live and then he’ll be with us.
Rinpoche! Thank you very much for such an excellent
Walter! Thank you for Chronicleproject.com!
Simon! Thank you for Simon!
Roman & Malgosia, Warsaw, Poland
A reminder from afar – reformatted from a letter to a friend
Once we have met the guru and the true teachings, the most important thing to keep in mind is forward vision.
Outwardly, this is remembering that we and all sentient beings have Buddha nature, and also to begin and end each day remembering the Three Jewels.
That is, remembering we are on the path.
Inwardly, forward vision is to bravely, and gently open to whatever arises. When difficulties arise, we can lean into the fire. It is the guru’s heat.
Secretly, each moment we can remember the pointing out transmission, that all our castles of conceptual mind can dissolve in an instant.
There is just that, guru’s face.
When we feel lost and far away, we cry from afar, and melt into yearning, relax into our own goodness.
Acharya Simon Luna
Simon was my friend of many years and I will miss him dearly. Although we lived in the same neighborhood while we were growing up, and although I had seen him at various times in grocery stores etc., I only actually met Simon several years later when we were both college age. We met in, of all places, a pool hall. Simon had become enamored of the game during his first year of college at University of Notre Dame. When he came home after that first year, Simon bought a full size tournament caliber pool table and put it in the garage of his parents’ house. He practiced pool like a man possessed (Simon never did anything half-way), and within one year he had gone from novice to one of the very best pool players in San Antonio. This is no hyperbole—he was that good.
I remember fondly nights spent in that garage, shooting pool and listening to Loggins and Messina on the radio. Some of these sessions would last a full day or more. I recall one night when we turned out all the lights and lit but one small candle for light. We placed the candle about ten feet from the table, and by its faint light we attempted to pocket an extremely difficult shot on the (black) eight ball. In that very darkened room, I think we imagined that eight ball more than we actually saw it. This was vintage Simon — always testing his limits.
Simon and I remained close friends all during my college days. After a brief 2 year stint in the Army, I reconnected with Simon in 1971. By this time he had begun to be involved in his spiritual journey. The fires that had powered his pool playing prowess had been redirected toward his studies of Buddhism. I remember him speaking to me of Gurdjieff (not sure of the spelling) whom he had read about in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous. We had some talks about spiritual matters and I remember attending a meditation session with him. But this was still very early in his journey. We still had some pool to play (though not as much as before). And we also had some traveling to do. In the Summer of 1971, Simon and I took a trip to visit a friend of ours in San Francisco. Upon leaving San Francisco, we drove to Washington D.C. to visit my old Army roommate.
A few memories of that trip remain vivid to me to this very day. Somewhere in the Dakotas or Wyoming, Simon suddenly pulled the car over to the side of the road. I asked Simon what was wrong. He pointed back a few hundred yards to where a young calf had poked its head through the barbed wire fence to feed on the grass on the other side. The calf had become entangled in the wire, unable to extricate itself from it. Simon calmly walked back to it and spent several minutes working the barbed wire until he had freed the calf from its misery. This simple act of kindness was at the core of Simon’s being.
At an earlier point in our journey, Simon’s car had broken down. The transmission was shot. It took us hours to get a tow into the nearest town, Yarrington, Nevada. The man who gave us a tow was a local farmer or rancher. He was a very nice man and as we talked, he told us about the area and how there had been a drought in that already driest of places. We asked how he could put up with such conditions. I remember Simon nodding sagely at his reply that “it’s just part of life.” This acceptance of all things with equanimity was another hallmark of this great friend of mine.
When we finally got to Yarrington, we realized that we were going to be stuck there for a few days while the car was being repaired. Faced with this delay in our plans, I remember Simon saying “I wish we could just poke a hole in time and then we would come out the other side exactly where we wanted to be.” I have thought about this statement many times in the last few days.
Simon and I eventually made it to Washington D.C., and spent several months there visiting with my old army roommate. It will surprise no one to learn that the two of them became very close friends. That roommate of mine, Mike Meehan of St. Louis, Mo., was also very saddened by the news of Simon’s death. Though time and distance and circumstance have conspired to keep the three of us apart for the majority of our adult lives, we all remained close friends who were always in each others hearts.
I have one other poignant memory to share. My girlfriend at the time and I spent one New Year’s Eve with Simon and Lynn. When it came time to announce if we had a New Years resolution, most of us had rather predictable and mundane resolutions. Mine was doubtless to quit smoking. Another resolved to lose weight, etc. To this day I clearly remember Simon’s resolution — “To jump as high as I can as often as I can.” Wow.
In the last three decades I had seen Simon only a few times. On those occasions when he returned to his home town of San Antonio, he would always look me up, and we would spend at least one evening catching up on what the other was doing, reminiscing about old times and, yes, enjoying our favorite beverages while playing a little pool. I remember those times with great fondness.
I have written this recollection of some of my time with Simon so that those of you who knew him from a different vantage point could see another side of him. However, it is clear that it is actually the same side. Simon’s goodness and compassion showed through in everything he ever did. He was quite simply the finest human being I have ever known I am honored to have known him. He was my friend.
We are very sad here in Petropolis (city in the mountains close Rio de Janeiro). Simon had been here two times for weekends retreats. He was friend, sweet, sensitive… An excelent master. Very familiar, very close, accessible. Simon is in my mind, in my heart.
I had been with him too, at Kadhro Ling ( Chagdud Rinpoche Gonpa south of Brazil), in retreat with Dzongsar Rinpoche.
Clear light for him.
Thank you, dear Simon. See you soon back in this dream world.
Petropolis – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
The clear eyes and radiating smile of interest are gone; As the sun shines, warming my yard, The inner warmth remains. jeff leroux
Sukhavati en Shambhalacalli, Tepoztlan, Mexico (bilingual – english below)
Queridos amigos de la sangha,
El viernes 17 de Agosto, en Shambhalacalli Tepoztlan, Mexico, nos unimos a la energia de los Sukhavatis para Acharya Simon Luna que estaban sucediendo en Boulder, en Santiago de Chile y en otros centros alrededor del mundo. Nos avisaron a ultima hora y muchos de la sangha estaban fuera de Mexico, algunos en Halifax para el festival Kalapa, otros en el Centro Shambhala de las montanas en Colorado o de vacaciones. Pero nos dimos cuenta de que ya era el 3er dia de su muerte y era importante que la sangha Mexicana le hiciera un tributo a nuestro hermano Vajra, guerrero Shambhala y querido amigo: Simon Luna.
Tuvimos el honor de que Simon viajara a Mexico recientemente en Mayo y recibirmos sus ensenanzas por primera vez en Mexico (favor de ver 2 fotos incluidas). 10 de nosotros teniamos una fuerte conexion con el pues asistimos al Seminario en Chile en 2006. Simon regreso a la tierra de sus ancestros despues de una ausencia de 30 anos. El menciono muchas veces durante su visita, que era personalmente importante para el su retorno a Mexico. El parecia estar conmovido y contento por la presencia de los dralas en la tierra de sus ancestros sanguineos. Y tambien para nosotros como sangha de Shambala, el recibir sus ensenanzas de Drala y Mahamudra. – su primera y unica ocasion en que impartio ensenanzas de Mahamudra – en espanol por primera vez.
Hubieron algunos obstaculos para organizar rapidamente esta ceremonia de Sukhavati… cuando la noche llego, descubrimos que no habia electricidad en el salon de meditacion, algunas reparaciones se estaban haciendo porque nadie esperaba que el salon se utilizara esa noche. Entonces trajimos muchas velas y comenzamos la ceremonia a luz de vela. Un rato despues llego el electrico y resolvio el problema y de pronto tuvimos luz aunque las velas quedaron encendidas todo el tiempo.
Los testimonios e historias compartidas a cerca de Simon fueron abundantes y conmovedoras, todos en nuestro pequeno grupo hablo, revelando diferentes aspectos de su enorme corazon y vasta mente siempre abierta al momento. En ese instante nos sentimos completos….. tantas de sus facetas estaban presentes en el salon, entonces leimos la liturgia del Sukhavati. Su fotografia tomo tiempo en ser consumida por el fuego….. y una vez que las ultimas cenizas cayeron en el gran plato de barro Mexicano, hubo una sensacion de alivio en el ambiente…… unos minutos mas tarde el cielo comenzo a tronar y tuvimos una de las tormentas mas salvajes de la epoca de lluvias: un sonoro despliegue de las fuerzas naturales. Tan solo nos quedamos sentados en nuestros “bardos” por un rato, sin poder hablar con la persona a nuestro lado. Brindamos con vino Chileno y compartimos deliciosas botanas para desearle un buen viaje a Simon….. terminamos con un tremendo KI KI SO SO y nos fuimos sintiendonos bendecidos y con nuestros corazones tiernos y rotos.
Con carino a todos,
Geo Legorreta y Gary Hubiak
Shambhalacalli, Tepoztlan , Mexico.
Dear Sangha friends,
On Friday August the 17th, at Shambhalacalli Tepoztlan, Mexico, we joined with the energy of Sukhavatis for Acharya Simon Luna that were happening in Boulder , Santiago, Chile and other centers around the world. It happened on short notice and many of our sangha were out of town, some in Halifax for the Kalapa Festival, others in SMC in Colorado or away on holidays. But we suddenly realized that it was the 3rd day after his death and it was important that the Mexican Sangha pay tribute to our Vajra brother, Shambhala warrior and dear friend: Simon Luna.
We had had the honor of having Simon recently come to Mexico this last May, and we received teachings from him for the first time in Mexico (please see 2 photos attached from the Mahamudra Weekend). 10 of us had a strong previous connection with him from having attended Seminary in Chile in 2006. Simon came back to the land of his ancestors after an absense of 30 years. He mentioned many times during his visit that it was personally important for him to have returned to Mexico. He seemed to be particularly moved and delighted by the presence of the dralas in the land of his blood ancestors. It was also very important to us as Shambhala sangha to receive his teachings on Drala and Mahamudra – his 1st and only teachings on Mahamudra – and in spanish for the 1st time.
There were some obstacles to quickly pulling together this Sukhavati ceremony…. as it was getting dark, we discovered there was no electricity in the shrine room, repairs were being done because nobody was expecting the shrine room to be used. So we brought many candles in and we started with a candle light ceremony. Some time later the electritian came and fixed the problem and we suddenly had light, although the candles stayed on all the time.
The testimonies and stories shared about Simon were abundant and moving, everyone in our small group spoke, revealing many different aspects of his enormous warm heart and vast mind, always open to the moment. At that point we felt complete…….. so many of his facets were present in the room. Then we did the Sukhavati liturgy. His photograph took time to be consumed by the fire , turned sideways on the stick and he burned horizontal like a funeral pyre ….. and once the last ashes fell on the big clay mexican plate there was a strong feeling of relief in the atmosphere…… and within a few minutes the sky started to rumble and we experienced one of the wildest storms of the rainy season: a tremendously loud show of the force of nature. We just sat in our own “bardos” for a while, virtually unable to speak to the person next to us. We toasted with Chilean wine, feasted with some snacks for Simon’s safe journey…. we ended with a tremendous KI KI SO SO and left feeling blessed and with tender broken hearts.
With love for you all,
Gary Hubiak and Geo Legorreta
Shambalacalli, Tepoztlan, Mexico.
The most tender, funny and playful being I ever met
Simon was my teacher and my very close friend.
I learnt a lot from him but, more than learning from his teachings (he was the greatest teacher), I learnt from HIM, from his behaviour, from his way of being always open, always loving, always compassionate.
He could go from teaching a class to wetting his feet with the hose’s water to trying to save the ants that were always trying to get into his honey jar. Pooh’s honey jar, as he was a big, beary man, the most tender, funny and playful being I ever met.
Here, in Chile, everybody has been doing Tonglen for him, to accompany him in his trip, taking turns in helping and in dealing with our own sadness regar1ding his loss. We have lost the greatest man and the greatest teacher. I, personally, feel like an orphan.
A few days before coming back to Chile, he sent me a ver strange mail: he talked about how things happen when they have to happen, especially things that are important for us, about crossing thresholds, about changes he had undergone during this trip…subtle changes. I wonder if he knew something. I wonder if we will all end up learning about impermanence through his unexpected and painful death.
I loved him
I love him.
He is an inspiration for my life, always, every single day.
May he have a good transit and always be surrounded by light. He certainly deserves it.
Goodbye, dear friend
Full moon of compassion
Red moon of laughter
Blue moon of broken heart
Full moon of mahamudra
Red moon of desire
Blue moon of space
Clear of moon
Soft of moon
Strong of moon
Great devotion moon
Shine, moon, shine, moon, shine
Fred Jaben, Denver
Tribute to Simon
Simon was one of the biggest hearted, kindest and most generous people I know. I will miss him. I had thought that one day we would put the idea of a 4 Karmas Chakrasamvara Fire Puja into reality. May his great generosity and devotion speed his awakening. Hellen Newland
Since death is certain and the time of death in unknown, what is the best thing to do.
Pema Chodron, Getting Unstuck
The tributes now pouring in for Simon remind me of how, when I first began to meet some of the closest students of the Vidyadhara many years ago, they seemed to me to be like the satellites of some great sun, each reflecting that sun’s warmth and light in their own different, unique ways. Though I never met Simon, I’m glad that he had such a deep effect on so many people, and I’m personally grateful for this reminder of the power of the path.
Our dear friend Simon Luna
In 1974, I was flying into Denver with the Vidyadhara. As the flight attendant announced our imminent landing, although I was not feeling particularly nervous Rinpoche leant over to me, shook my hand and said, “Well, if we crash, I’ll see you in the bardo.” Up to then, Rinpoche had said nothing at all about the possible reality of
the bardos so I was rather taken aback. Nevertheless, I asked “But how will I find you, Rinpoche?” He replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll find you.” I take this to apply to all of his students, whether they met him in this life or not, including of course our dear friend Simon Luna.
one of the sweetest
i did not know him well, but just the short time i spent with him was profound. he was one of the sweetest, most loving people i’ve ever known. he was inspiring to me, giving me a sense that meditation practice can have a deep and positive effect on a person. he was a living example of compassion and insight.
after my last retreat in vermont, i carpooled south to boston with him. what good fortune it was to spend three hours in the car. it felt like i was a small sapling and he was a cool rain. i talked with him about long, intensive retreats. he had completed a series of three year long retreats – 14 or more hours a day of meditation practice and contemplation – without days off. i’ve been considering doing the same. he encouraged me to proceed. if i were to obtain even a small measure of his kindness, his open heartedness and generosity from my meditation practice and studies i would consider it a tremendous success for my life.
Tributo a Simon Lun
Voce nos deixou.
Voce que nos disse tantas vezes para meditar.
Para sair do casulo… Para sermos guerreiros Shambhala, adultos, fortes, corajosos, amaveis, generosos e amorosos…
Nos sempre achamos que o terÂamos como nosso mestre, guru, pai.
Creio que agora voce nos diz: eu ensinei, agora voces ensinam, voces cuidam dos novos guerreiros. O mundo precisa de muitos deles, agora e com voces…
The great and gentle mountain
I knew Simon in a retreat in petrÂ³polis, Brazil, in 2004. His gentleness, patience and the deep way he transmit the teachings captivated me right in the first moment. After that, we kept our communication through e-mails. In 2005 we met in a another retreat, and my respect and admiriation for me just increased. I felt a deep connection whith him, although the distance. We were still writing to each other, and through this i was learning a lot and getting deeper in the the teachings and connecting more and more whith his lineage and it s aproach. I was looking forward to meet him in october here in Brazil. Yesterday i opened my email box and became aware of what happened, it me made very sad and shaked, it was a shoking strike of impermanence. I hope that the whole process of bardo occur in the best possible way.
Re: Acharya Luna
Last month, I called my wife, Sue at home to tell her how deeply touched I
was with Acharya Luna, who was directing the 2007 Vajrayana Seminary. I told
Sue how I couldn’t believe how a person could be both so gentle and have
such a strong core. Sue, who already knew him said,”Oh yes, Simon’s a
mountain!” I mentioned the same thing to Acharya Rosenthal, who said, “Of
course! He has completely embodied the view! How else could he be?”
Simon was the perfect example of a shinjanged meditator. His devotion and
loyalty to Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham was deep and joyful, and his
every movement was marked by kindness, patience and humor.
On a personal note, I learned a lot from him — seeing how humility and
confidence could be joined together. Although I was a rookie faculty member
at Vajrayana Seminary, Simon asked me to instruct the new tantrikas in the
Primordial Rigden Ngondro. He offered me the teacher’s chair and microphone
and sat by my side — and almost every time I asked him if he had something
to add, he would nod to me, indicating that I was doing just fine. He was so
gracious and humble, because he had nothing to prove or protect. His
egolessness was the true dharmic display.
One thing I will always remember is how he started so many meetings and
talks with a spontaneous and touching contemplation that brought our hearts
and aspirations together, on the spot. These were such skillful offerings —
so tremendously grounding and profound.
Simon walked the walk, thereby fully carrying forth the lineage of the
Sakyongs. This is a huge loss for Shambhala and the world.
Please do tonglen for Simon – one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve
I have known Simon Luna for many years. Mainly our
connection was Dharma, through the air of devotion.
During the difficulties that beset our sangha
following the Vidydhara’s paranirvana, Simon and I
found ourselves on diametrically opposing sides of a
very high fence. Throughout this very embattled
time, both of us recognized the deeper reality of
having the same guru, and of possessing a bond within
the guru mandala that is in fact indissoluble. This
was not the most common understanding of that time.
In order to recognize and preserve our bond, we called
each other, “Vajra Brother,” whenever we met, or, “My
Vajra Brother.” This reality burst through the fog
of dismay like the sun, and always caused us both to
Over the years we always discussed Dharma. I recall
the moment when he answered a teacher’s exam question:
“At what point do all Dharmas agree?” “Egolessness!”
came the immediate reply. I remember the time when
he addressed the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in a toast
as, “Your Hunkiness,” to the delight of the crowd and
of the Sakyong himself. I respect greatly that Simon
did the three-year retreat. I remember he took his
entire inheritance to pay for it, without a second
thought. This 100% quality, moving ever forward
into the auspicious coincidence, mindful of the
shortness of life, accompanied Simon on his path; and
his path benefitted greatly.
When he led his first Fire Puja he consulted me on how
to conduct himself, as I was somewhat senior to him at
that time, and when he left to serve as the Acharya
for Latin America, he consulted me again on how to
hold his mind, as I had more experience in teaching in
other cultures. Likewise, when I was teaching more
widely later, I consulted him, and he asked me
rhetorically, from where is it that the source of
blessings come: he reminded me they come from the
guru, and only the guru. And again that smile lit up
his face. The irony of choicelessness was never far
His path accelerated after his Acharya appointment–a
development everyone who knew him noticed, as it was
so unmistakable. He did not develop what his
daughter Sarah so accurately described at his
Sukhavati in Boulder last night (August 17th) as an
“acharyahead.” Simon worked with theism on his path,
and he made great strides in dealing with it, quite
possibly penetrating through. In his latter years, he
developed greater genuineness, greater humility,
accuracy and confidence, and gentle authentic
presence. In March of this year, 2007, he and I
engaged in a lengthy and wonderful email exchange,
which cannot at this time be shared, owing to
confidentiality which Simon and I agreed to maintain.
It was the most authentic correspondence I can recall
having experienced, in the sense of straightforward
honesty and kindness conjoined in one expression. It
was beautiful, owing to the eloquence of his speech.
We discussed affairs of state, personal matters, and
obstacles mutually understood; somehow the subtle and
profund inexpressibility of the yogic path became the
implication. I told him that such communication is
very hard to come by. It was like a drop of honey
leaking from a shooting star and landing on the
tongue, this taste of coemergent vajra truth, and it
stays with me in a present way, even though I now
practice letting my old friend and vajra brother go
It is said that those who complete the three-year
retreat enter samadhi after death–samadhi in the case
of even sudden death being defined by knowing one has
died, and maintaining a stable mind. Simon is surely
such a one as this.
Thank you, Simon
Simon was my first meditation instructor back in Austin in the early
80’s when I was younger and wilder. He was my friend, I cooked him
dinner and we sat under my pecan tree looking at the night sky,
talking. His warmth and spaciousness were a gift. My infant son and
I went to Sarah’s birthday party, Simon playfully swung the pinata
all around, we sang Feliz Cumpleanos in the park and I liked how much
he loved his daughter. Simon found humour in life, and I could not
help but laugh at my seeming complexities with him.
It has been many years since I have seen him, but one does not forget
someone like Simon. I am grateful for his kindness and for being my
friend in that restless time of my life. Both Simon and Robin
Kornman, who was my second meditation instructor, gone, gone, in one
month. Along with the Vidyahara, three teachers gone…
May I quickly and thoroughly put into action all that they have so
kindly and generously shared with me.
For Simon (on his passing)
Jim saw you in a dream last night.
You were standing in his backyard,
smiling and waving.
Last time I saw you
was at Encampment in August 2006.
You arrived as a VIP guest,
but quickly assumed the role of
You volunteered for every available shift
and spent long hours
tending to the kitchen sink, day to day
needs of his Majestyâ‚¬â„¢s environment
with gentleness and precision;
with curiosity and humor;
never seeking attention;
always supporting others;
genuinely appreciating the process
Simon, I think you got it right;
all the way from San Antonio
You never strayed from the path.
See you next time around.
Mountain Drum (Dave Whitehorn)
Cantos, poemas, brindis, historias, ceremonias, silencios, risas, llantos, alegria profunda, una gran paz. Constatar que somos y estamos en familia con el, hoy y por siempre.
Realizamos en Chile una hermosa ceremonia de Sukhavati por Simon, con su corazon conectado al de todos nosotros.
Hoy mismo Simon realizaria el Nivel Desmesurado e Insondable. Y eso fue lo que hizo, nos dio la mas profunda, desmesurada e inolvidable de las enseÂ±anzas.
Ana Maria Milan
No es la felicidad la que nos hace agradecidos, es la gratitud la que nos hace ser felices
Simon, el rey gitano
Recuerdo aquel paseo por Manzanares, habla nevado, el silencio era nuestro anico acompanante…..
Y tomÂ¡ndonos un te con tarta de queso te hablaba de mis dificultades con la pra¡ctica y tu me mirabas
y simplemente me sonreÂas y a mi se me pasaban mis temores y simplemente me quedaba tranquila….
Tus enseanzas, en “espanol”, como nos llegaste al corazon y nos conquistaste con tu sabidura y tu
Simon, querido Simon se que estes donde estes sigues cuidando de nosotros como hiciste cuando estabas
aqua. Cuidat………por siempre estar-¡s en nuestros corazones.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I had a chance meeting with Simon at Super Rupair in Boulder, exactly two weeks ago. I was getting an oil change, he was dropping off Sarah’s car. We both acknowledged that we had spent time there doing car things through the years, and I wondered then why I had never seen him there before. Now I know. In those brief moments, in such a mundane and everyday place, Simon opened and uplifted my spirit in a way I can’t describe. We spoke of so many things in such a short time. I told him my brother was buying a condo in Chile, and as we parted he said that maybe he’d see me there. I was so happy at the prospect. Now we will have to meet again in other realms, other lives. I’m sure we will. Teachings come in many forms. Simon, thanks for passing by on your way…
Catherine, Lafayette, CO
Simon’s refuge name is Vajra Joyful Sun.
His Shambhala name is Shentong Bear.
I can’t remember when I first met Simon. Sometime after I met Simon, I knew his beloved daughter Sarah at Karme Choling when we lived there together in the 90’s. In any case, he was one of quite a few people who stayed with me in Halifax during the Sakyong Empowerment and related events in 1995.
During the week of the Empowerment,I was faced with making an important decision which would impact others. I needed masculine council, and I knew Simon was the only person I could talk to. A decision in one direction was safe, conventional, easy. The alternative was unconventional and scary, and might leave me open to criticism and misunderstanding. By showing me his heart, through his ability to understand and identify with both the
masculine and feminine perspectives, he allowed me to take the unconventional path. I would never have been able to be true without him. The meaning of those conversations with Simon was a blessing that I have carried with me since.
I pray that we meet again and again through many lifetimes. I will need your council, Simon.
Poem for Simon
-each gentle stroke
opening, melting, releasing,
our hearts blossom
You’re dead. Wow.
So you think you can dance?
How great indeed.
I have a family, children, house, lots of television, and work.
We only met once. Shared a brief exchange about the Vajrasattva ngondro practice on the way to the stupa.
I grew to love you instantly. May we meet again in the future.
Ed Zaron Tingdzin Nyima Sherap Dashon
Thursday, August 16, 2007
In desperation, I sought out Simon during the Vajrayana Seminary at SMC this summer for an interview, though I was not his student. He greeted me with genuine warmth and gentleness, and focused complete, loving attention on me. As I broke down in tears he held my hands and we laughed together about how long it had been. I knew Simon in Austin in the early 70’s; we were both young students of the Vidyadhara’s. He went on to a life of serving the 3 jewels and to completing 3-year retreat, and I to raising a family. So many years had passed, yet he held my hands and let me cry, read me lungs, and told me it was fine to “spread my wings now”. How happy I am that we met again, true Bodhisattva that he is. Thank you, dear Simon. May we meet again, in such a way, for many lifetimes to come.
Kerry Golemon Schwartz
Although I can’t claim to have known Simon Luna personally, I did meet with him on two occasions this summer at SMC. I can say without a doubt he was the most open person I have ever met. During my second meeting with Simon, he concluded by saying “I am sure we will have many more Ahhh… moments together.” As he said this, he made a gesture with his hands, spreading them from his heart outward as if to describe, without words, a sense of opening without boundaries. I would say right now I am having such a moment. Thank you, Simon, for showing us how to open our hearts wider. –Brenda Sussna
To Simon Luna
Thank you, magic man,
For validating me to the limit of my highest dreams.
For meeting me heart to heart,
On the level, big man.
Your big HELLO
Like a home fire burning,
You recognised me with every atom of your smile.
Showed me I could be fearless,
In that one half hour interview in that rather shabby cabin,
Curled like a jaguar in your chair
At that crazy dathun
Where we all went over the edge
As the dragon thunder rolled around the mountains that surrounded us.
Great sorcerer, great shaman,
Humble servant, gentle, wild,
Friend of eagles and rocks,
The breath of your presence was transmission.
You have my love and gratitude for all time.
Vaya con Dios dear short time brother
May all the buddhas and boddhisattvas, friendly animals, birds, trees and all that is
take you by the hands and feet, swing you like a hammock and hurl you unprotesting into the Pure Realm.
Like a cannonball with wings.
Is possible to post it in Spanish?
Thank for your work
random thoughts of acharya luna
Simon was huge, and enchanted tree, a totem, a giant that came from the north. I first saw him and grabbed his hand not really sure of him, not really trusting, I wanted to test him, who is this mysterious teacher that learned and studied directly with Chogyam Trunga Rimpoche and the Sakyong, maybe a Buddha? I often asked him about the master-disciple relationship, and he would answer with great patience and love. This morning sitting in meditation with his photo in the shrine I asked him to practice along with me, it was cold outside, everybody had left and a few where sleeping in the upper rooms of the Shambhala house, the atmosphere was heavy and filled with energy. He teached in so many forms, for so many people; introduced my family to basic goodness, loved me and Ximena, gave us our refuge names. He baptized Octavia, Dawa o. She is only ten years but wanted to sleep overnight in the Shambhala house, why? Simon was my friend, she told me. Last night I finally realized he is dead; the dralas played with the lights in the kitchen, and I felt his presence directing my hand on the gong for the heart sutra, sitting by my side repeating the 108 mantras in his profound, gentle voice. The connection with the dharma just happened. Some years ago he told me that in ancient Tibet practitioners would travel to India to meet their guru only once in a lifetime. We were very lucky to have met. He celebrated his birthday in Santiago with an immense party, I gave him a small Buddha image, you can’t tell the difference, I told him, silly joke, he laughed like a force of nature would have; that night he taught us a game-dance, and he was wearing a stone in his chest, looking like a king. From his apartment one could saw Los Andes. He was so gentle, no aggression in his words, no eagerness in his way of receiving or giving. Once he taught shamata yoga and it was fun to see a big bear-like yogi unfolding the vast teachings of space in a simple exercise. Near him there was no use for a private agenda, I remember preparing questions that would disappear the moment I say hello. To meditate and study with him was a great gift; I am sad but sure that he will come back for the benefit of all sentient beings. Knowing him was touching the infinite possibilities of this precious human life. On some occasions, we may laugh of his charming accent, impressed on how fast he have learned Spanish, and quote him when some situations where hard to accept. To accept he taught, to take things with love and sense of humor (hamor-umor). I believe Simon loved all beings, and is so hard to accept that one of the best men I have ever known has passed away so suddenly, there are so few, it is kind of unffair, and it is a great teaching to us all in the sangha here in Chile. I know I can be calm and relaxed, I trust the teachings, Simon taught me to trust and he showed me that there are more things . . .
Ramon Oyarzun Soto
La ensenaza final de Simon
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
La ensenaza final de Simon – fue – que estemos todos en guardia – la muerte llega sin aviso. Aprovechemos los momentos que nos quedan y pongamos en practica todo lo que el nos enseno. Las 3 joyas eran su vida. Brillaran aun mas en su recuerdo.
Suerte tuvimos todos de que Simon nos quisiera tanto como nos queria. Suerte tuvimos de que la devocion de Simon nos acercara tanto a las bendiciones del linaje. Estemos unidos en ese amor. No perdamos un momento mas.
To the family and friends of Simon,
There are no words to express the sadness I feel for your loss. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers (as we should each put our best thoughts forward during this difficult time). May you find peace in your memories.
Tommie Cal (friend of Mary Louise Luna, Simon’s dear sister).
Sultan of South America
Simon Luna and I started the San Antonio Dharma Study Group in 1974. He was a wonderful friend and colleague. I don’t think then I realized how lucky I was. The two couples were best friends and we had our daughters within a week of one another, both named Sera, Sarah. He was always very kind and supportive. Tremendous equanimity. What an inspitation his hard work has been. He reminds me somewhat of an Arhat figure. Also, Thrangu, Rinpoche. I lovingly referred to him as the Sultan of South America. They were very lucky, also. Probably now they will realize how lucky. He is a man who will be missed. Completely heartbreaking. The best of the best, I think.
A Poem for Simon
In your final act as a warrior
you died in the sky
on your way to the land of the ancestors.
The Big Blue Sky of your mind you have now dissolved into.
What a supreme teacher-
to show us that death is real and comes without warning.
Your glorious smile could only stay in a photo.
Family, friends and all surroundings are subject to impermanence
these things, including myself, one day will be gone.
You taught me that the Seminary tent was like a grand ship ready to set
the Guru is the captain.
Look for his face in the bardo.
So sad that I did not get to know you better
or engage you in the question that I kept for myself.
I guess that you would have laughed,
or maybe you would have answered it.
Thank you for the Medicine Buddha practice, Simon. Thank you.
A friend of mine dropped dead yesterday in the airport in Chile. I
just had lunch with him a couple of months ago. We had a great time talking and laughing. We didn’t need to have serious discussion. There was an understanding in
the joy of being together that made complexity seem irrelevant. It was always that way between him and me. He was one of the rare ones in my life. I don’t feel any loss. I’m sure that wherever his mind goes, it will benefit others. I’m kind of jealous that he got off the runaway train before it crashes. His name was Simon.
Simon says be happy!
Simon says practice the dharma!
Simon says enjoy your existence!
Simon says be kind to others!
Simon says don’t take yourself too seriously!
Simon says this is a great tamale!
Simon says I’m going to tease you!
Simon says don’t forget the lineage!
Simon says Adios!
Thank you Simon
Simon Luna was my MI at Seminary and helped me profoundly in understanding what it means to follow the way of the Bodhisattva. I remember huddling under a tarp with the rain falling in the woods near Tatamagouche during our encampment skirmish in 2002. While the rest of us wiggled around trying to stay warm and fall asleep, Simon, who had just finished his three year retreat, settled down by my head and sat peacefully all night. Thank you Simon, for all your support, and for being who you are. And thank you, Rinpoche, for the instructions on how to help Simon in his passage.
Sarah Mandel, Davis, California
Re: a letter to a sangha member in a faraway land
August 15, 2007
I met Simon at 1994 Vajrayana Seminary. Here is a letter he send to me in March 30, 1998. It speaks for itself showing his beautiful and tender heart and giving profound teachings at the same time. That is why i want to share it with everyone Simon knew.
Greetings my friend. I don’t know if you remember me from 1994 Seminary. But I remember you fondly. I am in the middle of the first nine-month phase of three – year retreat at Gampo Abbey in Canada, a beautiful, quiet place along the sea.
In thinking of you in a faraway land without much sangha, this came to my mind today.
ONCE WE HAVE MET THE GURU AND THE TRUE TEACHINGS, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KEEP IN MIND IS FORWARD VISION.
OUTWARDLY, THIS IS REMEMBERING THAT WE AND ALL SENTIENT BEINGS HAVE BUDDHA NATURE, AND ALSO TO BEGIN AND END EACH DAY REMEMBERING THE THREE JEWELS. THAT IS, REMEMBERING WE ARE ON THE PATH.
INWARDLY, FORWARD VISION IS TO BRAVELY, AND GENTLY OPEN TO WHATEVER ARISES. WHEN DIFFICULTIES ARISE, WE CAN LEAN INTO THE FIRE. IT IS THE GURU’S HEAT.
SECRETLY, EACH MOMENT WE CAN REMEMBER THE POINTING OUT TRANSMISSION, THAT ALL OUR CASTLES OF CONCEPTUAL MIND CAN DISSOLVE IN AN INSTANT. THERE IS JUST THAT, GURU’S FACE.
WHEN WE FEEL LOST AND FAR AWAY, WE CRY FROM AFAR, AND MELT INTO YEARNING, RELAX INTO OUR OWN GOODNESS.
That is all my friend. You are not forgotten. May we continue to re-arise in the same mandala again and again. Perhaps at RMSC, or Gampo Abbey, or in Georgia!
All my best,
You are teaching us about impermanence, dear Simon. We know death comes without warning: we say this every day, yet we are shocked and amazed when we see it close up. We would see each other only at big events.. the Stupa Consecration, Rigden Abhisheka and so recently at the Dzochen Retreat but it was always a treat for me. You were always so encouraging and kind. Your gentle heart was so warm. May the guru and the lineage guide you on your journey, Shambhala warrior. Emily Danies, Tucson Az.
Simon, we love you, and we let you go
Suddenly. A wonderful human being, Simon Luna, has left us. The
Sakyong’s guidance on how to help Simon in this passing, and his
confidence that the guru and the lineage are right here with him, are
very helpful. His reminders, and the smiling image of Simon’s face,
have stayed with me since hearing this news.
Simon, with your ever-present warm smile, gentle eyes, and open-
hearted style, you have brought genuine benefit to all who heard your
insightful teachings, and who have the great fortune of knowing you
as a dear friend. You have always been a truly shining example of a
fearless and gentle warrior. We will miss you. And with sadness
and regret, we let you go.
With great appreciation, Kerry Crofton, Victoria BC.
Luna, such smiling moon
No Ground,vast space,
You now and now, and now,
Adorn our Rigden father’s face.
Pablo Neruda poem for Simon
By auspicious coincidence this poem by Pablo Neruda arrived in an email message yesterday after I learned of Simon’s sudden death in Santiago. The words of Chile’s greatest national poet capture the warm, open heart and spirit of this eminently gentle, kind, decent, gracious, and humble man — our vajra brother Simon Luna.
In peace, Chris Keyser
I do not love you as if you were the salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
— Pablo Neruda
Simon Luna’s passing
I cannot claim to know Acharya Luna very well, but I had the privilege to spend time with him at the Rigden Abhisheka in 2005. I remember him being a kind, warm hearted man who smiled a lot and had a great presence. Although we only had a couple of conversations, when I learned of his death my heart was saddened, informing me that he may have had more of an impact than I knew at the time. My condolences to his family and close friends for their loss.
J. Miles, Temple Hills, Md.
Simon Luna tribute
I only wish I had known my cousin Simon in the later part of his life. He left San Antonio and I hardly heard of him except for an occasional visit to my Mother’s home. He literally left his family to go do what we are commanded to do, to be a diciple and spread the good news of God’s Kingdom, no matter what religion you may claim as your own. I am encouraged by his zealous for the truth and his courage to soar like an eagle. I am sadden by this great loss, and proud to call him my Brother. We are all connected spiritually and we all belong to the great I am, the one that causes all things to be. In life or in death we belong to God. God be with my cousins, Juanita and Marylou and everyone that had the priveledge of being a friend of this great disciple and teacher.
Peace be with you,
Jo Ann Luna Saldana
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Acharya Simon Luna dies in Chile
[From the Shambhala News Service, August 14, 2007]
Acharya Simon Luna died instantly this morning of a heart attack in the Santiago, Chile airport. He had just returned home from Boulder, Colorado, after having assisted the Sakyong in his teachings at Shambhala Mountain Center. Acharya Luna is survived by his daughter, Sarah. Sukhavatis will be announced locally in many Shambhala Centres.
This afternoon in Halifax, during the Kalapa Festival, the Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche led practices for Acharya Luna and offered the following:
“It’s shocking and very sad. I just saw Simon recently at the Dzogchen Retreat. I asked him to go to Latin America to lead the sangha and he did a wonderful job. He left everything and he only had the practice of dharma in his mind. We prepare for this kind of event, but nonetheless when it happens, it’s very destabilizing and still very emotional. Being a leading acharya and teacher makes it poignant. This is an important time for the sangha to assist him in his journey.
When an individual passes away suddenly, they aren’t aware of their passing. So the sangha and the lama (offer support). His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche has already conducted a phowa ceremony today and my thoughts have been with him too. As a community, we put our minds together to be clear and fearless. Our worrying thoughts should be muted at least for the moment, so that we put our best mind forward.
Once it leaves the body, consciousness is more clear so you have more clairvoyance. Distance doesn’t matter. Someone can detect clearly what our intention is, especially those of us who were close to the individual. They can feel our thoughts very clearly. So in your mind you should clearly tell him that he has passed away and that he should rely on the guru and the lineage, and that all the teachings he has received are maturing and ripening very quickly. This period of the next few days is very important in his journey.”
Acharya Luna’s biography, adapted from one he wrote, follows.
In November of 1973, a young Tibetan lama passed through San Antonio, Texas, and gave a talk to a few people on Buddhism. Although Simon Luna missed the talk, he was immediately intrigued to hear of a high spiritual teacher who smoked Marlboros and drank Johnny Walker Red. He picked up a copy of “Meditation in Action” at the local spiritual bookstore and his hippie-length hair “stood on end” as he read the words of Chogyam Trungpa. Trungpa Rinpoche returned to San Antonio in January of 1974, and Simon’s lifelong journey with Rinpoche had begun.
Later that year Simon attended the first summer of Naropa University, then dathun and retreats; and for several years held down the fort for a small study group in San Antonio, Texas. During this time, Simon worked as a journalist and editor for the San Antonio Express-News. After Seminary in 1979, Simon moved with his daughter Sarah to Austin and over the next ten years served in numerous Dharmadhatu administrative capacities and taught many Shambhala levels and Buddhist classes. For livelihood, Simon owned a small business in graphics and typesetting.
In 1989 Simon went to a fire puja at Shambhala Mountain Center, and stayed on staff for two years as Co-Director of Practice and Study. Then came four years at Naropa as Director of Publications. For nine years he was Director of Practice & Study at the Boulder Shambhala Center, again at Shambhala Mountain Center, and worked on a retrospective of Naropa University for its 25th anniversary. Beginning in 1997, Simon also completed the three-year retreat at Gampo Abbey.
In December of 2003 the Sakyong appointed Simon an acharya. In late 2002, the Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche had asked Simon to go to South America to teach and advise the many lively dharma students there, and to prepare the ground for the first South American Seminary, which occurred in February 2006. He lived in Santiago, Chile, practicing, teaching, and finally learning the Spanish of his Mexican ancestors. He also made periodic visits to Brazil, and assisted Argentina, Peru, and Colombia.
Of his first year in South America, Simon reported, “These are beautiful countries with people who have deep roots in their families and cultures. They are so earthy, kind, and connected to the local dralas. Based on that, their connection to the teachings is very intuitive and strong. There is a veritable fiesta of dharma beginning to happen in South America!”
I have known Simon for many years. I saw him recently both at the Dzogchen retreat and at Whole Foods in Boulder just prior to the retreat. Simon worked at Kalapa Court (the name for Trungpa Rinpoche’s household) many years ago as a Shabdo which was one of the people who helped create elegance in the Court mandala. He was humble and gentle from the very first time he arrived at the Court. At Whole Foods in Boulder we chatted and I was quite impressed with his humbleness and decency. There was no or aggression. He was as gentle as ever. He was very vulnerable as a warrior should be. He was with his daughter who still lives in Boulder, I believe. It’s sad for many people that he has left. Let’s wish him a good journey.
Neal Greenberg, Boulder, CO.
Tribute to Simon Luna
Simon (Cy) Luna is my first cousin. His father and my father were brothers. We were raised in an environment of love, joy and respect for each other. But, even if we had not, Cy had all those good qualities which he shared with everyone. He is the most pastoral man I’ve ever known. I was last with him in 2003 when he paid a visit to our home in Austin, Texas. In that short visit, we relived the wonderful memories we shared of growing up together, not only as close kin, but even closer friends. I will celebrate his life forever.