Opening remarks from the Sukhavati in Halifax. Here are Larry Mermelstein’s opening remarks from last week’s sukhavati ceremony in Halifax:
This is, as we know, very very big. This is monumental and very sad … Beverley was a tremendous force. Bigger than life. Big in every way. Magnificent is the word that comes to mind … She is a dictionary definition: “Magnificent. Great in deed or exalted in place. Marked by stately grandeur and lavishness. Strikingly beautiful or impressive. Sublime. Exceptionally fine.”
He goes on to include a brief sketch of Beverley’s life, an email from Beverley from nine years ago, an email from David Rome, a description of Beverley’s work on the decorum manual, and readings from that manual.
October 28, 2010
This past week we have lost three powerful women protector-dakinis to space:
Magnificent, regal, grand-madonna Beverley
Wild, insightful, monastic magpie, Polish chatchka queen, Palmo
Ratna retreat lady of food, furniture, and furnishings, gentle elegant artist, Connie
Thinking of them:
Let’s celebrate these three great women of Cape Breton Shambhala,
Dancing and laughing in space,
The circle of dakinis.
Offering great feasts and torma,
And, abandoning attachment,
May you roam in the wilderness of the expanse,
Guided by the Ocean of Dharma,
May you benefit many beings.
~ Da-o Chopel 10/24/10
Dear Lady Beattie
October 25, 2010
Your passing has affected me profoundly
What a surprise, I thought I would surely see again
For with your going, you take piece of us with you…
That time and space we had with Lord Mukpo
Elegant, powerful lady example,
Red roses in your arms, you grinned and said,
“If ever a rose needed sending these were those.”
Mischievous and endlessly kind, your warmth and tender heart,
This is what I shall remember.
Thank you for moments of playing with me,
For flashing that smile so generously,
Now you fly, dakini and guru, elegant cape unfurled in the sky
October 25, 2010
I want to raise a glass for Beverley and thank her for all she did for myself and the sangha in Margaree. To the many times she opened her home for us to help us and teach us to understand the dharma. She was a great teacher and so generous with her time. She had a serenity about her and you knew she was truly enlightened. She will be sorely missed but not forgotten.
Eleanor Gillis, Margaree NS
October 24, 2010
I love the Beverley Webster and Sam Bercholz picture: ordinary mind, the great big smile of Chögyam Trungpa clearly visible.
I also find the “One Corner of Beverley’s home picture” quite moving. What is the seal: it’s similar to KA, but not exactly the same And is that an urn with ashes Of CTR Of Beverley I like the reflection of the window, and through it of trees, in the picture-frame glass. It somehow helps convey the presence of a timeless Cape Breton and lineage moment.
Two years ago I was in Cape Breton, and had dinner with Beverley and friends. There was some sort of immediate connection: her zero degrees of separation from Chögyam Trungpa was clear and unadulterated. We found that we both shared the practice of reading Longchenpa.
A few days ago I read the following lines from Longchenpa, and feel they are about her, and dedicated to her journey of no distance:
“A garuda whose wings have grown within the egg
abides in the expanse of the sky once it breaks out of the egg.
It overwhelms nagas and crosses directly over abysses.
So also, a fortunate yogini who has realized the vajra heart essence, just as it is,
the pinnacle of all spiritual approaches,
… crosses directly over the abyss of samsara.”
Cheers and love,
Things Beverley Taught Me
October 23, 2010
You were there
From the beginning
A shaper of my life
That cannot be thought away
You are woven into my being
And I can always find you
In what you taught me
I learnt, for instance
Not to be afraid of jellyfish when swimming in the ocean
And that it’s OK to be late
Not to succumb to nostalgia
Even when drunk
That there is magic in ritual
And that “time” ? in particular: “bedtime” ? is a relative concept
How to make chapattis
And how not to drive standard
That French verbs leave a taste on the tongue
And that my father didn’t understand Trudeau
That economics is the dismal science
And that when buying luggage don’t haggle over price
The meaning of cigarette brand loyalty
And not to be shy about a second helping
That true generosity liberates both giver and receiver
That poetry is the purest form of expression
And that newspapers are never written in verse
The meaning of inscrutable
And not to rule out spanking naughty children
That your hips give out when you get older
But that pain is no excuse for unhappiness
That you can communicate even the deepest insights without Sanskrit
That it’s OK if you’re not understood
That in the Abhidharma not to get caught up in the details
That you should enjoy yourself
And that wisdom ripens with age
You have always been unconventional
To put it mildly
You rang the gong
And invited my family
To a feast that never ended
You have been a rock in the storm
Keeping us together
You never hid your love
When we came to you
What you have done for me
For my brothers
And, in particular
For my broken-hearted mother
Has been so great
Has been so great
Has been so great
And tenderly loving Beverley ?
I miss you from the bottom of my heart
May we meet again
As mother and son
In other lives
Remembering Beverley: A little mind-terma in Terre Noire
October 23, 2010
I got to know Beverley during the early 90’s when she was living in Chester and I lived in Martin’s River with my new partner, Suzanne, just down the street from Bill and Kerstin Gilkerson. Beverley used to drop by regularly at the Gilkersons, whose own generous style of hosting guests in their artfully restored, historic home actually echoed Beverley’s in many ways. We all became quite good friends and got together often for an evening of chat and good cheer. But larger and more elaborate occasions, such as a formal mid-summer dinner party in Beverley’s back yard, were evenings in Valhallaease and camaraderie mixed with precision, like the quiet tinkling of ice in a crystal glass filled with amrita.
In August 1990 Beverley graciously agreed to conduct a Shambhala wedding ceremony for Suzanne and me, on the condition that setup was done and protocols were observed with as much flourish and lungta as possiblewhich in turn meant Beverley herself doing a considerable amount of organizing and prep work! Many friends came, as well as family from as far away as South Carolina, and all were struck by the vibrant profundity she managed to invoke with such aplomb, anti-bombast, and offhanded humor. I was hired for a few carpentry projects at her Chester home, one of which was the conversion of an old outbuilding into elegant but simple guest quarters, not unlike what she later built at her house in Margaree Harbour. She had a remarkable knack for doing gorgeous, understated things on a very small budget, and it was always a pleasure to help bring them to fruition.
While I was there, she would always have me in for tea or coffee or an inspired, ad-hoc lunch. On one of these occasions I was given a rare glimpse of her broken warrior’s heart that endeared her to me even more, forming an unspoken bond that remains to this day, even on out into the heart expanse of the Dharmakaya. Suzanne and Beverley became particularly close, and I recall that sometime after she began her sojourns to Margaree in a rented house near Laurence’s store, Beverley invited Suzanne and her aging parents to stay with her while they toured the area, treating them to an unbelievable five-star meal with pears flambÃ©e for dessertall made by hand!
Just a few weeks ago I had a short talk with Beverley at a party at Nina Seybolt’s house in Terre Noire, out on the back deck. Nothing out of the ordinary at the time, yet now revealing layers of subtle, shared feeling. I am grateful for that last-chance opportunity. Her presence was one of the deciding factors in my somewhat radical decision to settle here, and, despite the newly patched-over hole in my heart, I guess it still is. Lady Beattie, you’ve flown from this beautiful valley, but now who shall we look to for example and inspiration Please do not forget us, even as we try to let you go. May we honor your life and aspirations by replacing self-preoccupation, pettiness and complaint with a noble-hearted open attitude that puts kindness and encouraging others first.
Sweet Vajra Water Buffalo:
Long may your profoundly brilliant Vajra Rock and Vajra Roll
October 23, 2010
Those of us blessed by your living Presence
Now dwelling as Hostess-Protectress Lokapala-Dharmapala
Of the tender Margarees
On Isle Royale, Cape Breton Island,
Forever beyond form.
And last but not least:
Take your Mother Lineage Samurai blade of Sumi Elegance
And Slash a Gap
Rent through Every-Day and Other-Wordly Skies themselves
Through which pour out the Outrageous Dignities of
Great Eastern Sun Grandeur
And Voila! – there she is,
Our darling, venerable Water Buffalo Dakini Girl-Queen-Secretary-Warrior-General-Kitten-Tiger-Lion-Garuda Dragon,
Our Playmate in all sorts of naughty vajra and not-so-vajra tricks;
Our Best Girl;
Our much-missed, much celebrated, much too much of so much Suchness
Vajra Sweet Companion:
Our Bever Lily.
Laughing over upturned lip of
Gleaming Emerald Green Jellied
Oyster of Outrageously Succulent Elegance,
Gracing the Vajra Feast of every
European, Parisian-Montreal-New York Cosmopolitan TransAtlantic, North American, Maritime, Rural and Cape Breton Local Community Moment,
Turning all Time into Continuous Party
Blazing Ever-Young Jewel on the dance floor at Chinon Disco
Or the always wakeful Breakfast Table in Margaree Harbour.
Oct 18 2010
Lord Happy Life,
Cape Breton Island.
Honouring Beverley Webster
October 22, 2010
The world has changed, jarred out of complacency
Into a world without your physical magnificence in it
Your countless friends send each other condolences
Knowing the tremendous variety of special relationships you had with each of us
Lady of rikpa with continual all-pervasive practice mind
Your example remains and inspires those who knew you.
Your awareness of each of your activities was awesome to witness.
Whether making strawberry jam, executing stroke practice, ironing your sheets,
Cleaning kitchen counters with Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena,
Making 50 tortieres for your neighbours in Chester
Sending me out to buy up all the frozen pie crusts in the county
More recently in Cape Breton making your own,
Reading treasured texts out loud to me,
Speaking of the Vidyadhara, writing poetry, smoking a cigarette,
Drinking sake, remembering the evening tea offering before bed
All accomplished as practice.
Your determination in late spring
To swim every day back and forth across the crescent of Whale Cove
Walking straight into the cold water followed many minutes later by
Your guest moving ever so gradually. What a treasured experience!
Anticipating eating lunch at Fred’s last spring, while you worried,
“Fred is mad at me because I haven’t been to see him for ages! How can I go there”
And then being greeted by Fred with his exuberant outlandish
Unconditional love for you. Nothing had changed.
Remembering our semimonthly meetings in Boulder with Adana
Sharing a relationship with Monsieur Calvados who helped to inspire
Our research and study of famous historical persons.
Your death, dearest Beverley ? so predictably unpredictable
So shocking and painful to your children and grandchildren
To Cape Breton, to your lovers past and present,
To your close and distant friends and neighbors, to your students,
To the Kingdom of Shambhala.
You have left your magnificence imprinted on all of us.
Our friendship, spanning thirty-five years, Lady Beattie, Pema Nyima,
Dearest Beverley, I salute you and love you and appreciate
Your pervasive unequivocal prods and reminders of
Why we are here.
2010 October 22
Beverley Webster: In memoriam
October 22, 2010
I got to know Beverley, Lady Beattie, in her incarnation at work at Dorje Dzong in Boulder, daily, for several years–she occupying that unforgiving energy crossroads and pivot point just inside the A-Suite door, with the Vidyadhara’s office immediately to her left and David Rome’s office to her right, and me running around as the building maintenance manager/shrine master/event “facilitator”/etc.
We worked on so many events, from setting up the Vidyadhara’s late-night calligraphy sessions to arranging the shrine room for the entire Shambhala kingdom (we seemed very finite in those days). While I was lugging around objects and stretching on ladders to hang banners, she could be seen, poised in deep concentration at the end of a row of cushions with a sheaf of meticulously calligraphed place cards in her hand, working out the order of precedence for our newly minted aristocracy.
And newly minted we were. We wore three-piece suits, gowns, tuxes, and uniforms, but we were rough and too often not very kind to one another. Not only that, the gale-force wind of the Vidyadhara’s emanation both inspired us to work as we had never worked before, and tended to leave our veneer of learned social grace in tatters when we weren’t looking. Beverley felt it all. She had no defense.
It was a very “male” environment around Rinpoche at the first blush of government, with all the usual attitudes completely exposed. In addition, insecurity mixed with ambition among the newly anointed made the order of precedence at events inordinately fraught and contentious. Many times I saw Beverley standing braced, with a fixed smile, as some gowned lady hissed at her over a seat placing, the barely perceptible flush on Beverley’s cheek the only hint of how close the offended one was to having her aorta sliced from without.
Beverley manifested genuine sophistication: she was gracious to everyone even when she didn’t feel like it, no matter their station. She was also fierce in her protection of the Vidyadhara’s seat and of the values she knew both intuitively and by long training and experience that he wanted and needed us to learn. Theirs was a collaboration on the monumental task of civilizing the nascent Shambhala.
Many years later in Halifax, Beverley, Lady Beattie, came down from Margaree to preside at the wedding of Natasia Turzanski, daughter of Basia and Ludwik Turzanski. Beverley appeared strikingly in a beautiful white jacket and skirt, and she seemed at a slight remove from the swirling field of wedding anxieties, excitement and poignancy going on around her. As usual I helped her with this and that, behind the scenes as it were–just to make things go smoothly. She manifested the sadness-joy and dignity that the sophisticated yet open young couple seemed to both need and appreciate having at their vows on their wedding day. Then the two of us had a brief drink together, and smiled wistfully before saying goodbye.
In fond remembrance of a warrior lady,
All I can think of is Warrior Queen.
Beverley was Windhorse and she always made sure I got the Karma Dzong shrine charcoal lit in timelessness…
From Fabrice Midal
October 19, 2010
When I was a young student at the dharmadatu in Paris, I was one day invited at a cocktail given by Beverley, who had then been living in the French capital for a few weeks only. I barely knew her. I landed on a huge terrace, on the roofs of Paris, just in front of the Pantheon. Unbelievable. One could see all Paris. An extraordinary 365 degree view. Although I was born in this city I had never seen such a beautiful place. It was simply magic. The cocktail was extraordinary. All was perfection, opening the heart and freeing the mind. The food, the way it was served… I felt as if I were in a fairy tale.
It was only years later, when I attended a tea ceremony, that I encountered again – to a certain extent- the spirit of this moment which was free of all known form.
The only thing that Beverley had not foreseen was that we were so happy to be there, so touched by the magnificence of her welcome, that nobody felt like leaving. Beverley must have realized that we were all going to stay. She created a dinner on the spot. She did this gracefully. And this was also a new lesson for me. The unforeseen, instead of endangering ordinary magic, set other resources free. Beverley was a magician.
Everything I learned later from Beverley was already present in that evening. Beverley showed me one of the aspects of Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings that had the most impact on my life : how to create a pure and perfect mandala by paying attention to all the details, with a sense of authentic elegance. The true mandala is what makes a world-in-harmony, in a time where reigns what the poet ee Cummings called the un-world. Where there is a world-in-harmony, where there is the mandala as poetic experience, there reigns love in its more sober and direct meaning.
Beverley knew, in a deep way, that the transmission of the ordinary mind has nothing to do with an intellectual or religious process but to the contrary, is related to the deployment of sheer confidence.
Two short anecdotes from Donna Holm
October 19, 2010
One year, Lady Beattie hosted an evening birthday celebration for David Rome at her house on Boulder creek. The entire house and garden?-not just the party room, but every room, nook and cranny in the entire house, including one room that was largely empty?-was lit only by candles, creating this amazing atmosphere, a midsummer’s night dream in early June.
On another occasion she hosted a dinner party with the Vajra Regent as guest of honor; other guests included some oil people from Denver, I think. It was beautifully presented, very formal but never intimidating, a seven-course meal with wines for every course, and went on for hours and hours. Lady Beattie had assembled a cast of cooks (all proficient in Italian cuisine) and servers and, as usual, created an experience that was way more than the sum of its parts.
October 18, 2010 (Beverley’s 69th birthday)
Birthand death transcended
Daywithout waxing or waning,
And limitless benefit to come,
With love and appreciation,
October 18, 2010
A long long time ago, in a faraway town called Boulder
Beverley lived in the Boulderado Hotel.
Teddy Roosevelt, Robert Frost, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong
Once roamed its halls and grandly dined
In frontier Victorian splendor.
But its grandeur had faded and become dingy and dim.
The stained glass ceiling had been replaced by colored plastic.
There was still an elevator operator
Old Mr. Lowry was fed and cared for every day.
And a room on the top floor cost $90/month.
Yet it won’t come as a surprise to you
That Beverley brought surpassing elegance to that old inn
As she did to every space she ever passed through.
Being served tea in her perfectly appointed room,
Before we knew about serving tea,
Or cognac when decent wine was still a surprise.
Impeccability in how she dressed
And how we needed to dress to be invited into her presence.
Sitting with her in the lobby and the mezzanine.
The shrine room and the Boulderado
Were the two centers of our world.
Larry found the right word for Beverley.
Beverley understood how to live this ordinary life
Fully manifesting all its inherent brilliance and sanity
In every place in every moment.
Every time I enter the old hotel now
And see the lovely stained glass ceiling restored
The mosaic patterns, the gleaming woodwork,
I consider whether this return, this fruition, could have come to pass
Without a certain tall, powerful, magnificent woman
Who offered us her presence for too brief a time
May we all..
Tom Hast October 18, 2010
October 18, 2010
You were seamless, Lady B. Everything you did you did with a full and open heart, without hesitation. You gave of yourself beyond what most people could possibly do, could even consider. For me, you are the gracious, protective, ferocious and powerful example of the mother lineage.
You cast a presence of mythic proportions. I still see you entering the meditation hall, with a long elegant skirt, around your waist you often would wear a black leather belt decorated with gold colored elephants (they too seemed to walk with a purposeful intention)… and hanging from your waist would occasionally be a small silver knife in a beautiful case. I often thought how appropriate, a knife, cutting away any confusion or hesitation that might have the potential to detract from your purpose.
I knew Beverley from a close friend’s perspective. We shared our lives with each other. I have so many rich memories of her. It is almost impossible to describe Beverley. She had so many facets, so much strength, and such great tenderness.
The first image I have when I think of Beverley is her enormous wise generous heart. Despite her sudden unexpected death, I just know that she was prepared. She balanced her life beautifully, with her loving partner Michael, her family, children and grandchildren, her friends and her practice. For Beverley, October meant retreat and birthday celebration in Cape Breton. If anyone knew themselves it was Beverley. She made very brave and courageous decisions as to how and where she would live. She knew that Cape Breton’s power and beauty was her ground, her heart’s home.
I know there are countless people who could attest to Beverley’s generosity. It’s no secret that she was an ingenious and bountiful hostess. If there was a holiday to celebrate, Lady B set the bar. As I would watch and help her prepare for an event she was hosting, you could see her mind planning and seeing the entire event from start to finish and then she would prepare and work, always leaving a few pieces to chance. And to think of the Shambhala Day grand banquets in Margaree Harbour, and the Midsummer’s Day outings! How she could magnetize deputies to help her prepare food; set the tables; decide on music; and make sure the food was graciously served. Throughout the years in Cape Breton, Beverley knew that summertime meant visitors, some planned some unexpected, to come and visit. All were treated with equal graciousness.
Despite the years and geographic distance between us since I left Nova Scotia, Beverley remains an indelible part of me and always will be. I know that I am not alone in this feeling. We stayed in touch by phone, email and mail. We would often sign off with a “me too”, a little sign meaning I love you too, over and over and over again.
Farewell Lady Beattie
October 18, 2010
Farewell Lady Beattie,
What impeccable timing!
Death in the time in falling leaves
Stepping over the bodies of sleeping hippies
Seeking the wild Yogi of the west
Intimacy without casualness
How Lady Beattie.
Maiden, mother, crone.
Om Anu caomhnaigh sruth na mbua
Te is airde
chloich-sholuis na h-uile-bhith
Say “A suite”
Say “A sweet”
Come raise a glass
Neat with tears
Sound the pipers’ sorrowful lament
Say “Lady Beattie”
At death the myth is born
The beautiful hollow by the broad bay
Come let us go into the mist
I’ll be along anon
from Wendy Friedman, October 18, 2010
I first remember Beverley Webster as the mother of Alexandra, her beautiful daughter, who I attended summer camps with at SMC. Beverley was so glamourous, and a little intimidating. In her role with the Office of Protocol, Beverley took me under her wing and taught me nearly all that I know about Shambhala decorum. She was generous with her time and patience – walking me through so many details and teaching me the heart behind the forms – which she explained was the purpose of form in Shambhala. Having grown up in the South, I was very familiar with the notions of manners, tradition and hospitality – but most of those traditions I had learned were used because “that’s the way we do it” or “it’s the proper thing to do.”
Beverley taught me that Shambhalian forms must always arise from a connection with their meaning, and from the spirit of generosity. She showed so many of us that we could actually use some of the same “rules” of conventional manners from the point of view of creating ease, rather than to make anyone feel excluded or lesser. This brilliant insight came from the Dorje Dradul, of course, but I feel certain that Beverley already understood this inherently. As with so many other traditions, the Dorje Dradul saw the possibility to transform a technique had often been associated with causing social pain into a technique to bring about social kindness.
Beverley was also a strict task-master. I remember one particular lesson that she taught me… but it’s rather embarrassing. Beverley was assigned to tutor some of the Sangyum prior to our oaths and exams. I met with her in A-Suite to review the texts and teachings that we had been assigned to study. Most of her questions centered on particular aspects of the texts, but one day she asked me “what would you do if someone was just freaking out” I scanned my mind, trying to think of something that sounded “learned and intelligent”, something that wouldn’t reveal my 22 year-old naivete, and I answered “I would use the 4 karmas.” Beverley looked me straight in the eye and said “WHO do you think you are” It stopped me in my tracks. She said ” That’s rather presumptuous – do you KNOW how to manifest the 4 karmas I think that you should think in a more earthy way and just be kind.” This interaction has served as a great reminder to me over the years.
Beverley was a generous mentor, a delightful hostess and an incredible example of someone who actually lived by her principles. She embodied the dignity,devotion, playfulness and sheer joy of Shambhala culture.
Sangyum Drukmo Wangmo
Farewell to a Lady of Margaree
October 18, 2010
You were Galadriel
Elemental Queen hermit
Abiding at the point where
Twilight and Margaree
Serving fondue in broth,
Offering a warm shot
of whiskey “to take the edge
off the road”, you were a cohort
in the way of Tea.
In your study I felt umbilical
connection with Rigden,
and in you, a wounded bridge
Between old and new,
Black stroke, pine sap.
One of my mothers,
A lover in a past life perhaps
(but you made everyone feel
like that), an incomparable hostess
A wild woman. A heartbroken sage.
May you leave your particular fragrance
on the pine-sewn earth,
On the coastal Northumberland rock
In the dazzle of sunlight on river.
May future yogins find you
when they search, in the sutras
of rock, wind and ocean.
A pioneer, a myth
Told on the rolling thunder
Of a dark afternoon.
In memory of Beverley, sharing our inner path
Lady Beattie, chariot of bodhi.
Blood and sky.
A lady holding candlelight
Leading you through the door
To the chamber in the guru’s heart.
EkajatiTime is ticking!
The guru descends.
The blade tip stabs
Squirm and sigh.
Loyalty to the Heruka
The supreme assassin.
We bow in gratitude.
a day like a year
like 10 years
like a lifetime
death is so real
farewell to the ever young skydancer
free at last … singing the warrior cry deep,
smiling the warrior smile bright, laughing the laughter of all-
I can feel how you hold your mind
your brothers and sisters are proud of you!
-Rinchen Dechen Khandro
Check out Beverley Webster, A Magnificent Lioness of Shambhala, an article by Martin Janowitz on the Shambhala Times.