Eamon Killoran died on Monday, April 18, 2011. Eamon was a long-time and devoted student of Trungpa Rinpoche, and dedicated Shambhala Training director. He was also a merchant seaman for most of his working life. Towards the end of his career, he passed the test for captain, but retired before he got his own ship. He is survived by his four children, Zachary, Lucas, Meadow and Veronica, and predeceased by his wife Michelle.
I met Eamon through his wife Michelle Killoran, who was a mentor and teacher to me.
I met Michelle Killoran at ’94 Seminary. In the mid 90’s, I staffed a Maitri program that she directed, and it was there that our connection deepened. She became a mentor to me as we discussed drala and shamanism, pottery and ikebana. She visited my pottery studio a few times here in DC when Eamon was in Baltimore. Michele and I were to co-direct a Maitri program for Naropa’s Contemplative Psych department in the spring of 1999. Weeks before the program started, I received an email from Eamon in which he simple said “Michele has had a stroke. There will be no Maitri for her this year.” She died later that week, and since I was a potter, Eamon asked me to make a container for her ashes.
I went out to SMC to teach a few weeks later. I had never really known Eamon, and what I did know was mostly through Michelle. We went to go visit him before the Maitri program started. He seemed so fierce and tender at the same time, proud and so sad. He liked the container that I made for Michelle – would I make a second one for him I agreed.
Over the next couple of years, Eamon and I emailed back and forth. He answered my questions about the Kami shrine and we discussed Tibetan dogs. We fell out of touch, but often my thoughts went to him, and to my memories of Michelle.
Then came the email announcing Eamon’s death. My partner, Scott Perkins, was at work when he read it. The server at his work was down, and he was waiting for it when he read the email. The email made him think of Michelle, and out of curiosity, he googled Michelle’s name. What came up was a blog by Frank Owens with this quote:
“When you can finally see that renunciation is not a loss but a gain, a giving up of all the crutches and strategies, storylines and habits that keep you enslaved, the path is revealed.” –the late Michelle Killoran (1949-1999), a beloved teacher of mine within the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, Vajrayana practitioner, student of Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa
Imagine me, sitting in my counseling office in downtown DC in between clients, when a text message arrives on my phone – with a quote from Michelle. I read it, and had one of those dharmic “aha” moments. I am a Shambhala director and have been teaching for several years now, but have struggled with the concept of renunciation. I certainly understood it conceptually – but had not made the deeper connection with my own life experience. But it suddenly happened. Reading that quote, I got it in a way I never had before. It was such a powerful moment that when my next client (a practitioner) came in, I began by saying “Let’s talk about renunciation” and had a marvelous and pertinent conversation.
I am so struck by this – I have a strong sense that Eamon opened the door, and Michelle came through it to give me a dharma talk. I am struck by the web that connects all of us, through time, through space. Thank you Michelle for all you taught me, and thank you Eamon, for continuing that connection.
Jose, Bill, Eamon, Peter
I was just a gawky teenager at Naropa in ’74 surrounded by talented young grown-ups. Jose was crush material good looking, impressively into exotic Mayan stuff, whatever that was. Years later I went to Seminary with Bill and I think Eamon, too. More years elapsed. I was at RMDC/SMC during the Harmonic Convergence and Jose was on the radio and we sat around wondering if there could be anything to it or not. In time, I moved to Boston. Peter was a professor at Harvard and a famous composer and I was just a student there but nevertheless he was always so sweet and friendly to me. Time passed (as it is wont to do). I became conscious of my graying hair, bought stronger face creams. Death was still just a nasty rumor. Eamon became my landlord in Oakland and led a dathun at which I was an MI. I was hurt when he told me I squirmed too much on the umdze seat. I remembered Bill through his interesting intellectual emails on Sangha Talk. Eamon looked the part of the classic salty dog. He was so obviously tender when I spoke to him after Michelle’s death. Jose became a cult phenomena. Peter, another wildly handsome man, was long married to Ellen, then more life happened and I learned that he’d married a woman with the voice of an angel and then he married again after she died. Needless to say, the music lives on. Meanwhile, I’ve passed beyond middle aged and now death seems to loom everywhere.
Thank you to each of these brilliant men who have been such sparkling threads in the tapestry of my life in this mandala.
At an early level one I was a geko and I corrected Eamons posture by lightly touching him near his left kidney and he nearly lept off the cushion. Later he came over to me and whispered,” sorry if I scared you. That spot is where one of ny crewmates stabbed me a few years ago.” I knew then we lived in very different realms.
He also looked at me one time with a sense of PROFOUND MYSTERY AND SAID HE HAD SEEN THINGS at sea on night watch that he could never explain in a million years.
Bruce Dal Santo
Eamon was direct and to the point – with a smile. I met him in 1976 on a bus in Oakland, both of us headed to his house to see Michelle. He was just getting off a ship, and returning home. I was going to visit Michelle. He was my MI over many years – shamatha to ngondro to vajrayogini. In these last years, he became a friend. Someone I really enjoyed practicing with – Werma and Scorpion Seal. Someone I really enjoyed talking to about many things, especially practice. From practical to magical, and detailed. Knowing how to navigate by the stars. Deeply feeling, understanding wave patterns and global currents. Complete synchrony with natural phenomena. Big window with a view of Wyoming. And comfortable with big silences. Someone you could just sit there with.
While visiting in February, we spoke about many things, his cancer was one of them. He said the doctors told him his boyhood red hair and freckles, combined with his family summer trips to the beach in Staten Island, and his ritual beginning-of-summer sunburn, had created the cancer. He had it in his body his whole life. With his beautiful, bemused smile he said, “I really liked going to the beach as a boy”, You never know what the karmic effect of simple activities will be. How could something he liked so much so long ago have ended up this way No conjecture – it just was what it was, and seemed to have a wholeness, or connectedness to it, to him.
On a seperate visit, during this time I asked if there was anything I could do for him – living far away, as I did, was there something I could do from the Bay Area. He thought for a minute, then looked at me, smiled that same bemused smile and said, “Magic”, and laughed. My heart popped open. I said, “Eamon, my heart just popped open. I guess that’s the best magic there is!” We laughed. And our hearts were open. My lovely daughter Anne was there too, and her heart opened as well. Three hearts in a room with sunshine pouring in, tea cups on the table, genuine moment, genuine good friend.
I last spoke to him just a week ago. Last phone call and we both knew it. I had a chance to tell him I would miss him, and how much he had guided me over the years. We both cried, and there were long gaps, then we said goodbye. His cremation, like him, was elemental – tremendous wind whipping the flames around. His arms opened to it. My heart is still popped open.
They say that it is good to be around wisdom beings at the time of death because their mind consciousness is released and many blessings occur. Through Eamon’s cremation it occurred to me that our collective release, our memories, our heart beats, regrets, appreciations, even this blog, all are part of the collective mind consciousness of this person. As the flames intensified and subsided, then leaped into the wind again, as we stood around the crematorium, and spoke of him, it seemed there was a collective release. That our thoughts, feelings and emotions about Eamon were part of the burn, part of the purification, part of the wisdom and the rising up of smoke. The calling down of drala, and dissolution of this being. Eamon-ness vaporizing.
Goodbye true warrior, good navigator, guide and true dharma brother.
Three gentlemen: now you see them,
now you don’t… left the action leaving
only traces; meetings with remarkable men.
We’ll all go this way…vanish into non-everything…
and when the door clicks behind us, the rest will
go on, forgetting once again it’s all a dream.
Eamon and I met at the Berkeley Dharmadhatu in 1976
and our dharmic lives intertwined during those early seminal years.
Maybe because we both had red hair and freckles –
or perhaps something about who we both were –
I always felt a deep sense of familiarity –
of being known when I was with him.
Each time I sank into his presence and felt held – met – seen – greeted.
His gentleness and kindness will stay with me, deep inside.
Reggie’s account here of how he moved through the dying process
fits with everything Eamon was.
On this spring morning I am slowed down, softened –
and awakened to my life.
Early, early on, I asked Eamon to show me around in the Berkeley Dharmadhatu shrine room. I wanted him to explain all the symbols hanging on the walls, the three shrines and the objects on each of them. I was an earnest new student, and I guess I was imagining a museum docent or curator who would lecture me about the history and meaning of these precious items. Instead, a quiet man stood next to me and waited, radiating kindness. We ended up walking through the room together almost in silence.
I think about Trungpa Rinpoche’s suggestion that we learn dharma the way we learn by watching our grandmother’s fingers, and I am so glad I got to watch Eamon Killoran being the person that he was.
Thank you Eamon for the many times over the years you and Michelle left your beautiful home in the woods to travel north into Laramie Wyoming to seed the confidence of our little study group there. you would drive over the pass thru ground blizzards to teach the Buddhadharma, lead Shambhala levels, conduct sukavhatis for our loved ones, guide us in maitri weekends, do pre-seminary classes thru the winter in that cold room up above the bookstore on 2nd Street, and after some of us had received transmission, you came back to cook with us and teach us how to do Padmasambhava feasts. Now, after so many times of learning from you, there you were again, teaching, showing us how to die with wakefulness and grace — and FEROCITY!! that wind that came up at the very moment your pyre was lit on Thursday at Shambha Mtn Center! i never saw you behave that way before!
so many years of devotion, dear Eamon, there is no way to repay you — only by trying to do the same for others. Farewell my friend.
I didn’t know Eamon that well. I saw him around here and there at SMC and such and I appreciated his presence. Here’s what comes to me about his passing…
Like the delicate fragrance of clean sheets on a Spring Evening,
shock of white hair
above a wizzened Irish smile-
old friend, now that you’re gone
who will plant
the summer practitioners
may you be born in a difficult place,
where your exquisite talents
can be put to good use,
and may i always be your first mate on the bridge.
love you Eamon.
-Bruce Dal Santo
Eamon Killoran seemed to teach a lot of Level Ones. I staffed one with him in San Francisco in ’87 and another here at SMC last year. It was very ordinary, a genuine and simple expression of how Eamon saw it – expressed with urgency and humor. Somehow at the end I realized I had a new appreciation of the magic and the delight of the vision we call warriorship.
I last saw Eamon in Whole Foods, Fort Collins, about two months ago. We talked of his illness, and treatment plans. It was ordinary and genuine. He wasn’t depressed. There was a slight smile on his face – the understated joy of a New Yorker and a dignified shambhala person.
May you be born in the terrestrial pure land of the Great eastern Sun.
Eamon Killoran – – –
the rock of kindness
Eamon was a mariner who sailed (as 1st Mate) huge cargo ships and had many stories to tell of his experiences on the high seas and in ports. He was responsible for developing the Purnachandra in the in the ’80s, on the San Francisco Bay. He taught us more than we realized beyond tying knots and taking us through the man overboard exercises, on Art White’s sailboat Tobasco.
Eamon and Michelle were so generous and gracious in offering their home, in Oakland, to the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Many of us have fond memories of serving in that household during Rinpoche’s stays.
In loving memory
Chuckles with ease.
Captain of his ship.
Yours in the True Command,
This poem was written Jan 29, 2005. It was written at Shambhala Mountain Center during the first meditation program I had ever experienced, my introduction to the Shambhala path, Shambhala Training – Level One: “The Art of Being Human”, taught with wisdom & grace by Eamon Killoran.
By Ehron Asher
There is untold strength in this city of beings.
They are warriors from everywhere
sitting silent – just ‘being there’.
Open to anything,
mindful of everyone,
gazing at nothing,
Like guards on a beach
keeping watch from their seat,
they see the waves crash
and roll in at their feet.
as it rushes ‘tween their toes,
splashing to their knees,
covering their clothes.
Then, as sudden as it came…
it suddenly goes.
But the warrior is confident
because a warrior knows
that coming in and going out
is just how the tide flows.
May your transition be as peaceful and gentle as you were, Eamon.
Eamon was my first true MI, who showed me how view actually relates to life. He was also a good friend. He was such a tender person, understated and dignified. Anyone who knew him was enriched. He was a true dharma warrior. – Rebecca Hazell
Over the years, we met
I always enjoyed looking into those gentle confident eyes
reflecting such love and devotion for our lineage, and for Michelle
honoring the genuine heart of sadness
in each word, and seeing the humor
in our shared lives.
Last summer I sat next to you for two weeks
although in silent retreat
I felt your focus and utter genuineness
emanating in all ten directions
You have always reflected the best of goodness
Pure, never wavering from pointing out the truth
I am honored to have shared moments of this life together.
Go forward gentle Warrior Daka. Your benefit on earth continues.
With sadness and love, Shelley Pierce
A couple of years ago I also met Eamon at SMC for my Level I. He not only spoke of basic goodness he showed us basic goodness. A year later when I was troubled by the chants I contacted him and asked for help. He and I corresponded back and forth and his guidance led me to a new understanding. He was well advanced and I was one of hundreds of his students but he treated me so well and with such compassion I felt his honest concern. His example and guidance will stay with me for the rest of my life. We should all be as graceful and as giving as Eamon, a true Shambhala warrior. I offer my respects to his family and will keep him close in my meditations.