Tribute to Kathie Paul

Kathie Paul, a dear friend of so many in the Sangha, passed away on July 15th, 2014. We will miss you, Kathie.

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Peaceful Journey to Kathie Paul, long-time loyal friend

I first met Kathie at Karme Choling in 1977. We had both showed up for the summer dathun, and shared the basement dorm (known as the “Hyatt”). Right from the very beginning of our long friendship, Kathie’s hallmark was her laughter and humor with the simplest of absurd situations (very plentiful at Karme Choling in those days). We eventually shared a room together, took Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows together, and started a deep friendship. Kathie wasn’t a big talker, being on the shy side, and so our bond was not made in words, but rather in just being at ease together. There always seemed to be the space to just be, without explaining anything or having to tell one’s seemingly painful story. I always wondered how Kathie could maintain her lightness of being around me, especially since at that time I tended to wallow in depression. Nevertheless, she would find humor — which was contagious, and which I loved her for.

Kathie loved the dharma, and was a devoted student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She would always come alive with joy — even in her last days — in the spacious environment created by dharma and practice. She had a passion for Khenpo songs, which would bring out her child-like love of simplicity. Kathie devoted herself to coordinating numerous regular feast practices at the Halifax Shambhala Center — which was itself a practice for her, being an extremely shy person. Gaining confidence in this role, she went on to coordinate numerous weekend programs, and most recently Scorpion Seal retreats at Dorje Denma Ling. She conducted herself with kindness and humor to everyone she worked with.

Kathie adored DDL. The year Khenpo Rinpoche spontaneously spoke the DDL song in 2001, Kathie and I sang it over and over the whole way home. I remember this drive because shortly after leaving DDL, we suddenly had the irresistible urge to stop for ice cream. We pulled into the ice cream parlour rather quickly, walked in, and oh my goodness, there was Khenpo Rinpoche standing there holding his mala reciting mantras. Our minds STOPPED. E Ma Ho. We got our ice cream, and shared the joy of spontaneous awareness the rest of the drive home.

Kathie met her illness with as much courage as she could muster — which would become her practice for the next twenty months. She would joke about having to get MRIs every three months, saying that it was like getting her life renewed for three month terms. She lived with the certainty of death, and did so with tremendous dignity. Last December, Kathie emailed me a quote from Trungpa Rinpoche’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism:

In order to develop love one must accept the whole situation of life as it is, both the light and the dark, the good and the bad. One must open oneself to life, communicate with it… It is like seeing the world from an aerial point of view: there is light, there is dark; both are accepted. You are not trying to defend the light against the dark.

Kathie practiced diligently until the end of her life. The Armour of Fearlessness, by Sakyong Rinpoche, became a source of tremendous strength for Kathie, and it served as the inspiration that would allow Kathie’s family and friends to meet her death with bravery and open heart. Friends practiced the Werma Sadhana at her bedside, which she loved.

Kathie adored her family, and the tremendous closeness of the Paul family became evident during the last phase of her illness. Bob, Annie, and Stephen expressed their devotion to Kathie through their loving care, and intimate moments of humor and love provided the environment of peacefulness that Kathie would sail away on.

What I will miss most about Kathie was our unspoken connection of simple being, that did not need confirmation. She was a kind friend, a sister. We raised our children together, and our families are intimately connected. Kathie always loved the image of white light, and this is what we can now send to her. Into the stillness, into the light, into the empty vast space.

With love,

Susan Peters

***
Our dear friend, Kathie Paul, died early this morning on July 15, 2014 in her sleep. Kathie was a Scorpion Seal practitioner and a devoted student of Sakyong Mipham. He has been following her journey and practicing for her. She also loved Khenpo Rinpoche and was deeply involved in his visits here and at DDL. Kathie loved coordinating programs. Kathie’s root guru was Trungpa Rinpoche, who she met in the mid-70’s. She was on the staff at Karme Choling in the late 70’s. Kathie and Bob and their children, Annie and Stephen, moved to Halifax in 1990. -From Jeffrey Scott at the Halifax Shambhala Centre

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Heart-breaking news. I heard from Bob Paul yesterday that she had died in the morning hours. I shall continue to practice with her in mind while I’m here in Boulder. Yesterday, after some practice dedicated to Kathie, it even occurred to me to read out loud Jamgon Kongtrul’s description of the Completion Stage as if I was reading it to Kathie at her bedside while I was alone in my son’s house. Since mind at this point is unleashed, why not— Those of us who are not in Halifax but who knew and loved Kathie could do the same. -Linda Lewis

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This is very sad. Kathie was a cheerful and energetic presence in the D.C. sangha, and it was always a delight to see her in Halifax. She will be greatly missed. -Jon Frank

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Two Poems

I

Kathy,
the epitome of uncontrivance,
in the last years you never forgot impermanence
and continued cultivating love, compassion, and devotion.
Now rest in intrinsic awareness,
while those you loved
imagine you resting in the cradle of loving kindness.

(composed by her friend Linda Lewis the Thursday before the Friday funeral)

II

When I put attention on the breath, I think of Kathy’s single minded devotion to the Sakyong.
When I let mindfulness expand into awareness, I remember Kathy’s big gaffaw laugh and let go.
Kathy loved and cared for her family, was kind and welcoming to everyone,
not just to friends.
Such big bright ordinary mind is undying.
Sitting down to practice after just hearing the news, thunder and lightning, then hail and rain–no kidding!
Like old time thundershowers and rainbows of former Boulder summer days,
it’s easy to hear Kathy’s laugh and feel the cool down.
Let her go, don’t pull her down.
Sing the Milarepa songs she loved at tonight’s werma feast.
Mix it up.
Tears and laughter.
All dharmas agree at one point.

(composed by LVL upon hearing the news from Bob Paul)

***

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