To the ever-kind Larry Loomis. We met for coffee spontaneously on Spring Garden Road in 2012. Our family had recently made the decision to leave the Homeland so that I and our then five year old daughter could be together in Indianapolis with my husband who had found a job. I expressed to Larry my fears and sadness about bringing up our daughter outside of the Buddhist community and inside the US. He smiled calmly, sweetly and good-humouredly recalling how his daughters found their own voice, in spite of his being Buddhist. This was one of the last conversations that I had with a fellow Sangha member before we left and I only wish in hindsight that there had been more with Larry. -Marguerite Stanciu
Contemplating Larry Loomis
In trying to describe Larry Loomis the word that immediately comes to mind is ‘Warrior’. I suppose any student of the Shambhala path, the sacred path of the warrior that is the heart legacy of the Dorje Dradul, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, could be called a warrior. But the word seems particularly appropriate for Larry because he did not shy away from conflict and chaos. Quite to the contrary, it seemed that Larry appreciated conflict and chaos, even delighted in it, and certainly leaned into it when it arose in his life.
At an interpersonal level, Larry had strong views about a wide range of issues and he did not hold back from sharing them with enthusiasm and confidence. If you had differing views, then it was all the better. He was a very good listener. He wanted to test his views against others. There was never any meanness or condescension in an exchange with Larry. Rather, there was a sense of no bull-shit, a sense of respect for the importance of understanding issues and ideas.
His willingness to work with conflict and chaos manifested in his professional work as a psychotherapist. He took on the most difficult cases. Among other skills he became a respected expert in providing counseling for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was also evident in his interest and deep involvement in ‘Spiral Dynamics’, a system for understanding the evolution of individuals, groups and societies that was developed by Don Beck out of his experience with severe societal conflicts. A close personal relationship with Don Beck and his associates provided a basis for Larry to develop his own views about the evolution of human society. He was very especially interested in how Spiral Dynamics could inform and support the Shambhala vision of societal transformation.
In my conversations with Larry it seemed that the Shambhala teachings, and the vision of enlightened society, were increasingly at the core of Larry’s world view. In his early years he had many teachers, including high respected Zen masters and his Kyudo teacher, Kanjuro Shibata Sensei with whom he had a deep ongoing personal relationship. But over the years Shambhala became his focus and when Sakyong Mipham began to open the Scorpion Seal path several years ago Larry (and his wife Conner) became fully engaged. Larry often said to friends that he had finally found the spiritual path that made complete sense to him and with which he could engage without hesitation. He said this with a sense of genuine delight and, to me he seemed more and more cheerful and relaxed as the Scorpion path unfolded for him.
It could be considered auspicious that a Werma feast was already scheduled at the Halifax Shambhala Centre the day after Larry died, suddenly and unexpectedly. Through the generosity of Conner and Larry’s daughters, Jessica and Korinne, his body was brought to the shrine room and was present, in an open coffin, during the feast, which Conner attended. The practice container was very strong and clear. A number of Larry’s closest friends and spiritual brothers and sisters spoke about him with appreciation and humor. It was an event that Larry would have approved of and enjoyed.
My own thoughts, one day after learning that Larry had died, were put into the form of a short poem which was read at the feast, as follows:
you jumped the queue.
Instead of waiting with the rest of us
as decrepitude plays out its
you took the bull by the horns
-so to speak.
you shook hands with Shiwa Okar
and leapt directly into the vast space of
In that immeasurable universe
may you quickly find your way
and there complete your warrior training,
the path for which you developed
such a strong heart connection
in this life time.
–Your old friend…Mountain Drum [David Whitehorn]
I heard about the smile on your face,
There in the shrine room
Where have you gone, Topaz Steed
When you were young, you were an Army Ranger,
Captain Loomis, your proud picture in the home town paper,
Rendered ironic by Vietnam
Then a sailor, then down and out in LA,
Then student of Maezumi, Eido and Shibata,
Then the only Zen Shambhallian I ever met
Therapist, husband, dad
I always thought you somehow realized more than you let on
Some fundamental ease about you
Maybe that’s what’s next, that smile
Like the Cheshire cat, dissolving in brilliant space
Dancing in the Sun’s spiral playground
A remembered sparkle in the eye
Warrior brother, thank you
For walking with me, for a while
The wine at Freeman’s Little New York
The warlocks’ weekends in the woods
Along with your many relentless enthusiasms
Now softening into luminous glow in my heart
His very full and colorful life revolved around pursuing what he loved: His family, his community, connecting with people, basketball, travel, Kyudo meditation archery, and Zen and Shambhala Buddhism. His love of basketball sent him to Grove City College on basketball and soccer scholarships where he received a BA in Economics. He served as a Captain in the US Army Ranger Division in the DMZ in Korea. His love of travel, spending six years in Asia, culminated in a 12 year career as a quartermaster and able-body Seaman II in the Merchant Marines. His love of learning took him to completing a fifth year degree from the University of Washington in Religious Studies and Philosophy, and a Masters Degree from Naropa University in Contemplative Psychotherapy.
He and his family moved from Colorado to Halifax in 1989, becoming Canadian citizens in 1995 – of which he was immensely proud. He began his lengthy counseling career in Canada as a clinical therapist for Addiction Services for the province of Nova Scotia. He was a co-founder of Atlantic Coaching and Counseling Services in 1991, where he enjoyed actively working until his death, impacting the lives of countless individuals. As an active member of the Shambhala Buddhist and Zen communities in Nova Scotia, he championed and supported community leadership development in the Maritimes. Larry was a devoted meditation practitioner for over forty years. He was a dedicated and long time student of Kanjuro Shibata Sensei XX who brought Kyudo meditation archery to North America. Larry was known for his appreciation and adornment of his favorite ball caps, suspenders, and bolo ties. He had an art for storytelling, a clever wit and a wicked sense of humor. Larry took immense joy in mentoring his twin daughters in their educational pursuit within the health professions, and throughout their lives, imparting his wisdom, humor, and compassion. The greatest joy and sense of pride in his life was in being a husband and father to his family, which always remained his first priority.
He was born in Greenville, Pennsylvania, and was the fourth and youngest son of John Harper Loomis and Ruby Caroline Miller Loomis.
He is survived by his wife, Conner Loomis, and twin daughters Jessica Loomis and Korinne Loomis, and his brothers and family in Pennsylvania: Jim and Mary Loomis, Don and Peg Loomis, and Bob Loomis and their families.