Tribute to Mary Smith

Long time sangha member, Mary Smith, died peacefully in her home in Boulder, Colorado on October 11, 2011.


Long time sangha member, Mary Smith, died peacefully in her home in Boulder, Colorado on October 11, 2011. She was 85. Mary had moved to Boulder from San Francisco in the early ’70’s to study with her root guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.


I remember a birthday of Mary’s. It occurred in the early 1970’s in Berkeley. A group of us went to lunch with Mary to celebrate her birthday. Of course we all assumed that we would be taking her out. Toward the end of the meal Mary tells us that it is an old Armenian custom that the person who is having the birthday treats her friends to a meal! That is Mary.

-Miriam Tarcov


October 14, 2011

Reading these wonderful, heart-felt messages about and tributes to Mary Smith gladdens my own heart and makes me terribly sad and remorseful at the same time. Mary and I were very good friends for many years, in Boulder and after I moved to Halifax. But, as with many friendships, the closeness dwindled with “out of sight out of mind” mentality (on my part). I stayed with her 2 or 3 times when I visited Boulder in the past 24 years, but … alas, I did not even phone her when I was there in early August. (The heat took my heart and mind away!) I heard a few days ago that she was dying, and … well, didn’t phone her. This is a great lesson about procrastination and neglect.

But. many thanks to Ellen Knapp for your close-in report, and to the others of you for the reminder of Mary’s hilarious and open, unabashed laughter! I loved it so much, and I loved laughing with her. Wish I had been at the screening of Crazy Wisdom to enjoy the full-throttledness of it.

Bon Voyage, dear friend. There’s no doubt you will negotiate the bardo with your usual directness and fearless approach to whatever you meet.

-Judith Smith


October 14, 2011

I’m not really clear if I remember this or was told this. It was probably in my first visit to the SF Dharmadhatu, during a week retreat in their basement where they had a week of extended practice, at the end of 1975. Walking meditation was done in two halves, two circles around the cushions, left & right to the shrine. Mary would be going at a faster pace around a circle than the rest of us. Commenting on this is that…commenting…but she may have been also sharing about not being too precious.

Sorry, not meaning to abstract a life just passed, but I’m understanding both a very personal, and at the same time, political…in the way it was public…life.

Rest easy, Mary.

Ira Zukerman


October 14, 2011

I always found Mary’s iconoclasm delightful. Over the last few years, after I had ventured out to propagate the Vidyadhara’s teachings, she followed me on the internet and sent me encouraging messages. One of the lines she wrote to me was, “I feel the liberation from not being connected with a large organization.” The last time I saw her was at the screening of the movie, “Crazy Wisdom,” in Boulder this year. It was accompanied by a local ad that tried the nerves, at the end of which Mary, not young, yelled out from near the back of theatre, “That was terrible!”–which brought down the house.

Bill Karelis


October 14, 2011

Mary was a great friend of mine for many years and we were both participants in the first “death college”at the Boulder Shambhala Center. So we had studied and talked about death quite a bit. In late September while I was visiting Mary in Boulder and after her terminal diagnosis, it came time to say goodbye. I was going home to San Francisco and most likely would not see her again. I was a little teary eyed and said “I’ll be joining you soon, see you soon”. And she in her very New York raspy way said “Don’t hurry !”.

Much love to you Mary,
Margaret Tighe


I also would like to contribute a couple of short fond remembrances. Way back when the SF Dharmadhatu had 9 members and Rinpoche came to town and gave a talk on working with the spiritual path and used the analogy of peeling onions -Mary disappeared very suddenly and I went out to find her sitting in her car weeping copiously. I asked her what was going on and she said something about old memories. I suggested she stop peeling onions for a while and we both cracked up.

Another time R. had again come to SF and Mary invited all 9 of us plus Rinpoche to her tiny apartment to eat. We had ground beef cooked in an Armenian way plus lots of green beans and cheese bread which she concocted from scratch. Best meal I had in a long time and R. seemd very happy with the situation. I never did get the recipe for the cheese bread which I regret. -Cicely Berglund


From an old friend

October 12, 2011

For Mary Smith

You were always kind
and this kindness was home
to many beings.

You were friendly to me when
I was scared. I never doubted
your sincerity, your goodness.

I’ve thought of you over the years,
more than I ever said … as a touchstone
in my heart of what we were all trying to be.

-John Tischer


Long time practitioner, Mary Smith, died quite peacefully in her home early this afternoon from a lingering kidney ailment. She was 85. Mary had moved to Boulder from San Francisco in the early ’70’s to study with her root guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Kindly hold Mary in your tonglen practice.

Steve Roth