Janet P. Watson was born in 1939 and grew up in England during the second world war. She got married in the 1960’s and had a son, Greggory, and a daughter, Kate.
Fast forward to her years in the United States and Canada, she met her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and began to study with him. He gave her the position of co-director of his first large meditation center called Tail of the Tiger (now known as Karmê Chöling) with Bill McKeever, and later Gaylon Ferguson, in the 70’s. Several years later she moved to Boulder.
The Vidyadhara trusted her completely to get any job done well, and called her his “Margaret Thatcher.” In the late 70’s and early 80’s, she worked in the Office of Dharmadhatu affairs, looking after the Vidyadhara’s many centers—known as Dharmadhatus—around the world, and she coordinated the large annual Dharmadhatu conference at Vajradhatu in Boulder. She also worked at Dana Home care. During this time, Jan was invited to be part of an exploratory trip to Nova Scotia with the Vidyadhara and other close students.
Jan moved to Halifax in June of 1987, a few months after the Vidyadhara died. She worked at Vajradhatu in Halifax, coordinating the 1989 Kalapa Assembly, and later opened a bookstore in downtown Halifax called the Attic Owl. Several years later she moved the Attic Owl to Dartmouth.
Finally, in 2006 she sold her bookstore and bought a home in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia where she settled, practiced, held study groups and helped run the Tatamagouche Shambhala group for the next 15 years. She staffed many programs at DDL. This home became a basis of deep practice, study, and simplicity, where Jan studied the Scorpion Seal path levels 1 through 10. She engaged in these practices for hours each day. When awaking in the middle of the night, she listened to the dharma and continued her practices. She was steeped in the teachings.
In November of 2021 she moved back to Dartmouth from Tatamagouche to be closer to her daughter Kate.
Up until the end she was a devoted practitioner: running a Zoom study group of the Profound Teachings Vol 3 until the day she died, and taking part in daily tonglen practices for Ukraine.
On her last day, July 1st, she was having lunch with a friend and talking about her deep connection with the Vidyadhara and the Sakyong when she suddenly died. Her great wish was to be reunited with the Vidyadhara. Please practice to help her with that.
Jan’s funeral will take place at the Halifax Shambhala Centre at 1:00 pm Atlantic Time, Noon Eastern, on Monday, July 4th.
To attend by Zoom:
Practice with Jan’s body will be happening in the very cold Main Shrine Room from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm until the funeral. If you are interested in sitting with her, please contact Kathryn Heckman, Kathryn.Anne.Heckman@gmail.com. And if you are able to help with the funeral on Monday, please contact Deborah Luscomb, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The owl-headed dakini
whose heruka-gathering hoot
pierces the dark night
of humourless Americanisms;
elegant willow of blond,
English to her mischievously graceful core,
swaying and bending in winds blowing gently
from nearby shores
the scent of salt and seabreeze
her clarifying perfume of discipline and delight.
Where you tread,
Where you gaze,
the Kingdom is made manifest!
Where you teach,
the guru's mind is joyfully, transparently transmitted,
spotless and pure!
For decades, if not kalpas,
you have beautified,
Long may your cheeky, elegant
naturally female dignity
grace and uplift our passages together
through the many bardos of being and beyond,
Oh Great Lady Warrior of Tatamagouche!
4 March 2015
Yes knew Jan in Halifax, ha would not say she was a Mrs T copy re VCTR, but more of the ilk of Brit women of her era who had some kind of sense of duty about life and people in general. Yes and indeed sometimes that duty Right On, Truish, Wise and Beautiful but said duty of course too has to be tested by deep questioning, especially over the brit pond now. But any old how here’s three loud cheers for the great and excellent long life of Jan Watson!
Dharma's grace allowed me to be a part of your life...see you again and thank you so much.
Walking around Boulder in 1980 with Gene Bobker during our Vajraygini Abhisheka, Gene led me into Jan Watson's clothing store for women. Immediately, Jan greeted us, saying to me, "Jon, you are the new Practice Coordinator of New York Dharmadhatu." Its was quite a set-up. No time to waste. I was speechless, knowing the choicelessness of the situation. How our Guru manifested ! Jan was brave, amazing !
I have the fondest memories of Jan from my earliest days on the scene in 1975,when I arrived at Karme Choling in a confused haze of pseudo-Marxist bolshieness -- a term she'd know -- and monkish celibacy, vegetarianism, etc. Then she could indeed manifest Thatcherian toughness when keeping me in line -- but always with a warmth and twinkle there somewhere.
One day I shame-facedly asked her to put me on the list of people going to the St. Johnsbury Clinic to be tested for a sexually-transmitted disease rampant at KCL the time. She responded with the most glowing and genuine smile and in her poshest English accent said "Congratulations!"
Bon voyage, dear Jan
Safe journey, Jan.
I remember driving the Vidyadhara in your white Saab you were kind enough to lend so we could get up Boulder Canyon in the dead of winter. And sharing the great KOSFEF adventure in 1977.
Sad to hear of Jan's passing. She was such wonderful and genuine person. Gentle and tough. I benefited in innumerable ways from the richness of her contribution to the sangha. Through her dedication and practice. Sending love to sangha, especially those who knew her well and are experiencing this loss.
We will miss you, Jan.
Jan welcomed me into the sangha and introduced me to the Vidyadhara when I suddenly found myself at Karme Choling in the 70s. I am very much indebted to her for that and her brave way of looking straight at whatever was happening - maybe squirming but never looking away. Real example of warrior that I won't forget. Thank you Jan.
We met you at the 1975 Seminary, and we have known you as a gentle, tough, beautiful, elegant warrior.
How fortunate we were to share this journey with you!
I am sad to hear that Jan has passed away. I vividly remember her leading the Kalapa Assembly at Chet Huntly Lodge, Big Sky, Montana in about 1980. She was a wonderful and loyal person. I pray that her virtue will lead her to an excellent rebirth where she can practice the dharma!
It sounds like Jan died the same way she lived--with grace and joy.
AH, Jan. Thank you for your diligent unwaivering practice. Thank you for the generosity demonstrating the truth that we may leave at any moment - even during lunch! Sad and yet more joyful - you have taken your Dakini form! GURO OM!
I guess it's now about 45 years, the later 70s, when I was in California, and needed assistance from the office of Dharmadhatu affairs. The recollection is slightly dim, but I recall a transfer of direction from Newcomb Greenleaf to Jan, then looking after that office, and we were a Dharma Study Group in Rohnert Park, CA. I recall her steady hand, and compassionate involvement...also sharp mind. Yes, very much, she is missed...Ira Zukerman.
Seeing your smile brings back so many memories of lovely times with you.
We will miss you, your warmth, humour, wisdom and fun.
You have always had a deep connection with your teacher and the dharma and always such a great practitioner. Know you will do well on this journey.
Our love to your family who will be shocked and saddened by your sudden departure. Let us remember what a gift you have always been in our lives.
I barely knew Jan but came to appreciate her beautiful heart in the last few months doing the Tonglen for Ukraine sessions.
Her measured and on the dot mind, her humble wisdom - were comforting. I feel like I have lost a precious elder. Thank you Jan.
Even though “Death comes without warning”, still felt that moment of stomach flip, oh. Jan was, to me, one of the SENIOR students, so fearless and dignified and kind. Once, during a Werma feast, when she was the host, she posed the questions resulting in the answer Shiwa O.
Wishing her family and friends well during this time.
Such a shocker! Dear beloved friend, through many thick and thins, of about 46 years! I send my love to Jan, and to her daughter and son-in-law, Kate and John; grandson Cameron; her son Gregory; and granddaughter Mikaela. May your hearts continue to be enriched by your mother and grandmother.
Oh, how sad, your tremendous intelligent force, you gave so much, thank you! Of course you will be missed, and you will be fine, …. – just join us for the next round. CTR: never separate