I began formal spiritual study and practice not a moment too soon, just before turning forty, and have received teachings and empowerments from vast, profound, luminous masters, including the heads of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhadharma and Western wisdom yogini Pema Sangzin Khandro. From the late 1970s on I have studied, practiced, and engaged in retreat in the Nyingma and Drikung Kagyu traditions of my gurus, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. For a very long time I yearned to live in retreat, to liberate myself and others - but my teachers and spiritual friends asked me to stay and teach, and I have known this joy for over thirty years. I have served as Lopön (Master Dharma Teacher) for the Garchen Institute, as founder and resident lama for the Garchen Assembly of Kindness and Love, and as teacher for small sanghas in Utah and California. I continue to teach publicly and privately, to write, and to practice, while living in semi-retreat in the American Southwest.
Born in Appalachia, I lived most of my life in New England, moving to the American Southwest in my late fifties. I was a slightly hot-headed social activist from youth—working for disarmament in the Bomb-shadowed 1950s; teaching refugees from genocide in East Africa and working with the United Nations in the 1960s; engaging the feminist movement in the 1970s and early 1980s; helping brave Central African women start a national peace movement during an active civil war in the 1990s. Formal education included Quaker boarding school and then Harvard University for the BA and PhD (clinical psychology and public practice,1976, with a doctoral dissertation on emergent feminist clinical theory). My social science work has included psychotherapy, clinical theory, and qualitative research, as well as teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I am also a visual artist and writer; it has been my privilege to compile and edit the work of two contemporary spiritual masters: Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo’s Voices of Our Ancestors: Cherokee Teachings from the Wisdom Fire (Shambhala) and the late Navajo artist and teacher David Paladin’s Painting the Dream (Inner Traditions). In 2011, I published an account of my first thirty years on the spiritual path in this lifetime, Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir (Laughing Vajra Press). I am currently completing a commentary to the Thirty-seven Bodhisttva Practices, by Gyalse Tokme Zangpo.