by Amy Farrington
Jean Freeman has been a longtime friend, devoted student, member and volunteer of Sakya Monastery for a number of years. Currently, she enjoys the fellowship and the community-building while cooking lunch for the Monastery members on Saturday mornings during volunteer work parties. She’s thankful for the opportunity to get the lunches going again after a two year hiatus when no one was available to cook the Saturday lunches. As an acupuncture student, among other activities in her life, she is glad to make time in her busy schedule to help out and she’s glad for the assistance from the other cooks as well, “Being at the Monastery changed my life.”
Jean grew up only about four blocks away from Sakya Monastery. At that time the Monastery was a Baptist/Presbyterian church. Jean’s uncle-in-law was the preacher at the church and he was her favorite aunt’s husband’s brother. In 1972, due to church politics and disillusionment with the church, Jean left. She returned to the exact same location 15 years later in 1987 when Ken Hockett introduced her to H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche at Sakya Monastery.
Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandchildren gravitated toward Jean and would often sit next to her during puja at the Monastery. She later began babysitting for them. Rinpoche and Dagmola “provided a source of grounding” for Jean, which enabled her to let go of a lot of attachments to things in this life, such as the desire to have a family of her own. She had no idea that she was to become a foster parent to many girls and a boy named Chawn for twelve years, which brought her much fulfillment.
Through her long-time association with Sakya Monastery, Jean learned many things, such as the importance of the Khon family lineage and the importance of family in general. She was fortunate enough to travel with the Sakya family on two pilgrimages in other countries. When Rinpoche gave the Lamdre in 1990, Jean witnessed a number of miracles, such as Rinpoche’s hand print was exactly the same size as Padmasambhava’s hand print embedded in the stone wall outside of Padmasambhava’s cave in Nepal.
Aside from her many travel adventures and miracles witnessed through her association with Sakya Monastery, Jean learned other practical things. From John Vichorek she learned about construction and people. John and Jean spent many hours painting, sanding and cleaning. Jean says, “I don’t know how many times I cleaned those stairs.” She also learned about cultural differences between Tibetans and Westerners. She saw from a Tibetan perspective what it is like to move to a new country under great hardship. Most importantly, Jean developed a Dharma practice of her own and she’s grateful for the opportunity to have spent time with H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, Dagmola and the Sakya Family, “I don’t know how to express it.”