Cecilie Kwiat

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In remembrance of Cecilie Kwiat by Derek Rasmussen:

“My first meditation teacher, Cecilie Kwiat was a living example of the exuberance and drive to awaken and help others awaken. Of the many teachings she gave, one line stands out as so so helpful.

One day Cecilie was teaching about the Buddha’s ‘earth touching mudra’, which is when the Buddha, sitting in meditation, put his right hand down to touch the earth with the tips of his fingers. I’ve always thought of this as him plugging into the earth like an electric plug into a socket. Cecilie was taking about compassion and equanimity when she drew our attention to this image, and she said:

“There is an expression from the SouthWestern US, from the Navajo or Hopi people, and it perfectly describes what this experience is, it captures the embrace of the Buddha’s compassion, an embrace which excludes no one and no thing. It is symbolized in the image of him touching the earth and it’s what I think of when I sit in meditation and do this mudra.

The line is: ‘He has given so fully of himself, there is no place that he is not.’”

Around the world, Cecilie’s students will recall her wonderful gifts and share merit.

“She has given so fully of herself, there is no place that she is not.”

 


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Cecilie Kwiat was a meditation teacher with skill in crafting traditional meditation techniques to accommodate individual needs. Cecilie considered herself to be a Buddhist practitioner rooted in North American culture. Since the mid 1960’s when she met her first Buddhist teacher – then known as the Venerable Ananda Bodhi, later recognised by the late Holiness, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and given the name Venerable Namgyal Rinpoché – Cecilie had the good fortune of receiving teachings from many excellent teachers from the three main schools of Sakyamuni Buddha’s lineage – most notably H.H. the Dalai Lama, H.H. the 16th Karmapa, H.H. Sakya Trinzin and H.H. Penor Rinpoché. Cecilie also studied Soto Zen Buddhism, spending nine months in Japan sitting in a Soto temple under the guidance of Ven. Uchiyana Roshi. As well, she spent 21 months in Thailand doing practice and studying the Theravadin path. For this rare and precious gift of Dharma she was most grateful.

A Canadian, attracted to the Buddha’s teaching by the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoché’s suggestion that she stop inner wars rather than outer ones, Cecilie focus was on developing non-clinging, compassionate awareness to still the fires of suffering and ignorance. Her main practices aimed at increasing love, skill and a respect for the gift of what is present.

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Cecilie was a gifted writer and poet, as well as a Dharma teacher. She shared her love of writing and Dharma by giving writing/meditation workshops in many beautiful places on the planet. To quote Cecilie:

“The gift of language bestows on its recipients great power. It can be used to paint the possibilities of imagination into our daily life. It holds the promise of clarity when we make estimates and measurements. Through language we are able to coordinate group activities. A few words can throw us into loneliness and pain or transform disaster into pleasure. But perhaps the most profound use of language occurs when it is woven into myth. Although the art of myth involves speech, its true power lies in transcending the world of duality. Myth is the language of the undivided heart. Every life, every culture has at its core a myth, calling us into a union beyond words.”

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Cecilie Kwiat was the resident guide and teacher for the Novayana Society for Eastern and Western Studies, based in Edmonton, Alberta. She taught regularly in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta and Boise, Idaho as well as at various Dharma Centres across Canada, including the Dharma Centre of Canada, and Crystal Staff in Ottawa. She has been graced, as well, with the opportunity to teach frequently at various Centres in Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, England, France, and North America.

She lived in Didsbury, Alberta, Canada where she provided individual meditation and retreat instruction. It became a vibrant Retreat Center. Meditators from across Alberta and around the world, travel here to do retreat work. The positive aspirations from all the meditative practice manifests as a tangible presence in the house. This calm, clear, and compassionate atmosphere supports all those who come.

 

Please contact Don MacKenzie at don.mackenzie@shaw.ca to join Cecilie’s archived dropbox of teachings or visit www.novayana.org, the website of the Novayana Society for Eastern and Western Studies.

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