My name is Robin Winn, and starting August 4, 2017 I’ve committed to doing a month long meditation retreat and dedicating the blessings to my nephew, Finn, and all transgender children, adolescents, and their families.
For four weeks, from 9 am to 9 pm, I will be offering prayers for humanity in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Chöd.
Will you help me?
Traditionally in Tibetan Buddhism when someone goes into retreat, people who do not have the time or inclination to do intensive practice offer material or financial support to enable others who are called to do this service. The benefactor’s generosity creates merit, and auspiciously links them to the retreat.
I have known for over a year that I was called to do this retreat.
In June, on the first day of the week-long retreat to learn the Chöd practice, I got a call from my sister in Fairfield, Iowa telling me that her son, my 14-year-old transgender nephew, Finn, had killed himself in the night. I left the retreat to spend the next month with Heidi, her husband Jean, their daughter Beatrice, and the community of family and friends that were impacted by Finn’s death.
There is so much to say about that journey, which I’ll make available, as I’m able, for those who are interested. But for now I want to say that I am dedicating this retreat to the transgender community, and especially to all transgender children and adolescents.
I am also inviting anyone who would like prayers made in their name or for loved one to contribute financially. Your offering will enable me to do the retreat, offer prayers for you or a loved one’s concern, as well support Finn’s message and advocacy for the transgender community.
The first $10,000 I receive will go to my expenses, minus 10% which will be donated to a film on Finn’s life that is in the works. Any funds above $10,000 will go directly to the film as well as helpfing to set up a nonprofit in Finn's name.
When you make a donation just include the name of the person you would like prayed for, along with the particular concern. I will read the list of names each morning before I begin the practice.
So what is Chöd? And why would you want to support this practice?
￼Robin and her sister Heidi, Finn's mom
￼Photos courtesy of Juliet Jarmosco
I was introduced to Chöd in 2006, at the beginning of my studies of Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Palden Drolma.
I had just incurred a head injury from a car incident, and was seriously overwhelmed by the smallest stimulation. Attending the Chöd retreat was one of the few things that brought relief to my inflamed, aching, head and body. It was potent medicine -- soothing nectar. From the outside, this could seem surprising, as the practice is known to be quite loud with the playing of drums and bells and the noise of horns blowing. However, Chöd, also called cutting through, is the practice of meeting what is most frightening, and clearing the obstructions in your life. It is known to be powerfully beneficial in healing illness and body challenges.
The particular practice of Chöd I do comes from Machig Labdrön, the first awakened woman spiritual adept of Tibetan Buddhism in written history. She lived in the 11th century, and taught students by having them face their deepest fears and obstacles. The profound and beautiful Chöd practice uses chanting, visualization, and music to welcome difficult mind states and harmful forces that ordinarily give rise to fear and reactivity.
When I first learned about Machig it made me think of Byron Kate who I’ve studied with extensively, and who through The Work does a 21st Century version of Chöd by taking people to the scary places in their minds. The Work has been instrumental in navigating the myriad of thoughts arising from Finn’s suicide.
For more information on the Chöd retreat and Chöd:
To watch the photo video of Finn shown at his memorial:
To watch the memorial:
To read more about my experience with Finn when it’s available:
Thank you for your support.
- Amy Buzick
- Sue Perley
- Gwen Gordon
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