Let’s just say we had a marvelous weekend. Awake in Seattle was Nalanda West’s thank-you to the Pacific Northwest community, and especially to Seattle, for 10 years supporting our programs and courses. We listened, contemplated, meditated, ate great food, and enjoyed each other’s company while checking out Nalanda West’s Five Fields of Knowledge.
We celebrated on Saturday beginning with a meditation session, then a welcome by Nalandabodhi’s Executive Director, Diane Gregorio, and a rousing panel featuring esteemed teachers from three different Buddhist traditions: Theravadin (Venerable Pannavati), Mahayana (John Tarrant Roshi), and Vajrayana (Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, founder of Nalandabodhi International, the community that runs Nalanda West).
Venerable Pannavati helped us to connect with our “inner smile.” John Tarrant Roshi guided us in contemplating a Zen koan that involved taking a bath, and experiencing the light of wisdom with the touch of the water. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche gave us a delicious taste of the “gap” where the mind opens up between the in-breath and the out-breath. Then Angela Russell of KIRO 7 News and Tyler Dewar, Dean of Nalandabodhi’s council of senior teachers (Mitras), co-moderated a session of questions and answers, with lively exchanges and plenty of laughter!
Saturday afternoon, visitors browsed the rooms of Nalanda West, exploring the Five Fields of Knowledge that inspire its varied programs and courses.
There were demonstrations of calligraphy, movement, and song celebrating Creativity and the Arts, as well as informative, interactive experiences of Health & Well-Being, Communication, Knowing & Reasoning, and Inner Science of Mind.
On Sunday the contemplative fun continued with a panel featuring senior teachers of Nalandabodhi International: Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, and the Nalandabodhi’s four Mitras: Tyler Dewar, Karl Brunnholzl, Lee Worley, and Mark Power, along with moderator Sandra Roscoe.
Acharya Lama Tenpa set the tone by suggesting that meditation practitioners keep warm by applying our bums to the cushion! Each of the Mitras addressed an important facet of 21st century Buddhism.
Mitra Dean Tyler Dewar explained that the essential experience of Buddhist practice will always be “analog” rather than merely “digital,” and emphasized the importance of our gathering to study, practice, and engage in person.
Mitra Karl Brunnholzl discussed five ways that contemporary Buddhist students can adapt to the dharma (rather than only trying to get Buddhism to adapt to our cultural comfort zone). Mitra Lee Worley, an engaging storyteller, told a timeless and beautiful story of the Buddha claiming the earth as the witness of his enlightenment, and urged us to contemplate our relationship to the earth. Mitra Mark Power helped us think more deeply about mindfulness, as a means to full awakening and freedom, rather than only as a tool to calm our stress or be more effective in our work.
We enjoyed hosting so many new and old friends for this joyful and very memorable weekend! May we continue the celebration by appreciating our opportunities to contemplate the gift of this precious life . . . and by opening up to the wisdom that is always peeking through our experience.