7 a.m. comes early every Sunday for the Columbus KTC – it’s when the Tara puja happens every Sunday. This weekend, the puja crew reported for duty at our temporary location – the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.
Eight dharma friends helped Umdzes Marilyn Stephen and Erin Hess get ready for the weekly puja in a new location – the digital art classroom at the MAC. Images placed, offering bowls filled, and chants begun – an auspicious beginning for our nomads’ journey.With the old KTC building torn down yesterday (in answer to the city’s emergency demolition order) and the future a bit uncertain, it certainly felt good to be welcomed by Erin Blue and the rest of the wonderful staff at the MAC. We brought the entire KTC Sunday schedule to the arts building, with pujas, Meditation Instruction and Dharma Instruction classes, 10 a.m. Meditation, Lama interviews, a dharma talk and a special Mahakala protector puja for the pre-Losar (Tibetan New Year) blessings. It was a busy place – full of dharma.
And old friends. One after another, they came through the door, cushions in hand and ready to sit for the benefit of beings. They filled our “main shrine room” in the beautiful main gallery – and by Dharma Talk time, we counted nearly 100 people. Old friends. New Friends. Shambhala friends. The KTC Children’s Class. We felt surrounded by love and support from so many people – so many it’s hard to gather all the names together to say “thank you,” so we will just leave it as “we love you.”
Even students and new people found us – including one visitor who came all the way from Marietta, who felt confounded when her GPS led her to a vacant lot on Grubb Street. Signs at the site re-directed her to the MAC, where she attended classes and become a part of the community.
So many people volunteered to help visitors find the classes and classrooms. Others brought treats. One friend – Tom Olson of Cleveland – even brought us a microphone and amplifier.
During the dharma talk, Lama Kathy offered condolences to the community for the loss of the building, and invited everyone to take an imaginary walk through the mandala of KTC – its hallways, its shrine room, the library – and then imagine it dissolving into light and merging into their hearts. In this way, the mandala of KTC – that treasure-house of dharma – could become one with us, always to remain.
Before the Pre-Losar Mahakala puja, Lama Wangdu spoke eloquently of his feelings of warmth and joy at being part of the Columbus KTC sangha. He said obstacles arise wherever there is powerful dharma, and said that external obstacles, while painful, can be overcome by dharma and the goodness of virtue.
He also said he would like to have a puja of offering and thanksgiving at the site of the old Columbus KTC; when we have the time and date for the puja, we will let you know.
Also, we heard from Lama Tom of the Athens KTC – the Athens KTC has gifted us with a wonderful portrait of His Holiness for our center, as well as prayer books for us to use while new ones are being prepared. They also took up a collection from their membership and gave us $400. Thank you to Lama Tom and our dharma siblings in Athens!
Other KTCs and centers also have made donations in recent days, including Ann Arbor KTC, Albany KTC, Cape Ann Vajra Vidya, Jacksonville KTC, Gainesville KTC. We also received a donation from Lama Karma Drodhul. Many thanks to all!
This week will continue the work of seeking longer-term housing for our community and meetings with city officials, realtors and others to see what options we have for replacing our building. We’ll also update Mayor Ginther on our progress, and meet with The Columbus Foundation, which has started a fund for our renovation there.
But prayers at the MAC will continue, with our annual Losar Tibetan New Year prayers and observances beginning aat 7 a.m.Tuesday at the MAC, 777 Evening Street, Columbus 43085. Morning prayers will go from 7 until 9:30. and an evening practice will go from 5:30 to 8:15 p.m. We hope you can join us, and make an auspicious start to the New Year.
Thanks to Erin Blue for the photos!