Dear Dharma Friends:
While busily pouring over diagrams and floorplans and samples of tile and brick the other day, someone sent me a message online and reminded me – that day, Jan. 31, was the 2nd anniversary of the fire that destroyed Columbus KTC.
There was a moment, a catch in the throat, an instant of sadness, as the past became the present in a sudden shattering of the linear timeline that we sometimes use to circumscribe our lives. For a moment, there was a pang of sadness. And then the image of the warm red bricks, the soft golden stone, and an inexpressible feeling of the future being at hand.
That’s how it’s been these last few months, as folks send me photos of our happy lives in the “old” KTC and architects and builders show us the future “new life” of the KTC in drawings and photographs. After two years, we are still processing the grief of losing our home so suddenly, but at the same time, there is the tug of the future, a time and place where we will be comfortably “home again.”
Buddhism encourages us to not live in the future or the past, but to always live in the “now” of freshness, where the nature of our mind – free from being a material thing, free from habitual tendencies and clinging – is glowing and empty and present. It’s a reminder that clinging to feelings and emotions needs to give way to a comfortable rest in mind as it is, in the beauty of our unestablished nature – the nature that we all share and that makes us all “children of the Buddha” under the skin.
Accompanying this understanding is love and compassion – for ourselves, still stuck in the grinding mill of our habits, and for others, wincing in samsaric bondage beside us. Remembering to generate love and compassion for ourselves and others helps us to realize the appearance of awakening, even if we haven’t yet manifested that awakening in our minds.
So we work to build a container for our practice, for our human failings and yet also for our human aspirations to be more than we are, to be better, to be uplifted and to see ourselves as children of the Buddha, no matter how things might look to the outside world.
And building a new KTC is creating that container, and brings that blessing into every moment – including moments of indecision about tile and wood and stone.
The KTC Board has worked tirelessly and continuously for two straight years to bring this new building to fruition – the vision that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche said when he asked us to “not be sad … (but to) rebuild,” and to “make it bigger” and better than before.
So if you see a Board member – Director Kim, or Assistant Directors Tanya and Michelle and Stacey (our glorious tag-team of dharma), or Treasurer Steve and Secretary Justin and Member-at-Large Eric – please give them a hug and a bit of thanks for all they are doing to bring us home again.
Two years is a long time to be without a home, but we have grown so much in those two years – learned about ourselves and each other, about what’s important in community (hint: it’s love, compassion, patience, cooperation, assistance, coffee and donuts, among other things), and about how always looking forward with a core of solid Bodhicitta (the mind of awakening that has compassion at its center) can make miraculous things happen.
Thanks to all of you, dharma friends, for carrying us and seeing us through. We have a little ways to go yet, and not everyone will like the choices of colors and tiles, but we’re working to create a space for practice that will shelter us as we seek our future in this amazing city of Columbus.
May the blessings of your intentions spread throughout the universe!
The Journey Home: Short Notes
- KTC in Tricycle Magazine: You might have seen that Columbus KTC was featured in the “Meet a Sangha” feature of the online edition of Tricycle Buddhist Magazine. Well, another article is in the works, and if you’re at the KTC this coming weekend for our annual Tibetan New Year (Losar) events, you may meet writer Mary Talbot, who is coming to Columbus KTC from New York to profile us for an upcoming issue of the print edition. She will be attending our Friday Feb. 16 morning events and the Shabbat dinner in the evening, as well as our “Losar Sunday” events and sangha luncheon on Feb. 18. If you see her (or the photographer who will accompany her) please say “hello” and “Happy Losar!”
- Lama Kathy Birthday Fundraiser – for fun this past week, I signed up for a Facebook fundraiser to raise some of the $7,000 needed for a KTC audio/video/internet system. We raised $2,600! Thanks for all who participated.
- Also, don’t forget that even if you are short on cash, you can join the “Prayer Team” that is praying for the KTC Rebuilding Project to be a success. Decide on a prayer or mantra you will say for us, and write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you’re doing for us. Thanks in advance for your help!
- KTC plans – the latest version of our rebuilding plans are being reviewed now by the Board, and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche already is picking out decorations for the shrine room. We will share more pictures when they are available.
- East Franklinton Review Board: The architects and builders working for KTC are almost ready to present the next-generation design for the building to the East Franklinton Review Board for approval. This zoning commission’s approval is the next critical step in the rebuilding process. The group meets March 22; please mark your calendars and keep us in prayers on that day.
- LOSAR – thanks to all who attended the “three-lama” Mahakala protector puja on Sunday Feb. 11. Lama Wangdu, Lama Tom and myself gathered with our stalwart crew of Mahakala practitioners to thank the awkened protectors for their help in the “old year” and their assistance in the New Year.
Also, please try to remember the old adage that “what you do on Losar is what you will do all year,” and try to do some practice on the Sacred Day of Losar – this Friday Feb. 16. We will be at the KTC from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. that day, chanting the Green Tara sadhana (for the first hour) to clear obstacles for the new year, and will have open practice from 9 to 10 to start the new year off right. If you can join us, that would be wonderful, but even if you can’t join us in person, you can join us in spirit by doing some dharma practice or prayers right where you are. You are always our “Dharma Family” in spirit!
We are sending our beautiful golden “prayer flag” T-shirts to our teacher Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and all the lamas at KTD Monastery; we’re also sending a card and gift to Khenpo Rinpoche (our founder) to thank him for all he’s given to us ever since founding our center in September 1977. May he have a long life, good health, and ever-expanding dharma activity!