An Open Door: Lama Kathy’s KTC Dharma Blog

Greetings, everyone!

Columbus KTC means so many things to so many people: it’s a place to learn meditation; it’s a quiet place in the midst of worldly chaos; it’s somewhere to “flock together” with spiritually-minded folks; it’s a flame, a lamp, a torch of inspiration to everyone who encounters it.

And it is an open door.

Since the fire of Jan. 31, 2016, our sangha – individually and as a whole – has been going over what KTC means to them. We’ve had a sangha meeting, we’ve had discussions, both formal and informal – and again and again, the same things keep appearing.

“I feel at home here;” “these are my people;” “Buddhism sounds like what I’ve been believing my whole life.”

The KTC is many things, but for most of us, it feels like home.

So what does it feel like to be homeless?

We know the Buddha’s teachings talk about the contentment that comes from non-attachment to material things, but … home??  Surely, that’s a different kettle of tofu.

Being without a home place – we’ve meditated all over the city of Columbus, it seems, borrowing rooms north, east, south, and west – has given me a sense that wherever we are – our sangha, our community – there is “home.”

It’s in our smiles, hugs and handshakes, and the easy way we look with acceptance and love at one another. It’s how we encourage each other, how we say, “that’s why they call it ‘practice!'” when commiserating with others about our daily lives and troubles. It’s all of those things, and more.

This is what makes it possible to get through the “bardo” period we’re in.

Some folks are using the metaphor of “exile,” or “journey” or “pilgrimage” to describe what the KTC is experiencing right now; I know, because I think I’ve used most of those myself! But it’s also a period of “bardo,” which in Tibetan means “in-between,” and refers to the periods of time that demarcate our existence: Birth to Death, Death to Rebirth.

The teachings say that once a being dies and enters the bardo experience that leads to rebirth, they experience their own inner enlightened essence in the form of peaceful and forceful buddhas who can lead them to rebirth in a place where dharma reigns and love is all around.

As a sangha, we’re in the “bardo of becoming” right now, holding onto one another for help and support as we make our way toward our new home.

Our sangha leadership – Director Kim, Assistant Director Tanya, Treasurer Steve, Secretary Justin, and At-Large Member Eric – have been working long hours every day to keep things moving smoothly and steadily, all the while looking at building plans, talking to venues to organize our events, striving to understand zoning laws, talking to attorneys and realtors – all the while juggling the responsibilities of full-time jobs, homes, and family. One wonders when they manage to find time to sleep!

So this week’s advice from this old lama is to give these folks a hearty greeting whenever you see them, and thank them for all they are doing for us all.

And while you’re thanking them, ask, “What can I do for you?”  Perhaps you can make a phone call for them, run an errand, fill a Tuesday or Sunday Greeter spot, haul some cushions, hand out cards at a fundraiser – or just offer prayers for their continued health and strength. Whatever your situation or energy level, there’s something you can do to lighten their load, so they can continue working toward a new home for the KTC. Helping out builds a virtuous mind state within us – we feel lighter, we feel like we are part of the solution, part of the wave of love that will carry all of us home.

THE JOURNEY HOME: This Week’s Highlights

It’s been a busy April for Team KTC, as leadership worked on the two main Options for Finding a Home: Buying and Remodeling; and Building New. The main work right now is gathering information on the two options, with the object of sharing with the sangha sometime in the next few weeks.

But in the meantime, here are some highlights!

First, the “Buying and Remodeling” update: at the start of the month, we had a shot at buying the old Whitehall Public Library at Yearling Road and East Broad Street in Whitehall. The 58-year-old building was solid and looked good for its age, was larger than the KTC building that burned down, and cost under $500,000. But sadly, the zoning for the building wasn’t right for a church, so we have to file this one under “the one that got away.”

Second, the “Building New” update: Interestingly, the loss of the opportunity to buy the old Whitehall Library prompted the leadership to request a re-work of the architectural plans for a replacement building on the Grubb Street property. Architect Keith Spruce (a dharma guy from Milwaukee, who’s designed churches for Catholic and Buddhist clients) crunched numbers and gave us a new design, which will go before the East Franklinton Review Board (a zoning authority) in June. Cost figures for this average out around $820,000, depending on options and materials.

New properties come on the market all the time, and Eric George, our Realtor, is keeping an eye out. Meanwhile, our Attorney Tom Hart is working to help us identify contractors who can help us with remodeling or building, and folks like Brad Gee (of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley) and Suzanne Allen (of Philanthropy Ohio) are helping us understand how to pull together the financial and human resources to make our new home possible.

Your KTC leadership is getting a real education; some say we should be getting college credits for all the meetings we’ve attended!

In any case, work continues, and meetings will be happening soon to bring everyone up to date and share all the amazing things we’ve learned. The most amazing thing is how warm and helpful everyone has been; in the midst of our misfortune, the blessings we’ve received – from total strangers – has been uplifting and so comforting.

OTHER NEWS: Lama Dudjom Dorjee of the Dallas KTC visited Columbus last week, and gave a weekend program for us at rented rooms in Grove City. He shared fundraising ideas from Dallas (where they are getting ready to launch a Capital Campaign to build a new center) and encouraged us to continue working together toward our goal. Thank you, Lama Dorjee!

We also heard this week that Lama Karma Drodhul – the nephew of our founder Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche – will be with us June 3-5. This is auspicious news, as Lama Karma will be bringing us blessings from Rinpoche – so needed in this time of transition. Our KTC leadership tells us they’ve obtained The Thurber House as the venue for this teaching, so the KTC will be returning to Downtown for the weekend  of June 3-5. Please mark your calendars now and plan to join us!

IN CLOSING: Please remember to support and help one another, and keep those Tashi Prayers flowing. May Buddha’s and Karmapa’s blessings be with you!