Nearly 10 years ago, while I was in the depths of shame and depression, my brother gave me a book that was innocently titled “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Sri Lankan Theravada monk Bhante Gunaratana. As someone raised in a secular household, I was confused about receiving guidance that contained even a semblance of spirituality. But this offering opened a path of healing that came full circle when I began attending EBMC with my brother and 3 year old nibling. I spent several months enthusiastically attending Dharma talks at various EBMC Sanghas. I recall the vivid excitement shimmering in my body when I entered Family Sangha for the first time in March of 2020 and saw friends, who I looked up to dearly, leading the circles of children and family members. I was finally bringing together two intimate parts of my life that had felt separated for far too long.
Meditation opened me up to the gifts of solitude, reflection and self-compassion. However, silent retreats and breathing on a cushion had increasingly become separated from everyday life – an individualized practice that I couldn’t seem to explain or include my friends and family in. But EBMC brought to light the beauty and power in sangha, as a place that centers healing for people of incredible diversity. Being amidst a community across generations, cultures and all levels of physical ability and financial access was inviting, and showed that spiritual teachings and Buddhism can be integrative and meet people exactly where they are. This is why EBMC has become one of the few places I can enthusiastically share my healing journey with my peers and loved ones.
EBMC illuminates a path of wisdom and compassion that is rooted in community, one that shows how social justice requires both self care and collective commitments. For instance, the agreements for multicultural interactions have transformed the way I hold myself and others accountable in groups. These principles have opened up tender inquiry into core experiences that shape how I relate and react to suffering, and have fostered my curiosity about those who have radically different experiences.
EBMC’s dedication to radical inclusivity and gift economics is an honest antidote to the transactional, isolated mainstream society that capitalism has sold us. To see the medicine of the dharma given freely and open heartedly has inspired me to contemplate on how I can best share my gifts with all who can benefit. Through these means, it is an honor to join my spiritual path with one of service by taking on a new role as Operations and IT Director at EBMC, and I look forward to helping EBMC grow.