By Daniel Scharpenburg
The Rime Center provided me with a few important things.
It was a place I could meet other Buddhists. It was a quiet place I could go meditate. It also gave me opportunities to meet different Buddhist teachers that came to visit.
I met some moderately famous teachers like Karen Maezen Miller, Santikaro, Lama Lobsang, Phagyab Rinpoche and others.
But, more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to take vows. Vows are considered an important part of Buddhist practice. When we vow to do something, we tend to take it a little more seriously, I think. Also, vows in Buddhism function as a kind of initiation.
I took Refuge Vows.
This is when one formally becomes a Buddhist. I was given a Tibetan name—Kelsang Dakpa—which means fame and fortune. (I would trade that in for another name when I found my root teacher). From then on, I took the path more seriously. I didn’t think of myself as someone who was interested in Buddhism; I thought of myself as a real Buddhist.
A short time later I took a membership class and became an official member of the Rime Center and I was given a mala that was blessed by the Dalai Lama.
A little later I took Bodhisattva Vows. This is a set of vows that are designed to help us in cultivation of the six perfections: generosity, virtue, patience, diligence, wisdom and concentration. The cultivation of the six perfections is the road to enlightenment as defined in Mahayana Buddhism.
I wish for my life to be a reflection of my desire to cultivate the six perfections. In the areas where it hasn’t, that is where my work lies.
I took these sets of vows and became a dedicated member of the Rime Center. I would take the vows again later from different teachers, but this was my first experience with Buddhist vows.
I started taking my daughter Nissa to the Dharma School. It’s like a Sunday School for children of Buddhist parents. I also started volunteering there once in a while and met a lot of great people.
Practicing at the Rime Center inspired me to write a book. I wrote and published: Unleash Your Buddha Nature. I focused on how a lot of Buddhists seem to be bored or just going through the motions, and I think Buddhism is something to get excited about.
Some of my friends bought it.
Also, I had a book signing at a store that doesn’t exist anymore called Stone Spirit Lodge. At that book signing I met a Zen teacher—the first one I would meet—but not the last.
The book was mediocre at best, but, I suppose it was a pretty good representation of what I was feeling about Buddhist practice at the time. I’ve written several books since then. The best book that I’ve written is Notes From a Buddhist Mystic.
Ultimately, the guy that was running the Dharma School where my daughter attended and where I occasionally volunteered, decided he was going to quit. He had been doing it for two years (which seemed like a long time at the time. Ha Ha)
I didn’t take over Dharma School then, but my very dear friend, Amanda did. I later introduced her to the man she would marry.
But, I did become her assistant, her second in command. That’s when I started going to Dharma School every week. She was a natural at teaching kids. That was a skill I had to cultivate.
It was during this period that my practice split into two parts. I would continue practicing at the Rime Center, although that mainly consisted of teaching children, but I also joined a Zen Order.
But my first experience with Zen was not to last.
Photo: Ivan iz Moskve/tumblr
Editor: Dana Gornall
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