VoM June 2014
Laura Anne Rowell – Melrose
I have been going to ATS for about a year and a half. I noticed in the beginning I was not consistently attending talks and my practice seemed very difficult. Then about six or seven months ago the hosting for Pablo’s’ Thursday nights Connect and Sustain was open. Because I work from home, I can actually go for weeks without seeing anyone, so I thought what a great way to make a commitment and HAVE to be there! Once I started hosting, I connected with so many folks and my practice grew stronger through my sangha. Then I talked to Mary about hosting her Saturday class and she agreed which added more friends and teachings. Slowly I have added on day longs and along with George ‘co-host’ Monday – Thursday 7AM meditations. I probably would not be as far along in my practice if I was not committed to these teachers and to others. It gives me great joy and peace to hear everyone’s story and meet new folks when they walk in. It can be scary to take that first step and it can be a challenge to keep going, which is why community is so important in Buddhism. I am grateful for all the opportunities and lessons that ATS has given to me.
Rick Berger – Santa Monica
I originally came to one of these types of gatherings to impress a woman I was dating at the time. I didn’t end up impressing her. That said, attending these meetings began to make an impression on me and I’ve continued to come and explore the ‘practice’ for about the last five years.
Why do I come? Well, for many reasons I still don’t recognize or perhaps acknowledge to myself. There is some stuff I do recognize though. Some of that would include a need to find alternative ways of being at peace with the world, and with myself. I’ve got a ways to go on that.
But there are also reasons to come here that are more immediately available. Just a couple of them:
I come here and I’m reminded to spend a little time concentrating on, even bowing to, many aspects of myself and the world around me that I have otherwise utterly taken completely for granted. I’m even talking here about stuff as basic as my breath. I come here and at every meeting I’m reminded of the breath; that strange miracle, that perpetual opportunity. Think of it… as we’re often asked to do here… We Breath, we don’t ask for the breath, it’s just there. Further, there’s air for us to breath. That too is a pretty remarkable. Our hearts beat without our request. What’s that about? Our feet touch the ground because we have feet and we have ground, etc… I’m reminded of all that, and much more, when I come here.
I believe I mostly come here for the insight from our teachers, the food for thought… or, if you will, the food for absence of thought.
All this, and more, is why I volunteer. When I first came here, I was a complete stranger to the people who run and teach at this place; they didn’t know me from Adam. And yet, with the best of intentions, these complete strangers allowed me into their home. The only qualification I needed to enter this room was the ability to walk through that front door out there. A door that I’m very grateful remains open to me even after several years. A door that I hope opens all of us to consideration, refuge, perhaps solace and peace.
Incredibly, I was allowed to meet here teachers who offered to me freely what I’ve just mentioned, and more. People who wanted, perhaps even needed, to spread the word about a practice that has brought some significant measure of goodness into their lives. These people helped me keep coming here by never lying to me and by never telling me life is easy. These are also people who not only don’t mind their practice being questioned, but in fact invite and encourage such questions at every meeting I attend. Why do they allow that? I’m suspecting it’s because they know that the Practice can take it.
Given all this, I encourage you to help Against The Stream and what they represent in any way you can. I encourage you to give back to this place. Look inside the ‘best self’ this place strives to put you in touch with and ask what you can do. Not because you’re ‘required’ to do this, but precisely because you’re not ‘required’ to do it. Even if you’re still in the first part of your exploration, as I feel I am, think about what you can do to keep that door we all walked through tonight open for us and others like us.