VoM August 2014

August 2014

Paul Friedman – Santa Monica

This section should really be called sufferer of the month.

About 9 years ago in 2005 I met Noah while he was visiting from NYC at a workshop/retreat he taught here in Santa Monica.
At that time I was 3 years into getting clean and sober and looking for something more, a path that would further help liberate me from suffering.

Noah had a way of teaching the dharma that made it feel much more accessible and relatable to me.
It wasn’t the liberal use of the word fuck or the tattoos, it’s that the words he spoke rang true with me in a way that I had not experienced before.
For the first time I felt like I was in the right place and that I might have a chance on this eightfold path.

For many years I practiced with some local living room Sangha’s in my neighborhood, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I started regularly attending ATS at the recommendation of a friend.

Volunteer of the month? I don’t know about all that…
I show up early and help out with anything that I can, partially because I have an attachment to sitting on a specific cushion, but mostly because it gives me an opportunity to connect with the Sangha and practice gratitude.
I’m incredibly grateful to ATS, the Sangha, all of the teachers and all of the volunteers for giving me something I can take refuge in.

Rick Dalby – Melrose

After a retreat at Tassajara, I came home puzzled, trying to bring meditation into my LA life.  I knew of Against the Stream, but I was too afraid to show up there.  I wandered into a meditation group in Studio City that Pablo Das was leading.  That was two years ago and lots of time sitting with Satipatthana and Brahma Viharas, whoever they are.   With Buddha, great teachers, and a welcoming sangha I have felt surprisingly at home.  There is no way I can communicate my gratitude adequately.

It’s been about a year and a half since I started to step out of my comfort zone and volunteer to help.   I started with joining the sangha at the LA Food Bank, the Clinton St. Cleanup, and the Melrose Monthly Cleanup.  When I couldn’t attend a retreat, I was asked to cover hosting duties for other volunteers, and soon found myself regularly opening up, setting up, and welcoming new people to ATS.    If you had known me a couple of years ago, it would seem an unlikely scenario.  Lately, my regular gig is Georg Haas’ Monday night class, though I try to lend a hand cleaning up, filling in to host last minute, carting cushions to retreats, or just bringing some snacks and tea.  On rarer occasions I’ve shared the Two Dollar Bill Continuum generosity practice, and have filled-in to facilitate a sit when a teacher couldn’t make it. I don’t have the chops for that yet, but I feel it’s so important for the people that come to sit in community, to have a place where people “show up” in such a meaningful way.

I had been the one looking for a practice, answers, and a step out of the mud of greed, hatred and delusion.  I feel so lucky.  Volunteering helps me keep my practice going and I can already give back.  These teachings and this practice are tough, but it’s the most precious treasure I know.