Dear Grand Master Dasira Narada,
Dear Second Grand Master Narada Mahathera,
Dear Masters Thuan Duc Nguyen and Hai Ngoc Nguyen, co-founders of Divine Dharma Mediation,
Dear all DDM members,
Today is a very special day. It is a day full of joy for all of us present here in this hall, who came from many places around the globe, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Seattle center together and to have an opportunity to walk down the memory lane to visit many beautiful memories from all children of Grand Master who have lived a few most precious and happy days of their lives at Seattle center, a place full of love and filled with laughters, that you cannot help but feel emotional when reminded of the experiences.
As members of Seattle center, we had a gift of opportunity to live with the masters in the beginning of the discipline. We lived in the loving arms of Thay/Co as a big family, in which each member loves and is loved. How can we not remember the image of Co, like a fairy, every day over the years, from 4:00 pm to 12:00 pm, always helped Seattle members and everyone who came from many places to get relief from physical pain and agony of the mind? At about 6:00 pm, dinner time, only after being insisted by members, Co paused and stepped out of the center into the kitchen, quickly swallowed a bowl of rice, and then came back into the center to continue helping people. Especially, there was always a smile on Co’s already radiant face, never a sign of tiredness. Regarding Thay, every time Thay returned to Seattle after a trip, as soon as he stepped foot into the center, Thay asked the members what they want to eat; and then went groceries shopping himself to personally pick out from vegetables to fish, to meat. After finish cooking the meals and members gathered around, Thay divided the food into individual portions and bring it to each member. Strangely, the food that Thay prepared can rarely be achieved by other chefs, as it was delicious for certain, but most importantly, also filled with his love. It is from Thay that we learned to find happiness in serving members of the discipline who come from everywhere to Seattle center for high-level classes. Also learned from Thay, the kitchen staff of Seattle center poured all of their love into the vegetarian dishes served during classes. Because of that, I’m sure many of you would agree that the vegetarian food that you’ve had at Seattle center was more delicious than anywhere else.
Being members of Seattle center, we also had many opportunities to spend time with other members of the discipline. Together, we learned the teaching, we meditated, we even joked around some time as we had meals together, we shared our happy as well as sad stories, and we helped each other with energy. What else can bring us such blessing and happiness? Indeed, it is a great fortune to be able to share our deep thoughts with fellow spiritual cultivators. Because our mind and consciousness have been transformed in a mysterious way by the true teacher, we are no longer segregated due to differences in language, customs, or distance.
DDM discipline was born in a chaotic setting, in which people have lost a sense of direction; and conflicts and rivals are present everywhere. Nations cannot co-exist peacefully, resulting in wars and casualty daily. In addition, beautiful nature has been overused and destroyed by the recklessness of human being; and consequently, natural disasters such as storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, flooding, and drought occur more frequently. New diseases form one after another. For instance, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in the year 2002, followed by Ebola virus disease in 2014, and most recently is the Zika virus disease which not yet has a cure for. The life of most people is filled with predicaments both physically and mentally. In that setting, there is no surprise that the discipline has to face many challenges and obstacles. And that are also lessons that the higher beings use to test His children.
There is no exception for Seattle center or any other DDM centers. It is due to many years of persisting cultivation that we can be here together today. This is a milestone that worth celebrating for because after all the tears we’ve shed and all the hardship we’ve overcome over the years, we’ve been well polished into valuable gemstones. From this point on, if we continue to take firm steps forward along the path of evolutionary, and are not sidetracked by material wealth or unrealistic wishes, then these gemstones will surely shine to bring love, empathy, and peace to our fellow beings.
In 1996, Thay/co immigrated to Seattle; and from then on, with their own hands, Thay/Co have brought the seed of love through the meditation technique of our Grand Master to many places around the world. Four years ago, in 2012, with the need to expand the discipline, Thay/Co and family moved to Anaheim California to reside and establish new DDM headquarters there. During these 4 years, Seattle center is no longer the headquarters and functions as a local center, but still is the first center of the discipline ever established.
Over the past 20 years, the history of Seattle center can be divided into 2 distinct stages. The first 16 years, from 1996 to 2012, Seattle center continuously organized high-level classes under direct guidance from Thay/co. Each year, when the winter months passed, entering springtime, each month after, Seattle center organized a high-level class, welcoming members from many centers around the world like family members returning home. Members of Seattle center, with the helping hands of members of Vancouver center and a few members of other centers who came to help with the classes, we took care of the students with all of our love. The unconditional love and caring over the years have become a uniqueness of Seattle center and beautiful memories for many disciples who attended classes here.
After Thay/Co moved the headquarters to California, from the year 2013 to 2016, honestly speaking, members of Seattle center felt a bit strange and empty due to lack of days with excitement and fun with disciples from everywhere. However, following Thay/Co’s guidance to not be constrained by the boundary of the center but use our experiences to help people elsewhere, in the past 4 years, members of Seattle center have provided help to start a few new centers and tirelessly went practicing the teaching at few places as follow.
Hong Kong center: opened a second center in 2016
Richmond center: This is a new and first center in Richmond Canada for mostly Chinese speaking people. Within a year, there were 4 classes opened here. This center also has the help and support from members of Vancouver center.
Hawaii center was opened in 2015 with 5 classes to date and is developing in a positive direction
Malaysia is most impressive of all. From the first 2 centers in Malaysia, Seattle members, under the leadership of 2 young instructors Norman and Susan, helped open 2 more centers, a total of 4 centers and surely will be more. In the month of June coming up, also with the support of the 2 instructors, Malaysia center will organize Level 4 and Level 5 classes for disciples from Asia mostly. These classes will have the most number of students of all level 4 classes so far.
Looking at many familiar faces from centers everywhere gathered here today, all of us cannot help but feel emotional as we are reminded of the happy days we spent together here in Seattle. From this very city, we have scattered the seeds of love all over the places. That was made possible due to silent contribution and graceful endurance through challenges and obstacles over the years of countless disciples, especially those who manage the centers. Disciples of the second and later generations need to recognize this contribution of the brothers and sisters ahead.
To borrow the words of instructor Lisa Cross, we all have the privilege of living together with, meeting, spending time, and communicate with our beloved masters, Thuan Duc Nguyen and Hai Ngoc Nguyen. In the past 15 years, most of us here had a pleasure of visiting Thay/Co’s house in Seattle. A few of us also had a chance to visit Thay/Co’s house in Vietnam and follow them to many cities to practice the teaching. With the current momentum of expanding of the discipline, the opportunities for disciples to meet and interact directly with Thay/Co will certainly be limited. In the future looking back, we will understand how fortunate we are to be taught directly by Thay/Co.
With that note, I’d like to end my speech here. Welcome, all dear members of the family of Grand Master Dasira Narada and of our beloved masters.