Speech Given at 20th Anniversary of Seattle Meditation Center by Lisa Cross
It is such an honor and pleasure to be together here today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Seattle center, who has been the mother center to all of us for many years.
Why is the Seattle center so very special to so many of us gathered here today? Why do our hearts soften so easily when we think about or even mention the name “Seattle Center”?
For many of us, Seattle center has been our first spiritual home. It is a place of love and caring; and it has been our witness and our source of support in our individual and collective evolutionary journey. The disciples of Seattle have truly been the Grand Master’s dharma in action. As young, somewhat apprehensive, souls coming into the discipline to take Level 4 training, we were initiated and taught by the masters here. It is in the heart of the Seattle center where many of us took our first baby steps into the sacred realms of true spirituality. For many of us, we also come to Seattle center for Levels 5, 6, 7, and for instructor training. Seattle has not only had a local community presence for Levels 1, 2, and 3, it has had an international presence for the development of the entire discipline. Because of Seattle members’ special dedication and caring over the years, there is a very personal bond and affinity created by the Seattle center members, the masters, and all of us as disciples that invites us to this day.
Seattle disciples welcomed us not as strangers, but as new members of a very unique and sacred spiritual family. From the beginning, dear brothers and sisters of Seattle center, you have conveyed a feeling of trust, caring, and respect for us as people. We were never just another group of students coming to take yet another class with the masters. You tirelessly provided such caring and loving attention to us as you drove us in your vehicles to and from the airport, settled us in our accommodation, which in the earliest days was at the center itself. You endlessly prepared meals, snacks, and refreshments making us always feel welcomed and at home. Seattle disciples took such good care of us, not only as we made our steps along the road of cultivation, but also when we returned, time and time again to sit at the feet of our most precious and beloved masters (Thay/Co). It is because of you, dear Seattle members, that we were able to learn the dharma in such a personal and powerful way.
As our witness, Seattle members encouraged us during our initiations, celebrated our accomplishments, and you were so very generous with your time, energy, resources, and knowledge. Seattle disciples have been wonderful role models, not only in organizing and arranging the structural components of classes, but also in providing translation and giving genuine help to new fledgling centers getting started. For disciples like myself, who didn’t understand or speak the Vietnamese language, Seattle members like Anh Thu provided the patient gift of translation and clarified the teachings as well as answering our many questions in between hours and hours of instruction from the masters. It is no surprise that Seattle members have inspired many of us to lend a hand in the ongoing effort to continue the enormous task of translating the teachings for the discipline.
I have a very vivid memory of senior instructor Diep from my Level 4 initiation. We were sitting cross legged on the carpet facing each other in the mediation hall of the Seattle center during a short break. We were sitting near the wall closest to the kitchen just speaking quietly together getting acquainted. I asked instructor Diep “How do you develop a relationship with the Grand Master Dasira Narada?” He paused over so briefly as his eyes looked away from me into the distance for just a few short seconds. Then a gentle smile came across his face and he looked back into my eyes again. He simply said one word with such warmth in his voice: “Service”. I looked at him wide eyed and smiled back. There was a comfortable stillness and peace. I felt a sense of awe and joy in my heart because I knew that I was finally in my spiritual home for the first time in my life. I was in Seattle, at the center, with the masters, the Seattle members, the members from Ottawa, and all the other centers sitting on the carpet on the floor. I couldn’t have been happier. These kinds of experiences and the created power of these memories strengthen us and live in us forever. They help to fortify us when we return to our own home and local meditation centers. These memories also sustain us over the years as we continue the day to day work of cultivation- reducing egoism, developing a more virtuous character, and helping everyone in their evolution forward. If we work hard enough, we may eventually be able to do it with the depth of kindness and caring that Seattle member exemplify so well.
Seattle members have not only supported the masters’ work for many years. They have endured their own personal heartache and loss as the masters departed to build a new center for the discipline in Anaheim California. We, as your brothers and sisters, prayed for you all during this time of transition. We knew that the Seattle membership would mature in some unique ways through this experience and its challenges. We admire Seattle courage and fortitude along with your beautiful hearts as your identity in the discipline grows in new ways.
So now we are all in the present moment together as Anaheim prepares itself to open its doors officially, as the construction is completed, to continue to function as the mother center of the discipline. We recognize that Anaheim center, as do all of our centers, have Seattle members example to live up to. Indeed, the disciples of Seattle center continue to set a very high standard for all of us to follow.
Thank you, Seattle members, for supporting us over the years in such a courteous, respectful, compassionate, and loving ways. Thank you for continuing to inspire us now. We deeply value our connection with all of you. We celebrate the 20th anniversary of our beloved Seattle center with such a deep gratitude and joy. We look forward to the future with you and having more opportunities to know you and learn from you.
Thank you, Thay/Co, for your spiritual strength and the ways that you and the Grand Master love us forward in our evolution as we slowly transform our consciousness into the light. It is a precious, wonderful opportunity to grow, supported by you all together.
Congratulations Seattle member, with our love and respect, always.