Nestled on a quiet corner in the Elysian Valley sits the . The sign out front reads “Everyone Welcome.”
LEARNING TO MEDITATE
The goal of the center, says member Rosa Linda Cruz, is “to make meditation accessible to people.” She herself has been coming to the center for nearly 12 years, using what she learns to make her life more peaceful and put life’s daily annoyances into a “bigger context.” Los Angeles traffic no longer frustrates her as it used to – “I know I’m not the only one trying to get to work.”
Each weekday at noon, the Kadampa Meditation Center offers a workshop in meditation and Buddhist teaching. The session is bookended by two ten-minute meditations with a brief teaching in between. It lasts about 45 minutes and is followed by lunch, cooked by a volunteer in the center’s kitchen. The workshop is $8. The lunch is $5.
SUNDAY AND WEDNESDAY CLASSES
On Sundays, the sessions last longer and are organized as a class. Attendees can follow a course on a specific topic for a few weeks in a row, and pay by donation. Wednesday evenings, resident teacher Gen Kelsang Rigpa hosts a class for $12.
Again, the session begins with a simple meditation and prayer before moving into a discussion. There is a $5 brunch afterwards on Sundays.
On August 21, children scampered through the center, glittery artwork in hand, after a morning class for kids. In the shrine at the back of the center, a row of shoes was neatly lined up. Inside, around 30 adult participants sat in the brightly lit room on folding chairs.
LOVE AND HAPPINESS
“Loving others,” said nun Kelsang Rak-ma as she led the class, “is the best way to experience happiness.” Articulate, lively and funny, Rak-ma continued to explain Buddhist teachings as they related to love for all living beings.
She sat cross-legged on a platform in front of the class, clad in yellow and red robes with a closely shorn head. Participants were encouraged to both answer and ask questions, and there was a break for discussion before the final meditation. A large golden Buddha statue, smiling serenely, sits at the front of the room.
“Our main goal is helping people find inner peace,” says education coordinator Erica Schieferstein. She explains that there are nearly 1,000 Kadampa Meditation Centers throughout the world. The centers follow the teachings of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who said that “without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.”
There is “no experience necessary” and people of all religious faiths are welcome to come, says Schieferstein. The teachings are meant to be “practical,” comments Cruz, and the goal is to “use what we learn every day.”
Beyond the center, classes are offered in other locations throughout the area including Hollywood, Long Beach and Pasadena. Visitors can drop in or learn from the center’s web site at www.meditateinla.org.