Steve Williamson
Guest Contributor

Driving South from Columbia City down Rainier Avenue, it’s easy to miss the Buddha Jewel Monastery at Kenyon Street on the left. If you’ve spotted it, you might wonder: who attends there, what goes on, and why has it plopped down into our community? Is it a good place to take meditation classes?

Meditation is what most folks do. The next set of introductory classes begins Tuesday, May 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The class meets weekly for twelve sessions. No cost, nothing needed, and no thoughts required. In fact, the idea is to leave thoughts behind to discover the jewel within each of us. Simply please wear comfortable and modest attire and socks.

Buddha Jewel Monastery is far from a cloister. It’s purposefully open to our local community. Who participates in activities at the monastery? Mostly neighbors. Some have a background in Buddhism, but for most, Buddhism and meditation is a new exploration. Attendees at Buddha Jewel Monastery mirror the population of our Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, International District, and Renton communities–our hood.

Some attend to learn how to meditate: sitting, walking, or working meditation. Others are training their minds by listening to Dharma talks and practicing those principles in daily life.

Children naturally gravitate to meditation, and Children’s Meditation Classes teach them to be focused, respectful, compassionate, harmonious, and truthful. Longer adult retreats range from half-day to two days. Art appreciators enjoy exploring the statuary, calligraphy, and paintings. Classes in vegetarianism, ceramics, and flower arranging are also offered.

When I first stepped into Buddha Jewel Monastery, I didn’t quite know what to expect. That uncertainty both frightened me a bit … and lured me in as well. I wanted to learn about Buddhism and how to meditate, and I’ve discovered a couple of years later that, like our neighborhood and life itself, meditation is a diverse experience. Some days I struggle to focus; other days I settle in.

This jewel in our hood, Buddha Jewel Monastery, is welcome to everyone, and the jewel within each of us is likewise a worthy exploration.

The Little Jewel Children’s Meditation Class, organized by Buddha Jewel Monastery in Seattle, will be available from May 4. Classes meet every Sunday through June 29. To register for any class, call 206-721-9921, email [email protected] or visit buddhajewel.org.

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