I ran the Sunday Dharma School at the Rime Center for four years. It’s a Buddhist Sunday School for kids, not unlike the same kind of thing many churches have. There I taught kids how to meditate and shared many lessons about kindness, wisdom, and mindfulness. We usually had 10-15 children and we ran for 90 minutes while the Rime Center Sunday Service was going on. Parents could drop their kids off to meditate with me or they could stay with them. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, but also often exhausting. I never really got the amount of help I needed, which is probably true for anyone that runs a volunteer-based program. I have a whole lot of patience for kids and I’m pretty good at communicating with them, so I feel I was pretty effective in this role.
One day someone offered to take it over and I stepped away. That was nearly 7 years ago. Now I regret it. But I do think stepping away gave me the chance to get some perspective. For a while I wanted to contribute to the Buddhist Community in other ways. I wanted to lead meditations, I wanted to teach classes to adults (you know, REAL classes), I wanted to figure out how to do more outreach type things.
I somehow thought running the Dharma School was not *really* contributing, like meditating with kids is somehow not serious and important.
I was wrong.
All kinds of service have value and all kinds of service are important.
We want to carry these teachings and practices forward into the future. And part of the strength of the community is making sure families can participate. It shouldn’t be a situation where you have to go away from your family in order to practice your religion. But a lot of people feel like that’s exactly what they have to do.
And it’s good for the kids too. I think I would have been enormously helped by some meditation training back when I was an unhappy child. It would have brought great benefit to me to have all these teachings earlier in my life. And it can be a kind of refuge, a place for kids (and parents) to come together and just have a chance to feel like they belong somewhere. How many kids feel like they don’t belong anywhere? Many. Kids are the future and if we want these teachings to go into the future then they need to be included. And I think the benefits of meditation are well known these days. Meditation helps us improve many things that kids need to get through life: focus, emotional intelligence, empathy, communication skills, equanimity, even things like bravery. We need to cultivate these kinds of qualities and of course kids do too.
So it’s with all of this in mind that I’m really aching to get back to leading meditation and spiritual practice for the next generation. Because I can belong in Dharma School and you can too.
The temple the Rime Center is in right now doesn’t have enough space for a children’s program to be possible. They had to purchase a new space and it’s smaller than the old one. Once the new Meditation Hall is built there will be plenty of room. That’s the only way I can have a potential opportunity to lead Sunday Dharma School there again.
If what I have written is meaningful to you, please consider donating to help make this a reality.