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Re-establishing Connection to Life Through the Dharma

30 Jan 2018 2:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to FCM member Bill Mac Millen for this sharing.


I first became a student of the dharma in 2013 after attending a six-week class, held at the Center and taught by Fred, titled “The Basics of Buddhism.”  Up until that time I had no background in Buddhism, mindfulness, or meditation.  Although my exterior life was unfolding quite well by appearances - work, family, friendships, comfortable living conditions – it felt as though something important was missing, which led me to this class.  At the time I didn’t know what that missing “thing” was, but I’ve come to realize that it was a dis-connection with my fellow beings, a sense of separateness.


I came to the class as a skeptic; prepared to dismiss the teachings and the teacher as, at best, well-meaning but out of touch with “reality,” or worse, another version of “self help” lacking in real substance and/or with ulterior motives to “convert” me to a dogmatic way of thinking.  However, by the end of the second class I was convinced there was something significant to be found in the teachings and Fred appeared to be not only wise and knowledgeable, but more importantly for me, authentic in his belief that the dharma was true and beneficial to all.


I began attending Sunday Sangha at the conclusion of the classes and have not missed one Sunday since unless I was out of town or sick, such has been its effect on me.  Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I entered the practice with an aversion to dogma and the clear thought that I would never say I believed any teaching unless I personally found it to be true, and I would never say I understood a teaching when I did not.  While I don’t claim to have understood all dharma, I have never found it to be dissonant with my experience, and have always found it to be beneficial in leading to happiness and peace.


During these past 4+ years of exposure to the teachings, the teacher, and the community, I’ve become a significantly more present and aware person.  In a very practical fashion I’ve learned, and continue to learn, of the conditioned nature of my views and how my false sense of self leads to a myriad of suffering and feelings of dis-ease in my life.  This has led to a much calmer and present mind-state and the coincident generation of healthy and beneficial behaviors, leading to much happier relationships and life.


I continue to feel that the teachings remind me of what I’ve always known, but had forgotten, and that it is essential that I am continually reminded to remember; otherwise I forget.  The constant support from being with people who believe there is a way to be in the world that is not based on hatred, greed, and anger, but on loving kindness, generosity, and patience has re-established my connection to life.


With gratitude,

Bill Mac Millen


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