Coming out of some of the most difficult times we have faced, collectively and individually, everyone could benefit from a mindfulness practice. Fortunately, the Way of Compassion Dharma Center – the only physical Buddhist center in this part of Colorado, according to director and founder John Bruna – will soon welcome practitioners again for face-to-face wisdom and compassion teachings.
The grand reopening, in a new location within the Third Street Center (Suite 12), coincides with a visit by the Gaden Shartse monks. Arrived directly from their stay in Aspen, these ambassadors of Tibetan culture will offer five days of activities in Carbondale, around the creation of a sacred sand mandala in the round room of the Third Street Center.
Since 1992, Gaden Shartse monks have traveled the United States to keep Tibetan culture alive by sharing it with interested foreigners. The trips also raise funds for their monastery in India, a country to which the 14th Dalai Lama fled during the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. Several times the monks have visited the Rocky Mountains, often participating in the annual Carbondale Mountain Fair.
Their post-pandemic return to Carbondale begins with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 15 in the Round Room. When creating the sand mandala – “mandala” meaning “that which extracts the essence” – the public is invited to watch between 9am and 5pm. The particular mandala to be constructed represents the Buddha of Compassion, a suitable motif for the Dharma Reopening of the center. A sand mandala is created using finely ground quartz, vibrantly dyed, and is therefore said to be “made of light”. Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase Tibetan products to help support the more than 1,500 monks living at the monastery in India.
Special events take place at 7 p.m. each of the following evenings until Monday, July 19. On Friday, a tea offering ceremony aims to bless the environment and those present. On Saturday, a healing ritual will be performed to purify negative karma – “karma” is broadly defined as the cumulative consequence of one’s actions. On Sunday, the Compassionate Buddha, known as Chenrezig, will be invoked as part of a practice of âemancipationâ. And the visit ends with the consecration and the dissolution of the mandala, in recognition of the impermanence inherent in being, on Monday evening.
A bonus activity on Saturdays at 10 a.m. is teaching children and adults to create traditional sculptures using butter and barley flour. All events are open to the public and are by donation. Additionally, appointments for personal healing rituals, home blessings, and business blessings are available by calling 970-704-5512 or emailing [email protected]
The Way of Compassion Dharma Center has set a goal of raising $ 15,000 to help pay the monks’ travel expenses and to support the opening of a new meditation room in the Third Street Center. âIt’s good to welcome them and plan with the opening,â says Bruna, who first arrived in the area on tour with the Gaden Shartse monks in 2009.. You could have your hair cut.
Once the Dharma Center reopens, Bruna looks forward to offering more services than ever before with both a physical space for practice and an online community. Long before “Zoom” was a household term, Way of Compassion was already using online technology for distance learning. In the early parts of the pandemic, however, they saw a significant increase in attendance with as many as 100 people joining retreats online and many from far outside the Roaring Fork Valley. âWe will continue our online programs,â Bruna told Sopris Sun, âas we embrace new ways for all of us to cultivate these important methods of developing more compassion, caring, wisdom and inner peace. “
Bruna is also seeing “a real need to connect in person,” as evidenced by registration for their first in-person retreat of 2021, at the Waunita Hot Springs Ranch, which fills up within days. The pandemic “has removed the veil of illusion” and presented “an opportunity for people to wake up from autopilot,” recalls Bruna. âPeople were forced to spend time with themselves and their families,â allowing them to âre-evaluate their lives and relationshipsâ.
Other branches of the Way of Compassion Foundation are The Bike Project run by Aaron Taylor, Compassion Fest (back in August) and Recovery Resources. Bruna’s job as the Path of Compassion spiritual director is as a volunteer. He also trains counselors and therapists, as well as people in recovery, in the Mindfulness in Recovery program. As a person in long-term recovery, helping people break free from addiction is a passion for him. John says, âEverything I have in life could only come from the help of all those in recovery who selflessly taught me to live with dignity again. Having received so much, able to live a life of recovery since 1984, the least I can do is give it to the next. “
Bruna believes that practicing mindfulness “gives meaning and stability in difficult times.” Who couldn’t use a little sense and stability these days?