In 2013, I was five years along my Buddhist path and desperately seeking a stable Dharma community. I was an avid meditator and reader – but nowhere near the practitioner that I aspired to become. That December, I had a discussion with someone who I had seen several times at meditation programs but never spoken with and she mentioned Shantideva Center. I had never heard of the Shantideva Center or pujas or the FPMT for that matter, but decided to give this new community a try. I guess that when the student is ready – the [Dharma center] shall appear – because my life instantly changed the moment that I found this welcoming community of practitioners.
I am always compelled to give to Shantideva Center because I honestly cannot begin to fathom how I can repay this center for all that it has given me and want nothing more than to help give that gift to others. When I reflect on the impact of consistently studying the Dharma and growing my meditation practice through Shantideva’s programming and community, I cannot imagine where I would be without my Dharma family.
Having seen this community flourish from the days of renting out community and storage space all over Manhattan to developing a thriving community and extensive programming in our new home, I am amazed and rejoice. I know that our growth would not be possible without the generosity of numerous donations and contributions – whether small, medium, or large; monetary or volunteering our time; without our help, I know that our community cannot thrive, and the Dharma that has changed my life in so many ways may not reach those who need it.
Five years on from that fateful day when I walked through Shantideva’s doors and I know that no matter what challenges I encounter, this community will be here for me. Whatever joy I experience, this community will be here to rejoice for me. And whenever I walk through our doors, there will always be a welcoming home for me.