Last Saturday I visited a few buildings opened for Toronto’s annual Doors Open. Many buildings of all sorts, including some not usually opened to the public, have free access annually one weekend in May. There are so many buildings open that you have to plan your tour.
What I didn’t plan for was the peace in the middle of a too-busy city that I found at the Kadampa Meditation Centre. I have had the intent for many months to do some serious meditation on a regular basis. But the old “no time” excuse was why it wasn’t happening. However I put this meditation centre on my list for Doors Open and got a very pleasant and peaceful surprise.
As I walked down Crawford Street (and maybe there is a connection here with my last name) to get to the meditation centre, I was filled with a sense of quiet and beauty looking at all the gardens in the front yards of the old houses. Huge trees, perennials poking up from the ground, some with flowers. It was a quiet street attached to the busy Bloor St. West.
When I entered I was a little bit taken aback by having to remove my shoes. But I wore socks, so went along with it and then entered the main area on the main floor and sat down in the pew. And felt immediately at peace.
A volunteer told us about the centre and its founder, Buddhism and meditation. She also answered questions. See http://kadampa.ca/ for more details.
Then it was up the carpeted stairs to the small area where a short meditation session was to be held in 10 minutes. When the volunteer came upstairs I asked her some questions about the building and how long they had been in this location (that hadn’t come up in the talk downstairs). I found out the building was only six years old; it had replaced a crumbling old Christian church (she couldn’t remember the denomination) that had a husband and wife as pastors and after the husband died, it was too much for the wife to manage on its own. Where did the Buddhist group go during the renovation/building of their new place? She told me they met in each other’s houses in the area. It was then I realized that we were sitting in the area of the previous church’s choir loft (updated for seating for meditation). She said unfortunately they had only been able to keep a beam from the previous building as it was in such dis-repair for an old building.
I noticed that my questions came from inner peace and were calmly asked, not like I would do when I worked as a freelance journalist.
When a few more people came into the room, she started the guided meditation. I closed my eyes and listened to her soothing voice and went to peace. Afterwards I noticed how calm I was – even though I arrived at my last destination afterwards with only half an hour to spare before closing.
I did take a quick look downstairs at the temple and chatted with another volunteer. What amazed me was the place is open to the public daily even when workshops and meditation aren’t going on. That is when I decided I will be back to mediate, to sit in peace, and maybe take a few mediation workshops.
Will I become Buddhist? I don’t know. What does appeal is that this centre is not Catholic, not Christian. And as Catholicism and even many Christian beliefs have not helped me through life, maybe I have found my place.
Only time will tell.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes