Be the Cause

Baha’i Center of Orange County

It was Easter Sunday and people seemed especially ready for service. As a member of a different faith other than Baha’i, I was looking forward to seeing how a Baha’i service was conducted. Being Easter, I had almost forgot about the hour and half service as I was consumed with thoughts of the crucifixion and resurrection. But boy was I extremely surprised and delighted to be in that service! It was amazing, different individuals singing and chanting in different languages that inspires the soul to dance in different ways. Poems and passages were read from many different traditions, but all centering on The Kingdom.

The Kingdom as I describe it, is used to describe the invisible or undetectable fabric that completes the material world (invisible or undetectable according to naturalistic science and its tools and methodology). It is said that Plato was the first to distinguish this world of ideas as other than the world of objects and form. It was considered that every material object was a mere copy of the unseen idea, so a physical coffee table was but a imperfect copy of TABLE. This is the duality of Life, each “world” has its own set of policies and politics that govern it…usually opposite of each other but completing each other. For example, the world of ideas clings to virtue – the turning of the other cheek and forgiveness; while the world of objects and forms holds that might makes right and its a dog-eat-dog world. So at the Baha’i center, all chants, songs, poems and readings, regardless of language and religious tradition were centered on “The Kingdom”.

What was considerably interesting was the Baha’i open and free form style of service. If you can imagine a Methodist church with out all the symbology and without a pastor, that would be the environment. Congregates just got up on their own and approached the front and read or sang. How refreshing! It was also exciting to not know what would come next, a Persian song, a Muslim poem or a Catholic chant. It was clear that the entire Kingdom was represented and the Baha’i’s place very small limits on its definition and by doing so expand the notion to include the cultures, religions and traditions of the world. It was beautiful to be in a place without religious and cultural boundaries, but all focused on The Kingdom.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in The Kingdom to check out a Baha’i service to experience the warmth and hospitality that each of us felt while we were there. The sense of community that existed, with everyone smiling at one and other, acknowledging each others presence with a smile and greeting adds to the feeling of community. Even as a non-Baha’i, one could not help but feel part of the community. Since The Kingdom is the focal point and not any one particular tradition, a Baha’i can be anyone and there is no one set ethnicity or culture that is Baha’i, everyone gets the star treatment. A very enjoyable morning, I wouldn’t of traded my Easter Sunday Service for anything else.

City of 10,000 Buddhas

Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As such, our trip to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas from Oct 29th to Oct 31st may not be explainable through words but only through the language of the heart. Although the distance was over 600 miles, we traversed a far greater distance in our understanding of one another.

The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), in Ukiah, is a Mecca of good cultivation. Over one hundred monks and nuns reside at this city and engage in meditation and chanting throughout the day. Throughout the expansive compound you can find wild peacocks roaming freely and street names such as Compassion Way and Proper Thought. Needless to say, our trip was filled with many magical experiences… the greatest of which, was the growth of compassion in our own hearts. Magical Moment Number 1: We offered to volunteer in the kitchen hall at the city even though we were there as tourists. After much persistence, they actually allowed us to help out… and it turned out that the kitchen was actually understaffed at that very moment.

During the dharma filled weekend, we also attended a Dharma lecture with Rev Heng Sure at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. Rev Heng Sure embarked on a life changing journey in the late 70s. He and a fellow monk conducted a “three steps and a bow” walk from Pasadena to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to create humility in their own life and to work through their own egos. What is even more remarkable then this 2 year and 9 month journey, is that Rev Heng Sure did it in silence. Magical Moment: One hour before we departed for our trip, we got an email stating that it was Rev Heng Sure’s birthday and that we would be attending the very lecture where his birthday was being celebrated.

We also visited Glide United Methodist Memorial Church and heard children read poetry about peace and racism. Magical Moment: As we stepped outside the Church we found a group of people conducting a happiness survey. They asked us to write “Life is good” on one of their forms. I guess you could say we were meant to be there.

Before heading back to Los Angeles we visited a Cafe by the name of “Cafe Gratitude” in downtown San Francisco. We all expressed nice things about Neerav and everyone shared a little bit about their lives. Magical Moment Number 10,000: everyone pulled a random thought from a pile of cards and each card seemed eerily specific to each person.

The sheer number of synchronistic moments makes we wonder if we have any control in our lives at all. It was as if all of Northern California was conspiring to ensure that every moment we experienced was manufactured as elegantly as possible. I would say that is the nature of the universe, but I know that some things cannot be explained through words.

This is what our tour guide had to say about our trip to the City of Ten Thousdand Buddhas (from the Charity Focus Blog:
“Hello, Brant here. We just had a group of 20 come up for a day here, and they blew everyone away. We did not know if they could eat in the dinning hall, but they wanted to do as much as they could with the assembly. It was hard because the kitchen is so understaffed and overworked right now, but they agreed to take them even though they were already preparing for the big Guan Yin celebration tomarrow. Then something amazing happened. They ate lunch, and then one of them finished and walked back to the kitchen and asked if he could help. Pretty soon the entire group was in the back helping crack walnuts and preparing other food. I’ve never seen the kitchen staff so happy. They told them to come back any time. […] I know people have complained that we have limited time at cttb to learn during the retreat, but this group was here for 7 hours and spend over an hour working selflessly and joyfully. […] Sincerely, Brant”

Pictures from the event:

Some more magical experiences:
— Mark and Yoo-Mi’s incredible house!!!
— Mark and Yoo-Mi’s incredible hospitality and BTC strategy sessions around their conference table. By the way, Mark’s (and mine) favorite Charity Focus project is the Quote-a-Day. This is a daily source of inspiration, news and action sent directly to your inbox. If you want to sign up, visit:
— Charity Focuser’s + friends joining us for the trip up to Ukiah
— Our wonderful CTTB guides – Sarah, Brant and Minty
— The peacocks… As one of our groups was leaving, Ron stated that it would be nice to see a white peacock before we left. Behold, immediately a white peacock graced us with its presence.
— The donkey at the expansion site project. It was like it was waiting for us.
— The 1 billion year old rock
— The Meditation (which even Bharti sat through without whining) Though we sorely missed Alfred
— The Question and Answer session with Jose
— The Great Compassion Mantra in the Hall of the 10,000 (actually 11,000) Buddhas
— Cheryl and Sukh’s indefatigable energy and quests to perform Random Acts of Kindness
— Meeting the Reverend Heng Sure
— The Halloween Pumpkin Judging Contest at the Berkeley Monastery
— The Glide Memorial Service on Sunday morning and the Children’s Poetry Readings
— The Poetry book signing – especially getting autographs from the boy who did NOT contribute a poem
— Sukh taking the shirt off his back and giving it away on the Streets of San Francisco
— Costco Parking Lot rules! And Gianna….it’s D4, not B4!!
— The Café Gratitude. We are Grateful… John
— Three things about Neerav (the son-in-law that got away)
— The Clapping Parade at Fisherman’s Wharf
— Ganesh’s affable nature and unbelievable patience with three women and the Dropped through the door slot KEYS (ooops!)
— Our Knight Alvin and his steed (ok, dog) Murphy to the rescue!
— … and leaving Nipun and Guri’s apartment only to find 7 more BTCers in the hallway waiting to get in. So we all went back to Nipun and Guri’s for some Indian chai, inspiration, and of course 10,000 blessing from Mr and Mrs Universe

From the heart, thank you to all who organized the event, put up the pictures and documented the above magical experiences.

“Life is Good”


1 2 3