I don’t have my own temple or center or anything. There are several Buddhist centers here in Kansas City but I’m not a teacher at any of them.
I do lead meditations in public places. It’s my effort to meet people where they are. I suppose that’s as close as I come to building a community here. I’m trying to make a space for people that don’t really want to go to Buddhist temples. When I lead a meditation outdoors I think it’s really approachable for people because they can linger far away… they can see us and watch from a distance for a while before they decide to get involved. Or they can decide it’s not for them and just walk away and not participate at all. We won’t even know and I think that’s good for people that get intimidated easily. It can create anxiety, going through the doors of a meditation center for the first time. I think that’s why a lot of people are interested but they just never take the step to go. Going into a place where you don’t know anyone is hard.
Also, when I lead a group outside in a public place I don’t have to think about things like asking for donations. I’ll tell you a thing I’ve realized. Even if you say, “donations are accepted, but not required” or “we won’t turn people away if they can’t pay”…there will always be some people who feel like they have to pay and they won’t come. You can try to convince them otherwise, but some people are always going to be driven away. That’s a tough thing that Buddhist communities throughout the country have to deal with. So I have these meetups every four weeks and it’s totally free. If you can make your way to Kansas City, you should come. Check my Events Page
I reach people on the Internet through a number of different avenues too. This all started because I like to write about Buddhism. A lot of people have access to my writing through the internet. But it’s also more than that now. I started teaching through videos and podcasts. I feel like we’re on a new frontier. People were not able to communicate this way even just a few decades ago. I have a few different ways that I reach people online. I probably reach more people through the Open Heart Project than I reach anywhere else. Although my friend Yaoxin in Belgium has been encouraging me to get more involved in his Dharma Winds Zen Community and there’s an effort brewing to build a community through The Tattooed Buddha and that’s likely to be partly online or mostly online. I’m a co-owner of that website now, which is nice.
Now I’m traveling too. I’ve visited a temple that’s four hours away to give a guest dharma talk and I loved it. A lot of the old Buddhist teachers that I like spent a lot of time just traveling around teaching. People like Han Shan and Ikkyu and Hsu Yun spent so much time going from place to place, traveling around spreading the teachings instead of settling down and focusing on trying to build a community. It’s the way of the Zen Hermit and that’s sort of what I’m doing now, just reaching people when and where I can.
I had such a good experience teaching at the Tam Bao Temple in Tulsa that I want to put this out into the world. If you want me to come to your city and give a talk, let me know. If you’ve got a center or a temple or a living room where people gather to talk about meditation and you’re interested in having me come speak, let me know. I’m interested.
Send me a message and we’ll talk about it.