Buddhist group offers on, off-campus

by Andrea Budde, Royal Purple, Dec 17, 2008

Whitewater, Wisconsin (USA) -- Many students live day-to-day filled with stress and negative emotions. With exams right around the corner, these feelings may be stronger than usual. One campus group strives to remove those emotions, and by inviting a guest speaker to campus, many students had the chance to see what the group and their practice is all about.

On Dec. 3, the Diamond Way Buddhist Group invited guest speaker Gretchen Newmark, a Diamond Way Buddhism traveling teacher from Portland, Ore. to visit campus. Newmark gave a presentation entitled "Buddhism 101."

According to junior Mike Dilks, the group's president, Newmark's presentation included a practical introduction to Buddhism, a description of what Buddhism offers people, and how Buddhism and meditation bring benefits to ones state of mind. Around 40 people attended the event.

"She touched base on a lot of different parts of Buddhism, such as what is the mind and different types of meditation," sophomore group member Maggie Lynch said.

Members of Diamond Way Buddhist Group who attended the lecture also learned new information.

"One thing that struck me was how Buddhism could be broken down into technical terms," sophomore group member Daniel Hohf said. "I've always viewed it as more abstract, but she explained it the same way, say, a biology class could have been. Anyone can learn about it."

After the campus lecture, Newmark visited the Buddhist center in town to attend a dinner, and to have a more in-depth conversation with guests.

The Diamond Way Buddhist Group on campus works towards teaching and practicing Buddhism. Members work at making their minds happy by removing the causes of negative feelings such as anger, jealousy and pride. During group meetings, a 10 minute guided meditation is held, where members meditate on a state of mind, rather than on the individual themselves.

"We meditate on an enlightened mind, which is our own potential," Dilks said. After removing one's disturbing feelings and ignorance, "all you are left with is a natural radiance of mind."

Meditations are also held at the off-campus center, located at 298 S. Franklin St. The group uses Guru Yoga, a meditation on the Vajrayana level of Buddhism.

"During the on-campus meditation we do guided meditation and provide new people with a little background on Buddhism," sophomore group member Topher Witt said. "During an average meditation night at the off-campus center the group converses over warm cups of tea. Then find our way to the meditation room and do a guided meditation. Then we have a 10 minute talk about some aspect of Buddhism."

The Diamond Way Buddhist Group currently consists of nine students. They meet every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in UC 264. Everyone is invited to attend both the on-campus and off-campus meditations.

"It's really just a great place," Lynch said. "Everybody is very kind and welcoming. I feel as though this group is an opportunity to try something new."