Searching for Shammatha in Summit

by ANDREW TOLVE, Summit Daily News, September 29, 2005

Breckenridge, CO (USA) -- The room had just gone quiet when it hit. Fourteen locals, a Buddhist monk and a Buddhist nun were sinking peacefully into the world of meditation when there landed - on the tip of one local's nose - an unmistakable itch.

<< Summit Daily/Andrew Tolve The Venerable Thomas Gutherie, a Buddhist monk with the Summit Dharma Center, is teaching an introductory course on Buddhist philosophy and meditation in Breckenridge. He stands here in the front of Dillon Reservoir Thursday.

"It wouldn't go away," the student admitted after the meditation had concluded. "It just stayed there."

At the head of the room, the Venerable Thomas Gutherie, a Buddhist monk and the leader of the session, nodded knowingly.

"You know what the Tibetans say?" he asked the group in a soft, modulated voice. "They say that at first your mind is like a wild elephant rampaging through a field with a drunken monkey leading it."

The Venerable Thomas looked calmly around the room until his gaze settled on a middle-aged man in blue jeans.

"But with time, as we learn to place our mind in one place, we bring the elephant under control," he said.

Such was the first lesson of Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation, a course that will delve into the physical and philosophical nuances of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The class will meet every Monday night at the Weststar Bank Building in Breckenridge until students have ascended beyond the basics of the practice - or until "you're enlightened," the Venerable Thomas joked.

He is teaching similar classes through the Summit Dharma Center in Winter Park, the Roaring Fork Valley and Buena Vista.

"The goal of the course is to establish a basic intellectual understanding of Buddhism and to begin a daily meditation practice," the Venerable Thomas said. "Now, the goal of both of those would be to lessen your suffering, to lead a more meaningful life, to arouse compassion for yourself and for other beings."

Indeed, arousing compassion for yourself and for other beings is the central tenant of Buddhism. The philosophy encourages its practitioners to familiarize themselves with their minds, to reduce the clutter of ideas in their head down to simpler, more magnanimous thoughts.

Most importantly, it asks them to find satisfaction in what they already have.

"It's like this," the Venerable Thomas explained. "We're not quite comfortable in our own place, wherever we find ourselves. We're always looking to improve, to tweak things so they're just a little bit better - a little bit more money, a little better car, a little better sex - as though there were something wrong with where we are now."

Thomas Gutherie knows this state of pervasive dissatisfaction (as the Buddhists call it) all too well. Before he assumed the title of monk, the Georgia native was your typical Colorado powderhound, teaching snowboarding lessons in Vail for eight years and searching for powder in his free time.

When he was at the top of a fresh bowl, he wanted to be at the bottom. When he was at the bottom, he wanted to be back at the top.

"Sure it's fun," recalled the Venerable Thomas. "There's nothing like being on a big old board in a back basin in Vail. But I was like, 'What's the end result?' (Through Buddhism I've learned) to take refuge in a more lasting happiness. That rush of skiing doesn't have to be a fleeting, isolated instant."

Despite the serious undertone to Gutherie's philosophical pursuits, he kept the class Monday night light-spirited for the attendees. Regarding his southern roots, he called himself one of the few "redneck monks" in the West. When asked how one knows if enlightenment has arrived, he replied that "you get an e-mail from Buddha-net."

And when he saw that several attendees had not returned for the second session of the introductory class, the Venerable Thomas rejoiced.

"Well, evidentally the five people who came last week are already enlightened, so we're off to a good start."

For more information about Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy and Meditation, contact the Summit Dharma Center at (719) 836-3843. The class meets on Mondays at 5:45 p.m. at the WestStar Bank Building in Breckenridge, Suite 205.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: