2016-09-23 / Community

Meditation At Tribute Park

By Aryeh Gelfand

Photo By Aryeh Gelfand Photo By Aryeh Gelfand On Sunday, Sept. 11, members of the Rockaway community gathered at Tribute Park for a guided meditation to both honor and remember those whose lives were taken in the World Trade Center attacks 15 years ago.

Those in attendance wished for the safety, health, and happiness of all of humanity. The session was led by Bhante Suddhaso, a New York born Buddhist ordained at the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.

Suddhaso stressed the importance of taking control of one’s emotions and feelings, and establishing the good, first in our minds and eventually in our actions. In the Buddhist tradition, the training of one’s mind is the most important work a person can do in their spiritual practice. Meditation provides a way to do that.

“We need to bring up gratitude and appreciation for those who have made it their mission to safeguard and help others,” said Suddhaso. “We need to respect the sacrifice of those who are so committed to safeguarding the lives of others that it leads to negativity for themselves.”

Suddhaso sought to help those in attendance confront the feelings of anger and helplessness that come after a bestial act of violence such as 9- 11, without being overcome by it.

He also stressed the importance of establishing the mind in peace and contentment without allowing anger to win out. “Human life is not paradise. It is a state that is characterized by pleasant and unpleasant experiences, so we need to be fully aware of both of these without allowing the mind to be overcome by any of them,” said Suddhaso.

The event attempted to bring solace to a community that was brutally affected by the events of that day. “Everyone remembers where he or she was on that day. It brought the community together in a way that nothing else could,” said Shira Schoenbrun, a longtime member of the Rockaway community.

The setting was particularly poignant, and has been dedicated in honor of the event that took place there 15 years ago. According to the New York City Parks Department website, the lot stood empty on 9-11 and was the place where hundreds gathered to watch the events of the day unfold. It is a scenic spot where members of the community can come to find peace, and was built to honor the 343 FDNY firefighters who died that day.

Giovanna Maselli, an Italian born resident of Rockaway, is the founder of Buddhist Insights which organized the event.

The organization seeks to bring Buddhist practices and way of life to the residents of New York City.

According to their website, their mission “is to make monastic teachings more accessible to the general public.”

For the past year, Suddhaso and Buddhist Insights have worked together to co-host programs throughout New York City, but have found Rockaway to be an especially welcoming environment.

“The openness I have found in the Rockaway community is remarkable,” said Suddhaso. “I think it is because of the diverse range of people. There is an attitude of acceptance, and I have found Rockaway to be particularly accepting of my practice.”

This attitude of openness and acceptance is an example of the close-knit nature of this community, one that becomes especially apparent in times of hardship and pain like the ones we experienced 15 years ago on Sept. 11.

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