The most moving portion of the service was when the sangha chanted “Om Vahrasattva hum” one hundred eight times in rapid succession. The chanting began after everyone spoke the Vajrasattva mantra and we noticed the members discreetly removing mala beads from their pockets or the seats beside them. The chanting began quickly and, at first, the sangha was out of step but by the tenth repetition suddenly the entire sangha fell perfectly in tune with one another leaving the room ringing with their combined voices. I was moved as I heard and felt the unity grow and surround the shrine room.
Another ten minute meditation was followed by a special guest speaker, Dr. Terry Brody. Dr. Brody spoke about the way the Buddhist handles times of crisis and how to learn from those times of struggle. Personally, this was a welcome lesson after having a particularly difficult start to this year. I listened to her speak saying the things that I knew to be true—that bad times do not define us, that we should not let ourselves become paralyzed with inaction but fight against the urge to close off to the world and find the middle path. She recited some of her favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders and the service concluded with a prayer to the Dalai Lama for a long life and a dedication of merit to the sangha. The horns, drums and cymbals began again as the preceptors extinguished the candles, bowed once again to the Buddha and exited in the same manner as their entrance.
While the Tibetan Buddhist service was a lot to take in, it left us an overall sense of peace and contentment. Our only disappointment was Lama Stanford was in India so we were unable to meet him in person and the center preceptor filling in for him skipped the guided meditation. We were hoping for the guided meditation to help us understand meditation through his teaching. My husband and I walked from the shrine room to the gift shop to take a brief look at the ritual items and books. Our children quickly found us in the gift shop and upon greeting us confirmed they enjoyed the dharma school as much as we enjoyed the meditation service by asking, “Can we come back next Sunday?” They excitedly explained they got to sit and meditate. They did yoga poses and walked like a crab. They were taught about the offering bowls and the importance of the offering. We gathered our crew, left a small donation for their time, resources and the experience and left the Rime Center pleasantly surprised by and thankful for our positive and peaceful experience.