Project Description

Olympia WA

David's ritual includes a combination of yoga and breathing exercises before mediation.

When were you first exposed to dharma?

The show Kung Fu at about age 11. I recall watching the meditation and wanting the peace it showed. It was of great use when parents used to argue and Dad active alcoholic violence. Seated on the bed in my room in basic position, I would meditate through the violence. Catholic priest taught to obey without reason no matter what. This never sat well with. Looking back I have been Buddhist all this life. My first AA teacher and Spiritual advised that I look into Buddhism. She believed in my ability to understand the Dharma was a quick learner. Alas I was not ready to commit to the path. Instead Native American Spirituality intrigued me more. When I got sick with Chronic Progressive Kidney Failure 12 years ago, Buddhism came back into view. My fear of death motivated me to study. The hours spent on Dialysis gave the time for meditation and contemplation. Death started visiting regularly as my condition worsened. I had a deep realization that either my Mom (transplant donor) or I was.going to.die during procedure. I ended up catching acute sepsis after surgery and Mom was Overdosed after the surgery, needing to be revived. The sepsis overtook my system and immediate surgery was required to save my life again. I died during the surgery for two minutes and deep coma for two days. When gone from this reality, the Mind went through the stages of death. I was very aware of this being the case having done study of death earlier. Being brought to this amazingly beautiful place surrounded by the most encompassing love and belonging, it was asked if I wanted to return or stay. With an overpowering feeling of love and the knowledge of an unfinished practice, I returned. I knew that Practicing the Dharma and being able to teach it was my path.

What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)

Because of being a long term kidney patient, having had 29 operations, two near death experiences and living on the edge of physical death, I practice Death Dharma. The essence of impermanence. The true knowledge that any second can be the last of this life is a great motivator for active Buddhism. Am and PM meditations using simple breathing exercises, Loving Kindness, Equanimity practices and single point of concentration. I start with prostration to Three Jewels, ring in the session with simple Singing Bowl. The 4 immeasurable is recited and than The 4 concentrations of Body, Feelings, Mind and Objects of the Mind. Begin mediation. Usually 20-30minutes. It is important to view each interaction throughout the day as a Practice.

Which sangha do you normally attend ?

Nalanda Institute for Buddhist Studies and Meditation. They are very experienced Practitioners and often feel out of my depth. This causes me to strive to grow in knowledge and experience. With their understanding, supportive attitude even the most novice can gain insight.


The picture on the altar is the of the teacher that introduced David to Buddhism.

How has the path manifest in your daily experience?

Foundations of Cause and Effect,Impermanence and Karma has brought a deeper understanding of why we/I Suffer. Long Term Wisdom has helped make complex decisions much easier. The mindfulness practice helps manage the symptoms of living with Complex PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder I am less reactive, calmer disposition and more understanding of others needs. As a volunteer at the Olympia Foodbank, allows the encompassing of generosity, patience, ethics, concentration and effort. Working on the Nalanda Institutes landscaping and maintenance allows me to show gratitude.

If you explore other lineages within Buddhism, how did you come to decide on which lineage was right for you?

Tushita Kadampa American Buddhist was my first introduction. The teach an amazing Mahayana practice and do the entire Lam Rim like 4 times a year for Bodhisattva Vows ceremonies. But because internal politics, being backed by Communist China and their degradation of Dalai Lama we had to part. I stayed at home developing a home based practice for about a year. When ready I went to Nalanda Institute for Buddhist Studies, (Shakyamuni lineage) and Meditation for afternoon Meditation a couple months before asking Bob Harris to be my teacher. We had much in common with him being exKadampa, Zen trained and similar life experiences. This began more study, tantric practice and having the opportunity for personal growth. Bob calls me a Hammer. At first the comment was taken as a slight but now more understanding. The understanding of my nature is to pound the truth to dust.

What is your primarily profession?

I was a Social Worker and a Teacher. Primarily working with Developmentally Delayed and Medically Fragile. All children have to have the chance at learning. The practice allowed me to have more patience, an ability to reach the most obstinate students. Now because of physical and mental health I am on Social Security Disability. Before, the purpose was to be of absolute benefit to all encountered in my work. The Practice brought clarity of purpose. Being disabled, life had to be repurposed. Who Am I NOW!?. But being on disability has allowed the time for volunteering, whittling down to the essential me.

Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?

My intelligence level is of a quick study and higher learning, which makes study of Highest Yoga Practice possible. With all the experiences of a hard life to live, it allows a greater understanding of more people. I am a naturally good mediator because of the time spent having to overcome physical pain, limber and ability to use vivid imagination. The right intention and ethics gives me the faith and courage to pass long the Wisdom gained yet remain with Beginner’s Mind.


David has leverage the practice to manage his mental illness.