Grew up Jewish. Initially fascinated by the power of the mind, related to athletic performance.
Had interesting spiritual experiences but always felt a separation when i went back to normal life, when i left the retreat. I didn’t see a way to integrate it when im back home with my bud light drinking friends. Buddhism, and specifically Vajrayana Buddhism brings the idea that every single moment is an opportunity to work with our mind, no matter what is happening.
Yeah, I had this great chance to meet a lot of oil, any doll at this lecture when I was a freshman in college at the University of Wisconsin Madison and explored a lot of different, different expectations and different Buddhist practices and really felt that way and karma, control and energy and our lifestyle was really super appealing to me. So, yeah, I mean, it’s amazing. You think about like the Buddha taught so much, right? 40,000 4040 years. 80,000 teaching right? 84,000 teachings. So it’s amazing that so many different hats for different heads. And I think this the the karmakar you style that we have is really focused on. We call it like desire types. You know that there are people that are more attracted to what they like. And people that are more motivated by what they don’t like. And for me, for sure, like, you know, going off, going from what you like was always very appealing. And this lifestyle was really important to me that it was something that I can integrate into my into my life, that it wasn’t like meditation was something over there. And then you come back to hang out with your beer drinking friends and like, you don’t know how to connect the two things, you know. So this this whole concept of tantra, of weaving our practice into every single moment in life that the practice itself and the meditation experience should function? And what does that mean? I mean, we finish our meditations with with this idea of holding the view that we want to see things on this really high level that that that everything is perfect and pure and full of potential. And to really see things like that that beings are Buddha is whether they know it or not, that what people have, that’s really amazing is just simply more interesting than any negatives.
Cool. Yeah, I think it’s incredibly well, it’s totally encouraging and powerful to explore and check things out and really see what fits us like, there’s so much out there we live in this time that is so amazing. We’re sitting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There’s at least ten different Buddhist centers within, like two miles from here. You know, it’s totally amazing. So really, finding something that fits for us, I think, is really, really important. I think it’s to be really appealed to me about Buddhism, like the fact that there’s no belief, actually, you know that the last thing the Buddha said was, don’t believe anything. I said, just because I said it like beer on guiding light. Check it out for yourself so that we don’t have to lose any critical thinking. In fact, we should make sure we maintain our critical thinking, especially with something as important as a spiritual path like we always have to to make sure that we don’t lose that and that that’s really, really important. So, yeah, checking different things out, you know, seeing what practice is, I think a lot for a lot of people and for myself, it’s also about the people, right? Like like what people are doing that practice and are you attracted? And in the sense of like if they’ve been doing it for ten years, do they have qualities that you think, Hey, I would also like to have those qualities, you know, and to just like take time to check that out? Yes, I think that’s that’s totally key is not losing that critical thinking. Yes. So and within all this exploration, it’s also there’s a lot of value in really going deep in one point. So today, like because we have so many different offerings everywhere, it’s very easy to jump around in all of this critical exploration. And really seeing what fits for us is essential. But once we’ve done that, it’s really quite valuable to go deep in one point. You know, it’s like this analogy of if we drill for water, you know, small, shallow wells in a lot of places, we probably won’t get very much. But if we drill really deep in one point, we will hit that underground reservoir. So this is really totally valuable. It’s not better or worse. It’s just figuring out what fits for us. Yeah, sure. So I mean, I guess I never I never I never really left it, but I was doing a lot of different things and a lot of exploration and checking things out and and had this cool experience actually to be 19 and to be at this place called the Omega Institute, which is this holistic studies place that has tons of every type of yoga and meditation and you name it, energy healing, visionary art, all kinds of wild stuff. And that was amazing to be the young and be able to really, like, check out so many different things. And I think for me personally, I had a lot of very strong experiences in different things and eventually sort of understood that one thing get caught up in the experience is really easily like sort of jumping from experience to experience to experience. And actually, our practice from a Buddhist perspective, from a diving y perspective is is is not to be focused on the experience actually to be less focused on the experience because we are not totally in control of what happens. So whatever is happening that we’re more identifying with the awareness behind the experience itself. So for me, that was really compelling that like I could jump to different energetic, you know, whatever different things that felt really good, whether it was an energy healing thing or a shamanic thing or a meditation thing or you name it. But that that didn’t necessarily transform my experience, that when I was in a car accident or when someone close to me was on their deathbed, you know, how do you how do you react? You know, are you able to be the center of that storm? Are you able to be someone that others naturally rely on in those difficult moments? Or are you able to feel your strength and power and able to benefit others? And that requires the depth, you know, that requires the going deep in one place and not just jumping around from nice experiences because we don’t always have nice experiences and they don’t they’re not necessarily transformative. Or at least that’s how I saw it.
Types of communities
Yeah, very cool, so we have this of Muhammad drug communities, of practitioners getting together, and there’s different models, so there could be a other dynamic way is there’s a key center was a commercial space and people get together to collectively take care of that space here where we’re sitting, this is a what we call living center . So this is a place where people live. I have the great fortune to live here. We have two other residents currently. We’ve had different people at different points in time, certainly. And even though it’s a place that people live, we try to keep it as a public space so that friends that are members of the center that are are practicing, that they’re able to really see this as a place they can come and practice any time. And also, there’s a lot of power just in eating together and being together again, the making those connections and being able to be mirrors to each other to really encourage and develop our own practice. So this is really these different aspects of this mohammadu community and most importantly, probably is actually that it’s a lot of fun. And I can’t emphasize that enough because this is really, you know, our way is really through joy. You know, this is really this is really the path. Awesome. Yeah. So in this space, we have teachers coming through. So our route Lama, our main teacher, Lama, all they do is follow the wishes of the 16 current Pas and certain students of his that have been practicing for a long time that he’s asked to also teach . So we’ll have teachers coming through that are also friends, right? So we do have this very grassroots style where we invite people that inspire us that can really share from their experience and their knowledge. And we’ll do weekend courses here where we’ll have lectures, meditation sessions, eating. We don’t do like a silent, you know, long day of meditation or anything like that. It’s not quite our style for these public retreats. Of course, people do that. They do close retreats, they do more intensive practice. But in the context of what we have here in this center, it’s more different lectures on Dharma topics and yeah , chances just to be together. You know, you learn so much, just just sharing meals and meditation sessions and having that interspersed throughout the weekend. And then we actually have a retreat place that we purchased three years, almost three years ago now. I was there for a couple of years ago in upstate New York, outside of Albany, and that’s that was an amazing process. We went through many, many years of searching, five years of looking at land and looking at properties, having places fall through. And that’s a place where we can get out of the city and go a little deeper. You know where you can have more structured day. We have some weekends that are that are more focused than others. But in a focused weekend, for example, having a system of 44 sessions throughout a day and going deeper, like outside of the, you know, daily life in the city is also really valuable. And then in addition, so going to a place in Germany outside of Munich in image dot called the Europe Center, that’s just the name we have for it because it was a place to really bring people from diamond groups together across Europe. So there should be quite a few thousand people. I don’t know exactly, but maybe even 5000 or more in Kanpur. Dawjee will be there as well, and we’ll have different similar formats or different lectures. Meditation sessions also empowerment some more of the formal Buddhist empowerments into various Buddha forms there, and that’s super powerful. I think there’ll be people there from like 45 countries. So for people coming from all around the world, from this international Sangha, this international mahamud your community to get together and really be one pointed and focus on one point.
So one of the I guess, one other work thing that came to mind just around relationships and everything. I mean generally are problems usually or because we take things really seriously and certainly in our work environment, this can be really common, right? Like like there’s some big stress to meet a deadline or we have to hit the numbers this month. I’m lead sales and business development. So like actually the feeling that maybe the pressure of being really serious of getting getting business in, to be able to grow our impact and and that kind of thing. So generally, we just take things seriously, right? And and having this this view, this we have this expression or that our teacher says that Lama always says, which is to never go below how interesting. Like, no matter what’s happening, even if there is a total crisis going on that that the lowest level of you, you can always say how interesting. Right? So like in a word context, is this craziness going on? People are really upset. You know, do we have the distance in the space to be able to not get so caught up in it that we’re not useful for anyone else because we’re also totally in the hole with them on experiencing the difficulty ? Or can we like take a step back and say, like, how interesting? You know, what can we do here? What what situation that we have to work with? And how can we do our best that we can try to see things more as a game and that we’re playing this game and less like, I am this vice president. I am this role, but more like, this is the hat I’m wearing right now, and therefore I can play that game. Yeah, I mean, I guess the whole idea of like wearing, wearing, putting on a hat, right? And like, this is the role I’m playing. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be tough sometimes or that you don’t need to push. It just means that you don’t take it so seriously. You realize it’s a role that you’re playing. So from that perspective, so good point. Like, you know, I think it’s also something around compassion, right? Like compassion is not always soft and gentle. Compassion can be tough because, hey, if we don’t get this done, there’s going to be this bad effect. And it that that effect means maybe I don’t know, maybe someone loses their job, right? And so if we have, I mean, compassion is like having the the view that how do we benefit people for the most amount of time and having a longer term view? I think that’s really also really important in business, of course, as well, right, that we’re thinking longer term and it means that if you push too hard, you’re going to you’re going to not be beneficial for someone. They’re going to crack and they’re not going to they’re not going to be, they’re not going to perform at their job. So knowing when to push and when to relax is actually all within the frame of what can be compassion. Because if you have the other person’s best interests and the overall interest of the organization and the company in mind? Cool. Yeah. one thing that that comes to mind is, you know, probably the most difficult situation as a boss, of course, having to fire someone. And so you could think, like, how do you how is that? How do you keep your Buddhist practice in mind there? Right? But if someone has to be like, oh, it’s similar, a similar idea that if you always have the other person’s best interests in mind, if it’s not a good fit, if it’s not working out, it’s not good for the other person either. So doing that in a compassionate way to help actually lift them up in the moment, you know, to help them feel their own strength in their own power, even though this is not the right fit that, hey, this is not the right fit, but I’m totally confident that you are going to find the right fit because you have these qualities. And although I’m sorry this is not working out here, I actually really believe this will be better for you as well. I think that’s, you know, having that peaceful mind doesn’t mean that these difficult moments don’t occur, but that we have this longer term and wider view about how to really benefit people.
Yeah, it’s really interesting to think about my practice and how how it how it affects our relationships. I think just in a really natural way in the sense that having this idea that that you want to see people’s potential and that you want to see people on this really high level certainly affects. I like to think effects of affects relationships. So in a work context, for example, talking with employees or working with partners or whatever the case may be. I think especially the employees is probably the easiest, easiest example. Right? Really? Yeah. Trying to be aware of of what the interpersonal dynamics are at any given time. So to have some space in the mind, I think that’s our goal right, is to have have have some space so that if there’s some difficult situation appearing that we’re able to see more clearly what’s happening or that, I mean, just really liking people like the more the more we feel really good and really like people, the more I think useful we can be for them. You know, if we have this idea that we can really benefit others to any context, I mean, work is a great way to do that because we spend a lot of our life there actually, right? So working with people just in a natural way, able to see it’s a great opportunity to practice and see like, am I still holding this person up in my mind? And it doesn’t mean that we don’t see mistakes or that we don’t see difficulties or things that need to be changed? Of course we do. We just see it as not the full picture. It’s not the totality of what’s what’s there.
Sure, yes. So for me personally, it’s fantastic to get together with people in retreats, I mean, for us, the main when we go to do, of course. So we have retreats that we do together or we’re going a little deeper in our practice which and then we also have courses with our teacher and this is for us . The teacher is very important in our school, you know, invasion of Buddhism. We we we practice through this method of identification. And this guru yoga meditations. And so for us, this is this is really key. So a lot of times for us, the context for me, going to a retreat is really also a chance to see our teacher and to really reconnect with that, right? So extremely powerful to have have those experiences, you know? Yeah. OK. So so the why, I guess why like, why go spend time and see the teacher? It’s really we have these very big ideas in Buddhism, right? And they can sound quite abstract without an example. So just like I think it’d be interesting that they can just share a quick story. So our teacher, Lemo is coming to town. This is a friend’s story, and our friend is super excited to pick him up at the airport. He picks him up at the airport, and he’s so excited to see his teacher that he throws the luggage in the back of the trunk of the jeep and slams the car door right on his head. Right on. Mom always happens. And his reaction in this moment was immediate without any hesitation, he said. Wow, that’s so amazing. Everything went black for a second. And like, this is not my reaction generally when I get hit in the head with a car door. So this is, you know, this is the power of spending time with someone who actually is has practice and has realized the teachings that you’re going for and can really be an example of what’s possible, that it’s not some abstract idea that it’s totally possible to not have any disturbing emotions and how much space we have in our minds to be able to do more for others if we’re not caught up in our own trips and ideas and problems or our I’m always this great expression that the more we think about ourselves, the more problems we have, the more we think of others, the more interesting things that are to do. But again, this is an idea until you have an experience with something with a being like that and you really see that, that’s actually how they experience things in the moment that they always see things on this high level and don’t take things personally and always see what they can do. For others, this is very inspiring.
Cool, cool. Yeah, so Saga is incredibly important for for our practice. It’s this amazing, this community of practitioners on the one hand. Right. So basically being able to see that the qualities that we’re really looking to achieve. Of this total fearlessness of compassion, of joy that that these qualities are there within this collective of the group. And then having friends that, like are all practicing together and then within this frame of mind, that friendship is really important and that we can really learn a lot from each other when we’re open to them that people can really be a mirror for each other so that, you know, if I’m having a bad day or something and I walk in and I’m seeing the situation like down here, right? And like, what’s going on? And then a friend is really joyful in that same moment. It can really help you see that actually, the situation is not like you thought it was. You know that when we feel disturbed, we we think things are totally fixed. We think that is how it is. But then if you see someone in the exact same situation who is also in this frame is working together to develop their minds and see the situation differently. It can really help us to just see that there’s more there or that there more to, you know, to learn, develop from. So it’s super powerful to to have a community, for sure. Yeah. And then just very motivating to keep the practice going. Also, right like to keep it try to keep a daily practice to really keep this this view in our minds that when we’re around other people that that are sharing that practice just practically to meditate together and also to see the world in this way that we can really, really be working to benefit ourselves and others.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
For us, the cushion is the gym, it’s the laboratory. The buddha, our Lama says the world is a dream. Mind is space, it is radiant and indestructible and cant be harmed. If the practice doesn’t function in the world, what use is it?
Alex lives in a Diamond Way residential center in Boston.
I run sales and business development for an energy analytics technology company. I hope that my practice has influenced my professional world. Fundamentally I work with people. Whether that is recruiting a new team member, training a new employee, talking with prospective customers and partners or building internal consensus around a strategic direction. Anytime we work with people, we have the potential to put our practice into action. Can i see this person on the highest level full of every potential, even when I disagree with them? This is not easy! Meditation practice gives us some space in our minds to be able to have freedom in the moment to decide what would be most beneficial for the relationship. We try to have a view based on the constant question: “What would bring the most benefit to the most amount of people for the longest amount of time?” I dont really see a separation between our budhist life and work life. Buddhism is a combination of methods to work with our minds to benefit others. Certainly the place where we spend 40 or 50 hours a week in, is a great place to put this into practice.