The Dharma has Come to the West

mb37-TheDharmas During a cultural sharing night at the People of Color retreat, one Native American man stood up and, holding his large, round, shallow drum in his hand, offered a chant to the Four Directions. We sat on the floor looking up at him, with his long black hair and his beautiful, earth-toned, multi-colored vest. After a moment of silence, he began chanting to each of the directions. When he turned to the altar, drumming and chanting, a thought hit me: the Dharma has come to the West.

It was a confluence of the new temple with its soaring lines above us, the rapt attention of the group caught in the hypnotic sound, his invocation of the voice and heartbeat of the land’s ancestors, the full presence of meditators of all cultures and ethnicities in witness, and his uplifted face gazing at the altar, that made the moment what it was.

Canyon Sam, Bouquet of the Heart, lives in San Francisco. A student of Thay’s since 1987, she is a writer, activist, and performance artist.

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