Open House- Open Arms- for the Local Community

“Wow, this place is so clean!” A lady said as she walked past. A smile came over my face at the comment and immediately thought of all the hard work volunteers put in to make sure our new center was clean and inviting. It was Sunday, the 18th of May and DDMBASF was having its first open house in our new Fremont center. It was Open House- Open Arms- for the local community.

There were balloons, friendly greeters, snacks, and every accommodation imaginable. As I walked into the main hall and saw the wave of new faces smiling and enjoying their interactions with our volunteers, I knew that the countless hours of planning, preparation and hard work by every volunteer had already sprouted the seeds of success. I saw kids as young as five and seniors with lively spirits in their 90s, people from all walks of life and creed enjoying their time. Everyone was appreciating this great opportunity to introduce Shifu and DDM: it was truly an Open House.

As the clock hit 11:30, the host welcomed everyone and introduced DDMBASF and what we stood for: A humanitarian aspiration that cuts across all religious boundaries to find itself into people’s heart, and compassion that serves as an infinite common ground for all human possibilities! A task that we will carry every day, every week, and every year.

The lights dimmed and a video played introducing Shifu and DDM.

To get everyone to experience how Chan in Daily Life could be possible, simple relaxation techniques were then taught; you could see the audience easing into a more mindful state. Volunteers brought out raisins and tea to give everyone a “literal” taste of Chan through the practice of mindful eating/drinking meditation.

Three consecutive breakout sessions then followed where participants had the chance to go to three different areas to learn sitting meditation, walking meditation, or water bowl meditation.

In the main hall, practice of sitting meditation was taught while a timekeeper signaling the end of each session by striking the wooden stick.

As the meditation practice sessions came to a close, we moved next into our group Q&A. To make it fun and encourage interaction, prizes were given out to those that had questions or wanted to share their experience. More than that though, the Q&A allowed us to engage the audience on a personal level. Question like: how to give donations, what is the essence of Chan and emptiness, what is the meaning of Dharma Drum, and when are there going to be more events all revealed what an individual had on their mind, what they cared about, and was a great gauge to how successful our open house had been.

After the Q&A, a raffle drawing was done for the three top prizes. The guests were then treated to delicious treats and snacks prepared by our volunteers.

In all, there were about 70-80 folks from the local community (75% were from the Niles Discovery Church, while the rest were neighbors and visitors), 40 volunteers from all over the Bay Area, and countless causes and conditions. The Open House could not have been such a success without all of these.

This is just the first step- a very successful one to open up interests from the local community. This is our first “touchdown.” With this momentum, we will be ramping up with upcoming meditation workshops and bi-monthly meditation study groups. We are also thinking about bringing Tea Chan, vegetarian cooking classes, meditative painting and others events as well onto the calendar. At the same time, DDMBASF will be in the process of coordinating with Gilbert, Simon, Guo Gu, and Zarko to come and spread the DDM vision.

We are proactively in the process of doing all of this and humbly open to Fashi and everyone’s guidance, recommendations, and help on how to do this better.

Everything starts here and now!

(Shared by Ken Zhang, Chan Meditation Center in Fremont)

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