|Sent on:||Wednesday, September 21, 2011 2:12 PM|
The 7th Annual Central Florida CHANGE YOUR MIND DAY is coming up fast, and will be bigger and better than ever. This year’s event will bring eight Buddhist leaders from several traditions together for a day of meditation and dharma teachings. It's open to the public, AND IT'S FREE!
WHERE: Wat Florida Dhammaram, 2421 Old Vineland Road, Kissimmee.
WHEN: Saturday, September 24, from 10am-5pm
Originally established as an international day of Buddhist awareness by Tricycle foundation, this year’s CHANGE YOUR MIND DAY will include tours of the monastery’s grounds, along with talks and guided meditations by Wat Florida’s abbot, Than Chaokhun Phra Vijitrdhammapani and seven other speakers from different Central Florida Buddhist organizations.
Presenters include representatives from several Buddhist traditions, including Tibetan, Vietnamese and American Buddhism: Ani Chime, Drikung Dharmatara Ling Center (Davenport); Venerable Chueh Fan, Guang Ming Temple (Orlando); Sayo Shenphen, Boundless Light Sangha (Orlando); Ven. Khai Thien, White Sands Buddhist Center, (Mims); Michael Kane, Natural Meditation Community (Ormond Beach); Mike Ladwig, Ormond Sangha; and Morris Sekiyo Sullivan.
“We’re really looking forward to this year’s Change Your Mind Day,” says Morris Sekiyo Sullivan, Sensei at Volusia Buddhist Fellowship. The DeLand-based group organized the first Change Your Mind Day in Central Florida in 2005, drawing capacity crowds to a West Volusia yoga studio.
“That first Change Your Mind Day woke us up to the realization that a lot of people were interested in meditation and Buddhism,” Sullivan said. “We had teachers from Gainesville and on down to Orlando and Brevard County, and people came from all over the state to listen to them.”
The event continued in DeLand the following year, but organizers later decided to rotate it from community to community. It will return to DeLand in 2012.
“We’ve had it in Ormond Beach and Cocoa Beach,” Sullivan said. “This is the first time in Kissimmee, although the abbot has been a part of Change Your Mind Day since the second year. It’s working out very well—the abbot really wanted us to make ourselves at home, so we expanded the schedule and can include more speakers.”
There are four newcomers this year. “Ani Chime (Angela Harkavy) is coming up from Davenport; she’s the center director at Drikung Dharmatara Ling, which is Tibetan Buddhism,” Sullivan said. “And we have Ven. Chueh Fan—she’s the director of the largest Buddhist Temple in Florida, Guang Ming in Orlando.”
“Ven. Khai Thien is coming from White Sands Buddhist Center, which is a Vietnamese Mahayana monastery in Mims,” Sullivan added. “I’ve heard great things about that monastery and its meditation retreats, and I’m looking forward to hearing him speak.”
Sullivan did a stint as a Theravada monk at Wat Florida Dhammaram, and is now a sensei (minister) with the Bright Dawn Institute for American Buddhism. “We’ll have another Bright Dawn sensei there, Sayo Shenphen,” he said. “I met him at Wat Florida about the time we did the first Change Your Mind Day—he was a monk there before me—and we went through the Bright Dawn program together. It will be very cool to be here with him.”
Buddhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and the fastest-growing religion in the United States. According to the 2008 Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey, more than 2 million Americans identify themselves as Buddhist.
“I think there’s a lot of spiritual uncertainty in America right now,” Sullivan said. “At times, it seems like our culture is built around greed, anger and irrationality, which in Buddhism are considered three main causes of suffering. I think a lot of us realize that those attitudes cause a lot of trouble and are looking for ways to transcend them. Buddhism offers a path away from that—toward a better way to live.”
For more information, contact Volusia Buddhist Fellowship at (386)[masked], visit the website at www.volusiabuddhist.org or email [address removed].