Fifty Years, Fifty Voices: Amala (Highlights)On Wed, 2 November, 2022 - 13:26
“The Heart Sutra was my moment of conversion, when I was 17 years old.”
In 1968 I was 14 years old, attending a Quaker High School in Washington, D.C., USA. I was very aware of the Civil Rights movement and the unrest all around me due to race issues. I was also aware of the growing peace movement(s) and started to be active in anti-Vietnam marches in Washington.
In 1978 I had graduated from university two years before with a degree in Religious Studies and Anthropology. I had studied Buddhism extensively while in school and considered myself a Buddhist, though had not chosen to participate with either the Zen community nor the Chogyam Trungpa group – the two main Buddhist groups active in the US at the time. To be Buddhist was a private practice and sensibility for me. I was living in a rural arts/crafts community in New Jersey, eastern USA, and working as a weaver’s apprentice.
In 1988 I was married and living in a small town in New Hampshire, USA, working in my own weaving studio with 3 people working under me. I had heard back in 1985 of the new Buddhist Center in Newmarket, NH – Aryaloka, but had not yet gone there.
In 1997 I was very active in the sangha at Aryaloka Buddhist Center. I had asked for ordination some years before. I was fully occupied as a stay-at-home mom, living in a rural setting and practicing Dharma.
In 2008 I’d been ordained for 8 years. My daughter was away at college and my son was away at a boarding school. I was working full-time for Aryaloka Buddhist Center as Program Director, teaching a great deal, and supporting the ordination process for women. I was divorced from my husband during this year – a friendly, mutual decision.
In 2018 I continue to be involved at Aryaloka, now as Chair of the Spiritual Vitality Council, still teaching, still supporting women in the ordination process. I am also an Order Convener for the US/Canada. My children are both in their twenties, doing well, one married with a baby. After 20 years of not working in my weaving studio I have revived that part of me and am happily weaving and creating a business with my daughter. Every year I travel to Ecodharma in Spain to lead a month-long meditation retreat for the community there, to support them as a friend to the community.