On Sunday mornings, you can find the Atisha Kadampa Buddhist Center (AKBC) packed with kids and their families for meditation. While some may think this practice is out of reach, especially for children, AKBC instructors want people to know how accessible it can be.
“Modern Buddhism is practical, integrated with wisdom, and motivated by compassion,” says Resident Teacher Kelsang Chokyi, an ordained Buddhist nun who has been at the center for two years and practicing Kadampa Buddhism for thirteen. AKBC in Providence is just one of over 1,100 centers worldwide that train and practice in the spirit of their founder, the Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Their current location on the East Side has been open for nine years, alongside branches in Little Compton, Attleboro, and Worcester, Massachusetts.
At the core of AKBC is the belief in changing your mind to benefit others. Any and all who wish to transform their mind through training and meditation are welcome to take classes, most of which revolve around a specific topic like anger, concentration, happiness, or intention. You can take general or foundational courses, depending on your interest and experience with Buddhism and meditation. But really, the practice is open to everyone willing to try; according to Chokyi, the center has members as young as four and as old as seventy-two. She has personally observed the dramatic effects of meditation on her students’ lives, whether it’s in their relationships with friends and family or themselves.
“We create a ripple effect,” Chokyi explains. “It’s like a stone skipping on water. What we do here may impact our class of five, but they go out to impact others, and they go on to impact more.” It is this mindset of love and goodwill honed through meditation that Chokyi believes is the key to world peace, and AKBC is here to foster it both within the center’s walls and also through outreach. The organization works with schools like Wheeler and Moses Brown, as well as local corporations and even a Whole Foods supermarket.
To illustrate the significance behind modern Buddhism, and what the AKBC strives to impart, Chokyi recalls one of her favorite moments: “Why do we meditate?” asked teacher Angela Stewart during one Sunday morning session. A little boy raised his hand and answered, “To love more.” 339 Ives Street