Pat Enkyo O'Hara. Courtesy Sally Boon.
Pat Enkyo O’Hara. Courtesy Sally Boon.

CHANGE YOUR MIND

At 12:30 p.m. on June 8, Michelle Laporte struck a large brass gong 108 times to initiate Tricycle’s third annual Change Your Mind Day. The setting for this day of meditation in a free and public format was a quiet wooded lawn in New York’s Central Park.

Monks from Sri Lanka. Courtesy Sally Boon.
Monks from Sri Lanka. Courtesy Sally Boon.

The Reverend T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki from the New York Buddhist Church opened the presentations with a vigorous chant. Pat Enkyo O’Hara of the Village Zendo, a co-host of the event, led a guided meditation. A talk by Lobsang Samten of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia followed. Next, John Daido Loori, abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, took questions from the audience.

Zentertainment was provided by John Gibson, playing compositions of his own and those of Philip Glass; Allen Ginsberg and Kevin Glassco sang songs. Other participants included Bonnie Myotai Treace of the Fire Lotus Zendo in Manhattan, Master Sheng Yen from the Ch’an Meditation Center in Queens, the Ven. Kurunegoda Piyatissa from the New York Buddhist Vihara, and Joseph Goldstein from the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Maggie Newman, a venerable t’ai chi teacher, led everyone in a series of contemplative movement exercises. According to the Parks Department, there were 1,500 people there for the day, while another 1,000 came and went; with everyone following Ms. Newman in unison, Central Park acquired a rare moment of active serenity.

Allen Ginsberg. Courtesy Sally Boon.
Allen Ginsberg. Courtesy Sally Boon.

The most theatrical part of the day came when Gelugpa monk Michael Roach led two young Tibetan monks, Ngawang Thupten and Jampa Longrey, in a classic geshe Tibetan debate on the nature of karma. In imitation of the raucous debating practice of a Tibetan monastery, Roach introduced the audience to the crescendo roar that signals the disapproval of an answer.

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