Brightwood Park

Regular Attendance

40

Meditation Length

1 hour

Dharma Discussion

1 hour

Sample Worshipper Dress

Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt, khaki pants

Giant Buddha Statues

1

Shoes

None

Congregational Fervor

Upon arrival at the Washington Buddhist Vihara—a temple home to several Buddhist communities—members remove their shoes and take seats on pillows in the main chamber. When all are ready, a preselected “bell inviter” strikes a series of tones on a prayer bowl to signal the beginning of meditation. “When somebody invites the bell, we respond by reciting a poem—usually, ‘Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true self,’” says Bell Inviter Richard Brady. “Of course, nobody actually says it. We say it silently in our minds.”

Food for the Soul

Almost entirely composed of westerners, the WMC practices “mindfulness meditation,” a spiritual technique founded by Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. After the close of a recent evening’s meditation, community members gathered in a circle to read aloud the “Five Mindfulness Trainings” and to listen to a taped lecture from Nhat Hanh. A cassette titled Discourse on Absolute Truth Volume II was met with bewilderment when it contained only a recording of several people chanting the Buddhist hymn “Pranjaparamita” in French. “I guess we’ll hear the real lecture next week,” says Brady.

Food for the Body

Although the Washington Mindfulness Community does not regularly offer post-prayer snacks, a recent meeting did include a few leftover cookies and a plate of chocolates for mindful munching. A vegetarian potluck is held on the second Sunday of each month.

Overall Worship Power Rating

WMC meetings generally conclude with a “dharma discussion,” in which community members share their reactions to the evening’s teachings as well as personal applications of Buddhism to their daily trials and tribulations. Says Brady: “If you broke down and screamed at your 15-year-old during the week, this is the time in which you can talk about how you dealt with that through your practice.”