A letter from Shanti, who runs the World of Meditation Centre in Seattle, together with Subhan.
We were first introduced to Zoom two winters ago, in January of 2019, when I led Mystic Rose. Within a few days of Laughter all but one of us got sick, from a participant who already was sick.. sigh. (Thank god Covid-19 wasn’t around then.) Some of us were mildly unwell, like me, but some were too sick to come – but still everyone attended – first via facetime and then at some point the techy people brought in Zoom.
By the way, during this Mystic Rose everyone continued to work at their day jobs. Then the Crying stage began – and it started to snow – in Seattle. It hardly ever snows in Seattle, but when it does the whole city shuts down because we don’t know how to drive in snow and the city is never prepared for it,
Again, Zoom to the rescue and everyone kept participating. Some people lived close by and they came. Another two people always attended in person; they were not afraid to drive in the snow as they were from the East Coast, and probably thought that Seattle people are real sissies.
So, there were always some people participating via Zoom and some came to the center. During the Watcher on the Hill stage the electricity went off… but the techies knew about hot spots – still we all remained connected. The last few days everyone came together at the center and a few weeks later we had a special dinner gathering. I’ve led Mystic Rose before and this went just as deep as the others had gone.
I told Subhan it would be good for the center to get a Zoom.us account – but then we both just forgot about it.
Then Covid-19 arrived on our shores. Seattle was the first city to be the epicenter in the USA. Fortunately for us (at least this is our opinion), we had very smart doctors who study epidemics right near where we live. They immediately became aware of the situation and acted with intelligence, all the while informing our most intelligent governor and mayor. So we shut down before the rest of America did. As everything shut down, so did our financial abilities to support ourselves and the center.
We immediately started to learn how to ‘zoom’. I got a kick-start as I taught my last meditation class for a Continuing Education program at North Seattle College using Zoom. All schools, colleges and universities had shut down by then in Washington State.
Then came a Zoom satsang with live music. The musicians were very good, but on Zoom they didn’t sound that good. Fortunately for us, Prashant, a young man who had taken sannyas a few months before and lives in Seattle, is a well-known DJ from Colombia, South America. He began helping us researching how to make it sound better. We then also changed our regular meditation schedule to be online!
We have also presented an online weekend workshop on Critical Mind, and on May 16 we had an online mini Osho and Zen Retreat. Our friend Pranesh, who is also a Zen Priest, led us into a Zen practice so beautifully and clearly. Subhan and I led Dynamic, chose a great Zen excerpt from an Osho discourse and I lead a tea ceremony.
Through Zoom we are still able to connect, and so deeply. The only part that hurts is when after we have all shared so much, the meeting is over… After our Zoom hug (stretching arms out wide, hugging ourselves and then namaste one another) it is difficult to press the ‘Leave this meeting’ button. We are then left just with ourselves and our laptops. For a second that part is startling.
Subhan is presently facilitating a five-week online course (two hours each Saturday, from May 23 – June 20), entitled Growing Up in Times of Crisis (The Spanish Title is Crecer en Tempos de Crisis). It is being given in English with Spanish translation.
Recently we added another online meditation program on Tuesdays called Osho’s Hidden Meditations (meditations Osho had given to his disciples during darshans or in discourses). I have also planned to speak with Pranesh about leading a regular Zen meditation, once a week.
With this letter I just wanted to share my excitement about Zoom and how fortunate we are to have it in our lives – so we can continue to connect as a sangha and at the same time find our ways in this unexpected worldly retreat which has been given to so many of us.