Why do we have more students? Because we have more programs to offer. For years we had an average of six events a week. Now we have 20 events a week and have scheduled even more next year.
I’ve often heard Ven. Robina Courtin, one of our FPMT touring teachers – who, as you know, is here with us in Santa Fe these days – share her views on the benefit of expanding the spiritual program at centers.
“It seems we go to so much effort to create a center,” she said. “We have to find a place, pay the rent or the mortgage, we need a director, a spiritual program coordinator, volunteers, teachers to teach the courses, and members to pay the costs – all this infrastructure just to be open for a couple of hours on weekday evenings and an occasional weekend course. Can you imagine running a cafe, or any organization, like that! It’s just not practical.”
I think what Ven. Robina says makes sense. When I think of the cafe example, I imagine just a few items on the menu and open only a couple of hours a day – of course it would be difficult to satisfy a small pool of customers, keep them, or attract new ones, let alone cover all the costs.
We are taking this example seriously, thus fulfilling the first of Rinpoche’s Five Pillars, by providing as much Dharma as possible. We will offer more of the different levels of the FPMT core curriculum; other courses that support our heart program, such as our new series based on the teachings of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche; more guided meditations; more prayers and pujas; and yoga and qigong.
In 2021, we will fulfill the second of Rinpoche’s Five Pillars, Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom, by offering courses such as Sixteen Guidelines and Building Balanced Empathy.
Not only have we increased our programming, but we are also providing classes seven days a week with multiple time slots. Our 30-minute Express Meditation is offered every weekday at 7am. We will soon have mid-morning and late afternoon classes, more Saturday workshops and weekend intensives, as well as our usual evening programs. I’m especially excited about our new 30-minute evening purification meditation, starting in January, which we can end our day with at 9pm.
We have also increased our pool of teachers, facilitators, and meditation leaders, both locally and globally. And we have invited more than 20 FPMT teachers from around the world to join our faculty to teach our 2021 program.
Our events are attracting between 9 – 60 students.