For a long time I’ve wanted to learn more about Buddhist practices. Then about seven years ago after getting married and falling pregnant with my first child I decided to take the first step. I was really unsure where to begin. Do I start by learning meditation? Is there anywhere in Albury / Wodonga I can go to learn Buddhist practices? I wasn’t sure of the answers so I began by reading books, many of which were written by the Dalai Lama. I found a connection immediately with the writings, but the books often left me with more questions than answers. It was then that I made connection with the local Buddhist group – Wat Buddhavongsayaram. I nervously went along one Sunday morning unsure of what to expect. I had researched some basic ‘temple etiquettes’ prior to going and in preparation for my first session I politely dressed in white, collected some offerings for the teaching monk and drove to the temple.
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived that the temple wasn’t as ‘formal’ as the ones I had researched. The teaching monk (named Ajahn Satit) was there to greet everyone who came in. I later found out that Ajahn is the respectful way to address any Buddhist monk and Satit was his first name. It’s interesting to note that over the last seven years I have collected a number of other useful tips and tricks! However on this first session I was still a little rusty. I realised I was a little rusty when I wrongfully sat on the wrong side of the temple and was politely asked to sit to the left. When I moved to the left I quickly realised that all the other women had sat to the left. As I said, it’s taken me many more years to collect these useful tips. Despite reading all the Dalai Lama books I could get my hands on, none of them taught me this. It was during my first visit that I felt I had come to the right place. The people were great, the meditation is fantastic but what the biggest impact for me came from Ajahn Satit’s ‘Dhamma’ talks. I remember his first talk vividly. It was around Valentine’s Day and he spoke about love. He spoke about loving yourself and about respect for all creatures. This was like gold for me. Being in the presence of such a respected monk, listening to him talk straight from the heart about the aspects at the core of buddhist practices was so insightful. After my first session I couldn’t wait for the next & complimented my readings with the Dhamma talks each week. Things finally started to make sense.
Two years after my first session I decided to take my daughter along to the temple. As parents of toddlers would know, getting them to sit still for any length of time of hard work. I was nervous about this but was excited about taking her. To my surprise (and with some practice) by the time she was 2 and a half she was confidently, and more importantly quietly, able to sit and meditate with the group for a twenty minute period. She loved going to the temple and had a great relationship with Ajahn Satit.
I’ve been proud to watch the temple grow from its humble beginnings in South Albury to the new much larger location in East Street. I would encourage anyone with an interest in knowing or learning more about the lovely buddhist community of Albury/ Wodonga to come along. It’s such a supportive, welcoming environment of any new guests.