I am a co-leader at Nishi Tendai Sangha in Albany, NY. I had an interest in Buddhism for several years, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I decided to join a sangha and commit to the Buddhist path. I didn’t choose Tendai as much as it chose me – of the several Buddhist schools in the Albany, NY area, I knew how to get to the Tendai meeting place. I felt welcomed, so I stayed.
Three people were sharing leadership responsibilities at Nishi sangha and encouraged all of their fellow lay members to join them for the open meditation period during gyo. I attended almost every morning and was so moved by their diligence, that I decided the next year to go to the training as a gyoja. I struggled with both the physical and emotional challenges of gyo, but was able to commit to another year of training with the encouragement of the other doshu.
I trained every year for six years, becoming a doshu after 3 years and a soryo after the sixth year. While the physical aspects of the training did not get easier, I came to understand and manage the emotional ones, finding that after each training period deepened my commitment to the dharma and my sangha.
Currently, I am one of the three leaders of Nishi sangha, leading meditation services on a rotating basis with the other leaders. In the future, I hope to help Nishi sangha grow and to work with other Buddhist groups in the area to spread the dharma.