When Gen Kelsang Norden was growing up in England, did she dream of one day becoming a Buddhist nun? Well no, but when she first took a class on Buddhist thought at age 16 she was set on that path. Norden was ordained at age 18 and is now the resident teacher at the Vajravarahi Buddhist Meditation Center.
The Center quietly moved to Sag Harbor last month after several years on Main Street in Hampton Bays. Located next to the former Fighting Chance building on Route 114, this storefront meditation center is easy to find. Norden and her followers seek to provide a respite from the stresses and distractions of life across the East End. For a time Norden was conducting Thursday evening meditation at the Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall on East Union Street in Sag Harbor. The new, full-time site was chosen to serve as a centralized location for followers from Quogue to Montauk.
Said Norden, “It’s going really nicely. As a nonprofit we rely on volunteers and the community has helped a lot. I’m looking forward to meeting more new people as they come in. We’re still finishing setting up and looking forward to doing things outside as well.”
Norden, who now lives in Southampton, has been practicing Buddhism for 20 years. The form of Buddhism practiced at the Center is Kadampa. Norden stresses that the Center and its offerings are open to everyone. “There is definitely a nice, growing interest in what we’re doing here. Even those who don’t want to become a Buddhist are welcome to drop in. They can find something in our practices even if they are Christian or Jewish or Muslim,” Norden said.
The Center takes its name from Vajravarahi, a female Buddha from the the 15th century. The Center features a Buddha statue and shrine. It is truly a world apart from the hustle and bustle outside.
Enter another, calmer world. Take off your shoes, sip some tea, meditate. There are lunchtime meditation half hours and, right now, Sundays are devoted to developing patience. Floor cushion or chair, have a seat and change yourself, change the world. Drop-in class or meditate the Center’s offerings are very affordable—certainly nothing to stress about.
Vajvarahi Buddhist Center, 112 Hampton Street, Sag Harbor. 631-728-5700. www.meditationinthehamptons.org.