You see them in the description for every class and special event here: "everyone welcome." Two little words. But they mean a lot here. Not because they come with a long list of exceptions and qualifications and conditions. But actually, precisely because they don’t. “Everyone” means absolutely everyone, including you and me – exactly as we are.
It’s because KMC Chicago was founded with the sole purpose of benefitting everyone. And our tradition of Buddhism recognizes that every single person has the potential for limitless happiness, so every single person can benefit from Buddha’s teachings.
When I first started coming to classes at KMC Chicago, I recognized right away that the teachings were incredibly beneficial for me. But in my prior experience “religion” and “judging” all too often went hand-in-hand. Gay people like me are welcome at some places only if we’re ready to hide or “cure” it. So I wondered at first whether KMC Chicago would be a place where I could be honest and open about all aspects of my life ... and still feel welcome. Since then, I can look back and chuckle at that thought now, because I’ve been not only welcomed but completely supported.
But maybe you’re new here and aren’t sure. So investigate for yourself. You’ll find proof just about anywhere at our center, because it grows out of the very teachings that Buddha gave (and that we share at our center). Read about affectionate love, the sincere wish for every living being to be happy, in How to Transform Your Life (by our founder, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso). Or come to a class about Buddha nature, the potential for limitless happiness that’s within every single one of us (not just the “good” ones). Or join a discussion about Bodhichitta, a term that refers to the very best kind of wish anyone can develop: the wish to benefit every living being every day. Or do a meditation on the fact that we all share the same basic wishes to avoid suffering and experience happiness, and in that way we’re all the same. ...or drop in to any class, open any book we study, ask any person you meet here.
Whoever you are. Whatever your background.
Whatever your skin. Whoever you love.
Wherever you worship. Wherever you brunch.
Whatever you’ve done. Whatever you believe.
Whatever your gender. Whatever your pronouns.
Wherever your head is. Wherever your heart is.
However you feel inside. However you look outside.
However old you feel. However old you are.
Whatever you have lots of. Whatever you have little of.
Everyone is welcome!
Jacob is a long-time member and student at KMC Chicago. He is currently in the Foundation Program study program, and served for 4 years as Education Program Coordinator. He lives in the Buena Park neighborhood of Chicago with his husband.