‘We all have a Buddha inside of us.’ Buddhist teachings inspire mindfulness and peace

A small group of Algonquin College students learned how Buddhism can make everyday life easier
Photo: Shaun Klepko
Buddhist Araceli Cubas explains the basics of Buddhism to Algonquin College students at the AC Spiritual Centre on Feb. 20.

“The fact that you are here means you are very lucky,” said Buddhist Max Figueredo to a circle of learners seated around him. “Not everybody comes across Buddhism during their life.”

Six Algonquin College students listened to Figueredo’s teachings on Feb. 20. This was their first time at Introduction to Buddhism, a monthly event held at AC’s Spiritual Centre.

“There’s a lot of change happening here,” said Sue-Anne Hess, the centre’s coordinator. “We want to expand the diversity of our programming. One thing we are chatting about is increasing programming for the Buddhist community.”

Figueredo and Araceli Cubas, two Buddhists from the Diamond Way Buddhism Group, organized this event for beginners. They sat with attendees in a small circle of chairs and spoke about Buddhism’s origins and teachings.

“There are many different types of Buddhism,” said Figueredo. “There are monks who do silent retreats, but we are teaching layman Buddhism, meaning that you can apply it as someone who has a day job and a family.”

Figueredo explained how layman Buddhism can help people cope with stressful situations.

“When we experience suffering, we have all these negative emotions that arise,” he said. “When you reach the state of a Buddha, you still experience suffering, but it’s not personal. You become more like a mountain. Things happen and you are not blown over. You start to recognize what is really going on. When things happen, you don’t react, but instead, you can look at the situation and decide what happens.”

Figueredo emphasized that these Buddhist teachings could be applied to all people.

“We all have a Buddha inside of us,” he said. “It is not some deity. It is like a reflection of who we can be. If we become a better version of ourselves, then we help everyone around us.”

Figueredo led a short meditation session, in which all attendees closed their eyes and he read aloud from a booklet of Buddhist reflections. After the meditation, Figueredo gathered the email addresses of attendees who wanted to learn more.

“I found out about this event from a poster near where I usually study,” said Dawson Grey, a second-year police foundations student. “I actually didn’t know much about Buddhism. I’m actually thinking I’m going to come back here again.”

“This is just an introduction,” said Figueredo. “We have the monthly Introduction to Buddhism, but also follow-up sessions for those who are interested.”

These follow-up sessions occur about two weeks after the introduction event. For this six-person Feb. 20 event, the follow-up session will be around March 5.

The next Introduction to Buddhism event will happen March 19 at 6 p.m., at the Algonquin College Spiritual Centre.

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