I learned that Lama Chuck Stanford has passed away.
I was not close with Chuck Stanford but his death has affected me.
I’m not writing this because my friend died. He wasn’t my friend.
He was my first Buddhist teacher. He was the first Buddhist teacher of many people in Kansas City. I took Refuge, Pratimoksha, and Bodhisattva Vows from him. Those are vows that express our level of commitment as lay Buddhist practitioners. And he stressed to me how important it is to be committed to these principles.
He gave me my Buddhist name, Kalsang Dakpa, which means fortune and fame. I took his Meditation Instructor Training class too and it meant a lot to me.
And he gave me the opportunity to run the Youth Program at the Rime Center, which I did for several years, which is something I hope to do again soon.
I would not be the person I am right now without the influence of Lama Chuck.
And I’m not the only one.
He started teaching Buddhism in Kansas City at the end of the 1990s. There were not several Buddhist groups to choose from back then. People that were interested in Buddhism simply didn’t have many options. He, along with his wife Mary, had a dream of building a Buddhist Community here. They wanted to build a non-sectarian Buddhist community. The idea was a community where all different traditions of Buddhism could be explored and celebrated.
They turned an old church into a Buddhist Center. And they invited Buddhist teachers from all over to come visit and lead retreats, which is a thing that’s still happening now. I took my first Buddhism classes at the Rime Center and did my first retreat there too.
Without the Rime Center I don’t think I would have ever connected with other Buddhists in Kansas City. I’d probably still be someone interested in Buddhism and not really doing it. Also, I met my wife at the Rime Center, so that feels important.
Buddhism in Kansas City owes everything to the Rime Center and I do too.
Things are different now, things always change. The Rime Center has been reborn and is under new leadership and in a new space. Lama Chuck retired a few years ago and moved away. He left the community in the very capable hands of two directors, Lama Matthew Rice and Gabi Otto.
And the Rime Center is propelled by a new dream now, of building a serious Buddhist Temple in Kansas City. This is a bold dream and Lama Chuck did express support for it. Lots of people that try to build Buddhist Temples struggle and give up, it’s hard to build a Buddhist temple in the United States. But I think it’ll happen. I believe in the dream.
In the Rime Center Community, Chuck Stanford built something that has outlived him. And we’re all better for it.
He touched a lot of lives and the Rime Center is a great legacy.