In the Buddha’s time it was a common practice for more senior students of the Buddha to help the more junior students with their questions. This was a mentoring relationship and the senior students were called kalyana mitta. The phrase “kalyana mitta” comes from the Pali Buddhist texts and means admirable friend or admirable companion.
The Buddha thought highly of the benefit from kalyana mittas and in the Samyutta Nikaya text (SN 45.2) he said: “Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, he can be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path.”
Since the Buddha thought highly of kalyana mittas that is good enough for us and the TBC recently decided to offer the service of kalyana mittas to our sangha. This kalyana mitta service is being offered as part of our Dharma in Action program which also offers many other programs such as meditation for teens, books through bars, prayers for peace day, a winter clothing drive with Mt Tabor Church, etc. Thanks to Sue Passante for directing our Dharma in Action program.
We offer two levels of kalyana mitta:
First Level Kalyana Mitta: We have certain senior students who will wear a yellow name tag and who are offering to discuss basic questions you may have about Buddhism or about our center. If you see someone with a yellow nametag they will enjoy talking with you. Feel free to ask them any basic questions about our center or about Buddhism. This first level is open to everyone.
Second Level Kalyana Mitta: This second level is a benefit of membership and is only open to members. We have a list of 8 senior students who have been approved by Losang to teach or to lead a class. These 8 senior students are offering to meet privately with members (in person or by phone or on line) to have in depth discussions about practice related topics. This is a way for members to hear a different perspective about the practice they are working on and possibly to gain more clarity around their practice.
If you are a member and would like to talk with a second level kalyana mitta then please contact Bill Stauffer (Membership Coordinator) in person at the center or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Bill can describe the program in more detail and can give you information about each senior student so you can pick which senior student you prefer to work with.
Again, if you’re interested to talk with a first level kalyana mitta you can simply talk with anyone wearing a yellow name tag during Sunday Morning Sangha.