Jessica Seacrest. After a four year stint in the Air Force, Jessica earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She is currently a regional accounting manager for a civil engineering firm. In 2008, having never meditated, but seeking to quiet her mind, she attended a week long silent meditation retreat with Shinzen Young. Soon after, she met Upasaka Culadasa. She realized the Buddhadhamma was something that she had always been looking for; actually, it seemed the Buddhadhamma found her. She eventually took refuge and committed formally to live by the precepts – something that seemed a natural part of her spiritual progression. Jessica is fascinated with the developing theory of the correlation between quantum mechanics and consciousness. She is slightly obsessed with knitting.
Barbara Larson. I took the Precepts in the Spring of 2012. I’ve had a longstanding interest in spirituality, since my childhood in a devout Catholic household. As a teenager I did what many of us do, which was to reject the religion of my parents. In fact, I rejected religion altogether, seeking instead to understand the human search for meaning as an aspect of our psychology.
I studied the ideas of Carl Jung, joined the Unitarians, quit the Unitarians, and came across the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. His books struck a chord in me and I took up a mindfulness meditation practice in the summer of 2009. For two years I practiced without really having contact with either a teacher or a sangha. That way was ultimately unsatisfying and I began searching in Tucson for some support for my practice.
Through the Tucson Community Meditation Center, I met Upasaka Culadasa and attended a 10-day meditation retreat at Cochise Stronghold in July 2011. That retreat was a culmination of sorts; establishing a relationship with the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha seemed the most natural thing in the world. I was “ripe” for Buddhism, and knew that further dedication to the practice was what I wanted to do. Taking the Precepts and being a member of the greater Sangha is a great privilege.
Since I began my meditation practice four years ago, a calm, joyful energy has come into my life, which I hope to share with those around me. The journey is ongoing, and I seek to embrace each new opportunity with happiness and enthusiasm.
Nick Van Kleeck