ABOUT UPASAKAS AND UPASIKAS
Upasaka (masculine) and Upasika (feminine) were the titles given to followers of the Buddha who undertook certain vows, but were not monks, nuns, or novice monastics. These titles are from the Pali words meaning “to sit close” (upasati) and “to attend to” (upasana), and are sometimes translated as “one who serves.” Over time, the terms have come to mean “dedicated lay practitioner,” and to connote a lay person who has made a total commitment to the study and practice of the Buddhadhamma. Read More.
Upasika Dhammadinna. My name is Barbara Larson, and 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.
Upasika Dhammachandha (center).
Upasaka Mahanama (right). Tucker Peck is almost finished with his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Arizona. For the last seven years he has been involved in scientific research on the effects of mindfulness meditation, first at Brown University and since 2008 here in Tucson. Tucker has been practicing psychotherapy since 2005, incorporating meditation-based interventions into group and individual therapy, most recently at the Marana Health Center north of Tucson. After receiving Upasaka Culadasa’s permission to teach meditation, Tucker started his own Sangha on Google Hangout, a group video chat forum. E-Sangha now has members in all four US time zones.
When not working or meditating, Tucker likes hiking and doing long drives. He’s been to all but 2 US states and all but 2 Canadian provinces. Be careful asking about these trips, though, as it may take a lot of mindfulness to get through the length of these stories.
Upasaka Pannadayaka (left).
Upasika Sanghamitta (right).