The Only Choice is Kindness

“Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind”—it was these words that inspired Sylvia Boorstein to follow the Buddhist path.  Steve Silberman talks with her about the challenges of life, from a rough childhood to a post-partum depression, that helped her become such a beloved teacher—and example—of Buddhist virtues.

Sylvia Boorstein's writing room—a solarium at the back of the wooden house in Northern California’s Sonoma County that she shares with her husband, Seymour—looks out on a landscape that hasn't changed much since the Gold Rush days. A canopy of oaks filters the sunlight shining through the glass ceiling, and turkey vultures swoop and glide over the amber hills below. The town a couple of miles down the road, Geyserville, still looks like a stagecoach stop from the Old West.

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Surprised by Joy

The road to happiness, says Sharon Salzberg, is paved with kindness.

When we see how quickly life just disappears, how even the longest life span is over in a flash, we realize how important it is for us to create the conditions that help us most directly move toward true happiness. The bravest thing we can do—the beginning of an awakened life of kindness—is to question our assumptions about what we are capable of, what brings us happiness, and what life can be about. 

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The Practice of Sangha

Thich Nhat Hanh explains that sangha is more than a community, it’s a deep spiritual practice.

A sangha is a community of friends practicing the dharma together in order to bring about and to maintain awareness. The essence of a sangha is awareness, understanding, acceptance, harmony and love. When you do not see these in a community, it is not a true sangha, and you should have the courage to say so. But when you find these elements are present in a community, you know that you have the happiness and fortune of being in a real sangha.

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The Problem of Personality

We believe deeply in ourselves as personalities, says Ajahn Sumedho, each committed to the reality of our own personal history and distinctive traits. He offers a meditation to deliberately bring such thoughts to the fore, and notice the uncreated awareness within which they arise.

Most of us are very committed to ourselves as personalities. The habit of viewing ourselves as a person is deeply ingrained in us. In Pali, that is called sakkaya-ditthi, which can be translated as “personality-view” or “the ego.” It means that we regard the five khandhas (groups)—body, feelings, perceptions, conceptions, and consciousness—as belonging to this person, as making up our identity.

Read more: The Problem of Personality

Weekly Schedule


8.00 am - 9.00 am: Public Services in English: Such as chanting, Meditation,  Dharma discussing

10:30 am – 12.30 pm: Public Services in Vietnamese: Such as chanting, Dharma discussing (with English translator), offering to the deceased ones 


English Dharma Class, open discussion.
@ Dharma Hall, Virginia Beach
1st, 2nd and 3rd  and 5thTuesdays, 7pm-8.30pm.

English Dharma Class, open discussion.
@ Pitts Center, Southern Shores, NC
4th Tuesday, 6.30pm - 8.30pm 


5:45 - 6:45 pm: One Hour Meditation. Public is welcome. English language introduction. Silent, seated meditation in the Dharma Hall.

7:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Public service in English: Chanting, meditating, Dharma discussing in English


8:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Chanting 21 time Great Compassion Mantra (Vietnamese)


423 Davis Street

Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Phone: (757) 689 - 3408

Direct: 757 - 406 - 1726 (Mr. Mark P.)

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