Original Publication: March 23, 2003, The Troy Record

PEACE SOUGHT WITH SILENCE
By: Shawn Charniga


TROY - Oftentimes, between volleys of deafening noise, it is the silences between them that seem the loudest.

This notion drew area Buddhists to the city's YWCA for a 24-hour vigil of silent meditation beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday.

According to YWCA Director Pat Dinkelaker, those meditating sought the beginner's open mind, which holds many possibilities, rather than the expert mind which knows few alternatives.

Buddhist philosophy teaches conflict hardens when few possibilities exist, so opening the mind to a wider range of possibility can help reduce conflict, she said. It would seem easy to open one's mind under these circumstances - the large and acoustically live First Street building is pin-drop quiet, save mechanical noise from its elevator.


Steve Trimm meditates for peace during a 24-hour
meditation by the Buddhist Peace Group.
photo:Tom Killips/Troy Record
In the second-floor community room, decorated with floor pillows for the occasion, Buddhist Peace Group member Steve Trimm stood deep in meditation Saturday.

The Buddhist Peace Group is "an ad hoc group of local American Buddhists who advocate a peaceful resolution to conflict," according to a release. Peace Group members gathered several weeks ago, when war seemed imminent, said Dinkelaker.

She said the group is in touch with 15 to 20 other collectives in regular practice around the Capital District. She said she was unsure if similar events were held in parallel with their own, but said some individuals meditate on peace alone as part of their usual practice.

Meditation allows people to occupy a quiet space and be with themselves, able to take a break from daily life during a very anxious time, she said.

The event, which was open to all, drew about 20 members of Girls, Inc. that morning. While on a break from their morning program, the young women asked to participate. Some later returned, Dinkelaker said.