Buddhist group helps students chant, meditate

Buddhist group helps students chant, meditate

By Samantha Egan

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an error about the purpose of chanting. The purpose of chanting is to strive to become more like Buddha.

The phrase “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” is chanted habitually at Soka Gakkai International (SGI) meetings by members and guests who seek individual happiness and world peace.

The Northeastern Chapter of SGI World Peace Buddhists is a newly recognized student group and the second Buddhist club at Northeastern.

Carly McKeague, a middler speech pathology and audiology major, and Sandra Hussey, a middler political science major, founded the club, which held its first meeting Jan. 29. The two said they wanted to create an organization to meet the needs of the community that practices this type of Buddhism, but the club is also open to students who’ve never practiced before.

Endorsed by the Spiritual Life Center,the club is categorized as a “temporarily recognized group” by Campus Activities. They said they hope to be fully recognized soon. Before starting the club, the two met with a regional leader of SGI World Peace Buddhists.

“It didn’t take long at all,” Hussey said. “They were very supportive.”

Hussey said the inspiration for the group stemmed from her parents, who practiced Buddhism throughout her life.

“I wanted to have a group to spread the word about Buddhism,” she said. “I know a lot of people have heard of it but they don’t really know what it’s all about.”

Kerri Barry, a middler criminal justice major, said chanting got her through some tough times in her life.

“I’ve always been very independent when it came [to] facing challenges in my life,” Barry said. “Chanting helped me find spiritual help and get through them.”

The previous Buddhism group, the Zen Buddhism club, diminished when the advisor left, McKeague said. The two types of Buddhism have substantial differences, however.

“Zen Buddhism is more about clearing your mind and being in a different state,” Hussey said. “This is about being in the here and now.”

McKeague said the club has a growing following and many members have brought friends to the club’s meetings and chanting sessions in the Sacred Space. The club holds a 25-minute chanting session every other week, alternating with discussion meetings Monday evenings in the Sacred Space.

The discussion meetings aim to help gain further insight and understanding of SGI practices, as well as help members get more out of chanting. At future meetings the group hopes to talk about topics many people can relate to, like wellness and relationships, and relate them to Buddhism.

Freshman behavioral neuroscience major Carmen Thurston came to the meetings knowing the basics of Buddhism, but with little experience with chanting.

“I thought the meditation was really well done and very different from the traditional silent meditation that I’m used to.

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