SAN DIEGO – The Dharma Bum Temple welcomes people of every color, creed, race, religion and sexual orientation. People can truly be themselves at Dharma Bum. Yes, LGBT people have found another place of worship that welcomes them for who they are. The temple was founded in late 2006 by Jeff, Derek and Maggie, who all tend to refer to each other by first names only. Jeff said the Dharma Bums follow a simple path for a happy life and accept all people. “Buddhism teaches us there is there no difference in race, gender, age, sexual orientation,” Jeff said. “No one, in the ultimate sense, is any different than anyone else.”
The Dharma Bums are based at the Dharma Bum Temple in downtown San Diego. They practice Buddhist teachings to live a full and happy life.
Jeff said he and the other co-founders decided to open the temple when they realized there was community interest in Buddhism. Their goal was to provide a welcoming space for everyone where people could come and learn about Buddhism and meditation in a way that would be easy to understand and pressure-free. The Dharma Bums operate under a mission to help each person find peace of mind. The general idea is that generously helping others and giving of self will bring happiness. Jeff said the teachings show participants that they don’t need more items and belongings to find happiness — that they can experience happiness just by sitting and breathing, for example.
There are “resident Dharma Bums” who look after the temple. They are also very active in the community. Jeff said the Dharma Bums are involved in prison-outreach programs and food and clothing redistribution for the homeless. The Dharma Bums also create BuddhaBadges, one-inch badges or buttons, to help support charities. Every month, 90% of the proceeds from the sales of the badges are donated to an organization or charity that is doing good works across the globe.
The temple is open to everyone, even people from other religions, and there is no pressure to attend or donate money. Supporters say there is also no pressure to conform to a certain lifestyle or change the way a person is currently living. Rather, the Dharma Bums encourage participants to be cognizant of their behavior and what brings them peace of mind.
“We operate as a free space for all to gather in community and be a place of refuge for everyone,” Jeff said. “We have no memberships, there is no pressure to donate and we have no secret teaching. We are simple people sharing a simple way of life.”
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And some more about them on Buddhadharma here.