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‘Where I’ve Always Wanted to Be’

Courtesy of Marion Feldman.

by Marion Feldman

I’ve worked as a cello professor at New York University since 1999 and the prestigious conservatory the Manhattan School of Music since 1974, which was one of my first big benefits. This May, I will be awarded the President’s Distinguished Service Medal there. And next year will be my 50th year of Buddhist practice.

I’ve had the opportunity to support the SGI in several leadership capacities. At 82, I’ve been a member care advisor for about five years now and, in some ways, when I think about it, it’s the place I’ve always wanted to be.

I really enjoy member care. I try as much as I can to talk with the members, know what they’re going through and help them with their practice. I try to keep them connected by teaching them the basics, saying, “Let’s do gongyo together” or “Let’s chant together.” 

There’s a young man in my district who lives in my building. I’d strike up a conversation with him in the hallway and invite him over to chant. When he did, I’d have a postcard waiting… He’s now doing gongyo, studying Buddhism and attending activities.

As a member care advisor, it’s important for me to be in touch with the district leaders and support the women’s leader. We try to hold a member care meeting once a month to figure out how we can support the members by asking Who has been at the meetings and who hasn’t? Who needs support?

In every district, it is important to create a warm oasis of friendship and a feeling of compassion, understanding and support that surrounds each member. There can’t be enough of that. Having someone there who is working side by side with the district leaders to care for the members is crucial. This is what I feel my role is. 

How do I deal with those who have disappointed or discouraged me? 

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