Gold Summit Monastery (GSM), located in Lower Queen Anne, operates under the auspices of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, a non-profit religious organization with the purpose of bringing, sharing, and making available to everyone the orthodox teachings of the Buddha. The focus of study and practice at GSM is Mahayana, with emphasis on ethical conduct and moral behavior (Vinaya School), regular meditation classes (Chan School), daily chanting of the holy names of Buddhas (Pure Land School) and of mantras (Secret School), and weekly lectures on the Buddhist scriptures (Teaching School).
The principles of Buddhism are quite practical and applicable to everyday life. At GSM, everyone is encouraged to interact, ask questions, share ideas - all in the spirit of getting to know oneself (lessening the ego) and learning about others (strengthening empathy). An open-forum atmosphere encourages inquiry and participation among the monks and nuns (monastic Sangha) and the lay practitioners. Communication is encouraged and the monastics are caring and available. The community is diversified and multilingual and the abiding attitude is one of humaneness, open-mindedness and tolerance, thus giving newcomers and visitors a sense of ease to come and go and a level of comfort in participating in activities and joining events.
GSM has a library open to interested and responsible users. The monastery offers on-going opportunities to hear talks and panel discussions and to join meditation classes and Pure Land practices. Basic Buddhist principles are explored in the context of social and environmental awareness. Emphasis on family values and education; on "go green", non-violence and non-harming principles, including vegetarian cooking classes; on conservation of natural resources and energy; and on human interaction that emphasizes harmony and compassion shape the teaching and learning experiences at GSM.
The censor on the simple and uncluttered altar holds a single stick of incense and a gentle fragrance permeates the room. The chanting is melodious and accompanied by a drum and bells, traditional temple instruments that hold the beat and enhance concentration. The ceremonies and rituals are often done while standing and involve some bowing on the rows of cushions in the hall.
On the top floor of the monastery, the Buddha Hall is graced with images of three Buddhas: Shakyamuni Buddha (center), Medicine Master Buddha (right of center), Amitabha Buddha (left of center). A white statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, known for her compassion and mercy, is a smaller central figure on the altar. To either side of her are two Dharma Protectors (guardians). Images of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, known for his great conduct and shown astride a white elephant, and Manjushri Bodhisattva , known for his great wisdom and shown riding a green lion, stand on either side of the altar.
Pure vegetarian lunches are served buffet style on Sundays and special days. Silence is maintained during meals, as everyone contemplates and mentally appreciates the food that graces the tables and how the nourishment it provides can also nurture our practice. Everyone is welcome to take all they can eat, but are encouraged to eat all that they take, in a spirit of no waste and thoughtfulness toward those with less.
Overall, the atmosphere at GSM is conductive to apply what we study and practice to the achievement of positive social, educational, and spiritual goals.