It was a service trip in South Vietnam that initially brought Wayman and Eryl Kubicka together, but it was their passion for service through Zen Buddhism that connected them “at the heart,” according to Wayman Kubicka.
Together, the couple will bring over 30 years of experience to Week Four of the Mystic Heart Meditation Program.
The Mystic Heart Meditation Program is an initiative by the Department of Religion aimed at teaching Chautauquans about the world’s various meditation traditions. The Kubickas are returning for their third season to lead participants in Zen Buddhist meditation. Their sessions are from 7:15 to 8 a.m. and 8:15 to 9 a.m. Monday, July 16, through Friday, July 20, in the Presbyterian House and from 12:30 to 1:55 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, and Thursday, July 19, in the Hall of Missions.
In 1967, Wayman Kubicka joined an American Friends Service Committee team in Quang Ngai, Vietnam, helping to build and run a rehabilitation center for war-injured civilians. Eryl Kubicka joined the AFSC project from England in 1969 as a physical therapist and practicing Buddhist. The couple married in 1970, and since then, they have practiced Zen for nearly three decades with the Rochester Zen Center. In 2000, Kubicka assisted RZC in building a Zen center in Batavia, New York, where he and his wife are both senior instructors.
“We have spent so much of our lives practicing and teaching Zen to give others a chance to discover it for themselves,” he said.
In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, the Kubickas have structured their sessions to focus primarily on the basics of meditation.
“Participants can expect to learn how to meditate properly,” Kubicka said. “We do not make a big emphasis on Buddhism specifically because we want it to be more versatile to everyone. The power of meditation goes way beyond just Zen Buddhism.”
To Kubicka, meditation is a means of transforming the mind. By engaging with a particular meditation practice, one learns the patterns and habits of the mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being.
“The problem for human beings is that we need to develop a sense of self,” he said. “This is a problem because people end up enmeshed in their sense of self to a point of total self-centeredness.”
“As soon as you stop thinking so much about self, you can become free.”
-Wayman Kubicka, Week Four leader, Mystic Heart Meditation Program
No matter what the purpose behind Chautauquans’ participation, Kubicka hopes they do not take the chance to experience meditation lightly and use its benefits to improve their quality of life.
“I want this to give people inspiration to trust in what meditation can do,” Wayman said. “This is an opportunity for them to give it a serious shot and hopefully keep coming back to what they learn.”