Buddhist monk to visit USF


Just in time for students to begin stressing over their upcoming final exams, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the Friends of Sri Lanka Club will host a program on meditation and self-understanding led by fully ordained Buddhist monk, Bhante Upananda.

The club, which has been present at USF for 11 years, has a small community of about 30 members. However, the small group made up of mostly Sri Lankan natives aims to perpetuate the culture for younger generations of students of Sri Lankan heritage, as well as inform those who don’t know about the culture or the country.

Club president and doctoral candidate, Waruna Jayasooriya said the event is one of many meant to show students who are not Sri Lankan about the culture.

“We have arranged a short meditation program to teach how to concentrate our mind and focus on one aspect at a time,” Jayasooriya said.

The event, which was previously held four years ago, had a surprisingly large attendance of 100 people, Jayasooriya said.

Advisor to the Friends of Sri Lanka Club, Dr. Manjriker Gunaratne said he believes along with everyday life, meditation will help with gaining information during studying.

“When one develops that habit, obviously it can help one to avoid distractions while studying and absorbing class material,” Gunaratne said. “Deep insight into rigorous subject matter also helps one to gain a profound understanding.”

While many students may be weary of attending a spiritual Buddhist event, Jayasooriya said the event is not strictly religious.

“The monk is a Buddhist monk, but his meditation is for preparing for control with ourselves,” Jayasooriya said. “This is to focus when the mind is trying to do multiple things at once through self-understanding.“

The special guest of the evening is a monk with 32 years of experience in the spiritual practice. Upananda, who was born and raised in Sri Lanka, has focused on religious studies across the world, from Florida International University, to the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

“He is an excellent instructor when it comes to explaining novel concepts to audiences,” Gunaratne said. “His vocabulary and language skills allow him to use the appropriate English expressions and real-life examples to explain novel concepts in a logical manner. In addition, he also adds humor to his instructions.”

Upananda is a meditation trainer and will instruct participants on how to learn meditation and focus on the most basic levels.

“It is always about controlling your own mind,” Jayasooriya said. “He teaches every level, and when you are done, then you will be able to practice on your own.”

The event will be held at the Marshall Student Center in room 3707 and is free and open to the public.