Country's first Buddhist fraternity sits at SDSU

SAN DIEGO - When most people think of a fraternity, wild frat parties come to mind, not meditation. 
 
For students at San Diego State University, that didn't stop them from starting the country's first ever Buddhist fraternity.
 
"We're not going to float away. We're not going to have any mystical magical experiences,” described co-founder Sarah Walsh as she led some students in meditation.
 
For Walsh, meditating started out as a class assignment to visit a nearby Buddhist meditation class. But it grew into a way of life.
 
"It just really made sense to me. Something kept me coming back,” Walsh said. 
 
Soon, more students came. That's when Jeff Zlotnik, co-founder of the Dharma Bum Temple, which leads the weekly meditation, thought why not start a fraternity at San Diego State - Delta Beta Tau. 
 
"I was all for it,” Walsh added.
 
It grew from 5-10 students in a classroom to 30 initiated members a year and a half later. And up to 50 people come to the fraternity's Wednesday night meditation on campus. 
 
"I know for me when I started, I started to notice the little things wouldn't bother as much. It's something that really benefited me internally and it's something so simple,” sophomore Tara Aleagha said.  
 
Meditation has also become a valuable tool in an era of constant connectivity.
 
"And that's something that's extremely essential nowadays especially with the rise in technology and social media because everything's grabbing for our attention,” sophomore Benjamin Gutierrez said.  
 
When they're not meditating or studying, they're spreading random acts of kindness in the community.  And they're helping the Dharma Bum Temple raise a half million dollar down payment to buy the 1920s Swedenborg church in University Heights and save it from development. 
 
"It'll inspire more people to do other acts of generosity doing things out of the goodness of their own heart and not expecting anything in return,” freshman Ahmad Dixon said.
 
"They’re the heart of everything we've done. They're the future of Dharma Bum Temple. They're the future of Delta Beta Tau. They're the future of making change in this community,” Zlotnik said. 
 
They’re spreading peace, love and compassion one breath and one campus at a time.
 
Delta Beta Tau will soon open a chapter at UC San Diego.
 
As for the Dharma Bum Temple, it has until Valentine's Day to raise the entire $490,000 down payment to buy the church. It has already raised about $327,000 in two and a half months.
 
“We are currently in escrow and intend to close on February 14th," Zlotnik said. “And we will have our first loving kindness meditation that same night.”
 
To make a donation, visit www.dbtnewhome.com.
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