Elisse Ghitelman wondered for many years: “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle”, the quote from Alice in Wonderland that she put in her high school yearbook 50 years ago. She also wondered how to work for a liveable planet. After a long journey, she feels that she has found Tibetan Buddhism, as taught at NDF, to be the path that will help her to see who she can be, and how she can be of the greatest benefit in this world that has become more challenging and frightening over her lifetime, embodying her concern for the Earth in her practice.
Raised as a secular Jew, she joined a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church with her husband to give their son a wide-ranging religious education. She continued to pursue her own spiritual path, and became interested in Buddhism in 2008, attending two retreats at Insight Meditation Society. She yearned to be part of a local sangha and wondered how that might happen.
Through a series of interesting causes and conditions, she helped to start the Waltham Buddhist Meditation Group, a small sangha that has met weekly since June 2012. Four students of Chongyam Trungpa were generous enough to do as he had suggested, reaching out and sharing the dharma with folks who are interested. Elisse has had the benefit of their teachings and guidance since then. After working with a meditation instructor for two years, she was encouraged to look for a dharma center to deepen her study.
In June 2017, following their advice, she participated in her first retreat at Wonderwell with Lama Willa and Lama Liz and knew that she had found the spiritual home she had been searching for. After attending several more retreats there, and meeting regularly with Lama Liz, she joined the Margha program in 2019 and continued as a student through 2021. This program deepened her practice and solidified her commitment to NDF.
As the pandemic started, she also joined the team of volunteers who helped share the dharma by working as a Zoom host for NDF. When she retired from a 42-year career as a math teacher in 2020, she decided to step up her volunteering at NDF. In 2022, she became a Mitra-in-training, and in 2023 she became a Mitra. The role of Mitra allows her to live out her commitment to creating a better world by using her gifts to help others along their own spiritual journeys.