Early Days of The Meditation Center
The Meditation Center has its early roots in the Free University of Minnesota (FUM). A meditation class began in the Fall of 1966, taught by a now prominent Zen teacher.
The class participants opted for a change in the Fall of 1967 when Dr. Usharbudh Arya (Swami Veda Bharati) came to teach Sanskrit at the U of M and he agreed to teach the group drawn by FUM advertising: the first class filled the room, over eighty people. Classes continued and word spread.
In March of 1968 Pandit Dr. Arya agreed to perform his first Hindu wedding in the US.
In later 1969, classes were held in the attic of the home which the Arya’s bought in the Seward neighborhood. Students did a lot of work finishing the attic space, which was usually filled with sincere students. Dr. Arya divided the class up for smaller sessions dealing with practice and lifestyle.
Dr. Arya met the elusive Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
Swami Rama and Dr Arya, together, initiated meditative aspirants in 1970 in that attic. A summer spiritual retreat was held just SW of the cities. The sweetness of meditation continued to draw people like bees to flowers.
In early 1972, some students bought a parcel of bare land near Willow River, Minnesota (Pine County) and made plans to build an ashram there for summer retreats. A nearby house was rented for the 8-10 students who began work building two geodesic domes and kitchen facilities. We had earlier made teepees to reside in during retreats. Participants remember water freezing there in early July.Swami Rama came to the retreat, observed the dense mosquito population and recommended that the property be sold and a Center purchased in the Twin Cities.The current convent house building located at 631 University Avenue NE was purchased in October 1972 and carried the name of the incorporated organization (filed with the State in 1971) as Dhyana Mandiram (Meditation Temple). The name was changed shortly after by Swami Rama to The Center of Higher Consciousness for the next decade until it was then changed to The Meditation Center.
Dr. Arya won an award from the University of Minnesota for his teaching.