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Buddhist Fraternity Gaining Pledges At San Diego State

Delta Beta Tau is also expanding to UC San Diego

Students in Delta Beta Tau, the Buddhist fraternity and sorority at San Diego...

Credit: Dharma Bum Temple

Above: Students in Delta Beta Tau, the Buddhist fraternity and sorority at San Diego State University, go on a retreat at the Metta Forest Monastery in Valley Center.

To pledge, students must commit themselves to meeting for group meditation two nights a week, going on four retreats of day-long meditation and silence and doing community service.

When Jeff Zlotnik had the idea to start a Buddhist fraternity at San Diego State University last year, even he thought it seemed a little far-fetched. He wasn't sure students would be interested, let alone commit themselves to leading the organization.

Now, he said he's in awe of what's happened.

"It's become real," he said. "In these 15 months, this little vision and idea we had took off."

The Delta Beta Tau co-ed fraternity has 51 active members and recently initiated 19 new pledges.

To pledge, students must commit themselves to meeting for group meditation two nights a week, going on four day-long meditation retreats and doing community service.

"We had some rituals, which are private within Delta Beta Tau, but even that's fun," Zlotnik said.

Photo credit: Jeff Zlotnik

Delta Beta Tau students at a Wednesday night meditation session.

Photo credit: Buddha For You

Students learn mediation form at the Buddha For You store near San Diego State University.

They also had their own Buddhist frat party — something like the "mindful mixers" Zlotnik pondered when the effort first started. He's not a student, but helps run a Buddhist store near campus, Buddha For You, and is the co-founder of a Buddhist temple called Dharma Bum Temple in downtown San Diego.

He said after his initial idea, students took over the leadership and now are running more of Delta Beta Tau on their own.

"I’m thrilled to see the students take this so seriously. I’m thrilled to see how much it’s truly impacted their lives," Zlotnik said. "On initiation night, to hear them share stories and break down in tears and laughter at how much this has impacted their lives, it’s really profound.”

Next, they are looking at establishing a house for Delta Beta Tau members to live in, though Zlotnik said that's at least a year away.

They're also expanding to UC San Diego, with three SDSU students going weekly to meet with a small group on the La Jolla campus.

In letters to SDSU, members of Delta Beta Tau described what being part of the group meant to them.

"Amongst the busiest semester of my college career, I kept finding that I couldn’t focus on anything — my attention was so fragmented that I couldn’t complete any one task from start to finish," wrote Christie Woodruff. She then decided to go to one of the meditation sessions.

"And I kept going, every week, until the end of the semester — no matter how busy I was, no matter how many midterms I had, and no matter how sleep deprived I felt. I kept going because (Delta Beta Tau) gave me one hour to just be quiet. Most weeks, that one was the only hour of quiet, and while it’s not nearly as much as I would like, it made all the difference," Woodruff wrote. "It was enough to allow me to take a breath and realize that everything will be okay or everything will get done, which is not a common feeling in college or in life."

Photo caption: Students feed monks at the Metta Forest Monastery in Valley Center.

Photo credit: Dharma Bum Temple

Students feed monks at the Metta Forest Monastery in Valley Center.

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