It seems a strange path to enlightenment -- down the long, high-traffic, carpeted hallway of an office building -- but to the members of Steamboat Springs' Buddhist community, it's perfect. And it's home.
On Monday, the Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs opened to the public for the first time with a pile of shoes at the door, rows of pillows for sitting and meditation and a large shrine to Buddha at the front of the room.
At this point, the room is full of more plans than furniture.
For nine years, the Buddhist group has been meeting on Monday nights in the yoga room at the Bear River Center for weekly teaching from Tim Olmsted. For the rest of the week, the group is scattered. This week, for the first time since its inception, the group has the glue to hold them together seven days a week, 12 months a year.
Olmsted pictures offering more teachings during the week, some for beginners and some for the more advanced practitioner. He imagines a space that is open on weekends for people who want to meditate on their own. He will invite speakers, host traditional ceremonies and give ongoing meditation instruction.
In the Copper Ridge Business Park, Olmsted and the Buddhist community will make a place for themselves.
The group will continue to meet Monday nights, just as it has for almost a decade. What additions come to the schedule will depend on the desire of the community.
The Steamboat Buddhist group has become well-known in the larger Buddhist community for its cohesiveness, Olmsted said. "I left 3 1/2 years ago and taught on the phone every other week, and the group stayed together."
Olmsted returned to Steamboat after three years at Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
When he looked at the group's 40 active members, he saw they were ready to move to the next level and needed their own space to do so.
"I've never wanted to commit to having an organized thing," he said. "So many communities reach far beyond themselves and they spend all their time finding the money to pay for it.
"But we were at a crossroads and I knew we had to stretch a bit to be a whole community."
One of the group's original members, Julie Green, purchased the building in the Copper Ridge Business Park and offered the group a rate within its budget, so it took the leap.
"When you have some kind of physical place where people can come and be refreshed, it changes the group, and it changes the space," Olmsted said. "In all traditions, there is the concept of the church or chapel, and by showing respect to that place, the people who visit it create a sacred space.
"Even though this is an innocuous building, we will make it quite beautiful, and people will feel it. If anyone in Steamboat gets comfort from coming here, it will be time and money well spent."
For a recorded schedule of events at the Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs, call 871-6135.