Tuere’s New Website

We are excited to announce that Tuere Sala, our Thursday Night Meditation Group founder and guiding teacher at SIMS has launched her own website at https://www.tueresala.org/. By the end of May this old website will officially close down. Beginning next week the weekly Zoom link will only be posted on our new Sangha page. The new site consolidates all of Tuere’s offerings, a link for donating dana, and blog posts.

What you need to know

  • If you are currently subscribed here using your email address we have migrated it to the new site and you will be on the newsletter list when blog posts are announced.
  • If you are currently subscribed on the old site (here) using your WordPress user name instead of your email then you will want to use the orange SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the new site to subscribe.
  • If you’re not sure how you’re subscribed, there is no harm in re-subscribing on the new site as it will update any existing subscription or just tell you you’re already subscribed.
  • To receive notifications that are specific to our Sangha (separate from blog posts) everyone will also need to “register” for this “event series offering”. What it does is add you to a special mailing list that is unique and separate from the blog subscription. Even if your email was migrated over you will still will want to do this in order to receive Sangha notices. There is no charge and it doesn’t matter which date you do it for. You only need do this once.
  • On our Sangha page on the new site you’ll find both the weekly Zoom link as well as the familiar link to Tuere’s Thursday night talks when they are recorded. You should definitely bookmark this page since we do change the Zoom link weekly.
  • If you have questions please ask in the Comment section and someone will respond directly. It will not be displayed publicly.

Sangha Future Planning Poll

This will be the very last post on the old Sangha website. If you have not yet subscribed over at Tuere’s new website please do so now to stay in touch. If you haven’t read about the whys and wherefores you can do that here.

This Future Planning Poll is to guide us with planning for our Thursday Night Sangha. Thank you for taking time to complete it. Please complete the form even if you already completed the SIMS survey.


Planning for online and in-person sits

Dear Seattle Insight Meditation Society sangha members,

The SIMS Board of Directors is discussing the question of resuming in-person sits while supporting online access. Our highest priority is the safety and welfare of all sangha members, whether you choose to attend online or in person at University Friends; sit with the Eastside, Capitol Hill, or Sunday morning groups; or participate in day-longs, drop-ins, or non-residential retreats. Simultaneously, the Board is considering a long-term lease of space at University Friends. The lease and necessary renovations would involve considerable energy and financial expenditures. The willingness of our community to resume in-person gatherings is one factor that the Board will weigh as we make decisions about this opportunity.

Our planning is guided by these considerations:

  • Our commitment to SIMS members: Protect those most vulnerable to infection by following recommended guidelines, which means that we are considering very cautious procedures and contingency plans.
  • Our commitment to our teachers: Ensure that the dana our teachers depend on continues to be available.

Please know that the Board is closely watching the fluctuating situation with COVID, and that when we do resume in-person meetings, we will comply with all state and local health and safety guidelines. As of early April 2021, these guidelines include self-reporting of symptoms, wearing masks, 6 feet of distancing, good ventilation, sanitizing surfaces, shorter duration of gatherings, and limiting attendance to below 50% capacity. State guidance also emphasizes that online gatherings continue to be the best way to reduce risk of infection.

As conditions change, we will continue to explore options so that we can make decisions from a position of both caution and flexibility, and best meet the needs of the whole community. While holding the safety and protection of all our participants, teachers, and volunteers at the center of all our considerations, we are assessing the interest of the sangha in returning to in-person meetings. We are planning to continue to support online attendance for SIMS events as we are able.

Understanding that there is still uncertainty ahead of us, we would like to hear from you now so that we can determine the best way to meet the future needs of all our sangha members and our teachers. Please spend a few minutes completing this survey to help inform how SIMS offers online and in-person opportunities to gather and practice together.

Estimated time to complete survey is 5 minutes. Survey will close on April 26. Responses are anonymous.

Survey link: http://bit.ly/simsplanning2021

Burning the Journals by Robyn Sarah

The past is useless 
to me now:
an old suitcase
with mould in the lining,
heavy even when empty–

heavy empty,
like the bronze bell
of the Russian church,
in the grass;

so I shall have to go
on from here with less
to bank on. My peeled eye.
The way things sing 
in the sun.

Holiday Schedule

Please note the following dates we will NOT have Zoom Sangha:

  • Thursday, November 26 – Thanksgiving
  • Thursday, December 24 – Christmas Eve
  • Thursday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve

In addition we will meet without Tuere on Thursday, December 3 when we will all be sending Metta for her dental procedure.

Smart Cookie

Tonight Tuere closed with this poem:
Smart Cookie by Richard Schiffman (after Wallace Stevens)

The fortune that you seek is in another cookie,
was my fortune. So I’ll be equally frank — the wisdom
that you covet is in another poem. The life that you desire
is in a different universe. The cookie you are craving
is in another jar. The jar is buried somewhere in Tennessee.
Don’t even think of searching for it. If you found that jar,
everything would go kerflooey for a thousand miles around.
It is the jar of your fate in an alternate reality. Don’t even
think of living that life. Don’t even think of eating that cookie.
Be a smart cookie — eat what’s on your plate, not in some jar
in Tennessee. That’s my wisdom for today, though I know
it’s not what you were looking for.

Schedule notes
Tuere will be taking next Thursday, October 29 off but there will still be Zoom Sangha as usual. However, please note that on Thanksgiving we will not have Zoom Sangha, which is Thursday, November 26.

Facing Feeling Tones: The Glue That Keeps Us Together

This month we will be exploring the 7th link in the cycle of dependent origination – Feeling Tones. Feeling tones are not emotions. They are mental evaluations or tags applied by the mind to experience. They can be random and not necessarily related to the experience. They are of the mind but are experienced in the body as pleasant, unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant (more commonly referred to as neutral).

Most of us are used to practicing with feeling tones as the 2nd foundation of mindfulness. Within dependent origination, I think of them as what glues consciousness, name/form, six senses, and contact together. This is what bolsters our identification with experience.

I’ve come to a weird relationship with feeling tones. I believe feeling tones are what allow human life to be engaging and seem real. We don’t want to just go through the motions of living. We want to feel alive. We want our life to be inspiring and even complex. We want this from a mind that basically exists in habit. Can you see the problem?

Dependent origination shows us that what we actually get from a mind designed for habit is simply experiences of the memory of a previous feeling. We then replay these memories over and over again every time we experience anything the mind can associate with the feeling no matter how remote. The more glued we are to the feeling tone, the more habitually we act.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The trick is to not get identified with or caught up in the feeling tone itself. When we can see the tone as just an aspect of experience which may or may not be an accurate expression, we can experience the genuine mystery and aliveness of life. I believe this is why we have profound experiences on retreat, even with something as simple as walking to the dinning hall, drinking tea, watching a row of ants walk across the path.

This month we want to watch how tied we are to our feeling tones. Do we automatically push away or avoid anything unpleasant. Do we grab or hold on to the pleasant and ignorance anything neutral. Can you even consider feeling tones as mental judgments? What would it take to begin to question what it would take to allow a feeling tone to exist with needing to respond to it or change the circumstances? We’ll talk about all this and more, as we attempt to unstick ourselves from yet another link on this cycle of samara.


We’re Picking Up Steam Now: How Contact Personalizes Our Lives

This month we are exploring the 6th link in the cycle of dependent origination – Contact. Contact in it’s simplest form is the connection between a sense door and an object. Practice is often looked at in terms of bare awareness but often this type of practice can seem pretty abstract. It’s hard to see the value and wisdom of just knowing one is hearing, or smelling or seeing, etc. It may be relaxing but doesn’t seem to hold much wisdom.

We experience billions of sensory contacts throughout the day. It makes sense that we don’t have a lot of interest in bare awareness at the sense door. I mean what does that have to do with Covid19 or our current social unrest. The answer – plenty. It may make more sense if you recognized that contact is another way if saying “personalization”.

Contact is the first step in personalizing our world. It’s about what we give prominence and what we ignore. In fact, I believe contact is the first opportunity to actually see and experience practice. We can see whether we are living out of greed, hatred and delusion or whether we are living out of mindfulness and clear comprehension. Whenever we are living out of G,H&D, we are just trying to get our wants and don’t wants. We don’t really see anything else.

Learning to see our wants and don’t wants is the beginning of freedom. As we pay attention to our actions we can also see what is pushing us; our assumptions, beliefs, expectations – basically G,H&D. Living out of G,H&D means we are also trapped in the hindrances because G,H&D feed the hindrances and the hindrances feeds ignorance, which feeds the whole chain of dependent origination.

This all starts with contact – our personalization of the moment, our experience or the situation. This has everything to do with how we live in a world that includes Covid19 and social unrest. We embrace it and do what we can to make the world a better place or we push against it in an effort to fit the world into our assumptions, beliefs and/or expectations.

Contact is about practicing wise attention vs unwise attention. Wise attention prevails with restraint, mindfulness, clear comprehension and faith. Unwise attention prevails when there is a lack of restraint, lack of mindfulness, lack of clear comprehension and a lack of faith. Paying attention to how we personalize our day to day life is our first step.


Jonathan Mark’s Memorial

Jonathan cared about his friendships with you all deeply, and as such, his family is inviting you to join them for Jonathan’s online memorial. You can use this link to attend the memorial, using the password “jonathan”: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86711475315?pwd=SW1ucFJ2VG13QlU4Q3EvaXRMRUZmUT09.

This Saturday – June 20 at 11am to 12pm PDT. Everyone is welcome.

We will open the Zoom call at 10:45am PDT so everyone can have time to join the call, make sure their technology is working, and enjoy a slideshow of photos of Jonathan with music.

I hope you can join us. Tuere

Some Sad News…

Dear Sangha

Jonathan Marks passed away in the early morning hours of June 1, 2020. Jonathan was a long time member of Seattle Insight. He was a very loving and supportive person. He lived on Capitol Hill and attended our group here and there. His health took a dramatic turn last year so he began attending our Thursday night group regularly. Those who attended the meditations may remember him.

He was special to me and I will miss him. To support his transition from life to death, I will be chanting (or sending) metta to him for the 49 days after his death. If you would like to join me, please pick a time that works for you each day. Have a little silence, chant some metta (or merit) for Jonathan and leave a little silence afterwards. The practice would end on July 19th.

I will let you know when a memorial service will be offered.