Sangha Retreat – April 27-29

If you’ve been coming on Thursday nights you likely have heard that we’re planning a retreat. We’re happy to announce our first Sangha Retreat will be held at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island, April 27-29, 2018.

The retreat will be held in Noble Silence, with a mix of sitting and walking meditation, Dharma Talks and interviews. The cost of the weekend is $125 including dormitory sleeping accommodations and meals from dinner Friday through lunch on Sunday. The fee is set as a sliding scale. Please pay what you can. The generosity of those who pay more than $125 will help to cover the needs of those who are not able to do so. Transportation costs and Teacher Dana are not included in the fee (dana is optional). Any funds over costs will go directly to Tuere as additional Dana.

You can complete and submit this form to register online.  Then you  must ALSO click the PayPal link to actually submit a payment of your choosing. Please be sure to leave the default “Friends & Family” checked to avoid us paying a fee. You will not be registered until your payment has been received.

There is not a confirmation email. Feel free to post questions in the comments below. In the meantime here are a few helpful points:

  • We’ll be at Camp Sealth’s Wrangler Retreat Center.
  • Camp Sealth is about 30 minutes drive from the Vashon Ferry.
  • Sleeping will be separated male/female in open dorms.
  • There will be vegetarian meals and we can accommodate vegan or gluten-free. Meals included are from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch.
  • There will be chairs but no zafus or zabutons provided on site, so you’ll need to bring your own.
  • There is limited capacity. If we do not fill with members of our immediate Sangha we will open it to all of SIMS by the end of January.

This Time Let’s Get It Right:))

This week we will explore 4 of the remaining 12 slogans.

First – Train Without Bias In All Areas:  This seems to point to our selective way of practicing.  Maybe we don’t practice when we are on vacation or away from home.  Maybe we wait until retreat or only when we “feel like practicing”.  Then again, maybe we send lovingkindness and compassion for just the people we like or are concerned about but not to people we don’t like.  What gets excluded from your practice?  Consider the who, when, where, and how of no practice and ask yourself why that is.  Why are these not the main areas of practice?

Second – Always Meditate On Whatever Provokes Resentment:  Don’t you just love this.  How much clearer can this slogan get.  In case you missed the seriousness of the aforementioned slogan…now this.  It makes sense if you think about it.  If we learned to really stay close to our resentments we could learn to let go of a lot of the defilements.  I think the stickiest, toughest, most cutting of all the defilements is resentment because of it tangled web of righteousness, hurt and our sense of decency.  It seems to be the hardest to let go of.   What do you think, if we practiced specifically within the areas of our resentments, should not the rest of the defilements be easy peasy?

Third – Don’t Be Swayed By External Circumstances:  This is quite simple.  Don’t let the comings and goings of your life affect your desire to practice.  Trungpa Rinpoche has a great saying “if your situation is right, breathe that out; if your situation is wrong, breathe that in.  Norman Fisher suggests that while we want to be resolute in whatever comes our way, we should also be flexible.  Allowing our external circumstances to have some affect upon us can be skillful.  The question is, how would we determine when we are letting our external circumstances affect us too much?

Fourth – This Time, Practice The Main Points:  This feels like it is for those who believe in rebirths but as Norman Fisher points out – this time is the only time.  I think the point here is to accept that we have be working at awakening for a long time (even in just this lifetime).  At this point, the best course of action is to stick with the basics.

See you tomorrow – Tuere


Time Change Reminder

Please note that starting with this week’s sit we are beginning at 6:30 PM. We’ll be sure to have some chairs by the door for latecomers. You’re more than welcome to arrive whenever you need to. The site will by 6:30-7 PM and we’ll be ending at 8:30 PM.

Instigations, Protections, Connections – OH MY!

This week we will turn towards the 3s by exploring four slogans together – Train In The Three Difficulties; Take On The Three Principle Causes; Don’t Lose Track; and Keep The Three Inseparable.  It may not seem like it at first pass, but all 4 of these slogans are embodied experiences.  It starts with being able to feel difficulties are around our unskillful impulses, triggers and neuroses.  We learn to recognize their coming; overcoming them once they arise and preventing them from returning through the felt sense of the tension they bring.  To do this we need to first pay attention to what happens in our lives when we let our impulses, triggers and neuroses control us.  We need to see the results of this messiness (not from shame, but from genuine interest).  Then we learn to watch for whatever is the instigation of this process and try to stop it at the beginning.  If we fail to stop it in the beginning, we  try to release our clinging to it during the middle.  If we fail to release our clinging during the middle, we vow to prevent its arising in the future.  The more we acknowledge and get to know the difficulties of working with our messiness the easier it will be to feel the instigation of when, where, how and why this messiness exists.

Next, the three principle causes.  They are around three realizations (1) the necessity of a teacher; (2) the importance of training the mind and (3) the truth that each of us has all we need to awaken.  These three principle causes are embodied experience of devotion.  We need this devotion to be willing to keep looking for, feeling and dealing with the above difficulties.

Which bring us to the last two slogans.  We really need to keep a connection with the threes.  We need to keep our devotion tied to the difficulties and our difficulties tied to devotion.  We notice when the difficulties are present and when they are not.  We notice when a impulse, trigger or neuroses is present and when it is not.

I’ll see you all this Thursday!  Tuere

Important Announcements


No Meeting on Thanksgiving
Please note we will NOT meet next Thursday. Enjoy the day giving thanks and generosity with friends, family and all beings.

Time Change
Beginning December 7 we are shifting our start time to 15 minutes earlier, and will begin at 6:30 PM. As always it’s OK to arrive later. We hope this will make for quieter sits as the choir typically begins at 7 PM.


Promised land – Local Indigenous Social Justice Documentary Movie

An award-winning documentary chronicling the long fight by Duwamish & Chinook Tribes for US Federal recognition of their tribal status and the larger issues of Indigenous sovereignty. A facilitated discussion is included

Saturday, November 25 – 7:00 pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm)

Prospect Congregational Church: 1919 E Prospect St, Seattle, WA 98112, Seattle

FREE – All gratefully accepted donations beyond covering minimal expenses will support the Duwamish Tribe

Questions, contact: Denis Martynowych ( 206 291-6596)
Ruby Phillips (, 206 323-5503 (avail after 11/15)
Cosponsored by People of Color & Allies Sangha, 350 Frontline Allies

First The Twos: Wake Up With Your Spiritual Intentions And Go To Bed With Them; Be Patient With The Good And With The Not Good; Keep The Refuges and The Precepts Close At Hand

This week we will go a little further into the final section of slogans Guidelines For Mind Training which is about the container for your practice off the cushion.  We will be exploring 3 slogans together – Two Activities: One At The Beginning, One At The End; Whichever Of The Two Occurs, Be Patient; and Observe These Two, Even At The Risk Of Your Life.  These 3 slogans are actually referring to three different things.  I am grouping them together primarily because of time (so we can finish all the slogans by years end).  This week the twos, next week the threes.

We begin with the two of beginning and ending.  Regardless of whether you find time to sit or not, you need an orientation; a framework for how you want to live.  This first slogan is about setting the container for your life.  If you link it to your overall spiritual intention – it means as soon as you wake up you orient your mind towards your intention (in my case, I set an intention to be friendly and kind to whomever or whatever arises in my day) and as you lay in bed you look over the day from that same intention (in my case, I look over my day’s actions through the lens of kindness, considering both when I was kind and when I was not.  I ask for forgiveness either way).  This simple waking and ending practice is very powerful.  It helps me stay closer to a spiritual practice whether or not I meditate.  In fact, I think the slogans in this last section is what puts the spirituality in a meditation practice.  I don’t see my meditation practice as a spiritual act – I see my intention towards kindness as spiritual.  Beginning and ending my day with my intention to be kind, wraps everything in my life into context like a spiritual blanket.

Likewise, the two of being patient with both the good and the not good builds equanimity in all things human. As humans, we can’t stop ourselves from judging life, and the things of life, as either/or; either something is good or its bad, either right or its wrong, etc.  This slogan points to holding both with patience.  I like this!  Often we talk about the practice from the perspective that there is no such thing as good/bad, right/wrong.  There just is.  But so long as our minds perceive life from this dualistic place, trying to see everything as the same is near impossible.  In some respect, I think it just makes us hide from our aversion to what we don’t like or quickly change/fix the situation so we appear equanimous.  This slogan is the antidote to this type of spiritual bypass.  It cares less about how we label an experience and more about how we hold the experience generally.  We train to simply hold all experience in patience.  This holding in patience is what trains our minds towards equanimity.

Finally, we keep our two commitments around the refuges and the precepts close at hand.  This is pointedly about observing these commitments above all else.  On the high end, it means refusing to kill, even if it means you would lose your life.  It means refusing to steal, even if it means you and your children go hungry.  It means refusing to lie, even if the truth will cause you to lose everything.  On the lower end, it means paying attention to how our judgments kill people, how our “taking” and “consuming” in life is causing harm and how our idle chatter may not be so lighthearted.  We don’t do this from some rigid puritanical judgment over ourselves but from a deep connection to the intention we set out above – the intention we start and end our day.

I’ll see you tomorrow night!  Tuere

Hold All Errors, Mistakes, Gaffes, Slip-ups, Misunderstandings – Any Type Of Wrong – In Kindness

This week we will continue our exploration into practicing with one intention – Correct All Wrongs With One Intention. The intention is kindness. The slogan is very straightforward. It centers around one question: Can you be with your failures, mistakes and manipulations from a place of kindness? Can you carry that energy in a friendlier way. What would it take for you to realize all stuff around your secret conduct you never share in public is nothing more than information about what it means to be human? Could you bring it into your practice then?

One way to look at this is to consider all the areas, conditions, mental states and habits you exclude from practice. What makes us avoid practice in certain situations, like watching tv or our phones, when we are “emotional”, at work, etc. Do we avoid practice when we have a preset idea of what “practice” should look like?

If we hold all our activities (last week) and our wrongs (this week) in a friendlier way, we just might be able to alleviate a lot of the suffering we walk around with all day long.