Sangha Residential Retreat – Survey

We’re excited to be planning our Sangha’s first residential retreat weekend with Tuere Sala, April 27-29, 2018. We have identified a likely venue (info below), assuming this date works for most people. As is typical for Vipassana retreats, we will do sitting and walking meditation while holding Noble Silence outside of the dharma talks, group Q&A, and teacher interviews.  We may or may not need to do yogi (chores)–if we do, it will be light and easy work.

The venue we are considering for our Sangha retreat is Camp Sealth on Vashon Island. A link to the site is here:

Our group will occupy the Wrangler Center, which has a beautiful meeting space and cabins that each sleep 8-10 people, dorm-style. Each cabin has a bathroom with 2 toilets and a shower.  Men and women will be housed separately.

For right now, we would like to get some preliminary information from you in order to ensure this will work well for our group.  Your answers do not commit you to anything at this point but would definitely help us with planning.

Please take a few moments to do this now so you don’t forget. It’ll only be open for a week or two.


Living With Ease In A Crazy World

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the the slogans that support our ability to maintain or stay disciplined with practice, this week we begin an exploration of the final section of slogans.  Traditionally, this is called Guidelines of Mind Training but I like Norman Fisher’s title – Living with ease in a crazy world.  I think this section will be about how to support our willingness to continue to practice  off the cushion.

The first slogan is All Activities Should Be Done With One Intention; that intention being having a sense of kindness towards others and a willingness to be helpful.  This is not practiced as an occasional or sometimes acts of kindness.  It is practiced as ALWAYS.  In everything we do, could we keep an attitude of being a benefit to all sentient beings.

This is a definitely a Mahayana principle, for those who care about such things, but for me it is a practice yard stick.  It is how I know when I am disconnected from practice.  I notice that I become obsessed with me.  Norman Fisher suggest another way of taking on this slogan.  He says we take it on with the understanding that it is impossible to always think of others.  Instead you connect the intention to your repetitive acts; like saying grace before meals.

To me the main point is to consider what it would mean in your life if you truly began to care about others. It was out of the care of others that Buddha awakened, Christ died, Gandhi and MLK protested through nonviolence, Mother Teresa worked tirelessly, HH the 14th Dalai Lama escaped Tibet – the list is endless.

I will not be with you in person Thursday. But my question for you to consider and discuss is – knowing how much gratitude we have for these individuals, why is it so hard for us to extend kindness to all or why are we so selective regarding who we extend kindness towards and who we withhold it from?


Weekend Retreat: Radical Dharma with Rev angel Kyodo williams

Per last night’s discussion here is a link to this weekend retreat and more details:

Called “the most intriguing African-American Buddhist” by Library Journal, Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, is an author, maverick spiritual teacher, master trainer and founder of Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of personal transformation and justice since the publication of her critically-acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace. Her book was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker and “a classic” by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Her newest book, Radical Dharma, explores racial injustice as a barrier to collective awakening.

Radical Dharma is an urgent call to dharma communities to wake from the habitual ways they and their members reproduce and sustain exclusion. Radical Dharma advocates a “new dharma” that deconstructs rather than amplifies systems of suffering, and prepares us to weigh the shortcomings not only of our own minds, but also of our communities. We can only accomplish shifts in awareness through radical honesty, a common ground where we can drop our need for perfection to speak and act from a place of deep vulnerability, and authentic presence. Regardless of how unpleasant this feels or how messy this looks, Radical Dharma emerges out this kind of disarmed honesty, just as a lotus emerges from the mud. The workshop will serve to:

  • create a space where participants can practice radical honesty
  • create a space where historically marginalized voices in American sanghas are centered
  • investigate how “politics of dis-belonging” plays a role in silencing ourselves and others
  • equip participants with tools that can be taken back to their practices communities to continue the work creating radically inclusive and honest communities

This event is co-hosted by 8 Limbs, Mindfulness Community of Puget Sound and Rainier Beach Yoga. First Covenant Church of Seattle generously donated the use of The Summit for this workshop.

Join us for a weekend of Radical Dharma!

Friday Night, 6-9pm: People of Color Caucus at The Summit, 420 E. Pike St.

This evening event is open to those who self identify as People of Color.

Cost: DONATION BASED. Please register on this site, and bring cash or check to the event.

Saturday & Sunday: Radical Dharma Teachings and Practice

This weekend is open to all.

Saturday: 9:30am-12:30pm & 2-5pm at The Summit, 420 E. Pike St.

Sunday: 9:30am-12:30pm at Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St.

Cost for both days (no partial registration, but you are welcome to attend only what you are able to):

Supporting: $250, Sustaining: $180, Supported: $70

If you prefer to pay by check, please mail to:

Rainier Beach Yoga

8311 48th Ave South

Seattle WA 98118


No Matter How Dire Our Circumstances Appear We Must Not Forget To Look For Moments Of Joy…Believe Me, Its There!

Tonight we will explore the last two slogans in this sections.  They are Don’t Make Gods Into Demons and Don’t Seek Others’ Pain As The Limbs Of Your Own Happiness.  Both Trungpa Rinpoche’s and Norman Fisher’s commentary are pretty short around these two slogans.  They simply point out that we have a tendency to dwell in the world of complaining and grumbling.  Even if some good/joy comes our way we turn that into some negativity.  We need to watch out for that.  The second slogan continues this idea by saying that we shouldn’t seek our happiness out of or from another’s suffering.

This is really an important aspect of practice that took me quite awhile to open up to.  I just couldn’t bring myself to trust in the possibility that I could be genuinely happy; that unlimited good could and would flow to me if I let myself open up to it.  Instead, I held everything about practice within my box of trauma.  I really did myself a disservice for a long time.  I practiced and practiced.  I practiced metta, concentration, tonglen, you name it, I probably spent many hours practicing it.  I read book after book trying to connect to the deeper level of joy I read about.  But even with all this capacity, I never let myself believe in the beneficial nature of practice.  I always believed I needed to work a little longer, a little harder.

Meditation does more than simply show us our habit patterns around suffering.  It generates beneficial energies and this energy is all around us.  We need only open to it and let it in.  We are not trained to see this beneficial energy like we are trained to see the negative energy.  We learn to see it by intentionally looking for it.  Over and Over, little by little, I began to see joy, goodness, and kindness all around me.  I saw it in prisons, in transitional houses, on the streets, sitting with others, sitting alone.  It is everywhere and it never ceases.  I think these slogans point to how to open the shutters and let that goodness in.  Let’s see what wisdom comes up around this tonight!


Lose The “What’s In It For Me” Attitude

We have 4 remaining slogans in the section on Disciplines of Mind Training.  We will explore two this week and two next week.  The two for this week are Don’t Try To Be The Fastest and Don’t Act With A Twist.  Trungpa Rinpoche says that the first relates to not trying to achieve fame, honor or distinction through one’s practice.  His commentary is mainly about how competitive we can get with practice.  This is particularly noticeable when you practice with a group of strong practitioners.  The group encourages deeper practice, and as such, we can develop a natural human trait – competitiveness.   We can take on a “racing” quality to our practice; striving to be the best meditator, the kindest, the most generous, etc.  He relates the second to dropping the attitude of looking for personal benefits from practice.  His comments around this one are about thinking we are special or accomplished but acting like we are less.  We take the blame for something to look humble not out of genuine kindness.  He calls this spiritual materialism.  We only practice to get some benefit.

Norman Fisher’s comments are a little different so I want to point them out separately.  He relates the first slogan (Don’t be so fast) less to competitiveness with others and more with ourselves.  We are racing against ourselves to get somewhere.  It’s as if we want to hurry and get this meditation/enlightenment thing done so we can move on to the next thing.  I like that he says the very act of measurement or evaluation is a misunderstanding of the nature of the process.  In his comments around the second slogan for this week (Don’t be tricky), he points to looking at our intentions behind our spiritual practice and behaviors.  He points out that cultivating altruism deeply and seriously must come from our conviction and not to gain friends and influence people.  As we deepen our practice, we can become quite proud of our spiritual efforts, preventing us from seeing the self-serving motives behind our actions.

I think we can use these two slogans to began to let go of that “what’s in it for me” attitude.   Things like competitiveness, pride, spiritual materialism, measuring up and self-righteousness are all human tendencies.  So we can pretty much expect to find some level of all of these traits within our practice.  These two slogans poke at us to check ourselves around this.  We can begin by asking ourselves – If I never have another peaceful sit, will I continue to meditate?  If no one else around me is kind, will I still practice the cultivation of lovingkindness?  If you knew you will continue to come face to face with your destructive habits until the moment of your death, would you continue to seek an awakened mind?  Food for thought, huh!  See you tomorrow.


Don’t Lose Yourself In Meanness Just To Prove A Point!

This week we are going to explore three more slogans together – Don’t Wait In Ambush, Don’t Bring Things To A Painful Point and Don’t Transfer The Ox’s Load To The Cow.  I think these three go together in this section on Disciplines of Mind Training because they point to abandoning meanness. These slogans also help us look more deeply into the nature and impact of being harmed by another.  In some respects, there is no greater pain that the pain that comes from someone else’s behavior.  Such hurt, offense or wrongdoing can eat at us for months, years, even decades.  Long after the person has left us, we often remain consumed (entangled) by the pain of their actions.

These three slogans are aimed at working with that pain not reconciling or validating the wrongness of another.  In fact, the slogans assume the other person’s conduct was wrong – so what then?  Do we give up our inner peace?  Do we succumb to the rage or do we seek a more spiritual response?  These three slogans are connected to a spiritual response.  Don’t wait in ambush means don’t seek vengeance nor lay and wait to take advantage when the person who harmed us becomes vulnerable or weak.  It reminds us that we are causing greater harm to ourselves while we wait to get back at the person – it turns us into mean bitter beings.

Don’t bring things to a painful point (or as Norman Fisher says – Don’t make everything so painful) means don’t make a bad situation worst.  It points us away from the “tit-for-tat” antics of an argumentative, combative and/or contentious interaction with another.  This is about being true to ourselves so it means abandoning even the whispers to another, our under the breath comments and passive aggressive behaviors.  All of it, also traps us in meanness.  As does the last slogan, don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow.  This is probably the hardest of the three to connect to.  It centers around separating the cause of our suffering from the act of the person who caused the initial harm.  When we can untangle the two we can find and stay connected to our heart source no matter the harm that comes to us.  This slogan is not denying or ignoring accountability.  Accountability may be warranted and necessary.  This is about releasing oneself from the sting of the harm; that only we can do for ourselves.  One way to think about this is what is the point of practicing if we can’t release ourselves from suffering.

We’ll talk more about it tomorrow…


P.S.  Rather than send a separate email, I thought I would note some of the decisions we made at the annual meeting this past Saturday.

We will be changing the starting time to 6:30pm beginning the first Thursday in Dec. (12/7/2017)

 I will be away on several retreats next year so we will began using and updating a blog calendar. 

We are going to look for a space so we can have a weekend residential retreat for just the Capitol Hill Meditation Group.  We will be looking for a retreat space in this area.

Finally, we are going to purchase a Buddha figure to set up on our cabinet.


Lesson learned from blind woman

goalcastLast night Tuere wanted us to hear this 4 minute video. For those who missed it or want to hear it again, here’s the link:  And NO, that image does NOT play the video. They didn’t offer an embed option. Sorry.

RSVP for Sangha Annual Meeting

And a last minute reminder if you are interested in coming to our Annual Meeting this Saturday morning 10 AM to 1 PM, you can read about the agenda and location, then RSVP in  the comment box below it so we know you’re coming.