October 2012

October 18, 2012 Update to Newsletter


Dear Beloved Community,

We are excited to announce that EBMC will be moving next week on Wednesday October 24th to a new, bigger location!  Because of the timing of the move, Sangha next week on Thursday October 25th will be a Service Sangha and I invite all to attend and help unpack and beautify our new center.  We will not have regular programming for that evening.  Our new address is 285 17th Street, at the corner of Harrison Street near Snow Park in downtown Oakland.  

Please see the full announcement about EBMCs move, and be in touch with Shenaaz if you have questions. 


Additionally, our last newsletter was sent out without a few important sources for Spring’s opening article.  Here is an update from her:


October 11, 2012

Greetings Beloved Community,

 

Here are some passages that truly inspire me. Apologies for not including the sources of these inspirations in the first version of the newsletter.

                                              

For millennia, sages from the Buddha to Yogi Berra have been advising us to tame our wandering minds and focus our attention on the present. The reason is obvious: The past is history and the future nothing but a dream. All we really ever have is now.

from “7 Ways to Live in the Moment”

by: Barbara Graham, January 27, 2011

http://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/spirituality-faith/info-01-2011/7_ways_live_the_moment.html

 

We live in the age of chaos and distraction.

 

Yet one of life’s biggest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.            from Psychology Today online

“The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment” by Jay Dixit, November 01, 2008

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment

 

My advice is to discover the sacred pause. This can take many forms: meditation, yoga, prayer, a walk in the woods, even sitting on the front porch and observing the passing clouds. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests stopping and taking a few deep breaths before answering a ringing telephone. How long you pause matters less than making the sacred pause a regular part of your life. As with strengthening any muscle, learning to live in the moment takes daily practice.     from “7 Ways to Live in the Moment”

by: Barbara Graham, January 27, 2011

http://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/spirituality-faith/info-01-2011/7_ways_live_the_moment.html

 

A friend was walking in the desert when he found the telephone to God. The setting was Burning Man, an electronic arts and music festival for which 50,000 people descend on Black Rock City, Nevada, for eight days of radical self-expression.

A phone booth in the middle of the desert with a sign that said “Talk to God” was a surreal sight even at Burning Man. The idea was that you picked up the phone, and God—or someone claiming to be God—would be at the other end to ease your pain.

So when God came on the line asking how he could help, my friend was ready. “How can I live more in the moment?” he asked. Too often, he felt, the beautiful moments of his life were drowned out by the madness of his mind. What could he do to hush the constant negativity of his buzzing mind?

“Breathe,” replied a soothing male voice.

My friend flinched at the tired new-age mantra, and then reminded himself to keep an open mind. When God talks, you listen! “Whenever you feel anxious about your future or your past, just breathe,” continued God. “Try it with me a few times right now. Breathe in… Breathe out.” And despite himself, my friend finally began to relax.

from Psychology Today online

“The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment” by Jay Dixit, November 01, 2008

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200810/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment

 

May we all learn to pause, slow down and take a breath together!

Many Blessings,

Spring Washam, October 2012


 October 11, e-Newsletter

Greetings Beloved Community,

For millennia, sages from the Buddha to Yogi Berra have been advising us to tame our wandering minds and focus our attention on the present. The reason is obvious: The past is history and the future nothing but a dream. All we really ever have is now. We live in the age of chaos and distraction. Yet one of life’s biggest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.

My advice is to discover the sacred pause. This can take many forms: meditation, yoga, prayer, a walk in the woods, even sitting on the front porch and observing the passing clouds. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests stopping and taking a few deep breaths before answering a ringing telephone. How long you pause matters less than making the sacred pause a regular part of your life. As with strengthening any muscle, learning to live in the moment takes daily practice.

A friend was walking in the desert when he found the telephone to God. The setting was Burning Man, an electronic arts and music festival for which 50,000 people descend on Black Rock City, Nevada, for eight days of radical self-expression.

A phone booth in the middle of the desert with a sign that said “Talk to God” was a surreal sight even at Burning Man. The idea was that you picked up the phone, and God—or someone claiming to be God—would be at the other end to ease your pain.

So when God came on the line asking how he could help, my friend was ready. “How can I live more in the moment?” he asked. Too often, he felt, the beautiful moments of his life were drowned out by the madness of his mind. What could he do to hush the constant negativity of his buzzing mind?

“Breathe,” replied a soothing male voice.

My friend flinched at the tired new-age mantra, and then reminded himself to keep an open mind. When God talks, you listen! “Whenever you feel anxious about your future or your past, just breathe,” continued God. “Try it with me a few times right now. Breathe in… Breathe out.” And despite himself, my friend finally began to relax.

May we all learn to pause, slow down and take a breath together!

Many Blessings,
Spring


About the People of Color Sangha:

We meet THURSDAYS at East Bay Meditation Center, 2147 Broadway, in downtown Oakland, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. We usually do a half hour of silent meditation, with instructions for beginners, followed by a Dharma talk and community gathering.We come together as a community of people of color for meditation, practice and resilience, to support the struggle and provide a balm to sooth our continued work forward. Bell Hooks says, “Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”We carry this spirit forward in gathering people of color in community each Thursday for the POC Sangha.  Join us! 


SCHEDULE 

OCTOBER TEACHERS AT THE POC SANGHA

OCTOBER 18: Spring Washam

Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She has studied meditation and Buddhist philosophy since 1997 in various traditions. After many years of teacher training with Dr. Jack Kornfield she is a new dharma teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Spring is one of the founding members and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center and leads the weekly sitting group for people of color. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices into diverse communities. Also considered a curandera, Spring studies indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently leads healing and meditation retreats throughout the United States. To contact her directly visit her website at www.springwasham.com.

OCTOBER 25: John Mifsud

John Mifsud has studied insight meditation for going on ten years and completed EBMC’s Commit to Dharma Program led by his mentor teacher, Larry Yang. He is currently in the Community Dharma Leaders Training Program at Spirit Rock. He is on the Leadership Team of the EBMC Deep Refuge Group for Alphabet Brothers of Color and their Euro-Descent Allies. He also studied with Rodney Smith at Seattle Insight Meditation for eight years. John spent ten years on the Leadership Team of Seattle Dharma Buddies, a meditation group for GBT men and also coordinated the Seattle Multicultural Sangha for four years.  His current teaching practicum includes dharma talks at EBMC, the San Francisco Gay Buddhist Sangha, the Gay Buddhist Fellowship and the LGBT Sangha at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

NOVEMBER 1: Special Guest Teacher Venerable Pannavati

Visiting from North Carolina, Venerable Pannavati will be visiting EBMC for one special night.  She is the fully ordained nun/monk in the Theravadan tradition and founded her own retreat center in North Carolina.  For more information, see: http://www.embracingsimplicityhermitage.org/index.html

Deep appreciation to all of our teachers and volunteers for your generosity! We wouldn’t be here without you!  View our online Teacher Calendar anytime.


 ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Subscribe to the EBMC POC Sangha Newsletter -  the Newsletter is a monthly email with information about our weekly sitting group and other sangha-related announcements.  Subscribe by joining the google group.  You will receive an invitation to the group and must accept before you can receive messages.
  • Become a “Friend of EBMC” monthly donor.  EBMC has outgrown our small storefront space. We are negotiating with our landlord over a prospective full-time move into a larger space upstairs, in the same building, as well as looking for alternative spaces. No matter where we move, we will need more “Friends of EBMC”! For more information and to begin donating here

VOLUNTEERING

WE NEED NEW VOLUNTEERS! Volunteers make our space happen! Volunteering is a great way to get to know the Sangha, to have a more active role in co-creating our community, and to experience the practice of service to the Dharma.

Shenaaz will be conducting volunteer trainings covering various jobs such as opening/closing the center, counting the dana, set-up and clean-up and other tasks that are required to run the sangha.  If you would like to participate in a training, please complete this google form.

If you have questions, please email Shenaaz at pocsangha@eastbaymeditation.org

Thank you to all that continue to help informally. This training is a step towards creating a structure of receiving and providing support for one another.


UPCOMING CLASSES AND  RETREATS

 

Saturday October 13, 2012 – 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

Indigenous Presence: Decolonizing the Mind and Cultivating the Causes of Happiness
with Karen Waconda, Bonnie Duran, Lupe Avila and Peter Bratt

This day-long retreat will provide a conceptual framework and practice guidelines for “Indigenous Presence” meditation. This practice maps the fundamental mental health optimizing characteristics of Indigenous ceremony onto the methods and outcomes of another ancient traditional expression of sacred presence, that of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. Indigenous Presence is a way of coming into harmony with the present moment and our world; and provides space for acceptance, and the cultivation of clarity, confidence, resilience and strength. This retreat is instructional, experiential and interactive. After this event, participants will:

Understand the mental health optimizing characteristics of Indigenous Ceremony, loving-kindness and mindfulness meditation.

Recognize the techniques of Indigenous Presence meditation.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9YFLR66

 

Monday October 15, 2012 – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Diving into the Dharma: A week of intensive meditation practice woven into your daily life
with Larry Yang

Dedication | Commitment
Determination | Faith

How have you experienced these intentions in your life? How have you experienced these intentions in your practice?  Live them during a week of intensive practice which includes your work, home and play. With the support of other spiritual friends,move through your week with your strongest intention of being  Aware, Mindful, Loving, Open, and Free.

By registering you will be agreeing to attend all of the following:

Monday, Oct 15, 7 – 9 pm

Tuesday, Oct 16, 7 – 9 pm

One or more of the following sitting groups:

- Wednesday, Oct 17, 7 – 8:30 pm (for LGBTQI)

- Thursday, Oct 18, 7 – 9 pm (for people of color)

- Friday, Oct 19, 6:30 – 8:30 pm (Open to all)

- Saturday daylong, Oct 20, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

PLEASE COMMIT TO THE ENTIRE WEEK.

Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9S2LZJL

 

Monday October 22, 2012 – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

A Beautiful Mind: A Four-Part Class Series on Joy, Loving-kindness, Equanimity, Compassion
with Spring Washam

4 Mondays
Oct. 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

The four brahma-viharas represent the most beautiful and hopeful aspects of our human nature. They are mindfulness practices that protect the mind from falling into habitual patterns of reactivity which belie our best intentions.

Also referred to as mind liberating practices, they awaken powerful healing energies which brighten and lift the mind to increasing levels of clarity. As a result, the boundless states of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity manifest as forces of purification transforming the turbulent heart into a refuge of calm, focused awareness.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YGQBVLN

 

Tuesday October 23, 2012 – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Mindful Recovery from a Buddhist Perspective
With Shahara Godfrey (series)

4 Tuesdays
Oct. 23, 30, Nov. 6
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This series is open to all forms of recovery. We welcome all those who are seeking freedom from any type of addiction. From a Buddhist perspective, everyone is in some form of recovery. We will explore how Dharma practice and meditation can deepen this process.  This group is not intended to be a substitute for any recovery program but rather a further support for your own spiritual awakening.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CM8FZP8

 

Sunday October 28, 2012 – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Write Action: Meditation & Writing for People of Color
with Mushim Ikeda-Nash and Kenji Liu

This daylong retreat is for any Person of Color who desires to write – whether you are an experienced writer or a novice attempting to put together your first poem or story. The day will include basic meditation instruction and writing periods with suggested exercises and time for free-writing, and will include an open-mic sign-up for those who wish to share brief samples of their work.

Please bring a bag lunch, and feel free to bring unfinished projects (short excerpts of poetry, memoirs, fiction, etc.) for small group input during the lunch period.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/J5LMJ55

 

Saturday November 03, 2012 – 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

Breakup Dharma: Practicing with a Broken Heart
with Mushim

After the breakup or loss of a primary relationship, how do we reclaim our ability to live happily in the present moment? Repetitive, self-reinforcing feelings of regret, loneliness, anger, and stories of abandonment and betrayal produce what one Buddhist teacher called “a life of endless reruns.” Through mindfulness meditation, Dharma talks, and interactive exercises we’ll explore how to courageously show up and practice with a broken heart. Beginners in meditation are welcome to attend.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8FM2XFD

 

Sunday November 04, 2012 – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Mindful Recovery from a Buddhist Perspective
with Shahara Godfrey (daylong)

This daylong is open to all forms of recovery. We welcome all those who are seeking freedom from any type of addiction. From a Buddhist perspective, everyone is in some form of recovery. We will explore how Dharma practice and meditation can deepen this process.  This group is not intended to be a substitute for any recovery program but rather a further support for your own spiritual awakening.

Registration: Registration is required and space is limited. To register, please click on the following link to fill out a registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8BCVPSH


ARTICLES                

Why Is American Buddhism So White?

Our panel looks at the problem of “whiteness’ in American Buddhism and what can be done—and in some cases is being done—to make it more diverse.

Introduction by Charles Johnson

I would wager that every Buddhist enjoys the story about Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen, who presented himself as a poor “commoner from Hsin-chou of Kwangtung” to the abbot of Tung-shan monastery in the Huang-mei district of Ch’i-chou in hopes of study, and was rebuked by the abbot with these words: “You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a buddha?” Hui-neng replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their buddhanature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our buddhanature.”

For more than two millennia, one of the appeals of Buddhism has been that happiness and freedom from suffering can be achieved by anyone, regardless of race, class, or gender. But we must remember that all convert practitioners are embodied beings who come to dharma study from somewhere. They are firmly situated in a particular moment of history. If they are American practitioners of color, who from childhood learn to be bicultural, some portion of the real, daily suffering they experience in America will arise from racism and social injustice. And in the post-civil rights era, this social suffering assumes forms that are so subtle and so deeply interwoven with our individual being-in-the-world that they are nearly invisible to white practitioners.

These unexamined, ingrained patterns of conditioning are, when viewed from a Buddhist perspective, perfect examples of what we mean by illusion if the racial or cultural self is taken to be an unchanging, enduring entity or substance. They are assumptions about identity that are as close to us as our breathing, so familiar that when these presuppositions are unveiled, “awakening” to them can be experienced as deeply unsettling by practitioners who cling to a sense of “whiteness.” James Baldwin explained this well when he said, “It’s not the Negro problem, it’s the white problem. I’m only black because you think you’re white.”

In societies where Buddhism has taken root, it has adapted to the everydayness of the lives of the laity. But problems arise in a multicultural society if one racial group of practitioners, with its preferences and prejudices, has historically been privileged and dominant over others.

The overwhelming whiteness of American Buddhist centers is not a problem just for teachers who want to transmit the dharma to everyone. The United States is undergoing a dramatic sea change. Demographers predict that by 2042 minorities will outnumber whites. This “browning” of America is arguably one of the greatest cultural issues in the twenty-first century, a change that is already affecting everything from employment to popular culture, and especially our system of public education.

A recent article by Jen Graves titled “Deeply Embarrassed White People Talk Awkwardly About Race” in Seattle’s alternative weekly, The Stranger, reports on how progressive whites are addressing this issue through organizations such as the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites. “Whiteness is the center that goes unnamed and unstudied, which is one way that keeps us as white folks centered, normal, that which everything else is compared to,” CARW cofounder Scott Winn says in the article. “I think many white people are integrationists in that ‘beloved community’ way, but integration usually means assimilation—as in, you’ve gotta act like us for this to work.”

And Peggy McIntosh, the anti-racism activist and Wellesley Centers for Women scholar, sums all this up well when she observes: “I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.”

To resolve this problem, whites must listen deeply to Buddhists of color who are particularly well suited (and perhaps even karmically directed) to take the lead in healing these wounds, not only in the American sangha, but in the larger society as well.

Buddhadharma: How diverse is the overall Buddhist community in America?

Larry Yang: The Shambhala Sun did a thirty-year retrospective of Buddhism in America a few years ago, and I scoured the magazine. While there may have been a few Asian teachers who had written articles or were quoted, it was about thirty years of Buddhism in the mainstream culture of America. It had no reference to any of the ways in which the dharma is beginning to touch different communities, whether it’s communities of color or LGBT communities or really any communities that exist outside the frame of the mainstream culture. To me that spoke to a lack of diversity within the mainstream Buddhist community. There are certainly pockets of communities that are emerging, in the East Bay and Oakland area or in Seattle or Albuquerque— where there are groups for communities of color and their allies. There’s a meditation center now in Magnolia, Mississippi, led by an African American practitioner. New York Insight and Insight Meditation Center in Washington, D.C., have been doing a lot of multicultural work. In general, though, I don’t think the North American Buddhist community is very diverse, at least in the traditions I’ve practiced.

Bob Agoglia: Who can say precisely how diverse the overall Buddhist community in America is? But it is flourishing in some areas, and we need to understand what fosters that. Then places like Insight Meditation Society can really be, as our mission statement says, a spiritual refuge for all who seek freedom of mind and heart.

At IMS we have just started a voluntary survey about demographics and we’ll see how people respond to that. You can’t spot all racial diversity visually, of course, but it is clear by looking around that the vast majority of our population is white. I have been very impressed that one of the fastest growing segments of New York Insight’s sangha is people of color sitting groups. It is clear that there is a thirst for teachings on the part of people and communities of color.

That has forced us to begin to confront the question of why more people of color are not finding their way to IMS retreats. That’s been an active and ongoing exploration for us for the past four years and will continue to be so.

Amanda Rivera: I can’t speak for the broader Buddhist community, but I think that one of the things that makes Soka Gakkai International unique is its diversity. I often pinch myself when I find myself at a meeting or a conference, and I look around and I start counting the different varieties of people in the room. I think to myself how very uncommon it is in America to find a setting where so many different types of people are gathered. When I look around I can see an African American, an Asian, a lesbian, gay, or transgender person, a young person, an elderly person, a Hispanic person, and more. I find it very comforting and validating. I don’t think our organization is really focusing on diversity per se. It just kind of happens and we respond to the need and inspiration that people have and we have to find ways to address the different types of people who come to us in a way that is respectful and inclusive. We encourage everyone to practice Buddhism, regardless of their race, color, sexual orientation, or class. Buddhism is not exclusive.

Read the full article here

 


REMINDERS

Please arrive before 7pm to minimize disruption to meditation time.

The EBMC tries to be an accessible, fragrance free space. For support on being fragrance-free, see these resources “Femme of Colour Fragrance Free Realness”,  “How to be Fragrance Free,” and check out this extensive list of fragrance-free products on the EBMC web site.

The teachings are regarded as priceless. So they are offered without a fee. You are invited to support the teachings and our efforts by contributing voluntary donations (the practice of “Dana”) for the expenses of the meditation center and the support of the teachers.

wishing you ease,

shenaaz

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