Minutes of the Community Gathering of the Washington Mindfulness Community

At the Buddhist Vihara, Washington, DC July 10, 2005.

Notes by Bill Menza

The Practice Council reported on the WMC survey on the agenda and structure of the Sunday night sitting. There were 25 responses. Some thought that there were too many dharma talks or other special events and some want longer sittings. The Community is already experimenting with three sitting periods on the second Sunday of the month and the PC will collect opinions on what members think about this longer sitting. Three sittings was chosen over two 45-minute sitting periods in consideration of new attendees, especially those new to sitting meditation. Dharma talks will be spread out over the year and will be limited to 45-minutes (so that the usual sitting meditation periods will be maintained). Dharma talks and other special events (e.g. panel presentations, invited special guest Dharma talks, the three meditation sitting periods, etc.) will be limited to the second Sunday of the month.

Fund raising for dana to the Buddhist Vihara will continue as it has been conducted. Plans for long-term fund raising for the WMC in general and for special needs, such as a scholarship fund will be investigated. This includes special fund raising events, such as tea/coffee house parties. Fund raising will remain limited to a few specific situations each year. Fund raising plans will include raising the consciousness of Community members about the donations needed. Bell Masters will be informed so they can tell attendees at the Sunday sittings.

Richard will be asked to find out if Plum Village still needs a DVD burner. If it does the PC and WMC Board will be asked for a fund raising plan to obtain one for them.

Another fund raising need the PC, Board and the Community may want to consider is that of the Green Mountain Dharma Center and the Maple Forest Monastery. It was suggested that one way to raising interest in giving donation to the Center, Monastery, PV and so on, is for members to share personal stories of their good experiences at these places at WMC events and in WMC newsletter.

If there is a decision to help raise funds for the GMDC and MFM, it may be worth while to invite Sister Annabell, the Abbess of the GMDC to visit the Washington, DC mindfulness communities and participate in a joint retreat and Dharma talk. Not only would this be important to any fund raising effort, but it could also establish closer ties among all the mindfulness sanghas in the WDC area, and in turn to their ties to the GMDC and the MFM.

The Operations Committee has been working on the special events for the second Sunday sittings, training Bell Masters, the Charter Hall retreats, and the function and use of the Community library. One special interest is having loaned books and tapes returned to the library. A theme focus for the Charter Hall retreats has been found to be very helpful. Some suggested for future retreats were: body practices & yoga, singing & chanting, poetry & writing, poetry and gathas, sutra writings, and the Mindfulness Trainings.

The Community Care Committee is attending to Second Body Practice (a new session begins in the Fall), dharma classes (on the third Sunday of the month), Touching of the Earth practice, and Pot Luck Sundays. Special attention will be given to Pot Luck Sundays as attendance at them has dropped off significantly. Community members will be encouraged to bring snacks to share during the social time each Sunday. Members might want to share snacks when it's their birthday or for some other special event they might have. A book discussion group using the book Living Buddha, Living Christ was completed . Plans to form a new group around the book Transformation At the Base has been proposed. The two couples discussion groups continue to meet. Except one will not meet during the summer. It is looking for new couples to join it. Couples who join these groups are asked to make a one year commitment. A community volunteer list has been completed and printed copies are available. It will be post on the WMC web site. It tells members about organizations that are looking for volunteers. The Community Care Committee is looking into having a Day of Mindfulness Practice, a tea ceremony, and celebration of milestones with the Community.

The Community is also looking into participating in the Washington, DC Interfaith Council. Dharma Teacher Tara Brach of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington has suggested Buddhist representation at the Council. The Council meets to share information and has a yearly fund raising event.

A Parenting Group formed at the Stillwater Mindfulness Practice Center and which WMC members are part of, continues to meet. On July 13 Steve and Annie Sibley will host a music-children celebration day at their home in Bethesda.

The Clearness Committee is studying pastoral care practices by various spiritual traditions to draft procedures to follow.

The Communication Committee continues to maintain the WMC web site and its newsletter.

The Committee on Mindful Politics met some time ago during a retreat at Claymont Court. It has been looking for specific areas where it might be of service.

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