State of the Sangha
by Carole Maurer
An amazing year for White Heron Sangha
This past year has been an amazing one for White Heron Sangha! At this time last year we were making preparations for the huge step of assuming responsibility for a meditation center of our own. We had outgrown our previous venue, and really wanted a place where we could significantly expand our offerings to the community. This was a scary undertaking -- we would need significantly more income and additional volunteers to be able to afford to lease and operate our own meditation facility.
“If you build it, they will come”
One of our board members convinced us that we would be successful if we trusted in our community to respond to the deep need for a spiritual center of the sort we could offer. And he was right!
We held our first meeting at the beautiful White Heron Sangha Meditation Center in Avila Village (map and photos) at the end of May 2017, following months of hard work and generous contributions from our dedicated Board Members and others to find and furnish the space with state of the art systems. Our Sunday evening presenters now often make use of the new audio/visual features that make learning about the dharma so much more interesting.
Our first retreats at the Avila Village site were held In July and October, with many people welcoming this peaceful venue and encouraging us to continue to hold our retreats here instead of in Morro Bay. It is easier for us to put on a retreat at our own center rather than at an outside venue, so it has encouraged us to consider expanding our retreat/workshop offerings to accommodate more people for meditation and mindfulness trainings throughout the year.
"An ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows"
In addition to weekend and daylong/mini retreats, our class offerings and meditation sitting opportunities have expanded and have been well-attended: Tuesday and Wednesday evening sitting groups, and Mindfulness Practice for Everyone, Somatic Meditation, and Yoga and Meditation classes. And, more good things to come in the near future! Truly, we are enhancing our mission of providing the study and practice of Buddhism and Buddhist meditation in our county by providing a wonderful space where all this can happen.
Joe Giral, one of our board members, is now the Facility Manager and the keeper of the overall calendar for use of our facility. In addition to the expanded use by our Sangha, outside groups have begun using our facility occasionally for extended meetings and classes, either renting the facility or by donation. If you are interested in using our facility for an event, please contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
White Heron Sangha is still a completely volunteer-run organization and is funded exclusively by donations and registration fees. Operating a meditation center and offering so many activities and events could not happen without our tireless volunteers (see Serving Our Sangha by Volunteer Chairperson, Sharon Rippner) and the generous financial donations from our members.
We understand that opening a center in a desirable location like Avila Village is a risky venture. Although the rent is high, this facility seems like the perfect place to support and grow our practice. And, we believe that those who participate in our Sangha agree and are beginning to support us more than ever before. We have created a Stewardship Circle for members who would like to donate on an ongoing monthly basis and about 15 members are already doing this. Donating in this fashion helps us budget for the future. See our donations page for how to donate to the Sangha.
Our financial situation is encouraging – assuming that donations continue at the current level, we should be able to meet our obligations for the coming years in our new facility. See the 2017 Year-end report from our Treasurer, Greg Thomas.
Here’s what to look for in the coming months:
Thanks to Susan Quinones, Program Chairperson, our Sunday evening talks will again be informative and entertaining. See the listing of talks for the quarter: Sunday Evening Meetings.
On the subject of Sunday evening talks, at the request of several people in the Sangha, Steven Marx has agreed to share with us the text of his extremely moving and timely talk from February 4, The Better End? Euthanasia and Buddhist Values. (click here to read the talk)
The first retreat of the quarter will be March 3-4 with John Makransky, a popular teacher we have been bringing back every couple of years. There are no more spaces available. It will be a good retreat for all attending. On April 7, there will be a special Mini Retreat with Myokaku Jane Schneider-roshi. Please see Retreat News by Retreat Chairperson Brian Walker, for more information about upcoming retreats this year and next.
We will have two new classes at our center starting this quarter: another class series on Mindfulness for Everyone taught by Mick Malotte, and Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma taught by James Coleman, beginning in April. The Yoga and Meditation class is held every Saturday morning, except for weekends when we have retreats or other special events.
Also, please check our calendar frequently for new talks, discussions, workshops, or events that may be added during the quarter.
As a way of being mindful of our footprint on the environment, we would like to invite you to bring your own mug for tea to Sangha meetings, classes and retreats, Since we do not have a dishwasher and storage space, we also ask that you take them home again at the end of the day. But, don’t worry if you forget – we will still have a cup for you. The intention is to help us cut down on our paper use and the amount that goes into the landfill. Mother Earth and White Heron Sangha thank you for your cooperation with this when it's possible for you.
I, personally, as President and Chief Executive Officer, wish to thank the White Heron Sangha Board and Committee Chairpersons for their dedication to the often difficult and time-consuming tasks of keeping our Sangha offerings and our new meditation center running so smoothly. In addition, all of us on the White Heron Sangha Board wish to express our appreciation and gratitude to all of you in our Sangha who have given of yourselves so generously through your time and pocketbook in support of our community. With your continued support and the support from others in the future, I am confident we will have another extraordinary year.
We reverence the Sangha, and aspire to follow it: the fellowship of those who tread the way. As, one by one, we make our own commitment, an ever-widening circle, the Sangha grows.