White Heron Sangha

Sunday Evening Programs

by Claudia Coleman, Sunday Program Coordinator

Greetings to everyone! This is the first newsletter article from me since assuming the duties of Sunday Program Coordinator, so I’d like to introduce myself. I have been a White Heron Sangha member for many years. My very first volunteer role several years back was that of setting up the tea and snacks for the fourth Sunday of the month, and that small job helped me feel really at home in the sangha. I later went on to be the fourth Sunday meditation leader, a role I still fulfill. I have also been a Board of Directors member for several years as well as a member of the Program Committee under the leadership of Susan Quinones, who after five years as Program Coordinator has passed the baton to me. She deserves many, many bows for her tireless efforts to create the varied and rich array of Sunday programs that now form the core of our weekly meetings.

During my early experiences, I generally felt lost in the vast terrain of Buddhism, which ranges so widely over numerous countries, lineages, traditions, and centuries, and involves countless terms and concepts in two or three different ancient languages. Only after seeking out teachers and books to study as well as attending retreats did I begin to get a sense of the lay of the land, so to speak, and discover certain areas or teachings where I could feel at home.

All that is to say—my goal, and that of the Sunday Program Committee, is to offer programs that provide focus and coherence as we move from quarter to quarter in the hope that everyone can feel as anchored and as comfortable in the vast terrain of Buddhism as we wish. To that end, we are continuing with series begun in the past as well as launching new series. Some series, for example, focus on important, seminal teachers or on essential but not easy or simple concepts; others focus on the development of Buddhist thought as it branched out into different lineages; others focus on us as individuals, such as our practice at various stages of our lives or the uniqueness of our individual experiences being on the Buddhist path; still others are more activity based, such as Bring a Reading, small group discussion, or an extended meditation in Sit-Walk-Sit. It is my wish that all programs aim toward enriching our practice and our sangha gatherings, deepening our understanding of Buddhist tradition and thought, and fostering a supportive and safe home for each of us.

For the upcoming quarter—March, April, and May—the Sangha will feature various new and ongoing series. First, several of our younger members will present a panel discussion on their early experiences of coming onto the Dharma path. Then in April one of the sangha’s senior members will present what has traditionally been called a Way Seeking Talk, that is to say a discussion of her personal Dharma experiences, from her early awareness of a personal spiritual path to a deepening understanding of Buddhist practice, and her increased understanding as she looks back over her trajectory. We have had a few of this type of presentation over the years, and I hope to have more, since hearing the personal experiences of others helps show us our way and strengthens our resolve.  

Later in April, we’ll have the first in a four-part series on mindful transformation, with the succeeding parts in subsequent quarters. In May, we’ll begin a series on Buddhist practice at different stages of our lives with a presentation on meditation for teenagers as a way to counter the anxiety and depression that so many young people fall prey to. Further, the Buddhism in Daily Life series will continue with the small group discussion format. Lastly, the always much enjoyed Bring a Reading program is there too.

On top of all that, in April June Kramer presents an introduction to the Guy Armstrong retreat coming the first weekend in May, and in May James Coleman will present an introduction to the daylong Saturday retreat he will be leading with Rose Taylor Goldfield in early June.

And there’s more! Be sure to check out the spring schedule—click on each week’s title to see an expanded description.  

The Buddha, the Dharma, and Sangha are Buddhism’s three Jewels. We White Heron folks have indeed created our own true jewel—without any specific or overarching teacher, but simply from our own generosity and earnest effort. Each and every one of us comes from a rich background of life experiences, professional expertise, and individual pursuit of study and practice. So in closing, if you have any comments or brilliant ideas for possible programs, please let me or other Sunday Program committee members know.

Next article - Spring 2019
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