Kagyu Changchub Chuling seal     Newsletter — March 2015

Greetings, !

KCC is in the midst of an extraordinary time.  Very soon, the first Three Year Retreat begins.  At the same time, the sangha is searching for a new urban center and key volunteer roles are shifting.  We hope this issue reflects this growth and change, and that you feel fully updated after reading it.

Please enjoy the issue and let us know how it can be improved to better meet your needs for KCC news. 

KCC’s First Three Year Retreat

By Deborah Brink Wöhrmann

The KCC community began to envision offering a Three Year Retreat on their own retreat land more than 17 years ago. Very soon, this long-term intention becomes reality.

Beginning April 4, Lama Michael Conklin and Lama Tara Goforth will serve as Retreat Masters for the Three Year Retreat at SCOL. On this day, eleven people will enter into cloistered life. Friends, family, the KCC community and visiting Lamas will celebrate and offer blessings at the Sealing Ceremony on the land (see next article for more details).

After months and years of preparation, these dedicated aspirants will take Buddhist precepts and settle into the even rhythm of retreat life. Rising each morning by 3 am, they will remain in silence most of the day, and engage in contemplation and meditation practices handed down through the Shangpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. For one hour a day, retreatants will be encouraged to talk to each other—over the midday break when lunch is served and chores completed. The day will end at 9pm. 

Eight retreatants come from the KCC community: Kathleen Benz, Julia King Tamang, Hanna Karlin, Lois Beran, Susan Gladstone, Jane Harden, Galen Doucette and Liza Baer. Maggie Snee of Salt Spring, British Columbia, Wendi Wood of the Corvallis area, and Susan Morgan from Bozeman, Montana, will also take part. Retreatants range in age from 31 to 78.

“Long retreat is important for KCC primarily because it adds to the accumulation of our base of practice, increasing the community's collective wisdom and compassion,” says Lama Michael. “Since our community members are interconnected, long retreat benefits the people who do the retreat, and it also benefits those outside the retreat. When people are on long retreat, the community is inspired in new ways and many people will find that the retreat motivates them in their own practice, as well.”

“KCC has already had the benefit of several long retreats,” says Lama Michael. “Without having done a long retreat, it’s unlikely that I would ever have even visited KCC.” He could not have completed his Three Year Retreat without the spiritual leadership of his Retreat Master, Lama Tsang Tsing. Both Lama Tsang Tsing and he benefited from the many long retreats of their teacher, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche. They also directly benefited from the long retreats of many other teachers, including Venerable Bokar Rinpoche.

News and Events

Saturday, April 4th
Three Year Retreat Sealing Ceremony

In This Issue

KCC’s First
Three Year Retreat

Sealing Ceremony for Three Year Retreatants

A Sangha Tale

Update on the
Search for a
New Urban Center

Board Announcements

KCC Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Newcomer’s Night
March 19th

Seven Point Mind Training Study Group
March 26th

Young Adult Group
April 3rd

Three Year Retreat Sealing Ceremony
April 4th

All-Day Sit: Chenrezig
April 5th

Seven Point Mind Training Study Group
April 9th

Newcomer’s Night
April 16th

An Overview of The Three Turnings and the Four Foundations of Mindfulness
April 18th



Linda Besant, Dean Conklin, John Jennings, Barbara Miller, Marci Roth, Bill Spangle, Rosemarie Sweet, and Deborah Brink Wöhrmann ​contributed to the production of this newsletter.

Julia King Tamang, Associate Teacher at KCC and SCOL for many years, wrote in an email, “. . . one has to want to do a retreat more than one wants to do anything else with those three short years. For this to be the case for me, I had to reach an accumulated weariness with the ways that I cause suffering for myself and others. I had to tire deeply of my ordinary life, without losing my love for its preciousness. I am 61. It's happened.”

Though Julia and Kathleen received empowerments to do the long retreat over a decade ago, many of the retreatants traveled recently to India and received empowerments in January.

Susan Gladstone says, “I've wanted to be a part of the retreat since I first learned of it, at a work party at SCOL in 2009. . . As soon as I heard about the retreat—I felt a longing to be there.”

Jane Harden, the only retreatant who also took part in SCOL's first One Year Retreat, says, “I’m going on retreat to learn how not to be self-centered.”

Hanna Karlin, who began attending KCC about ten years ago when a friend invited her, says, “I decided to do the retreat after recognizing the value the practices had in my life. I like doing them and feel that being removed from the busy life with all its social obligations for a stretch will be better.”

Maggie Snee says it's been “a life dream to do long retreat.” She hopes to deepen her practice and “become a better person for myself and other people to live with.” For Maggie, as a Canadian, seeking permission from the U.S. government to live for three years at SCOL has been an added challenge.

The preparation for long retreat is significant in itself. Many retreatants have expressed what Lois Beran says: “Some good things are: getting rid of a lot of possessions I don't need; connecting strongly with friends and family; becoming more focused in my practice.”

Liza Baer, the youngest, made her decision to go into long retreat in October—after a summer of serving as a member of the Retreat Committee and managing several retreats at SCOL.  “Three Year Retreat... will allow me an opportunity to become more familiar with my internal world, my mind, and the way that I relate to occurrences,” she writes. “I also welcome the opportunity to be present with the discomforts that arise, and be in a supportive situation where I can stay with them, work with them, and maybe even befriend them.”

“The people who return from this 3-year retreat, having had a good retreat, have the potential to bring benefit to KCC and to the world in general,” says Lama Michael.  “We may find a teacher or two among the three year retreat graduates. The future of the center depends on this. Some of the 3-year retreat graduates will be able to help our more advanced practitioners deepen their practice. Others from the retreat may benefit other centers, or just the world in general. There is a kind of continuum that we are trying to nurture. It’s both our privilege and our responsibility to help re-generate the spiritual resources we’ve used in this life.”

“In addition, there's some possibility that our retreat could produce a yogin, or a hermit who dedicates her or his life to continuous practice. Retreat can be a seed for this kind of activity. Someone in continuous retreat at SCOL or under the auspices of KCC could provide inspiration and a living example of a life completely centered in the dharma. This would also be very good.”

Sealing Ceremony for Three Year Retreatants

Please join the KCC community in celebrating and “sending off” its first group of Three Year retreatants at the Sealing Ceremony, to be held at Ser Chö Ösel Ling on Saturday, April 4. 

There are two potential arrival times: 8:15 – 8:30 am for a 9:00 event, or 9:45 – 10 am for a 10:30 event. From 9 am to 10:30 am, Venerable Lama Tsang Tsing from Eugene will preside over the rituals of Green Tara practice and Fire Puja. These ceremonies are traditionally done to dispel obstacles and encourage auspicious conditions at the beginning of a retreat. The rituals will be chanted in Tibetan and will be accompanied by traditional instruments. While these ceremonies are open to all, they will be mainly of interest to those who are familiar with the practices or those who simply wish to witness the ritual. Since space is limited, close friends and relatives of the retreatants and those taking part in the ritual will be offered chairs; others may have to stand.

The Farewell Wishes begin at 10:30, and will be the final opportunity for interaction and farewell with retreatants. A very simple lunch begins at 11:30 outside. Please bring a large bowl and fork for your meal and something to drink.

Carpooling will be essential since there is very little parking space available at SCOL. To get or offer a ride, please contact Margaret Janssen. In your email, let her know whether you need or can offer a ride, the number of people you can transport if driving, your general location, phone number and the day and time you are leaving for SCOL.

The Retreat Sealing Ceremony will occur after lunch, outside on the dock landing before the retreatants circumambulate the compound and are sealed in the gates of their cloister. Cloister gate sealing will be finished by 1:15 pm.

Due to the nature of the event, KCC will not be able to offer use of the facilities inside the cloisters for the ceremony. But every effort will be made to keep our cherished guests warm and comfortable. KCC leaders are hopeful you will consider coming for this precious dharma event.

A Sangha Tale

By Linda Besant
Illustrations by Marci Roth

KCC President Tim Campbell Meditating
Long ago (in the 1990s) and far away (in Texas and California), there lived a man who studied and practiced the Dharma all by himself (“No teacher, no personal instruction, no sangha”) for seventeen years.

Lama Michael Conklin

Then he found KCC, and he met Lama Michael. (“Every word that came out of his mouth was like gold. I was pretty thirsty when I got here, and I drank a lot of KCC’s teachings.”) Now he had a teacher, and a sangha!

Lama Michael and Tim Campbell TalkThree years went by, and the volunteers who help things work at KCC noticed that the man attended regularly. They had Lama Michael invite him to a leadership retreat. (“They knew I couldn’t say no…”)

Tim Campbell and Kathleen Benz Walk

They walked and talked with the man, and gradually asked, “Would you be willing to be on the Board of Directors?” (“I told them why I wouldn’t do it—my deepest reserve is around saving time for my family life—it’s utterly non-negotiable. But there was a lot of recognition for that.”) He said yes.

Linda Besant and Tim Campbell Say No Way!

Time passed. Many people who had been leading KCC were preparing to go on Three Year Retreat. It was clear that new leaders would have to step up. He felt completely unqualified, but he could see that KCC needed many people to stretch beyond their comfort zones. And he had some dreams. (“I had one dream where I was in a room with spiritual teachings all over the floor, piled high, and I was pulling out papers from the Shangpa and Kagyu traditions and saving them.”)

Tim Campbell and Linda Besant and sangha
Next thing he knew, he was Board President (“My platform was, I’m not qualified, and if I’m elected the meetings will end on time.”) working in a team with a new Assistant President and a strong Board.

He’s a guy who loves to quote wisdom. As KCC’s leaders ask all of us to step up and help the sangha, he quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Do the thing you think you cannot do.” It’s working for Tim…

Update on the Search for a New Urban Center

By John Jennings

The New Urban Center Committee has been very active since October. We have reviewed a lot of buildings and were excited to actually make an offer on one building. In the process, we have learned some sobering lessons about the realities of the current market.

So far, over twenty buildings have been identified as being within our broad parameters (size, price, location) and being for sale or potentially for sale. While some were brought to our attention by Sangha members and Team members, most have come through our realtor. We systematically reviewed each against our criteria and filtered down to about eight that appeared to have potential. Many of these only needed a drive by review to determine they would not work. Of all these, four seemed like good candidates that needed more research, including site visits. One of them was a beautiful historic church in downtown Portland near PSU. From the outside, it looked great and the price was unbelievable. Then we went in. We quickly discovered a lack of useable rooms besides the sanctuary and social hall. We found serious weather damage both to the ceiling and windows, bird invasion in the attic, asbestos on ducts in the basement, limited bathrooms, a very difficult handicap access upgrade, and a huge unknown in major repairs. We walked away from it. Several other "hot prospects" were sold or were taken off the market.

One building, a 1929 historic bank right near KCC on Martin Luther King Boulevard, got us excited. Over a one week period we went into high gear to procure the building. We made numerous site visits, including several with Lama Michael, and attempted to secure additional donations. We made an offer with full Board approval while learning there was also another offer on the table. Offers and counter-offers ensued. But we soon reached a figure that, even before remodel costs for public use were factored in, became far more than we could afford. At the last minute, we were outbid by the other buyer.

As a result of this purchase effort, our team benefited from having an actual live example to negotiate from end to end. Also, the search process has made it clear that prices are rising and that we will need significant resources beyond what we currently have available to acquire a building in this market. We have learned a lot about what additional costs might be incurred to remodel a space. We learned about how fast we have to move to win a sale and that we need some key things in place before we make an offer, just one of those being adequate funding.

We WILL keep looking while at the same time seeking additional funds to make this dream a reality. Send us your good energy and prayers for the perfect center. We are all in this together.

Board Announcements

Your Superfluous Stuff Can Help KCC Leap Forward in 2015

Your surplus stuff—from the jewelry that no longer suits your style, to the tchotchke your Grandma gave you years ago or the musical instrument you no longer play, even the dharma books you just don’t have space to house any more and need to pass on to another practitioner—can all be of benefit to KCC. The Board’s plan to raise the necessary funds to support KCC’s evolving needs includes a whole new source of revenue—our extra possessions.

We’re going to expand the bookstore to include used dharma books and more Buddhist art and practice supplies. We’re going to begin doing eBay auctions (“Buddha’s Attic”?) of small items. And we’re going to have a hopping-good Sangha Summer Yard Sale.

So as you get started on your new year’s aspiration to unclutter your life, or dive into spring-cleaning, don’t give that stuff away to Goodwill. Box it up and save it for a few weeks while we get organized to receive it for KCC. We will let you know where and when to contribute your items in the April e-newsletter and on the announce and community list-serves.

And how are we going to get organized?

KCC Announces a Job Opening for the Position of Sales Manager

Starting at 15 hours per week, at $12/hour

If you are a person who

  • Is excited about the challenges facing KCC in 2015, and wants to play a major role in helping us meet them
  • Is well-organized and detail oriented
  • Is tech savvy
  • Appreciates the service involved in helping sangha members liberate their extra belongings for the benefit of others

Please contact Linda Besant right away to talk about this position. We will provide training in on-line sales.

With Three Year Retreat Beginning on April 4th, We Need RVs or Campers at SCOL...

It is now clear that construction of the stipend volunteer residence at SCOL will not quite be complete when Three Year Retreat begins on April 4th. We need help to house the folks who work so hard in support of retreatants until their residence is finished, from the last week of March through April. We’re looking for the loan of three RVs, travel vans, Winnebagos, etc. Even if you do not have an RV, please reach out and spread the word. Ask your friends, your neighbors, your Uncle Ralph… This will be good karma for sure, for the person and the vehicle.

Anyone who might be willing to loan KCC an RV or rent it at a reduced rate, please contact Linda Besant.

Upcoming KCC Events

The Three Turnings 
“The Three Turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma” will be a major theme at KCC this year. These teachings provide a window into our profound intrinsic potential as well as a framework to see how study, contemplation and meditation can be cultivated and applied in the path of our life. The core of this series of teachings will be four Saturday workshops, beginning with an overview of the Three Turnings on April 18. There will also be other classes and retreats to explore special topics and provide opportunities for practice.
View more information about the full program.

Additional upcoming events...

Newcomer’s Night
Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Seven Point Mind Training Study Group
Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Young Adult Group
Friday, April 3, 2015 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Three Year Retreat Sealing Ceremony
Saturday, April 4, 2015 - 9:00am to 2:00pm

All-Day Sit: Chenrezig
Sunday, April 5, 2015 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Seven Point Mind Training Study Group
Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Newcomer’s Night
Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

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