Kagyu Changchub Chuling seal     Newsletter — January 2016

Greetings, !

We hope you enjoy this first issue of the new year.  We begin with the year's first quarterly SCOL update, which includes lovely pictures of the retreat center in winter.  Since we will have one update per season, we look forward to showing you how its landscape changes as the seasons progress.  

Also in this issue is Bill Spangle’s introduction to this year’s course offerings and a special thank-you to our volunteers.  Please keep your great suggestions for future articles coming.  We appreciate them so much.

SCOL Update
by Peg Swift

Ser Chö Ösel Ling winter viewFor those of us who live and work at Ser Chö Ösel Ling, 2015 ended with a deep sense of gratitude and with high hopes for the coming year. This past year brought to fruition a remarkable milestone for KCC, that of putting a dedicated cadre of practitioners into the traditional Kagyu three-year, three-month retreat. Our KCC community—complete with friends, relatives, and acquaintances—celebrated together as those who entered retreat turned their full attention to meditation, contemplation and study.

The community support, so critical to meeting this milestone, has not wavered in the months since. The staff and retreatants continue to receive the blessings of fellowship as goods are donated, services provided and heartfelt wishes received. The gratitude of staff members Jake and Abby Cummings, Marie Maretska, and myself is hard to put in words, but each of us sees how lucky we are to be here at SCOL and to have the encouragement of Dharma friends near and far.

In This Issue

SCOL Update

Thank You, Volunteers!

A Cornucopia of Offerings in the New Year

January-February Events





Jennifer Cox, Barbara Miller, Rosemarie Sweet, and Peg Swift contributed to the production of this newsletter.


SCOL Staff

While our primary responsibility is to support a container designed to allow the retreatants to settle into deep practice, the staff is also tasked with caring for SCOL’s 240 acres, home to its human population but also to a wide, wondrous variety of plant and animal life. Those who have had the opportunity to visit know of our open skies and rolling hills, have seen blue birds and hawks, and perhaps heard a tale or two of the elk, badgers, and bobcats that move freely about.

While we enjoy the peace and beauty of our country setting, we are also aware that, like much of eastern Washington’s landscape, our property is vulnerable to summer wildfires. Our warming planet and current drought cycle have created the conditions conducive for long hot fire seasons. It is with this in mind that we are partnering with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to participate in a fuel reduction “cost share” program.

The program was initiated by the State to inspire property owners to maintain healthy forests, to protect infrastructure and to support wildlife habitat. Creating healthy tree stands through thinning, removing low or dead branches, and spacing out the bitterbrush will reduce the fuel sources that provide avenues for fire to move horizontally and vertically. The State predetermines the financial cost of the reduction work and then reimburses the property owner for half of that amount once the work is completed. This is why it is called a cost “share” program.

We are not the only property owner in our area to participate in the program. Our neighbors on our east boundary line have also signed up. As more and more land owners reduce fire hazards on individual properties, together we create an environment that is safer for all who call it home.

Ser Chö Ösel Ling view

This is an ambitious project as we have committed to thinning, pruning, and burning slash in a fifteen-acre area. The final result will be a safer egress route along much of our main road. In order to accomplish this work within our two-year deadline, we will need help from community members. For people who like to work outdoors at tasks such as limbing trees, moving slash, and managing burn piles, please consider joining us for work parties in 2016.  Our first work gathering will be on February 13th.  Work parties are a great opportunity to spend a day in the country, among friends, and to feel a connection to the land and to our retreatants.  For more information, you can email Adele Hilsen or phone her at 503-816-8700.

Thank You, Volunteers!
by Jennifer Cox

In this new year, we want to acknowledge some of our wonderful volunteers for the service they offer to KCC. It takes many hands, hearts and minds to make KCC function as fully as it does.  We are grateful and deeply appreciate what ALL of our sangha volunteers bring to KCC.

AN ESPECIALLY BIG THANK YOU for the time and care these volunteers have given KCC the past couple of months:

The Dharma store committee: Linda Logan, Diane Lucas, and John Cusack.
These three are responsible for breathing new life into our dharma store and bringing us all sorts of wonderful books, jewelry, and other dharma-related goods with which to nourish our practice.

Our one-woman show for all graphic needs: Marci Roth.
Marci put in countless hours and showed remarkable patience in designing our new fancy brochures.  If you do not know about them, take a look the next time you are at KCC.  We now have an assortment of brochures to take home and give to others!

A Cornucopia of Offerings in the New Year
by Bill Spangle

The programs for 2016 will offer both continuity and new dimensions for study and practice at KCC. Last year we presented an overview of Buddhist practice from the perspective of the progression of Buddhist teachings in the “Three Turnings”. While we will continue to use the Three Turnings as a basic frame of reference, this year the emphasis will be on exploring aspects of each of the Three Turnings in greater depth.

To start the year, Jeff and Sally Alworth will lead a class series on the five lay vows, one of the central elements of practice introduced in the first turning.  This will be a special opportunity to explore the discipline of these precepts in the context of lay life.

Later, Zopa Herron will offer a series of Saturday classes on the Six Paramitas, which illuminate the core teachings and practices of wisdom and compassion in the second turning. If retreat venues can be arranged, we will also have two week-long retreats, one on Insight meditation and another on the practice of Chenrezig. These meditation retreats will be opportunities to engage in practices that embody the view of the third turning—the cultivation of recognition of our fundamental pure nature.

Many of this year’s classes and programs will be led by people new to teaching at KCC. This may appear to be a matter of necessity, filling in for Lama Michael while he attends to the three year retreat. But it also reflects the fact that KCC is maturing as a spiritual community and we now have more individuals whose study and practice have deepened over the years and are now able to assist in ways that were not possible before.

These individuals reflect a variety of experiences with diverse backgrounds and personal paths. Sally and Jeff Alworth have been practicing at KCC since the mid-1990’s after studying Buddhism at university. They have also been among the stalwarts keeping KCC alive and well, both serving as president of the Board of Directors.

Zopa Herron brings a different perspective informed by the experience of cloistered meditation practice on the One Year Retreat at SCOL and eight years of formal study and training while a resident at Shravasti Abbey.

Erik Fromme began the Mahamudra Program when Bokar Rinpoche came to Portland in 1996. He also brings a unique perspective from many years of work in palliative care where he has worked with both the outer and inner challenges that arise while assisting others. Erik will present a series of Sunday afternoon classes on the topic of death and dying in collaboration with Chozen Bays of Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple.

The diversity of the backgrounds and experiences of these individuals reflect the growing richness within our community, and we are very fortunate that they are willing to offer the community the benefit of their experience.

Along with these new programs, the ongoing Mind Training study group, the Young Adults Group and the quarterly gatherings for Milarepa Tsok continue under the able stewardship of Tim Campbell, Holly Hisamoto and Julie Hurlocker.  For individuals who are ready, winter retreat will offer an opportunity to gain experience of personal retreat in a supportive environment. It is filling up quickly, so register soon!

Though there will not be a formal Mahamudra Seminar this year, there will be a new quarterly program to support those engaged in the program.  We are also delighted to announce that this year in September Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche will offer the Yidam Seminar in Taiwan.  This is an excellent opportunity for those who have been part of the Mahamudra Program and are interested in engaging in the Yidam practice associated with the program.  As part of the maturing process in our community, the group of people engaged in this practice has grown and there is now an active group that gets together regularly to provide mutual support. We have also had the good fortune to have the support of Lama Eric Triebelhorn.

Please take some time to reflect on these opportunities to plan your year of joy and growth in wisdom and compassion with the support of a reliable, caring Dharma community. Any and all efforts toward the Dharma are certain to positively affect you, your loved ones, this world and all those in it.

January-February Event Update

all events at KCC Urban Center unless otherwise noted

Invigorating Your Practice in the Mahamudra Program - Class One

Anyone who has attended one of Bokar Rinpoche’s Mahamudra Program Seminars is encouraged to attend this half-day of practice, teaching, and discussion (Seminar attendance is a prerequisite). Since it is likely that the North American Mahamudra seminar will not be held again until completion of Three Year Retreat at SCOL, the Program Council is seeking to create support for Ngondro and Mahamudra Program practice.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 - 9:00am to 12:00pm


Seven Point Mind Training Study Group

The Seven Point Mind Training Study Group continues! If you can’t come to the meetings or aren’t inclined, then join us from your home by spending some time with a powerful and transformative aphorism. As usual, I’m using this website: http://lojongmindtraining.com/default.aspx, to create a word document that offer multiple versions of the same aphorism.

Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Working with the Five Lay Vows and Building the Foundation for an Ethical Life

The five lay vows—often referred to as “precepts”—form the foundation of ethical behavior in Buddhism. The practice of ethics complements formal meditation and is especially suited for lay practitioners in their daily life. By behaving ethically, we use our tendency toward habitual behavior to create positive results in our lives. The five precepts are usually described as commitments to abstain from killing, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, and intoxication, but they can also be invitations to think how actions of body, speech, and mind can be guided to support wholesome, compassionate engagement with the world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm


Young Adult Group

“Ananda... Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.” - Upaddha Sutta

Join in the camaraderie. This monthly gathering is for a community of practitioners under the age of 35(ish) the first Friday of every month.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

All-Day Sit: Chenrezig

Resident Lama Michael Conklin provides detailed instruction concerning the practice of Chenrezig on alternating first Sundays from 9:00am to noon. Following a pot-luck lunch, there is a question and answer session from 1:30pm to 2:45pm, and then a last session of meditation ending at 4:00pm.

Sunday, February 7, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Winter Personal Retreat 2016

This year's Winter Personal Retreat will be held at A Quiet Place Molalla, a retreat facility in Molalla, Oregon. Space is very limited, so if you are considering taking advantage of this opportunity, please seek permission and complete your registration early.


A Quiet Place Molalla, Molalla, Oregon
Saturday, February 13, 2016 - 4:00pm to Friday, March 25, 2016 - 10:00am

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