We are very pleased that Lama Eric Triebelhorn will guide us in a week of meditation practice (details coming soon!). This retreat is the result of requests from KCC members who have been practicing a number of years and have been hoping for a chance to go into meditation practice in more depth than has been possible in weekend retreats. It has taken several years, but we found a window when this could happen. This is an unusual opportunity, and we hope that you will seriously consider taking part.
For those of you who had marked your calendars according to the tentative schedule for the year, please note that the dates have changed to accommodate the availability of Lama Eric: the Chenrezig retreat will be in June, and the retreat with Lama Eric will be in August.
Finding suitable venues at a reasonable cost to replace the use of Ser Chö Ösel Ling during the three-year retreat has added to the work of the retreat and events committee. If you could offer service to assist Ryan Fitz and the retreats and events committee, it would be greatly appreciated by all those who can take advantage of the many programs of KCC. This all is in fact done by magic—and that magic is the offering of service by the members of the KCC community!
KCC Refuge Ceremony 2016
by Deborah Brink Wöhrmann
Every year, KCC’s New Years Retreat ends with a Refuge Ceremony. This year, five people chose to take refuge. Others renewed their vows or sat in support, filling the room with joy. Several of those who took refuge recently reflected on this experience.
Brooke Huffman began attending KCC in 2001. She is one of the twelve founding members of the Young Adult Group, and says that KCC has grown to be a significant part of her life over these past eight or nine years. “More recently I’ve been wanting to let the dharma take up more space in my life,” she says, but she wasn’t sure if taking refuge would be “appropriate.” Since she doesn’t “officially identify as Buddhist,” she asked Lama Michael about it. “He encouraged me to take refuge and explained that it more marks my stepping onto the path than proclaiming any sort of identity or allegiance. He also posited, ‘why
Usha Noble was listening that Sunday to Lama Michael’s response, and this helped her to make the decision to take refuge. “It had been percolating within me for a year, and the time felt ripe and natural,” Usha shares. “I was thankful for Brooke’s question, ‘Who should take refuge?’”
“Lama Michael answered with the story of the boat, among other things,” she recalls: When you come to a body of water and you need to cross it, and there is a boat, use it. But once across and walking by foot on land, don’t continue to carry the boat. Put it down and move on, unattached, he said.
“Yes,” says Usha. “This is my boat, and I am intrigued by its contents and the people in it.” She recalls that Lama Michael also suggests using a tried and true set of instructions—a path. “It doesn’t make sense to try to make it all up on your own,” says Usha. “People have accomplished the dharma. They’ve done it, and there are crumbs left to help us find our way.”
“Just knowing that every day people I know and people I don’t know are wishing me well, when you say, ‘for the benefit of all beings’—that I’m included in this, and I include you in this—I find very uplifting and beautiful,” she says. “The effect since taking refuge is really nothing different than before. My journey didn’t begin Jan. 1, 2016. It began a very long time ago. I humbly call myself a Buddhist now. I feel more committed to the teachers and the sangha. ”
Brooke says she appreciates ceremony and symbolism. “It felt good to mark my stepping onto the path. I’m sure it is a ceremony I will never forget. In other ways, it felt like nothing had changed for me personally but that now perhaps others in the sangha see me a little differently and reach out to say hello more.”
For Brooke, taking refuge coincided with an intention to carve out more space in her life for the dharma. “I’ve been sitting at home a lot more, but I would not credit the effect of this to taking refuge. I would say taking refuge and sitting in mindfulness more often are both effects of the ultimate cause which is that I set an intention.”
Usha recalls words spoken by Oliver Wilken, a longtime KCC member who now lives in Gig Harbor, Washington. “It felt almost like nothing, but looking back on it now he sees how it has vastly changed the course of his life. If you can picture walking along in your life, and then just pivoting a fraction to the right or left; after 20 years of walking you find yourself in a very different place.”
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream...
by Linda Besant
If ever you cannot make it to KCC on Sunday morning—you live too far away, you can’t find a ride, you have a cold and do not want to disturb others by coughing all the way through meditation—never fear, you can always stream our weekly practice and Q and A. The link is http://www.ustream.tv/channel/kcc-live-streaming.
But there’s more to know about KCC’s streaming opportunities.
First, you can participate in the Q and A while streaming. As you see in the photograph, there is a very small “menu” icon to the right of the live-stream screen. Open the drop-down menu and find an equally tiny “chat” option. When that is open, you can type in your question and send it. The streamer will ask the question on your behalf, and you can hear the answer.
And more—perhaps you can’t attend or stream on a particular Sunday, but you would like to participate on your own at a later date. Go to this same link at any time, and on the right are the recordings from the last several months. You can open whichever one you like.
Another way to use this opportunity is to go back and listen again to a teaching you might have found particularly valuable, or go to a date that you missed but heard from others had an illuminating discussion. We hope soon to begin streaming Sunday evening practice and Q and A.
KCC Classes and Retreats
The team of streaming volunteers is beginning to stream classes and retreats also. Right now we are streaming Jeff and Sally Alworth’s class, “Working with the Five Lay Vows and Laying the Foundation for an Ethical Life,” at 7:00 pm every other Tuesday evening through March 29th.
Gratitude to our current streamers—always seeking more
Many thanks to the five volunteers currently on the streaming team: Steve Parker, Miriam Hammer, Gwen Lovetere, Linda Besant, and Cynthia Irvine. All of us will verify that it is so easy to do that it does not interfere with one’s practice or participation. It is a great way to be of service to the Dharma and to our sangha. If you would like to join this team, please contact Jennifer Cox, at firstname.lastname@example.org. More streamers=more streaming!
And did you know we have an audio archive of teachings from past KCC events? It’s a gold mine… http://www.kcc.org/study/audio-teachings.
Search for Urban Center Continues
by John Jennings
The search for a new home for KCC’s Urban Center continues. Our dedicated committee members are regularly scanning the neighborhoods in our defined search zone and even beyond, in case something extraordinary comes up further out. A few properties here and there have been identified since the last newsletter—two of them were from sangha members not on the committee. But so far neither the committee members nor our realtor have had much luck. Maybe it is the time of year. Real estate wisdom says sales are slow in winter. Or maybe it is the economic times we are in.
It is a super-heated real estate market right now. Developers seem able to put cash on the table almost before properties are listed for sale. Nonetheless, we have faith and hope that the right property will arise at the right time. To that end, we continue to ask all sangha members to keep an eye out for “for sale” signs, ask any friends or acquaintances if they know of any buildings for sale, or if they have a building they might consider making available to KCC. Who knows where the angel (or bodhisattva) will appear—and all KCC sangha members will benefit from making this a reality. Please email any information to
Dharma Store News
by John Cusack
OUR MALAS—Your KCC Dharma Store carries beautiful malas that open the heart and celebrate the spirit. The word “mala” means garland or necklace in Sanskrit. The traditional long mala of 108 beads is used for prayer or as a sacred necklace, and is often wrapped around the wrist. Our artists use select natural gemstone materials, the sturdiest elastic bead cord, and most have a Guru bead. The
Guru bead, along with the smaller beads, symbolize respectively the teacher and the teacher’s entourage.
Your mala becomes a daily reminder of your true nature.
SACRED ART like Sanje’s calendars, the malas, silk bags, and statues found in our store can become reminders of the dharma every time you gaze upon them. They can serve a great purpose in your practice and, when reminded, it is a moment for connecting with the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
Shop at Amazon? Next time you log in, put smile.amazon.com in your browser address line and select Kagyu Changchub Chuling as your charity of choice. In the future, when you put the SMILE first, KCC receives a portion of your purchase.