Kagyu Changchub Chuling seal Newsletter — February 2016

Greetings, !

As you will see in this issue, KCC's vibrant community continues to offer many opportunities for practice, both formal and through service. This month, we report on newly scheduled summer retreats, improved opportunities to participate in KCC teachings online, offerings at our dharma store and more.  

We hope you also feel inspired by Deborah Brink Wohrmann’s article on this year’s refuge ceremony, a wonderful reminder of the dear place the dharma holds in our lives.  Please let us know how we can improve this newsletter to make it ever more useful to our readers.

Summer Retreat Schedule Announced — Save the (New) Dates!
by Bill Spangle

Chenrezig Retreat with Bill Spangle
June 18th-25th

Meditation Retreat with Lama Eric Triebelhorn
August 20th-28th

After the juggling of schedules and the earnest search for venues, the dates and location for both the Chenrezig retreat and the retreat with Lama Eric have now been confirmed.  Both retreats will take place at the Ananda Center at Laurelwood retreat facility, which is located in a quiet valley southwest of Forest Grove. Registration will open in the very near future.

For most of us, making room for a week of retreat in the midst of the entanglements of our busy lives requires determined effort. But the benefits in doing so are substantial. A week is long enough to become accustomed to the routine of retreat and to begin to settle into and deepen our practice. While a week of retreat is very beneficial in any practice, for practices like Chenrezig, with its rich visualization and multiple stages, it is particularly helpful to have an uninterrupted period of time. It is possible to relax into new dimensions of the practice with guided meditations and fuller explanations.

In This Issue

Summer Retreats

New Year Refuge Ceremony

Streaming News

Urban Center Search

Dharma Store News


February-March Events





Linda Besant,
Jennifer Cox,
John Cusack,
John Jennings, Barbara Miller,
Bill Spangle, Rosemarie Sweet,
Deborah Brink Wöhrmann, and Peter Wood
contributed to the production of this newsletter.


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 not?’.”

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

Sunday Streaming
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.

ustream viewer interface

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 jcox@kcc.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 jjennings@igc.org.

Dharma Store News
by John Cusack

Mala from KCC Dharma StoreOUR 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.

MalaSACRED 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.

With Gratitude to Our Volunteers

If you see a volunteer, offer them gratitude!
KCC cannot be what it is without each volunteer.
This month, special thanks go to:

Cynthia Irvine and the finance team: Pat Parker, Ryan Fitz, John Cusack, Marylinda Eichstadt, Sandy Pollack
This group put a huge amount of time and detailed work into KCC’s finances over the past two months.   Thank you for all of your work!  You have all practiced an immeasurable amount of patience and humor during this busy financial season.  And we just cannot say it enough—thank you, thank you, thank you.

The retreat committee: Ryan Fitz, Linda Logan
Linda Logan has done a fantastic job organizing the personal winter retreat, which can be a daunting task for a first-time retreat registrar.  SO thank you Linda for accepting this role and doing it so competently. Ryan Fitz wears many hats at KCC already and, even with our heavy retreat and class schedule this year, he has still managed to keep it all running smoothly. Hats off to you, Ryan!


February-March Event Update

All events are at KCC Urban Center unless otherwise noted

Seven Point Mind Training Study Group

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Thursday, March 24, 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, March 1, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Tuesday, March 29, 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, March 4, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

All-Day Sit: Zhinay

Resident Lama Michael Conklin provides detailed instruction concerning the practice of Zhinay on alternating first Sundays from 9:00am to noon. Following a potluck 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, March 6, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Winter Personal Retreat 2016

This year’s Winter Personal Retreat continues 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 as soon as practicable.


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

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