Kagyu Changchub Chuling seal Newsletter — April 2016

Greetings, !

We begin this issue with a report on springtime at SCOL. In addition, we are excited to let you know about an intriguing painting series that KCC is offering there as a way of reaching a wider audience.  

This is also the right time to reflect  on the value of this year’s winter personal retreats and invite you to consider including this in your schedule next winter. And as you will see, we have many people to thank for KCC’s continuing success in bringing the dharma to so many.

Enjoy this newsletter and let us know if there are ways we can improve it to better serve the community.

Ser Chö Ösel Ling in Spring
by Peg Swift

While spring is in full swing in Portland, it comes more slowly to SCOL. The alders that line Carroll creek are just budding out, their branches dotted with tinges of green. Hummingbirds are drinking again at our feeders, and with the warmer weather, our human residents are more apt to linger outside late into the evening beneath the sky’s bright stars.

As we feel the shift of season and the changes it brings, staff and volunteers continue to create a caring environment for our resident yogis, and to implement the plans we have for our wonderful retreat land.

The kitchen thrives on thoughtful nutritious fare even though our lead cook, Marie, is away for a two-month meditation retreat. Abby Cummings has willingly and easily stepped into Marie’s very large shoes. In addition to meal planning, cooking, and cleaning, Abby has been organizing and welcoming the volunteers who are here helping in Marie’s absence.

In This Issue

SCOL in Spring

Painting Series

Winter Retreat 2016


Bookstore News

Streaming News

April-May Events





Jennifer Cox,
John Cusack
Linda Grove,
Barbara Miller,
Peg Swift,
Rosemarie Sweet, and
Deborah Brink Wöhrmann
contributed to the production of this newsletter.

We are so grateful to Karen Marks, Deborah Brink Wöhrmann, Charlotte Kangas, and Linda Logan, who have already worked their magic in the kitchen. In advance, we offer our gratitude to Karen Wallace, Carolyn Peck, Linda Logan, and Karen Marks, who are scheduled to help in the coming weeks. While we miss our Marie, her absence created an opening for us to rekindle old friendships and embrace new ones.

Spring at Ser Chö Ösel LingOutside the kitchen, we continue to work on land stewardship projects. We have been carefully thinning the pines and oaks along our access road, and soon will turn our attention to reducing the bitter brush which can burn especially hot in a wildfire. This project is being managed by Jake Cummings with the support of a number of intrepid volunteers. Michael Hilsen, Greg Kust, Harlen Barcas, Robbie Wiley, and Peter Frothingham all continue to assist in these efforts.

While some volunteers reduced selected trees along our egress road, other volunteers planted shrubs, flowers and saplings. Adele Hilsen, who helps organize and lead our work parties, oversaw the crew that dug, planted and watered around the staff quarters, the creek house and along the road. Cynthia Irving, Usha Noble, & Bob Harr all pitched in and sixty new plants went into the ground. While this can be a tough environment with its dry rocky soil, we optimistically cheer for these new residents each time we walk past.

April 4th marked the one-year anniversary of the sealing-in ceremony. Linda Logan, pie maker and baker extraordinaire, produced three beautiful and delicious apple pies—one for each of the wings and yes, one for the staff—yumm!! They were made and received with much joy and love. The South wing returned their clean empty pie dish with a small note in it that simply read, “please refill.”

Consider joining us for upcoming events at SCOL including work parties, painting classes, and a children’s day.

A New Kind of Fundraiser
by Jennifer Cox

There is so much value in what KCC offers to the Dharma community. It is beyond words really... from a beautiful array of study groups, day-long teachings, long retreats (seven days)... and even longer retreats (three years), to personal interviews and the amazing body of people who make up our ever-growing sangha.

Naturally, our focal point is the Dharma. But we are also a nonprofit organization and, when it comes to fundraising events and outreach, it is hard to know how to extend our value to a wider audience. To that end, KCC is going to try something different this summer.

Plein Air PaintingTo kick off this new effort, KCC is hosting a summer painting series out at its beautiful retreat land, Ser Chö Ösel Ling (SCOL). This series will bring the remarkable talents of three Portland artists—Kat Sowa, Jef Gunn, and Phillis Trowbridge—to SCOL. Each will lead a day or two of painting instruction on the land (far from the cloister where our Three Year Retreatants are in practice).

Each artist is known for her or his personal representation of en plein air painting. This is a French term created in the mid-19th century, meaning “open (in full) air”, in which a painter reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of painting in an outdoor environment.

Kat Sowa, Plain Air Painting
Kat Sowa

Starting off the series in June, Kat Sowa will lead a day-long class on Saturday, June 18th. Kat finds that working with all levels of painters makes for a much richer class, so the class is open to everyone. “I am enthusiastic to lead painters through this process and share this joy with anyone willing to pick up the brush,” she says. Kat spends her time on her farm on Sauvie Island, where she farms, paints what is around her, and holds en plein air workshops. “The sense of adventure that comes with en plein air painting, reminds me that I’m not in control of anything... but possibly my gear and my brush.” You can see more of Kat’s landscapes here: http://www.katsowa.com/landscapes.html

Registration is currently open for any or all of the four days of the painting series. The series will run from June through September. All proceeds will go to KCC’s general fund. To find out more and to register, please go to http://www.kcc.org/event/pleinair

The summer painting series is just one of the ways we are reaching larger audiences. Keep your eye out for other fundraisers KCC is doing to broaden our outreach.

Winter Retreat 2016
by Linda Grove, Events Committee

This year’s annual KCC Winter Personal Retreat was held at A Quiet Place Molalla, a remodeled farmhouse surrounded by farmland near Molalla, Oregon...a very peaceful setting in the midst of towering trees and a yard full of camellias, tulips, and songbirds. In all, there were fifteen retreatants. Some came for a month, others for weeks, and still others for days. In addition, there were seven cooks who prepared three delicious meals a day and found time to practice as well.

The Winter Personal Retreat has a different format than teacher-led retreats. While a common schedule is followed, practice is done in private rooms since individual practice programs vary. The only group activity is the evening Aspiration Prayers. Silence is maintained during shared meals, breaks, and chores.

This was my first personal retreat. For me it was a warm feeling to hear people in their individual rooms chanting, reciting, experiencing the silence of the dharma practice under one roof.  It is wonderful to have the support of others’ practice.I found it extremely productive to have extended, continuous practice time without the distraction of everyday life, to have time to memorize what I’ve “been meaning to” memorize, to have time to read what I’ve “been meaning to” read. To borrow Ken McLeod’s words, I transitioned from “questing” to “resting” in my practice. (Please see comments from other retreatants below.)

I hold deep gratitude for those who conceived the Winter Retreat long ago and for those whose heads and hearts provided the impetus to continue the tradition. I encourage those who have never been on the KCC Winter Personal Retreat to consider doing so next year... you could even put it on your calendar now!

Comments from the retreatants:

Julie: “...it has been amazing how quiet this little oasis has been...”

Sonia: “thank you all for holding this precious mandala of practice for me to step into albeit briefly.”

Dora: “Thank you all for the harmony and good-natured teamwork, for the quiet companionship, the prayers, and the practice, practice, practice! It’s been a wonderfully supportive environment...displaying...a beautiful facet of the jewel of the sangha. How precious in this world!”

Carolyn: “I cooked for eight days... and I myself was so well fed by the silence and discipline of everyone. My own practice deepened and a sense of cherishing of all of us, and a hope for that to extend to others arose in me.” “...[I] had the experience of being able to read and comprehend texts and commentaries so much better than on [my] own before the retreat.”

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:

Peter Wood: for putting time and detail into getting our technology working and setting up streaming.

The Fabulous Five: Barbara Miller, Peter Wood, Sandy Pollock, Margaret Janssen, and Luisa Zini, for taking the time and effort to problem solve our IT issues.

SCOL staff: Peg, Marie, Abby, and Jake. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job taking care of the land, the retreatants and each other.


Bookstore News
by John Cusack

We will soon be receiving Ken McLeod’s newest book, A Trackless Path.  Ken is one of Buddhism’s more innovative teachers, known for his ability to explain deep and subtle teachings in clear and simple language. The 18th century Tibetan mystic, Jigmé Lingpa, wrote many poems about the practice of Dzogchen, one of the great wisdom traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. One such poem is Revelations of Ever-present Good from his Great Vastness Heart Drop cycle.

In A Trackless Path, Ken McLeod presents a fluid contemporary translation of this poem, accompanied by a deeply moving and insightful commentary. The combination makes Jigmé Lingpa’s mystical poem relevant and accessible to today’s seeker.

“A work of exceptional beauty, elegance, and spiritual depth.”
              – Reggie Ray, author, Touching Enlightenment

Streaming News

Look for up-to-date streaming links on the Video Teachings page at KCC’s website: www.kcc.org/study/video-teachings, or on the site’s CONNECT menu, Watch our Sunday live stream.

New this month, KCC has begun streaming on YouTube, at this URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/kccmedia

Some events may continue to be streamed on Ustream:

April-May Events

Upcoming events at KCC include some new and some continuing opportunities, but please note the Thursday evening Mind-Training Study Group is taking a break. Keep a watch on the website, www.kcc.org, for updates. For now, here is what is happening:

All events are at KCC Urban Center unless otherwise noted.

Newcomers’ Night

This is a great opportunity to stop by KCC, ask questions, and get acquainted with the community, as well as the ways of Tibetan Buddhism as practiced at KCC. If you are new or sort of new or just want the chance to be reintroduced to KCC, please stop by.

Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Invigorating Your Practice in the Mahamudra Program

This program welcomes practitioners already involved in the Mahamudra Program. It is meant as an opportunity to deepen practice, interact with others practicing, and work with assistant teachers Bill Spangle and Erik Fromme.

Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 9:00am to 12:00noon


The Six Far-Reaching Practices: Taking the Six Paramitas off the Cushion and into Your Life

All are welcome, and no need to attend the entire series. Assistant teacher Zopa Herron will host the morning.

Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 9:00am to 12:00noon


All-Day Sit: Zhinay

Resident Lama Michael Conklin provides detailed instruction on 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, May 1, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Young Adult Group

This monthly meeting welcomes the under-40 set to gather and talk about the dharma as it relates to daily life.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Newcomers’ Night

Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

A Key to the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer

Here is another chance for those in the Mahamudra Program to deepen practice with assistant teachers Bill Spangle and Erik Fromme.

Saturday, May 28, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm


For more events, view the KCC calendar.

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