Kagyu Changchub Chuling seal   Newsletter — November 2016
Greetings, !

As the fullness of this issue indicates, this is a dynamic time for KCC.  In addition to important updates on the New Urban Center, the Leadership Retreat, and the Dharma Store, we hope you enjoy our latest installment of the Thankga series curated by Sanje Elliott and our story about SCOL Manager, Peg Swift.  We also have upcoming events for your review.

Please continue to send us your story ideas and suggestions.  This newsletter is the product of our community's fertile minds!

With Gratitude

This month we wish to thank Phil Wallin for accepting the position of development director for KCC. Phil has embraced an assignment that is essential at this time when we are raising funds to purchase property for a larger urban center, and to meet the parallel increase in general expenses that growth entails. Phil is generously volunteering his expertise and experience. He has drafted a development plan that presents sangha members with plenty of opportunities to help, ranging from data entry to working on fun new fundraising ideas.

In This Issue

With Gratitude

New Urban Center

Leadership Retreat

Bookstore Update

Marpa the Translator

Peg Swift

Bodhisattva Night

Death & Dying

Events Update




John Jennings,
Linda Besant,
Diane Lucas,
Mary Woods,
Sanje Elliott,
Deborah Brink-Wohrmann,

Rosemarie Sweet, and
Ryan Fitz contributed to the production of this newsletter.

Closer To the Goal:  New Urban Center Update

By John Jennings

As I reported earlier, the New Urban Center Committee recently found a good candidate building and made an offer that was accepted. The next step was completing due diligence, which did not start immediately because seller and Committee members were out of town.  However, once back in town, the committee dove headfirst into space planning, building inspections, zoning and cost estimating. Three questions need to be answered:
1) Will the building accommodate our needs?
2) Can we accept the condition of the building?
3) Can we afford the repairs and renovation work it might need?

We are midway through the process of answering these questions. We have gone over the design of the spaces and tested different solutions to allow for offices, children’s classroom, social area, and other needs. We have estimated the costs of upgrading the bathrooms and kitchen and some other alterations and finishes for the floors, walls and ceilings. We have had experts perform building and sewer inspections. A few tests and reviews are still needed before we have the complete picture of what is required to make this building work for us and be a safe and comfortable dharma center.

A subcommittee is working hard on the finance side of the equation. At this point, we plan to sell Monroe Street plus raise some additional funds to cover the costs of purchase, repair, and remodel. The sale does not need to happen until the spring or later thanks to bridge loans from sangha members to cover the immediate cash needed to purchase the building. Other articles and a letter to the sangha will explain this in more detail. All of this work is leading us to the goal of closing on or before December 7. Then the fun begins. Stay tuned.

KCC's Leadership Retreat—Moving To the Next Stage

By Linda Besant

Every year, KCC members invited by the Board of Directors gather for a leadership retreat. This year, thirty-five sangha members representing a spectrum of the community—the Program Council, the Board, SCOL and Urban staff, and heads or members of key committees and the Young Adult Group—met on October 21 and 22 at the Portland Insight Meditation Center. The setting was inspirational. A decade ago, PIMC purchased a church similar to the one KCC hopes to acquire for our New Urban Center, and they have turned it into a welcoming and comfortable home.

We began and ended each day practicing together. In between, our work sessions were permeated by the approaching possibility that KCC will at last have a larger urban center, and the knowledge that the Three Year Retreatants are exactly halfway through their extraordinary commitment and SCOL will soon be available for other retreats.

“Unbridled Dreaming” served as Friday’s theme:
- Facilitator Sally Mead led the first session, where Lama Michael and six other members engaged in a dialogue of inquiry about our dreams for the future of the sangha.
- Tim Campbell and Linda Besant led session two, an update on where we stand in realizing the goals of KCC’s current strategic plan and the significant accomplishments of the past year.
- In session three, Phil Wallin, KCC’s new volunteer Director of Development, presented a development plan of resources and strategies to build a sustainable funding base for the sangha.
- Session four was a spirited discussion of our current efforts to organize and support volunteers; and of the potential mosaic of paid and volunteer human resources we might evolve to sustain and advance our programs and activities.

In a fascinating process, twelve of the vision inquiry questions generated on Friday served as the lens through which we aligned our efforts to “Evaluate and Define” on Saturday; Questions included: “How will we manage our evolution without turning it into a flurry of activity that undermines our practice;”  “What would make it possible, in twenty-five years, to continue to have good access to teachers;” and “How does SCOL fit into our discussion of the new urban center.”

We worked in small groups for two sessions. In the first, we talked about immediate needs for the New Urban Center to guide decisions about initial renovations. And we opened initial discussion about the future use of SCOL starting in the fall of 2018, reaffirming that retreats of every length, from short to long, are vital to our practice.

Next, we generated a bounty of ideas about how to coordinate, communicate with, mentor and appreciate volunteers. (One example—make good use of the capabilities of Neon, our new data base system, to help organize and communicate with volunteers). We also birthed a flurry of fun new ideas for fundraising events. (For example, a Dharma film series at the New Urban center, with popcorn).

The retreat closed with an outpouring of appreciation for KCC, thanking Lama Michael and our teachers for a center with such an authentic spiritual core and lineage connection; thanking past leadership that KCC is such a welcoming and open community with so many accomplishments; and calling out gratitude to those currently serving the sangha.

A full report of the leadership retreat will be available through KCC’s Community Listserve and in hard copy within a month. We hope the tidbits given here will inspire everyone to eagerly await the full report and anticipate joining in to realize the dreams it contains.

Dharma Store News

By Diane Lucas

The Dharma store is happy to announce that a large selection of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s books is now available at KCC in anticipation of his visit. This includes his Lazy Lama series of mini-books, priced at only $6 each. If you have not already discovered it, you owe it to yourself to experience how clear and down-to-earth his writings are.

With the holidays just around the corner, please remember that a gift purchase at KCC benefits not only your friend or loved one, but KCC as well. Consider a gift of the just arrived Sacred Images of Tibet 2017 wall calendar, painted by Ben Barta, a student of KCC’s own Thangka painter Sanje Elliott. We also offer a large selection of malas, candles, beaded charms, one-of-a-kind brocade items, and free trade chocolate. Please feel free to open the cabinet doors and explore for yourself.

We also have available several devotional items for your shrine, including brocade altar cloths, brass and copper offering bowls, pecha holders, and framed inspirational pictures. For Ngondro and Vajrayana practitioners, we offer mandala plates, mala counters, dorje and bell sets, and several practice texts. As always, please let us know what we can do to better meet your practice needs.

Marpa the Translator

By Sanje Elliott

Otherwise known as Marpa Choskyi Lodru, Marpa was the first Tibetan in the Kagyu lineage, and he is known for establishing that lineage in Tibet. He was born in 1012 and died in 1097 at the age of 84. Coming from a prosperous Tibetan family, he was not easily tamed as a child and eventually became a disciple of Buddhism. Not finding teachers to satisfy his needs in Tibet, he travelled to India to study with great yogis and adepts, staying a few years in Nepal to acclimate to his descent into the hot plains of India.

In India, he found that Naropa, the most famous teacher of that time, had left his position as Abbot of Nalanda University and had become a wandering yogi. Marpa searched for months and finally found him and spent 12 years learning the teachings of the tantras, especially the Hevajra tantra.  He also studied with great teachers such as Maitripa, Kukuripa and Atisha, learning the Six Doctrines of Naropa, Mahamudra, etc. In addition, he is said to have received teaching from the great female Yogini, Niguma. Altogether, he made three trips to Tibet, cashing all of his property into gold to pay honor to his teachers.

Back in Tibet, he attracted many students, among them the most famous, Milarepa. Without Marpa, the Kagyu Lineage would not have been introduced to Tibet.

Peg Swift's Story

By Deborah Brink Wohrmann

Peg Swift, SCOL Facilities Manager during the current Three Year Retreat, began sitting at KCC in 2005. She became involved with the committee that oversaw the design and build-out of the retreat center in Goldendale and spent seven weeks on the crew that framed the north wing cabins. Then, in 2013, she was one of the thirteen people to sit the initial One Year Retreat at SCOL.

After completing One Year Retreat in 2014, Peg returned to Portland. But she was no longer inspired to go back to any of her previous jobs. Besides the ten years she worked for the City of Portland as a combination inspector, certified to inspect structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing installations in residential construction, she had worked as a union carpenter apprentice and then obtained a general contractors license.

About her current role at SCOL, she says, "I have two different jobs here—one is facilities management and the other is retreatant care. Being on a long retreat is quite challenging and having sat the One-Year, I know firsthand how helpful it is to have the genuine consideration of the staff.  So when I think of my job here, retreatant care is really primary and my approach to that care is very much informed by my experience as a long retreatant. I am very committed to supporting those who are in retreat. They all have my utmost respect and I feel privileged to be in a position to support them in ways that allow them to fully focus on practice."

Peg says that not only did SCOL feel like a natural place to land but, in some ways, it felt like her career in construction, coupled with having sat the One Year Retreat, perfectly prepared her to support the Three Year Retreat. "While SCOL is very familiar to me, a large part of my motivation, then and now, is knowing the benefit to retreatants of having consistent and kind interactions with staff."

Although SCOL is isolated and "in the middle of nowhere," Peg assures us that there is a lot of coming and going. "We have Sangha members who come for work parties and special projects, to volunteer in the kitchen, to drop off items for retreatants, to attend Tsoks, and then of course the Lamas come regularly. I often think I am more social here than I was in Portland, and certainly the diversity of community is wider as the Sangha takes me beyond the circle I would normally orchestrate for myself."

On her days off she tries to be off, though this does not always happen. "I relax, read, clean the house, do laundry, hike, maybe go out to dinner somewhere, rent a movie. I think it's a pretty normal approach to time off, although, that said, our work time here is structured to encourage spiritual practice. So I try and do more sitting than I might were I back working a conventional job."

Since the staff works and lives so closely together, they try to support each other as they do the retreatants, "by being kind and patient with each other, and through clear and timely communication," says Peg.

On work days, the staff also sits together. "It is so very supportive to have the staff shrine room and to know that we sit together on the days we work together."

Save the Date!  Bodhisattva Night — Saturday, December 17

Join us for an evening of stories and other offerings depicting and celebrating Bodhisattvas in all their incarnations. We would love to have your presence and participation. So start thinking of your own story to share as we gather community members, families and friends for this annual holiday get-together. Bring a holiday treat to share.

This photo, taken a couple of years ago, tells you all you need to know about how much fun we have on Bodhisattva Night. Please consider volunteering to help with planning and decorations. This may be our last chance to decorate our Monroe Street center in its holiday finery!

Contact Mary Woods with questions or to volunteer.

Preparing for your own Death

By Mary Woods

The Death And Dying Seminar is a series of classes offered by Chozen Bays, Roshi, MD, and Erik Fromme, M.D. Chozen is a teacher of Zen Buddhism and co-abbot at Great Vow Zen Monastery. She is also a pediatrician. Erik is a palliative care physician and an experienced Tibetan Buddhist practitioner.

David McWherter and I also participate. As a hospice nurse, my portion of these classes is focused on caring for people at end of life in the home or wherever else they may be. David, who is a marriage and family therapist, helps us explore the complicated issues that arise for loved ones when a person is dying and how to approach these difficult conversations.

This program provides a unique opportunity to learn about death and dying with topics that range from the practical to the sublime. Over the eight Sundays of the program, a wide variety of issues is addressed, from cremation and green burial to caregiving at end of life and writing your advanced directive. Opportunities to practice meditations on death will be offered along with suggestions for how to promote sacred space at home or anywhere one may be dying.

Often these subjects are not discussed until death is imminent. This series offers the chance to increase one's knowledge in a supportive environment where we can ask questions as we explore death and dying. I would encourage anyone to attend. Even if you can only attend one, I am sure it will be beneficial. There are three sessions remaining in November.

Events in November and Early December

Upcoming events at KCC include some new and some continuing opportunities. Watch the website, www.kcc.org, for updates. For now, here is what is happening:

All events are at KCC Urban Center unless otherwise noted.

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, November 3, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

All-Day Sit: Chenrezig

Resident Lama Michael Conklin provides detailed instruction on the practice of Chenrezig 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, November 6, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Death and Dying Seminar

Eight classes to be held on consecutive Sundays at Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple, beginning in October. Participants are not required to attend every session.

Sundays through November 20 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm

November 6, 2016
November 13, 2016
November 20
, 2016

Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple

Led by Chozen Bays (co-abbot and co-founder of Great Vow Zen Monastery and Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple), and by Erik Fromme
Co-taught by Mary Woods and David McWherter

Register through Heart of Wisdom

KCC Mind Training Group

The biweekly Thursday KCC Mind Training Group resumes this month, with Tim Campbell and Zopa Herron co-leading an exploration of the entire Lojong, or Mind Training tradition, including the Seven Points and beyond.

Thursday, November 10 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

SCOL Work Party

Help with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Please bring work clothes, gloves, a water bottle and your own lunch. "Restroom and good vibes provided."

Saturday, November 12, 2016 - 10:00am to afternoon

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, November 17, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Board of Directors Meeting

Sunday, November 20, 2016 - 1:30pm to 4:30pm

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Teachings:

Scattering the Clouds—Working With Emotions
Saturday, November 26 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Rinpoche will discuss Buddhist approaches to working with emotions, including ways to release and transform emotions to reveal our innate wisdom.

Wisdom Mind, Compassionate Heart—The Union of Relative and Ultimate Bodhicitta
Sunday, November 27 - 9:00am to 5:00pm
This all-day program will cover the union of relative and ultimate bodhicitta, or, in other words, the union of profound compassion and deep insight.

Location:  First Unitarian Church of Portland, Buchan Building, 1226 SW Salmon St.

Monday and Tuesday, November 28—29:  Additional Events To Be Announced

Read more at the KCC website.


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, December 2, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

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, December 4, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:00pm


KCC now streams most events on YouTube at this URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/kccmedia
Remember:  If shopping on Amazon, please shop Smile.Amazon.com with KCC as your charity of choice.  It’s an easy way to support KCC!

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