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Washington Mindfulness Community Minutes of the July 15 Community Gathering

There were 12 members of the Washington Mindfulness Community gathered at the Buddhist Vihara on 16th St., Washington, DC for this Community Gathering. Richard Brady facilitated the meeting.

Community Care Committee Report

Steve Sidley reported that the Community Care Committee had met in June. It was decided that the second round of the Second Body Practice would begin by August 28 and that all members of the Community who wished to participate would need to submit their application for this by July 24, which could be done by email to secondbody(at)aol.com. Feedback received so far on Second Body Practice is that participants found it helpful for their daily mindfulness practice; and after becoming involved in Second Body Practice they became more aware of the demands of this commitment.

Additionally, it has become apparent that some members are not available because of work and family demands, particularly those who travel a lot for their jobs. It appears that a number of these people will not continue participating in the Second Body Practice. The Community's social activities formula for the Sunday evening meditation continues to be developed. It has been observed that a number of people leave when the social activities part of the evening begin. However, for the last two social activities evenings most people stayed to participate in them. It was suggested that the Sunday meditation session could start earlier or the time for meditation shortened to allow more social time, as a way of keeping social activities incorporated into the existing Sunday evening structure. It was also suggested to place on the WMC email list-server a message asking members what they thought would work for social activities at the Sunday night meditation. There was another suggestion for social events at other times and places; maybe having a potluck get together quarterly.

The Community Care Committee reported there is interest in outreach to the gay community and in implementing more community service, such as working at a local food bank. There is also interest in the possibility of forming ad hoc Clearness Committees, which would provide sangha members in crisis small groups of people they could talk to. The Committee also reported there is interest in forming a study group.

Questions: Should the group meet semimonthly or monthly for two to four months? Should it meet an hour before the Sunday night sitting? It needs to be clear that the group will be focused on practice and not on intellectual discussions. One possible area for study by the group could be on relationships, intimacy, and sexuality.

Thay's book "Teachings on Love" was suggested as a possible book to use for this. Using a dharma book to help format discussions could be helpful. There needs to be a solid commitment by those joining the group that they would be expected to participate in all of the group's meetings. At the same time, group members could decide to meet at different times then those planned, if most members could not attend on certain dates. Each meeting would begin with a sitting. The group would consist of about 10 persons or less. No new members could join the group after it began meeting; it would not permit anyone to just drop in. The idea would be to build a solid, stable intimate group where trust could be established for deep sharing on the practice in one's life. The Community Care Committee will prepare a study group proposal for the Practice Council to review. Richard Brady will distribute the proposal on the WMC email listserver for comments from the Community.

Another study group could be on engaged Buddhism. It could include the sharing by Community members who are active in various community issues and organizations about their experiences, the issues, and their organizations.

Practice Council

Richard Brady reported that the Charter Hall Retreats (three times a year) are having a low turn out. This has led to some rethinking on the format for the retreats. So the Fall retreat (September 28-30) will be a music making weekend with a Saturday afternoon concert.

Board of Directors

Joseph Byrne reported that the Community has a bank account balance of $7,008.39. From this, $750.00 dollars will be donated to the Buddhist Vihara and another $750.00 to the Maple Forest Monastery in Vermont. Also, the WMC Scholarship Fund will be used by a Community member to attend the next mindfulness retreat.

Richard reported that the WMC received a letter from the US Internal Revenue Service on its application to be a tax-exempt church entity. Papers for this were filed with the IRS about 7 months ago. The letter asks questions that have to do with the sale of books and transcripts by the WMC. Attorney Carolyn Klamp is helping with our reply. Having church status with the IRS will mean that all contributions to the WMC will be tax deductible and the WMC will not be required to file a tax return each year.

Communication Committee Report

Joseph Byrne reported that the Communication Committee would meet within the next few weeks to conduct its business. Mary Hillebrand has become a Committee member; and Bill Menza and Nacho Cordova are discontinuing Committee membership. Jeanine Cogan is working on the next WMC newsletter for publication by the end of July or by early August. The newsletter's theme is on death and dying. Lynd Morris and David Steigerwald have agreed to allow the WMC telephone answering machine to be connected to a second telephone line at their house. WMC will pay for the costs of maintaining this second line.

Operations Committee

It was reported that Catherine Hobbs was instrumental in getting an extra cabinet at the Vihara for the WMC to keep its books and papers. Also, there continues to be a need for people to sign up to be the Bell Master for upcoming Sunday meditation sessions.

New Business Items

It was suggested that the Community complete the adoption of a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Joseph said that he would give a draft, which had been prepared some time ago, to Bill Menza for updating before it is presented to the Board for approval. It was also suggested that a Committee be established to look into a residential community for interested WMC members.R

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