Notes from the Community Gathering, July 7, 2002

In attendance: Barbara Newell, Mary Hillebrand, Joseph Byrne, Irene D'Auria, Jeanine Cogan, Steve Sidley, Richard Brady, Ute, Paul, Rob DeBara, Carolyn Bluemle, Jim Schrider, Freddie Schrider. Thanks, Irene, for taking notes.

Barbara Newell chaired the meeting, opening with gratitude for the community and for the support and nourishment that attending this meeting gives to the community.

Charter Hall

The last two scheduled retreats were cancelled due to insufficient response.

Charter Hall can accommodate fewer people than before, and has become more expensive—leading to the question: "Who wants to go on what kind of retreats and when?"

Determination: Jeanine came with a wonderful survey that, with minor additions, will be circulated among the community. The Practice Council will study the results of the survey and discuss with the Board of Trustees what to do. Surveys are included with this newsletter — PLEASE COMPLETE AND RETURN THEM. WE NEED YOUR INPUT!

Buddhist Education

There is a lot of interest in answering the question, "How can we more deeply engage our children in the community and in Thay's teachings?"

Determination: There is a great deal of rather focused interest, and the discussion presented many options, ideas and obstacles. The community agreed that the Practice Council would start collecting names of those who will take a lead in answering this need. A new committee will be formed. Those present and willing were Irene, Steve, Rob and Mary. Based on previous discussions, Marie will be contacted shortly for solicitation of her support. An invitation will go out on the listserv to invite others who are also interested.

Study Groups

The issue of better defining guidelines of how study groups will operate is remarkably complex, due, in large part, to its wonderful initial success, and the tremendous appeal it has developed. Discussion began with a reminder of what needs the study groups were designed to fulfill: Creating a means for intimate, trusting, safe interactions in a small group of people that continues to meet for some designated period of time.

Determination: The questions of study groups being open vs. closed, running indefinitely vs. time-limited, allowing couples vs. no couples require more thought and attention. All agreed on the following:

More specific guidelines will be helpful

The Practice Council can and should be called upon to determine guidelines in response to a specific situation or conflict.

It is important that when answering a conflict, the Practice Council consults and considers the study group itself, so that decisions don't "come from above."

Reminder: Keep our eyes open to opportunities for growth in the dharma. Without challenges, there is no growth.

Sister Sanghas

In response to the question: "How can sanghas support the Middle East peace process?"

Determination: Mitchell Ratner has volunteered to head up a dialogue about how we might develop a network of sanghas in order to communicate with and support each other. Anyone interested in participating in this discussion, please contact either Mitchell Ratner, 301-270-8353, info(at), or Richard Brady, info(at)

Committee Reports

Community Care Committee:

1. Welcome ceremony for babies/young children:

Each ceremony will be custom-made according to the values of the parent(s)

The committee will develop a questionnaire it can use as a tool to determine what is important and meaningful to the parent(s)

The committee will develop a gross outline of a ceremony within which these personalized elements may be presented

2. Second Body Practice:

The committee will call Second Body participants halfway through the session to check in and see how things are going for each participant.

The committee is also considering the feasibility of reorganizing so that each participant is paired with only ONE other person, alternating listening in one meeting and speaking in the next meeting.

Communications Committee:

1. Newsletter forthcoming

2. WMC Directory

Initially it will be distributed only to those who have agreed to have their contact information included in the directory.

With each WMC election in the spring, the committee will issue regular calls for people to include their information in the directory or update their current listing.

Eventually, the directory information submission form and the directory itself will be made available on a password-controlled page within the WMC web site.

Operations Committee:

1. Freddie and Jim are STAYING IN D.C. (yippee!)

2. The committee needs to get stuff back that was borrowed from the library for a long long time.

3. Committee is seeking money from the WMC budget to buy new books and tapes.

4. Thay's teachings are now being presented on CD format, instead of cassette tape. The committee has decided to buy the CDs and transfer them to cassette tape so we can continue to stop and start easily on Sunday evenings. The alternative was to buy a CD player and have to fast-forward to the correct starting point each Sunday evening.

5. The next bell training has been scheduled for August 18. See WMC Calendar, p. 4, for details.

Board of Trustees:

1. Passed creation of the WMC Directory to the Communications Committee.

2. Is exploring ways to help the residents of the Buddhist Vihara make physical improvements to the Vihara — special emphasis on making the basement area more welcoming for meetings and dharma discussions

3. Has begun collecting money to help fund Barbara Newell's extended stay in Plum Village. See notice, p. 3.

4. Financial report: Treasurer Joseph Byrne reports that the WMC sets money aside in several sub-accounts, plus a general fund.

  • General fund balance: approx. $4,000

  • Scholarship sub-account: approx. $1,500

  • Sub-account for contributions to the Vihara and other Buddhist residential communities in the U.S.: $3,000 per year

  • Sub-account for Plum Village web server: We have paid out $2,000 of $2,500 raised

  • Sub-account for Barbara Newell Plum Village fund: no balance yet (just started)

Practice Council: is involved in many of the things already discussed above. Nothing new to report.