From the President
by Carole Maurer
Carole in Stanley, Idaho
"Totality was wondrous and awesome – in every sense of the word"
The total solar eclipse on August 21 was an extremely important event for me. Not only did It occur on my 75th birthday, but it was profound, as I witnessed and truly experienced the vastness of the universe and the changing nature of all things – including our sun that we rely on for light and warmth. Totality was wondrous and awesome – in every sense of the word. The sky darkened; the temperature dropped (had to put on a down vest like it was evening); I witnessed the magnificent glow around the darkened sun; everyone in the campground cheered when totality occurred; and I felt unexplained tears falling down my cheeks. Perhaps it was a realization of my minuteness, or maybe nothingness, that I was sensing, or maybe even my own wholeness and completeness as I contemplated my being (or self) as part of the larger world.
Interestingly, I read where Zen teacher Norman Fischer says that the Chinese used the character for “sky” to translate the Buddha’s teaching on emptiness. He writes “All dharmas are empty like the sky – blue, beautiful, expansive.” The poem by Mary Oliver which you'll find at the end of this column came to mind as I was reflecting on the meaning of the eclipse for me.
I’m so grateful to be able to receive the Buddha’s teachings through the programs and retreats White Heron Sangha offers and to sit with my community at our new meditation center. I believe my eclipse experience was enhanced because of my understanding of the dharma and my connection with our members and the years of practice together.
White Heron Sangha’s move to Avila Village has enabled us to expand our classes and meditation sittings and hold retreats in our beautiful space. The Donald Rothberg retreat at the end of July was extremely well-attended and well-received. Because of the feedback we received from a post-retreat survey, we will also hold our next retreat with Kamala Masters at Avila Village on October 14-15. Please see Retreat Committee News for more information about the recent retreats and the White Heron Sangha-sponsored retreats for 2018.
"Check out classes and retreats on our website"
Be sure to check out the new classes we’re offering soon, presented by our own members: a 6-week class The Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma - An Introduction to Buddhism, beginning October 12, taught by James Coleman, a 6-week class on Approaching Death through the Dharma, beginning October 23, facilitated by Susan Quinones, and a 10-session class An Introduction to Somatic Meditation, beginning January 8, taught by Alice Reinheimer.
Exploring our website events at www.whiteheronsangha.org is the best way to see what’s happening at our meditation center. Please take advantage of all we’re beginning to offer in addition to our regular Sunday evening meditation sitting and program. I’m sure something will fit into your schedule, and we’re open to suggestions for new programs. Since this is a new space for us, we’re still working on improving it technically and aesthetically. Come check it out, if you haven’t already done so (map and photos). I’m sure you’ll find it as comforting and meditative as I do.
"You’ve got to support the things you love!"
Fall Fund Drive time for many nonprofit organizations is upon us, and now that we have our own meditation center, White Heron Sangha is no exception. Our expenses in past years have averaged just under $1000/month. Because expenses were fairly low, we were able to build a cushion that allowed us to realize our dream of renting our own place. Fortunately, we have a 2-year renewable lease with Avila Village and enough saved that enabled us to begin this experiment.
Our expenses now have more than tripled and, as yet, our donations and fees aren’t covering the additional costs. A few members have increased their personal donations, with several contributing fairly large amounts on an annual or monthly basis. In addition, some members have chosen to contribute to the purchase of large items for the opening of our meditation center. And some of these same people and others have given generously of their time and effort to make sure our center is clean and beautiful and ready for each event. We offer our thanks to those who have helped us open our center and allow us to begin to expand what we offer.
We’re hoping that all of our members will realize the importance of White Heron Sangha in their lives. I heard a testimonial from a member of another nonprofit who said, “You’ve got to support the things you love.” I love our sangha and I hope you do, too. Perhaps some of you can find a way to contribute a bit more to your sangha, financially and/or through your volunteer efforts, so that we can count on participant support for the coming years. Our Donate webpage supplies the details for donating online or by mail and you can find more about volunteering here. Our sangha thanks you in advance for your generosity.
Poem Of The One World
- Mary Oliver