Sunday, January 25, 2009

Appreciative Inquiry at Ordinary Mind

This morning we discussed the third phase of the appreciative inquiry process for our sangha: Design. In mapping out the design foundation for the sangha at this point in its development, I drew on the discussions we have had during the first two phases, Discover and Dream, and the way the sangha seems to be evolving. Flint and I discussed the major themes as well, and I developed a mind map. We recorded this morning's discussion, and I've linked to the recordings and the map at the Ordinary Mind wiki here: This is an ongoing process of inquiry and reflection, not a settled view. We hope you will help create the sangha that will best support your practice as your life. Please leave any comments about this process you wish either here or on the Topics wiki page.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playing for Change

Here is as excellent a description of sangha as anyone might wish:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reflections on the way

We are discovering how the Buddha’s teachings most naturally express themselves in this time and place, together. Each culture and time has found its own way of turning the wheel of dharma, sharing the Buddha’s timeless teachings, and fostering the practices that reflect the awakened life. In this country we have been extremely fortunate to have the contributions of so many different cultural expressions of Buddhism to initiate this process and to establish the teachings here. There is the direct and penetrating practice of Zen, the richness and subtlety of Tibetan Buddhism, the profound mindfulness and concentration practices of the Theravadan tradition, and the dazzling accomplishment of fresh translations of many important texts in all of these traditions. Contemporary scientists, psychologists, scholars, and teachers have also contributed to and benefited from these ancient traditions and practices. A burgeoning spiritual marketplace offers videos, exotic tours, retreats, workshops, online communities, magazines, recordings of talks, monasteries, academic programs, and practice centers. The wealth of opportunities to study and to learn can sometimes be overwhelming.

Our practice here is simple. We focus on sitting meditation and shared inquiry into this very life we are living, these very minds and bodies with which we are living them, and the relationships we are engaged in right now. We teach and learn primarily from a Zen perspective because that is how we (Flint and I) have been formally trained, both in the San Francisco Zen Center lineage, where we were ordained, and the Joko Beck model, with which we are affiliated. We are also influenced by the Buddhist scholars Mu Soeng and Peter Hershock, by contemporary work in interpersonal neurobiology and psychotherapy, by contemporary teachers such as Adyashanti and Pema Chödron, and of course by the rich sources of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali Canon and our Zen ancestors and teachers.

As we explore together how the Buddha’s teachings and practices can find their best expression for our contemporary lives, we invite and encourage you to connect, share, and inquire deeply with each other and with us. Our sangha and our particular way of working together may not resemble the particular forms or rituals or ways familiar from the Buddhist traditions of other cultures as we find this path that belongs uniquely to each of us and to our community of practice. I have confidence that our deep roots in traditional training and study, our ongoing teaching and learning, our connection with respected teachers, and most of all, our encounters with each of you and with our contemporary everyday lives will guide and ground this work. We also have complete confidence in you and in this process. Great liberation is freely available for every single one of you reading these words. Our aspiration is to support you in realizing it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Joko with Lily

Joko with Lily
Originally uploaded by Peg Syverson.

Does a dog have Buddha nature? Yes or mu, Joko reminds Lily of the house rule: the nose must stay below the table! We enjoyed our visit with Joko. At 91, she still keeps a full schedule of daisan with students, both in person and on the phone, heading the Prescott Zen Center, regular sesshins, and the Sunday morning dharma talks. She works seven days a week, and enjoys it immensely. Her playful, mischievous sense of humor and laser sharp wisdom and insight were as lively as ever. We were honored that she invited Flint and I to do the Sunday morning dharma talk, and we were delighted by the warm response from her sangha. Brenda, Joko's daughter, was filming, and we hope to get a copy of the DVD to share with the sangha here. For more images, check the Ordinary Mind gallery by clicking the image or one of the images to the left.

Mystery Orchid

Originally uploaded by Peg Syverson.

An enormous, beautiful orchid plant appeared in the kitchen with no card or note. It is quite gorgeous, and I appreciate this generous gift! Thank you for your thoughtfulness.