Practice Committee minutes Aug 9, 2010

Practice Committee meeting 8/9/2010
Members PresentTim, Talus, Edie, Nancy, John W. 
Guest Present: Chris B.
Absent: Bob P. (who was ill), Lee N. (who lives in Seattle)

·         Brief check-in and reflection on vibe at the Hall – how are things going in the sangha? 
DISCUSSION:  Tim noted that comparing notes on vibe and feeling in the sangha is probably the most important role for this group of senior students. Concensus that things are going fine. Talus mentioned slight drop off in energy over 6-months ago. Nancy mentioned a few people coming to her with concerns about forms/leadership/decision-making and requested feedback for best way to offer support. Noted by several that there really have been very few forms changes but also that some change is just part of the reality of what we’re doing and can be embraced. Edie noted that working through resistance to Zen forms has been an important and helpful part of her own practice life.

DECISIONS: Carry on pretty much as we have been.  Practice leaders to look to support people in how to practice with whatever reactions and resistances they may be having – that this is part of the practice too even if not always so comfortable.  And to encourage people with issues that feel personal to speak directly to the person with whom they feel out of phase with.

·         Possible forms refinements

o   Jisha / jiko – stays in center of ceremonial space
DISCUSSION: seen by Tim in Japan and also previously at SF Zen Center. The doshi’s assistant stands or sits behind and to the right of the doshi during service instead of going back to his/her seat after helping with incense. Keeps them in place for additional incense offerings or the exit. Keeps them in support of doshi in the central ceremonial space. 
DECISION: If Mountain Rain also wants to switch this form, we will.

o   Sitting down for morning service
DISCUSSION: Morning service is traditionally done by sitting down for the chanting as it is longer, as our morning service get a bit longer we may be ready for the slight complication of getting up and down. People may be more comfortable also. Tim noted in Japan when the bell signaling “sit down” is during morning service.
DECISION: If Mountain Rain also wants to switch this form, we will.

o   Chant Heart Sutra in Japanese in Morning B service.
DISCUSSION: Norman suggested this a while ago. The Heart Sutra in Sino-Japanese is standardized across the Zen world so it’s a nice one to know. Mountain Rain has already started doing this.
Requests to chant the Genjo Koan and the Song of the Jewelled Mirror Samadhi were also noted.
DECISION: On next doan books update Tim will add the Heart Sutra in Japanese. And will also order an additional page that we can paste into our sutra books for this sutra.

o   When should non-priests start turn towards altar and put hands in gassho before prostrations?
DISCUSSION: Previously we’d decided that the whole time priests are spreading the zagu (bowing cloth), lay students should be turned towards the altar with hands in gassho. 
DECISION: Exact point of making this turn clarified as: when the doshi makes a gassho bow immeditately before taking out the zagu. People closest to the doshi will see this and turn towards the altar with hands up in gassho, others will follow.

·         Programs (just big picture, details later in smaller groups!)

o   Add more one-day sesshin
DISCUSSION: Important to offer this opportunity to sit for one day especially for folks newer to sesshin who may be intimidated by signing up for a 3 to 7 day retreat.  However, we don’t want to be spread too thin.
Much discussion also over how to do the meals – oryoki is both a powerful and important ritual and part of what we have to offer but also adds another 40 min of sitting at each meal and requires special preparation. Tim noted that some standard oryoki menus have been written up to good effect. Nancy and Edie noted that it’s still a pretty intense volunteer job to cook for sesshin. Chris noted that in some ways it simplifies things for the cooks by providing a specified format for the menu. Also noted that by having the dinner meal be “fend for yourself” and a longer break gives people a chance to get out and move. 
DECISIONS: Add two one-day sesshin to the annual calendar: 1st Sat. of May and 1st Sat. of August.  These added to existing sesshin for rohatsu (1st Sat. of December, but longer this year, see below) and practice period (1st Sat. of Feb.):.

o   Intro to Zen classes 2010-2011
DISCUSSION: Previous decision to have 3 of these 9am-1pm Intro to Zen classes per year taught mostly by our lay teachers still makes sense. Good length for the class. Advance sign ups are usually sparse but we usually end up with 8-12 people per class anyway. Worth doing.
DECISION: Class scheduling clarified as: (1) 3rd Sat. of January,  (2) 3rd Sat. of April, (3) 3rd Sat. of October.   Upcoming classes on the calendar as Oct 16, 2010 (taught by John W),  Jan 15, 2011 (teacher TBD, invite Lee N. and/or Bob P. to consider), April 16, 2011 (taught by Nancy).  All Intro to Zen teachers should consider joining another person’s class as traning and cross-fertilization.

o   3-day sesshin with Seattle Soto Zen
DISCUSSION: Tim has been in conversation with Jeff Kelley, priest at Seattle Soto Zen, for a while about a combined rohatsu (Buddha’s Enlightenment) sesshin.  Current concensus with Jeff is: start Thurs eve. Dec 2, all day Dec 3 & Dec 4, optional all night sit night of Sat. Dec 4th, end after rohatsu ceremony and breakfast on Sun Dec 6th
How to do meals not decided – either all 3 meals oryoki or maybe with a dinner break. Tim will discuss further with Jeff.
DECISION: Agreed to go ahead, Tim empowered to finalize arrangements with Jeff and will consult with Red Cedar volunteers as needed about jobs and meals.

o   More public facing programs like public talks or a regular weekend program w/ muffins or lunch?
DISCUSSION: Tim just bringing up that many Zen groups have regular weekend programs more publicly oriented – typically zazen instruction, zazen, dharma talk, a meal or snack. And that these are usually pretty popular. Tim also noted that he is not hosting the Buddhism in Bellingham lecture series and to his knowledge no other volunteer has come forward.
DECISION: Not much time to discuss. No immediate plans to start something like this.

·         Sangha Work Days
DISCUSSION: Chris B. suggested this for deep cleaning. Tim noted that there are various repair projects as well.  Talus in agreement that there is enough to do to merit a work day.
DECISION: Tim and Talus will confer about a good time to schedule a sangha work day, perhaps setting a pattern to have an annual work day, or work weekend, to catch up on building repair, cleaning and maintenance projects.

Events already scheduled:

Sept 16-19 Hiking Retreat

Oct 1 – sangha meeting with Norman?

Oct 2/3 Study Retreat

Nov 6-13 Loon Lake sesshin with Norman

Dec 2 – 5 (Thurs eve. – Sun morning): Rohatsu with Seattle Soto Zen

Jan 20 – Open Practice Period (enter Edie as shuso)

Jan 22/23 – Vancouver retreat with Norman

Feb 5 – One Day Sesshin (for practice period), Dharma Hall

Mar 3-6 – Dharma Hall 3 day sesshin with Norman

May 21-22 – Vancouver retreat with Norman

June 17-25 Samish Island Sesshin with Norman

Added at this meeting:
Oct 16 – Intro to Zen

Jan 15 – Intro to Zen

April 16 – Intro to Zen

May 7 – One Day Sesshin, Dharma Hall

August 6 – One Day Sesshin, Dharma Hall

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