January 25, 2013 minutes

Red Cedar Zen Community Practice Committee

Meeting Minutes – January 25, 2013 meeting

Present: Tim, Edie, Kate, Marti, Bob, John

Absent: Talus, Karen


  • follow up on dana (how to announce, signs, hand out, clarity through entire registration/retreat process etc)

Goals are to provide a clear message about the spirit and intent of dana and it's practical importance as a way of supporting our teachings. Bob and Tim will follow up with: reviewing website events and the registration system providing a clear and consistent message (especially to avoid people being surprised by this request once already at the retreat), a small sign to live by the dana boxes, and perhaps a handout/web page with further information. Bob and Tim will try to create a few succinct presentation, e.g. “5 Key Points about Dana Practice”.

We also explored the options of teachers receiving straight dana or a combination of a stipend and dana and either option was comfortable. Especially with the events that can only have smaller numbers, like the hiking retreats, adding a stipend from registration fees to insure some level of teacher support may be helpful. [March update: Bob prefers to do his upcoming longer hike as a straight dana enterprise].

  • reflect on recent changes at zendo: bowing on zabuton, consistent Weds night schedule

  • if we stick to consistent Weds night schedule when/how to add back: precepts ceremony, forms training

Forms changes like bowing onto the zabuton seem fine. Interesting how the “new normal” becomes normal so quickly.

All agreed that while the consistency and having Tim come forward more as a teacher have been beneficial it's time to look to adding back in: (A) the precepts ceremony, (B) periodic sangha conversations, (C) other sangha teachers.

Tentative plan for adding these factors into the Wednesday night schedule:

  1. Quarterly – perhaps on months with 5 Wednesdays – have on one Wednesday (1st of the month?) the precept ceremony, and on one Wednesay (5th of the month?) the sangha voices schedule.

  2. Talk Series with multiple teachers – a few times a year (Spring and Fall perhaps). Tim will initiate a series of talks which can include mulitple sangha teachers. Tim will give many of the talks (perhaps half of them) but other teachers will each take one or two. Ideally that teacher will then be available for a 6pm tea/conversation the next week to discuss their talk. This because we would like to keep our talk period brief in order to have the new standard schedule of two zazen, short service and this leaves only 30 minutes or so for talk and discussion.

  3. In order to maintain strong coherence and quality of presentation ther teachers giving talks would agree to: 
    a) Have at least a brief discussion/email with Tim as to their plan for their talk
    b) Request feedback after their talk
    c) Be careful to keep their talk brief because of the evenings schedule
    d) Include some study in their talk preparation so that we can gradually include topics of basic Buddhist teachings, Zen/koan literature, etc. woven into our talks.
    e) If possible be available for a 6pm discussion the next week at the zendo and/or be available for practice discussion if applicable

The first Sangha Talk Series will be on the Precepts starting in April. Schedule upcoming from Tim.

  • thinking to postpone sangha voices and keep PP schedule as planned next week

At the annual meeting time ran out before we could talk about a sangha ethics/clear communication policy (formerly known as “conflict resolution policy”), at that point a plan to meet on Weds. Jan 30th. Tim expressed reservations about interrupting the Practice Period schedule on reflection. This meeting was re-scheduled for March 6th. [Addendum: we weren't organized or ready for the March 6thmeeting time, new idea is to include the development of the sangha ethics & clear communication policy as part of our precepts studies]


  • how central to hold the central teacher & priest – keep with weekly dharma talks and mostly Tim on talks and dokusan but re-start a schedule of rotating other teachers in?

See discussion of Wednesday evening schedule above.

Additional note about dokusan & practice discussion: during the 3-day sesshin we discovered that it IS possible to have practice discussion in the library. Tim will initiate a signup sheet for teachers currently offering practice discussion. We can continue dokusan in the back room with announcements/cards and a jisha and start having practice discussion in the library by sign-up request. Those teachers can manage that themselves as it comes up.

  • Spring/Summer series of talks on the precepts

See discussion of Wednesday evening schedule above.

  • Tim July sabbatical (just one month)

Noted that Tim will not attend most zendo meetings in July as his (new) annual leave. He will be out of town July 7-20 in any case.


* reflect on how the last few retreats went – anything stick out for changes?

* any essential planning for the March retreat that requires the whole group of us

  • Norman book reading need a coordinator (set up room as end of retreat)

Folks at retreat will pitch in. [Note: full house, went very well, thank you to those who helped!]

* Attempt to schedule retreat rest of 2013 and into 2014
(planning ahead more so technology workgroup can post events to the website way ahead)

May - Buddha's Birthday retreat - scheduling issues ← skipping this year

August – intro retreat? ← probably not, can be revisted

Sept – hiking retreat? Longer? ← regular 3-day retreat will be August 15-18, Bob will also offer a longer retreat in September – see hiking events schedule below

Oct – study retreat ← to be held October 5-6, Tim will teach, considering bag lunch to reduce Tenzo responsibility

Dec – rohtatsu ← December 5 – 8, ends on the “official day” this year. Considering adding one more day so it would start on Wednesday. As part time is allowed this will not exclude anyone's participation. Tim and Jeff will confer and get back to the Practice Committe on this idea.

Jan/Feb – start PP a little later? Stick to 6 week or consider 8? ← current schedule seemed good to the committee. Start mid-January, end beginning of March. Tim does not know yet if he will invite a shuso for the 2014 Practice Period, and it was clarified that inviting the shuso is a teacher responsibility, not committee decision. People who are interested in being shuso are welcome to speak to Tim about it but please remember it's by invitation, not something one arranges for oneself.

  • Update that registrar rotation is in process

Karen McMains will continue through Samish. The hope is that Kevin Connor will then take over, perhaps shadowing Karen during Samish if he can go.

  • Happiness about Retreat Manager rotations - any fine tuning there? planning ahead for next retreats.

[Note: thank you to Bob Penny for being retreat manager at the opening and closing Practice Period retreats]

  • registrars and retreat managers upcoming

Talus will be Retreat Manager at Samish.

Looking for Retreat Managers for October study retreat, and Rohatsu. Possibly August one-day if we do that.


* senior students showing up in an organized way for important events like New Year's we don't all have to be there but if none of you are we can't do the event

Senior Students: please, please, let the Ino know if you can come to significant ceremonies and events that we aren't doing registration for so she can plan effectively.

  • Senior students all rotating onto the Board (and off again!) - there really isn't anyone else to do these highest responsibility jobs. One of the joys of “seniority”.

John Wiley volunteered to be the new Secretary – thank you John.

Still looking for a new Vice-President.

Jeff McKenna has been in the Present position a long time....just sayin'.


  • Bertha en route

Mexican Zen student Bertha Beverido will be joining us early February – mid-April.

[Note: and she's here and participating fully in Zen and Mindfulness Northwest events, look for her poems/performance at the March 23rd sangha arts night too, Bertha is a published poet]


  • Interest in longer retreat with SSZ

Tim will continue discussion with Jeff Kelley about options for a longer combined sesshin with Seattle Soto Zen.

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