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  • Sunday, December 05, 2021 6:04 PM | Anonymous

    November Sangha Conversation

    In November we shifted our monthly conversation away from the theoretical, and discussed a local effort Red Cedar is currently involved in – the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice (MNCJ). Julie Johnson, Outreach person for the MNCJ, and Red Cedar’s representative to the MNCJ Reizan Bob Penny presented the current activities of this recently formed group. A lively conversation was had exploring how our practice can inform MNCJ’s efforts of “spiritual activism” to protect this planet and all beings. 

    Members with access to Ananda, our online document repository, can read the full meeting notes there. To request access, please email tech@redcedarzen.org

    New Program Administrator Position Offered

    The RCZC Program Administrator (PA) will provide essential administrative support for the smooth running of Red Cedar events.  The Program Administrator will work closely with volunteer Registrars, Retreat Managers, and Inos, and will take direction from the Guiding Teacher.

    Red Cedar Zen Community is an equal opportunity employer.  We consider applicants for all positions, without regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, differential abilities, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.   

    Responsibilities will include:

    1. Adding events to the website on request, this includes setting up registration types, levels, and deadlines as needed for each event.

    2. Proofread submitted event descriptions and provide feedback about readability, inconsistencies or errors

    3. Verify through active testing that new events and registration options are working smoothly for registrants

    4. Manage ZOOM or facility availability, scheduling, and resolve scheduling conflicts

    5. Manage master program calendars online  and resolve scheduling conflicts

    6. Assure that online program offerings are consistent in language, format, and accuracy.  

    7. Use events system to produce flyers and other simple promotional materials

    8. Working with our bookkeeper to insure event registration payments are made and refunds processed, closing out invoices and resolving any payment issues in Wild Apricot.

    9. Assisting the Guiding Teacher and with other program and website related tasks on request.

    A successful candidate must:

    • Have strong technology skills and be comfortable learning new software systems  such as our event management system (Wild Apricot)

    • Have excellent organizational, communication, and writing skills

    • Have proficiency with Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc)

    • Have basic web design skills including some knowledge of html and css

    • Be able to work independently and also discern when to ask for guidance, input, or help.

    Desirable additional skills and knowledge:

    • Familiarity with Red Cedar Zen programs and Board and Sangha policies

    • Prior experience with event management.

    Work Schedule and Salary Details: 

    Hours: Maximum of 22 hours/month (need will vary from week to week) and may be  flexed as needed within a two week period.    There is no assurance at this time that this position will be expanded 

    Pay rate:   $25 / hour

    This is a non-benefited position. 

    How to apply:   

    Please email your cover letter and resume to tim@redcedarzen.org

    Responding Gate

    Words From Our Guiding Teacher

    “…After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little…” 

    - Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

    Dear Sangha, 

    Several sangha members have told me they really appreciated a recent talk I gave based on an essay by Norman Fischer called Stages of Monastic Life and this got me thinking about what we're trying to do here at Red Cedar and with Zen practice in this midst of our busy modern lives.

    There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing....

    There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing. 

    And practice in sangha pulls us together with others. With community. With others who are also seeking something. In some ways they are like-minded others, but we're also an eclectic crew aren't we? Isn't there a movie or TV show that opens with the narrator talking about the protagonists as a "rag-tag band of adventurers"? We humans do have a deep need to connect with others! Wonderful, inspiring, and, yes, at times a bit challenging. But there's something to a life of practice that doesn't make sense in a way you can put your finger on, too. And being in the middle of it all, it's hard to feel into what this is. But there's something else about a life of practice, something that's deep in the core of our being, something vital, something deeply essential in a human life, that we're nurturing and living into through our practice. 

    Take a moment now to pause if you would. Feel into your gut. Into your heart. Breathe gently but deeply. What do you feel? What do you notice? Of course we have all of these Zen stories and Buddhist texts that talk about awakening, enlightenment, realization. Being stories they are often dramatic. And sometimes people do experience big shifts and changes that seem to arise from practice. But actually I think the vast majority of us don't have dramatic spiritual experiences. For most of us it's more like Suzuki Roshi's famous metaphor of walking through the fog.

    "After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know when you get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little.

    If your mind has ideas of progress, you may say, “Oh, this pace is terrible!” But actually it is not. When you get wet in a fog it is very difficult to dry yourself. So there is no need to worry about progress." 

    - Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

    And as the practice gradually seeps in to our bones, we don't stop being ourselves. In some ways we settle more fully into ourselves - Suzuki Roshi also said, "When you are you, Zen is Zen." I'll always be some version of me and you'll always be some version of you. And we'll always be human with our joys and confusions. 

    Lately I've actually been agitated and lost in my own confusion more than usual! But when one of those waves of consternation drops me on the beach again and recedes, I think the difference that practice makes is it's more natural to get up again. To stand and breathe and appreciate the return of clarity and ease. And little by little I have more confidence that everything works out just as it is. In these busy times for many of us in sangha life - fundraising, sorting out temporary zendos, adjusting and changing as we go - and not to mention the confusing and rapidly changing times we're all living in - I want to keep encouraging myself, and all of us, to keep turning back towards this subtle core of our life. A life of practice. 

    Thank you for supporting my life of practice. I know I'm far from perfect but I'll keep doing my best to support your life of practice, too. We support each other. We do this each in our own way and we do this together. 

  • Friday, November 05, 2021 12:40 AM | Anonymous


    November Sangha Conversation - Our next Sangha Conversation will be Wednesday, November 24th (meditation at 7pm, meeting at 8pm). Our guest speaker will be Julie Johnson from The Multi-faith Network for Climate Justice (MNCJ), along with Bob Penny, Red Cedar’s representative to the MNCJ. This meeting marks moving our ongoing discussions from the visioning towards the applied, and is in response to the sangha’s stated interests in exploring ways to be involved with multi-cultural, multi-faith, justice, environmental, and community work – all concerns of the MNCJ.

    The meeting will serve:
    •             To provide a brief update about MNCJ activities in the last year.
    •             To discuss and offer different ways a community may participate, for example, hosting the Net of Interconnection, participate in the Green Resource Fair planned for Earth Day 2022, and other ways to be involved.
    •             To learn more about any social/environmental activities in your community, and get some feedback about MNCJ's direction.

    We welcome your participation in these monthly Sangha Conversations to help shape our collective direction as we move towards our new home.

    Board of Directors Pledges 15% of Our Journey Home Goal

    In our practice, we are reminded that paying attention and following what others are doing in the zendo encourages embodying the spirit and teachings of our Buddhist ancestors.   We also learn that the first perfection is generosity or dana -- recognizing that giver, receiver and gift are one; not 3 separate entities but a seamless joining together in a virtuous circle.  Our gift supports the sangha, the sangha supports us, and we live together fully in the Buddha way.  

    When we began our campaign last month, the Red Cedar Zen Community board of directors (Bob Rose, Mary Durbrow, Hannah Sullivan, John Wiley, Valerie Davenport, Terrill Thompson, and Nomon Tim Burnett) vowed to set an example -- to model dana for our good friends in the sangha. By “stretching” a bit out of our comfort zone we set out to exemplify the depth of our personal commitment to finding a new home.

    I am pleased to let you know that your 7 board members have collectively pledged $86,000 toward our goal of $550,000.  Even more impressive is that most of those funds will be available in the next few months for the 40% down payment required by our bank (WECU).

    Your generous individual support has been the key to already nearly reaching our initial goal.  No gift is too large, no gift is too small.  Each will be recognized equally (or remain anonymous if you choose).  We all have good reason to celebrate ---getting so far, so soon,  by appealing only to our sangha membership.  Now it’s time to reach out together to friends and family to help surpass that goal.  That will allow more flexibility in our property search, make additional funds available to build or remodel, and/or have a lower mortgage burden for future sangha members. 

    Your Board of Directors is committed to finding the best possible location and situation for our Red Cedar Zen Community.  Your deep and firm support make that possible.  Please join us is meeting (and exceeding) our goal to find and finance our new home. 

    Three Bows in Ten Directions for helping to create a Dharma legacy in Bellingham.

    Joden Bob Rose, Board President

  • Friday, October 08, 2021 1:08 PM | Anonymous


    Sangha Conversation - Sixteen sangha members attended our most recent Sangha Conversation on Wednesday, September 29. This open dialogue centered on a substantive discussion of the qualities and locations of the sort of place we are seeking for our new home.

    Meeting notes are available on Ananda. If you need access to Ananda, you can request it here.

    Here are some slides presented at the meeting, which summarize themes about these qualities which emerged from the visioning exercise, as well as the primary location criteria the SCORE committee have collected.

  • Thursday, September 02, 2021 10:44 AM | Anonymous


    Upcoming Sangha ConversationAll current members are encouraged and warmly invited to participate in the next Sangha Conversation on Wednesday, September 29th. We follow last month’s very successful community dialogue with the next session in our renewed monthly engagement of sangha voices. This month will we gain valuable information, and be able to offer feedback, about the launch of our fundraising campaign in mid-September. In addition, to help our search committee in its process, we will explore as a community the question of “location”, and the perspectives that we imagine or hold towards various neighborhoods and sectors throughout the city, as potential places to find our new home.

    August Sangha Conversation Recap - Our Sangha Conversation on August 25th was attended by 23 members. Reports were made by the Campaign, Search, and Communications Committees.  Board President Joden Bob Rose facilitated several breakout sessions where members engaged in a variety of discussions.  It was an information rich evening, as there was much to share in preparation for the launch of our fund-raising campaign.  Notes from the meeting can be found on Ananda, and here are screen captures of some slides presented:

    Sitting at Shambala SuspendedThrough community discussion at the last Sangha Conversation it became evident that the sangha has too much current trepidation and concern to go ahead with in-person practice at this time.  The plans for in-person practice at the Shambala center have therefore been suspended for the moment, as we continue to monitor the Covid situation. Concern was also voiced that the Shambala center is not ADA accessible, and would therefore perhaps not be an ideal location for long. And yet, it was recognized that the center has the necessary cushions and gear to make a drop-in situation very workable.

    Multi Faith Network for Climate Justice (MCNJ) EventRed Cedar Zen Community has been active in the past with the Multi Faith Network for Climate Justice (MCNJ). Reverend Dr. Andrea Asebado of MCNJ member organization The Center for Spiritual Living will host Greening With Integrity, September 24th, 6:30-8pm. Rev. Dr. Asebado will talk about her spiritual community’s successful effort to green their carbon footprint. The presentation is part of Bellingham’s “ALL IN - Climate Action Week” events. Asebado will be joined by Emily Larson-Kubiak, Energy Efficiency and Renewables Program Manager at Sustainable Connections, and Mark Schofield, Community Energy Challenge Manager for the Opportunity Council.  Nomon Tim Burnett has been invited to give the closing practice. This is a live in-person, and live streaming, event. For more information visit the City of Bellingham's event page.

    Words From Our Guiding Teacher

    Dear Sangha,

    I'm noticing that I’m "cycling" a bit lately. Getting a bit revved up, getting a bit over involved with things, and then settling back down again: re-opening to trust and acceptance that everything works out. Finding again my breath in my hara. The feeling of the earth beneath my feet.

    It's a "big" time for us as a sangha: preparing to do our first ever big capital campaign, a committee starting to look at properties to purchase, numbers like $1 million dollars and more being bandied about. Seeing visions of us in this place or that place setting up a zendo and opening our doors wide to the community. And all of this happening against the confusing background of another round with Covid. 

    And it's also just another day, another moment, another breath. Everything just as it is. There is so much to do and there's also nothing to do. I visited a center here in Sonoma County, California, and had an interview with the Zen teacher there who reminded me to rest deeply in zazen practice and the tradition. That zazen dissolves the ego and shows us our true face. 

    In terms of fundraising, here's a nice bit of Zen historical contextincluding this wonderful quote from Dogen himself:

    “It might be possible to build the hall with a donation from one patron, but I would like to encourage many people in the ten directions to make a donation in order to allow a wider range of people to form a good affinity with the Buddha Dharma.”

    Keep sitting!

    Nomon Tim

    An Invitation to September Sangha Conversation

    Dear Red Cedar Zen Community members,

    Our next All-Sangha conversation will take place at 8 PM, Wednesday, September 29, following regular services.  We will focus on two critical aspects of “Our Journey Home: the Capital Campaign”; a funding raising update, and where we establish that sanctuary.

    We will open with a status report on the capital campaign, which will be transmitting its first mailing the previous week.  This will be your opportunity to ask questions, offer additional ideas, and to benefit from other sangha members’ thoughts on engaging our colleagues, friends, family, and other supporters in this legacy-building effort.

    We’ve heard repeatedly of the desire to be an open and engaging community that offers the opportunity for Zen practice to all.  We’ve also heard of the desire for a facility open to other students of the Buddha’s teachings, as well as to the creative and healing arts, which would be in keeping with the long tradition of a multi-purpose Dharma Hall in Bellingham.  A key question for the board-designated Search Committee on Real Estate (SCORE) is where these community offerings could best be located.

    The campaign goal of $550,000 was set to raise adequate funds for the down payment on a $1 million property, as well as pay for initial modifications.  As a community non-profit, our bank (WECU) tells us we must come up with a 40% down payment.  Our calculations show that the remaining mortgage could be funded by about the same amount we previously paid in rent at Forest Street.

    Where would we prefer our new sanctuary be located; near the city center, in a neighborhood, or on the outskirts of town/in the county???  Each choice has financial and access implications.  Some choices may be precluded, depending on budget and available property.  The search committee would benefit greatly from having a better sense of what sangha members envision.  Meeting that vision will depend, in large part, on the success of our campaign.

    Sangha leaders need to hear your voices as we set out on Our Journey Home.  Please join us for next month’s Sangha Conversation.

    With deepest gratitude for your practice and generosity-

    Joden Bob Rose, President

    Red Cedar Zen Community Board of Directors

  • Sunday, August 01, 2021 12:00 PM | Mari Ritalahti (Administrator)

    The Search for a New Home Begins

    Joden Bob Rose, Board President 

    Fellow Sangha Members,

    Your Board of Directors recently appointed a small group to work on your behalf to find our new “permanent” home in this impermanent and rapidly changing world.  As we are all aware, the Bellingham real estate market is vibrant and dynamic. The Search Committee on Real Estate (SCORE) is purposefully small to respond rapidly and decisively if the right opportunity arises. 

    The committee’s members are: Guiding teacher Nomon Tim Burnett, Board President Joden Bob Rose, Vice President Mary Durbrow, and Bellingham commercial real estate broker Richard Eggemeyer (semi-retired).  In addition, sangha members Bob Penny and Chris Burkhart will provide essential technical assistance and guidance.  

    We have formulated a set of criteria (below) to guide our investigation of available real estate within the Bellingham city limits.  We are only a limited set of eyes and ears, so we would welcome your suggestions of suitable properties if they fit some or most of these criteria.  Please contact one of the SCORE members if you identify a suitable candidate property. 

    Finding the right site, addressing the inevitable remodeling/renovation issues such as permitting, design, finding contractors, and completing a complex work order in a timely fashion, will all take more time than we would like.  We will all have to translate the patience and equanimity we find on the cushion to this process.  But we will, at the appropriate time, step across the threshold, into a Zendo and Dharma Hall we can truly call our own.

    Your Board looks forward to your active participation in the upcoming RCZC campaign to build our new sangha home.  It will be the perfect time for simultaneously practicing patience and generosity as we build our legacy in Bellingham and Northwest Washington.

    Please contact one of the SCORE members if you have any questions or ideas as we begin this process.



    • 3,000 sq ft minimum on a single level with room for dedicated zendo

    • Existing building rather than bare ground

    • Reasonable visibility and accessibility by bus & bike

    • Adequate parking /space available to meet city code)

    • As close to city core as financially feasible

    • Minimum cost and time to renovate (unless price discount compensates for added costs)

    • Upgrade interior walls and façade 

    • ADA accessible 


    • Zoning allows Churches outright (or minimal time/hassle for variance or conditional use)

    • Close to or adjacent to park/green space/urban trails

    • Near neighborhood services such as coffee shop/grocery

    • Easily modified and/or flexible spaces

    • Space to share as rental to other groups to increase cash flow

    • Limited external noise (traffic, freeway, mfg.)

    Estimated cost for building ready for move in: +/- $ 1,000,000 - $1,200,000

    Sangha Conversation 

    To discuss our current status of fund raising and property acquisition

    All current members are encouraged to attend the August Sangha Conversation during our regular Wednesday evening practice on August 25th 7pm.  Board President and 2021 Shuso Joden Bob Rose will host the conversation.  Joden Bob will introduce the current status of our fund raising efforts, and other currently unfolding developments in our effort to find a suitable property. Ample time will be given for Q & A.  We look forward to hearing voices from the sangha contribute your input and ideas to the current efforts.

    Sangha Conversations are our whole-community time to discuss important topics of business and our practice amongst the entire sangha.  At the end of June we held our first sangha conversation in quite a while, and it served as a nice ice breaker to re-engaging our community dialogue. In July, because Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim was not present, we did not hold a conversation. In the past we have had these conversations only about every three months, with a shifting emphasis upon whatever topic seemed current.  But presently we will be conducting these sangha conversations going forward on a monthly basis, the last Wednesday of the month, at least for this period of time we are engaged in the process of finding a new physical home.  We feel it is important at this time to keep the membership up to date, and gain critical input from members, as we enter a very active phase of planning and fundraising.

    We encourage everyone to attend. If you are not able to attend then information from the sangha conversation will be included in next month’s newsletter.

    Nomon Tim is moving back to Bellingham 

    Over the course of August, Red Cedar’s Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burnett with his partner Raizelah Bayen will be getting situated permanently back in Bellingham.  Nomon has been living in California for the last year, participating with our activities, as we all have been, on Zoom.  July has been his accustomed annual sabbatical month to get the batteries recharged for another year of guiding the Sangha.  In August Nomon will resume regular attendance at weekly zazen and will again be giving regular dharma talks and conducting dokusan via Zoom.

    Wilderness Dharma Program News 

    Summer is time for hiking and enjoying the outdoors, and is when our Wilderness Dharma Program gets out on the trails. On July 10th Reizan Bob Penny led a very successful Opening the Mountains day hike to Skyline Divide. About half a dozen Red Cedar pilgrims performed our Dividing Water Ceremony on the ridge, in full view of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and the North Cascades.  The Salish Sea water we gathered at our Receiving Water Ceremony, conducted in May at Larrabee Beach, was divided into three vials, to be exchanged later in the hiking season with mountain water at each of the three branches of the Nooksack River. To complete our annual water cycle ceremonies the mountain water will be recombined and then returned to the Salish Sea at Larrabee Beach at our Closing the Mountains hike in October.

    In late June Terrill Thompson led a very peaceful and quite mindfulness walk for over half a dozen sangha members around the Stimpson Family Forest Reserve, a wonderful land holding near Lake Whatcom managed by the Whatcom Land Trust and Whatcom County Parks.  We were graced by the silent presence of great old growth trees, and the passing flight of a barred owl during the easy five mile walk.

    Upcoming Mountains and Rivers Backpacking Retreat September 7-9 (tentative) 

    We believe our annual pilgrimage to Mt. Baker will happen despite the pandemic. All participants must be fully vaccinated. Final decision will be made closer to the time.

    This trip to the high upper flanks of Mt. Baker involves many wilderness based ceremonies, including a grand “sutra mapping” of Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra across the landscape of the upper Middle and South Fork watersheds of the Nooksack River. The trip this year is being organized informally, through direct communication with Nomon Tim Burnett, who is leading the backpack, as long-time Wilderness Dharma Program Coordinator Reizan Bob Penny is currently unable to participate.  To view a past (somewhat outdated) trip description for reference please click here 

    Contact Nomon Tim directly you may email him at tim@redcedarzen.org if you are interested in joining.  You must have some backpacking experience. There are only a very few spaces still available for this trip.


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