The Care Taking Council (CTC) of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha adopted a statement on behavioral and mental health difficulties in sanghas. It was initially posted here in August 2016 but wasn’t easily discoverable. Therefore, we are reposting that document in hopes that it will better serve the community.
This article came across my email recently and I think it deserves a deeper dive. Although in our tradition we don’t have student-teacher relationships like what you might see in other traditions. Nonetheless, we definitely do mentoring and a dharma teacher is always involved for new aspirants. Even as we progress on the path, we may have a spiritual friend that we turn toward for guidance and support.
I have been under a guidance of a Zen teacher for over 10 years. However, when I began to experience challenges in the process of meditation, I was misguided or misunderstood. In the end I felt more confused and discouraged. Please respond to this letter if you can, because your advice could help to shed a light on some aspects I cannot see.
The question is posed by a student to Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel who has studied and practiced the Buddhadharma for 35 years under the guidance of her teacher and husband Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.
Dharma Teacher Lyn Fine poses a few follow up questions to consider. What resonates with your experience and thinking? What’s missing that you might want to add? What’s relevant/less relevant to the Plum Village form of practice?
Feel free to respond below in the comments or respond to the OI email list (where this is also posted). And perhaps this could lead to a webinar or a sharing group on these topics.
Several months ago, four young friends living in three different countries embarked on a journey together to replant a deforested rainforest in the south of Mexico. The “Forest of Interbeing” project includes the purchasing of 9 hectres of land, roughly 900 acres, in Los Tuxtlas region, in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Formerly home to several varieties of trees, shrubs, and endangered wildlife. Now only 20% of this bio-diverse land remains, deforested for the production of meat through cattle grazing. What we have discovered in the process of creating this project is that replanting forests takes a whole community.
Our teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, talks of the Four Nutriments. The Four elements needed for life. These are Edible Food, Sense Impressions, Volition, and Consciousness. Community is also a kind of food. Community brings together many beings across genders, ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, sexual orientations, race, abilities, socio-economic status, and languages, to find where we meet. At the center of these differences is actually a common need for connection, love, and understanding. Continue reading “Replanting A “Forest of Interbeing”: Spiritual Community As Food”
This document was prepared by the Harmony Committee of the Plum Village North American Dharma Teachers Sangha over three years beginning in 2010. The committee included both lay and monastic Dharma Teachers. The document provides resources for using conflicts for learning and practice opportunities in processes of conflict resolution.
Everything is seen as an opportunity for practice. This includes conflict.
The Dharma Teachers Sangha (DTS) views conflict as a disturbance in the balance and harmony of the Sangha and the goal always is to restore the harmony and balance while applying our insight and compassion. The goal is NOT to establish “guilt and innocence,” or in any other way get caught in the adversarial punitive approaches to conflict that prevail in our greater society. One reason we have entered into this practice is to “go beyond” such views and behavior.
Where persons are unable to meet and resolve a conflict themselves, for whatever reason, there is often a feeling of helplessness, of “what else can I do?” or “what can I do differently?” There are many answers to such questions. What is offered here is one process for moving ahead from the stuck place.
Practicing still ripening…in the Circle Garden; in the small meditation hall of Solidity Hamlet; outside the Solidity dining hall, under the Pepper tree; outside the Clarity dining hall.
In July 2010, when I formally declared my aspirancy, one of the intentions that I set was to practice regularly with the Still Ripening Sangha at Deer Park Monastery. Making this commitment to myself, the path, and the SRS community was to be an immensely important part of my preparation for ordination.
Each third Sunday of the month, I would make the early morning, two hour drive from my home in Northeastern Los Angeles. What at first I perceived to be a necessary sacrifice in order to spend the day at Deer Park soon became just another wonderful part of my day. Driving in the early morning darkness, watching the sunrise while heading east, spending the time with my breathing and the few other souls on the highway, I was able to ease myself into the day. Continue reading “Still Ripening Sangha”