Sangha News – September 2013

In This Issue

This issue celebrates the completion of our new Retreat Center dormitory and Catskills renovations. We also share the results of the naming process for our three Retreat Center dormitories, as well as photos of our ceremony to dedicate and bless the construction and renovation work. There’s news about the latest publications from IMS co-founders Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein.

IMS News

Our Accommodations Vision Is Achieved!

Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands,

or your own genuine solitude?
Freedom, or power over an entire nation?

A little while alone in your room
will prove more valuable than anything else
that could ever be given you.

~ Rumi

From Linda Spink, IMS Executive Director: This poem was shared by Joseph Goldstein at IMS’s recent blessing ceremony. (You can find more details about this event below.) Rumi’s words eloquently express to me the aspiration guiding our ‘Single Rooms for All’ endeavor: to provide greater accommodation privacy as a support for deeper practice and a sense of refuge.

I’m now delighted to announce that just a year after breaking ground, our project to construct a new Retreat Center dormitory and to renovate the Catskills is completed. Our accommodations vision has been brought to fruition!

Our heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed to this accomplishment.

Naming Retreat Center Dormitories

In many countries, cultures, and traditions, naming someone or something involves the community or family elders, and is accompanied by ritual and blessing. Often, names evoke the qualities the elders wish to bestow on the child or they evoke an aspiration for the future.

And so, in a similar vein, we see the culmination of our construction efforts as a special opportunity to name all Retreat Center dormitories so that they more fully reflect IMS’s values and traditions.

In the last issue of Sangha News we asked our community to suggest names for the new dormitory, the renovated Catskills and the Annex.

Many of you responded with interesting and humorous suggestions! After much discussion and consideration, IMS’s Board approved the following:

By adding the word ‘House’ after each name, we’re differentiating accommodation buildings from other Retreat
Center facilities.

May the retreatants who stay in these accommodations experience the awakening, the compassion and the peace that is evoked by these names.

Retreat Center Dormitories
This panorama shows the new Retreat Center dormitory, Bodhi House (L), the enclosed walkway connecting it to both Shanti House (formerly the Annex, at rear) and the new stair tower at the end of Karuna House (formerly the Catskills, R).

Blessing and Dedication Ceremony

On Wednesday, September 11, IMS held a ceremony to honor the construction project’s completion.

New Facility blessing ceremony

Over 140 retreatants, teachers, staff, friends and supporters were welcomed by Executive Director Linda Spink.

The date of the ceremony coincided with the first full day of this year’s Three-Month Retreat. For the first time in IMS’s history, approximately a third of the course participants are people of color.

Rosemary Blake, IMS’s Board President, spoke movingly about the joy on seeing the special diversity of this year’s Three-Month Retreat. She thanked everyone whose efforts are now bearing fruit, from those who first seeded the idea for a group of people of color to sit this course, to friends and supporters who made it financially possible for so many retreatants of color to undertake longer-term practice.

Joseph Goldstein outlined the importance of accommodation privacy for inspiring retreat practice.

Bhante Buddharakkhita, part of the teaching team for Part 1 of this year’s Three-Month course, then led the formal blessing ritual, including a circumambulation of Bodhi House, the new dorm.

The ceremony closed with a metta meditation, wishing all beings well, offered by Sky Dawson, Teacher-in-Residence at the Forest Refuge.

Blessing new construction

Inside the Dormitories

Work on the front entrance to the Retreat Center main building is almost complete. Thanks to our sangha’s generosity, a new ramp, raised patio and foyer floor now make the facility fully accessible to anyone with mobility issues. Some final touches will be added when the weather is warmer next spring.

Sitting area at the Bodhi House
The informal sitting area on the second floor of Bodhi House.
Karuna House bedrooms
One of the simply furnished, peaceful Karuna House bedrooms.

Meditating in the Woods

Over the years, IMS retreatants have appreciated a small gazebo in the woods as a place to meditate in nature, while still protected from the elements.

A year or so ago, the structure needed to be closed for repairs. And now, thanks to the generosity of some in our community, it has been fortified and is open again for practice!

Dharma Updates

New Publications

New titles are coming out over the next few months from Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, both IMS co-founders.

First up is a book by Sharon, together with Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman, titled Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be a Whole Lot Happier. Its publication date is set for this month.

In the book, the authors lead readers on a journey through four kinds of enemies we can encounter in life: outer enemies, inner enemies, secret enemies, and super-secret enemies. They offer resources to help us respond more effectively to these powerful forces in our lives. In undertaking this work we can change for the better our relationships with the people, situations and patterns of thought that seem to threaten our well-being.

The following excerpt by Sharon from the introduction describes these four kinds of enemies.

Outer enemies are the people who harass or annoy us, as well as life situations that frustrate or confound us. Inner enemies are the habits of our reactive mind – particularly anger and hatred – that enslave us to and play havoc with our lives. Deeper still we find our secret enemy, the self-absorption that cuts us off from others and from our own loving nature. And finally, there is the super-secret enemy, the deeply entrenched sense of self-loathing that keeps us from realizing our kinship with all beings. The teachings and meditations in this book help us to draw on our own innate wisdom and compassion in order to transform our relationship with our enemies, both inner and outer.

Click here for additional excerpts by Sharon that give an idea of the topics covered in the book and her approach to them.

Joseph Goldstein’s new book is Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening. It will be released next month. Joseph’s source teaching for the book is the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, the Buddha’s renowned discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness.

A CD to complement his book is already available. In Mindfulness: Six Guided Practices for Awakening, Joseph brings core teachings and guided practices for “looking directly at the nature of the mind and body, at how suffering is created, and how we can awaken and be free.”

Teachers Meeting

In mid-June, IMS’s sister center in California, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, hosted a gathering of insight meditation teachers, most of whom are based in Western countries. Every few years, teachers from this lineage meet to vision together how Buddhist teachings can best serve our various communities of practitioners and the world at large. Among the topics discussed this time were diversity and undoing racism, the role that dharma teachers can play as we face the reality of climate change, applied mindfulness, and support for teachers in retirement.

Teachers meeting at Spirit Rock CA
Teachers at Spirit Rock for the 2013 Vipassana Teachers Meeting.

Online Interviews

Joseph and Sharon are part of neuropsychologist Rick Hanson’s upcoming video interview series, Hardwiring Happiness: The 7 Essential Strengths. This freely-offered series starts Monday, September 23.

Program Highlights

At the Forest Refuge

Throughout this month, Marcia Rose, guiding teacher of The Mountain Hermitage in Taos, NM and Teacher-in Residence Sky Dawson are offering the teachings together at the Forest Refuge.

Marcia Rose and Sky Dawson
(L-R) Marcia Rose and Sky Dawson

One of Marcia’s recent talks is Transformation and Relinquishment of Afflictive Emotions.

To download or stream other recent Forest Refuge teacher talks and morning reflections, click here.

At the Retreat Center

Retreants preparing for 3-month retreat
On September 10, retreatants arrived for this year’s Three-Month Retreat, bringing their essential belongings with them!
Teaching team for the 3-month retreat
The teaching team for Part 1 of the course: (L-R) Bonnie Duran, Winnie Nazarko, Guy Armstrong, Andrea Fella, Carol Wilson, Joseph Goldstein and Bhante Buddharakkhita.

Retreat Space Available

At the Forest Refuge, some space is available from now until November 9, if you’re considering a personal retreat. Or, if you’re planning ahead, check out our 2014 schedule. Contact our office for more information – please email or call us at 978-355-2063.

At the Retreat Center, just one 2013 course still has openings: Wise Concentration, Steadying the Mind, December 17-22, with teachers Marcia Rose, Pat Coffey and Winnie Nazarko. They’ll guide participants in cultivating concentration, allowing the development of tranquility and equanimity of mind and heart. These qualities prepare the ground for a penetrating insight into the nature of existence.

If you are aged 18-26 and cannot otherwise afford the cost, IMS is offering this retreat on a ‘You Choose‘ fee basis. Please email for more application information.

In 2014, Howard Cohn and Lila Kate Wheeler will return to teach a four-day course, The Buddha’s Way to Happiness, February 5-9. This will be followed by a five-day retreat, The Art of Mindful Living, February 14-19, led by Larry Rosenberg and Michael Grady.

Larry Yang and Gina Sharpe will offer a three-day weekend course, The Joy of Letting Go: Reconciliation, Restoration and Forgiveness, February 28 – March 3.

Retreat space for September 2013

Serving on Staff

IMS currently has two job openings: one for a Facilities Worker to help care for our buildings and grounds, and one for a Cook based at the Retreat Center.

These positions present an opportunity to deepen your practice while working with others who share similar values. Both offer optional on-site housing. More information is available here.

Job openings at IMS Septmeber 2013

Wishing You Well

All of us at IMS wish you, your family and your community peace and bounty in the coming months.

Golden yarrow flower at the Forest Refuge