The Buddha’s Eightfold Path
The Buddha’s teachings describe an accessible path to liberation. The ancient Buddhist metaphor of a path draws on the idea of a cleared passageway that allows one to move through an otherwise impassable forest. Just as a person brings his or her entire body along when walking on a path in the forest, so a spiritual practitioner enters the Buddha’s path by engaging all aspects of who he or she is. Yet while a physical path exists whether we walk on it or not, the Buddha’s path exists only in our engagement with it. We create the path with the activities of our minds, hearts, and bodies. Teachings about the Buddha’s path are simply maps indicating how we create the path as we go.
In one version of this path metaphor, the Buddha likens spiritual liberation to a long-forgotten, overgrown city deep in the forest. Just as it’s possible to reclaim and then inhabit this city once the path to it is found, it’s possible to live a liberated life when we discover and follow a path that will take us there.
Building on the metaphor of a forest path, the Buddha compared the forest’s dense undergrowth to the many mental and emotional obstacles that limit our freedom. We each have our own inner wilderness with its dangers and challenges, but we also have within us what it takes to free ourselves of these dangers.
Because both the path and the obstacles are found within us, the Buddha’s path requires us to take responsibility for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. It builds on the principle that we can move towards liberation by disengaging from perspectives and behaviors that weigh us down and by replacing them with behaviors that lighten us and support us as we proceed.
IRC Roots Take Hold
When the remodeling of our Insight Retreat Center is completed in October, a seed we have watered and nursed for many years will have sprouted and taken root. The seed was our vision for a retreat center that would complement IMC. It was a seed that emerged from the growth of our Insight community as a way to allow for our continued maturation.
The support of many, many people has created IRC. These supporters are the soil in which the seed has grown. Their generosity and goodwill have made the soil fertile and allowed IRC to be well rooted even before opening for retreats—the first of which will begin November 11.
The countless people who can now come to IRC for retreats inspire me. I am confident that they will further enrich our fertile soil and that together we will nurture a retreat center that will be meaningful not only for those who practice there but also for many in our wider society.
A lot of creativity has gone into planning how we will operate these retreats. Because they will be offered freely and run entirely by volunteers, we are designing a new kind of community-supported retreat center. IRC will be a place where the spiritual practice of service coexists with the practice of silent retreats.
We will have a community meeting at IMC to discuss overall plans for IRC on October 14, right after our usual Sunday morning program. Then, on the weekend of November 3–4, IRC will have an open house (see box below).
To learn more about IRC, please visit its website. We are slowly adding more details about the new center. With time, we also intend for the website to provide information and teachings about retreat practice in general.
As we stand poised to open our new center, I am tremendously grateful and inspired by all who have made this possible and by all who are eager to participate in IRC retreats. I thank everyone and look forward to welcoming you there!
IRC Open House
Come by IRC to tour the facilities and grounds Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4, from 9am to 4pm. See the transformation from retirement home to retreat center, and have the opportunity to meditate in the new meditation hall. Refreshments will be provided.
Please carpool if possible. Check the IRC website for carpool information: www.insightretreatcenter.org.
Insight Retreat Center
1906 Glen Canyon Rd
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
An Inspirational Intersangha Meeting
In August we hosted the fourth annual “InterSangha” meeting, bringing together 66 visitors who hold leadership roles at Insight meditation sanghas around North America. Participants represented 34 groups in the United States and Canada. One highlight of the meeting was a video connection to Insight sangha members in London and to a practitioner in Australia, allowing a simultaneous group meditation on three continents.
The IMC community housed 16 attendees, offering our sangha members a chance to make spiritual friends from across North America. Two lunches were provided by head cook Bill Kostura and his team, giving nourishment for the discussions and community building. Heather Sundberg, representing the Mountain Stream Meditation Center in Nevada City, Calif., gave IMC’s Sunday Dharma talk the morning after the meeting ended. She pointed out the attendees who were still there so that they could meet the IMC community. Overall, the event was marked by great generosity.
It is a time of connection and learning in the Insight community. For about 40 years, the Insight movement in the West has seen steady growth. We have progressed from just a handful of lay retreat teachers in the 1960s to nearly 140 in 2012. In 1984, there were fewer than 10 Vipassana retreats in the West; now there are nearly 200 annually. In the past dozen years, Spirit Rock has trained around 300 community Dharma leaders. With more and more community Insight meditation centers opening out of grassroots interest, the Dharma is reaching more broadly and deeply than ever before. The InterSangha meeting allows these groups to connect and create collective wisdom.
The Insight movement grew from the teachers who started the first U.S. retreat centers: Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Christina Feldman, Christopher Titmuss, and Ruth Denison. The movement now encompasses the Insight teachers trained by them or through other avenues, as well as the many community meditation centers that share a spiritual link to the Insight teachings. It is inspiring to know that IMC is part of this larger picture, contributing to the ongoing cultivation of Insight in the West.
New Board Members
Three new members were added to the IMC board this summer. We welcome Andrea Castillo, Ellen Kirschman, and Elaine Salinger. Andrea teaches Spanish-language Dharma courses at IMC on Tuesday evenings; Ellen is a psychologist; and Elaine is a veterinarian. All three have participated at IMC for several years.
The other board members are Rob Hammond (president), Richard Sievers (vice president), Ed Drury (treasurer), Elena Silverman (secretary), Aaron Chavira, Liz Powell, Nancy Smee, and Gil Fronsdal.
IMC, including its board, is run entirely by volunteers. We are grateful to all who give their time in service to our sangha.
IWA Takes Off
Insight World Aid is a new nonprofit created by IMC members who wish for their Buddhist practice to be directly involved in the work of humanitarian medical aid to people in need. After much planning and working in Cambodia with other nonprofits, IWA is now organizing its first two-week medical mission to Cambodia, which will take place February 20 to March 7, 2013. We are excited by the opportunity to work together with other Insight meditation practitioners to do aid work within a Buddhist culture.
If you are interested in learning more, you are invited to our mission volunteer meeting at IMC on Sunday, December 2, from 1 to 2:45pm. If you are interested in participating in the mission financially, we are looking for sponsors. All donations will directly benefit the communities we serve in Cambodia. For trip details, application, and information on how to be a “Friend of the Trip,” please visit insightworldaid.org
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We invite sangha members to join our volunteer circles—informal groups we can call upon to meet needs arising at IMC and to help generate new ideas. The circles allow volunteers to share responsibility and minimize time commitment while developing community around common interests.
Technology: Help with design and maintenance of the website, social networking, electronic bulletin boards, and audio recording/editing.
Temple cleaning: Help with weekly, monthly, or annual cleaning.
Culinary: Help prepare and serve food for special events, teas, or potlucks.
Cushion care: Help repair, clean, and replace cushions.
Building maintenance: Help with temple maintenance projects and repairs.
Landscaping: Help maintain the outdoor areas, including raking, sweeping, pruning, weeding, and watering.
Recycling, composting, trash: Help with eco-related signage, educational materials, and maintenance of waste system.
Sangha care: Assist sangha members with needs arising from illness, disability, surgical recovery, or other life circumstances. May include giving rides, visiting homes or health care settings, running errands, providing meals, or helping with housework.
If you have an interest in any of these circles, please email Hilary Borison at email@example.com
Dharma Study Program: The Noble Eightfold Path with Gil Fronsdal
From October to May, monthly Dharma Practice Days will focus on cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path in the fullness of our lives. This is the Buddha’s classic formulation on how to walk the path of liberation—a path that integrates our outer life and our inner meditation practice. The program will combine meditation, teachings, and discussions. You may attend any part of the series, held on the following Fridays from 9:30am to 3:30pm: October 5, November 2, December 7, January 11, February 15, March 15, April 5, May 3.
Dharma Mentoring Program
Parallel with the Dharma Study Program on the Eightfold Path, IMC is offering a one-on-one mentoring program supporting individuals’ practice with the Eightfold Path. Those who sign up for mentoring will have the chance to explore their relationship to each step of the Eightfold Path with one of IMC’s seasoned, senior practitioners. The monthly, hour-long mentoring sessions will consist of a brief period of meditation and a discussion structured around that month’s Eightfold Path factor. Readings and exercises will be assigned for each month. Participation in the Friday Dharma Study Program is encouraged but not required. If you are interested in this eight-month mentoring program, please fill out the application on IMC’s website (Special Events & Daylong Retreats page).
Walks To Feed the Hungry
Buddhist Global Relief will hold two local “Walks to Feed the Hungry”—one in San Francisco on Saturday, October 13, the other from San Jose to Mountain View the next day, October 14. The walks will raise awareness of the many chronically hungry people in the United States and around the world. They will also include a pilgrimage to different Buddhist centers of the Bay Area, highlighted by a free vegetarian lunch October 14 at Chung Tai Zen Center in Sunnyvale.
For details, go to www.buddhistglobalrelief.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org
, or call 510/542-9111. The related fund-raising drive is at www.firstgiving.com/BuddhistGlobalRelief