Visioning Circle Report

Dear Friends,

We are happy to forward this detailed report of the November Visioning Circle to the entire sangha. This was a very rich meeting, full of thoughtful expressions of caring, gratitude and courage. Those present clearly spoke of connection and support of the KSC community, as well as the importance of meditation practice in their lives.

The sangha is the heart of KSC. It is the ever-renewing vitality of one person at a time, walking through the red doors, to discover what Buddhism can offer to their lives. It is the generosity of all the individuals that aid each of us in making use of the timeless teachings and methods. It is the many, many hands that keep the building and grounds and programs alive. The sangha is the heart of KSC’s future, and we are grateful to you all for that.

Lama Yeshe and Lama Pema

Kagyu Sukha Choling Meditation Center

109 Clear Creek Drive, Suite 301

Ashland, OR 97520

Visioning 2017 ~ Question #1
What Does Sangha Mean To You?

Friends that help me go out into the world and look at everyone as friends.
Express my experience with the dharma. Connected to my dharma practice. Not all alone. My fellow travelers on the path, others on path with me, ahead, behind, or beside me.
Support, courage, grateful for your wisdom – thank you. Main reason I’m still here.
Has my deepest best dharma welfare at heart – deeper than tea and donuts.
Everyone in this room, traveling on a path together, supportive, encourages me to go deeper.  Appreciate we’re all walking the road together. Everyone who has helped Hugh Bacon come here and the rest of us.
Spouse who supports my practice and the rest of us.
Interdependence of giving and receiving.
Shared intention, deep heart connection.
Feeling the work of the dharma and inside and outside.
Making place for everyone.
Support, patience, forgiveness, reflection, encouragement.
Friends on the path who support, who challenge, everyone - humanity, Three Jewels - we’re part of the jewels, many facets, which contribute to realization. We are polishing the facets living, bonded by our interests and desire to know more about our path.
New people joining, constantly changing.
Sense of belonging.
Love for dharma, teachers, family. Deepest love that can be seen.
Heart Sutra, sangha is effable and place where heart knows home. Looking for home filled with betterment of all members of home.
Meaningful connection with all sangha, ineffable, solo meditation, Buckhorn in October, Rebel Buddha.
Sangha is here.
All sentient beings, wherever I am, susceptible to loving-kindness.
Possibility every time you meet another sentient being, particularly difficult ones. When I can remember community of individuals who come together for practice.
Common goal – working on becoming enlightened for the benefit of all beings.
Senses of concentric circles – wider circle of Kagyu lineage,Tibetan Buddhism, all beings; empathy with all beings.
Important part of my life.
Energetic connection even being a long distance learner.
Depend upon interaction with everyone. Doesn’t matter if it’s one person or many – in gratitude.
Ability to have conversations and connections with people to explore waking up.
Fortunate enough to be led here with other people who are interested in these teachings.
Grateful for sangha.
Notion of extended sangha of beings - surgeons for my growth. Drilling down to things I might want to take a look at.
Noble Sangha – asking them to stay on path and remove obscurations.
Mirror – helps me see better into my heart.
Gratitude to this sangha, fellow travelers who find their compassion pointed to this direction.
Larger sangha - other sanghas elsewhere.
This sangha is my sangha. Surprised and delighted by what I learn from this sangha; classes, practice groups, practices; home for my heart.
Learning is constant. Ignorance constantly revealed.
Friends on the path, helping me.
Many other sanghas.
People whom I love deeply.
Shared growth and heart.
Contribution – place where I can contribute and have others contribute their knowledge to me.
Actual real relationships have become something that wasn’t there before. New people make it interesting. Personal practice. Need sangha’s support for personal practice.
Have helped me with big problems in life.
Apple doesn’t fall for from tree – falling from tree into next lives like high school - easy class – other things in life are harder.
Feel safe – how much I know people doesn’t matter.
Know that you will care for me.
Sangha had not been in my vocabulary until five years ago. Lama Pema, where have you been?”     [Lama Pema replies, “Right here!”]
Sangha is possibility – has changed my perception; how I’ve grown here; can always know that I can be gentle with myself, trust.
Path is straight and narrow, personally difficult, have to work hard; sangha is my support.  When I don’t come here, I don’t practice – here practice is different. Most important part of my life. Those who help me are precious. Depth of connection and conversation and shared meaning of life. Depth of heart connection.
Companions – beauty is equality.
Love Newcomers’ Night – wisdom that comes from someone who has never been here before.
Shared poetry.
Can never get over wisdom in my life because of everyone who has contributed to me – beauty of this.
Seeing everyone as equals.
Never understood refuge until sangha, dharma; something bigger.
Mirroring - dining room swinging doors in a sangha – can say and think whatever and ideas will come back to me.
Support, friends, trust.
Taking feeling of sangha into other groups.
Sense of community, gratitude and love, appreciation.
Atmosphere at temple in Vietnam Did prostrations there, so connecting to idea of a path.
Sangha helps to show I’m on a path, a gift some people don’t have.
Specificity of path feeds me - way of expressing what’s on this path – also with other jewels of Buddha and dharma.
Sangha and lineage are like this (close together).
Wide open right now.
Lineage is a transmission line. We as individuals can plug into that at any time. When we plug in, comes an energy force that’s ineffable. Sitting in this room is lineage and continuity of lineage.
Important to sit in circle, so at home community in day-to-day thoughts wouldn’t be here without the lineage above sangha circle.
Support in the dharma, care, love, people and various practice needs.
Helps me to develop into a better human being.
A “heart beat” for me.
Never had a community before. Sangha now keeps me practicing through hard times.
Bonded without talking, chatting. In awe of energetic connection.
Still alive today – not something from the past.
Sangha has my back. Feels so supported. Noble Sangha as well.
How many have recited same mantra before and now.
Gratitude  - friends, family, community - because of shared view. Helps me learn how to care for others. Revolutionary in these times to put others’ needs before self.
Challenge. Extreme introvert. Aversion to rely on anyone for anything. Interdependence is a novel challenge.
People who I’ve come to know have helped me in my life.
Deeply listening. Don’t have to say anything.This has deepened my notion of sangha. Family of practitioners in ever increasing circles around the globe.
This sangha lives in my heart.
Community support, encouragement, maturation.
Ability to practice dharma in way that feels safe.
Opportunity to practice with others with similar intentions.

Visioning 2017 ~ Question #2  
What Does Being a Dharma Practitioner Mean To You?

  The crystal bowl in the middle of our circle signifies our Buddha Nature…

Focus – to keep dharma in front of me all the time. Follow the dharma; put it in the center of my life moment to moment.
Magnetic mark of direction in life; letting that and those that don’t serve fall away; opening happens; baby steps of increased spaciousness.
Big question! Guidance; guided me into stepping away from chaos and way processed; helped me let go of stuff; grateful to have dharma in my life; practices stay with me – walking them, amazes me.  Helped me being at ease.
No matter what happens to me I remind myself, “This is my dharma practice.”
Lama Pema:  Become more authentic to utilize the practice on and off the cushion; clear up confusion; let go of misperceptions; do my best to increase warmth and openness, relinquishing/let go of control.
Open heart, clarity, grateful in relationships to karma and sangha and incorporate teachings and pass them along. Knee jerk responses cut short. It’s a springboard work on living the dharma.
Falling into the quiet and silence, which are very important; love bubbles up, feeling warm.
A challenge – stretch – find out I can do a practice and find out how it changes me; even turning away from practice and looking at that; discover loving kindness and compassion and bodhichitta and thread into my life. I love Tonglen. Ongoing challenge all and reward.
Learning to tame the mind, developing a view of how I am in my life – be present with that and hold it.
Time would change my response to the question. We all share learning to be more open, less solid.
Journal – 49 years of marriage – used practice to look at bringing a dog into my life. Profound – can’t imagine living a moment without it. Nothing I blame myself. Joy of this dharma has changed my relationships. Seeing has deepened. Seeing and being, layers of wisdom – warm waters – discipline and focus. When you open your heart others change too.
Opening up quiet – being present to the chatter – all the stuff has been there but can’t be heard.
Not believing everything you think; kinder to yourself; face what you would run away from with confidence and courage.
Continue to learn to take my seat. The best exploration of mind in my life.  Learn about suffering and suffering of others.
Accepting this path and lineage – sense of trust in that – a resonance with knowledge and wisdom. Clear cobwebs of residual patterns – release, so I can contemplate on higher ground.  Peeling an onion – going deeper and deeper. Is nothing (core) - everything?
One who does the practices. [Regarding this practitioner’s meeting with His Highness the Dalai Lama: I went to the exit to say goodbye to Him, and He said to me, “Just keep practicing!”]
Word practice takes her to her profession and what it means – get information to help in life with others.
Commitment to awareness; motivation - bodhichitta for all sentient beings.
Deeply moving. Practice of being a gentle warrior. Cultivating goodness and trusting it.
I look inward to do the work. No manipulations outward. Go “inside” and be curious and continue to question.
The True North – honor that I be open and to trust. Synthesis aspect - retreat then things I do in the world find the middle way. Impact on how I treat myself.
Remembrance of impermanence. Value in practicing. “One calm mind in the room can change everything” as Lama Pema says. I make the commitment to live life less neurotically.
Learning who and what I am and how it relates to everything and everyone else.  Responsibility. A light, perspective, kindness.
Calm, aware of thoughts; let go; focus on what’s important; take practice out into the world; a lot of work.
Become better person to serve people; help others.
A moving question – having these rich, profound, measureless teachings available along with teachers who are with us and are not.  Both expose what is painful and put me back together again. Solely for purpose of being part of greater good. Continue looking at difficulty and know that all and I possess deep love of self.
Question stopped me in my tracks for a moment. Sense of purpose – being able to resolve my own human condition. Dissolve it – understand it – find new patterns – discovery/expedition/freedom. Put it back together again with new purpose.
It works! Over time noticed differences in way I see the world.
Lama Yeshe:  Hold commitments to my teachers with strength and grace. Being naked and without self-protection. Rest in the freedom that it brings. Resting in line of dharma practitioners – feeling their hearts and profound connections. Sitting on my cushion.
Gift of teachers, alive and not alive. Awareness of body, speech and mind.
Pushed all my buttons. I try to stay inside myself, so it can be hard. I work at it to use it in a positive manner.
Stability. It’s a toolbox with helpers for instability. Self-cherishing is a key factor for me when looking.
Path to enlightenment.
Welcoming/discovering/stretching/accepting/letting go/letting be.
Closed my eyes and saw a narrow path, plus huge expansiveness. I can’t go off about it even a little. No faking. Opens new world. Not okay anymore with being not okay. Being a better person. Took Bodhichitta very literally and putting other people first.
Finding reliable teachings, teachers to know make sense of samsara – always been there. Tools serve me with clarity, more kindness, enlarging circle of loving kindness. Huge challenge the widening of loving-kindness. Every day an opportunity. We can’t fool ourselves anymore.  Take a breath.
Being always vigilant about my actions and thoughts – opening up.

Visioning 2017 – Question #3
As we move forward together, take this moment
to express your place in our shared future.

Spiral Council: As individuals feel called, they take a seat in the center circle of chairs inside the visioning circle, speak as they are moved to, and then leave when they feel complete.The result is a weaving of our deep listening hearts.The facilitator Anne Stine asks everyone to be responsive to the inner call to take a seat in the center.

I don’t know [laughter]. I joined the circle because Lama Pema did. I have a commitment to help any group I’m part of. I hold KSC’s history, and working in the office right now feels like a really good place to be. My commitment is to the big dharma, rather than to the building.
I’d like to continue developing my wisdom and skill so I can become a good actionfigure, rather than a good spokesperson, for the dharma.
Longevity. What I would like to be a part of—with the sense of impermanence because I’m older and who knows what my health will be in 5 minutes—is how to have KSC be sustainable for a very long time.  We envisioned it as a well when we were first becoming a center, and that vision for me still stands today.  It’s a gathering place and a place that is nurturing. The energy and harmony of the sangha continue—mentoring and encouraging each other to step into leadership positions. We who are currently leading here have to move out. I wish for us clarity and good intentions to be carried out into the future.
Care. It’s a joke that we ask this question about the future when the practice asks us not to beckon it. I appreciated Lama Yeshe's use of “samaya.” And as one of the teachers here, I have samaya with all of you. I have this commitment to each of you, and I look for guidance from my teachers and from this sangha. How we take care of each other is shifting and changing.This building is now a beacon for practitioners, and I am 100% committed to that.  I want to support this and the aspiration that we have this future as lineage holders and as practitioners.
Compassion. I can bring a commitment to helping in whatever way I can. Whether it’s sharing knowledge or vulnerabilities, I feel wide open to sharing what is needed.
I’m going to continue to practice, come to practice groups, and to continue showing up and strengthening my practice. Another thing I can bring is supporting the Center financially. I will continue work on the grounds and my involvement on the Compassionate Action Committee. If anything is asked of me, I would be happy to do it.
I’m committed to being here, and I’d like to see us expand what we do for remote learners.  I feel like we abandoned the Northern Sangha. So, we need to participate more in technology.  We did it once before. I’d like to commit to helping get more people to support this effort, e.g., the Wednesday class can be shared with simple technology that is readily available to us.
Home. For me this means showing up and doing my practice. My word was “home,” and that’s because this Center is my home; it’s where my heart lives. So, I’ll just keep showing up and doing my practice. I’m still here after 17 years, and I’m truly here in ways I’ve never been here before. I’ve never before been committed to something for so long. I will continue with my practice and samayas. And I will do those talks, Lama Pema, that you’ve been asking me to do.
My first commitment is to be fully present when I am here: completely and fully in the moment and with the teachings and the teachers. I commit to being open and welcoming to all who come here; I commit to gardening, being the building “link,” and to serving on the board.
Remembrance. I’m recalling those early days on Granite Street when we dideverything. That has not changed. Looking into the future, I have great trust that what opens up will be obvious and what needs to be done will be known. In terms of my own commitments, I have an affinity for teaching, and I’m interested in programming and strategic planning.
Practice, dharma, sangha: this is a “world” center. I think sustainability is an important thing, and for me it’s connected to people coming from all over the worldto practice for 3, 6 and 12-month retreats. This would help us provide for our sustainability.
I’m hoping to show up more and to go on a retreat again. I love my place on the board working on policies and procedures; although I see our membership team needs support. I love to make people laugh even though I’m a private person. I would like to keep telling stories and have guidance from the Lamas about when to stop.
I want to be engaged in the office. Also, I would like to transcribe teachings with an eye toward writing pieces that we might sell.
My vision is personal: the centerpiece of my participation has to be sincere dedication to my own practice and supporting other people’s practices. I do that by coming to practice groups, which gives me energy to keep on practicing. I need courage and help to bridge the gap between me and other people, because I want to know how others want to be supported and what’s going on for them. I think that by being open to other people, I can be the best support I could ever offer to others.
I count on you as an external force in my life, so I don’t have this sense of “my place.” I just know that I belong here, and I try to express that: a “soft, trusting vision.”
I’m thinking about kids and young families, and I’d like to commit to continue working with the kids and the families of Dharma Kids. It’s a vital part of our community.
I love our Lamas, the dharma, and the sangha. I want to offer continued presence and responsibility. We’re in a big transition, and I have confidence in our Lamas, board, and sangha. I feel a responsibility to participate in seeing us through this transition. I often feel isolated in Portland, but I’m committed to being present and responsible.
Being in Palo Alto can be very isolating. My aspiration is to return when my boys are out of high school and continue to build mindfulness programs I’m offering to graduate psychology students and to expand them to audiences of human service agencies. I find I enlighten as I unburden; I see the students I work with transform in this way, too.
Open. I want to be open to what I can contribute. I thought I had had enough challenges with technology to be done with the tech team, but Roland, Chris, and Kate have been great.So, I am open to continuing work on the archives, which I am doing for the Lamas. I loved the culture of the old farmhouse, but the draw of beinghere…. being here draws out meaning for me. The time I spend alone in the sanctuary is so meaningful. I want to relax into contributing what is needed.
KSC is a beacon, and this room is saturated with our practice. I would like to offer myself toward the continuation of ensuring practice is always done here. As someone said earlier, we get to know each other in a deep way when we sit together in silence. I’ve gotten to know the KCC sangha well, and I would like to be a bridge to them.
I’ll keep being that little man with a mustache and ashcan at the end of the parade inRocky & Bullwinkle. The generosity and the abundance that is shared from this place needs facilitation, and I will continue to help get it to where it needs to go. I commit to keep doing that. If we are lucky enough to find teachers in this lifetime, we should take care of them, and I commit to doing that, too.
Closing Remarks by the Lamas:
Thank you. The dharma is the gift we have all come here for. We are doing our best to not beckon the future and also to not close our eyes to the fact that the future is coming. Our creativity and participation ensure that our envisioned future will unfold. And we can have confidence as it unfolds over the next many years that we move forward as a sangha community, as dharma practitioners, not just students. 
There is nothing special at all about what’s happening here: this is the most ordinary expression of human community. We can give it to, and receive it from, each other. I think we can walk into the future with confidence because we are walking together, and we are not afraid.
Thank you for your time and attention and presence and non-distraction, and also for your continued membership in this community—in whatever way you define that. 
We will be having our annual sangha meeting, and Phyllis will be presenting our financial reports. Our financial reports got us here, and they are what keep us moving into the future. Also, we Lamas will talk about what we’re doing: researching, spelunking, mining the depths into the future of who the next teachers will be. Whoever they are, they will become part of our citizenship here.
It is a privilege to be in the room with you—all of us as equals, living our dharma.


Kagyu Sukha Choling