Letter to Sangha Members and Friends
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[This letter was attached to the previous announcement, but was unable to be opened. Apologies to all.]
29 February 2012
Dear friends and members,
As you know, these last months have brought significant change to our sangha. The retirement of our teacher, Pat Hawk Roshi, left many of us feeling uncertain about the future of our meditation center. This occurred less than two years after the passing of Robert Aitken, which also brought up questions about what it means to belong to the Diamond Sangha. The news of our Roshi's giving transmission to four new dharma heirs has also raised many questions in the minds of our meditation community.
At a time of such uncertainty, the Board would like to encourage our friends and members to ask questions and voice concerns. Be aware that we are available to listen with a sympathetic ear. Know that we too are at a point where we may have more questions than answers, but if we can give you any information or give you any direction, we will freely do it. One of our founding principles is transparency; all of our Board meetings are open, and our meeting minutes are available for reference. In the last months, we may not have been proactive enough in including general sangha-members in the discussion. Formally, I would like to invite you to share your voices! We try to represent the best interests of the sangha, but it is difficult for us to do so without hearing from you. A sangha exists as a whole made of unique parts, and your individual voice is what will help us to make the best decisions in how to move forward.
This is not a time to give up on practice; this is a time of total practice. Remember that our practice is all-encompassing; it includes sitting, brushing our teeth, squeezing avocados for ripeness at the grocery store, and absolutely dealing with situations of uncertainty. We have been thrust into what it means to practice sangha. It is easy to practice sangha when the biggest adversity we face as a group is whether we should replace the flapper on the toilet. Challenge yourself to practice during this more difficult time. We will all benefit from your inclusion.
Please know that we are not interested in making rash decisions. Our search for a new teacher, which has not officially begun, will be a careful and gradual one. When we begin our official search, know that all of our friends and members will be a crucial part of that process. For the time being, we are simply exploring what it means to be Zen Desert Sangha now that our Roshi has retired. We will be inviting other teachers in the Diamond Sangha, and perhaps outside of it, to share their voices as well, but we are officially not at the interviewing stage.
I am reminded of the book Going to Pieces without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein. If you are feeling piecemeal and not peaceful, reach out to a fellow friend or member, and share your thoughts.
President of Zen Desert Sangha's Board of Directors