In the practice of Buddhism we take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Buddha represents the qualities of awakening, compassion, lovingkindness and wisdom. The Dharma represents the teachings, the way of life taught by the Buddha and the discovery of how life really is. Sangha represents the lineage of monks and nuns that have passed the Buddha’s teachings down through twenty-five hundred years. Sangha includes those individuals who have experienced realization and awakening, and the community of practice to which we belong.
Given the ever increasing fragmentation of the family and society, Sangha is becoming ever more important. Without the warmth and security of friendship and community our meditation cannot truly blossom.
I have been teaching in Portland since 1978. During that time many hundreds of people have been exposed to the Dharma. Since the Portland Insight Meditation Community (PIMC) has no official membership, it is impossible to know, but from the mailing list and the attendance on Sunday evenings it appears that at least 300 people have some affiliation and participation in PIMC.
During the last five years PIMC has grown greatly as an organization and community. There are now many ways in which we gather together for practice, Buddhist study, social action and interpersonal contact. The following partial list gives an idea of how multidimensional our community has become.
• Practice sessions on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
• Wednesday morning practice every other week.
• A Four Year Dharma Leader Training Group
• Meditation and Reading Study Groups
• An active service committee.
• List serve with 180 members
• Monthly Newsletter
• Children’s program
• Several groups that sprang from the Sangha around topics of interest
• Sharing Suppers
• Annual Rummage Sale
• Annual Picnic
• Hiking group.
• Peace and Social action
PIMC has become a place where friendships are made and nourished. We have had some conflict, which fuelled the process of wearing off the rough edges of personality as we learn to listen to each other, empathize and grow to love and respect one another.
It is time for another enrichment of the Sangha experience provided by PIMC. This involves having a home of our own in which we will have more opportunities for practice, and being together in many ways.
The tall Buddha rupa, which Nancy and I brought from Thailand, is looking forward to standing in his new home. The six-kilo bronze meditation gong anticipates calling human and other beings to the Dharma Hall to practice.
Creating a center of our own will provide rich fields of merit, opportunities for the practice of generosity. We will be creating a practice center that will be of great benefit to many beings in the present and in the future. There will be opportunities for offering Dana in financial form, karma yoga (work), and no doubt in ways we cannot yet imagine.
A few months ago Nancy Turner and Ron Matela agreed to do a feasibility study concerning purchasing a center of our own. From the dream list created by talking to Sangha members, I gave Nancy and Ron a list of requirements to begin the search. At this moment (June 20) there are three churches for sale in the Portland Metropolitan area. One of these meets most of our needs. It became available June 19 after an offer fell through. It is expected to sell for approximately $410,000 and would require cosmetic improvements. It is necessary to act quickly to avoid losing this wonderful opportunity. At the time of this writing we are making an offer, contingent upon inspections and financing.
Although PIMC has not yet had a capital campaign, our financial situation is remarkably strong. Our building fund is $18,500. On June 29th Ruth Denison will offer $10,000 when she visits our Sangha. Two anonymous donors have contributed matching grants totaling $140,000. This total $168,500 provides an impressive beginning. We are initiating our capital campaign immediately to match the offered grants and raise a total of about $250,000.
The reality of a new center is exciting. The address is 4422 SE 65th Ave. (Holgate and 65th). This site (about .4 acres) provides ample space for parking, developing flower gardens and outdoor walking areas and eventual expansion of the Dhamma hall. There is a fenced area with play equipment on the property, and a fine kitchen and dining area for social occasions. There is a “crying room” adjoining the Dharma hall where parents with small children may listen to talks. Several rooms will provide office space, meeting rooms and a children’s space. The potential is vast. With the use of our space full-time we will be able to have more guest speakers and perhaps a practice time and/or children’s program on Sunday morning. We will be able to organize meditation each morning and evening. Doug Pullin and I hope to move our counseling offices into the building. I hope to have all night meditations on the full moon several times a year.