The founding members of our community, a small group of long-time practitioners, began meeting regularly with Rebecca to explore various aspects of Chan practice in Fall 2017. We would agree to read an article or listen to a Dharma talk or research a topic and then reflect on it by practicing with it. We then shared our experiences and reflections and raised questions to be discussed in our gathering on zoom.
Setting our minds in the right direction
The first topic our community studied was the Bodhisattva Path. Having established a proper orientation in our practice, we reflected on and practiced with two of the six paramitas: patience/endurance and generosity. After weeks of meaningful and heartfelt discussions, we were inspired to deepen our understanding of the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows.
Examining our biases and privileges through Chan practice
The early part of 2018 has been devoted to exploring how we can use Chan practice to examine our blind spots that, when remained unacknowledged, can result in thought patterns and actions that cause harm to ourselves and others. We started off with reading the article on Chan Practice and Contemplation on Race and practicing with what resonated with us. We then practiced with Charlene Leung’s “cultural humility” (published in Buddhadharma Spring 2018) to explore the origins of associations we habitually make with various categories to familiarize ourselves with how they arise in our mind. We have been exploring privilege, belonging vs. fitting in while digesting Thanissara’s piece on privilege and power (“Dismantling the Master’s House,” Buddhadharma Spring 2018). In the second quarter, we explored the role of money in our lives and how to practice with it, and this topic brought us to examining our experiences with social class. We are currently working with the precepts.
Dr. Rebecca Li has invited practitioners who have participated in her retreats and expressed interest to deepen their practice to join her in an upcoming series of online Dharma courses. The first course, “Giving Rise to the Bodhi Mind,” begins in September 2018. The second course, “Understanding and Practicing with the Four Noble Truths,” a 3-part course, will begin in late October 2018.