Category Archives: Holidays

Giving and Recieving between communities

Most every month I meet with the Board of Trustees of the Sellwood Methodist Church, our landlords. Over the years these kind gentlemen have listened to all sorts of ways we at Portland Friends of the Dhamma have been jostling with the noise/heat/cold issues regarding the outdated windows in the Shrine room. This pass Autumn I was sharing with them some steps our community had taken (and were considering yet taking) regarding the challenges of these old windows.

  • Received an anonymous donation from our community for a complete set of  second window inserts, custom built
  • Purchased noise, sun, loss of heat reduction blinds
  • Paul G., a community member, hand built window ledges
  • Purchased swamped cooler to address summer heat issues
  • Dave F. a community member, did extensive research on how we might address the summer heat issue
  • Jim W. a community member and air-movement specialist offered useful advice

When sharing our continued window saga I was touched the way the Church’s Board responded. They were impressed with the way our community actively holds itself responsible for our comfort and in so doing has members who voluntarily contribute to upgrading a facility they don’t even own. Then they chatted amongst themselves and cheerfully agreed to offer brand new windows for our Shrine room at no cost to us. A few weeks later they decided to put new windows in the Kitchen as well to further help cut down noise from the street. “Would this help?” my neighbor Bryan and Sellwood Methodist Church Board member asked. On behalf of our community I offered back a toothy “Oh yes indeed”.

Within a couple months the windows were installed. The noise in the Shrine room dropped dramatically, the room remained heated long after the thermostat was turned down for the night and the beauty of these new windows proved a much unexpected and appreciated bonus.

Today, when viewing the Church’s bulletin board I notice our Thank-You cards were pinned up. Thirty-eight people signed these cards. It was lovely to see our community Thank-You’s displayed for all  their community to receive.

From the Buddhist to the Christians, Thank You for this deeply appreciated act of Generosity.

It isn’t easy Being Me


“I don’t want to be judged by who I am”

For over ten years now, Alistair has been Chef for our Thanksgiving gatherings and still I can find it a challenge to restrain myself from offering ‘helpful’ advice. Ahhhhhh….let it go Sakula, let it go…

How to Serve up a pleasant Holiday meal:

Take opinions from the freezer
Set them on the counter till thawed
Remove anything from the carcass not of personal responsibility and throw down
the toilet….flush
Simmer and serve remaining duties
Appreciate those of others

Dancing with the Tyrant

“It was Christmas and the foreign monks had decided to celebrate it. They invited some laypeople as well as Ajahn Chah to join them. The laypeople were generally upset and skeptical. Why, they asked, were Buddhists celebrating Christmas? Ajahn Chah then gave a talk on religion in which he said, “As far as I understand, Christianity teaches people to do good and avoid evil, just as Buddhism does, so what is the problem? However, if people are upset by the idea of celebrating Christmas, that can be easily remedied. We won’t call it Christmas. Let’s call it ‘Christ-Buddhamas’. Anything that inspires us to see what is true and do what is good is proper practice. You may call it any name you like.”

My husband Alistair and I were meant to fly out of Portland today, heading to his family’s home in the highlands of Scotland. Like thousands of other Holiday travelers we fell victim to the “Snow Storm of the Century” (which by the way is the second one this decade). So we spent the day dancing with the winter tyrant who, it seems, had much to offer once preferences were put to rest.

Time Is Marching On . . .

Tomorrow I leave for Alaska for two weeks, I wish I had time to write before heading out but oh well . . . time marches on and I’m getting older . . . . Hopefully I make it back to write again and share all the changes taking place.

Graph of time series equation. (Courtesy of Daniel Bersak.)

Won’t You Guide My Mind Tonight ?

Ajahn Thanissaro visited our center recently. I’m guessing his teachings took on a variety of themes dependent on the individuals of his audience. A theme that emerged for me was to actively take responsibility for the atmosphere of my heart and mind by paying attention to what perceptions I gave my attention to.

As mentioned in my last post, my current practice is focused on loosening my grip around some particular out-of-date perceptions. Sure, these perception were useful in their time but, as with all things that arise, these too are beginning to age. The question now is ‘can I learn how to let them die’? Well maybe not before I learn how to stop giving them so much attention. Applying Ajahn’s advice seemed a good direction to head . . .

I spent the best part of yesterday trying to put together a slide show for the Upasika program’s second anniversary celebration this Saturday. After several failed attempts to burn a disk of the completed project I finally gave up. When I noticed my mood begin to slip I brought Ajahn’s teachings back to mind and took responsibility for dwelling on the perception of failure. Hours of frustration were indulged before I recalled Ajahn’s advice to purposefully place attention on objects that don’t give rise to suffering. I took immediate action . . . I’m afraid Ajahn would not be proud but what I did next was to turn off the computer and turn on the T.V., made a big bowl a popcorn, put my feet up on the coffee table and watched my all-time-favorite Christmas claymation “Rudolf the Red Nose Raindeer” . . . I mean really, who doesn’t love seeing misfits reach their true potential?

It’s a blizzard in this brain of mine: good thing there’s bright lights to lead the way.
Ajahn Chah feeding deer at his monastery in Ubon, Thailand