Sunday, April 11, 2010
Took a few days to be mostly off-line. I checked e-mail maybe twice since Thursday, and looked at blogs only for about 15 minutes. A nice break. Most recommended for anyone who has been tech-focused, which is a lot of us these days.
Among other things, I did some squirrel meditation yesterday evening while walking. As some of you know, I have been loosely doing a photo project documenting alleys, so I often find that when I go walking, I end up touring alleys and yesterday was no exception.
Behind a large apartment building, I saw a squirrel leap on a dumpster. I stopped, and watched as it lifted one foot to it's chest and looked around a bit. Seeing me, it froze. We locked eyes as the thought passed through my mind "I wonder if people are going to think I'm up to no good back here." The squirrel scampered across the top of the dumpster, stood up, and did the same foot to chest gesture as it watched me.
Breathing in, I saw this pause. Breathing out, I saw a gray flash down the side of the dumpster. Thus was the end of the squirrel meditation.
This morning was a different kind of animal. A Gopher perhaps. We had our monthly board meeting and made some progress on our strategic plan. Lots of ideas and healthy discussions, as well as some specific steps forward. Gotta love that.
Toward the end of the meeting, we got into a discussion about attracting new members. Previously, I and some other board members had brought up the lack of people of color, working class folks, and young people in general in our sangha. So, some today's discussion was about that, but it also veered into the thorny areas of how to "market" programs and classes, as well as what the center should offer to attract people. Kabit-Zinn's mindfulness programs came up a fair bit, as did offering "introductory" classes, in-services, etc. that stripped out the "Buddhist" and "Zen" talk. Our guiding teacher wasn't too keen on putting a lot of energy into these kinds of programming, partly, she said, because those who come in through a more secular gate aren't necessarily going to appreciate or being interested in being an active member of a zen community. It's an interesting point, one that I find myself aligning with to some degree, while also thinking that offering Kabit-Zinn type workshops might be a way to support people in the community who may never otherwise be affiliated with our center.
The elephant lurking behind these discussions is, of course, money. How do you maintain what you have going, and also possibly build upon it for the future? No one on our board, thankfully, wants to be a huge community bringing in millions of dollars and selling off every last bit dharma in the process. However, we seem to be at a crossroads as to how to define ourselves for the coming decade at the very least. It's a very interesting place, and we'll be having a more thorough discussion on these issues in the next few months.
In the meantime, it's a warm, sunny day here in Minnesota. I'm sitting outside a local coffee house as I type this, taking in the fresh breeze and passing people, cars, and yes, squirrels. On days like this, I feel no need to hurry, and no need to worry.
I'll leave you with the words to a Thich Nhat Hanh community song I learned a few years ago.
Happiness is here and now,
I have dropped all my worries.
Nowhere to go, nothing to do,
And never in a hurry.
Happiness is here and now
I have dropped all my worries.
Somewhere to go, something to do,
But never in a hurry.
p.s. Click on photo to see a little furry friend.
Posted by Nathan at 12:28 PM