Weekly Email 12/7/21

Generosity of All Beings

For some of us this is a season of giving. When we focus on giving gifts to others, we sometimes forget the generosity of all the beings whose “giving” we depend on. Use your imagination to see who you count as “all beings”. Do you count only the humans? What about the cat curling on your lap warming and comforting you? Do only the sentient count as beings? What about the naked trees outside that gave all their leaves to nourish the earth? Scientists are discovering that plants are conscious, sentient beings. What about rocks and rivers?  Mari Kondo, a Japanese decluttering master, once said that we should thank our worn-out socks before we toss them in the trash. She invites us to say, “Thank you, socks now full of holes, for your generosity to have kept my feet warm.”

When we eat, pay attention to the plants and animals that gave their sentient lives to nourish our body. Think of all the people involved in making the food possible: the farmers, truck drivers, store clerks, the people who laid electrical or gas lines for heat, those who dug to install the water pipes and sewage lines. Similarly when we put on a warm coat and boots to walk in the snow, think of all the beings that made the warmth and protection possible. All those little hands that sewed in China or Bangladesh… Let’s send them metta!

A small spider rambles across my desk. My eyes follow the movement of her spindly brown legs until she disappears off the edge. I wonder about her place in the ecology of my basement office. I find some evidence: in a corner a humble pile of insect parts. Even though I don’t know exactly how, she belongs here, doing her work. Who knows, without her and her kin, my office may be swarming with gnats.

Lately I think being alive and doing our best is the most fundamental act of courage and generosity. We don’t have to change the suffering world out there. We do what we can to bring happiness and discernment in our everyday life. It matters that we persevere on this despite some gray heavy hours. It matters that we trust in our connections to each other, in kindness, in healing.

We each inextricably belong in the flow of the generosity of all beings. What if we think of generosity not as something we “give” in a transactional way, but as an expression of spontaneous gratitude that arises when we pay attention to the truth of our interdependence? From this understanding, a giving is always a simultaneous receiving. It only strengthens our trust in our belonging, that is our birthright.

Kyoko Katayama

Weekly Programs

As a reminder, vaccination, masking, and social distancing are required for in-person programs.
To access Zoom links to participate in online programs, please visit the online calendar.

Weekly Practice Groups
These programs, led by our Guiding Teachers Mark Nunberg and Shelly Graf, are a cornerstone for one’s practice by providing ongoing instruction and teachings that help illuminate the simple but challenging practice of mindfulness. Meeting times:

  • Sunday mornings, 10:30-11:45am on Zoom with Mark Nunberg (with an option to watch the livestream together in person in the meditation hall)
  • Sunday evenings, 7:00-8:30pm in person, usually with Mark Nunberg, but for the month of December we’re lucky to be joined by these wonderful teachers:
December 12th: Merra Young (teaching remotely to an in-person audience)
December 19th: Jean Haley
December 26th: Cancelled for Year-End Retreat
  • Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom with Shelly Graf
Community Practice Check-Ins
Every week we offer several opportunities to practice with and ask questions of Common Ground Dharma teachers. It’s also a time to share reflections from your own practice with the group.
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30pm with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke, on Zoom
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm with Stacy McClendon and Mark Nunberg, on Zoom (Mark away until January)
  • Fridays, 9:00-10:00am with Shelly Graf, on Zoom
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30am-12:00pm with Ramesh Sairam, on Zoom (next meeting Dec. 15th)
Open Meditation
Join fellow community members for meditation practice in person or online, 7 days a week. Visit the calendar for times and details.
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
This ongoing program is for those seeking spiritual development by practicing the principles of the Twelve Steps and the Buddha’s teachings in everyday life. Meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30pm. On Zoom every week except the second Friday of the month, which is hybrid.

Yoga & Qigong
We offer Yoga and Qigong several times a week, both in person and online. Click here for times and details.

Upcoming Programs: In Person/Hybrid at Common Ground

New Year’s Day Yoga with Nancy Boler

Saturday, January 1st, 10:30am-1:00pm
In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course with Mark Nunberg
6 Tuesdays, January 11th – February 15th, 7:30-9:00pm.
In person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Living the Practice Workshop: Freedom with Dukkha: Skillfully Applying the Buddha’s Teachings in our Unsatisfactory, Broken World
with Mark Nunberg, Shelly Graf, and Meski Mebatsion
Saturday, January 22nd, 9:30am-4:00pm
In Person or on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Upcoming Programs at Common Ground Retreat Center

Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis. Registration is now open for the following programs there.

  • Practice Period with Joan Ursa Borchert & Robb Reed
    5:30pm Thursday, January 6th – 1:00pm Sunday, January 9th. Registration here.
  • Practice Period with Danielle Sewell & Matthew King
    5:30pm Thursday, January 13th – 1:00pm Sunday, January 16th. Registration here.
More info and registration for these programs can be found here.

Upcoming Programs: Online

 Interplay with Spruce Krause

Thursday, December 9th, 7:00-8:30pm. More info here.

Half-Day Retreat with Shelly Graf

Saturday, December 11th, 9:00am-1:00pm. More info and registration here.
Couples’ Workshop with Jane Rauenhorst & Jean Haley
Saturday, December 11th, 9:00am-12:00pm. More info and registration here.
Community Gathering celebrating Shelly Graf’s hiring as one of Common Ground’s Guiding Teachers
Sunday, December 19th, 1:00-2:30pm.

The Practice of Generosity

Continuing in the tradition of Buddhist monasteries in Southeast Asia, all programs at Common Ground are offered free of charge in the spirit of generosity. This offering is possible because of the generosity of people like you—from the Buddha on down to all the people in our community—who contribute their practice, time, and financial resources to support the continuation of the center.

To learn how to support the center and our teachers, visit this page. Let us know if you have any questions.

Current Volunteer Needs 

  • In-Person Program Host: We’re looking for someone who’s been attending programs at the center for at least a year, ideally someone with residential retreat experience, to serve as an in-person program host one Sunday evening a month.
  • Snowblowing Team: We’re still looking for a few more snow removal volunteers!  The way we do it is you sign up for times when you’re on call to respond if there’s a snowfall. We need both shovelers and people to operate the snowblower. Snowblowing training provided :)
  • Tuesday evening bellringer: We’re looking for someone interested in ringing the bell for the evening sit on Tuesdays, 7:30-9:00pm, once or twice a month.
  • Flower arrangers: Do you like flowers? We are looking for a couple flower-arranging volunteers at Common Ground. Training provided!
Email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if interested in one of these volunteer positions.
  • Weekly Sunday Evening Cleaning: Every Sunday evening there is a drop-in Community Cleaning time from 6-7pm, led by community leaders Brad Dupre and Dave Redelman. No RSVP needed.


Community News

   Upcoming Community Group Meetings

  • Be Queer Now Meditation Sangha, Wed. Dec 8th, 7:30-9:00pm on Zoom.
  • Community Group for Organizers and Social Justice Activists, Thurs. Dec 9th, 6:00-7:30pm on Zoom.
  • Every Tuesday, 8:00-9:00am: Tea and Dharma Community Group, In Person.
For times and Zoom links visit the calendar.
Community Group in Portland, OR?
Greetings from Portland Oregon. Would you like to connect in person with other CG practitioners on Sunday mornings, who also live in this geographic area? Looking to form in-person CG sangha to sit together at 8:30 AM Pacific, to include small group sharing as done in the brick and mortar building in Minneapolis, followed by some time for fellowship. Please contact me at nancy@mindbodymindfulness.com or reach out to Gabe Keller Flores if you have interest. If there is interest, I will find a place where we can gather. Hope to hear from you!

Upcoming Antiracism Programs with ASDIC
Our friends at ASDIC (Antiracism Study and Dialogue Circle) have some online programs coming up, open to all:

  • Third Sunday Forums: Conversations on Race, Dec 19, 12:30 PM. More info here.
Arrow River Forest Hermitage Looking for Steward
Some of you will be familiar with Arrow River Forest Hermitage, where one of CG’s longtime visiting teachers, Ajahn Punnadhammo is the resident Buddhist monk. The hermitage will be needing someone to act as steward starting mid-December. The steward is a volunteer position and is responsible for cooking the one meal a day, managing the kitchen and doing the shopping. It is strongly preferred if you have a driver’s license. For more information check out the Visitor’s Pages on their website. Please send all inquiries to abbot@arrowriver.ca.

Weekly Tejaniya
Always be in meditation. There is
room for awareness in every moment, not just when you sit.

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