Weekly Email 2-2-24

Greetings Friends,

The Buddha, through his own practice, awakened to the underlying nature of things, just as they are. Having direct experiential insight into the conditional, unfixed, and impersonal nature of our ‘subjective’ experience powerfully undermines the mind’s tendency to grasp and struggle. In a conventional sense, it is necessary that we take responsibility for the skillfulness or unskillfulness of our thoughts, words, and actions. Our intentions and motivations have real consequences. But, in a deeper way, it is equally important to recognize that these intentions and actions are themselves, conditional, lawful, and not worthy of grasping as “I, me, or mine”. Our actions do not arise in isolation. Nobody is a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ person in some essential fixed sense. This moment, and any moment is always the wild unfolding of innumerable impersonal causes and conditions.

Experience is characterized by uncertainty, yet awareness practice illuminates an underlying lawfulness that allows us to develop skill in how we relate to whatever is arising and passing. The Buddha taught, “When this is, that is. With the arising of this, comes the arising of that. When this isn’t, that isn’t. From the stopping of this comes the stopping of that.” In other words, we are learning ways to skillfully participate with the unfolding of our lives by discerning ways of relating that cultivate and maintain the wholesome and prevent and abandon the unwholesome tendencies of mind. It is this learning that leads to insight and is expressed outwardly as more and more resonant wisdom, compassion, and ease. If we wish to be free, we must practice relating to the internal and external conditions in each moment in ways that have the felt sense of freedom, and abandoning those tendencies that have the felt sense of constriction. This is our spiritual curriculum. We trust that insight and letting go will arise naturally due to this ongoing deep learning.

Mark Nunberg
Co-Guiding Teacher

Update on Mark’s Teaching Schedule:
Beginning in February, I will be taking ten weeks of personal leave to stabilize my health and rebuild my strength. I will return to teaching in mid- April. I am deeply grateful to the Board of Directors who have recently established sabbatical and personal leave policies. These new policies to support paid staff are available for me at this time because of the great generosity of our Common Ground Community. For over 30 years, the community has practiced ‘Dana’, an open invitation to freely give and receive. This is especially moving for me during this health challenge. It has also been deeply inspiring to see how so many leaders and volunteers continue to show up and support our community. May this goodness continue, increase and never end.

Click here to read Mark’s latest CaringBridge post.

COVID Update:
We would like to remind our in-person community about the recent increase in the circulation of Covid and other respiratory viruses in the Twin Cities. The risk of acquiring COVID is higher now, and it still can be a deadly disease. At Common Ground we cultivate a shared commitment to minimizing harm. That means refraining from attending in-person programs if you have any symptoms, and taking appropriate steps to protect yourself given your personal health or home situation. We encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines for isolation and testing when you have COVID, suspect you have it, or have been exposed to it.

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Group with Shelly

Sundays mornings, 10:30-11:45 a.m., in-person, on Zoom, and live-streamed to YouTube

Sundays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., in-person only

with Guest Teacher Chas DiCapua on Feb 25th: Making A Suitable Home For The Heart

Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in-person and on Zoom
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
In person and on Zoom
  • Half-Day: Saturday, February 3rd, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Register here.
  • Daylong: Saturday, February 10th, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Register here
  • Half-Day: Saturday, March 2nd, 1:00-5:00pm. Register here.
Buddhist Studies: Impermanence with Shelly Graf
Four Mondays, January 29th – February 19th, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
In person and on Zoom
Register hereIntroduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Shelly Graf
Six Tuesdays, March 5th – April 9th, 7:00-8:30pm
In person and on Zoom
Registration opening next week

Community Practice Check-ins with Shelly Graf
Every Wednesday, 8:30-9:30 a.m. in-person
Every Friday, 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Zoom; co-led every other Friday with Jen Racho

With Mark Nunberg

Mark’s winter Buddhist Studies class on Dependent Co-Arising has been rescheduled to run April 29th-May 27th; we’ll include another reminder about that when it gets closer.

To view the recording from the Community Dharma Evening with Mark and Shelly on Jan 15th, click here.

Upcoming Teacher-led Programs

Recovery & Twelve Steps Half-Day Retreat with Mark M & Mary G
Saturday, February 17th, 1:00–5:00pm
In-person only. Registration here.

Guest Teacher Talk with Chas DiCapua: Making A Suitable Home For The Heart
Sunday, February 25th, 7:00-8:30pm

Befriending Illness Workshop with Meg Brandeland & Shelly Graf
Saturday, March 9th, 9:30am – 4:00pm
In-person and on Zoom. More info and registration here.

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs

As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the most up-to-date information and Zoom links. 

Lovingkindness Practice Group with Stacy McClendon
In-person and on Zoom. First Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
, next session is February 2nd.

Mindful Self-Compassion with Jean Haley and Jane Rauenhorst 
On Zoom Only. Third Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is Friday, February 16th.

Developing the Art of Spiritual Inquiry with Ramesh Sairam
On Zoom only.
First Thursdays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is March 7th. 

Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., on Zoom with Wynn Fricke and Sarah Wilson
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 AM-12:00 p.m., on Zoom with Ramesh Sairam
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m., on Zoom with Stacy McClendon
Mindfulness, Recovery, and the Twelve Steps
Weekly group meets every Friday, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
In-person and on ZoomYouth Programs 

  • Children’s Program: Kindergarten- 3rd grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Preteen Program: 4th grade- 7th grade, every other Sunday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
  • Teen Practice Group: Every other Sunday 10:30-11:30 a.m.
View the calendar page for the exact schedule. (The teen group alternates with the children and preteen groups.)

Programs at Our Retreat Center
Common Ground Retreat Center is located in Wisconsin, about an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Minneapolis.

President’s Day Residential Retreat with Shelly Graf & Gabe Keller Flores
Thursday, February 15th – Sunday, February 18th
In-person and on Zoom. Registration here. (Waitlist for in-person; space available on Zoom.)

Introduction to Buddhist Retreat Practice with Stacy McClendon & Gail Iverson
Thursday, March 7th, 4:00pm – Sunday, March 10th, 1:00pm
In-person only. More info and registration here.

For background on our retreat center, click here.

Community News 

Yoga Schedule
Nancy Boler will be away for about a week, leading a yoga retreat. Her yoga classes at Common Ground will be cancelled Feb 2-9, starting back up again on Monday, Feb 12. You can view her class schedule at CG here.

Buddhism and Artificial Intelligence
We thought we’d share a recent talk on Buddhism and A.I. by Randy Fernando, who is a Spirit Rock Board Member, former Buddhist Insight Network board member, and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. Mark and Gabe have both listened to it and recommend it.

Article on Dharma and Climate by CG Community Member
Iris Antman, a CG community member, recently wrote an article on Dharma and climate change activism that we thought to share with everyone. You can read it here.

Volunteer in Prison
We are in need of several volunteers for Buddhist groups at the Moose Lake Minnesota DOC and Sandstone Federal corrections facilities.  If you have experience with meditation and an interest or knowledge in the Buddha’s teaching according to the Pali canon, along with a desire to share these benefits with those who are suffering incarceration, you likely are qualified.  Extensive knowledge is not necessary.  Contact Jeff: jeffroehl@outlook.com, 763-360-7900.

Upcoming Community Group Meetings
As always, our online calendar is the best way to find the correct times and Zoom links. 

  • Mindfulness & Depression, First and Third Sundays, next meeting is February 4th, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is February 7th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, February 10th, 9:00-10:30 AM
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, February 15th, 12:00-2:00 p.m.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is February 15th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
  • To see the complete list of community groups, click here.

Steward Needed at Arrow River near Thunder Bay, Canada
As a small hermitage in a non-Buddhist country, Arrow River operates by dependence on a lay steward who lives here and takes care of the duties which monks cannot. This is an opportunity to live at the center for an extended period of time and to serve the Triple Gem. The duties are not time consuming and leave ample time for study and meditation. There is an opening beginning February 26th. More information about stewardship at Arrow River.

Freely Giving and Receiving

Common Ground offers all programs freely in the spirit of generosity. If you’d like to donate to support the teachers and the center, click the link below.


Volunteer Opportunities

Please contact Gabe Keller Flores, at gabe@commongroundmeditation.org if you are interested in any of these volunteer opportunities:

  • Program Hosting: We are looking for a few more program hosts to help greet people and set up the meditation hall on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. If you enjoy making people feel welcome, have good attention to detail, and have been coming to the center for at least a year, feel free to reach out to Gabe.
  • Snow Removal: Join the Common Ground snow removal team to help shovel and snowblow to keep the center’s sidewalks clear after snowstorms.
  • Audio Editing: For talks uploaded to Dharmaseed. The audio editing is easy to learn, no previous experience required.
  • Tree trimming: A community member with skill and experience trimming trees; for a tree at the city center.
Wishlists: If you want to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.


The Mind Does Not Belong to You, But

 The mind does not be-
long to you, but you are
responsible for it.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

winter at the city center

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