Weekly Email 2-23-24

Greetings Friends,

Dear Common Ground Friends,

The Buddha taught that our direct insights into the conditional and interdependent nature of all internal and external experience is foundational to the path of awakening. These insights are onward leading to greater freedom, wisdom and compassion in our lives. This is why the Buddhist teachings on Karma are important to understand correctly. Karma simply means actions done with intention. This includes: thoughts that are thought, words that are spoken, deeds that are performed. The Buddha invites us to clearly recognize and discern the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness that underlies all these actions. It is our intention or motivation that leaves an impression on the heart, and shapes the next mind moment, and how things unfold in us and around us. The lawfulness of karma is often misunderstood to mean that you or I deserve the stuff that is happening to us because of things we did in the past. The Buddha’s teachings are not about judgment or assigning blame. Rather, the Buddha taught pragmatic and skillful means to help us wake up and see more clearly so that we can avoid relating in ways that lead to more stress. Understanding the law of karma means seeing the lawfulness of how things unfold. It develops into wisdom that realizes that how the mind is relating always matters: relating with greed, aversion or in a superficial disconnected way is stressful, relating with wisdom and awareness is liberating and supports the arising of goodwill and appropriate avenues for compassion action.

As one wise teacher taught, “The past is gone, the future has not yet arrived, now is the knowing.” Our job as practitioners is to remember that everything rests on this simple, dynamic quality of intention that is always shaping our mind moment by moment. Of course in the swirl of daily life, it is not easy to remember to be interested in something relatively subtle such as intention. We can start by asking ourselves the question, “How’s the mind or heart relating right now, with wholesome intentions or unwholesome intentions?” This wise curiosity is a compassionate caring for the moment. It is always appropriate and always helpful as we navigate our days as a human being interested in freedom and compassionate action. 

Wishing us all liberating insight into the nature of experience,
Mark Nunberg

“The law of karma is one of the most important laws governing our lives. When we understand it, and live our understanding, when we act on what we know, then we experience a sense of wholeness and peace. If we live in a way that is out of harmony, ignoring the nature of things, we then experience dissonance, pain, and confusion. The law of karma is one of the fundamental natural laws through which we create these vastly different realities. It is as though we are all artists, but instead of canvas and paint, or marble or music, as our medium, our very bodies, minds, and life experience are the materials of our creative expression. A great sense of fulfillment in dharma practice comes from knowing this and from actively creating and fashioning our lives.”Cause and Effect: Reflecting on the Law of Karma by Joseph Goldstein

Programs with our Co-Guiding Teachers

With Shelly Graf

Weekly Practice Groups with Shelly

Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:00 p.m., in-person and on Zoom

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

  • with Patrice Koelsch on Feb 25th
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
  • with Jean Haley on March 10th and April 7th
Half-Day and Daylong Retreats with Shelly Graf
In person and on Zoom
  • Half-Day with Shelly & Cecilia Ramon: Saturday, March 2nd, 1:00-5:00 p.m. Register here.
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation with Shelly Graf & Meski Mebatsion
Six Tuesdays, March 5th – April 9th, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
In person and on Zoom
More info and registration here

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

With Mark Nunberg

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.

Upcoming Teacher-led Programs

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

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

Movement in Four Postures Workshop with Kei Tsuruharatani
Sunday, March 10th, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
In person only. More info and registration here.

Guest Teacher Talk with Bhikkhu Sambodhi: How Has the Idea of Gradual Training Gone Out the Window?
Tuesday, April 16th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
In person and on Zoom

Ongoing Teacher-Led Programs

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

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, April 19th. The March 15th session is cancelled.

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.

Lovingkindness Practice Group
In-person and on Zoom. First Fridays of the month, 7:00-8:30 p.m., next session is March 1st. Shelly Graf teaching this month.

Community Practice Check-Ins
  • Sundays, 4:30-5:30 p.m., on Zoom with Wynn Fricke and Sarah Wilson
  • Every other Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-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 Zoom

Youth 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.

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

Practice Period with Louise Delagran & Matthew King
Thursday, April 18 – Sunday, April 21st
More info and registration here.

For background on our retreat center, click here.

Community News 

Openings in CG Sutta Study Groups
Common Ground has three Sutta Study Groups that meet on the first Saturday morning of each month to study the teachings of the Buddha and to strengthen relationships among committed practitioners and leaders. The groups are now accepting applications for new members, who will join the groups starting in April. Apply before March 6th to be included in the lottery. For more info and to apply, click 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.

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 March 3rd, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
  • Be Queer Now: First Wednesdays of the month, next meeting is March 6th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.
  • Black, Indigenous, People of Color Community Group, First and Third Thursdays, next meeting is March 7th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
  • Zoom: Buddhism and Other Religions Book Group, Saturday, March 9th, 9:00-10:30 a.m.
  • Refirement Group, Thursday, March 21st, 12:00-2:00 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.
Wishlists: If you want to donate a specific item, check out the Retreat Center Wishlist and the City Center Wishlist.


Once you know there is aware-
ness of the breath, notice the aware-
ness more than the breath. Let go of
the object and stay with the awareness.
When you know the awareness and not
just the object, this awareness knows
many things, and you will know
what the awareness knows.

 Thanks to The Daily Tejaniya for this quote

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