In the Upaddha Sutta, the Buddha assures Ananda that friendship with people who share our spiritual path is actually the whole of the holy life. “When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and comrades” said the Buddha, “he can be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path.”
Many of us have found exactly that kind of refuge in Valley Insight. In our Sangha, we practice with, learn from, and are inspired by others with whom we share values and aspirations for awakening.
Just as we need to tend our own practice for it to bear fruit for us, so too do we need to tend to our Sangha. We gathered rather informally at first. Then, in 2006, Valley Insight was incorporated: Thomas Breslin, Laura Foley, Jerry Marcel, Doreen Schweizer, and Nina Swaim signed our incorporation documents as a 501(c)3 organization in New Hampshire. This was a big step for because it meant we could do things that we couldn’t do as an informal organization (rent space for retreats or offer insurance to teachers, for example).
For a variety of reasons, it is time for us to consider how we can keep Valley Insight vital for some time to come. How can we identify and develop a new generation of teachers? How can we discern our members’ needs and help others learn and practice the Dharma? What are the best ways for our Sangha to engage with the community at large?
To begin this process, Valley Insight’s board, teachers and a few invited guests met for a half-day retreat in June. Doreen wrote about our experience, “We gathered together to pause, relax, and reflect on the Sangha. What were our roots? Who are we now? Where are we going? We took time in quiet, careful conversation to elicit, and attune to, our collective aspirations and intentions. Even as the momentum of life was moving us onward, we sat in silence. There was a vast, boundless space in our process, and there was kindness. May the fruits of the day be of benefit to the ongoing life of Valley Insight, and beyond.”
This retreat was the first step in a process in which we can clarify some important questions — and begin to answer them so that Valley Insight can be strong enough to help succeeding generations of those who want to learn to deepen their practice with a supportive and enlivened Sangha. Now, it’s our entire Sangha’s turn.
Join a Listening Session
Please join others from our Sangha in a time of listening and reflection on how we can keep Valley Insight vital for some time to come. How can we identify and develop a new generation of teachers? How can we discern our members’ needs and help others learn and practice the Dharma? What are the best ways for our Sangha to engage with the community at large?
We’ll hold four listening sessions over the next few months; please sign up for one of them that’s most convenient for you:
- Wednesday, October 19, 5:30-7:00 pm in our Online Dharma Hall
- Monday, October 24, 1:00-3:00 pm, in person in Hanover (Rotary Room, Howe Library)
- Tuesday, November 1, 7:30-9:00 pm, in our Online Dharma Hall
- Thursday, November 16, 5:30-7:00 pm in our Online Dharma Hall
Sign up here [https://forms.gle/TJNCKQKana7QdR1D7]
Please sign up for one of these conversations! (Or, if you can’t attend any of them, please indicate that; we’ll try to arrange another opportunity or two and let you know about them.) We’ll send you some background information once you sign up; you may want to read it before your session, although don’t worry: you can contribute without reading a thing!
If you have thoughts or questions, please get in touch with Michael Stoner via email (email@example.com) or phone (312-622-6930).