News from the Board of VIMS
Update: August 2020
Valley Insight’s Racial Affinity Group
Valley Insight’s Racial Affinity Group has embarked on its second year with an expanded membership, an expanded range of focus, and a new name. In July, the group agreed to rename itself Mindful of Racial Equity (MoRE). Having grown this summer from three members to eight, MoRE meets monthly, and in September will join with other sanghas throughout the country in a year-long online Racial Affinity Group Development Program (RA-GDP). RA-GDP is a program organized and led by Ruth King, guiding Dharma teacher at Insight Meditation Community in Washington and author of Mindful of Race: Transforming Race from the Inside Out. In June 2018 Valley Insight hosted Ruth in the Upper Valley for a public presentation based on her book.
Ruth’s book considers the suffering caused by systemic racism from the perspective of the Buddhist Dharma. It also suggests some healing practices, including the “racial affinity group” model. In essence, such a group is made up of people from the same race and is carefully structured so that participants feel safe enough to be vulnerable and challenged. The group’s purpose is to explore individuals’ personal history with racial matters and to work to uncover “unconscious biases” that can limit our relationships with and understanding of people from another race.
The online Group Development Program offers self-formed racial affinity groups like MoRE a virtual immersion “cultivating an intentional shift from racial innocence and distress to racial literacy and harmony within community.” In brief, the program will consist of instructional guidance from Ruth, group coaching, mutual support within our own group (limited to the current eight members), and shared learning from the larger community participating in the program. (For details, see https://ruthking.net/) MoRE members are looking forward to joining with other sanghas in examining our racial conditioning and becoming “clearer about how we can lessen the weight of racial ignorance and injustice––internally and externally.”
In the future, VIMS is looking forward to opening other opportunities for the sangha to explore the issue of racial affinity together.
In Gratitude for the Generosity of Our Sangha
Each January, Valley Insight’s board reviews our Sangha’s finances for the previous year. While we are not motivated to make money, we do need to be prudent about our annual budget and respectful about being good stewards of the money shared with us by our Sangha.
This year, it was my responsibility as board president to review 2019. We made a small amount of money this year.
I felt privileged to do this annual review largely because it gave me plenty of opportunity to reflect, once again, on the generosity of our Sangha. You may recall that the Buddha considered dana (generosity) to be the first of the paramis (perfections). I’m deeply moved by all who gave so generously to Valley Insight during the past year.
Many people support our Sangha through contributions to our annual appeal (in fact, 44 people contributed in 2019) or monthly through withdrawals from their bank or via PayPal. Others offer extra dana at a retreat or workshop because they are particularly inspired by the teachings they experienced.
These contributions are critical to us and we thank everyone who supports us financially.
Many people give in non-monetary ways that are equally important and valuable.
I’m aware that the most important resource in my own life is time, so I am moved and inspired by the many people who give so generously of their time and talent to Valley Insight. These gifts make our programs and events possible, and they allow us to offer support to others in our community, both those who are affiliated with Valley Insight and those who need support because of causes and conditions in their lives. We could not run our sits or retreats, offer support to others in the Sangha, take on teachings, Dharma study, or social action without the generous contributions of many people whose time and talents make them possible.
I am profoundly grateful, and I offer a deep bow of gratitude to everyone who contributes to Valley Insight.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
A Financial Snapshot for 2019
Total Revenue $27,693.93
This year, we received $4,031 from retreats; $12,340 from our annual appeal; $3,831 in donations from supporters (through monthly contributions or special gifts); $1,105 from donations at retreats; and a special gift of $5,000 toward a fund to support people who wish to attend a retreat or take advantage of another study opportunity.
Total Expenses: $20,674.18
Our expenses include rent for the spaces we use for our sits, classes and retreats; program expenses; expenses for community outreach (website, etc.); and various staffing expenses, including payments: to our bookkeeper; for travel expense of visiting teachers; and to our guiding teacher, Karen Summer, and senior teacher, Doreen Schweizer, for teaching and administrative work that is not supported by dana. (FYI – Karen and Doreen, as well as the other VIMS teachers and visiting teachers, receive no reimbursement for their direct teaching and preparation time other than the donations given in the dana boxes. This is in keeping with the Early Buddhist Tradition.)
Financial Support of Valley Insight in 2019
Here’s a glimpse of our financial support for the year:
ï We had 63 donors overall.
ï 44 donors responded to the Annual Appeal with donations.
ï 15 donors supported us with special or ongoing donations.
ï 6 people donated $1,000 or more.
ï 12 people donated $250-$999.
ï 19 people donated $100-$249.
We are pleased to welcome Sue McGilvray to the VIMS board. Thank you, Sue, for your willingness to serve!
In September, Michael Stoner will become president of the board, and Gina Sonne, who has served as president for the past three years, will become vice president. We are grateful to Michael for bringing his energy, clarity of mind, and organizational skills to the position. And we thank Gina for having devoted herself so generously to the job and for continuing to serve.
We are looking for two more people to be part of the joyful experience of serving on the VIMS board. We speak, in Buddhism, of the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. In joining the board, one’s experience of the Sangha deepens, friendships grow, and the community benefits.
We meet once a month for about an hour and a half. Please consider attending a board meeting to learn what we do. If you are interested, please call Gina at 802-649-7062.
New Study Group: Deepening Our Connection With the Dharma
Would you like to know more about the philosophical underpinnings which underlie our meditation studies and which are gradually reshaping the directions of our lives? If so, a new study group that VIMS is planning might be of interest to you.
This group is being developed in direct response to an expressed and growing interest within the VIMS community for a deeper and more intimate understanding of the basic teachings of continue reading …
New Guiding Teacher
December 03, 2018
With “great joy,” Karen Summer is stepping fully and wholeheartedly into the role of VIMS Guiding Teacher, a position she and Peg Meyer shared during the past year.
Karen began meditating in 1994 with Tara Brach’s Insight Meditation group in Washington, D.C. She became an active member of VIMS as soon as she arrived in the Upper Valley in 2000. Two years later, she participated in the meetings that resulted in the founding of Valley Insight’s Advisory Board and our subsequent non-profit incorporation. She was a strongly committed and very active member and leader of the board until she continue reading …
Peg Meyer’s Note to the VIMS Board of Directors
November 26, 2018
I am writing to let you know that I am resigning from my position as Guiding Teacher at Valley Insight Meditation Society (VIMS) effective December 30, 2018 and resuming my former role as teacher. This role includes continue reading …
Mindful of Race: A Visit from Ruth King
August 04, 2018
On June 25, Valley Insight was honored to have wise and compassionate Insight meditation teacher Ruth King visit our sangha and give a Dharma talk on her new book, Mindful of Race. Ruth’s talk packed the Norwich Congregational Church. Ruth calls racism a “heart disease” that can go unnoticed and continue reading …
Observations from the Intersangha Meeting of 2017: The Past and Future of Secularized Buddhism
By Mindy Schorr
November 5, 2017
In April of this year I had the opportunity and pleasure to attend the 8th annual Intersangha Meeting of the Buddhist Insight Network (BIN) at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.
The sixty-five attendees were made up of Community Dharma Leaders and sangha board members from Insight communities around the country. The purpose of the annual Intersangha gathering is continue reading…
Scholarships Available for Study at BCBS
The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts has been tremendously important in helping meditators to develop a clear understanding of Buddhist teachings and to cultivate a depth of practice for our modern world. Through its offerings, the Center fosters clarity, calm, and sanity and provides a place of learning and refuge in the rapidly changing and confused culture in which we live. It has been instrumental in the formation and direction of Valley Insight Society, as all our teachers and many sangha members have studied and practiced there over the years. We now have access to scholarship money, which is available for anyone in VIMS who would like to take courses there as well as for those who would like to participate in their online programs. Please see their offerings at https://www.bcbsdharma.org/. We particularly recommend the upcoming courses with Bhikkhu Analayo, Taraniya, Mu Soeng, Jan Surrey, and Shaila Catherine. But there are many others whose courses can enrich our understanding and our practice. Contact email@example.com for more information and to apply.
UVIP and Valley Insight will honor the Volunteers of our Prison Project on November 12, 2017
For the sixth consecutive year, Upper Valley and Claremont residents who have made significant contributions as volunteers will be honored in a “United Valley” event, the Micah awards ceremony. We expect an afternoon of joy and cheers as inspiring stories of selfless actions are shared with an audience. Each of the fifteen faith communities of the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP) will honor a person, couple, or small group who live according to an extraordinary degree of moral guidance. For those of Christian and Jewish traditions, this may be to “act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). For our Buddhist community, the animating spirit may be to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with all beings.
We will honor Joanne Bernard, Terry Gustafson, Landon Hall, Barbara Woodard, and Claudia Brandenburg. Their bios are within Doreen’s October Dhamma Reflection here. More on our UVIP and Prison Sangha pages.
Venue: Claremont Senior Center, 5 Acer Heights Road, Claremont
Day and Time: Sunday, November 12. Doors open for food and socializing 2:00 pm
Micah Ceremony 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Tickets are $30 per person in advance. We strongly encourage you to purchase your ticket in advance as we expect to sell out. Contact Mindy Schorr for tickets and information. firstname.lastname@example.org
Peg Meyer Graduates from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders Program
We of Valley Insight are blessed to have a teacher as loving, ardent, and wise as Peg Meyer. Her embodiment of the dharma continues to deepen with her years of study and practice, and she joyfully and generously shares her understanding with us. For more than two years, Peg actively participated in the Community Dharma Leaders teacher training program sponsored by Spirit Rock in California. She was one of ninety-three chosen from applicants throughout the U.S. and Europe. Peg’s formal graduation was marked by a festive ceremony at Spirit Rock in April, 2017.
The program afforded her the opportunity to have a monthly conference with her mentoring teacher, Taraniya Gloria Ambrosia, as well as a regular monthly discussion with her study group. She chose to concentrate much of her time with this group on issues of diversity and inclusivity with the sangha. To meet the program’s requirements, every month Peg submitted essays and/or lesson plans on a full range of topics. She attended two ten-day retreats with the program each year, plus others of her own choosing. This has been a rigorous program. Peg appreciated the depth of teachings and worked diligently, whole-heartedly taking full advantage of the offering.
VIMS Lending Library has moved to The Barn
Our library has over 150 books, CDs, magazines, and pamphlets cataloged. Catalogs are available on the top shelf of the library. Books are shelved in alphabetical order by author. You may check out books using the sign-out notebook there. The suggested sign-out period is one month. Now that we have a library, please consider donating your Theravadan (Insight) -related texts when you’re moving them from your nightstand to your bookshelf. A box for new donations is located on the top shelf of the library. A bow of gratitude to Suzanne Serat who has sustained this project!