How to Start a New Dharma Center Where You Live

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Meido
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How to Start a New Dharma Center Where You Live

Post by Meido » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:23 am

In another thread, a DW member mildly lamented the absence of a particular Dharma lineage in that member's country.

But, there is an easy way to bring dharma activity into your area. Here is the official guide:

1. Decide what teacher/organization/lineage interests you.
2. Find a few other people near you who are also interested.
3. Contact the teacher or org.
4. Invite them.

This sounds flippant, but I mean it seriously.

I often hear folks say that "it would be great if so-and-so group was near me, but they aren't."

Personally I think the correct approach is to grasp how precious any dharma connection is, and then to move heaven and earth to get to where one's teacher (or prospective teacher) is. Naturally it is often entirely reasonable to live distant from one's teacher; here I'm talking about initial connections.

But my point is that I personally have met few dharma teachers who would not fly to the other side of the world if invited (or at least send a qualified representative) assuming that the destination was reasonably safe, in order to help start and grow a new group. Even if it was not entirely safe, I know some who would go anyway.

Dharma orgs and teachers are, in my experience, very interested in spreading dharma and teaching. They are seeking interested people, anywhere. And assuming conditions allow, they will help out. Or make a referral. Or give useful advice.

Since not many people seem to realize that they have the power to initiate new activity in their areas, I thought this thread could serve. Today, actually, I had an email from someone who lamented that there were no Rinzai Zen centers in his part of the central USA. I live only a few hours drive from him. If he's really interested, he could come here for a weekend. If there were a half-dozen people like him interested in doing an introductory weekend retreat, I would go there...and in fact would feel obligated to do so. Just pay the gas. Or not.

But that kind of initiative doesn't seem to come easily for many folks. Hence the encouragement.

Would be interested if in this thread anyone who's started groups or centers would share their stories of how they got things off the ground, made connections, organized talks or other events from scratch, etc.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Virgo
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Re: How to Start a New Dharma Center Where You Live

Post by Virgo » Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:20 am

Great thread Meido.

Hopefully some people will take your suggestions.

Kevin

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: How to Start a New Dharma Center Where You Live

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:31 am

Meido wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:23 am
... I had an email from someone who lamented that there were no Rinzai Zen centers in his part of the central USA. I live only a few hours drive from him. If he's really interested, he could come here for a weekend. If there were a half-dozen people like him interested in doing an introductory weekend retreat, I would go there...and in fact would feel obligated to do so. Just pay the gas. ...
This is very much the way my nearest Tibetan group started. One local person went to a retreat some distance away, invited the teacher back to his (my) home town for a public lecture and mini-retreat, then formed an informal meditation group which he led under the guidance of that teacher. It met at a few different venues before finding a long-term home at the interfaith centre of the local university and has now been meeting weekly for over 15 years.
Along the way it became an incorporated association but it has never quite had the critical mass to establish its own permanent centre.
The teacher visits twice a year, for one residential and one non-residential weekend (the former is mainly for existing members but the latter attracts more new people), and keen members attend longer retreats closer to where the teacher is based.

It can be done!

:namaste:
Kim

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