Dec 172015

For those joining us this Saturday, December 19th, for our 3rd Saturday of the month Upaya Sangha of Tucson meeting, we will meet from 10:00 am to noon, and our meeting will include brief sutra chanting, participant check-in, announcements, sitting meditation (Zazen), and a brief tea break. After this, Sensei Al will continue exploration of the eightfold path, giving a dharma talk entitled, “Samadhi: Opening to the Empty Field.” During announcements, Sensei Al will also provide a brief summary on Steering Committee discussions and deliberations responsive to suggestions made a few weeks ago at our Annual Sangha Meeting (see below).

If this is your first time to join us, we meet at Tucson Community Meditation Center (TCMC), 1231 E. Edison St., one block south of Grant, just west of Mountain, on the north side of the street. We meet the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. There are plenty of zafus (meditation cushions) and chairs.

Parking reminder: It’s important to the future of TCMC to observe mindful parking by not parking on the same block as the Center and by leaving an empty parking space in front of the homes on the neighboring blocks. Please reserve TCMC driveway parking for people who cannot walk far.

Please help us to accommodate our members who are chemically sensitive to fragrances or other scented products. Thank you for not wearing perfume, aftershave, or similar products.


Steering Committee Discussion and Deliberations on Annual Meeting Suggestions:

Our Upaya Sangha of Tucson Steering Committee, subsequent to our full sangha Annual Meeting, has discussed the various suggestions made concerning our sangha activities into the future. The following provides an abbreviated summary of these discussions, deliberations, and initial decisions:

(1) Several sangha members have asked about more frequent group practice opportunities, beside the first and third Saturday meetings that we currently have. There was also inquiry about daylong or half-day mini-retreats (“zazenkai”), and the incorporation of opportunities for walking meditation (kinhin), in addition to sitting meditation (zazen). Steering Committee member Christine Johnson, along with sangha members Joe Montani and Andy Lenards have made plans for a half-day (morning) zazenkai, with several sitting and walking meditation periods as well as some liturgy practice, to be held at the Stone Curves Cohousing meeting area on January 30th. More information will follow. The Steering Committee is also continuing to discuss the possibility of sangha meetings on Saturdays other than the first and third, but has not come to any decision yet, pending more information regarding space availability and exploring coverage for when Sensei Al is away.

(2) There were also questions at the Annual Meeting regarding the possibility of social get-together opportunities for the sangha. At this point, the Steering Committee has proposed that these be instigated and organized informally (i.e., not an “official” sangha activity) by any sangha members who are interested. Opportunities will be made available at sangha meetings for sangha members to make announcements about social activities and sign-up sheets.

(3) Some interest was expressed at the Annual Meeting in opportunities for “Engaged Buddhist” activities. Several possibilities were discussed by the Steering Committee (e.g., meditation teaching offered to persons without homes in the community; partnering with the UA in activities concerned with contemplative traditions and social justice), and planning is being developed. In addition, Mary Ellen Beaurain, Sylvie Stevenson, and Luise Levy met to discuss ways of organizing the provision of support to individual sangha members (e.g., “helping hands” model) who may have, for example, medical appointment transportation or other needs). This subgroup also discussed the possibility of ongoing support for sangha members with chronic and/or terminal illnesses, their family members, and professionals in related service (e.g., as with Upaya Zen Center’s Metta Refuge Council). This discussion is ongoing. Finally, this subgroup discussed the suggestion of a print and/or electronic directory of sangha members, though no recommendation is being made at this point, pending gathering of additional information and further assessing sangha interest.

(4) The steering committee discussed possible enhancements to the functions of our sangha website (, and will be discussing these with Guy Scharf and Bill Thompson, who have given their time so generously in the creation of our website.

(5) Finally, the Steering Committee discussed plans for guest teachers. David Loy has committed to teaching a one- or two-day retreat for the sangha in November of 2016 (specifics to follow). Sensei Al will also be exploring the possibility of coordinating sangha visiting teachers with a visiting lecturer series now being planned at the UA, and sangha members Tim Clark, Charles Simmons, and Mary Ellen Beaurain have agreed to help explore other visiting teacher invitations.