“Lovely!” and “Very helpful!” were typical comments offered at the end of Northwest Dharma’s annual Teachers Meeting held October 4 at Blue Heron Zen Center in Seattle.
Attended by a broadly representative mix of Teacher Meeting veterans and first-timers, this year’s event generated lively and fruitful discussions. Teachers came from a variety of Tibetan, Theravadin, Pure Land, Chan, and Zen traditions. All expressed gratitude and pleasure at the opportunity to meet together and make connections.
During the morning segment of the meeting, perennial NWDA volunteer George Draffan demonstrated a working version of NWDA’s online teacher forum, called “TeacherSpace.” (See article below.) The response was extremely enthusiastic. Essentially, the “TeacherSpace” will allow Northwest teachers to “meet” via the internet throughout the year. When NWDA planners asked for a few teachers to conduct the next phase of beta-testing for the site, everyone present responded.
As a result of feedback from last year’s gathering, the 2008 agenda offered participants the opportunity to engage in focused discussions on several topics. One group shared experiences and concerns having to do with the psychological needs of students. Another joined together to discuss how best to engage children, young people, and families in practicing Dharma.
Informal discussions on financial planning for sanghas and issues related to resident members of temples and centers also took place. These may become topics for next year’s meeting or themes to continue on the online “TeacherSpace.”
Another highlight and innovation at this year’s meeting was the “Buddha building” interlude provided by Anita Feng, a clay artist and senior teacher at Blue Heron. An artfully-inclined contingent of teachers spent an hour getting to know each other better while expressing their “inner Buddhas” in clay. The charming results will be fired in Anita’s kiln.
Near the conclusion of the meeting a five-person team from Korean Buddhist Television arrived to videotape a portion of the event. Several teachers remained after the closing to be interviewed for a documentary on North American Buddhism.
The Northwest Dharma Association and all who attended the meeting are grateful to Blue Heron Zen Community, and especially to Anita and Greg Eisen, for hosting the annual Teachers Meeting once again. We also thank NWDA board member Avichala and his FWBO sangha member, Steve Minor, for providing and serving us a spectacular lunch.
The merit of this meeting of the Northwest teacher Mahasangha was dedicated to the benefit of all beings.
Photos: Thada Somphone.