Monday, January 4, 2010

Community Meeting Minutes of November 21, 2009

Community Meeting Minutes:
The Community of Mindfulness/ NY Metro (CMNY)
November 21, 2009
Facilitator: Karen
Note Taker: Bernadette ( Bernadette, Karen, Marjorie and David coordinated this final version)

Participants: there were 14 participants, representing 8 different local Sanghas: Cedar Knoll, Joyful Sounding, Morning Star, Quiet Harbor, Quiet Mountain, Riverside, Rock Blossom and Rutgers.

Review of Community of Mindfulness/ New York Metro (CMNY) and January Elections (David)

Report from Networking Group (Bernadette)

Treasury Report and Financial Aspect of Events ( Marjorie)



Discussion and Proposals:

Review of CMNY and January Elections ( David)

In the 1990's, a Sangha had been practicing regularly under the leadership and guidance of Lynn Fine, who now lives in California and is a Dharma teacher. Around 1996, there came a need to establish a decision making process to help the Sangha make decisions about activities, such as how organize a retreat, how to offer scholarship money, where and how much we should donate.

From these meetings, the process of "Deciding to Decide" evolved. This is a decision making process based consensus and is informed by the practice of the Mindfulness Trainings. Many of those involved in these early meetings continue to practice and use "Deciding to Decide" with their current local Sanghas. ( You can read this document which is copied at the end of these minutes.)

The experience the Sangha had in establishing these guidelines led to discussions about the Sangha becoming incorporated as a non-profit 501c corporation. The Sangha worked together and we became incorporated in 1999. This required the establishment of bylaws, a board with elected officers carrying specific responsibilities, and other procedural requirements necessary to be non-profit 501c3 in NYS. This was all accomplished and is an expression of the Mindfulness Trainings within our organization.

The CMNY, Inc. is not responsible for directing the various Sangha Groups/meetings. It is presently responsible for the monthly Days of Mindfulness at The Riverside Church; represents our Practice/Sangha on the Buddhist Council of New York and coordinates participation at the Meditate NYC yearly event and maintains 2 CMNY websites. It has in the past raised money for a public school charity and for scholarships to Sangha retreats for practitioners. CMNY has also been a vehicle for working with our monastics at Blue Cliff and with Thay's tours, retreats (example. Sangha Building Table participation), etc.

The 501c3 status has been maintained over the years. David Flint can provide anyone with a copy of the bylaws or other information about the Community of Mindfulness/ NYMetro as a 501c3.

Over the years energy and interest in the CMNY non-profit corporation did diminish, although energy for practice in our Sangha meetings expanded and blossomed. Now with the presence of Blue Cliff, and Thay's events at the Beacon and the recent retreats, there has been renewed energy and "more interest in connecting to each other". Therefore, discussion about CMNY is experiencing renewed interest. There have been 3 community meetings this year and the next meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm, at the Riverside Church following a shortened Day of Mindfulness.

Report on the Networking Group( Bernadette)

The Networking group is a discussion forum via conference phone, open to anyone who wishes to participate to discuss how our Sanghas can share and communicate. There have been three conference calls. The phone call happens just like a dharma discussion drawing on Dharma discussion guidelines. The benefit of conference call is the ease: you don't have to travel anywhere and members from different Sangha's can communicate. Participants on one call were from Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan and Westchester. Discussion is open, and we practice mindful speech. This is a forum to share ideas about inter Sangha communication, as we foster communication between us in the process. Ideas that have been shared include Facebook, a newsletter, the role of Blue Cliff in relation to Sanghas. The next call is scheduled for Jan 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm. All are welcome to join in! Just make this free call: 218-862-6420 and then enter code 786-789 when prompted.

Treasury Report and Financial Aspect of Events (Marjorie)

Beacon Events

Total cost to the CMNY for the Beacon Events was $1309.( Boxed lunches for 70 monastics; gatha cards; food for monastics where they were lodged, ribbons to support monastics of Bat Nha on walking meditation with Thay, transportation and printing costs).
Of these costs $660 have been generously donated. Of the remaining $649, CMNY has already paid out $143. There remains $506 to be reimbursed.

"Meditate NY", (November 8, 2009 )
Total Costs: $148. CMNY sent a $100 contribution to Blue Cliff Monastery to express our gratitude and to help pay the travel expenses for the monastics who participated in the "Meditate NY” event. Misc expenses, paid out $28. $20 of this was generously donated.

Current Treasury has $500.

Proposal: Marjorie proposed sending an e-mail for Fundraising to pay outstanding bills and to create a cushion for future expenses. All agreed and there was no opposition to the proposal. Karen and Ken offered to assist Marjorie in creating the Fund Raising e-mail.


There was a go-round of questions: confusion about CMNY's relation to local Sanghas, a question about the organization's purpose; need to reflect on the monastics and their position since they are "living and breathing" the teachings and practice; question of how or does the structure serve the community; Decision by Consensus and Deciding to Decide seem to be very deep practices and valuable; what are ways we can explore going deeper into these various questions; what kind of being together do we want. If we weren't making the effort, these gatherings and this discussion would not be happening.


Karen suggested that when questions and comments were made re central and/or decentralized structure , that we " hold this in a larger context where both can be possible and of value - rather than thinking it had to be one or the other". She encouraged us to "continue to move in the direction that draws you"

Next Meeting: January 16 at The Riverside Church, 2:45-4:30 pm; following the Day of Mindfulness( 10am-2:30 pm).

Respectfully submitted by,
Bernadette, with editing and the Sangha eyes of David, Karen and Marjorie


Decision Making “Deciding To Decide”

Introductory Awareness

1. We consider ourselves part of an international Sangha inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. All decisions will be made in the sprit of the Charter of the Order of Interbeing.

2. In our proposals for process and structure in the Community of Mindfulness/NY Metro, we consistently return to the spirit of the teachings:
Part of the process of decision-making involves letting go of attachment and preferences.

The process of how we respond when we feel that a decision didn’t go “our way" and our relationship to the mental formations arising from such situations is precisely one of the points of our sangha practice together.

The spirit of Beginning Anew be built into the planning meeting process as part of the culture, for example, at the end of each planning meeting, we give time for “flower-watering.”

A short quote from Thich Nhat Hanh or “Evoking the Bodhisattvas’ Names” may be read at the beginning of each planning meeting to set the tone.

3. Everyone attending planning meetings will be provided with a short working definition of consensus.


Given that a range of disagreement is possible in the consensus model: a) an individual or individuals may express disagreement with a proposal and then stand aside so that the rest of the group may move ahead; b) an individual or individuals may wish to be noted in the minutes as disagreeing with the proposal, and then stand aside so that the rest of the group may move ahead with the proposal; c) an individual or individuals may take a principled position opposed to a decision and refuse to stand aside. In this case, the group may not proceed with the matter until consensus is reached. Discussion on the issue may, and probably will, continue.

Any individual who wishes to attend a Planning Committee meeting is welcome to attend and participate. However, in order that decisions will be blocked only by people with a significant commitment to the community and by people who are well-informed about the issues under discussion, there shall be two prerequisites for a person to block a decision. The person who wishes to stand in the way of a decision must : a) have practiced for at least one year with one of the sanghas affiliated with the larger CMNY/ Metro sangha, and b) have been present at a minimum of two of the past four planning meetings.