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Help us reach our year-end goal by Dec 31!

Crystal Johnson’s Gratitude Story: Practices for Liberation

In this week’s Season Of Gratitude, Leadership Sangha member and teacher Crystal Johnson reflects on how practices for liberation require tackling the messy

EBMC is a place that challenges and holds me at the same time. I first came to EBMC’s Friday night practice group, now called Maha Sangha, shortly after the center’s doors opened in 2008. I was looking for a dharma community where people were trying to grapple with the suffering that many other dharma centers don’t want to talk about, like that of racism, classism, sexism, and gender-based discrimination. I hadn’t found that elsewhere, and had kind of given up. 


Yet at EBMC, there’s a willingness to tackle the messy, difficult and uncomfortable dynamics that exist among us, which is what I have found is necessary to really connect with people who are different from me in important ways (even as we share a common humanity). I see this effort to end separation as a central commitment to reducing suffering and moving all of us towards liberation. 

This has been especially true in my experience co-teaching EBMC’s six-month long program, White and Awakening in Sangha (WAS), where I could explore my own white privilege through the practice of holding space for other white folks. WAS is designed for white practitioners to come to understand our whiteness as clinging to a delusion that brings suffering to ourselves and others, and to see that accepting the system of white privilege doesn’t align with our dharma practice.  


In WAS, we aren’t doing this work to feel like we are helping people of color. We’re doing it for our own freedom and the freedom of everyone, because it’s all tied together. Over the years, I’ve come to understand this work as a practice of reparation, repairing and restoring, where we move white people into taking action where action wasn’t being taken before. Where we often hear the idea of “me and my needs”, EBMC centers the question, “how does this work for everybody?”, which I understand to mean sustaining EBMC beyond the center, and instead sustaining EBMC as a community. 


This is why EBMC’s financial model of Gift Economics strikes me as a practice for freedom. Gift Economics is the antidote to the poison of narcissistic, materialistic capitalism. It’s the cure for the painful life that we’ve been taught to live–that of getting as much as you can for yourself. Supporting the community, at the highest level we can, means that we all get to be here to practice and act towards the liberation of all beings. What could be more fabulous?


In community,

Crystal Johnson

******

Dharma friend,


What are your practices for liberation? At EBMC, one of ours is keeping our programs accessible to all who come seeking an end to suffering, regardless of ability to pay. We do this through Gift Economics, where those in the community sustain the community. 


We are nearly halfway to our year-end goal of raising $25,000! Thanks to a generous Sangha member, all gifts will be doubled through December 31st, up to $10,000. 


Will you join Crystal in supporting our community’s practice towards liberation by making a year-end gift today?


Thank you for all you do to support the liberation of all beings.


Cultivating Spiritual Freedom… by Challenging Capitalism

Dear Sangha Family,
Can you envision a world beyond capitalism?
For us, it starts with the Buddha’s first teaching that generosity is an essential component of spiritual freedom. 
When you visit or support EBMC, you also participate in this practice of generosity through our financial model: Gift Economics. 
This radically inclusive giving model ensures our programs are accessible to all. By offering programs without a set fee, all are welcome regardless of ability to pay. 
… But there’s more. 
For Gift Economics to thrive, everyone is encouraged to give to the extent they are able, at the highest level they can, to support our Sangha as a whole
As a practice of generosity, a Sangha member has offered us a $10,000 match! Right now, we have just $4,620 left to raise by the end of the year to make our match and get us closer to our $25,000 year-end goal. Will you help us make our match by offering a gift today?
Gift Economics necessitates that those in the community sustain our community. There is no “them” being asked to give for “us”. We strive to support each other and create a “we” that is powerful, resourceful, and abundant. 
Today we invite you to support EBMC as a place of deep refuge for all who come seeking liberation. Will you offer a gift of generosity to sustain our community today? With bows of gratitude for your practice of generosity,
EBMC Staff:

Candi, Cassandra, Irene, Lyla, Mushim, and Xiaojing

From René Rivera: My Journey from Chaos to Refuge

From protests in San Francisco to the cushion at EBMC, Sangha member and teacher René Rivera shares their journey finding a place of refuge for our Season Of Gratitude:

By the time I was five years old I had lived at least a dozen places. By the time I graduated from high school I had lived more in more than two dozen places. I was born in San Francisco in 1968, at a time when it seemed to my parents that the revolution was coming. While my father organized in the La Raza movement in the Mission, we were often evicted.

When my parents separated, my mother joined the land communes in Mendocino County, and I moved between rural white commune life and protests in San Francisco. It was a time for me that was frighteningly chaotic.

Telling a wise person some years ago about the chaos of my early life, he remarked that perhaps this life is one for me to learn what home is. That comment has since stuck with me. I did not grow up with any sense or experience of home. When I first came to the East Bay Meditation Center in 2008, Larry Yang invited me to consider EBMC as my spiritual home. At the time I did not know what this meant, or how big of an impact EBMC would have on my life.

Ten years later, I know in my bones what home is thanks to finding EBMC, a place where I can show up as all of who I am, in a community that accepts me fully. It took me many years and stages of deepening my practice – through Commit 2 Dharma and Practice in Transformative Action programs, Alphabet Sangha and Trans* and Genderqueer Deep Refuge group, and leadership roles on the EBMC Board and Generosity Committee – to really feel the refuge of home that EBMC is.

Today when I come through the doors of EBMC, this refuge of home is something that I draw deep into my lungs with each breath. I feel it in the way the floor rises up to support my body, and in the way I am held in this beloved community.

As we are now in a time of all too familiar fear and chaos, EBMC brings me hope. Imagining a future where we care for one another as family, and where we resource ourselves through generosity instead of capitalism, is more crucial than ever.

Through the model of Gift Economics, EBMC shows us an alternate future where love is ascendent over fear and hatred. For Gift Economics to thrive, it requires all of us to participate. I hope you will join me in making this regular practice of generosity to sustain and grow this unique space of refuge.

With hope,
René Rivera

PS- I have been a Friend of EBMC Monthly Donor since the program started back in 2009. It gives me such joy to know that I am helping to cultivate this refuge of home at EBMC every month, regardless of how often I am able to physically attend. Please join me in offering ongoing generosity to sustain this space of refuge.

***Sangha Family,

Gift Economics at EBMC means that all who are seeking a space of refuge are welcome, regardless of their ability to pay. Instead, Gift Economics necessitates that we all give to the extent that we are able, at the highest level we can, to support our Sangha as a whole. As René calls it, it’s a way of caring for one another as family, through the practice of generosity.

Will you join René in caring for our Sangha and place of refuge by making a one-time gift or becoming a monthly sustain today? Until the end of the year, every dollar you give will be doubled- dollar for dollar!

Thank you for supporting our center through your practice of care and generosity.

Gratitude Story from Melvin Escobar: Growing and Healing from Trauma

In this week’s Season Of Gratitude, EBMC Sangha member and teacher Melvin Escobar shares his experience with the potential to transform trauma through connection in Sangha:

In this week’s Season Of Gratitude, EBMC Sangha member and teacher Melvin Escobar shares his experience with the potential to transform trauma through connection in Sangha:

What’s in your cup? Do you feel like you have enough? Does being part of the EBMC community help fill your cup?

Before arriving at EBMC 10 years ago, I realized that my cup was pretty empty, mostly from many years of being a social worker. I was suffering a lot from compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.

It wasn’t until I began learning Buddhist teachings that I started to see suffering more clearly and to learn practices to make my work in the world sustainable. What has helped the most has been connecting to others that are doing both the inner and outer work necessary to cultivate healing in the world. Being a part of EBMC has also shown me that my cup is kept full by the mutual generosity of genuine community.

I have been a member of the POC and Alphabet (LGBTQ+) sanghas, served on several EBMC committees, helped manage events, and have helped start the new Latinx Sangha at EBMC. As an EBMC Community Teacher, I am passionate about exploring the concept of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG).

The Buddha’s teachings remind us that life can be traumatic and that there’s a path out of suffering. Posttraumatic Growth emphasizes that we can even grow and heal from trauma. Our traumas don’t have to define who we are; they can serve as reminders of our strength and resilience. And connection, by reminding us that we’re not alone in our suffering, is an essential ingredient for PTG. I continue to experience PTG through my connection to the EBMC community.

What is spiritual home to you? What’s in your cup? How can we use what’s in our cup to continue to grow and sustain EBMC as our spiritual home? Sometimes the only way of knowing what’s in our cup is by giving. It is through a mutuality of giving and receiving that we create a spiritual home that helps us survive and thrive, especially in these challenging times. EBMC’s model of Gift Economics, and specifically the Buddhist practice of Dana, has helped me experience my cup as a wellspring of resources that flow from the teachings.

May we lovingly use what’s in our cups to water freedom, so that all beings may experience the liberation that comes from the refuge of having a spiritual home.

In community,
Melvin Escobar
***
Dharma Friends,

Will you join Melvin using what is in your cup to water freedom? At EBMC, our financial model of Gift Economics is only possible through our connection to one another, where all of us give to the extent we are able, at the highest level we can, to support our Sangha as a whole.

Thanks to a generous Sangha member, every dollar you give before the end of the year will be doubled! Please support EBMC and help us reach our year-end match by making a one-time gift, or by becoming a Friend of EBMC monthly sustainer, today.

Gift Economics takes all of us. Thank you for being a part of this community, where our connection to one another sustains our ability to keep our doors open for all.

Gratitude Story from emiko yoshikami: How EBMC transformed my broken pieces

Dear Sangha,

We are grateful and thrilled to announce that a generous Sangha member has offered to match all gifts to EBMC, up to $10,000! Between now and the end of the year, you can double the impact of your generosity to EBMC dollar for dollar.

As we enter our Season of Gratitude at EBMC, community members are sharing powerful stories of the transformative power of Sangha. The following story is from Midday Sangha member emiko yoshikami:

I grew up with the Dharma, spending my young adulthood meditating and going on retreats. I felt it was a stable presence in my life, a path I could always rely on. However, when I was twenty-two-years-old I had an experience that radically changed my relationship to Buddhism. Following two back-to-back five-day silent meditation retreats — an LGBT retreat and a POC retreat — I had what psychiatrists term a “manic episode.”

I was involuntarily hospitalized and diagnosed with “Bipolar I with psychotic tendencies.” Trying to make sense of this experience, I reached out to Dharma teachers, but it didn’t help. Sadly and unintentionally, I began to hold Buddhism with suspicion and grew a bitterness towards Sangha. Sporadically I would try to reconnect with others since I knew the Dharma held deep wisdom. One of those attempts led me to the East Bay Meditation Center.

I was incredibly attracted by EBMC’s hot politics. (Wha!?? Uprooting systems of oppression, healing justice, and collective liberation?! HELL YES!) But I still felt a strong sense of disconnection and alienation. (These people talked the good talk, but could they hold my broken pieces?) Two years ago I found EBMC’s peer-led Midday Sangha, a welcoming space for POC and mixed-race folk like me. During the weekly potluck we are invited to speak from the heart and listen from the heart. It was there that I began opening up about my story. And I was amazed to find myself feeling very held.

In Midday Sangha, each week I felt more at home. And my bitterness began to dissolve. It was amazing to watch. No teacher was able to make this happen. It was the deep listening in the room – not in the form of responses, but in the layers of sharing our stories, holding space for the complexities and contradictions of our humanness.

This space invited me to explore my own complexities in a different way. It was my white mom who had raised me with the teachings of Jack Kornfield and others. But from my Japanese dad’s side, I discovered that I come from a very long line of Pureland Buddhist priests. I learned that my grandparents built a temple in Berkeley in the late 30’s (before they were interned). I visited this temple for the first time three months ago. I have also discovered new meaning in my “psychosis” through reading Thich Nhat Hanh (courtesy of the EBMC library).

I hold deep gratitude for EBMC, a Sangha that supported the Dharma to come flooding back into my life. EBMC embodies the intentions for the world I want to live in, where we grapple with how to care for each other – not in some uniform “right or wrong” way – but with continuous attention to how our realities are shaped by histories of power imbalances, dominant narratives, and all that we carry with us.

In solidarity and with compassion,
emiko yoshikami

****

During our Season of Gratitude, emiko is one of many Sangha members who are sharing the ways that EBMC has changed their lives.

For over a decade, EBMC has run on a radical Gift Economics model which ensures our programs are accessible to all. Gift Economics means that we rely on the generous support of our community to support our Sangha as a whole.

Please support EBMC and help us reach our $10,000 match by becoming a Friend of EBMC monthly donor or by making a one-time gift today!

Thank you for supporting this radically inclusive meditation center that is changing lives every day.

Where to buy respirator masks: regularly updated list

Sangha, let’s take care of one another! Here’s a regularly updated list of where you can find respirator masks in the Bay Area. Thank you to CompassPoint for guiding us to this list.

 

[Photo by tam wai on Unsplash]

White Awakening and Sangha

Six Session Program for White Practitioners
January 27 – June 2, 2019 (Applications due December 1, 2018)

EBMC’s White and Awakening in Sangha (WAS), is designed to build the awareness and skills of white practitioners toward the creation of a truly inclusive sangha. For more information and an application form, go to https://bit.ly/2JrZUOb. If you have questions about the program, or would like information, please contact us at: WhiteandAwakening@eastbaymeditation.org
The core teaching team is: Crystal Johnson, Kitsy Schoen, Baruch Golden, Hilary Berwick, Paul Irving, Ellery Graves, Irene Ross, Tom Malarkey

Want to increase diversity in the neuroscience of meditation?

Participate in the first community-based neuroscience study between EBMC and UCSF called the EMBODY study. We are making strides to make this the most inclusive neuroscience study of meditation to date. We have recently made it more inclusive by expanding the ages included, in dialogue with EBMC community members. We are looking for diverse meditators who 1) are 25 years or older, 2) have consistently practiced meditation for 5 years in their lifetime, and 3) are interested in brain activity during meditation measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participation would involve 1) phone interview and online surveys, 2) 3-hour visit to UCSF Mission Bay, including 2 hours in a MRI scanner, and 3) receiving a picture of your brain and $75. Travel costs are reimbursed. People of all genders, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, and ability status are encouraged to participate. E-mail embodystudy@ucsf.edu or call 415-514-8445 for more information.

People should not participate if they have magnetic metal in their bodies, would not be comfortable in an MRI scanner, and are having difficulty paying attention to experiences (such as breath and thoughts). For an informational pamphlet on this study, click here.

Seeking new EBMC board members! Oct. 22 deadline

We’re seeking new #EBMC board of directors members! Want to help make social justice movement and socially-engaged Buddhist history? Applications due Oct. 22 for the amazing, diverse East Bay Meditation Center Leadership Sangha (LSangha). Three year terms. For full information and online application form, please go to http://bit.ly/2QqWzB2 or click here