One year ago, on March 26th, we began a journey and along the way, created a Sangha. We hope you'll take a moment to read this heartfelt message from Bill and Susan after a year of social distancing.
March 24, 2021
Dear Daily Sit, and larger Community:
The Daily Sit is one year old! We began on March 26th 2020, close to the beginning of the pandemic. We were at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and like everyone else, we imagined the pandemic would end relatively soon. You could say that the daily sit started because of the pandemic, out of need, but it has continued out of love—our love, your love, and the commitment so many of you have shown through this troubled year.
And what a joy it is to gather each day to sit, to listen and cultivate the heart and cultivate the mind and embody the practice of mindfulness! It’s been inspiring to SEE a sangha, a community of like-minded others, emerge out of thin air! ...Puff. And it keeps growing and changing, every day a slightly new ‘flower arrangement’ but always with the collective energy of goodwill!
For those of you who have been unable to join, you are always welcome, anytime!!!
Join Daily Sit:https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/resources/daily-sit/
Daily Sit archived recordings on our website (use drop down menu):https://www.billandsusan.org/daily-sit
Now let us backtrack a bit and actually introduce ourselves. For those of you who don’t know us, we are long-time Vipassana students, who have devoted much of our adult life to developing our spiritual practice as lay practitioners. We’ve practiced in all of the major traditions but our home is in the teachings on mindfulness. Our way of presenting these teachings comes out of our own struggles with practicing. Our style is practical, with an emphasis on learning how to find your own way of practicing mindfulness, how to practice safely and with heart, and how to embody the practice of mindfulness in daily life.
When we first began the Daily Sit and through the summer, it was really about finding our sea legs by feeling for what all of you needed and trying to offer something meaningful, encouraging and connecting. But by September, with the pandemic, racism and rancor raging in the world at large, we realized this daily gathering was serving a need well beyond the crises. It was an anchor, a port in the storm, a ballast to steady ourselves as grief, isolation and uncertainty continued all around us. Providing a steady diet of Dharma, and connection, in an ongoing virtual way, was just what the doctor ordered.
Furthermore, offering the Dharma virtually, serving the general public on-line, leveled the playing field, giving access to folks who may or not otherwise have access to these relevant teachings on relieving suffering and cultivating good will!! This is good medicine for what ails us in these unpredictable and stressful times. This is truly our wish, that those who have an ear for these teachings have access--no barriers, no money needed, just an open, curious heart.
In September, having considered how to make the Daily Sit more sustainable in an ongoing way, we rolled out a “bite-sized” daily curriculum that unfolds core aspects of the Theravada Buddhist path. Three mornings a week we offer a brief teaching & meditation practice, two days a week we practice and invite Q&A, and on the weekends a silent group meditation is offered. Dawn Scott also joined us for two days each month, which has been a real delight. Dawn speaks from her intensive retreat practice, her interest and study in the Theravada teachings, and her own experience as a young, contemporary Black woman who is a deeply committed lay practitioner.
Dawn will join us for 2 days a month and, gradually, a few more voices will appear to teach with us. We are all different, with different bodies, hearts and minds, with different sensibilities. Hearing the Dharma expressed by other teachers brings the teachings to life! You are receiving it through the lens of their practice and life. This will also allow us to resume our own intensive retreat practice.
It’s strange to say this, but in many ways the pandemic has been a boon for the Dharma! Suddenly the teachings are more accessible! People from all over the world, of different means and lifestyles, have accessibility to the Dharma, to teachers, and to practice communities. And meditation has been more necessary than ever. We are also seeing that a close-knit community can arise online! Who knew? How useful it is to learn how to practice mindfulness in the confines of our own homes or dwelling spaces, while still connecting with meditators here and abroad.
At home practice is often under emphasized and under appreciated! Yet learning to INTEGRATE the practice of mindfulness into our daily lives is exactly what the Buddha recommended for us householders or lay practitioners. THIS is radical!!! It runs counter to the mores of modern societies that run on profit and power. How can we weave some sanity into our day by tuning in mindfully and tending to the experience of wellbeing?
It is also radical that these teachings be offered freely. Some of you are familiar with the practice of dana, generosity, which runs counter to our capitalistic culture and fosters decolonization. Dana invites the heart into the conversation, feeling into the gestures of offering and receiving. Dana holds the understanding that the Dharma is to be freely offered.
Over this year many of you have donated to BCBS or us in some way. We thank you. The practice of dana and the understanding that generosity is one of the first teachings the Buddha offered to lay folks. This movement of the heart to appreciate and honor that which is of value is a deep teaching indeed. The teachings are considered priceless! And we wish to offer back what the teachings and our teachers have so kindly offered.
Finally, for the practice to take root in our lives, we need to create the conditions for that to be possible.
To that end, moving forward, along with the Daily Sit we will also offer 2 Householder Retreats (May & November) and 2 half-day practice and Q&A sessions (TBA) in 2021. Registration and details devoted to supporting these community efforts will be posted on our website and the BCBS website. ALL ARE WELCOME to attend any of these events!!!
We need each other, now more than ever, as we open to the fullness of the suffering that is all around and learn how to ride the waves, to do our part to make our corner of the universe habitable and do so without sinking or getting overwhelmed. ...so that we can be of benefit to all.
Thank you all. Thank you for your practice.
The world needs this too. There is enough heat, enough fire, enough greed, hatred and ignorance. Let’s practice being a cool breeze, a balm.
Let’s train our hearts to grow wise and kind.
Let’s keep practicing together
In support, in solidarity;
a collective effort to wake up into
a wiser, kinder way of being and relating to the world.
We can do this.
Bill & Susan