Sangha News 3/19/24

Thursday evening Info:

After the 7:00 pm online meditation on Thursday, 3/21/24, Chris will give a talk on the Buddha’s teachings on karma, which follow from dependent origination, the way that everything depends on causes and conditions. Karma can be seen as the causes and conditions that influence our lives, and also as the intentions and actions that we take in response to life. Intentions and actions that are often repeated become habitual. We’ll also take a look at some of the wider meanings of karma and the related topic of rebirth. The following week, 3/28/24, we’ll have an open discussion of the way we see karma, intentions, and habit energy play out in our lives.

The Thursday night talks explore topics related to meditation, with the current focus on insights into the ways that our minds and hearts respond to the world. The series of talks on insight will explore some of the concepts that describe the activity of our minds and hearts, and some meditation approaches that help us to see them more clearly and respond with more clarity and compassion in the world. This series of talks will include some of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha on impermanence and interdependence, the nature of the self and how it functions, and the relationship between awareness and compassion. In these talks, Chris will also explore the teachings on dependent origination, karma, and related topics that underpin the Buddhist understanding of the mind and heart.  The talks will be self-contained, and we’ll provide resources for the concepts and meditation approaches covered in the talks (see Updated Resources below). If you’d like more information on the topics we’ll be covering in the next month or two, Guy Armstrong’s book Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators (Wisdom Publications) is an excellent resource. This is not an introductory book, but like Joseph Goldstein’s book, Mindfulness, it is well-written and clear and would be a book to return to over the years as your practice deepens.


Proposed Sutta Study Group with Vas Bhardwaj


One of the exhortations of the Buddha to the Sangha was to discuss the Dhamma amongst themselves. And so, I (Vas) am looking for a few like-minded Sangha members to start a Sutta Study Group.

I have a study structure in mind, but exactly how we do it is completely negotiable. I will initially propose that we follow the guidelines in the following link from Leigh Brasington, if you wish to get an idea of what I propose we start with: Study Guide to the Suttas of the Pali Canon

There are some commitments that I think are necessary for such a group to be fruitful. These are my thoughts:

  • This is a commitment for at least 6 months. The Sutta Study Guide that I will propose could last years – but for starters let’s go with 6 months.
  • The preparation time commitment would be, I think, about 1- 2 hours per week. Many more hours if you choose to do a deep dive.
  • There is a commitment to attend the meetings – I am proposing a Zoom meeting frequency of minimum once every month, maximum once per week, but I am open to suggestions. The Zoom meeting would be for about 1.5 hours.
  • There is a commitment to participate actively. The structure I have in mind will rotate the lead for each meeting amongst the participants.

If you are interested in being part of such a group, please contact me directly at [email protected]. If I get enough interest, I will set up an initial Zoom meeting where we can work out the details of the Group. I hope to hear from some of you.

With Metta,

Vas Bhardwaj


Meditation Support Group Meets at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center

We’ll continue our monthly mindfulness meditation support group meeting at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, 7350 West Deschutes Avenue, Kennewick. The next meeting will be Thursday, 3/21/2024. The sessions, which are held on the third Thursday of each month, are meant for cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their caregivers. The session will begin at 12:00 pm at the Cancer Center in the Fireside Room. If you have a serious illness other than cancer, or are a caregiver for someone who is ill, you’re welcome to attend the sessions. Each session includes a brief review of mindfulness and mindful self-compassion meditations and the role they can play in reducing the anxiety arising from diagnosis and treatment, an opportunity to ask questions, and the chance to practice meditation with others.


Meditation Retreat on Saturday, March 23, 2024

Chris Murray will lead an Insight Meditation retreat on Saturday, March 23, 2024, from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm. The retreat will be conducted at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1322 Kimball Avenue, Richland, in the Parish Hall.

The topic for the retreat is “A Day of Mindfulness: Exploring the Body, Heart, and Mind.” This in-person retreat will consist of a mix of stationary meditation and movement meditation with instruction and a Dharma talk and will be suitable for beginners and experienced meditators. To register for the retreat, please send an email to Tim Barbour.

Fee for the retreat will be $10. Please use our online donation form to pay the retreat fee and leave a comment indicating that the donation is for the retreat on March 23. The fee will be waived for those who can’t afford it, please send an email to Tim Barbour if you’d like to request a scholarship. Those who are registered for the retreat will receive an email the week of the retreat with additional information.


Weekly Meditation Schedule:

In-Person Meetings:

Our in-person meetings take place at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1322 Kimball Avenue in Richland. Our in-person meditation meetings are offered on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. We meditate for half an hour, followed by an optional time for sharing and conversation after meditation. No problem if you just want to meditate and then leave. 

Chairs are available in the meeting hall. However, if you prefer to use your own chair, blanket, cushion or bench, you are welcome to bring it. The meetings have recently moved indoors and meet in the Parish Hall at the rear of the church.

Those who regularly attend the in-person meetings have developed a masking policy for the times we meet indoors. The community levels of Covid will be checked each time we publish a newsletter. When community levels are low; masks will be optional. When community levels are medium or high, masks will be required. If there is any attending member that feels more comfortable with everyone masking, we will all mask in support of the most vulnerable among us.

Currently, the Covid community levels are low in Benton County; masks are optional on Saturday and Wednesday morning unless any participant feels more comfortable with everyone masking. Please bring a mask to all of the in-person sessions in case the meeting is moved indoors and there is an attending member with greater vulnerability.

We’re looking forward to welcoming some of you in person and being there online for others.

Online Meetings:

In addition to our in-person meetings we have three online meditations a week, on Wednesday morning, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning. The Zoom links for those meetings can be found on the Events Calendar. You’re welcome to join us online for any of the 3 meetings each week.

During the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday online meetings, we “sit together” for meditation for half an hour. Meditations include guided meditations, meditations with some initial guidance and instruction, and silent meditations. The Wednesday morning meditation starts at 9:30 am, with half an hour of meditation, followed by half an hour of sharing. On Thursday evenings there is a talk or discussion and sharing following meditation. Meditation is from 7:30 until 8:00 pm, with the talk and discussion ending at about 9:00 pm. The Saturday morning meditation starts at 8:00 am, with half an hour of meditation followed by half an hour of sharing.

If you can’t or don’t wish to join the online sessions you can just meditate at the same time as we’re meeting and know that there are others from the group who are meditating with you. 

We’re looking forward to welcoming some of you in person and being there online for others.


Volunteers at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center

The Insight Meditation group has supported Buddhist meditation groups at the state prison in Connell, WA since 2003. Those visits were on hold during the height of the pandemic but resumed last year. Currently we have two volunteers visiting the medium-security prison on Monday afternoons and we are seeking additional volunteers to support that effort, especially when our lead volunteer isn’t available.

There are several requirements for those volunteering at the prison.  Orientation and training are required. Applicants also need to undergo a background investigation. Applicants with a criminal background need to be off of supervision or parole for a year before applying. 

Those applying to volunteer should have a regular meditation practice and at least some knowledge of Buddhist teachings and be willing to learn more so that you can discuss Buddhist practice with the inmates. If you’re interested, please contact Chris Murray for more information about volunteering at Coyote Ridge.

Warm regards,

Insight Meditation of the Mid-Columbia