Resource Introductory Post (this series is intended primarily for institutions and meditation groups).
In this category of South Houston Sangha News, I'm going to concentrate ideas, perspectives, resources, and "go-by" boilerplates that can assist meditation and Buddhist practice groups in representing themselves publicly in a way that will be clearly and accurately perceived by newcomers who may be evaluating your group as a possible "home" for them.
In other words, this blog is not just intended for seekers and learners - it's intended for institutional and group use as well.
Some of you may be wondering, "Why would such a thing be necessary or even desirable? If people want to learn about us, they can simply show up and we will personally provide loving kindness guidance in what we do and why."
Respectfully, my view is that this is a group-centric perspective when, in fact, a visitor-centric compassion would provide additional benefit.
In "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying", Sogyal Rinpoche states, "When I teach meditation, I often begin by saying: 'Bring your mind home. And release. And relax.'" (page 63 in the 2002 paperback edition). Release? Relax?! When newcomers first visit meditation groups, they often appear more like the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights than they appear as releasing, relaxing people. There is very little in current American lifestyle that is comparable to the meditation experience; it is existentially unprecedented. A great deal of anxiety is often experienced by people who have no idea what to expect when they first walk into a meditation center, particularly if that center is primarily associated with an immigrant population, such that there may be language and cultural as well as comprehensional barriers. Preparing the mental states of those visitors in advance of their actual visits can ease the suffering that they associate with the initial experience of this "unknown" for them. This easing, in turn, can help them to reduce the activity of their monkey minds and thereby enrich their initial experiences with meditation. In summary, proper preparation can help ensure an auspicious first exposure to your group.
So stay tuned for more specific posts on the topic of developing group resources.