An Invitation to Skillful Means:
Letter from the Executive Director

Written by: George Draffan

George Draffan in landscaping mode.

George Draffan in landscaping mode.
Photos by: George Draffan

A couple weeks ago you may have received an email asking you to support NWDA financially. If you haven’t done so yet, you can do it right here.

So let’s get right to the topic of this quarter’s letter:

WANTED: Teachers, facilitators, volunteers, donors and patrons from across the region’s Buddhist communities: to carry their Northwest Dharma Association into the future!

I used to worry the Dharma was being watered down — that we modern practitioners were somehow appropriating tranquility and insight without cultivating the clear compassionate Buddhist intention to relieve the suffering of all beings. Now I see the Dharma taking root everywhere — awareness and compassion arising as countless skillful means, applied to the ground of everyday affairs.

As the Buddhist community has matured and evolved, Northwest Dharma Association has also evolved. Many people know NWDA plays a vital role, and yet the organization’s survival is not a certainty. NWDA needs financial resources, skilled expertise, and volunteers, to help manage the considerable agenda already in motion.

  • Will you be one of those skillful volunteers?
  • Do you have knowledge and experience you would like to contribute to the Dharma in everyday life?
  • Do you have financial or other resources to invest in one of these very worthwhile programs?

In 2017 NWDA is putting its energy into expanding several programs across the region.

Inclusive Communities

NWDA has sponsored regional teachers’ and leaders’ meetings for more than 15 years. We’ve also sponsored Vesakha (Buddha Day) celebrations at various temples and centers. More recently we’ve organized potlucks and other informal community gatherings.

The new Inclusive Communities program will include all those and more. We are bringing together people from every Buddhist lineage and culture, so we can learn from each other and explore creative events such as temple tours, multi-faith dialogues, and co-operative projects.

In the old days farmers would hold “barn-raising” events to help neighbors get established. Now Buddhists can come together to raise temples, broaden perspectives, and build inclusive communities.

Northwest Dharma Association extends an invitation to you — the teachers, leaders, and practitioners of the region’s Buddhist communities — to join creative, open-ended dialogue and cooperation with other Buddhists and other faiths. Learn about others’ beliefs and aspirations. Celebrate our commonalities, but don’t gloss over our differences. Respect, appreciate and cherish each other’s communities as manifestations of human creativity and skill.

Contemplative Caregiving

The Contemplative Caregiving program offers contemplative arts training to family and professional caregivers, to help them better recognize and respond to the needs of both patient and caregiver.

For professional caregivers the training will give nurses, doctors, care aides, social workers, chaplains and others, the emotional resilience they need to prevent burnout and turnover.

For family caregivers the training will help balance the stress of caregiving by providing strategies for self-care, emotional balance, empathy, compassion, and effective, sustainable caregiving.

Through this program contemplative caregivers cultivate awareness and compassion to help them respond appropriately to their patients as well as themselves. We help caregivers deepen skills and reduce stress.

NWDA is working with Wise Caregiving and other partners to build supportive peer-community networks among the region’s healthcare professionals, psychotherapists, counselors, spiritual guides and family caregivers.

Buddhist Recovery

Addiction and recovery play a central role in the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths: In life there is suffering, and its cause is craving and habitual reactions.

There are many brilliant teachers and groups bringing the Dharma to bear upon substance and behavioral addiction. Help us bring leaders of the Buddhist Recovery movement together!

A few of the many Buddhist Recovery organizations. Collage by George Draffan.

A few of the many Buddhist Recovery organizations. Collage by George Draffan.

The Buddhist Recovery Summit 2017 residential conference will take place Oct. 20-22, 2017, in Lacey, Washington, organized by the Northwest Dharma Association and co-sponsored by the Buddhist Recovery Network, Northwest Buddhist Recovery, Eight Step Recovery, and other organizations.

Every dollar you donate will support the 2017 Summit and future Buddhist Recovery events

Prison Meditation

For dharma practitioners who wish to support the dharma practice of prisoners, here is a rare and excellent opportunity with Genko Kathy Blackman, a long-term leader in prison work.

Blackman writes, “We are in great need of people to step up and train to go into the prisons, particularly the Washington State prison in Monroe. Emmanuel Go, one of our most loyal volunteers, has relocated to the East Coast. We are stretched to capacity and are now having to cut back drastically on the schedule, which is a shame — since the men are serious practitioners.”

Blackman is asking several practitioners in the community to step forward. She can fill you in on what is needed, and get you materials. Please contact Genko Kathy Blackman

This is an exciting time for the Dharma, NWDA, and we invite you all to participate and enjoy!

Happy practice!

About the Author: George Draffan
George Draffan is executive director of the Northwest Dharma Association. In his spare time he dreams of sustainable, creative, thriving communities of Buddhist practice and service.