East Bay Meditation Center Newsletter
MARCH 2016   
In This Issue

Featured Event

EBMC's 6th Annual Dharma­thon:  
In Progress Now!
by Cassandra Shaylor,  
EBMC Development Coordinator

On April 1  
join Sharon Salzberg and  
Spring Washam in Celebration and Support of EBMC! Ask your most burning questions about the Dharma, eat a delicious meal cooked by Luz Calvo of Decolonize Your Diet, and help raise money to keep our doors open!
To become a Dharma­thoner and dine with
Sharon and Spring, go to 
All you need to do to
reserve your place at the table is to create a fundraising page and raise $250 or get donations from at least 10 people. Creating a fundra ising p age is easy, and EBMC staff will provide all the support you need.

We have
for the
Dharma­thoners who raise the most money and who get the most new donors each week.
The competition can get fierce (especially if Mushim is involved!) and it is all in good fun, for the benefit of our beloved Sangha!

Evening of April 1:  
Intimate dinner with Sharon, Spring and Luz

Morning of April 2:  
Walk, Bike, Run, Roll and Move at Lake Merritt

This year our goal is to raise $25,000 and we need your help to get there. Become a Dharma­thoner or support someone who is!


Mahogany Moton, a familiar face as the event manager at EBMC's events for many years, is transitioning from being EBMC's first Event Coordinator to a job with Red Bay Coffee, one of the few African American-owned coffee roasteries in the U.S.

We wish her well in her new job and know she'll always be an important member of the EBMC Sangha.

  "State of the
Cen t er"
Center Director's Report from Brenda Salg ad o
  March 18, 2016    
Photo by Xiomara Castro
Spring Has Sprung - Growing at EBMC Together
Beloved Sangha,

As winter gives way to spring, as we move from a season of dormancy, rest and reflection to one of new shoots, growth and new beginnings, I find myself reflecting on Lama Rod Owen's recent article We Are Tara, in Lion's Roar:

" Tara... sits with her right leg extended outward. This posture is an act of subversion and resistance, because what Green Tara represents is active and direct compassion. She rejects a comfortable seat because she knows that we need her to be ready. Even before we turn our minds to her, she is already leaning forward preparing to help. Tara is ready at any time to get into our messiness as a personal agent of our liberation... Perhaps the most important dha rmic truth now is this: we are Tara... Like her, we jump off our comfortable cushions and get involved not just in helping people but also in confronting the ways in which we reproduce violence when we stay on our comfortable seats. Choosing not to move is choosing to sabotage Tara and ourselves. Our practice, like Tara's, has to be more than just caring. "      

What a powerful message as we enter Spring together, as communities and movements here and around the world are waking up to their dignity and power! As I watch the kale shoots forming in my garden, I think of the many ways EBMC's founding teachers planted these seeds of action toward collective liberation as central to the vision of EBMC.

Deep bows of gratitude for the many ways large and small that you contribute to co-creating this spiritual and radically inclusive community together through your actions every day. I am humbled by the many sharings and teachings each one of you has given me in my first two years as Director at EBMC, and the ways I am being called to grow and take action off the cushion right now. One important commitment is to continue to deepen our transparency with you about what is happening at EBMC. Here are some highlights: click here to find out more!
People of EBMC:

Manish Desai,
Volunteer Temple Keeper


EBMC: Hi Manish, what brought you to EBMC?
Manish: Gosh, well, there's no question that EBMC's prioritization of diversity helped invite me into the center, and eventually, onto this path - and for that, I remain deeply grateful. I recall being surprised to discover this place. It felt so reassuring to be among a rainbow of peeps, each with unique histories, struggles, and goals, different than but not unlike my own. As it happens, I had long been intrigued by contemplative practices, but in the late 00's I experienced a challenging setback which left me adrift. As is so often the case, crisis catalyzed a search for wisdom. EBMC helped introduce me to vipassana meditation and thus the opportunity to cultivate my own freedom - wow, I'm still amazed by thi s blessing. 

EBMC: Could you tell us a little more about your volunteer position and your history of volunteering at EBMC? Why have you been a Temple Keeper (volunteer who cleans the meditation center) for such a long time?
Manish: I have been a Temple Keeper since the spring of 2011. Volunteering has markedly deepened my connection to EBMC, not only the space, but the organization's broader mission, as well. One of the great joys of volunteering has been collaborating with an enthusiastic crew of Temple Keepers, as well as the wider "behind­-the-­scenes" team, whose collective kindness and
dedication continually inspires and motivates me. Because EBMC has been so welcoming to me, such a facilitator for my own journeys, I have profoundly appreciated the opportunity to reciprocate in my own small way. It has been a pleasure to help care for the center. My hope has been that helping to maintain a peaceful and comfortable place for mindfulness and connection may perhaps contribute, in a subtle manner, towards insight for others too. The act of Temple Keeping itself is very much an opportunity for practice. Soon, after five years in this role, I will be stepping down - letting go, well, that will also be a part of my practice. But I'm sure, in due course, once my schedule has a bit more flexibility, other similar opportunities will manifest.

: What are you passionate about?

:  Politics, justice, nature.

: What's something about you that you're willing to share, that most folks at EBMC might not know about you?

:  I'm an avid runner, but with getting older, it seemed wise to develop a complementary activity. So, for the past eight months, I've been trying to teach myself to swim (yes, it's taking longer than anticipated) which has had these surprisingly Buddhist dimensions - especially how I must engage fear and rely on breath. Ha!

EBMC: Is there anything else you'd like the EBMC Sangha to know?
Manish:  Metta to all beings. ☺ 
Staffmember Mushim, who works with volunteers at EBMC, and Manish enjoying amazing potluck at Sangha member Cary Virtue's home, 2015 

Multi­Racial Deep Refuge Sangha (MRDR)
by Kim Allen and Emily Park
[Editor's note: Deep Refuge groups are community ­led practice groups of people in the EBMC community. However, these groups are not facilitated by EBMC. For more information about other Deep Refuge groups, click here.]

"I feel at home here in a way I never have before." This is a sentiment often expressed at the
Multi­Racial Deep Refuge Sangha (MRDR).  The purpose of the group is to provide refuge and healing for self­-identified multi­racial people through inquiry, expression and Buddhist practice. Each month's gathering of the MRDR group fosters community connection and reaffirms that there is both a longing and a need for the existence of our sangha.

The MRDR sangha was originally inspired by a workshop held at EBMC in 2012 by teacher Michele Benzamin­-Miki called "Coming into Wholeness as Multi­Racial." Members of the multi­racial community found welcome common ground and chose to stay connected through a listserv. In the spring of 2013 a group of inspired, dedicated folks organized to create more formal and regular meeting space: the Multi­Racial Deep Refuge Group was born. We are ever grateful to our original founders: Pamela Arriera, Audrey Williams, Kristen Nelson, Maria Alloco, and Leah Oliver. Currently the behind­-the­-scenes organization of the Multi­Racial Deep Refuge group is coordinated by a collective of five volunteers (Kim Allen, Lynn Ervin, Anthony "T" Maes, Emily Park, and Kimiko Schell).
The MRDR group is open to people who self­-identify as multi­racial, biracial and/or mixed race. Members in our sangha also take refuge in EBMC's regular Thursday evening POC sit. Our sangha meets at EBMC regularly on the second Saturday of each month from 7-­9pm for meditation, reflection and community connection. We differ from other Deep Refuge groups at EBMC in that we do not require members to commit to regular attendance. Each month we are blessed with the presence of both returning members and new folks who expand the diversity of our circle, helping it to grow wider.
Each month's meditation session is led by a team of two volunteers who self-select on a month­-by­-month basis to plan the content and co-facilitate the evening. We foster engagement and leadership in our community by inviting actively attending members to contribute as co-facilitators. A typical gathering follows a general format that may look like the following, with some variations: a 20 minute meditation, a reading or question based on a chosen theme or aspect of the dharma, time for writing and personal reflection, sharing in dyads (pairs of people taking turns to both speak authentically and practice active listening), a group circle for sharing and community announcements, and a 20 minute closing meditation. Recent topics have included our relationship to our ancestors, the four noble truths and the eightfold path in relation to the multi­racial experience, the practice of compassion and forgiveness and the concept of wholeness in relation to the complexities of multiculturalism. Often further questions are sparked an d dia logue can be continued during our informal, social time afterwards when community members may connect in the EBMC kitchen over tea.
Those interested in attending and/or co-­facilitating can e mail us at mrdrcoordinators @googlegroups.com to make a con nection, confirm our next gathering, and to join the mailing list. We are ever grateful to EBMC for pro viding both the physical and spiritual space--a truly deep refuge--for our community.

We got out the vote! EBMC's core teacher Larry Yang has been elected one of this year's SF Pride Parade's Grand Marshals! ***WOOT!*** SANGHA POWER!
Let's Mālama Honua at EBMC!
We're chatting with our Sangha friends in the EBMC kitchen, and the bell rings. So we take that last sip of delicious honeybush organic herbal tea, toss our paper cup into the recycling bin , or into the landfill trash container , and head back to the meditation hall, ready for the Dharma talk.

But wait! Did you know that the used, beverage-stained disposable cups at EBMC are compostable but not recyclable?
That's right, they can be composted and turned into soil if you throw them, and any food scraps, and any compostable (not plastic) eating utensils into the compost container. Used and food-stained paper plates and bowls and used paper napkins are also compostable but not recyclable. 

Some of our "green" Sangha members and Temple Keeper volunteers (folks who clean the Center) will sometimes dive in and go through the separate recycling, compost, and landfill trash containers, sorting things into their proper containers at the end of an EBMC meditation meeting or event. It's not a fun thing to do, and often the sorting doesn't happen. However, we can fix this.  It's our responsibility as practitioners of mindfulness and lovers of the Earth to stop, breathe, and consider before discarding something at EBMC:
  • Is this recyclable? (clean paper only, clean plastic containers only)
  • Is this compostable? (food scraps, compostable food-stained paper cups and plates, "spudware" eating utensils made from corn starch, but NO plastic eating utensils)
  • Is this landfill trash? (Our goal is to generate as little landfill trash as possible at EBMC.) 
According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, "Mālama Honua means to care for our Island Earth, but in Hawaiian, Mālama Honua means to take care of everything that makes up our world: People, land, oceans, living beings, and our community.  It means learning from the Pacific Islander tradition of taking care of your limited resources as though you were living on a canoe in the open ocean."
EBMC community teacher, Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé, who recently passed away, "connected the dots" between spiritual practice and grace, social transformation and anti-oppression work, self-care, and recycling in this talk: Welcome to Symposium 2015:

Let us embrace the possibilities of unimagined beauty in the midst of the crowd, and the rush and the crush of the day, running from thing to thing, screaming in traffic, in an act of healing the universe, in stillness, in waiting for caffeine, just let us take a few seconds, a few minutes for a moment of intimacy, connected to our breathing and remembering the Beloved Friend in the midst of the crowd. So some days spend some quality time, some one-on-one time, with the Beloved Friend, do some sacred earth keeping, tend to some recycling, plant some seeds, heal the earth, find justice for the destitute and the oppressed. The One who is the source of grace and blessing has placed us exactly where we need to be and has given us exactly the right energies to lead us toward transformation.

So let us do acts of justice in our busy days. Let us clean up some litter. Let us recycle. Let us give drink to a thirsty animal. Speak a kind word to someone. Go out of our way to do something for someone else. And in that process, let us remember the words of Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumī, so very important: "Ignore those who make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back toward disease and death."

Living life to the fullest in each moment, let us bless ourselves to enjoy our lives so that we can fully embrace our deaths, which will inevitably come, with love and joy. May all who seek, find. May all who love be made whole. àṣẹ.  
EBMC's Mission Statement

Founded to provide a welcoming environment for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented communities, the East Bay Meditation Center welcomes everyone seeking to end suffering and cultivate happiness. Our mission is to foster liberation, personal and interpersonal healing, social action, and inclusive community building. We offer mindfulness practices and teachings on wisdom and compassion from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions. Rooted in our commitment to diversity, we operate with transparent democratic governance, generosity-based economics, and environmental sustainability.

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