Thursday, December 1, 2011

Have You Seen Sangha Market?

I was writing an article for the inaugural edition of the Sangha newsletter, due out January 1st, when I received the email announcement from Living Compassion for the holiday gift-giving ideas with its focus on SanghaMarket. I opened it and was filled with, there’s no other word to describe it, pride. What a beautiful job people in this Sangha are doing!

Starting with the email class “Living Beyond Karma” and accelerating with each new “bump” in the world economy, I’ve been exploring ways to keep our practice viable, sustainable, and accessible. True, we need to keep our attention on the Monastery, the “mother ship,” because it’s such a tangible expression of practice in the world, but we also need to be sure practice reaches practitioners and that the path between the two is easily traversable. Some aspects of getting practice to practitioners has been made easier with technology, but the issue of getting practitioners to in-person practice opportunities, such as workshops and retreats, remains challenging.

For most of our Sangha the biggest obstacle to practicing in person is financial. There aren’t a lot of folks who can afford to attend as many retreats as they might wish to, usually because of the cost of the retreat, transportation to get to the retreat, or that much time off work. As the economic situation around the world remains unstable, the difficulties compound. What to do?

In “Living Beyond Karma” I offered people the challenge of paying $500.00 for the class with the understanding that during the course of the class they would learn how to generate that amount of money doing something they love that supports their practice. The vast majority of participants succeeded in meeting the challenge, and many exceeded it. Those who generated more than the cost of the class would use the extra income for something they wanted to do or have and could not otherwise have afforded.

It was those successes that inspired the vision for Sangha Market. Wouldn’t it be grand, we thought, to have a “market place” where Sangha could post items to sell, generating income for themselves and for the Zen Center/Living Compassion? Yes, that’s a grand idea! It was not, however, an idea without severe obstacles. But an intrepid group of Sangha stalwarts confronted and overcame each obstacle until, adjustment by adjustment, we had a working site. And, there, sadly, Sangha Market languished for many months as we focused attention on many necessary structural improvements in the organizations themselves.

Much effort is happening behind the scenes to make Keep It Simple more functional, the new communication/information strategies are coming together, the web site is getting ready for a major overhaul, and the time is right for Sangha Market to step into the spotlight and play a large role in helping Sangha and our beloved practice toward all the security we can manage in a reality of impermanence! When Nancy (long-time Sangha) stepped forward, offering to pick up this project and bring it to its full potential, we were all delighted.

So, this holiday season please consider becoming a buyer and a seller on Sangha Market. For help and support getting started, contact Nancy at

Give a gift to someone—remembering that you are someone—that will benefit us all. It’s fun, it’s supportive, and it’s definitely for a good cause…practice.

In gassho,

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