ZPI encourages reflections from retreat participants, staff, members & others touched by our work and doing similar work from around the world, as part of the practice of bearing witness. Our friend, Sandy Seiju Hockenbury from Eon Zen Center in Boulder, Colorado USA, kindly shared a short piece on the sangha support efforts that the Eon Zen Center has been engaged in as a response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Our sangha is not large, but it is strong. Eon Zen Center, based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, under the leadership of Paul Gyodo Agostinelli, Sensei, is a close-knit group, enjoying social activities outside the zendo such as potlucks, movie nights, meditative hiking, and a monthly dharma book/study group. People linger after meditation and ask after the health and wellbeing of partners, parents, pets, and kids. We skew younger than many Buddhist groups and our sangha includes many who moved to the Boulder area for work, school, or proximity to the Rockies, members who may not be partnered or have family nearby, and younger members without the financial and social safety nets enjoyed by those who are older and more well-established.
This is a strange and frightening time for our society and indeed, the whole world, but also a beautiful time. Inspired by the accounts of neighborhood assistance groups popping up all around the country, a small group of us have organized what we call the Sangha Wellness Outreach Team.
We’re trying to provide support in multiple areas. We set up a Support Tree, with each of us signing up to email or call five or six other members to check in, ask how they are doing, and see if they need assistance with anything. Some of our team members with professional training have offered their expertise in crisis counseling, should anyone need a higher level of spiritual, emotional, or psychological support. Some SWOT team members have volunteered to pick up groceries, make meals, or run errands for those who might need some extra help. Last but not least, we’ve established a Support Fund to help folks out financially. Anyone can request up to $50.00 in cash assistance, no questions asked. Larger requests are vetted by Eon Zen board members.
Our virtual sangha is also supported by twice-daily group meditations over Zoom, weekly meetups for meditation, dharma talks, and discussion, and virtual dokusan with Gyodo Sensei. Colorado is but a few weeks behind New York in the progression of this disease. Despite being physically separated, we hope to gather strength and maintain our connection during this calm before the storm.
If you are interested in details for your group, contact Sandy Seiju at firstname.lastname@example.org