This blog contains announcements, insights and articles from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington


Fierce Compassion for All Beings

“All beings fear danger, life is dear to all. When a person considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.” (Dhammapada, 129.)  The first precept in Buddhism and the heart of the Dharma path is the practice of non-violence (ahimsa). It is the vow to not destroy, cause to be destroyed, or sanction the destruction of any living being. Through accepting this precept, we recognize our relationship to all life and realize that harming, or causing harm, to any living creature harms oneself....

Working with Breath when the Breath is Difficult

When I was first studying meditation, whenever I would encounter the instructions to focus on the breath, I would think, "why would I want to do that?" I have always had respiratory issues. From asthma, to year-round allergies, to bouts of chronic bronchitis, the breath has never been a sanctuary for me, it's been a source of frustration and pain. So when I would hear people talk about finding bliss by focusing on the breath, I would feel discouraged at best, and jealous at worst. It took a while for me to just allow myself to use other focal points....

Getting Credit: Pain as the Portal to Presence

The kitchen is a hot mess. So I begin the task of scraping then rinsing dishes before putting them away in the dishwasher, hand-washing the bulkier pots and pans…you know the drill. I’m enjoying myself. My newborn grandchild is out with her parents, and I am alone for the first time in weeks. It’s satisfying to unhurriedly clean the kitchen, watching the space return to its early morning freshness, the counter tops beginning to gleam and reveal their open pristineness.  I am ready to make myself a cup of tea, when I notice this small cluster of plates and glasses that escaped my attention. Just as I’m about to put these away the thought crops up, “if you do that, then no one will notice the kitchen has been cleaned.” I chuckle, and go on to put away the errant dishes.  I know this “attention seeker” well; she’s hungry for attention and only the complimentary kind. She is a master planner with a single-minded strategy – pain avoidance....

Warm Hand To Warm Hand: IMCW’s Mentor and True Refuge Companion Programs

IMCW is glad to announce that Mentor Program is restarting after a short hiatus.  At the heart of the program is the principle of sangha, or spiritual community -- the third jewel and refuge in Buddhism. Sangha was key to the 2,500-year tradition, by which practitioners passed the Dharma from “warm hand to warm hand”, as Suzuki Roshi put it. In this spirit, the Mentor Program pairs experienced practitioners with those seeking to deepen their practice. Thich Nhat Hanh explains that the sangha is crucial for those relatively new to the dharma: “[w]e are always running, and it is hard for us to stop and be here in the present moment, to encounter life. For those of us who have not learned to be present, we need to be supported in that kind of learning…With sangha you will be able to learn the art of stopping....

Virtual Sangha: Gaining Insight, Sharing Experience

Right now, as you are reading this article you might appreciate you are participating in a form of a large virtual sangha (spiritual community). Your interest in receiving and reading these newsletters already places you in a macro-level sangha among like-minded people who aspire to be free from suffering,...