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Members of the Sangha

Despite appearances, you are not the center

These are among the people who’ve found The Refuge mailing list of value. Our practices vary; our understanding of Buddhism varies.  Some of us don’t call ourselves Buddhist at all; others are highly qualified scholars and teachers.  We share only an appreciation of Buddhist teachings, a skeptical but open approach to Buddhist tradition and a common humanity.  We invite you to join us.

Bronwen Eckstein

Bronwen Eckstein is in South Africa and became a Dharma seeker at the age of 19 when she read a few words of the Buddha — “By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one suffers; by oneself evil is left undone, by oneself one is purified.  Purity and impurity belong to oneself, no one can purify another.” As a guide for living she has been telling it to everyone ever since, but still has not quite got the hang of it herself.  She is doing her best (off and on, when she remembers).  Be kind to her.  Luckily she found Thich Nhat Hanh and the actual Dhammapada quote (No. 165) about forty years later, as well as some other kindly guides, including people on this Sangha, and her ever-patient Ch’an teacher, Venerable Shih Man Ya, of the Fo Guang Shan lineage.

Pat Stacy

Pat Stacy goes by the name Bodhiyana on the mailing list.  She is a trained Zen teacher who has received kensho in 1993, and inka (permission to teach) in 1996, from the abbott of the Vichara Bodhiyana monastery.  Pat lives in Mariposa, California.

Tan Chade-Meng

Tan Chade-Meng was born in Singapore and embraced Buddhism as a student.  Known as “Meng the Merciful” on the list, he offers a common-sense and solidly-rooted interpretation of Buddhist teaching.  He lives in Santa Barbara, California where he was a graduate engineering student.  (Meng now works for Google.)

Ivan Van Laningham

Ivan Van Laningham also lives in Salt Lake City.  Ivan acts as the mailing list administrator.  He attends the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, and combines Jodo Shinshu with some Zen practice.  He’s a software engineer who’s been in the computer business since the 60s, and who’s been known to brag that he helped create the Year 2000 bug.

JJ (J. Johnson)

JJ (J. Johnson) “I’ve morphed from a spiritual sojourner to a free spirit Gelugpa adventurer supported by Dzogchen teachings.  I enjoy meeting new people from other cultures.  I enjoy a good philosophical conversation with friends and ordained Sangha...preferably face to face but most often via e-mail.  It seems like I’m always finding things and thoughts to jettison.”

(BTW...the photo was shot by Graham when we were in Western Wyoming)

“...civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof...”
—JFK Jan. 20, 1961

Nils Andreas Erstad
Someone’s a tourist here
Nils Andreas Erstad lives in Norway.  He has been known to eat lutefisk, when he wants to be antisocial.  I don’t criticize him for that.  He is, after all, in Norway, and I am safe in the U.S.  Things might be different if he were any closer.  In London, say. ...

Nils writes:  “As stated and confirmed by lots of law-abiding, hard-working American Citizens of mainly Norwegian and Swedish origin:  eating lutefisk is a highly social event; the more elaborate versions done back here where it all started even more so.  This event gets even us Norwegians out in the December blizzards to gather in restaurants.  We may even share a table with total strangers, something we the rest of the year resist as long as possible.  Lutefisk is praised in the literature well back into the 1400s.

“And I solemnly declare:  Lutefisk is not a weapon of mass destruction.  However, the even more delicious traditional Norwegian rakfisk, may, in some circumstances, be possible to use for biological warfare.”

“... Misunderstanding is one of the great engines of progress.”
—Galen Strawson: The Self and the SESMET

Tom Rathbone Tom Rathborne’s empirical curiosity has led him to test the Dharma since he received Roshi Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen in June 2003.  He has received real live teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Geshe Michael Roach, but is in no particular tradition and presents no credentials.  His skepticism has been tempered by the astounding effectiveness of the Dharma and he continues to scour the Internet for stray Dharma particles.  Tom lives in Toronto, Canada.
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