Infinite Circle

Module 1: Living a Dharma-Rooted Life in a Money-Driven World
Kitchen Kannon | Mayumi Oda

The Infinite Circle equips participants to serve in economically and socially marginalized places in their own communities and to deepen their own spiritual lives. The first module dives into the Three Tenets of a Zen Peacemaker – Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving Action – to reveal our own stories around money and to loosen our fixed ideas about wealth, poverty, money, and economic systems of suffering. Together, we will explore how we can relieve the personal and social suffering of living in a money-driven world. Participants will be actively involved in seminars and small groups, learning about themselves and engaging with one another as spiritual companions. Learning is both didactic and experiential. Cohort members are asked to share their own experiences and engage in plunges and bearing witness activities. A theme for each month lays the groundwork for practice, self-reflection, and small group dialogue. Cohort members apply their learnings within the context of their own passions, interests, abilities, and skills, while building spiritual kinship and sharing support across a cohort of practitioners.

Module 2: Path Discernment

There are many gates of practice. Using the framework of the Five Buddha Families, participants will imagine and create a vision for their path of service. This module includes working individually with a Buddha Buddy mentor to move through a circle of conversations in each of the Buddha Families: Spirituality, Study, Livelihood, Community, and Action. After these conversations, participants will propose a plan to actualize these ideas by working in their local communities, which we call Path Making, the focus of Module 3.

Module 3: Path Making

Participants will chart their own path of service and develop skills in their specific fields of work, becoming what we call a Community Engaged Minister of Presence. Paths are diverse and will vary according to participants’ interests and passions. All cohort members will receive foundational training on cultivating resiliency, developing deep listening skills, leading meditation and prayer, and offering spiritual companionship for oppressed, marginalized, and traumatized people. The year ends with an empowerment ceremony, sending participants out into the world as Ministers of Presence within their own communities and fields of practice. Going forward, ministers may request an annual re-endorsement to continue their ministry work as part of the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community sangha.

Module 1: Living a Dharma-Rooted Life in a Money-Driven World (January to June 2022)

Beginning in January 2022, we’ll meet the second Saturday of each month from 10AM to 1PM EST. Each month will consist of a seminar, an action, and a Buddha Buddy Group meeting. Buddha Buddy small group meetings will be scheduled to coordinate across group member schedules. Actions will be self-scheduled.  We ask that participants make a commitment to attend all Saturday seminars and buddy group meetings.

January 2022 | Not Knowing 1

  • Welcome reception and orientation
  • Seminar: January 8, 2022
  • Action: Money Autobiography
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
April 2022 | Bearing Witness 2

  • Read: The Poverty of the Poor
  • Seminar: April 9, 2022
  • Action: Food Stamp Challenge
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
February 2022 | Not Knowing 2

  • Read: Working in the Cracks
  • Seminar: February 12, 2022
  • Action: Making a Three Tenets Mala
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
May 2022 | Healing Action 1

  • Read: Continuous Practice-Action 1
  • Seminar: May 14, 2022
  • Action: Generosity Experiment
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
March 2022 | Bearing Witness 1

  • Read: Lowland Buddhism
  • Seminar: March 12, 2022
  • Action: Pilgrimage and Plunge
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
June 2022 | Healing Action 2

  • Read: A Community Engaged Buddhism
  • Seminar: June 11, 2022
  • Action: Jizo Ceremony
  • Buddha Buddy Meeting
Module 2 Schedule: Path Discernment (August – October 2022)

The second module begins in August 2022 and lasts three months. During this time, we will expand our view and explore the many gates of practice. You will discern a path for yourself using the Five Buddha Family mandala as a framework for inquiry. Perhaps you want to become a meditation leader or facilitate street retreats. Maybe you want to do environmental work, letter writing campaigns, or work on dismantling white supremacy. Perhaps you want to do community arts or poetry. Dharma gates are boundless. All of these are ministries. Your work during Module 2 is to apply what you have learned in Module 1 to the conditions of your own life, passions, and the unmet needs in your community that captivate your imagination.

August 2022 | Living by Vow

  • Read: Continuous Practice-Action 2
  • Action: Draft Path Making Plan
September 2022 | Creating Beloved Community

  • Read: Beloved Community – The Four Tasks and Six Offerings
  • Action: Revise Path Making Plan
October 2022 | Getting into Good Trouble

  • Read: Good Trouble – Disruptive Action and Prophetic Action
  • Action: Present Path Making Plan
Module 3 Schedule: Path Making (January – October 2023)

In this third and final module, we turn from community learning and discernment to concrete action in the world as we develop our own unique path. We will meet monthly on the second Saturday from 3-4:30pm EST for council practice, and will participate in three month-long intensives, meeting weekly to learn and practice ministerial skills that we can apply in our diverse and varied paths. We will also continue our Buddy Groups to provide guidance and feedback for ongoing projects. By the end of the module, we also expect that you will have participated in at least one Bearing Witness Retreat or Plunge (see below for options).

  • February 2023 | Presence: Through presence, we can express love through wholehearted and kind attention. We experience the truth of interconnection by being present with one another, in an embracing awareness where nothing is held back or excluded.
  • May 2023 | Prayer and Meditation: Prayer and meditation, in person and in groups, can create sacred and dignifying spaces. When we approach prayer and meditation with a trauma-informed lens, we can empower others to claim more agency within disempowering systems.
  • August 2023 | Spiritual Companionship: In providing spiritual companionship, we let go of “helping” and “fixing” and simply accompany. We will learn how to offer comfort and encouragement, supporting and coming alongside others as they walk their own path.

Program Requirements

All participants are asked to do at least one Street Plunge or Bearing Witness Retreat during the Infinite Circle program, preferably during Module 1. A list of upcoming Plunges and Retreats sponsored by Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community (BLMZC) and Zen Peacemaker International (ZPI) is provided below (see BLMZC & ZPI websites for more details).

Cohort members are also expected to participate in one sesshin and/or at least two meditation retreats offered by Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community during the two years of the program.

BLMZC Street Plunges

  • April 2022 (4-day) Holy Week and Passover in New York City
  • July 2022 (4-day) in Nashville, TN (tent)
  • December 2022 (8-day and 4-day options) Rohatsu in San Francisco
ZPI Bearing Witness Retreats

  • Native American Plunge
  • Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Race in America
Workshops and Meditation Retreats at BLMZC

  • Half-day meditation retreats with meditation instruction
  • Day-long meditation retreats
  • Dharma workshops throughout the year
  • Summer sesshin – annually in July
  • Rohatsu sesshin – December 1 to 8 annually
  • Dharma talks – every Wednesday from 5:30PM to 6:30PM EST
 

 

Dana-Based Approach
Bread Mother | Mayumi Oda

We offer the Infinite Circle on a donation basis. To cover the expenses and sustain Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community, we request that each person contribute $1,296 per year for the program. Some have offered more to cover the costs of those who are unable to make this level of contribution. Others offer less to work within their means. No one will be excluded because they are unable to contribute, but we do ask that everyone offer what they can. Monthly contributions can be arranged, but to keep administrative work low, we ask that you make your full contribution at the beginning of the program if possible. If you give via PayPal, please consider adding 2% to your donation to cover the processing fee. There is an application fee of $50 that will be applied to your program contribution.

We are deeply grateful for your contribution. Thank you for helping us support the many activities of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community.

Registration: If you’re ready to register, please fill out our registration form and send in your $50 application fee.

Contact: For more information about the Infinite Circle program, please e-mail us at infinite-circle@breadloafmountainzen.org.