"Ripple" Stories from Scholarship Recipients
The stories below were written by Spirit Rock scholarship recipients. They illustrate that each scholarship is truly a gift that creates "ripples" that go out into the world. Such ripples are possible thanks to the generosity of our scholarship donors.
If you have benefited from a Spirit Rock scholarship, please send your stories to Gratitude@spiritrock.org.
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Appreciation for Diversity
I greatly appreciate the vision of the Spirit Rock community for outreaching to people of color and attempting to bring some much-needed diversity into the sangha. This scholarship made my attendance possible. I'd like to send my gratitude out to all those who created this program.
The retreat was exceptional and memorable, a very deep experience of personal discovery and connection with fundamental ideals that help anchor my life and my work. I experienced a very touching communion with an extended family of kindred spirits. I came away with a much-needed reaffirmation and clarification of the guiding principles in my life, and the restoration of commitment and motivation for continuing with my work as service.
In gratitude, Ina
A Bit of Heaven
What a great place to have a cold to release! Silence, a comfortable room and a bed where I could be a sister monk on a Nepal hill overlooking a foggy vale. I was nurtured with the best possible food in the world 3x a day, sitting in the hall surrounded by brightly lit sisters and teachers, with permission to do lying meditation when needed. I appreciated the generous sharing by the teachers of their wisdom in 1-on-1 meetings that really saved me a few times from disappearing into numbness.
All of my needs were anticipated by invisible retreat managers, and I had a work meditation cleaning toilets that reminded me of all the places one could breath in out in out without judgment, and the steady pouring down of water from the heavens that kept me very close to my insides. A bit of heaven... and the first retreat where I could really see that I will carry on with the teachings.
So, thank you all for this gift. The other bit is that a dear longtime friend has been lying in UCSF during this time, after successful brain surgery, then struck down with hospital induced pneumonia and has to breathe with oxygen. I breathed for her the whole time, as did her myriad friends, and I believe she will pull through.
In love and gratitude, Lynn
Thank you for allowing me to attend the Insight Meditation 101 retreat, by your generous scholarship from the Karuna Fund. I am permanently disabled and could not have attended without your help. The retreat was very healing for me. The sitting, the walking, the qigong, and interviews with the teachers were all very positive and contributed to my feelings of well being and peace.
Thanks again for your generosity, Emilio
New Year's Respite
I am writing to express my immense gratitude for the scholarship awarded to me for the New Year’s 2007-2008 residential retreat. I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity to deepen my practice and turn inward during these past ten days. As a student in nursing school, this retreat was invaluable. Without the generous dana of the SRMC community, this opening would not have been possible for me.
I am unable to express fully the importance for me of this practice, in life, and specifically as it supports my ability to be present in providing mindful care as a student nurse. The gift of retreat for me, of stepping back and slowing down, is palpable in my renewed capacity to show up more fully, with compassion for the bittersweet nature of human life in all of its turnings.
I am overwhelmingly moved by the openhanded kindness of the Spirit Rock community in providing me with this opportunity. I look forward to being able to continue the tradition of dana in the future to support other people in sustained practice as I have experienced in this retreat.
With abundant metta, Ari M. B.
Healing Through Poetry
My very first experience at Spirit Rock was inspiring and rejuvenating. Although I'd lived in San Francisco pretty much my whole life I never had the good fortune to participate there. For a single working mom and poet like myself making ends meet...
But then I lost my daughter in a tragic accident two days before 9-11 and needed time to surround myself with gentle people.
When the scholarship was made available to me I jumped at the chance. It was a generous gift that came at a moment in my life when I needed to find community, particularly a community of color to share the Dharma with. The teachers were all very warm, generous and funny, encouraging each of us to share and learn from them and each other.
It was very reaffirming and I will never forget my precious exchange with Roshi Jakusho Kwong during an intimate little group interview, when I shared the story of the loss of my daughter. I looked him in the eye and tearfully asked, "Does the pain go away?" Roshi replied with tears in his own eyes, "Never."
Something shattered. Then something opened.
We embraced like long lost brother and sister and I realized at that moment how important it was to keep the heart open to the flow of life, be it joy or sorrow, no matter how developed we think our practice might be or how advanced we think our understanding is. Emptiness is openess and that Dharma lesson was transmitted to me on that very special day at Spirit Rock.
I wanted to give something back so I taught poetry workshops. The workshops were very popular because a lot of heavy stuff was surfacing for people and they needed an outlet. The initial one workshop I'd been scheduled to teach turned into four, culminating in the reading of some very powerful work on the last night.
If the scholarship had not been made available to me, I would have not had that opportunity to make the profound connection I did.
In Living Peace, Genny
Serving Others in Cambodia
I would like to express my deep gratitude for the scholarship which enabled me to attend the March retreat.
Your generosity and kindness now extend into our work here in Cambodia with destitute AIDS patients— to my staff and to the patients themselves. All of us benefited tremendously from my being able to study and meditate intensively.
I especially appreciate the meticulous care given at Spirit Rock to all issues concerning safety: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The safety allows me space to open in ways otherwise not possible, especially working as I do in war zones and under other difficult conditions.
I am now back in Cambodia and settling back into our work here. All of us feel great gratitude and joy for your kindness. Thank you.
Deep bows, Beth
Gratitude From an Inter-faith Minister
I am grateful for the Spirit Rock scholarship program which allowed me to sit a one month retreat two years in a row. I am an inter-faith minister who lives and practices on Maui. In my workings as a minister I have found that my own spiritual practice is the ground from which I teach. Doing these long retreats has allowed me to deepen my personal understanding of the dharma through my direct experience. It is this personal experience that I share with my congregation. For example, each meditation that I give during service is always mindfulness based. Last fall I offered a teaching series on the Brahma Viharas including formal talks and short practice periods. In addition to the meditation training improving my skills as a teacher, it has been invaluable to me on a level of personal healing. The dharma has literally been a life saver for me. I feel as though I can teach from a very personal perspective, having walked down the path of personal liberation myself. The dharma makes me a better guide to those whom I minister to. Whatever guidance I am called to offer, it is always grounded in the dharma. I would like to humbly thank all of the teachers, staff and all those who serve at Spirit Rock. The effects of your service radiate throughout the globe.
May you always be well, Willow
A Therapist's Practice Deepens
Through the Spirit Rock Scholoarship Fund I was able to attend a retreat each summer throughout my graduate training to be a psychotherapist. I find that the dharma complements western psychology beautifully, and being able to deepen my practice through retreats has helped me develop a deeper understanding of human suffering and healing. So the scholarship not only benefitted me, but also my clients.
The Gift of Dhamma
I'd been sitting with Eugene Cash at his San Francisco Insight group for several years. I was anxious to do a retreat with him but could never afford to do so without the help of a scholarship. I am so grateful - I got to sit with Eugene, Kittisaro and Thanissara for an incredible five days in such a beautiful surrounding. I look forward to the time that I will be able to support the practice of others through dana, as I have been supported.
'A gift of Dhamma conquers all gifts.' — Dhammapada 354
Thank you very sincerely, A.K.
A Grateful Student of the Dharma
I'm grateful for the chance to express my gratitude to your scholarship program as it allowed me to come to Spirit Rock when I wouldn't otherwise have been able. I live in a small community, and though we have no Vipassana teacher, we are dedicated to our sangha and to our meditation practices. I share with others the teachings that I gained from Anna Douglas and Howie Cohn. We find them helpful, especially in deconstructing the conceptual ways we have learned to hold personal identities.
Because I was fortunate to be at Spirit Rock, I was also struck by the heartful attention to maintenance, cooperation, and aesthetics that Spirit Rock embues. Since then, we have begun a more focused conversation in our sangha about living our daily lives with more of the attention and consideration retreats have exposed us to. For me, the quiet, that is, companionable quiet and respect I experienced at Spirit Rock were meaningful not just as an experience, but as a way to live within community.
With metta to the community of Spirit Rock, Ann
Share your story Gratitude@spiritrock.org.
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