A Vision Statement for the Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center

by Joen and Michael O'Neal

Ocean Dharma Center Building

We envision the Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center as a broad-minded and openhearted community, practicing in the Buddhist tradition, focused on the central activity of awakening. The guiding spirit is that ancient system of inquiry, awareness, and wisdom from which the practice of mindfulness comes, and which helps us to understand and realize the implications of mindfulness as a practice for the ending of suffering in our lives and the lives of all with whom we are interconnected. Special emphases include:

  1. Cultivation of an environment that helps each of us uncover for ourselves the inherent greatness of our lives -- the deep wisdom, compassion, and beauty that is already at the heart of who we are.
  2. A respect for the seriousness of this practice and for the value of connecting through practice with the depth of our lives.This involves awareness that our purpose for coming together is to support each other in practice, and is different from cultural activities which have as their primary focus entertainment, comfort, or ego-enhancement. Examples of activities that support this include days and longer periods for wholehearted mindfulness practice; committed individual, home, and group practice; and engaged practice relationships between teachers and students, and between students and other students.
  3. A sense of sangha as the ground of our practice and our purpose. This includes the immediate sangha of the members of the Dharma Center, and also the broader sangha of the people we relate to at home, at work, and in the local community, and ultimately the great sangha of all being with whom we share this world. One key aspect of this is the conscious cultivation of the heart dimension in our relationships with each other, as well as with ourselves. This involves nurturing an environment of caring where the sangha supports individual, individuals support the sangha, and individuals support other individuals.
  4. Care that the formal practice of mindfulness -- sitting meditation, walking meditation, eating meditation, etc. -- will always be a central part of the community's practice.
  5. Remembering that mindfulness is the foundation of our happiness. This involves appreciation of the place of joy and enjoyment in our practice and in the life of our community.
  6. Opportunities to study, with depth and integrity, the rich treasure house of teachings from the Buddhist tradition. Study topics already taken up include the Four Noble Truths (mindfulness of suffering and its cessation in our daily lives); lovingkindness (mindfulness of intention in human relationships); and the Six Realms of Existence (mindfulness of how we create our reality moment by moment)
  7. Serious commitment to practice that supports families of all kinds, and special activities that include a place for children as full members of the community.
  8. Cultivation of the home as an important environment for practice, not neglecting to actualize the profound dimension of the home and of relations that place within the home.
  9. Involvement in the sangha understood as dynamic, with people able to move in and out and make changes in their level of activity. This includes respect for the fact that people have different levels of involvement at different times, and full acceptance of people's determination of their own degree of activity.
  10. Clarity about our identity as practicing within the Buddhist tradition while appreciating the contributions of other wisdom traditions and welcoming people of any tradition who wish to share in this practice.