November 24, 2015

No Yoga This Sunday, Nov 29

Hello Yoga Enthusiasts,
I have a special family activity planned for the holidays so will not be teaching on Sunday night. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Dina Hondrogen
Yoga Instructor

October 27, 2015

Sun 7-8:30 Everyday Mindfulness

Dear Friends,

It was a big disappointment that I wasn't well enough last Sunday to join you and give the talk I announced a week ago. But I was very glad Walt Opie could step in and carry the teachings in my stead.

I still mean to talk about everyday mindfulness, so here's what I wrote about it last week (with a new date):

Our meditation practice is a powerful training that can lead to the end of dissatisfaction. We often forget that this path to contentment runs through what we might regard as the "ordinary:" our normal daily lives.

Just as in formal meditation, daily life practice brings mindfulness to whatever arises. In the process, the "ordinary" is often quite transformed.

Please join us this Sunday, Oct. 25, with your friends and stories about your practice of everyday mindfulness.

Looking forward to seeing you again,

October 10, 2015

Dear Sangha Friends,
Last week we discussed the relationship of love and emptiness; love inclines us to less self-clinging, and emptiness naturally gives rise to compassion. This week we will explore specific ways of working with both love and emptiness, and we’ll reflect on Nisargatta’s sublime realization: “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows.”

Looking forward to seeing you and practicing together.

with warmth,
Deb Kerr

October 2, 2015

This Sunday: Love and Emptiness, Part 1

Dear Friends,

Although "emptiness" is not a word we might usually associate with love, in the Buddhist teachings and practice, they are inextricably tied to each other. This Sunday we will explore the ways in which love blossoms more fully in the light of emptiness, the ways in which emptiness is seen as love is cultivated; and the ways in which both lead us toward freedom, and manifest as fruits of our practice.

Looking forward to seeing you and practicing together!

with warmth,
Deb Kerr

September 26, 2015

Total eclipse included in tonight's sangha meeting

Dear Ones,

Like some of you, I've been wishing to see the rare eclipse tonight, and then realized there need be no conflict. Tonight, after the sit, we'll have a lunar break! Then back for the dharma talk & discussion and out in time to see the last half hour of the eclipse's end. For those not interested in traipsing outside, it will just be "a break."

Best wishes,

September 17, 2015

Sun 7-8:30 pm Coming Back to the Breath

Dear Friends,

If there's one single teaching or activity that can be said to characterize Buddhism, it's coming back to the breath. It's the mainstay of Vipassana meditation, and it's much more.

As our practice grows and we learn more about the teachings, we can lose the immediacy of this simple but extremely powerful action. As we go through our lives, remembering it can bring the present moment and our intentions into sudden, meaningful focus. Bring your stories, and a friend.

Join us this Sunday, Sept. 20, 7-8:30 pm, as we explore the benefits of coming back to the breath.

With metta,

September 11, 2015

ASL Interpreted Video, "Signs of Mindfulness"

Dear Ones,
In case you missed this link on the weekly sangha email, here it is again!

This is a video project I participated in along with other volunteers from Alameda Sangha, Judi Fruge, Steve Lowery, Lauren Zane created by Geoff Geiger and filmed by Jampa Thinlay.


With metta and peace for the weekend,

September 10, 2015

Healthy Shame and Intention this Sunday at Alameda Sangha September 13, 2015

Dear Ones,

Come and explore with me what Buddha taught about Healthy Shame and Intention. First we will explore, the Guardians of the World, or the twin emotions known as, in the Pali, "Hiri-Ottapa". Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American monk, Pali scholar and acclaimed teacher explores these two qualities in a wonderful article he wrote:

Buddha refers to these two qualities as the bright guardians of the world and Bhikkhu Bodhi says, "He gives them this designation because as long as these two states prevail in people's hearts the moral standards of the world remain intact, while when their influence wanes, the human world falls into unabashed promiscuity and violence, becoming almost indistinguishable from the animal realm." I will offer how awareness of these two qualities can really shift the way in which we think about our intentions before acting and additionally, the impact that the action could potentially have out in the world. Therefore, it is not enough to have good intentions, rather we also need to go the extra mile to consider how what we say, do or think will land on the person(s) or situation. Hmmm. Important stuff to reflect upon and remember to try to do!

Then we will explore a short sutta, entitled, Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone which is a discourse given to Rahula, the Buddha's son when he was only 6 years old.

Of particular interest in this teaching is how Buddha emphasizes to Rahula, the importance of extensive reflection on verbal, bodily and mental actions (this is where the intention comes in). Reflection needs to occur when the desire arises to do these actions, and then reflection once again, during the doing of any of these actions and reflection once again, after the action is completed. By this instruction alone, one can see how active our practice can really be in daily life off the cushion, and that it takes some effort in order to reverse the effects of the defilements of the mind in order to let our beautiful and innate Buddha nature come through. When this happens, of course we will have less suffering. I personally, have been working with the mental actions a lot, and seeing my own responsibility whenever my unique conditioning bumps up with someone else's in an unpleasant and usually unskillful way. It is hard to move beyond the tunnel vision that our own conditioning encourages so that it tricks us time and time again to create stories and assumptions that may or may not be true. Remember that Mahasi Sayadaw, Buddhist meditation master said that the mind creates 98% of our suffering!

Let's explore these together!

Don't forget the chanting!

Also, please check out this wonderful YouTube video that our own talented and creative Geoff Geiger initiated with the help of many wonderful volunteer gifted sangha members! It was created for the Deaf community. The title of it is Signs of Mindfulness in case this link doesn't work and you would like to view it. Enjoy.

​with metta,

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September 3, 2015

September 2, 2015

This Sunday, Shame and Spiritual Bypassing at Alameda Sangha

Dear Ones,

Come and join me in exploring how such an aversive emotion like shame is spiritually bypassed so that we avoid this shadow side that could otherwise instruct us in practicing in an open and honest way with our unresolved wounds.

Shame is the inner critic in disguise and then we can have a tendency to project this unresolved wound on others, which can pollute any relationship we have in which it appears.

We will also discover the goodness of healthy shame or hiri-ottappa in the Pali which are "conscience and concern" or moral shame and moral dread. These are twin emotions, aka the guardians of the world and are associated with all skillful actions. More about these twin emotions will be discussed in Part 2 of this talk on shame, next week - Shame and Intention: a teaching for Rahula (the son of the Buddha)

We will see how shame manifests as spiritual bypassing, how to work with shame and how to sit in the fire of shame.

Hoping that it will be a purifying experience for all of us in this journey together!

Don't forget the chanting!

For a listing of my upcoming dharma teaching activities, visit:
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with gratitude and respect for your practice,


August 28, 2015

This Sunday: How Did I Get Here? Conditioning and the Possiblity of Change

Dear Friends,

The good news of karma is that it carries the seed of freedom in every moment. This Sunday we will continue to discuss karma, seeing both the skillful and unskillful things that we have fostered, and that in turn create our lives. We'll talk about why, in the Buddhist cosmology, it is considered so rare and precious to be born human; and we will review the importance of intention. We'll see that it is possible to change, and that one essential way of dong that is to work with our "ways of looking"-- at both ourselves and the world.

Looking forward to being with you and practicing together.

with warmth,
Deb Kerr

Yoga this Sunday

Yoga will be taught this Sunday 6-6:45pm. Come in clothes you can move in. Bring a sticky mat, bare feet and an empty stomach. All levels welcome.

Dina Hondrogen
Yoga Instructor

August 20, 2015

This Sunday: Sangha PICNIC and "Sila, Karma and the Bliss of Blamelessness"

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, August 23, I'll be talking about Sila, Karma and the Bliss of Blamelessness. We'll be exploring the role of morality as a protection and essential support for our practice and our lives; some "nuts and bolts" about karma and its interplay with sila; and the ease, peace and happiness that come from living lives of non-harming, in accord with others.

Reminder: Our Fifth Annual Sangha Picnic will be on Sunday August 23 from 5 - 6:30 at McKinley Park, 2165 Buena Vista Ave, Alameda. Please label your dish to indicate if it is vegan, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian.

This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize, get to know each other better, and enjoy amazing food. For more details, visit our website, noted below.

sending all good wishes,

Awesome Wes Nisker Daylong Next Saturday!

Dear Friends,

Here is a wonderful opportunity to experience the teachings of one of our most treasured dharma masters and Spirit Rock teachers, in Alameda on a dana basis! At the Alameda Sangha on August 22, renowned dharma teacher, journalist and performer Wes Nisker will be leading a daylong on How To Be An Earthling-- Mindfulness Meditation and Modern Science: A Path of Self-Liberation and Amazement. Wes was my first and most influential dharma teacher, and I highly recommend his light and humorous yet profound teachings.

The daylong will be at Buena Vista UM Church from 10 - 4 on Saturday August 22. For details, and to register, see the Alameda Sangha website:

Come and bring your friends for a delightful day of dharma!

with warmth,
Deb Kerr

August 13, 2015

This Sunday at Alameda Sangha, August 16, 2015 Understanding the Mind or the Third Foundation of Mindfulness

Dear Ones,
Join me this coming Sunday to spend time with my favorite aspect of the dhamma, which is mind training and getting to know one's various mental states, wholesome and unwholesome. We will explore the Three Poisons which the Buddha points to as encompassing the entire range of our unwholesome mental states. If we learn to incline our mind away from these and more towards the wholesome mental states, we can train our minds to approach closer to liberation from suffering.

We will also look at Two Kinds of Thoughts, a sutta from the Mahjima Nikaya that the Buddha came up with before he awakened. In it he points us to wise discernment of what leads to long term, lasting happiness and liberation and what on the other hand leads us to suffering.

Should be a rich evening and a nice segway from the monastic daylong on Vedana or the second foundation of mindfulness earlier in the day for those of you who come.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

with gratitude for your practice,