Center Community News - Vol. 31, No. 4




Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences

Vol. 31, No. 4 • Fall 2018


David Cunningham Awakens

David Cunningham

We are pleased to announce that long-time CSS practitioner David Cunningham has had an Awakening.

For those of you who don’t know David, he has been a CSS practitioner for over 25 years. Although he lives with his wife Bailey in Anacortes, Washington, he has attended thirty or so CSS retreats. In the Fall of 2016, David had an Awakening. Joel has since talked to David several times over the phone and is convinced that David has had a transformative Awakening. So Joel invited David to come to the CSS community night on July 25th to give an account of what happened.

Video: David's Account of Awakening

David shared the story of his spiritual path, which culminated in an exhaustion of all his practices except one: Whenever a thought or sensation would arise in awareness, he watched it and asked the simple question "Is this me?" 

After two years practicing this inquiry with single-pointed determination, David was walking on the beach one day, and in the gap after the sensation of one step had passed away but before the next had arisen, attention spontaneously collapsed inwardly, and there was an instant recognition that there is no self. There is just vast wide, open, empty Space.

A transcript of David's account can be read here


Tom and Joel

Light of Truth Day

Departing from the tradition of addressing an aspect of Ultimate Truth and its Realization, this year's Light of Truth day talk explored relative truth. After Joel discussed the distinction between absolute and relative truth in the mystical traditions, he presented some reasons why relative truth is important.

Joel then turned the talk over to Tom McFarlane to explain how it is that the relative truths of mathematics and science are so reliable and effective. The audience participated in some empirical measurements and scientific predictions to illustrate the points. Joel then concluded the talk, and opened it up for a lively discussion.


Video: Stopping the Wheel of Time

Video: Stopping the Wheel of Time

On 11 March 2018, Joel gave a talk about how to act with compassion by discussing a mandala that shows how suffering arises from the cycle of self-centered conditioning. At the deepest level, at the center of the mandala, are grasping, aversion, and indifference. He then discussed how precepts function to interrupt this cycle, and how practices cultivating compassion help reveal the joy of selflessness.

For more videos from Center teachers, see our YouTube channel.


Foundation Studies Graduates and Summer Holiday Party

David Strain, Christin Maks, Cindy Bloom, Hillery Kyablue, Betsy Priddle. Five of the Graduates of the Foundation Studies class of 2017-2018

The CSS summer holiday party included the traditional potluck, graduation ceremony for the Foundation Studies class, and live entertainment.

Music and dance

There were eleven graduates of the 2017-2018 Foundation Studies class, which was taught by Todd (with Luke for the first half of the year). The graduates are Cindy Bloom, Darryl Evans, Ashby Klenk, Hillery Kyablue, Christin Maks, Matt McNall, Janet Nathani, Betsy Priddle, Christine Lakshmi Ratchinsky, Katie Rose, and David Strain. We would like to congratulate them and welcome them to the regular practitioners groups!


Library Corner

The Center maintains a lending library containing thousands of books, audio CDs, video DVDs, magazines, and journals for patrons to explore the classical teachings of the mystics from all the world's religious traditions. Here we feature reviews of a few items in the collection. See the Library Blog for reviews and new additions to the library. The library also has a bookclub that meets monthly.

How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, or How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death

by Roshi Jiyu-Kennett

Faced with imminent death from illness, this profound female Zen monk engaged in meditations to clear any remaining hidden blocks. In other words, she chose to prepare for death. Kennett Roshi found herself, in successive meditations, on a journey with many obstacles. Due to her willingness and focus, and attended by her monk assistant, she was guided by visions, and was able to remove all encumbrances. In addition, her physical health returned.

The nature of the visions and her descriptions make for a dramatic story. The images can be very beautiful, and each step of the process is accompanied by very clear hand-drawn illustrations.

The title of this book can be taken both literally and symbolically. Lotuses grow in muddy water and blossom on the surface in the sun. Her visions taught her more clearly how to train her monks by the symbolic use of the lotus: growing a lotus is also growing a complete monk.

A delightful and entertaining read, as well as inspiring for those not too faint of heart!

—reviewed by Dawn Kurzka

Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge

by Arthur Osborne

Written by a devotee who knew Ramana personally, this sensitive book tells the story of Ramana’s early life and enlightenment. Ramana’s teachings of non-duality and compassion for all beings extended not only to the human visitors, but to the animals as well. “Once, during the hot months,” Osborne writes, “an electric fan was put on the window-sill beside him. He ordered the attendant to switch it off, and when the latter persisted he himself reached up and pulled out the plug. The devotees were just as hot; why should he alone have a fan? Later, ceiling fans were installed and all benefited alike.”

— reviewed by Jennifer Knight

Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

by David Chadwick

If you’ve read Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and find it a treasure, this book is for you. If you want a good story, this book is for you. If you want to be brought into the embrace of sorrow, joy, humility, disillusion, bewilderment and amazement, this book is for you. If you want to know what it's about, I can’t tell you.

The essence of this Zen Master cannot be defined. Both he and this very full story of his life by a direct student are soft and strong, gentle and fierce, yielding and firm, despairing and so, so funny. If you read it, it’ll knock your socks off. I bow to David Chadwick for this very alive story of a humble giant. And I bow to Suzuki Roshi in a bow that can never end.

— reviewed by Dawn Kurzka

A Journey in Ladakh

by Andrew Harvey

Journeying in Ladakh in the early 1980s was an opportunity to experience Tibetan culture in a form not yet very contaminated by the West. This book is a travelogue of such a journey, including Rinpoches, monks and lay followers of Tibetan Buddhism, together with teachings they share. Added to the mix are some fellow Western travelers with their combined intellectual, open or skeptical perceptions. Spiced up with quotes of the discussions that could arise with them and with Tibetans. Followed with the author's personal thought processes and spiritual experiences born from these encounters. Flavor with vivid descriptions of dingy restaurants, butter tea, local festivals, landlords, gardens, hikes, bus trips packed with people, animals, packages, smells and delays. Arrange for it to be written brilliantly. Here you have Andrew Harvey’s present book.

— reviewed by Dawn Kurzka


Video: Bearing Witness

Video: Bearing Witness, by Hiromi

In this video, Hiromi discusses the three tenets of the Zen peacemaker, followed by a sharing circle in the council format. It includes an original song by Hiromi.

It was recorded during a Sunday meeting held at the Center on July 8, 2018.

For more videos from Center teachers, see our YouTube channel.


Video: Discovering the Infinite and
Intimate Nature of Awareness, by Todd

Video: Discovering the Infinite and Intimate Nature of Awareness

CSS teacher Todd Corbett gave a Sunday talk June 24, 2018, entitled "Discovering the Infinite and Intimate Nature of Awareness."

The talk touched upon various issues that often come up in spiritual practice. Todd insightfully shows how each one can be skillfully met by viewing it in the context of the fundamental truth that all experience is ultimately awareness knowing awareness.

For more videos from Center teachers, see our YouTube channel.


Video: From Awakening to Liberation

Video: From Awakening to Liberation, by Matt

In this video, CSS teacher Matt Sieradski presents a Sunday talk entitled "From Awakening to Liberation." He discusses spiritual cultivation of different aspects of our being and its relationship to Awakening and Liberation.

It was recorded during a Sunday meeting held at the Center on 10 June 2018.

For more videos from Center teachers, see our YouTube channel.


Mission and Programs of the Center for Sacred Sciences

The Center for Sacred Sciences is dedicated to the study, practice, and dissemination of the spiritual teachings of the mystics, saints, and sages of the major religious traditions. The Center endeavors to present these teachings in forms appropriate to our contemporary scientific culture. The Center also works to create and disseminate a sacred worldview which expresses the compatibility between universal mystical truths and the evidence of modern science.

Among the Center’s ongoing events are Sunday public services with meditations and talks given by the Center’s spiritual teachers; monthly Sunday video presentations; and — for committed spiritual seekers — weekly practitioners groups and periodic meditation retreats. The Center is accessible. We are a welcoming and inclusive community.

The Center maintains an extensive lending library of books, audios, videos, and periodicals covering spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and scientific subjects. In addition, the Center provides a website containing a great deal of information and resources related to the teachings of the world’s mystics, the universality of mystical truth, and the relationship between science and mysticism. The Center publishes this newsletter providing community news, upcoming programs, book reviews, and other contributions and resources related to the Center’s mission.

The Center for Sacred Sciences is a non-profit, tax-exempt church based in Eugene, Oregon, USA. We rely chiefly on volunteer staff to support our programs, and on donations to meet our operating expenses. Our spiritual teachers give their teachings freely as a labor of love, and receive no financial compensation from the Center. 


About the Center Community News

The Center Community News is published on the CSS website several times a year. Its primary purpose is to help foster a community of spiritual practitioners by sharing original teachings, experiences, reflections, artistic expressions, and reports among members of our community.

To submit your original spiritual reflection, report, poetry or art to the newsletter for publication, please use the newsletter submission form

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or update your existing subscription to the Center Community News, please use the subscription form.

Center for Sacred Sciences • (541) 345-0102 • General contact form
Mailing Address: 1430 Willamette St., #164 Eugene, OR 97401-4049 USA
Meeting Address: 5440 Saratoga St., Eugene, Oregon, USA