Council is a practice in authenticity. It requires a deep listening, rigorous discernment, a reverence for truth, and a steady commitment to transparency and fierce compassion.
Every Thursday, with few exceptions, we hold our Community gathering at the Center. We start with our evening service anchored by the chanting of the Heart Sutra. This is followed by warrior breath training and a period of sitting meditation. And, when there is no newDharma Talk scheduled to follow, the Community holds Council.
This form of gathering can be used for a number of different purposes. Because of its inherent structure and intention, it can be an effective way to resolve conflict, build relationship, bear Witness, and be a means for us to find our true self.
According to The Way of Council written by Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle, “The tradition of council is ancient. On this continent, it can be traced to the league of the Iroquois…and the native peoples of the Plains and Southwestern Pueblos. The traditional practice of council has also emerged in contemporary form in the Native American Church. References to council can be found in ancient Greek literature…[and] the spirit of council is strongly present in the Islamic world as well.” (pg.4-5)
At the Center, we follow in this tradition as well, enlisting the use of ‘a talking stick’ and preserving the integrity of the container for council by creating and maintaining the intentional space to practice. In addition, we adhere to the four guiding tenets of council and hold confidentiality with utmost regard, as trust is a key element in building relationship.
They four guiding tenets of council are:
1) Speaking from the heart
“When our words, or silence for that matter, come from the heart, there is usually a tangible feeling of expansion and a sense of greater connectedness to others in the circle.” (pg. 29)
2) Listening from the heart
“As rare as speaking from the heart may be in our ordinary lives, attentive listening is probably even rarer…The success of council is largely determined by the quality of listening in the circle.” (pg. 30)
3) Being of ‘lean expression’
“Being lean is an art…the purpose of sharing stories in council is not to become professional storytellers or charismatic orators. Speaking from the heart creates its own eloquence…” (pg. 34)
“Freed from the need to prepare, the ordinary mind is more likely to step out of the way and let the more intuitive voice speak…Perseverance with this practice leads to the realization that everything that feels important at the time doesn’t have to be spoken.” (pg. 35)
Here at the Center, the topics introduced at Council will always speak to transformation in service to social justice, whether that be on a personal, interpersonal, local, national, international, global, or universal level. Often, the topics we touch upon incorporate aspects of all of these.
Relationship is built over time.
Join us each Thursday to engage in the powerful practice of Council
The Way of Council by Jack Zimmerman & Virginia Coyle, 1996, Bramble Books
Image: taken by Shubert Ciencia
“The Dap-ay is a circular place of gathering found in most Cordillera villages. It is where rituals and other community activities are held.”
Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines