New Home

Offering each other refuge

by Greg Satir, board vice president

Last month, Portland Friends of the Dhamma Board and community came together and formally agreed to purchase the Dharma Rain Zendo. Soon we will produce a formal offer to Dharma Rain. Since this is a transaction between two Dharma groups, there is enormous goodwill and shared interest in making this sale and transition easy on both communities. So, instead of simply handing an offer to Dharma Rain, first we met Board-to-Board to talk about what each community would find of greatest support both around and outside of the financial details.

The guiding principle of refuge soon emerged in our conversation. Portland Friends of the Dhamma has been homeless since May 2013 and this has been a strain on our community. Though it will take a while to close on the sale, anything we can do now to increase our feeling of refuge in this building will be of great benefit. Similarly, Dharma Rain is about to enter a homeless period that could last even longer than ours, as they embark on a huge building project. Any amount of refuge they can continue to find at this building beyond the close of sale will help them.

A beautiful shared interest in offering each other refuge during this transition became clear.  So, for example, even before we have made a formal offer,  Dharma Rain has given over use of their sewing room in the lower level as an office for our Spiritual Director, Sakula. This 24/7 foothold in the building increases our community’s refuge here.

On our side, we learned that Dharma Rain has a practice period that goes through June 1. Even though the sale will likely close before then, it would be a benefit to them if they could stay moved in and arranged in the manner they are used to. Again, easy for us to offer and a huge benefit for them. They are able to plan their transition in June without worry of when the formal close is.

This ability for us to find refuge before the sale and them to maintain it after the sale is something rare in a half-million-dollar transaction. These conditions are very fortunate: two Buddhist groups in transition, able to help each other.

The Board meets monthly on the second Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Dharma Rain. All meetings are open to the public, please consider joining us. Email for more information.


Notes from the Annex

A report on the latest efforts of PFOD’s Board of Directors

When the possibility of purchasing the Dharma Rain Zendo first came up, the natural question was, Does the community support this purchase? One way to interpret this is purely financially: Do we have the money coming in for a downpayment and monthly loan payments. Of course, support is more than financial and it’s even more than volunteer energy. The question truly is: Would the community make its home here and deeply settle into this building?

A pledge drive answered these intertwined questions. Right now, we have $3,115 per month in pledged support from 50 community members. This amount of money — more than we’ve ever taken in before — shows that we can consider taking on a loan. But the fact that there are 50 people who came forward to offer this support has been an inspiration to the Board that the community support is here.

Now, it’s time to consider what kind of offer we can present to Dharma Rain. To avoid the natural winter holiday slump in community energy as people turn to their families and travels, the Board has set a goal of bringing an initial offer to Dharma Rain by the middle of December.

In order to make an offer that the Board has confidence in, we need to consider what conditions create a viable purchase. We have undertaken to learn:

  • what shape is the building in

  • how much insurance will cost

  • how do we create a useful reserve fund

  • what initial remodeling might be beneficial

  • how renting to others will facilitate this purchase

It also means considering other community costs like better supporting the Spiritual Director and getting some professional help with our bookkeeping systems.

In short, there are a lot of plans to be made during this next month. It is an exciting time, with many people putting time into supporting the community by working on this purchase, keeping our programs going and practicing together. The energy is building and the signs are promising.

To learn more about our directors and view our board meeting dates, visit:

Greg Satir, vice-president

We Can Do This

1-3) Buddha's handsAs the practice of the Dhamma continues to influence our lives in profound ways, we would like to express not only our gratitude, but a wholesome desire to help bring to fruition a permanent home for Portland Friends of the Dhamma, so that it may establish itself as an important lay center in the Ajahn Chah lineage, and so that others who are on the Path may participate in a community of like-minded individuals, perhaps for many generations to come. 


Dear Friends,

Portland Friends of the Dhamma has a chance to purchase the Dharma Rain Zendo. After making a significant financial commitment to this cause, we three – Betsy Russell, Greg Satir and Adrienne Fuson – were inspired to write the above intention. We have found a real sense of joy in imagining our community in this magnificent space, and wonder, is this our Karmic path? We think the answer is a resounding YES!

On Saturday, June 29th, 2013 Luang Por Pasanno offered his support of this pursuit. It was after his inspiring talk that we made the following pledges:

  • Betsy pledged $25,000 to kick-start a down payment as well as $500 a month
  • Greg and Adrienne pledged $5,000 toward the down payment and a loan for the purchase
  • In all, 21 community members pledged a total of $1,516 per month

And to our great delight, people continue to join in this very beautiful cause. As of September 18th, thirty-six supporters have pledged a total of $2,300 per month. We are now inspired to reach beyond word-of-mouth and invite you to join us in reflecting on the value of the Dhamma in your life:

The asking price of the building is $475,000. It’s a large sum indeed, however given the location and facilities, we feel it’s a perfect fit for PFOD.

The PFOD Board has reviewed the financials. The loan has been offered and the terms are promising. If we can gather committed pledges of $4,000 per month this project becomes a reality. We are more than half-way there!

While the Center will continue to offer events and teachings on a dana basis, the reality of our world includes costs and money. We are asking you to join us in pledging a monthly contribution as part of your practice.

Whatever is comfortable for you—$10 a month, $50 a month, $1,000 a month—will be received with the deepest gratitude.THANK YOU for considering helping to make this dream a reality.

To make a recurring or one-time donation, click here.

Importantly, if you do not have the means for financial support and would like to participate, there are many other ways you can help in this endeavor. Please contact us.

With our deepest bows and gratitude for your time, consideration and practice.

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!

Betsy Russell, Greg Satir and Adrienne Fuson

PFOD Community Members

Is This Our New Home?

a close up of a yellow building on a tree lined streetIn a tree-lined residential neighborhood just off Southeast 25th and Hawthorne in beautiful Portland Oregon, Buddhists have gathered for Dhamma instruction and meditation for more than 25 years. Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson moved from California to Oregon in 1982. They eventually purchased a historic church (originally built in 1926) and established The Dharma Rain Zen Center.  They have since grown to be a large, vibrant Buddhist community and have secured several acres of land to build and better serve their continued growth. Their Zendo is now up for sale and the community of Portland Friends of the Dhamma wants to purchase it.

Imagine what it might feel like to walk into a space where thousands of people have contributed millions of hours of effort toward purifying their minds. Some say it’s downright palpable.

The 2,000-square-foot shrine room was built in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.Buddhist meditation hall

Heading downstairs, there is 2,500 square feet with a kitchen, a dining area, a large common room for classes, films or assemblies. It’s been a lovely space to host tea for our venerable monastics. There is an office space, an abundant storage area, two bathrooms and a separate entrance.

a church basement dining area

With the purchase of this building, we would have enough space to relaunch our full slate of programming and add new classes and gatherings, as well. The location is central, with easy transportation by foot, bike, bus or car (see map below).

Your board members are busy writing more content for this website and will be posting about expenses and fundraising efforts soon. If you have a suggestion for a post or would like to know specific information, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you personally. Or please sign up for our new twice monthly email newsletter by clicking here! We’ll make it easy for you to stay up to date on all the news about our journey to buy Dharma Rain Zendo, as well as monastic visits and volunteer opportunities.

 More on the Property at Portland Maps

And Google Maps

Dharma Rain google map

Let’s Buy the Dharma Rain Zendo

On Monday July 22, 2013 the Portland Friends of the Dhamma Board made the formal decision to pursue the purchase of Dharma Rain Zendo  (the building we are renting now) for our new home. Click on “A New Home?” or in the above menu bar for expanded information.

Perhaps you thought that we’d already done that. Quite understandable. However, so far we’ve been evaluating and reflecting on that possibility, and now we have a conclusion – we should buy it.

Obviously, the path to a purchase is not guaranteed and many hurdles lie ahead. Fortunately it seems many determined hurdlers stand ready. In fact some are already out of the starting blocks, powering deep into the first turn.

  • Greg and Adrienne declared that they wish to provide PFoD with a loan to buy the building and are ready to work out terms with the board. Wow!
  • Betsy Russell offered to start the down payment fund with $25,000, and together with Greg and Adrienne, to spearhead reaching out to the community to raise additional funds.

You are shaking your head in amazement aren’t you? I thought so. Such generosity and far sight are deeply inspiring: even more, to me it’s a moment together on the path itself. Thank you.

And there’s more … Rachel, Sallie, and Jessica are taking the lead on our communications hurdles; producing a simple bi-weekly newsletter to keep folks informed, doing weekly web and egroup updates, and extending our mailing list even to communities outside the region.

Our plans and actions won’t be perfect, it’s an stupendous task, I see us making it.
To you all, with hands together, on behalf of you all,
Your Board    (Alistair, Greg, Sakula, Jim, Mary, Jessica, Rachel, & Sallie)

The Proposal that was Approved

Recognizing the support shown by the monastic community and many in the lay community for the purchase of the Dharma Rain Zendo (DRZ), and recognizing the suitability and potential of the building itself, PFoD will pursue the purchase of Dharma Rain Zendo as its primary path to a new home. From now through Dec. 31, 2013, PFoD will seek to understand the risks and benefits therein, clarify financial obligations and come to a common understanding on these matters. We will seek to gather the necessary finances, negotiate a successful purchase, and identify any organizational changes necessary to manage the building effectively.

On this the PFoD Board is in full consent – July 22, 2013

Click on “A New Home?” or in the above menu bar for expanded information.

Our History with Dharma Rain Zendo

Did you know that Sakula painted the sign above the main entrance of the Dharma Rain Zendo 15 years ago? It’s also where Sakula and Alistair heard their first Dhamma talk, and met their first monk Theravada monk – Ajahn Amaro.

Many in our community have practiced in this building. Soon, we’ll be adding a comments section here. If you have some history or connection or fond memory with this building we would love to hear from you. Please check back soon and share your comments here.

Excellent News from Saturday’s Community Benifit

A Beautiful Short Story

On Saturday, June 29th, we held our first ever Community Benefit. We were a bit nervous, but there were beautiful displays, moving sharings, five venerable Bhikkhus teaching and encouraging, and by the end over $25,000 offered or pledged. That’s more than the TOTAL dana for the last 12 months. Yup. Oh, and Luang Por Pasanno offered a Buddha rupa too. You should have been there.

A Bountiful Longer Story

In the morning we sat. In the afternoon we reviewed our current homeless state, our financials, and Dharma Rain as a potential future home. We asked for people to make a one-year commitment of regular monthly dana to provide a the sound financial base we would need wherever we ended up.

By day’s end there were monthly pledges from 20 people ranging from $10 to $500 and totaling $1,625. That’s adds up to $19,500 for the year. Wow. Thank you. We also received over $1,100 in immediate cash donations.

In addition two other Buddhist groups are each prepared to contribute $250 a month for use of the building one evening a week. That’s another $500 a month which is $6,000 a year (assuming of course that we had the building.)

Our aim is to establish $4,000 in regular monthly contributions for one year. That would ensure we can operate the building, pay a mortgage on it and support programs and the spiritual director to at least the current level.

So 12 days after the Board met to talk about financing our next home, it looks like we are half way to our first goal. A great, great start. It will take many more people and a lot of reaching out to get the second half, but the opportunity is worth it.

A Double Bonus Appendix

There were two additional offerings in support of buying Dharma Rain

1 –  Luang Por Pasanno (no less) offered, should we manage to buy Dharma Rain, to gift a Buddha rupa suitable for the large shrine room. That seems auspicious to me.

2 – Two community members were already out of the starting blocks, pointing to the need for a down payment and their intention to help. Specifically one pledged $5000 to get that started and a the other said she’d like to offer a substantial sum when the time came. Ding! Ding!

… and your part in this story?

To enjoy what has been offered; to please make a pledge yourself; to reach out to others for their help and support; to come to Dharma Rain and see for yourself what could be.

Regards, Alistair Williamson
(on behalf of your grateful Board)

Ajahn Pasanno – Teaching and Community Benefit

Friday, June 28, 5:30 – 9:00 PM
Saturday, June 29, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

At our New Location: Dharma Rain Zen Center
2514 SE Madison St, Portland


Luang Por Pasanno, Ajahn Sudanto, Ajahn Karunadhammo and Tan Titabho walking Alms round on Hawthorne in 2007. Their route started just a few block from the front doors of Dharma Rain, where PFoD now resides. 

Ajahn Pasanno Abbot of Abhayagiri Monastery and the Pacific Hermitage monastics are coming for a daylong of meditation, teachings and our first ever community benefit. The first half of the day we’ll have an opportunity for taking the Five Precepts, chanting, meditations and a meal offering. The second half will be teachings, expressions of encouragement, photos and information—all centering on helping Portland Friends of the Dhamma flourish. Perhaps, just perhaps, there will even be an Ajahn Chah film.

The aim of this benefit is to solidify, and perhaps advance, the level of financial support for PFoD current activities including

  • Programs – PFoD supports 6 regular programs including meditation, Sutta study, kids/family, daylongs and beginners classes
  • Monastic visits – PFoD hosts several monastic visits each year
  • Support for our Spiritual Director – PFoD currently pays health insurance for Sakula

And also to

  • Explore together the vision and possibility of owning our own building

As was shared with the community last Friday Night, PFoD’s Board is working on a vision of owning our own building. As you may know, an organization’s vision can take many, many years to fulfill and may never be realized. Just the same, we have found ourselves in unique circumstances, practicing together in a well-suited building that is going up for sale, with sympathetic owners and excellent location. It therefore feels irresponsible not to investigate our vision in the here and now. PFoD has esteemed monastic support for this vision; so let’s gather, enjoy such encouragement and together see just where we’re at.

And for those of who are not regular attendees of PFoD or even if you have never before walked through our doors, please don’t hesitate to take advantage of a day with Luang Por Pasanno, join in the meal offering or any part of the days events. This day is open to all, doors wide open.

Please, if you have any questions, or want to offer help for this event in any way, please contact us.

We hope to see you there.

Draft Schedule for the Benefit

Ajahn Pasanno on Alms Round

Please keep in mind this is a draft and is subject to change. If you’ve attended daylongs with PFoD before this is of no surprise, it comes with the territory.

Friday, June 28 at Dharma Rain Zen Center

5:30 – 6:40pm   Casual Tea and Conversation
7:00 – 9:00pm   Meditation, Dhamma talk, Q&A

Saturday, June 29 at Dharma Rain Zen Center

09:00am   Morning Chanting, Precepts, Guided Meditation (Luang Por)
10:15am   Break
10:30am   Silent Meditation – seated and walking
11:30am   Pot Luck Meal Offering (downstairs)

1:00pm    Ajahn Chah Movie (possibly)
1:30pm    Meditation (back upstairs)
1:45pm    Break
2:00pm    Intro and Reflections (Sakula)
2:15pm    Reflections from Luang Por Pasanno and other attending monks
3:30pm    Community Reflections (Facilitated by Alistair as board chair)
4:00pm    Casual time to revisit displays, chat with the monks and each other
4:30pm    Announcements, Closing Reflections by Luang Por, Closing Chant
5:00pm    End of Program

[spoiler style=’2′ title=’About Ajahn Pasanno’][rps-include post=’2018′][/spoiler]