In 2018, Lama Lekshe had just finished a three-year retreat and a group of long-time students expressed interest in participating in a small dharma group. Here’s the story…

The idea was delightfully “old-school” and not far off from how many practice groups formed in India and Nepal in the time of the Buddha. The students ranged in age from early twenties to their eighties. Many of them had practiced or worked together in the past. A frank discussion ensued and we began in a tiny house in Portland, Oregon.

The first Dekeling house in 2019 was in Cully Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon.

It was easy. I just opened my front gate in the evening, and they walked over from various places in the neighborhood. We mediated. We talked. They went home and practiced. I did a few classes. It was all very simple.

I then took up residence for a year at Great Vow Zen Monastery at the invitation of my old dharma friends and mentors, Chozen and Hogen, Roshis at Great Vow. What a great year! When the pandemic began, a monk at the monastery–Shokan Martin–helped me set up Zoom streaming, so Dekeling could continue.

After that year, I went directly but briefly to Eugene, Oregon, to care for my mother in home hospice during the COVID pandemic. She passed away on Christmas Day, 2020. Shortly thereafter, I returned to Portland. We continue to stream to the sangha (now streaming from Northeast Portland), and from time to time sangha members who are vaccinated come to visit and work.

In time, we will open again to face-to-face practice, most likely starting with outdoor “garden sits” in summer.

Friends in Nepal sent us a ‘sangha of colour’ painting as a gift at the second Dekeling home in 2021.