A Public Message from the University Chaplain Eight Days after the Closure of Indigo Blue

On October 22, 2012, students going to Stillness and Light were confused by the notice posted by the Chaplain’s Office in regards to the “cancellation” of the Indigo Blue event.  Today, eight days after the closure, the University Chaplain released the following message.

October 30, 2012

Dear Members and Friends of the Yale Buddhist Community,

Some of you may be aware that Chaplain’s Office has discontinued its arrangement with Indigo Blue, an independent nonprofit organization that had been engaged by the University to provide meditation and Buddhist practice support for the Yale community.

This does not mean that the Chaplain’s Office is no longer offering support for a Buddhist program.   There are numerous Buddhist communities at Yale just as there are within other religious traditions.  We are deeply committed to creating a new and expansive program for Buddhist life at Yale and are dedicating significant resources to it.

This change may feel sudden, but it was carefully thought out.  Every effort is being made to listen to the needs of the Buddhist communities on campus and to respond sensitively and appropriately.  I have formed a steering committee of Buddhist students to help guide the next steps moving forward with a strong and inclusive Buddhist life program.  In the short term starting tomorrow October 31st there will be Zen Buddhist meditation every Wednesday in Breathing Space in Welch Hall Entryway C at 4pm.

This meditation will be led by Anne Dutton, a Zen Buddhist practitioner and meditation teacher with 35 years of experience.  From 1979 to 1988 she trained in Japan as a student of Zen Master Yamada Koun. After returning to the US and earning a graduate degree in Buddhist Studies, she became a student of Nelson Foster of Ring of Bone Zendo in California. She hosts and leads several sitting groups in the New Haven area, and is chairman of the board of the East Rock Sangha.

Beyond explicitly Buddhist practice, many students have been grateful to have space on campus where they can simply sit and quiet their hearts and minds.  I am working with Masters and Deans to think of ways in which we can expand this opportunity.  The chapel in Harkness will return to being a space for Buddhist students to observe their individual practices and connect with others in the community.  I hope to post the hours as soon as the space is ready.

Throughout the month of November, starting this Sunday the 4th, I will be hosting a series of meetings with Buddhist students to hear more suggestions and to put future plans for Buddhist practice in place.  An invitation has gone out from the student steering committee.  If you have not received one please contact Vivienne Zhang at jiao.zhang@yale.eduand she will add your name to the list.  During the meeting I hope to provide an update on progress made for the Buddhist program so far, answer questions, listen carefully to your concerns and together with the student steering committee look to the future.  I hope that those of you who are interested will join us on this journey of assessment, contemplation, and creation.

On November 28th at the last of these meetings we will welcome Konrad Ryushin Marchaj the Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in New York to join us for an evening of teaching and conversation.  He is a graduate of Yale College 1976, and is delighted to return to his alma mater.

The Chaplain’s Office continually strives to fulfill the spiritual needs of every member of our community, and to provide the most supportive and affirming environments possible. I look forward to working with you in the coming weeks to create a new and meaningful program for Buddhist life at Yale.

Sincerely yours,

Sharon M.K. Kugler

University Chaplain

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