About

Assaya: resting place, shelter, refuge, seat. 

Our Mission

 

To be‌ ‌a‌ ‌cooperatively‌ ‌supported‌ ‌spiritual‌ ‌home aspiring‌ ‌to‌ ‌uplift‌ ‌self-identified‌ ‌women‌ ‌in‌ their‌ spiritual‌ ‌development‌ ‌along‌ ‌the‌ ‌Buddhist‌ ‌path.‌ ‌We‌ ‌provide‌ ‌Dharma‌ ‌teachings,‌ ‌practice ‌opportunities,‌ ‌and‌ ‌space‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌growth‌ ‌of‌ ‌sangha‌ ‌that‌ ‌honors‌ ‌the‌ ‌diversity‌ ‌and‌ ‌value‌ ‌of‌ ‌the female‌ ‌awakening‌ ‌experience‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Vipassana‌ ‌lineage.‌ We do this work in concert with our friends and partners across all gender identities, towards mutually inspiring, empowering, and benevolent community.

If  love is there in the community, if we've been nourished by the harmony in the community, then we will never move away from love.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Our Values

  1. We value practicing and awakening together in Dharma community: supporting life changes and challenges, celebrating our wholeness, challenging our blind spots, and uplifting each other to reach our spiritual potential. 

  2. We value sangha as a refuge: providing a safe, welcoming, inclusive, inspiring, nurturing, and empowering spiritual home for women*.    

  3. We value multiple approaches to practice: offering embodied, integrated, creative, communal, and formal practice. 

  4. We value the self-identified female awakening experience: acknowledging the under-representation of women’s stories in Buddhism, we witness and honor self-identified women in their awakening.  

  5. We value inclusivity and diversity: building equity into the fabric of our community, we are unraveling internalized sexism, racism, gender identity exclusion, and unrecognized advantage as part of our awakening process. We have diverse leadership and foster ongoing attunement to the needs of our members. 

  6. We value benevolent community: learning to respond empathetically to each other’s joys and sorrows, we integrate heart and wisdom practices and encourage compassionate action in our greater community.

 

Our Story

Assaya Sangha started as a conversation between five women who wanted to know what a Dharma community might look like if it was envisioned and run by women for women? This group of five founding mothers started meeting monthly to imagine such a community. We discussed what we have learned from other Dharma groups, why practicing with other women is important, and how to re-envision models within current Insight Dharma Communities to support a wide diversity of women practitioners and teachers. We explored a larger goal to bring forward a new Dharma community model that would support the spiritual growth of all peoples, regardless of gender. After a year of these meetings, Assaya Sangha was born.

 

The five Founding Mothers of Assaya Sangha are, Kate Munding, Natalie Brain, Shakthi Ganeshan, Deborah Todd, and Betsy Rose.

Our Leadership Structure

Assaya Sangha has a three-part leadership profile.  The diagram to the right shows how this structure is designed.  

 

The Governing Circle is involved in the day-to-day running of the sangha and oversees any government-mandated requirements for our non-profit status.  It is intentionally non-hierarchical to include the evolution of a feminine leadership model.

 

Current roles and volunteers include: 

  • Nuts and Bolts Sister – Deb Todd

  • Treasurer Sister – Wendy Kupsaw

  • Guiding Teacher Sister (also liaison with the Teachers Circle) – Kate Munding

  • Inclusion Sister Antoinette Williams (also liaison with DIB committee)  

  • Membership Sisters – Marina Barnes and Jude Pollack

  • Records Sister – not filled

  • Abundance Sister – not filled

 

The Checks and Balances Circle includes three separately operating committees that provide leadership in accountability, safety, and belonging. This circle is evolving to help the community be inclusive and diverse and maintain ethical integrity.

 

Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee (DIB)

  • Antoinette Williams (current liaison with the Governing Circle)

  • Tanja Schlosser

  • Hannah Nguyen

  • Nikki Sachs

 

Harmony, Ethics, and Reconciliation Committee

  • Coming Soon

 

Elders Council 

  • Coming Soon

 

The Teachers Circle provides spiritual leadership and guidance based on Dharma teachings. The goal of Assaya Sangha is to support and grow women dharma teachers by making a space where women’s voices are uplifted, diversity is encouraged, and sustainability (income and opportunity to teach) are present.  We want to empower women to teach from their experience, uplifting what the feminine voice has to offer. 

 

These women are considered “resident” teachers (in contrast to guest teachers). 

 

  • Kate Munding - Guiding Teacher

  • Shakthi Ganeshan 

  • Betsy Rose

  • Syra Smith

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