Press Room

What we do when we are not sitting ~ winter 2014 newsletter




Dear sangha friends:


It’s hard to believe that Vipassana Hawai’i celebrates 30 years this year. Since the early days in 1984, we as sangha members, directors, teachers, friends, students, and volunteers have quietly grown in tending to its mission. While each year has brought its own blessings, challenges, and wondrous moments, practice, trust, patience, wisdom, generosity and above all a good dose of humor have kept us going. Here’s to 2014, a new vortex of momentum as well as opportunity. We are so aware that this is thanks to all of you who show up for practice, support our programs, and serve the Dhamma tirelessly. Dedicating this newsletter to our generous volunteers and supporters, we invite you to read on! 



North Kohala: Quiet Community, Responsible Stewardship

As many of you know, Vipassana Hawai’i has owned 254 acres of property in North Kohala, Hawai“i Island, since 2007. Rich and precious, the land stretches along more than a mile of open coastline, spans two jungle-like stream beds and includes sprawling serene pasture lands, deserving careful stewarding. With some of our acreage now on the market, our intent is to draw like-minded owners, supportive of our work, with heart for the land. Proceeds of property sales will give Vipassana Hawai‘i space to manage its remaining 81 acres with focused excellence and work on its hermitage. For details you may contact us.




What we do when we are not sitting: Our volunteers

Once in a while, a volunteer yogi calls the office or sends an email, just wanting to connect. It's always rewarding and makes us realize how much Vipassana Hawai’i counts on its sangha. The truth is, with programs across the world, our connection to each of you is vitally important. So here is our invitation: We love to hear from you. Please drop us a note any time. Let us know how you are doing, how we, from our side, can give you better support. Our deepest appreciation goes to all of you for making our mission flow.



Sometimes, though, people ask, what do your volunteers do? Countless things. Often, our yogis simply share time and skill seeing tasks that need to be done but that go unnoticed unless they are not done. Often devoting themselves to humbling tasks, yogis step up so others can sit. Helping out comes in so many ways that we cannot name in this newsletter everyone who in their own ways contributes to the mission of Vipassana Hawai’i. For the time being, here’s to a few of our people and groups.  (For photo captions, scroll down.)





The Gardeners

On the last Friday of each month, a group of yogis on O’ahu practice mindful gardening in Palolo Zen Center’s organic garden, grateful for the privilege of practicing at the center (Vipassana Hawai’i’s Hawai’i retreats take place at the Center.). The zendo gardeners include Doug and Cathy Davenport, Niki Miller, Carol Nelson, Quynh Nguyen, and Harry Palmer. Less organized are North Kohala’s Sunday-sitter gardeners, who tend to a riotous garden on the grounds of the planned Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center, sharing okra and aubergines with any new yogis who happen to stop by. (For information about the Palolo garden group, please e-mail Niki Miller at Thank you everyone. 




The Audio Team: Tim Wickens and Mary Zinkin

Tasked to record Dhamma talks on site, Tim attends many retreats trailing high-tech equipment. Back home, work continues as he re-listens to the talks to adjust sound quality and edit content for release to the website. Mary has recently joined Tim to listen and filter through dozens of older talks so we can make them available as well. It's a rigorous process taking countless hours, benefiting many. With deep gratitude, thank you!




O’ahu Retreat and Event Leaders

A grand mahalo goes to Thanh Huynh, Xuan Huynh, Niki Miller, Quynh Nguyen, Mark Nokes, Paula Nokes, Harry Palmer and Gloria Staackman of the O’ahu steering group. With Harry often serving as the main liaison with the VH office in Kohala, the team is instrumental in planning, organizing, and implementing the many events, retreats, and sittings that take place on O’ahu. Thank you! Members of the steering group take on many other tasks. Along with volunteer Steve Diamond, they are a prime resource for publicizing O’ahu retreats, sharing networks, and offering creative skill for beautiful flyers and retreat announcements. Thank you. Gratitude goes to O’ahu’s practice leaders, organized by Mark Nokes and including several of the steering group as well as Pat Masters. Thank you for leading the Sunday sittings on O’ahu! (For information,click here.)  Thank you, Cynthia Lee, Cindy Krum, Shereen Kanehisa and Thanh Nguyen for graciously collecting Sunday donations benefiting our host and Vipassana programs.


Kitchen and Background help

In retreat, food is important. A huge mahalo to all our cooks around the world. On O’ahu, Vipassana Hawai’i has been fortunate to contract with chef Alyssa Moreau, who brings not only sheer joy, beauty and flavor to healthful dishes but leads our cooking volunteers with skill. A great thank-you to Robert Cuthrell. Tirelessly devoted as a retreat volunteer, often quietly in the background is also Domenica Satler: Much, much gratitude.


Retreat Management Teams

Besides overseeing myriad logistics and bowing to budgets,retreat managers assist our teachers in creating a safe container for yogis to practice. It’s critical work and requires numerous skills infused with wisdom. On behalf of all yogis and all of us at Vipassana Hawai’i, we cannot thank the many retreat managers who have served recently enough: Thank you all!




Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center (HIMC)

Volunteering at the future home of HIMC has been a Sunday-sit guerrilla effort thus far: A rusty gate needs fixing, the rains have washed out a road, cows have wandered into the meditation tent, facilities need a face-lift. Come out the nails, the shuffles, the mops and brooms. Thank you to all of you who see what needs to be done and then do it. Mahalo, Rick Gordon and Ron Roberts for pushing the mower, clearing debris, sweeping roofs, bringing in tools and materials, doing the heavy lifting. Thank you, Charles Oldfather, for calmly managing the land and its ranchers, steadfastly helping out. A thank you to Orange Cleghorn, Karen Rosen, and Rebecca Lux-Parks for showing that cleaning can be fun. Thank you everyone for showing up!  


Burma (Myanmar)

With enormous gratitude to William Bennington, Jake Davis, Fran Morfesis, Luisa Perticucci, and Mia Tremblay for their unwavering support, we invite you to stay tuned to the forthcoming Mettadana 2014 newsletter, which will report more on our retreats, volunteers and volunteer programs in Burma. 



Volunteer photos from top to bottom: Active in  and around the Kohala garden. Doug Davenport - Instrumental gardener extraordinaire for the Palolo Zen Garden. Quynh Nguyen, Harry Palmer, Cathy Davenport, Niki Miller at the PZC garden. Tim Wickens, Mary Zinkin, the audio team. Active in the PZC kitchen. Karen Rosen, Orange Cleghorn.


Long retreat for Michele McDonald

(With gratitude toward all who have so generously expressed their support over the past few months, we are republishing a letter from Rebecca Bradshaw, Guiding teacher, Pioneer Valley Insight Meditation Center, which we first posted October 16, 2013. Michele will be in retreat through mid-April.)


Dear Friends: Our wonderful teacher Michele McDonald is taking the next six months for an intensive period of retreat in an effort to renew and deepen her practice. Michele has guided many of us with wisdom and great love for a long time and hasn't managed to arrange a retreat of this length for herself in almost 30 years! It is something she has aspired to do since she first began practicing. We now have a chance to support her in this endeavor. Since she will have no income during this time, each and every donation from us will support her to deepen her practice and rejuvenate her body. I hope you will join me in expressing gratitude by making whatever contribution you can, knowing that not only will you be supporting Michele directly, you will also be contributing to the continuation of the Dhamma in all of her future teaching. ~ Rebecca Bradshaw, Guiding teacher, Pioneer Valley Insight Meditation Center  ~ (Checks can be sent to Vipassana Hawai‘i, earmarked for Michele, c/o PO Box 551681, Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i 96755, or you may make an online donation.)



Bridge Support

Vipassana Hawai‘i is at an exciting juncture with lots of energy. At this time, we deeply appreciate your help in keeping our programs going. Please contribute today so that Vipassana Hawai‘i can continue to thrive in its mission. Your generosity today will make a difference and is our bridge to the future. Please visit our website donation pages to contribute securely online or write a check to Vipassana Hawai‘i. (Address: PO Box 551681, Kapa‘au, Hawaii 96755). If you wish to set up a recurring gift, please contact us. Thank you for your support! 



Calendar Vipassana Hawai‘i Spring Retreats:


Catching the Mind, with Grahame White.

April 4-10, 2014 ~ Location: Palolo Zen Center, Honolulu.

We recommend that you register early. To register, please follow this direct link or visit our website

Vipassana Meditation Retreat, a weekend with Steven Smith, Michele McDonald.

April 25-27, 2014 ~ Location: Vancouver, BC, UBC Asian Centre, Canada.

Vipassana Hawai‘i does not take registrations and inquiries for this retreat directly. Please contact:Westcoast Dharma Society.


Metta Vipassana Retreat, with Steven Smith and Michele McDonald, teachers; with Joy Kerfoot, mindful movement.

April 30–May 14, 2014 ~ Location: Hollyhock, Cortes Island, Canada.

Vipassana Hawai‘i does not take registrations and inquiries for this retreat directly. Please call/email: 1-800-933-6339 x232; (



Sunday afternoon sittings ~ O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island:

On O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island, the sangha gathers each Sunday. For more information or location directions, visit this page. All sittings are free of charge. (Dana is welcome.)

O‘ahu sangha: Sundays at 5:00 pm:

Location: Chan Khong Buddhist Temple, 1105 Hind Iuka Drive, Honolulu.

5:00 – 5:45 – Silent Meditation
5:45 – 6:30 – Dhamma talk, sharing reflections, experiences, questions and answers.


Hawai‘i Island sangha: Sundays at 4:00 pm:

Location: Hawai‘i Insight Meditation Center in North Kohala

4:00 – 4:45 – Silent Meditation
4:45 – 5:30 (only when a teacher is on island) – Dhamma talk, questions and answers.



All of us at Vipassana Hawai‘i express our deepest thanks for your faith, shared commitment, and continuing trust. In gratitude, Steven Smith, Michele McDonald, and Trent Cornell - Board of Directors.



Vipassana Hawai‘i ~ Supporting the teachings of classical Buddhism, making them relevant to the issues of our day, giving them roots through the land in our stewardship. ~ 

Board of Directors  ~  Steven Smith, Michele McDonald, Trent Cornell. ~ ~ 

PO Box 551681, Kapaau, HI 96755  ~ 808-889-0567




NeonCRM by Neon One