Suggestions Wanted for New Meditation Group: Metta Meets MeetUp

I hope all of you don’t mind me reaching out for suggestions.

In the past, through the MeetUp app, I facilitated meditation sits once a week. I have relocated to a new city (Madison, Wisconsin, USA) and have formed a MeetUp (now at 66 members!) for meditation and for Dhamma exploration and Sutta study, for those interested.

Last year and this year, I facilitated the same in my previous locale, and basically employed a monitor and Roku connection to bring the BSWA and Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Brahmali’s Dhamma talks and guided meditations to the group. Often, people stayed after to discuss issues of Buddhism, and I did my best to answer questions or provide referrals to the texts or to youtube teachings from our venerables. As I am not a teacher, and am generally thick as a brick with respect to my capacity for deep knowledge of the Dhamma, I try only to facilitate these groups and be of service as best I can. In the past, many people have become acquainted with the BSWA, for example, and loved it. Many listened to talks, and told me that this exposure to the EBTs and authentic Dhamma were game changers in their lives.

Two questions:

  1. I have a roster of guided meditations and talks from Vens. Brahm, Sujato, and Brahmali (and Ayya Khema and some others), but I’d welcome any suggestions for youtube vids that you have found, enjoyed or benefitted from, from the BSWA and/or Bhante Sujato’s series of talks. Feel free to link the guided meditations ( 45 minutes or less in time) and talks.

  2. Far more established in Madison is MADISON MEDITATION GROUP Buddhism and Meditation: The Science of the Mind New Location - Kadampa Meditation Center Madison This is a group that hosts regular meditations and talks, and has a number of members. I might visit some night, but have some reservations about the NK tradition (Dorje Shugden!) , but welcome the fact that the talks address important concerns of human life from a Buddhist perspective. Question is: collaborate? Avoid? Build alliances? There’s also a Shambhala group in the city that has its own building! I am usually one to try to find common ground and collaborate with people and groups of all sorts, but wonder if any here have any experience with teachers from this New Kadampa tradition. I know their history and so forth, but want feedback on how well they serve as teachers and guides for lay people generally.

I’d like to see a thriving Buddhist community in my new community, and welcome any feedback and suggestions.

  1. …nope, nothing.

  2. Question is: collaborate? Avoid? Build alliances? ? They seem okay. ? This is completely… well, perhaps it’s obvious what I think.


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Hey Michael, this is great, and I wish you all the best.

Re the NKT, avoid at all costs. They are a cult with a long history of harmful incidents and practices. We have had several run-ins with them in Oz. They tried to stage a coup and take over the Australian Sangha Association, which was stymied by the inconvenient detail that they’re not actually ordained monastics. We have met with Buddhist monks and nuns from all traditions for many years, and never have we experienced that kind of rude, nasty behavior.

In addition, I have it on very reliable authority that they are financed by the Chinese Government.

Their teachers are, in my experience, naive and ill-informed. They have no grounding in the Dhamma, yet present their teacher’s doctrines with confidence and authority.

Note, however, that several organizations use the word “Kadampa”, a traditional Tibetan term, and it is only the NKT that is a cult.


Thanks, Bhante! This is the guidance that I am looking for. Amazing that a group with the dodgy history I read up on, has found such success in some fairly sophisticated US communities. Perhaps the financing plays a big part; their online and print publications and ad placements in shops and the local co-ops are very strategic.


Yes, they are extremely active in promotion and marketing. And they get a lot of spin out of the “Oh, we’re so unfairly persecuted” line. Most of the people involved, of course, have no idea of the issues. It is such a shame, because a lot of people get hurt.


They sound a bit creepy.

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I have a small meditation group and we meet every Tuesday for two hours.
Last year we went though Joseph Goldstine Satipathana series.
This year we are discussing Abhidhamma series.
Next year I intend to organise a Sutta reading class.
In addition I have an annual meditation work-shop.


Thanks for this, Sarath, and for the links, esp. the Bhikkhu Analayo Satipatthana text.

I noticed that you posted some years ago in late November about your Birthday Meditation, which happens to be about this time of year. So, Happy Birthday, Sarath!


Regardless of the tactics and/or funding of them, I don’t think their practice would be very substantially engaging for those who are also interested in sutta-study, if I am not uninformed. It is mostly vajra-and-bell work coupled with visualizations and mudras, if the tutorials on their YouTube channel are any indication of the type of meditation they teach.

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Hi @AnagarikaMichael- we have been running a buddhist practice group first in Sri Lanka for 3 years and then in UK for about 12 years. The model is based on those people who might not be interested in going to a temple but designed to bring the dhamma to them. It is called Dhamma In the Neighborhood (we call them DINs, for short). They are held every month in friends houses, usually on a Friday evening. Dinner is provided and everybody contributes £5 per family towards the meal costs. These are usuall lay people, among the same circle of friends-so there is a nice social element to it. At an underlying level it brings kalyanamittas together so we are at each other’s houses for Dana, birthdays, holidays etc. so the dhamma is never really far away. We bounce off on each other when it comes to dhamma practice and wisdom. Occassionally we invite a local monk to lead the session but most often one of us presents a topic based on EBTs. There’s no expectation to know everything but a willingness to research, read up and atleast find youtube clips suitable for the topic is expected. If someone doesnt feel too confident they can do joint presentations with whoever they like. Others might get some advice on their presentations from someone who knows more about the topic, and so on. The topics are derived from the group itself- sometimes they are particular suttas (Karaniyamatta sutta, mahamangala, satipattana etc). It works well hand in hand with an ongoing meditation class at a temple elsewhere or with retreats externally. There is a meditation element (20-30 minutes) but it is difficult to do anything too productive at that time of the day and practitioners are really expected to do their own meditation at home to see any progress. The model (timing, frequency, duration, meal, dhamma, meditation, presentation and discussion) has been very successful over the years. We can see the difference when we stray away from this model.

I also conducted meditation sessions in Brighton, UK at the Bodhigarden where it was drop-in Buddhist practice support group. While it was more meditation focused (meditating for 1 hour, in silence) it didn’t quite build the friendship element in quite the same manner. I think this was because it was in an impersonal and religious hall or setting and sharing of food was absent, the presence of which adds a certain joyous friendly element to it.

with metta


Are these formal gathering with the main theme for Dhamma discussion?
Do you take the Pansil (five precepts) before starting the programme?

Yes the Dhamma In the Neighborhood gatherings are semi-formal. But having monthly meetings mean we all meet mostly in a context of dhamma so that even when we meet for a personal event, dhamma discussion automatically ensue! This doesnt mean that we exclusively only meet our kalyanamittas- we still have many other friends too!

Its more informal than that. The whole point is to make dhamma learning ‘ordinary’ and therefore accessible- so no formalities before or after. It brings it in seamlessly into daily life. If we go to a seminar to learn something there is no special ritual involved. Just like that, dhamma needs to be made ordinary.

Also there is no need to keep on taking the five precepts is there? It is as if taking it suggests there is any real motivation to change one’s actions, when there isn’t, most of the time at least. I also think it teaches that it is ok to break the five precepts because we can keep endlessly taking it- ie - it trivializes it and turns it into mindless ritual. Individuals reform their actions at all other times, perhaps other than when taking precepts. The chant is an allegence to keeping the precepts and points to its importance, at best. Most Sri Lankans practice ‘lip-service Buddhism’- no real core-just the superficial (rant over).

with metta,


Good to hear about this. I set up a local Buddhist group in the UK about 10 years ago which is still running, we now take turns to present a topic. Originally the group was pan-Buddhist, though it now has a Theravada focus - we have members from Samatha Trust, Thai Forest and Triratna.


Actually, this is important if it is Dhamma focus gathering. People will observe the five precepts at least for the duration of the gathering.

Agree. That is why I suggest above.

How many times have people said the five precepts- they still havent kept it. Why should one more time be different? :slight_smile:

with metta

Some interesting information here:

with metta


From above link:
Practice what you preach:

Being the “meditation guy” at work means you have to watch your p’s and q’s every minute of every day at work. It puts a bit of pressure on you. You can’t talk about peace, kindness and gentleness at the meditation group then lose it with a work colleague later that afternoon!>

From above link:

Cost. People ask me how much it costs but it’s free. The best Dhamma teachings I’ve received were free and I just want to pass it on, but maybe some people think there has got to be a catch. I think it helps if you are aware of this.>

I have my annual meditation programme this morning. I was disappointed only four out of 12 people who agreed to come turn up. Their excuse was they had other social engagement. I got limited space in my house. If they told me in advance I would have given that opportunity to someone else.
I spent a lot of time cooking and lot of leftover food.

Next year I am going to charge them $10.00 for the booking.
What are you guys thinking about it?

Any of you do not know about my meditation group please refer to the following link.

PS: I got a better idea. I am going to donate the money collected to my favourite charity.

haha NKT


Just be yourself- don’t have to be the meditation guy. I think it was Ajhan Brahmavanso who said if you proclaim enlightenment you will have to live the rest of your life proving it.

Don’t set up a persona… and then cling to it. Its just a superficial image. If you are real, people will find you approachable and it will be much more manageable and a lot less stressful.

with metta