2023 Annual Report

Dear CBMG Sangha and Friends,

In 2023, we welcomed over 30 new members who found and checked out our group. Several of them became regular or semi-regular attendees. In the meantime, a number of “old-timers” continued to attend and support the group as regularly as their schedule allowed. We rejoice in both the long-time friendships developed within the Sangha and the meeting of newcomers, planting seeds along the way and growing them together with everyone at the Sangha.

We continued to offer Dharma learning opportunities that drew from our diverse membership’s research and experiences, as well as from teachers from various Buddhist traditions. In addition, our long-time member, Alan, demonstrated the meditative Japanese Tea Ceremony in July, explaining the history and rituals while serving us delicious tea and sweets. And Naman, a member who lives in and joins us all the way from India, hosted two sessions of his personal photo tours of four sacred sites in Buddha’s life – a truly beautiful and educational experience for everyone.

In 2023, the CBMG Board also adopted a vegan food policy. This is driven by our realization that, as practitioners of the Buddhadharma, we should continually strive to act in ways that reduce the amount of suffering in the world, both for ourselves and for others, including for animals, and to help us practice compassion. Through causes and conditions, we got connected with Dharma Voices for Animals – a connection that inspired us to formally adopt this food policy for all of CBMG’s meetings and events.

Below we share a more detailed report of our regular and special activities in 2023. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all those who have contributed in various ways – whether by volunteering to facilitate a Dharma discussion session, by donating to CBMG, by helping us welcome new members, or by simply showing up to sit with us. With your support, we hope to continue offering our Sangha and our weekly practice space to serve those who need it.

Fast-Walking and Natural-Walking mediation practice during a Mini-Retreat session.

Our Dharma Study and Volunteers:

As per our non-denominational approach, we have been able to study authentic Buddhist teachings from diverse traditions, hearing lectures from many teachers in Chinese Chan, Soto Zen, Thai Forest, Tibetan, and Vipassana traditions. Our Sangha members brought diverse voices to our weekly sessions. We are grateful to the following members who volunteered to present Dharma Sharing, facilitate Teachers’ Corner, and/or tell Dharma Stories from sutras and other sources this past year: Alan, Belinda, Cass, Jackson, Janet, Kamala, Margaret, Naman, Phyllis, and Stephen!

With these volunteers’ help, in 2023, we studied and investigated a wide range of Dharma topics, including: 

Key Buddhist concepts and practices:

Timeless lessons for cultivating compassion, wisdom, emotional well-being, and mindfulness:

Explorations of the relationship between Buddhist teachings and contemporary issues:

Special Programs

In 2022, we held a few special programs:

  • A two-part presentation, in April and June, by our distant member, Naman, on: “The Sacred Sites of Buddha’s Life – a personal photo tour” where he took us on a virtual “pilgrimage tour” of the following four sacred Buddhist sites in India and Nepal, showing us photos he took at each site and explaining their significance. A very beautiful and informative journey for us all!
    • Lumbini – the birthplace of the Buddha
    • Bodh Gaya – the site where Buddha attained enlightenment
    • Sarnath – the site of the Buddha’s first sermon
    • Kushinagar – the site where Buddha attained parinirvana
  • A Japanese Tea Ceremony hosted in July by our regular member, Alan, who has been a student of the ceremony for many years. Exemplifying a good host, he bought brand new equipment and matcha tea powder for the session, explaining and demonstrating the ritual, and serving us delicious tea and sweets. Everyone enjoyed the experience and learned so much from it. 
  • We book-ended the year with loving-kindness (metta) mini-retreat – both on January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. A perfect way to both start and end the year.
  • A guided deep relaxation meditation session in July, where we lay down comfortably and followed instructions recorded from a Plum Village retreat to explore the connection between our body and mind and experience self-care.
  • Watched a documentary in April called: “Mission Joy: Finding Happiness in Troubled Time.” A deeply moving and laugh-out-loud funny documentary that showcased the affecting friendship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In their final joint mission, these two great teachers gave a master class on how to live with joy in the face of challenges.
  • Watched a short film in October called: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” about a rich man who set out to master an extraordinary skill, and how that journey transformed this selfish man. This beloved Roald Dahl story-turned-movie won the 2024 “Best Live-Action Short” Oscar award! 
  • Held a Sangha meeting in January

Our Financials

As of December 31, 2023, we have total cash assets of $3,017.29. Our total 2023 annual income was around $2,420, and our total 2023 annual expenditure was around $2,320, which includes (in order of size): rent, insurance, Meetup subscription and website domain, Zoom subscription, and various supplies.

In 2024, we expect some increases to our regular annual expenditure due to inflation, fee or premium increases.

CBMG, a 100% volunteer-run nonprofit, is sustained financially by donations alone. Thank you to all of our donors who have contributed!

If your situation allows, we invite you to support us by making a one-time or recurring donation on our website or our Facebook page; or email us to find out how to donate with a check. CBMG is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity – all donations are deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Looking Forward

We look forward to another year filled with Dharma learning and practice, friendships, and mutual support, and we continue to strive to plant seeds of compassion and wisdom both on and off the cushions.

Thank you for being a part of CBMG and a part of each other’s life on this journey.

Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.

The Metta Sutta

With bows and gratitude,

CBMG Board Members:
Belinda Li
Phyllis Lee
Stephen Hoover

Website: www.chicagomeditation.org

Email: hello@chicagomeditation.org

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoBuddhistMeditationGroup

Meetup Group: https://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Buddhist-Meditation-Group