SPUDS became official in a coffeeshop in late 2016.  Before that, it was only a few friends from the pragmatic dharma forums who met intermittently around Seattle.  Within a few months, there were ten or more recurring members who had gathered from online forums and word of mouth.  


We pride ourselves on being decentralized and having no leader.  We utilize the least amount of structure necessary to make our gatherings and activities valuable to our members.  This usually takes the form of some introductions and beginner discussion time at the beginning of our meetings, leading right into open discussion.


Sometimes everyone is in one conversation, more frequently the group splits off into several conversations.  Attending SPUDS could be useful and fun for someone at any skill level of meditation as long as one maintains an open mind and an exploratory attitude. 


The practices our members engage in are highly varied; these include the New Burmese Method, the elephant path of samatha, self inquiry, qigong, magickal practices (“left hand path”), those involving devotion and the imagination and more.  We pride ourselves on the diversity of perspectives brought to the path, as well as the diversity of life experiences that have fostered those perspectives.  The common thread for all of us is that we believe that enlightenment as discussed in the classical texts is a real thing that can be attained by householders through disciplined and intelligent practice. 


Moving into the future, SPUDS looks to create a template for other grassroots, pragmatic sanghas to rise up in cities all over the world.  Thus far pragmatic dharma has primarily maintained its foothold in the virtual space, with the occasional retreat or conference being held once year.  By non-monetizing and decentralizing these practices and only relying on the synergistic strength of the community, we believe it will be possible to encourage growth of sanghas in other cities.


The key is that there will be no one form or message or design.  The only unifying factor should be the spirit of pragmatic dharma.  New sanghas are encouraged to name themselves what they want, innovate new meeting formats and group practices, etc. 


SPUDS is looking to take advantage of the tech age and utilize the computer-based skillset of many of its members.  Thus far, the drive for technoenlightenment has been primarily in the domain of medical research and science.  The internet makes it possible to create and spread free products and services in a scalable way.  These technologies need not be proven empirically to become popular: rather, they simply need to work.  In this spirit, SPUDS is also working on a variety of projects to utilize machine learning, virtual reality and social networks to drive psycho-spiritual transformation on a large scale.