Dear Thay, dear Sangha, In a writing class I attended recently, the instructor asked us to write five questions that had shaped our lives. One of my questions was: What is real love, and how can I express it in daily life? This inquiry has steered my life’s course. It’s led me to volunteer for Hospice and in prison, to immerse myself in poetry, to sit with Sangha each week for a decade, and to seek truth in the words and actions of my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. The question also spurs me to study my own conduct—am I generous, tolerant, compassionate, kind?
Poet Rainer Maria Rilke suggested: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” And Korean Zen master Seung Sahn taught, “Only don’t know.” When we sit with our questions and let ourselves be open and unknowing, we touch the childlike freshness of beginner’s mind.
This issue is full of questions and answers—curiosity and wisdom. In a Q & A session recorded in Germany this May, Thay and several monastics respond to inquiries about protecting life, creating peaceful relationships, and managing our feelings of superiority and inferiority. In three wonderful interviews—with Sister Trai Nghiem, lay Dharma teacher Eileen Kiera, and musician Susanne Olbrich—we find marvelous insights born of mindfulness, along with helpful guidance for being with illness and loss.
The theme of aspiration to practice the Mindfulness Trainings is also explored in this issue. Sangha friends share the joy, fear, determination, and insight—and in one case, the stinging scorpion—that accompanied them across the threshold to receive the trainings. We announce wonderful news about the globally growing Sangha: the birth of the Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism, Thay’s proposal for bringing mindfulness into schools, and a 2012 Plum Village retreat for Buddhists and scientists.
The Mindfulness Bell is now on Twitter and Facebook—visit us online! We are here for you, joyfully sustaining this forum for stories about living Dharma. As Brother Phap Dung recently shared about the MB and Sangha service: “What we are all doing has so much to do with peace for the next generations to come; but then there isn’t any doer, just the doing, with heart and pure mind.”
With love and gratitude,
Natascha Bruckner True Ocean of Jewels