Dear Thay, dear Sangha, Many people in my community have been impacted by the economic downturn. Layoffs, cutbacks, and furlough days have given us the challenge and gift of less work and less income. Some
people are seeing their losses as opportunities—to live a simpler life, to meditate more, to volunteer, and to create new forms of livelihood. On a larger scale, some people are joining together to build livable economies, rooted in generosity and interdependence. I like to think these people are like scattered cells inside a cocoon. They have already become cells of the butterfly-to-be, and are ready for the cells around them to join the metamorphosis.
This issue of the Mindfulness Bell offers many possibilities for transforming our livelihood and economy. “Right Livelihood,” Thay’s commentary on the Eleventh Mindfulness Training, encourages us to keep compassion alive in our work, and reminds us that “the livelihood of each person affects all of us.” In an interview, scholar Riane Eisler shares her vision of an economy based on compassion and creativity rather than domination. “A Gift Economy” and “Migrating into Happiness” show us how a commitment to our core values can radically shift our work and economy. A social worker, family counselor, and school board member tell us how mindfulness supports their daily work.
We also look deeply at Sangha practice. Thay’s Dharma talk shines a light on the heart of service for Order of Interbeing members, and guides us to develop “a Buddhism that will help us when we need it.” Articles about People of Color Days of Mindfulness, a Sangha’s gratitude for a teacher, and another Sangha’s visit to a monastery illustrate the power and beauty of many individuals practicing together, countless drops of water flowing together as a river.
These articles inspired me to ask myself: How do my mindfulness practice, Sangha activities, and livelihood support each other? Are they helping or harming other beings? Am I working in order to feed my cravings, or to support my well-being so I can be a source of peace and understanding? What can I offer my community at this time, while we’re living at a crossroads of economic uncertainty and spiritual awakening? I am sitting with these questions, inviting you to consider them too, and trusting that beautiful new insights will be born.
May this Mindfulness Bell inspire us to look anew at our work and our spiritual practice, and may it guide us home to our heart of awakening.
With love and gratitude,
Benevolent Respect of the Heart