Dear Editor, I know the suffering of bipolar illness and suicide, so reading Janice Rubin’s story (Winter/Spring 2010) touched deep chords in me. Having lost my father to suicide when he was 46, and I was 15, the pull to “follow my father into death” was so strong that in my 46th year, I had to be hospitalized. My younger brother took his own life at age 46 in 1986. My daughter was diagnosed bipolar after the birth of her first child—so I am familiar with the extraordinary suffering of the mother.
Thich Nhat Hanh arrived at San Francisco Zen Center in 1983 and his teachings saved my life. I took them to heart. I attended two retreats in Plum Village and others in California. Due to practicing his teachings, I have become a strong and healthy 72-year-old, delighted that my daughter is finding healing in therapy. Thay’s teachings that enabled deep healing for me are numerous; among them are walking meditation, understanding how transformation of the storehouse consciousness occurs, letting go of mental formations, and awareness of the Four Nutriments. When Thay read “Please Call Me by My True Names” at Green Gulch Farm, and named the suffering and consequences of rape, decades of deep suffering were released in me, as I cried and cried, hearing this suffering acknowledged by a man. I owe much of my present life, happy, healthy and strong, as well as that of my daughter, to Thay’s teachings.
— Katharine Cook, Flower Essence of the Heart