Letters

Sangha Building This latest issue of the Mindfulness Bell is just bursting with treasures for Sangha practice (as well as a very helpful article on the aspirant training process!). It really helps those of us with young Sanghas and provides us with inspiration and direction with wonderful examples from practice. Thank you for putting this issue together for us!

Laurie Seidel Roanoke, Virginia

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Thank you for focusing on the topic of Sangha building. Bliss Run Mindfulness Community in Columbus, Ohio just turned one year old. The stories featured in the Bell were both inspirational and informative. Our Sangha has experienced flooding in our room while we were meditating, finding ourselves locked out of the building, having our meeting room turned into a storage room, and dealing with some hostility from people who are suspicious of meditation groups. We have had “key” people disappear, for no apparent reason. We have had people come for only one time, despite our deep commitment to welcoming people with warmth and enthusiasm. Nothing has deterred our core group of six people. As Thay encourages us to focus on Sangha building, I sometimes find myself struggling. I know that even when we only have six people attend, that’s enough, as Thay also reminds us. Yet, there is a part of me that longs to have a greater attendance. Craving lurks just around the corner, even in the meditation hall.

Yet, with each issue of the Bell, I am reminded that I do sit with a worldwide Sangha that includes people from all corners of the globe. Sangha building is not a numbers game. It is a way of life.

Diane Strausser Columbus, Ohio

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Last May we had a wonderful retreat with Thay in the Netherlands.

We sold a lot of books, DVDs, and CDs in our bookshop. From the revenue we would like to send € 1000 [$1420] for issues of the Mindfulness Bell for prisoners.

Greet de Weger Meppel, The Netherlands

Reply from David Percival:

Greet, this is really generous of The Netherlands Sangha and we are indeed grateful for your support. Please let all of your members know that we deeply appreciate their assistance. And many prisoners stuck in some lonely prison will also be grateful as this allows us to bring the practice to them and help them to deal with their suffering. We frequently hear from prisoners about how the Mindfulness Bell makes a real difference in their lives and how they usually share each issue with other prisoners. Bows and smiles to you and The Netherlands Sangha.

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Another year has passed and once again I’ve been offered an extension on the gift subscription to the Mindfulness Bell that I was given years ago.

Through the kindness of others the Dharma is shared with prisoners such as myself. Thank you and all those who make the Dharma available to others in need. I can’t imagine a greater gift.

Last year my reply to your subscription offer was printed in an issue of the Mindfulness Bell. As a result I received a kind letter from a fellow reader, ex-prisoner, and Dharma brother, John C. He has been a wonderful source of information regarding Buddhist history and practice, and is but one of the many treasures that have come into my life as a result of my study and practice.

Today, in many ways, I am more free than I have ever been. The gift of the Dharma has given me what I never thought possible: Peace.

To you and countless others who share the Dharma, I say again, thank you. I am in your debt.

Lee S. Gulf Correctional Institution Wewahitchka, Florida

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First, let me thank you for continuing to send the Mindfulness Bell. I share it around among other inmates here and we all love reading the magazine. And it has helped me so much with my practice.

Once again thank you for your support, concern, and love. Thank you very much for caring for me and for allowing me one more year’s subscription to the Mindfulness Bell. It means a lot to me, really it does.

Fabio V. Union Correctional Institution Raiford, Florida

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I would be most grateful if you would renew my subscription to the Mindfulness Bell. It’s such a blessing to receive information and news on the Dharma, Sangha, and those who spread the seeds of love.

I really enjoyed the Prison Sangha article in the Autumn 2008 issue. It inspired me to make a cell Buddha. I can pull him out when I am in need of his calming presence.

I found deep satisfaction in reading Sr. Chau Nghiem’s article, “Resurrection in the Present Moment” (Winter/Spring 2009). It was inspiring how she was able to move beyond the judgments and racism that were bestowed upon her. Even from her own grandparents. What can I say, I was touched.

And as always Thay’s words set my mind at ease and put a smile on my face.

Thomas. A. S. Green River Correctional Complex Central City, Kentucky

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