I am writing to express my gratitude for the Rosh Hoshanna services led by Shefa and Andy Gold at the Omega Institute retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. I chose to be away from my home and community, because I admire Thay's deep love of compassionate justice and felt I had much to learn from him. I planned to celebrate Rosh Hoshanna at Omega quietly and in solitary contemplation. But to my great joy, I was learned as I registered that services were being planned that would be held in harmony with the retreat. Shefa and Andy mixed strong Jewish content with the teachings of mindfulness in a beautiful and extraordinary way. The services added something special to the retreat for me and the call of the shofar reminded me of both my own and my ancestor's quest for inner awareness and community action. Shefa and Andy were careful to explain the rituals as we moved through them, making the natural connections that exist between Thay's teachings and Judaism. I was surprised to find that Judaism, for all of my struggles with it, was the path that most suits, moves, and comforts me.
I am excited by the prospects of further connections between Jews who are seeking truths in other traditions and who may also want to reintegrate a Judaism that makes sense to them.
S. Naomi Finkelstein Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Thank you for the much appreciated leaching delivered through The Mindfulness Bell. I am especially grateful for the message of tolerance and acceptance of other religious practices, which was reflected in several of the articles in the last issue. In addition, I personally found Thich Nhat Hanh's article, "Finding Our True Heritage," to be helpful and insightful. His writings often give me the feeling that he is telling me something I have always known and have forgotten.
Greg Marton Medford, Oregon
Thank you so much for the gift of issue nine of The Mindfulness Bell. After a week of slogging through subfrcczing temperatures and maneuvering on omnipresent ice, I felt that Spring had come!
My whole being is warmed to see how this worldwide Sangha grows with every season, and I have hope that the seeds of Thay's love and peace will flower throughout this suffering planet. It gives me hope for my children, and even perhaps for seven generations.
Kathlene Biswas Baltimore, Maryland
Today I read about the "breathing room," in Peace Is Every Step and this concept moved me to tears. Six months ago my young son and I moved to a new home. We have a small bedroom that remains filled with unpacked boxes and wallpaper left unchanged from the previous owners. I had visualized this room becoming a special place in some way, but until Nhat Hanh's words spoke to me, I had no clear idea of what the room needed in terms of furnishings or what we needed from the room. I now know this room will be our breathing room and that it will become a special place in our family life.
Marilee McLean Ontario, Canada
I very much enjoyed the Autumn 1993 issue. "Finding Our True Heritage" is especially helpful to me as both my adopted sons have a cultural heritage quite different from my own.
Madeline Mulligan Somers, New York
As always, The Mindfulness Bell brought many interesting, thought-provoking articles! And I appreciate very much this opportunity to stay in touch with our worldwide Sangha, including many old friends from Plum Village.
Now that so many people have experience with practice in a local Sangha, it would be nice to have a new issue devoted to community—perhaps together with "Buddhism in the West." I am sure many of us feel a great love for the Buddhadharma, and work on marrying it to our different cultural roots. Personally, I find it very much in harmony with much of the best in the Norwegian tradition—like love of nature, self-reliance (different from unhealthy individualism), and simplicity.
I know that communicating across wide distances has its problems, but I miss having more European contributions to The Mindfulness Bell. I like the reports from Eastern Europe—perhaps we could find ways to solicit other reports and articles as well?
Svein Myreng, True Door Oslo, Norway