Cheri Maples, our beloved sister and Dharma teacher, passed away on July 27, 2017 due to complications of injuries sustained in a September 2016 bicycle accident. Cheri was a member of SnowFlower Sangha in Madison, Wisconsin. She joined the Order of Interbeing in 2002 and was ordained as a Dharma teacher in 2008. She worked in the criminal justice system for twenty-five years and organized a groundbreaking retreat in 2003 with Thich Nhat Hanh and criminal justice professionals. The co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness & Justice, Cheri also taught nationally. She was deeply loved by many people around the world. Interviews and articles by Cheri are available in the Mindfulness Bell’s online archive, mindfulnessbell.org/archived-issues
We are so grateful to those of you who participated in the Mindfulness Bell's survey a few months ago. Your input was invaluable, particularly with helping guide our release of the digital format and brainstorm themes for upcoming issues.
You expressed a few common themes:
• enjoyment of the magazine
• excitement for digital options
• desire for continued availability of a print magazine
• need for us to keep prices as affordable as possible
• desire for more and better communication, and increased transparency, from us
We will continue doing our best to represent and serve our worldwide Mahasangha and support the practice of our diverse community sisters and brothers.
Please click here to view the results of the survey.
Photo by Lisa LeVasseur
Available in early June, the our Summer 2017 issue 75 features:
• Thay's teachings on handling strong emotions
• Diverse views on mindful activism
• Mindfulness-based intentional communities
• A new book by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare – Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education
In February 2017, Thich Nhat Hanh joined the Tanh Thien Great Precept Transmission Ceremony at the Thai Plum Village International Practice Center. Many of the Most Venerable Monks and Nuns from Vietnam came to witness and give spiritual support and strength to the ordinees (novices who received full ordination). This was the first time the Great Precept Transmission Ceremony took place in Asia with Thay’s presence.
Join the monastic community founded, ordained, and trained by Thich Nhat Hanh as they tour the United States to continue the legacy of the beloved Zen master in their 2017 tour, "Awakening Together: Healing the Ancestral Heart." Join us for retreats, public talks, and days of mindfulness, and learn how you can bring the miracle of mindfulness into your daily life.
2017 ANNUAL CARE-TAKING COUNCIL GATHERING INCLUDES INTERACTION WITH “WAKE UP” AND “ARISE” REPRESENTATIVES
The Care-Taking Council of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha (“NATDS”) meets for approximately one week each March at one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic practice centers. There, we share in practices in confluence with the daily monastic schedule and meet to attend the many details that make possible the Dharma Teachers Sangha and its coordinated activities across the US and Canada. This year’s CTC gathering included interactions with representatives from Wake Up and ARISE.
Wake Up leaders and the CTC gathered at Deer Park Monastery at the same time, enabling members of the Care-Taking Council and the Wake Up representatives to spend time together and learn from each other. Each group shared how our efforts and practices have evolved. We also shared games and even a lazy afternoon at the Oceanside beach with monastics.
In addition, the DTS Care-Taking Council and ARISE representatives connected one evening by phone link and Skype to talk about ways to enhance diversity within the Plum Village tradition. In 2016, ARISE representatives shared in person at the March gathering of the entire NATDS membership, all in a good faith effort to transform our collective understanding about some of our society’s most stubborn challenges related to discrimination.
Somehow, NATDS Care-Taking Council members also found time to work on other organizational matters among Dharma teachers that make these outreach efforts possible.
Care-Taking Council members attending were John Bell, Dennis Bohn (by video link from snowbound New York City), Chan Co, Karen Hilsberg, Kenley Neufeld, Sister Mai Nghiem, Leslie Rawls, Chau Yoder, and Jack Lawlor. Brother Phap Ho, Brother Phap Hai, Brother Phap Vu, and Brother Phap Man also participated. Wake Up representatives attending were Elli Weisbaum, Vanessa Loucky, David Viafora, Luis M. Gil, Hong-An Tran Tien, Thang Nguyen, Marc Jantzi, Bryan Hindert, Rogelio Moreno, Sergio Marin, Alexis-Michel Schmitt-Cadet, Ashley Prang Huffman, and Nhu-Mai Nguyen. ARISE representatives who participated electronically were Valerie Brown, Victoria Mausisa, and Antoinette Gonzalez.
THE DHARMA TEACHERS SANGHA FORMS A MEDITATION COMMITTEE
The Dharma Teachers Sangha CTC recently formed a new Meditation Committee, currently with eight members. Why? Many people turn to meditation in challenging times, and there is increased interest today. Nonetheless, without assistance and encouragement, many become too judgmental about meditation practice and sometimes forego the joy, happiness, equanimity, centeredness, compassion, and understanding that can arise as we cultivate mindfulness, concentration, and insight on our cushions.
Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh has offered a broad and deep range of teachings and practices about meditation in his many Dharma talks, books, and sutra commentaries. His teachings meet the needs of both beginners and long-term meditators. The Meditation Committee’s purpose, as articulated thus far, is to:
- deepen our collective study and practice of Thay’s teachings on meditation;
- collaborate on making Thay’s teachings on meditation and related techniques better known worldwide; and
- develop skillful means to make Thay’s teachings on meditation more accessible and relevant to diverse audiences and to local Sanghas, so not only Dharma teachers and Order of Interbeing members but also local Sangha facilitators and long-time practitioners can joyfully and confidently transmit and share Thay’s approach to meditation widely and for the benefit of future generations.
The current Dharma teacher members of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha Meditation Committee are Mihaela Andronic, John Bell, David Bohn, Terry Helbick, Mitchell Ratner, Andre Vellino, Chau Yoder, and Jack Lawlor. You can help by sending committee members your favorite excerpts from Thay’s teachings on meditation and suggestions for making his approach more accessible and widely known. If you would like to offer ideas, please write to Jack Lawlor at John.Lawlor@dentons.com, and he will share your offerings with the Committee.
Dear Beloved Family,
‘We are here to awaken to the illusion of our separateness.’ Thich Nhat Hanh
As we experience and witness increasingly difficult and uncertain times inspired by the illusion of separation, we are urgently called to heed Thay’s teaching. With this, comes the challenge to meet these times where we are with compassion, heal from them, stand up against oppression, utilize our practices, share and be with one another, and take action with peace, solidity and friendliness. In these times, the Three Jewels remind us that we can seek refuge in ourselves and in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Looking deeply and healing from the seeds of separation of racism and oppression is ever present, critical, and urgent. This is the work of our ARISE Sangha, Awakening Through Race, Intersectionality* and Social Equity. We wish to offer an update of our work and offer gratitude. We are grateful for our work together and see that this work, this awareness and healing process, is one that is deeply embedded and interwoven in the fabric of all our lives and invite all of you, all of us, our greater Sangha, to join in this healing journey. Thay reminds us, we are all his continuation -- what we do now touches our ancestors, us, and our future generations.
Emergence of ARISE
ARISE Sangha, a community of lay practitioners and monastics, emerged after a series of offerings to the community during 2015. The first was held in July 2015 at the Northern California Sangha Facilitators gathering where dialogue about race, power and privilege in our sanghas was explored. In September 2015, a panel presentation in New York City, Where Spirit And Action Meet, explored the role of spirit in action for racial justice. In October 2015, Racial Equity was explored with personal stories and open dialogue, with the four-fold community present, at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California. The energy of the response to these offerings and the collective desire to understand and heal the wounds of racial, class, and other separations gave rise to the formation of the ARISE Sangha.
We aspire to engage the Plum Village community worldwide in the work of healing the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity, beginning with looking deeply within ourselves. We seek a worldwide Manyfold Community that is consciously and committedly engaged in the work of transformation and healing of racial injustice and social inequity. In so doing, we aspire to nourish and protect Beloved Community, shared vision of our teacher Thay Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in our Manyfold Community and beyond.
We reached out to you, our community, in a survey to help determine where to focus efforts. In that survey, we received 284 responses. Seventy-two people (25%) identified as people of color, 211 (67%) identified as white, and 22 (8%) did not identify racial/ethnic identity.
To the question of ‘what our work should be about’, the two top mutual responses are:
· Actively encouraging all of our sanghas to take on this work to deepen their practice
· Actively finding ways to support a greater presence of people of color (POC) within the OI/Sangha leadership
These results suggest that while there is much awareness of the need for us to address racial separation in our sanghas, there remains much work ahead of us to heal, understand/educate, and transform not only ourselves individually, but ourselves as a mahasangha. We recognize that our mahasangha is a reflection of our greater society, exhibiting the same seeds and fruits of separation. In these times, it is imperative that we look deeply to understand the roots of systemic and conditioned racism and to heal and transform individually and as a mahasangha. This is a loving offering to the greater society, and can begin to transform world.
A Path for Healing – Call to Action
A path for this healing journey, included in our Core Mission, is articulated by Marisela Gomez and Valerie Brown in a Call to Action with the five points below.
Engage in a process of understanding and building Beloved Community by:
· Creating safe and loving spaces for people of color to heal from the trauma of racial injustice and inequity;
· Looking deeply at and addressing the under-representation of people of color and low-income people in our individual Sanghas and the collective Sangha;
· Creating safe and loving spaces for white allies of people of color to engage in looking deeply, understanding, and healing from implicit bias and other forms of discrimination;
· Creating safe and loving spaces for white allies to understand the systemic legacy of racial inequity and to provide opportunities for learning and practice;
· Creating safe and loving spaces for people of color and white allies to come together to look deeply and engage in healing together.
While People of Color (POC) retreats have been held at Deer Park Monastery, Blue Cliff Monastery and elsewhere, and POC Sanghas exist in Brooklyn, NY; Escondido, Los Angeles, Oakland, CA; and Baltimore, MD, even more are encouraged and necessary. Recently, dedicated circles of White Awareness study groups and White Awareness Sanghas have emerged and are examples of actions taken toward this healing process. We recognize the urgent call to action to continue this work and expand throughout our mahasangha.
Your Involvement/Our Involvement: What is Next?
Where will we go from here? How can you be a part of this ongoing healing journey?
In keeping with the ARISE Vision and from community response: first, we encourage everyone to look deeply to identify the signs and symptoms, the apparent and not so apparent wounds of racial injustice and social inequity within ourselves. We encourage everyone to actively take on this work to deepen our practice.
Second, individually, in Sangha, and in taking action in the world, we encourage everyone and our Sanghas to consciously and committedly engage in the collective work of transformation and healing of racial injustice and social inequity.
Third, we invite everyone to review silently, read aloud, and meditate on the top Community Responses and Path for Healing/Call to Action above. By doing so, we are beginning anew with the intention and practice of Thay’s call for “waking up from the illusion of our separateness.” What next steps will each of us take?
For these top Community Responses and Path for Healing/Call to Action, we are aware that guidance and support may be needed along the way for this journey. The ARISE core group, over the coming year, will be looking more closely at ways to support local sanghas and individuals as we actively engage in healing from wounds of racial and social inequity: love in action.
We know many of us are engaged in this work, this love in action, in the world and there are many beautiful sharings taking place in our mahasangha. Recent examples include the Global Day of Prayer, Love Letters, Women’s March on Washington, practices during the week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and honoring of Black History Month.
We also wish to create an ARISE network, so please share with us what you may already be doing or planning to do in your local community…yes, we are all a cell in the sangha body of ARISE!
In closing, we offer the Three Jewels below. We are also adding our Gatha for Healing, Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity; an extract of our Vision and Purpose Statement; recent ARISE action; and our website.
With deep gratitude,
ARISE Core Community Members
Brian BK Kimmel
* Intersectionality – refers to how different forms of discrimination can combine, interact and overlap. Different forms of discrimination include gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, caste, age, nationality and others. The term, intersectionality, was developed by Kimberle Crenshaw and can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequity occur on a multi-dimensional basis.
2) An extract of our Vision & Purpose Statement. (Full version can be found on our website)
3) ARISE Action
4) Our website: http://pvracialequity.wordpress.com
The Three Jewels
Thich Nhat Hanh
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings
1 take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life.
1 take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and of love.
1 take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.
Dwelling in the refuge of Buddha, l see clearly the path of light and beauty in the world.
Dwelling in the refuge of Dharma, l learn to open many doors on the path of transformation.
Dwelling in the refuge of Sangha, I am supported by its shining light that keeps my practice free of obstacles.
Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself, I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature and realize the mind of love.
Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself, I aspire to help all people grasp the way of practice and walk together on the path of liberation.
Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself, I aspire to help all people build fourfold communities and encourage the transformation of all beings.
The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation is now offering a book club, with discussion questions and reflections from Brother Phap Hai, a senior monastic Dharma teacher.
The first of three books they will be studying is “The Sun My Heart,” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a favorite of Brother Phap Hai and a sequel to “The Miracle of Mindfulness.” The Foundation invites you and your Sangha to join in studying and discussing Thay’s books together.
For more information and to share your comments, please visit the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation's book club page.
At long last, we are very excited to now offer you a digital subscription!
At a significantly lower price of $18 for a one-year subscription (3 issues), we aspire to support the practice of many more of you in our community.
We also now offer a combined digital + print subscription for $42 for a one-year subscription (3 issues), as well as single digital issues for $6 each.
(And of course, we will continue to offer our print-only subscription.)
Have a current print subscription that you'd like to switch to digital? We can do that, too!
For more info, please visit our subscription page!
We are very happy to announce the new Plum Village practice phrases to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year of the Rooster!
The practice phrases are a traditional parallel verse (or “couplet”) for the Lunar New Year (“Tết”), which will soon be celebrated in Plum Village practice centers. This Saturday, January 28th, 2016 is New Year’s day.
The couplet can be combined with our breathing. For example, we can contemplate “Awakening the Source of Understanding” as we breathe in, and contemplate “Opening the Path of Love” as we breathe out. These words are not a declaration, but a living aspiration we wish to nurture.
In Plum Village practice centers all around the world, we print out these calligraphies (keeping the diamond form), paste them onto colored card, and pin them up around the dining halls, meditation halls and living quarters in preparation to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We hang them (with the help of a little cotton thread) from early-blossoming Japonica and Plum branches that we bring in to brighten our rooms.
Ancient Tradition, Creatively Renewed
Poetic couplets for New Year are an ancient tradition in the East, especially in Vietnam and China. Often on red paper, they are pasted on door-frames, lintels, and even farm tools to bring good luck for the year to come. Calligraphies by spiritual masters are especially popular. The traditional couplet written in Chinese characters is a masterful art – a kind of profound and concise “written form of counterpoint”.
Thay has established a tradition, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, of offering the sangha a simple poetic couplet in calligraphy that can inspire and nurture our mindfulness practice. Thay’s innovation has been to offer the couplet in English, French and Vietnamese (rather than in Chinese characters). The Plum Village Community is very happy to continue this beautiful tradition.
Join Us in this Practice
You can print out and post the couplets on your fridge, doors or near light switches as an auspicious reminder to be mindful of their message, and renew ourselves by applying them into our life. You can get creative with how and where to post and practice the phrases. You could post them on the doorframe as you step out to face your day, or even on the bathroom mirror.
In Plum Village, we always post the two complementary diamonds as a pair, near each other (above, below, beside – it doesn’t matter which) – typically on doors, windows or walls.
We hope this brand new couplet will bring you and your loved ones inspiration and nourishment in the New Year to come.
Click on the following to download a one-page PDF of the practice phrases. Feel free to print them on colored paper.
- Thich Nhat Hanh teaches about nirvana – "the extinction of all the categories that you try to put everything in" – and how we can extinguish our confusion, worries, and anxieties and step into freedom.
- Bhikkhu Bodhi talks about the role of mindfulness in social activism and in challenging injustice.
- Cheri Maples shares about her experience of being a police officer, how mindfulness changed her work, and ways to increase compassion in the criminal justice system.
- Sister Annabel Laity offers a teaching on the Three Dharma Seals – impermanence, no self, and nirvana – and gives real-life examples to help us grasp the concepts.
- Long-term practitioners give insights from their joyful encounters with Thay in Plum Village in 2016.
- Two teens write about their moments of transformation at retreats.
New Year Prayer to Mother Earth and All Our Ancestors
Dear Beloved Thay, Dear Beloved Ancestors, Dear Beloved Mother Earth,
We have gathered as a fourfold sangha in this solemn moment of the New Year to express our gratitude and aspiration as a spiritual family, and to begin anew. We know that you, our ancestors, are present in this very moment, and that you are always there for us to take refuge in. As we touch the earth tonight we feel deeply connected to all of you, and to our dear Mother Earth: our beautiful blue planet, the Great Refreshing Bodhisattva – fragrant and cool, kind and inclusive, accepting us all. Mother Earth, we are all your children and, despite our many mistakes and shortcomings, every time we come home to you, you are ready to open your arms and embrace us...
In early April, there was a serious toxic spill from a chemical plant that destroyed the marine ecosystem in central Vietnam. Our Respected Sister Chan Khong, with the support of the Earth Holders Sangha, compassionately shows us the way to support the people of this area who have lost their livelihood, food, and ecosystem.