Dear Thay, dear Sangha, In November 2014, when we learned that our beloved teacher was in the hospital, many of us found an opportunity to deepen our practice.
We called on the Buddha within, the Dharma that has been planted and taken root in us, and our Sangha family. We renewed our vow to breathe mindfully, to walk mindfully, to speak lovingly and listen deeply. We channeled the merit of these actions with our deep compassion and prayers to our teacher to nourish his well-being. Dharma teachers reminded us to trust in Thay, trust in our practice, trust in the Sangha. Thay continues to remind us, in gentle yet resounding words such as the ones in this issue’s Dharma talk, that “if you are able to touch your cosmic body, you are no longer afraid of being and non-being, birth and death.”
Thay’s legacy and the Buddha’s legacy of compassionate wisdom is fully alive in students who embody the teachings. We are fortunate to be part of a Sangha body with many wise and kindhearted Dharma teachers. This issue offers the gift of Dharma from two well-loved senior teachers––Thay Phap An and Sister Annabel Laity (True Virtue), who serve respectively as the Dean of Education and the Dean of Practice at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism (EIAB) in Germany. Here, they share ancient wisdom from our spiritual ancestors and make it userfriendly for modern daily life.
The EIAB is a focus of this edition, with a wonderful collection of articles that show how Thay’s vision of Applied Buddhism has come to life and how a place of violence and discrimination has been transformed into an exceptional practice center. Sister Bi Nghiem and Sister Anh Nghiem were instrumental in gathering these articles and their collaboration was kind and generous. Sister Bi Nghiem said, “During the Vietnam War Thay had founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University, Saigon (which we visited during Thay’s first trip to Vietnam). For at least two decades, Thay held in his heart the vision of a Buddhist Institute or University in the West. With the foundation of the EIAB in 2008 near Cologne, Germany, Thay has planted the seeds for the realization of his dream.”
Many other manifestations of Applied Buddhism are shared in this issue. Joanna Macy and Jack Lawlor show us what a long-term, collective commitment to engaged spirituality and Earth-loving activism look like in real life. A practitioner tells how her commitment to reverence for life benefited both animals and hunters. And we learn how a sit-a-thon and a book club are having far-reaching and wonderful effects.
Roshi Joan Halifax, a student of Thay’s, has said, “The awakened Way is unsurpassable. Nothing is greater than awakening to the fact that you and I abide in ultimate closeness.” We know our beloved teacher is not outside of us. May each of us nurture the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha within us and around us, paying homage to Thay and the Buddha by devoting our hearts and hands to the awakening of all beings.
With love and gratitude,
True Ocean of Jewels