Dharmacarya Ceremony at Plum Village Nine students of Thich Nhat Hanh were invested with the title "Dharmacarya," (dharma friend, or dharma teacher) at Plum Village on August 5, 1990. The sangha of over 150 people from Vietnam, Europe, and the Americas gathered in the Dharma Nectar Meditation Hall to witness the Lamp Transmission Ceremony. With simplicity and respect, the ceremony expressed the trust Thich Nhat Hanh placed in each student to continue and develop the teachings, and to rely on the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for support. Each student individually sat before Thay and recited a gatha which expressed his or her understanding of the teaching. Thay then responded with a gatha. From the candle on the altar, Thay lit a kerosene lamp and handed it to the student, requesting that he or she keep the teachings alive for a long, long time. Each new dharma teacher was then asked to give a ten minute dharma talk on his or her gatha. Following are English translations of Thay's gathas:
To Annabel Laity, True Virtue (Chan Duc)-- The visage of Suchness shines like a full moon. Virtue has its solidity and height, truly capable to insure the continuation of the lamps of the patriarchs. The work of transfonnation will one day exhibit the face of reality, and the lovely dharma will continue to be transmitted for a long time.
To Trinh Dinh Tan, Chan Co-- The essence of Truth is always transparent and shining. Conditions for sudden Enlightenment are always there within Mind itself. Once the luminous and immense sky opens up, the silver-colored clouds are totally free to move and enjoy themselves.
To Joan Halifax, True Continuation (Chan Tiep)-- The true Fruition is obtained since time immemorial. The practice of Continuation is the practice of the Higher Vehicle itself. Once the wisdom is turned inwards to shine the boat of Prajnaparamita is made available for the use of transporting countless beings to the other shore.
To Judith Bossert, True Form (Chan Sac)-- The pure water from our true Source penetrates all lives. Form is no other than Emptiness: this is the platform of the Dharma Treasure itself. It is the morning breeze and the morning pink clouds that preach the Sutra of Prajnaparamita. Beauty is every present with the smile of the flowers and the singing of the crystal.
To Cao Ngoc Phuong, True Emptiness (Chan Khong)-- The True Form transcends both colors and shapes. The nature of Emptiness is as peaceful and shining as ever. Love manifests itself in tens of thousands of ways in the work of helping living beings to the other shore.
To Arnold Kotler, True Realization (Chan Dac) The true Tradition transcends the notions of North and South. Once the Heart has obtained the transmission of the Dharma, the profane becomes the holy. The message of love and compassion will finally reach all walks of life, linking the pure land to the world of dust.
To Eileen Kiera, True Lamp (Chan Dan)-- The true nature of Reality is ever free from ideas of increasing and decreasing. The heart of the Lamp perpetuates the light of the holy transmission. Once the Pacific Ocean opens up like a new page of history, the Sun of Wisdom will shine upon the whole of the great chiliocosm.
To Nguyen Tan Hong, Chan Hoi-- The true meaning is always transmitted through the Gate of the Heart. When this is realized, both sameness and difference will be transcended. Be sure the seeds of the Bodhi Tree are sown every where you go, and one will be utterly free before the choice of Form and Emptiness.
To Nguyen Huu Loi, Chan Tue-- True Wisdom is to shine on the world of Illusion. Enlightenment shows us the way home. At the moment when the Giant Bird begins to flap its wings, the distance separating mountains and rivers will no longer be a problem.
The selection of these nine dharma teachers was from the sangha itself, and not just from the teacher. Thay has said that these dharma teachers can now administer the Five Precepts and can assist in administering the Fourteen Precepts of the Order of Interbeing. We offer these nine friends our utmost support in this new endeavor. In future issues of the Mindfulness Bell, we will publish each of their insight poems and dharma talks.
Open Arms for a Baby
Betsy Rose (a "Country-Eastern" musician) and David Stark (a multi-cultural educator), are looking for a baby to adopt. They share a peaceful home, a spiritual practice, and a commitment to social justice and mindful living. If you can help, please contact: Betsy Rose and David Stark P.O. Box 9538 Berkeley, CA 94709 (415) 525-7082 or (415) 525-7072
Fire at Vietnamese Buddhist Monastery
Kim Son Monastery, in Watsonville, California, is a Vietnamese training center for the new generation of monks and nuns, as well as a meditation center designed to meet the spiritual needs of lay individuals and families. Since 1985, it has hosted annual mindfulness retreats for hundreds of Vietnamese laypeople with Thich Nhat Hanh.
On Tuesday, September 18, 1990, a fire destroyed two buildings there which housed the office, reading room, bookstore, library, visitors' lounge, non-resident dormatory, and the Abbot's quarters. Contained in these buildings, and also destroyed, were all the office files and records, computers, typewriters, books (some very rare), tapes (including Thich Nhat Hanh's talks in Vietnamese), research papers, and the teaching staff's writings. The construction of the two buildings was recently completed, and there was no fire insurance 10 cover the cost of the damage.
We hope that the readers of the Mindfulness Bell can help Kim Son with the rebuilding of the facilities. Tax deductible contributions are payable to: The Vietnamese Sangha Congregation In America. Please send small or large checks to: Kim Son Monastery. 574 Swnmit Road; WatsonviLLe. CA 95076.
Many thanks for considering this.
Lesbian/Gay Support Group
During the June1990 retreat in Plum Village, a group of us met together to discuss practicing as lesbians and gays. None of us really knew what to expect from the meetings, but each of us came away touched in our hearts. There was something important in being visible to ourselves and to each other in this way. We did not feel that we were meeting in opposition to the rest of the sangha, but rather standing for one of the colors in the rainbow we all form together the color lavender.
One of the questions we began to discuss was, "Do we have anything special to contribute to the dharma?" We had no quick answer to this, but it set us all to some deep searching. We saw that as gays and lesbians we sometimes miss the kind of support that is available more readily to heterosexuals in the sangha--support as simple as being recognized and named as existing and needing support. Society has not generally helped us as we seek to learn who and what we are, how we can form lasting relationships, how we can overcome the anguish of growing up with such labels as "sick" and "pervert."
We decided on a project to begin to meet this need for support--a book of gathas addressing the experiences of lesbians and gays. Gathas are short verses which we can recite during our daily activities to help us remain mindful. At the end of the retreat we read this gatha together as our gift to the sangha:
Having met as gays and lesbians and spoken together from the depths of our common pain and joy, we vow to acknowledge visible and invisible suffering from past, present, and future, and help alleviate it.
If you want to join us in composing these verses (Gathas for Gays), you are most welcome. Please send your verse with a commentary to: Hank Malinowski van Boetzelaerlaan 62 2581 AL Den Haag Holland
Dharma Network for Prisoners Formed
Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. - retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan
Learn to look at living beings with the eyes of compassion. - The Lotus Sutta
Prison Dharma Network has been established to provide a non-sectarian Buddhist support network for prisoners involved in or interested in the practice and study of Buddhist teachings.
PDN's first priority is the development of a data base of qualified meditation instructors from the various Buddhist traditions active in North America who are willing to provide instruction and guidance to prisoners on a correspondent basis. Application forms for those interested in becoming correspondent meditation instructors are now available from the PDN.
The organization's second priority is to establish a network for collecting and distributing donated dharma literature to prisoners at no charge. Such literature may be sent to the PDN, and tax receipts will be issued upon request for book donations in excess of $20.00 in value.
Prison Dharma Network is organized as a non-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code. The generosity of early PDN contributors has covered the start-up costs. Further donations will be sought to establish and expand services to incarcerated dharma practitioners. PDN has no paid staff, as yet. A part-time or full-time office will be set up when activities necessitate it.
We hope to see Prison Dharma Network grow into a broadly based, grass roots type of organization-a large non-sectarian sangha of both prisoners and non-prisoners supporting each other on the Buddhist path. We are seeking local volunteers to organize PDN activities in their own communities as well as contribute to the efforts in correspondent meditation instruction and dharma literature distribution.
Prison Dharma Network is governed by a Board of Trustees which currently includes: President, Karen Lavin, of Boulder, Colorado; Treasurer, Daniel Barret, of Boston, Massachusetts; Secretary Vicki Shaw, of Hartford, Connecticut; and Project Director Fleet Maull, a prisoner at the Medical Facility for Federal Prisoners in Missouri. All correspondence, publications, and donations should be addressed to Prison Dharma Network, c/o Vicki Shaw, P.O. Box 987, Bloomfield, Connecticut, 06002.
Community of Mindful Living
Over the last forty years, there have been numerous groups--including the School of Youth for Social Service in Vietnam, Phuong Boi Monastery near Dalat, the Sweet Potato Community outside Paris, and Plum Village, in southwestern France--that have formed in response to the vision and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
In 1983, Thay visited a number of Buddhist practice centers across North America and inspired many practitioners to renew their understanding and way of living. During the summer of 1984 at Plum Village, several students began discussing the possibility of forming a group to act as a vehicle for Thay's teachings (starting with themselves). Arnie Kotler and Andy Cooper worked with attorney David Tussman to draft the first papers for what was then called the "Pilot Community."
Over the next six years. many more people throughout North America had occasion to practice with Thay and Sister Cao Ngoc Phuong. Their retreats and public lectures inspired many of us to go to Plum Village for the month-long summer session. Slowly, Thay's teachings became central in our lives. and we began seeking ways to support each other on the path of mindful living. We started organizing regular Days of Mindfulness, precepts recitations. and retreats with Thay when possible. The dream of finding a place for a small residential community to practice closely together and invite others from time to time for seminars and retreats began to occur to us as a real possibility, something to work towards.
While at Plum Village during the summer of 1988, mediation lawyer and professor, Gary Friedman, volunteered his services to help us incorporate. Wendy Johnson, Anh Huong Nguyen, Mobi Ho, Arnie Kotler, and Therese Fitzgerald agreed to form a Board of Directors and asked Gary to get us started in the process of incorporating as the "Community of Mindful Living." Betsy Adler, an attorney whose specialty is non-profit organizations, and Kelly Albertson, her assistant. completed the legal work with great care. The articles of incorporation were filed with the California Secretary of State on October 25, 1990.
We have been blessed with the best of help and encouragement as we have taken the first steps in seeking to affirm the permanence of our spiritual commitment by establishing this non-profit religious organization.