Dear Editors, I am a subscriber to The Mindfulness Bell and I have thus far read three of Thich Nhat Hanh' s books (l am at present on a second reading of The Sun My Heart).l have been practicing meditation for about a year and a half, having been introduced to meditation through a Centering Prayer program at my parish (I am an active Roman Catholic). I became interested in Zen through the writings of Thomas Merton.
At this point in my life, I find myself a thirty-two-year-old person whose spirituality is evolving more and more into a fusion of Christianity and Zen. I feel that Christians and Buddhists have a tremendous wealth of insight to share with one another. As I study the teachings of Jesus and Buddha, I see a lot of Zen in Jesus and a lot of Christ in Buddha. And I believe that had Jesus and Buddha ever met, they would have become the very dearest of friends, don't you?
Would it be possible for me to become a member of the Buddhist community and still remain a practicing Roman Catholic? If so, what would I have to do? Are there others like myself who live a Christian/Zen lifestyle? Any help that you could offer me would be greatly appreciated, and I thank you for your time and consideration.
By the way, I really enjoy The Mindfulness Bell and find it very uplifting. I've read both issues that I have received from cover to cover and I'm anxiously awaiting the next.
Mark Beck Pinellas Park, Florida
Mindfulness Bell No.2 was waiting for me last night when I got home. It filled me with a peaceful warmth of love. I dug out No.1 and re-read it, too. Already today I've shared both with a lovely Persian Sufi friend, and she told me they made her feel very warm and full of love also. Thank you for speaking to people of the dharma in this wonderful voice! It really is tremendously calming and encouraging to read you and see your radiant faces. Thank you very much.
Tom Bolling Seattle, Washington
Thanks very much for another good issue. I especially appreciated Christopher Reed's article about precepts as an invitation to open up possibilities rather than a restrictive set of rules. Having been raised in a completely Christian culture, it is good to know that one can be a Born Again Buddhist with your help!
Kathryn Hannay Moss Landing, California
Dear Friends, .
A friend passed on a copy of The Mindfulness Bell last week and I was touched by its warmth and quiet reassurance. My wife Linda and I have been discussing the need to find/form a community which we can nourish and be nourished by others; where our boys could grow with others spiritually and gracefully. We have met with others, visited and written communities, and always found something missing. We wondered if we were wanting "too tight a fit," not elastic enough in one perception of what community could be. Reading your issue on community, I realized what was missing: the commitment of community to service and to spiritual attentiveness; through the hearts of the children to the outstretched hands of the boat people. The brief description of Plum Village provided us with a model to articulate our search for community--a touchstone--a bell.
Kevin Crowe Amherst, Virginia
As I eagerly read The Mindfulness Bell from front to back, savoring every page, I reflected on how those two weeks at the retreat with Thay, my children, and the other retreat members enriched my life.
My two youngest children are begging me to go to Plum Village. They claim they'll give up camp and other amenities if they can only see Thay and Sister Phuong.
I have seen how just a few simple acts--such as smiling, breathing, and slowly meeting the earth when I walk--alter the color and tempo of everyday hectic trials.
I am grateful to be reminded by all of you that commitment and dedication are the qualities I must continue to strive for. It heartens and hurts simultaneously when I see how my excuses have kept me from establishing peace in my heart.
The Mindfulness Bell is a jewel; it's personal, rich, and terribly useful to folks like me who haven't yet created a sangha on a continual basis.
With peace in my heart, I bow to each of you,
Susan Durkee-Clark San Rafael, California