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Money Doesn’t Guarantee Happiness

by Rachel Tripp mb43-Money1

When I was eight years old my mother announced to me that we were doing a very unusual thing on summer vacation. She told me that we were going to Stonehill College for a week. I was very worried that it was going to involve math, but I was even more surprised to find out that it was a meditation retreat. Actually, I wasn’t required to meditate myself. There was a children’s program at which I was going to be dumped every day, under the care of monks and nuns. I had seen pictures of them and they didn’t appear to be having any fun. Boy, was I wrong!

At this and another retreat, I got to know one monk and one nun very well. The monk’s name was Phap Ung and he was thirty years old and had grown up in Vietnam. The nun’s name was Sister Anh Nghiem. She had grown up in Vietnam but was educated in England and spoke with a very funny English accent. They were both the most amazing people. But for one thing, they had no hair. I expected them to be very solemn and serious and was surprised to find them skipping rope with the rest of us, their robe tails flying. No matter how crazy we kids got, their smile was constant and they never yelled or lost their cool.

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They told me how happy they were with their simple way of life, each of them owning only three robes, three pairs of shoes, and one very small bowl. They live according to all sorts of rules regarding when they can sleep and what jobs they do. Sister Anh Nghiem told me a story about how hard it was for her to part with her favorite yellow stuffed ducky upon entering the monastery, and Phap Ung told me how much he misses his country. However, each of them said that it was a small price to pay for the breathtaking freedom from the power of “things.” They were completely devoted to their self-chosen spiritual path.

I would have thought that someone with no checkbook, no cell phone, no fax, and no hair, would be the most miserable person in the world, but in fact they are the most joyous people I have ever been able to spend time with. I learned many lessons from them: how to stay peaceful in the present moment, that a lot of money and things aren’t necessary to be happy, that there are many paths to God, and that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or a nun by her robes.

mb43-Money3Rachel Tripp, Loving Compassion of the Heart, is 13 and lives in Sandwich,  Massachusetts. She received the Five Mindfulness Trainings at the GMDC Summer Family Retreat at Stonehill College in June 2006.

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Wake Up

Young Buddhists and Non-Buddhists for a Healthy and Compassionate Society mb65-WakeUp1

Nutshell

Wake Up is an active global community of young mindfulness practitioners, aged 18-35, inspired by the teachings of Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. We come together to practice mindfulness in order to take care of ourselves, nourish happiness, and contribute to building a healthier and more compassionate society.

We want to help our world, which is overloaded with intolerance, discrimination, craving, anger, and despair. Seeing the environmental degradation caused by our society, we want to live in such a way that our planet Earth can survive for a long time. Practicing mindfulness, concentration, and insight enables us to cultivate tolerance, non-discrimination, understanding, and compassion in ourselves and the world.

Practice: Essence

We follow the Five Mindfulness Trainings, which are ethical guidelines that offer concrete practices of true love and compassion, and a path toward a life in harmony with each other and the Earth. These guidelines are the foundation of our lives and represent our ideal of service. Our practice is based on cultivating awareness of the breath and living deeply in the present moment, aware of what is happening within us and around us. This practice helps us to release the tension in our bodies and feelings, to live life deeply and more happily, and to use compassionate listening and loving speech to help restore communication and reconcile with others.

Roots/Inclusiveness

The Wake Up movement is inspired by Buddhism’s long tradition of wisdom and practices that help cultivate understanding and love; it is not based on beliefs or ideology. The spirit of our practice is close to the spirit of science; both help us cultivate an open and non-discriminating mind. We honor everyone’s diverse spiritual and cultural roots. You can join as a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, as an agnostic or atheist, or as a member of any other spiritual or religious tradition.

What We Do

We aspire to be a place of refuge, nourishment, and support for people with an aspiration to transform their own suffering and contribute to a healthy and compassionate society. We gather weekly or monthly in Wake Up groups to practice sitting and walking meditation, listen to a teaching, practice total relaxation, listen deeply to one another, and recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We also organize mindfulness events and retreats, and visit meditation practice centers together to refresh ourselves and strengthen our practice. Many groups also organize music evenings, meditation flash mobs, picnics, hikes, and other special events or actions.

You Can Do It

If you are a young person inspired to cultivate mindfulness and compassion in your life, we invite you to join the Wake Up movement in your country. Wake Up offers a way for us to pool our energy and act collectively, to create the world we want to live in! You can get together and form a Wake Up group wherever you are. Please let us know what you are planning to do and what you are trying to achieve. We will do our best to support you.

For more information about joining a group, starting a group, attending a retreat, or connecting online, visit wkup.org.

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