resources

Announcements

Jade Candles Transmission Ceremony You are warmly invited to the Jade Candles Precepts Transmission Ceremony, to be held in Plum Village from November 30 to December 3 this year. A jade candle signifies peace in all seasons, thorough illumination, and constant harmony in the universe. Candidates who wish to receive the precepts should register by letter by October 30. Those who wish to receive the Ten Novice Precepts, the Siksamana Precepts, or the Bhikshu and the Bhikshuni Precepts need to have a letter of recommendation from their religious teacher. Candidates for the Fourteen Precepts of the Order of Interbeing need a letter of recommendation from their local Sangha. Those who wish to receive the Bhikshu or Bhikshuni Precepts and who do not belong to the residential community of Plum Village need to be present at Plum Village at least two weeks before the beginning of the Precepts Transmission on November 30 to attend a special course of practice and instruction.

The Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies at Plum Village has invited the Upadhayaya Thich Quang The (Vietnam), Upadhyaya Thich Nhu Hue (Australia), Upadhyaya Thich Man Giac (USA), Upadhyayika Thich Nu Dieu Tri (Hue, Vietnam), Upadhyayika Thich Nu Dam Anh (Vietnam), and Upadhyayika Thich Nu Dam Luu (USA) to be part of the Precepts Transmitting Councils. Many other elder monks and nuns from Vietnam and elsewhere have been invited to be on the council. Dhyana Master Thich Nhat Hanh will transmit the precepts. For further information, write to Sister Eleni or Sister Annabel at Plum Village.

Passages

Ordained: At Plum Village on June 30, Minh Tarn, Susan Swann, and Fern Dorresteyn were ordained as nuns; Kiyo and Michael Ciborski as monks.

On May 27, Greg Keryk, True Good Birth, was ordained into the Order of Interbeing in Santa Cruz, California, with Arnie Kotler and Therese Fitzgerald officiating on Thay's behalf.

Married: On March 4, Shantum Seth, True Right Path, and Gitanjali Varma were married alongside the Ganges River at Kaudiyala, India.

On March 9, Svein Myreng, True Door, and Eevi Beck, Pure Manifestation of the Source, were married at Hoybraten Church in Oslo in a beautiful ceremony conducted by Eevi's father , a Protestant minister. A second ceremony will be held at Plum Village on July 26, celebrated by Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Mindfulness Bell Will Accept Advertising

Beginning with the December issue, The Mindfulness Bell will accept a limited amount of mindfulness-related advertisements. Please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Maria Duerr, c/o The Mindfulness Bell, for ad rate sheet. Ads for the next issue are due October 15.

Update: Documentary Film about Thay

The editors of Legacy Production's film about Thich Nhat Hanh, "Peace Is Every Step," have reviewed all the footage—over 100 hours of tape and film, including some archival material—and they have completed a first assembly or "rough cut." They will soon move into the "off-line" studio to produce the "fine cut," which will take six to eight weeks to complete. The final, or "online" editing phase of two weeks will occur after the fine cut is assembled, with music, narration by Ben Kingsley, titles, and effects mixed and added. If all goes well, and with continuation of funding help, the film should be completed by the end of the year.

The Buddhist AIDS Project

The Buddhist Aids Project (BAP) provides free information on Buddhist resources and alternative AIDS services to persons living with HIV, including family, friends, caregivers, and people who are HIV negative. The group networks Buddhist resources with each other and existing AIDS services. Donations and requests for lists of articles, videos, and audiotapes may be sent to BAP, 555 John Muir Dr. #803, San Francisco, CA 94132, (415) 522-7473. BAP is compiling an anthology entitled On Meditation and AIDS: Buddhist Practice and Living with HIV, to be published by Parallax Press in 1997. Contributors include Thay, Robert Thurman, Joan Halifax, and others. Essays for this book are welcome and are being accepted until September.

Meditation & PTSD: Request for Information

The Veterans' Affairs Medical Center in Albany, NY, is incorporating mindfulness-based meditation with the therapy of Vietnam veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans who have used meditation to transform their relationship to traumatic events are encouraged to send information about changes in the frequency and intensity of meditation, and other therapy received. Write to: Stephen Flynn, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Stratton Medical Center, 113 Holland Ave., Albany, NY 12208.

Conference for Vietnam Ministers

The National Conference of Vietnam Ministers will meet October 15-20, 1996 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. For more information, contact Rev. Philip Salois, (508) 222-7313.

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Book Reviews

mb66-BookReviews1Zen BattlesModern Commentary on the Teachings of Master Linji

By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press, 2013 Softcover, 266 pages

Reviewed by Judith Toy, True Door of Peace

This re-issue of Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go: Waking Up to Who You Are, originally published in 2007 by the Unified Buddhist Church, is lightly edited, re-titled, re-designed, and refreshed. It is curious that the publishers chose the title Zen Battles, as Thay and all of his students in the Order of Interbeing are well known for gentleness, peace, and reconciliation. So the word “Battle” in the title is not meant in the usual sense. While in Master Linji’s teachings, the master often strikes his students and sometimes shouts at them, we can absorb these teachings as a metaphor, much like the sword-wielding bodhisattva Manjushri who has the capacity to cut through our bonds of delusion. Thay tells us that the spirit of our Zen ancestor, Master Linji, is in everything we are taught and everything we do.

Born during the Tang dynasty in ninth-century China during a time of political unrest and repression of Buddhism, Linji studied with a recluse master and gradually developed his signature direct and dramatic teaching style: “If something has arisen, do not try to make it continue. If something has not arisen, do not try to make it arise. This action is more valuable than ten years’ pilgrimage.”

Reading these cases is like cracking a code. Yet it cannot be done with the mind. Each case presented by the author is a koan. First, we encounter Thay’s translation of twenty-three of Linji’s teachings, known as the Record of Linji, followed by the bulk of the book, Thay’s commentary on each of the cases. The author suggests we first read through Linji’s teachings completely, then repair to the commentaries.

Master Linji emphasizes that his insight was not with him from the time he took birth, “...but came about through polishing, refining, training, experience and investigation, and then one day I broke through to the truth.” Eventually, Master Linji let go of his studies in order to follow true Zen practice. The wonderful irony is that we read the book so we can throw the book away.

There is one paragraph in this book that is the only Dharma talk you’ll ever need. I leave it to the reader to find that paragraph for herself.

mb66-BookReviews2The Mindfulness Survival Kit Five Essential Practices

By Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press, 2014 Softcover, 160 pages

Reviewed by Leslie Rawls, True Realm of Awakening

Kits contain tools useful to a particular purpose. So too, The Mindfulness Survival Kit is filled with tools to help us practice with the Five Mindfulness Trainings and explore how they can be meaningful and useful in our lives.

The book first examines the historical background of the Five Mindfulness Trainings—the Plum Village version of the five precepts given by the Buddha. Having rooted readers historically, Thich Nhat Hanh then invites us to let go of any attachment to these practices as Buddhist concepts or dogma. Instead, he encourages readers to five ways to practice with the trainings that transcend divisive labels. “One of the deepest causes of our suffering,” he writes, “is our insistence on seeing reality in a dualistic way and our attachment to our beliefs.” Throughout the book, he invites the reader to use these trainings diligently, mindfully, and openly, “with an awareness of your capacity and of what is possible.”

The book examines each training individually, including commentary from Thay’s experience, as well as specific practices for the reader. Each commentary examines the training’s purpose, reminding us that practice is more than memorization and that we engage these practices for our own healing and for healing the world. Thay show us ways that he envisions such healing, and invites us to be open to new ways of practicing with each training and to explore these ways individually and within community. His commentaries show the interweaving of the trainings and the interbeing nature of all life.

The second part of the book is a study of comparative ethics and the mindfulness trainings. Here, Thay offers details about different ethics structures as a way of exploring how the Five Mindfulness Trainings fit with other structures and how we might practice with them. Again, he invites us to connect with others, not to set ourselves apart by labels and dogma.

Thay’s earlier commentary on the trainings, For a Future to Be Possible, included commentaries from many practitioners. I had found a great deal of meaning and support in this material and thought I’d miss it here. When I finished this rich book, however, I rejoiced that Thay repeatedly encouraged us to explore these practices, individually and as communities. And I recognized that the earlier commentaries were just one method of such collective sharing.

It is easy to lose oneself in a book, to think all the “answers” lie between its covers, that all we need do is read and understand the wisdom there. In The Mindfulness Survival Kit, Thay doesn’t let us off so easily. Instead, this toolkit offers guidance as a map might, and holds a light up for us to find our own ways to make these trainings come to life.

mb66-BookReviews3In the Garden of Our Minds and Other Buddhist Stories

By Michelle L. Johnson-Weider (White Lotus of the Source) Softcover, 108 pages Blue Moon Aurora, LLC, 2013

Reviewed by Sandra Diaz

In the Garden of Our Minds and Other Buddhist Stories is a collection of children’s stories that bring traditional Buddhist teachings into the context of modern life through the lens of a western Buddhist family of four.

Five of the seven stories introduce classic tales from the Buddha’s life and teachings in a way that illuminates modern-day issues. When Mama tells the story “Prince Siddhartha Renounces the Throne,” the children, Briana and Alex, have a chance to explore what constitutes true happiness.

In “Fighting the Demon Mara,” the story of how the Buddha overcame doubt is transformed into a lesson about dealing with difficult emotions. “Mara is a name we give to the emotions that make it hard for us to do the right thing,” Mama explains.

“The Value of Persistence, the Story of Mahaprajapati” demonstrates perseverance and creative problem solving. Mahaprajapati, a follower of the Dharma, successfully convinced the Buddha to ordain women as nuns despite his original resistance to the idea. This story helps Briana to discover that “Persistence, determination, and allies can help you succeed in almost any situation if you have a worthy goal.”

“The Doorway of Death” tells the story of Kisagotami, a mother who begged the Buddha to bring her dead son back to life. The story brings valuable perspective to the topic of grieving and fear of death by encouraging us to fully appreciate this life while we have it.

“Lessons in Stopping” is the story of Angulimala, a murderer who renounced violence to become a monk and follow the Buddha’s teachings. Mama tells this story to demonstrate to Briana, who gets in trouble for talking in class, that “we can stop doing any bad action, even really really bad actions, once we make the decision to start acting correctly.”

The title piece, “In the Garden of Our Minds,” takes us through a Thich Nhat Hanh-inspired guided meditation in which children think of good qualities they have cultivated and imagine them as fl wers in a garden.

In the final story, “A Visit with Rinpoche,” the family goes to hear a Dharma talk by a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. The children’s questions provide an opportunity to explore the complexities of being Buddhist in a mostly non-Buddhist society. Briana and Alex are inspired by the teacher’s description of a bodhisattva as “a great hero who lives with a heart of love for all sentient beings.”

In the Garden of Our Minds includes a glossary of Buddhist terms, as well as a section called “Conversations with Children,” which offers questions designed to spur discussion. This book is a simple but entertaining way to teach children about the Dharma in a home or classroom setting. Colorful illustrations by Brian Chen show an interesting mix of scenes of modern family life as well as from the time of the Buddha. Even though the book is designed for children, adults will find it an enjoyable way to learn about the Buddha’s teachings.

mb66-BookReviews4Teaching Clients to Use Mindfulness Skills A Practical Guide

By Christine Dunkley and Maggie Stanton Routledge, 2014 Softcover, 104 pages

Reviewed by Miriam Goldberg

Don’t let the title fool you. This book is a gem of mindfulness practice for everyone. Consistent with engaged Buddhism, it demonstrates deep listening, mindful speech, and right diligence, foundations of healthy Sangha practice.

For readers interested in teaching mindfulness, the book offers an organized sequence with “key tasks” and “stylistic factors” noted at the end of each chapter. For experienced practitioners, the five exercises on sensation and perception may be a review, but their variety and explanations support fresh eyes and the more complex practices that follow. Therapists and anyone interested in the intrapsychic value and effects of mindfulness will find concise descriptions and applications to some challenging habits of mind. Everyone can benefit from the authors’ focus on mindfulness in daily life to experience present moment, wonderful moment.

The book begins with definitions of mindfulness, a psychological context, and resources—from books and TV shows to recent research. All the practices suggested in the book address mindfulness as an experience of purposeful, present-moment, nonjudgmental awareness that helps us choose where we focus our attention and how we relate to experience while cultivating acceptance, compassion, and open inquiry in our thoughts, speech, and actions. With many examples of therapist-client interactions and commentaries that show kind and respectful inquiry, presence, and reflection, the authors demonstrate deep listening and mindful speech.

Buddhist instruction includes mindfulness of thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and breath. The authors here succinctly address the seldom-mentioned problems of teaching mindfulness of the breath to people who have a history of trauma or anxiety. Step by step, they show us how to bring clarity and compassion— rather than blame, shame, defensiveness, and/or denial—to our mental logjams and emotional upheavals. Their approach to habit-driven thoughts and emotions focuses on the thoughts that fuel the emotions. This is one effective way to cool down heated responses. Its success, however, is rooted in the underlying equanimity, compassion, and understanding consistent with Thay’s teachings to hold in mindfulness those parts of ourselves that get activated and need our steadiness.

In later chapters, the authors help us move from habit to choice and pick the best modality for a given moment. We can water mindfulness with emotion mind or reason mind, doing mode or being mode, internal or external focus, thoughts or feelings or sensations, and by recognizing effectiveness and using wise mind.

This book is not a quick read. Whether it is taken a chapter at a time, example by example, or straight through, one can absorb an approach to mindful awareness that can open transformation at the base, bring compassionate eyes to oneself and others, cultivate inclusiveness—rather than divisiveness, comparison, or isolation—and nourish communities with understanding and love.

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The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha in U.S. Prisons

By Bill Menza Resources for Prison Sangha Building

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

  • Prison Resource Guides for Prisoners
  • Free Buddhist books and other publications
  • Dharma/spiritual correspondence courses and pen pal programs
  • Newsletters that focus on prisoners’ rights and criminal justice
  • Resources for prisoners with children
  • Legal Aid resources
  • Post-release resources

Prison Dharma Network

Sitting Inside: Buddhist Practice in American Prisons by Kobai Scott Whitney, explains what it is to be a prisoner and practicing in prison. Available from the Prison Dharma Network for $15. Write to PDN, P.O. Box 4623 Boulder, CO 80306. Or order online at www.prisondharmanetwork.org.

Recommended  Books

Be Free Where You Are by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax Press). A Dharma talk at the Medium Security Prison in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Doing Your Time with Peace of Mind: A Meditation Manual for Prisoners Provided free to prisoners in English or Spanish by the Heart Mountain Prison Project, 1223 So. St. Francis Drive, Suite C, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Download it from heart-mountain.org/NewFiles/Booklets.html or email dougbooth4@gmail.com. Dharma friend Amy Davis reads the entire fourteen-page manual, answering commonly asked questions about meditation, and provides instruction in five basic meditation styles. The tapes are free to inmates. Prison Dharma groups are asked for a donation of $1 per cassette, but no requests are refused due to lack of funds. The cassettes are “prison-friendly” – housed in clear plastic cases with clear shrink-wrap, molded together without screws.

Dharma in Hell by Dharma Teacher Fleet Maull. A former federal prisoner tells about imprisonment “in the charnel ground” of America’s prisons, and his fifteen years there living a life of vows and service, and thus bringing compassion and transformation into this hell realm. Available from the Prison Dharma Network, PO Box 4623 Boulder, CO 80306, or online at www.prisondharmanetwork.org.

Some Organizations and Sanghas Helping Prisoners

Buddhist Peace Fellowship Prison Project P.O. Box 3470 Berkeley, CA 94703 Tel: (510) 655-6169 ext. 307 E-mail: prisons@bpf.org Web page: www.bpf.org The project started in 1998 to help all persons associated with the prison system through advocacy, education, ministry, and training. Has a prisoner pen pal program. Sends the BPF journal Turning Wheel and Dharma books to prisoners.

Prison Dharma Network P.O. Box 4623 Boulder CO 80306 Tel: (303) 544-5923 E-mail: pdn@indra.com Web page: www.prisondharmanetwork.org/PDN An international non-sectarian contemplative support network for prisoners, prison volunteers, and correctional workers founded in 1989 by Fleet Maull, a former prisoner. Has an online discussion group. Publishes books and materials relating to prison Dharma and the PDN’s Volunteer Training Manual on how to start a prison Dharma program.

Unified Buddhist Church (Thich Nhat Hanh) Prisoner Outreach Deer Park Monastery 2499 Melru Lane Escondido CA 92026 Tel: (760) 291-1003, Fax: (760) 291-1172 Web page: www.deerparkmonastery.org.

Mindfulness Bell Subscriptions c/o David Percival 745 Cagua SE Albuquerque, NM, 87108-3717 Tel: (505) 266-9042 E-mail: dperciva@unm.edu Monastics at Deer Park Monastery are working with David Percival at the Mindfulness Bell and staff at Parallax Press to send magazines and books to prisoners. They are looking for lay practitioners to help in corresponding with prisoners. For those already writing to prisoners please note that issues of the Mindfulness Bell can now be downloaded at www.mindfulnessbell.org/download_mb.htm and sent to prisoners.

North Carolina Prison Sanghas For more than fifteen years the Charlotte, NC Sangha has been supporting prison inmate Sanghas in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Contact Leslie Rawls at sangha@charlottemindfulness.org.

Boston Old Path Sangha The Old Path Sangha and its sister Sangha in Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts have been supporting a meditation group at the Boston Suffolk County House of Correction for many years. Contact Rich Geller at rgeller@meditationprograms.com.

Gateless Gate Zen Center 1208 NW 4th Street Gainesville, Florida 32601 Tel: (352) 336-1517 E-mail: gatelessgate@hotmail.com Web page: www.gatelessgate.org Abbott Kinloch Walpole has developed a program for prisoners to deal with imprisonment and post-imprisonment based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical School Pain Center. Prisoners participate in week-long meditation trainings in prison and when released live in residential monastic houses. He also visits Florida’s death row prisoners.

The Lionheart Foundation P.O. Box 194, Back Bay Boston, MA 02117 Phone (781) 444-6667 E-mail: questions@lionheart.org Web page: www.lionheart.org Sponsors the National Emotional Literacy Project for Prisoners and the National Emotional Literacy Project for Youth-at-Risk; and distributes free to prison libraries and programs the book: Houses of Healing: A Prisoner’s Guide to Inner Power and Freedom.

The Engaged Zen Foundation Ven. Kobutsu Malone, Osho P.O. Box 213 Sedgwick, Maine 04676-0213 Tel: (207) 359-2555 Web page: www.engaged-zen.org The Engaged Zen Foundation was originally founded to foster Zen practice and meditation in prisons to bring about change in the prison systems. It has since broadened its perspective to address universal human rights and social justice of criminal justice systems — because “a prison full of enlightened prisoners ... is still a prison.”

Amnesty International USA www.aiusa.org An international organization working to stop the human rights abuses, torture, and execution of prisoners.

International CURE www.CUREnational.org An international organization working for criminal justice reform. Has state chapters.

Human Rights Watch www.hrw.org An international organization working for human rights, including those of prisoners.

Center for Constitutional Rights ccrjustice.org A national organization working for the constitutional rights of all people in the USA, including prisoners.

The American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org A national organization working for the civil liberties of all people in the USA, including prisoners.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty www.ncadp.org A national organization working to end the use of the death penalty in the USA.

Bill Menza, True Shore of Understanding, is a Dharma Teacher who practices with the Florida Community of Mindfulness.

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