taking refuge in myself/in spiritual/biological ancestors

Letter from the Editor

To Our Readers

It is a rich blessing to be sitting here, receiving treasures of the practice from all over the world to share with you in the Mindfulness Bell. During the months of developing the material for an issue, I go through many changes. At first, I am inspired to create a new weaving of insight from the material I have waiting and from the transformation happening in my own life; and I am also a little anxious that I won’t receive enough material (that’s the part of me who thinks I am in control).

Then, inevitably, the river of insight flows forth and so many of you offer wonderful teachings. My confidence becomes strong and my appreciation for this wonderful path of practice deepens as I work with each piece, watching how each one becomes a beautiful thread in the overall design, both lovely and strong.

Because we have been in such a tumultuous time with the recent U.S. Presidential election, I wanted to address how to practice with politics and how to engage without becoming embroiled in partisan conflicts. Being quite involved in the campaign, I had a chance to look daily at this issue. I saw that first of all, I needed to stop. I needed to stop feeding my prejudices and judgments about others, and to start every day with an open curiosity about each person I would meet. I needed to listen deeply, both to the stories in my head and to what I heard from others and from the media. I had to look for the truth, and to learn to let go of all the rest. I had to have confidence in my own true nature and in the foundation that my practice has built for me to rest on. I had to take refuge in myself, in the strength of my spiritual and blood ancestors. I needed to nourish myself every day, with the presence of supportive and loving friends, and in the beauty of nature. And I had to work every day, to uproot my limited views and to open my heart to life in this moment.

The morning after the election, as I went out to retrieve all the political signs from my front yard, the neighbor dog ran over to greet me, wagging his tail in great happiness. In that moment I realized that to him, this morning was just as new and full of possibility as was the morning before. I realized that I needed to renew myself by spending time with the trees and the deer, with the moon and the stars.

The teachings in this issue speak of these practices. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us the power of visualization and gives us ways to explore the nature of our minds. Four lay sisters share stories of taking refuge in their spiritual and biological roots. A group of practitioners encourage us to go further with the transformative practice of deep listening. Thay and other wise teachers offer views on the political situation and our place in stepping forward as mindfulness practitioners. A guided meditation helps us to learn to continually let go.

Perhaps the most important personal result of my participation in politics over the past year has been the establishing and deepening of friendships, resulting in strong community-building. Acquaintances became friends as priorities shifted and people stepped forward to live their highest good.

May we all rest in the net of Sangha, offering one another the power of our mindfulness and deep faith in the beauty of life as it is.

In gratitude,