#38 Winter/Spring 2005

Towards a Mindful Politics

For the past year, citizens of the United States and people throughout the world have been deeply involved in and affected by the Presidential election. How do we “take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and ... strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts?” (from the Tenth Mindfulness Training of the Order of Interbeing). How do we keep from falling into the mindset of “us and them?” Fortunately, our teacher, and several brothers and sisters offer comfort and help us understand through their articulate and compassionate sharing. The message from Thay lifts us from the small view of events and helps us to see that both the wonders and the difficulties are as present today as they were before the election. Our call to practice is more vital than ever.

In this section we are also invited to meditate on America’s karma and to practice deep inquiry; we are offered suggestions on how to practice the Tenth Mindfulness Training; we gain insight from a story of the Buddha’s life as a plumeria tree; and we are offered a deep practice of letting go. We are invited to nourish ourselves through watering seeds of love and understanding in us, and to step forth as a healing force in our wounded world.

Nothing is Lost: A Response to the Recent U.S. Election from Thich Nhat Hanh

November 7th, 2004

For those of you who voted for John Kerry, we must look deeply to see the John Kerry elements in George Bush. In this long and difficult campaign, Bush has learned many things from Kerry and those who voted for him. We have to see that they inter-are. If there had been no election, Bush wouldn’t have questioned his positions or his approach. He would have been able to assume that his way is best. But he almost lost the election, and he is aware that at least half of the American people don’t believe in him. Now, because he almost lost, he is more humble and must realize that if he doesn’t listen to the other half of the American people, there will be a big disturbance in the country. So we have to see that now all of us are in him. Those of you who didn’t vote for him are in him, are a part of him after this very close presidential race.

We have to help our government so that a president elected by fifty-one percent of the population will not serve just that fifty-one percent but the whole country. We need to keep speaking out, daily letting our government know what we want, expressing our insight and understanding. We need to be very present, very firm, and constantly let the government know we are here. We can support them in our own way, through being present, calm, lucid, and compassionate. Being compassionate doesn’t mean we surrender and give up. It means we see clearly that our country, our government is us and it needs our help. Compassion means acting with courage and deep love to help manifest what we know our country is capable of.

Historically it has happened that the agenda of the left has been realized by the right. We have to speak out and keep speaking out, and it is possible that the Republicans will accomplish what the Democrats, what the left, had hoped to realize had they won. We also need to remember that even if Kerry had been elected, he would also have had to partly realize the wish of those who voted for Bush, and it is not certain that he would have been able to stop the war in Iraq.

Nothing is lost because we are in President Bush. There is a loss only if we respond with anger and despair. We have to continue on, to continue our practice, and remain strong in our role as bodhisattvas, helping the other half of our country by our firm, clear, and compassionate action for peace—the kind of peace in which both sides win because there is mutual understanding.

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Letting Go and Being Happy



By Ben Matlock

Seven members of our Sangha volunteer as Buddhist chaplains at a large, local hospital. We visit Asian and Western Buddhist patients, consult with staff, and lead a weekly meditation in the hospital chapel, mostly attended by staff members.

I have noticed that much of the suffering I encounter in the hospital is created when the patients and staff cling to the image of the patient’s formerly “well self.” Much sadness arises in patients who see their illness as changing them permanently, and much energy is spent by staff trying to restore that state of supposed wellness for the patient, often in vain.

My personal practice includes exploring the areas of belief where I try to hold on to my ideas and perceptions at all costs. I wrote the following guided meditation while traveling on the subway to lead a session at the hospital. Somehow during that journey, the implications of continuing to hold on for dear life to the very things that make me unhappy became much clearer to me than they had before. I realized that I even had to convince myself from time to time that I actually wanted to be happy.

We used this meditation at Sangha on the Wednesday before the presidential election. We each agreed to spend the following week looking deeply and becoming friends with one of our attachments. Then we envisioned what life might be like were we to let go of that attachment. The third step was to investigate with compassion what is keeping us from letting go. In sharing this guided meditation with you, I hope you find this process of deeply looking freeing and transformative.

Guided Meditation On Letting Go

Breathing in, I see the need I have to control my life.
Breathing out, I let go of the need to control my life.

Breathing in, I see that control is an illusion.
Breathing out, I relax in my inability to control.

Breathing in, I see how critical I am of myself.
Breathing out, I let go of the need to be critical.

Breathing in, I see all the goodness in me.
Breathing out, I relax in the knowledge of the goodness in me.

Breathing in, I see the many ambitions I have for myself.
Breathing out, I let go of the many ambitions I have for myself.

Breathing in, I see that I am sufficient in all ways.
Breathing out, I relax in knowing that I am sufficient in all ways.

Breathing in, I see that I crave many things.
Breathing out, I let go of the need to crave many things.

Breathing in, I see that I have enough.
Breathing out, I relax in the knowledge that I have enough.

Breathing in, I see that I am too busy.
Breathing out, I let go of the need to be too busy.

Breathing in, I want a less hectic life.
Breathing out, I relax in the quiet of this moment.

Breathing in, I see that letting go can make me free.
Breathing out, I am free.

Breathing in, I see that by being free I can be happy.
Breathing out, I am happy.

Ben Matlock, True Equanimity of the Sangha, lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts and practices with the Boston Old Path Sangha. An administrator at Episcopal Divinity School, he is the father of Adam, a nineteen-year-old college sophomore, and was married this summer to Ted Todd, also an Order of Interbeing member.

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Mindfulness & Mathematics

Teaching as a Deep Learning Process

By Richard Brady



During the June, 2004 Feet of the Buddha Retreat at Plum Village, a group of retreatants gathered to discuss ways of sharing mindfulness practice with young people. This prompted me to begin thinking freshly about my high school mathematics teaching.

My students learn new algebraic methods in a day and new topics in a month. At the same time, there is deeper learning in process that will continue for the rest of their lives. This learning is about things such as perseverance, taking risks, and communicating with others. Ultimately it is about understanding themselves and the world.

Returning home, I pondered how my Plum Village experience could help me grow as a teacher. An insight that grew out of a conversation with Sister Jina helped me answer this question. I stayed at Plum Village for two weeks after the retreat ended, after most of my friends had left and the full schedule gave way to lazy days. I began to feel lonely, so I made an appointment with Sister Jina to talk about this loneliness and my practice at Plum Village.


At Plum Village feelings such as loneliness are more accessible to me because my usual busyness doesn’t keep them at bay. Also, fellow retreatants exemplify how to be in touch with and share their emotions. The safety and trust I feel comes from the quality of mindful listening and responding that I receive in Dharma discussions and other interactions. I really feel heard there.

The Plum Village environment often provides the context for deep learning, learning that changes my understanding of myself or of some aspect of the world. This is a significant ingredient of the learning process. As an educator, I place a high value on the consequences of the thinking that goes on in my classes. Though thinking occurs at the level of mind consciousness, Thay tells us that the origins of most behavior are found in the store consciousness. So deep learning occurs as the result of changes in the store consciousness. Such change can come about when a great deal of thought is given to a particular issue, but direct absorption by the store consciousness is a much more economical process. In this kind of learning, environment is a key factor.

I ask myself, “How can I create an environment in my competitive, college preparatory math classes spacious and safe enough for all of us to be in touch with our feelings and deeper questions? What can I do to promote mindful speech and deep listening in my classroom? For example, how might it affect the classroom environment if we sat in a circle some of the time as we do in Plum Village for Dharma discussions?”


During my appointment with Sister Jina, a special moment occurred when she remarked, “There’s one thing I don’t understand. You said that everyone you’re close to has left the Upper Hamlet. That’s not true.” I scratched my head and waited for her to continue. After a pause, Sr. Jina said, “You are still here.” I can’t describe how I felt at that moment, but I recognized that I had just received a teaching that would continue to work inside me. Like a Zen koan, it is something I can sit with, practice with, and let ripen until, over time, a transformation can occur. How does a teaching have the potential to set this deep learning process in motion?

Sister Jina continued. “As a young person I was blessed to always be close to myself. However, I wasn’t aware of this until a time came when I lost it. I eventually recovered this closeness, and I have treasured it ever since.” This sharing of Sister Jina’s connected us at the heart level, helping me to open and receive it more deeply. I wonder how in teaching I can become more aware of what students are touching in me and teach from that place?

When Thay gives a teaching, each person in attendance understands the teaching differently, depending on his or her experience of life and of mindfulness practice. Those same differences occur in my students. Since much of our class time is spent working cooperatively in small groups, I’ve borrowed an idea from Thay, who once gave us stickers that said, “I walk for you” to put in our shoes. I give my students stickers that say, “I learn for you” to put on their textbook covers. Each student was having a different experience of cooperative learning through the year, but each time they opened their books, they were invited to be aware of whatever their current understanding was.

At the end of a school year, a student told me that it had taken him the entire year to understand the meaning of that sticker. The unfolding of the unique learning experience of each of my students is fundamentally a mystery. How can I do a better job of honoring and supporting it?


After receiving a teaching, the process of learning continues. It’s up to the student to integrate it into his or her life, which may or may not happen. Last spring I advised an algebra student to slow down and do the math just to do the math, not to try to get it finished in order to go on to the next thing. Intellectually she understood what I was saying. She wanted to follow my advice, but her habit energy of rushing was very strong, so she kept doing her work in the same way. In retrospect I see that she needed a concrete way to focus her mind as she worked so that she could develop new habits, some kind of practice. Perhaps it would have helped her to move a pebble from one pile to another and breathe in and out three times before starting each new problem.

My new insight about practicing being close to myself brought to mind the practice of chanting to Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. I began doing this chant when the monastics invited the retreatants to join them during the closing of the retreat. My experience was so powerful that tears came to my eyes. I began to understand that watering the seed of my compassion is a way for me to be close to myself.

The store consciousness provides the internal environment for deep learning. When a teaching connects with well-developed seeds in the store consciousness, as Sister Jina’s did for me, the learning process unfolds in an organic way. Much of my students’ internal environment is unknown not only to me but also to them. I wonder how I can support them knowing themselves better so they can learn to draw on their own wisdom.


At Plum Village I continued sitting and walking, and chanting to Avalokiteshvara. I was aware of being in touch with myself more deeply. I brought my chanting practice home and continued trying to do it. However, e-mail, phone calls, a curriculum writing project at school, chores, and relationships began to overwhelm me. After several days spent with my extended family, I completely lost touch with myself.

During the retreat Thay told us that transformation comes about as the result of conditions that nurture the positive seeds in our store consciousness. It also comes about as the result of obstacles. Obstacles can become the basis for learning if we become aware of the misperceptions that have produced them. Obstacles are another ingredient of deep learning. Brother Pháp Tuê pointed out to me that when we feel stuck, there is an implication that this feeling is recurrent and that each time it seems as if it is the same feeling. However, actually the situation is constantly changing. We can see this if we look deeply, but we tend to avoid looking deeply because there is pain in the situation we don’t wish to face.

Being vs Doing

Through meditation and the support of friends who listened to my turmoil, I began to see what was happening. During my time in Plum Village, especially the last two weeks of quiet and solitude, I’d begun to get in touch with a young, tender part of myself, a flower nourished by my being-nature. Once home, all the old stimuli set my doing-nature in motion. My inner flower wilted. Losing this new experience of my being-nature was painful.

Looking deeply, I saw that my problems did not stem from all that I have to do but from my planning/reviewing habit of mind, a prominent characteristic I also see in my mother. When this part of my mind quieted down in Plum Village, I got in touch with the flower of my vulnerability. At home my planning and reviewing heritage shields me from these things. This defense mechanism is a part of me just as my vulnerability is. Embracing them both with great compassion is now my path of practice. I continue invoking Avalokiteshvara to water my seed of compassion so that it will be strong enough to hold both my vulnerability and my defenses.

When my students encounter obstacles, their first impulse is usually towards one of two extremes: they try to overcome them or they give up. The approach of welcoming obstacles, sitting with them, and seeing what gifts of understanding they have to offer is foreign to my students, yet it is one that could serve them well in life. I ask myself how I can do a better job of modeling this way of relating to difficulties in the classroom. I realize I can begin by curbing my impulses to diagnose and suggest remedies for students’ problems, and learn how to just be with the students and their problems.

I feel good about the direction my questions are taking me and look forward to practicing in the classroom. I’m aware that so much of my students’ lives are spent in ways that do not promote awareness. At best I can help them water their seeds of mindfulness for a brief time and trust that this will make a difference.

Richard Brady, True Dharma Bridge, is a Dharma teacher with the Washington Mindfulness Community. He is a founding member of MiEN, the Mindfulness in Education Network.

Readers interested in MiEN and its listserv can get information on the MiEN Website www.mindfuled.org.

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An Exercise for Young People

By Terry Masters



Note: What you might say is in boldface. The answers to questions in parenthesis are the answers our children gave us.

Materials Needed: Colored felt-tipped pens

Bowing is a deep form of communicating. A bow may mean hello, thank you, goodbye, or excuse me. But it is not just a way to be polite. It is a way of recognizing and honoring the Buddha Nature in each of us.

We put our hands together carefully to form a beautiful lotus flower. Then we look at the eyes of the person we will bow to and smile. We say to ourselves, “A lotus for you, Buddha to be!” and bow at our waist. Then we straighten, look at the eyes of the other person and smile. Isn’t that an easy gift to give someone?

Please practice with a friend.

Allow each child time to bow to a friend.

Instead of a lotus, you might want to give something else to a friend or someone in your family. Maybe you will put your hands together, look at the eyes of your friend and say to yourself, “An apple for you Buddha to be.” or ”A sunny day for you Buddha to be.” or “A smile for you Buddha to be!” and then bow.

Give enough time for each child to practice bowing with a different child and with you, “giving” whatever gift they choose to give (a lotus, those suggested above or one of their own choice).

How does it make you feel to bow to someone’s Buddha Nature?

(happy, like I’m watering the seeds of my friend’s happiness)

How does it make you feel when someone bows to you?

(happy, grateful, loved)

When you can, please practice bowing with the people in your family, too.

With the colored pens, invite children to draw simple faces on each other’s thumbs. The “thumb people” can practice bowing respectfully. The “thumb people” might also have conversations with each other or sing to each other.

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Three Poems for Thay

The Flower of Calm

Looking deeply
Into the heart of the bud,
I adjust my lens.
Like the flower I photograph,
I am opening up.
My eyes blossom with calm.

Bees Being

Listening deeply
To the nature of my anxiety
I hear the warm, swarming sound
Of bees being above me.
They are buzzing happily, unbusily,
As they circle around the sweetness
That rests Inside my being.

Smiling Form

The clouds today
Are floating in my tea.
They wet every line
Of my poetry.
Every word soaks
Up the ink of the sun
So that I may offer you
This smiling form.

By Jamyson Clair Vining

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Building Our Orange Blossom Sangha

By Rhoda Reilly

During a Dharma talk at the winter retreat, my ears perked up when Thay said, “It is the duty of every Order of Interbeing member to set up a Sangha.” Thay instructed us, “We need to be a Sangha builder; the Sangha is our refuge, our home.” I intuitively knew at that moment the causes and conditions were ripe to build a Sangha.

My husband and I opened our home, set a date, put up flyers, announced our intentions to other followers on the path at Deer Park and trusted our Sangha would evolve. The first evening, one person attended. It was intimate and nourishing. The second week two more people attended. During the course of the next two months, people came and went, but a small, devoted group of six continued to come to practice. Recently, we celebrated our Sangha with a tea and Sangha naming ceremony. We had grown to eleven members (one who practices with us in spirit from afar in Alaska.) We named our Sangha “Orange Blossom Sangha,” in part due to the symbolism of our blossoming together as well as for the beautiful orange trees surrounding our home.

It has been a joy to watch our Sangha grow and develop, to witness the dedication of our members in cultivating understanding and love on this beautiful path Thay’s teachings have provided. In the middle of a busy and hectic work week, we come together to take refuge, to renew, and re-energize like a drink of cool water on a hot summer’s day. We nourish the seeds of happiness in ourselves and support the challenges we encounter working through negative mental formations that cause us suffering. We gain strength from one another and from the collective wisdom of our Buddha natures.

Thay has emphasized that without a Sangha, it is very difficult to practice. Reflecting on the past few months, I can feel my practice strengthening through the support, respect, and love of our Sangha members. When I feel unbalanced and stressed from the demands of my work and daily activities, the sitting and walking meditation calm my mind and body, bringing me back to the present moment. The words of the Refuge Chant now have new meaning to me, “The loving and supportive community of practice, realizing harmony, awareness, and liberation, to the Sangha I go for refuge.” I cherish our Sangha and am grateful to Thay for encouraging us to be Sangha builders.

The following poem was inspired from the various potential names we came up with for our Sangha:

Our Sangha,
Joyfully together,
Blooming as a lotus,
Sweet as orange blossoms,
With mindful and joyful hearts,
Our Chi flows peacefully.

Rhoda Reilly, True Attainment of Fruition, lives and practices in Escondido, California.

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Book Reviews



Journeying East: Conversations on Aging and Dying

By Victoria Jean Dimidjian

Parallax Press, 2004

Reviewed by Lois Schlegel

For as long as I can remember I have been afraid of death. Even as a child I wrestled with this unknown. At night, when the house was quiet I lay awake trying to figure it out, trying to touch the mystery of it somehow, trying to understand.

None of the conventional answers satisfied me. I searched and questioned and suffered for years, as both my parents died before I was twenty-five and I witnessed the fragility of life from a mother’s perspective when my own children were born.

So, it was with a sense of kinship I read Victoria Jean Dimidjian’s outstanding collection of interviews on this subject. She too was touched by death as a child and her experience seems to shape this far-reaching book. Devoting her entire sabbatical from teaching at Florida Gulf Coast University to this project, Ms. Dimidjian traveled the globe to bring us insight from many of today’s prominent philosophers and death and dying practitioners.

Journeying East includes conversations with Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Michael Eigen, Norman Fisher, Joan Halifax, Sister Chan Khong, Frank Osataseski, Rodney Smith, and John Wellwood. Each interview is at once intimate and transcendent, as if we too have been sipping tea with these masters and come away not with answers, but insight; not knowledge, but peace. As Rodney Smith so aptly tells the author when she asks him about his own fear of death, “You live it consciously; you live it actively; you live the open question of death. We access the true spirit of Buddhism by living the question of life.” This book is an invitation to that awareness and practice. It offers ways to tolerate and even find joy in the mystery of death.

Fill your life with music! Sing your blues away! 2

Rivers & Oasis
Available through the Deer Park Monastery Audio Visual Department

Reviewed by Barbara Casey


Wonderful new songs and chants are available as a gift from the fourfold Sangha. Through the direction of Sr. The Nghiem, monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen have come together to produce a CD of twenty-seven practice songs called Rivers. These songs clearly reflect the personal practice of the participants, watering seeds of peace, freedom, lightness, and joy in the listener.

For those who love singing and are looking for fresh songs to enjoy and to share with your Sangha, Rivers is the CD for you! There are fourteen songs in English, nine in Vietnamese, and four in French. Included in the English songs is the popular, In Gratitude, which many of us have learned. Most of the others were new to me, and a complete delight. My personal favorites include Alone Again, adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem, Recommendation, and put to music by Christian monks; and No Wait, an acapella, two-voiced song encouraging self-reliance, which makes me cry with happiness every time I hear it. There is also a wonderful talk-story song by Sr. Chau Nghiem, called Peace is the Way. The CD’s name comes from a lovely song featured first, and also reflects the many sources that came together to form the beautiful music which now flows out to all of us.

Oasis is a compilation of some of the chants we already know in fresh arrangements, plus some new ones. By far the most notable is the Discourse on Love, which I am now listening to as part of my daily practice. I have always wanted to memorize this wonderful sutra, and by putting it to music, I am learning it without effort. I find that listening to and singing this beautiful chant is watering seeds of deep love and happiness in me. I look forward to experiencing this chant with the worldwide Sangha. I hope we will all learn and enjoy it.

Best of all, you can sample these musical offerings online, at: www.deerparkmonastery.org

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Poet, Peace Advocate, & Goodwill Ambassador Dies

By Norman R. Brown

For Our World*

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment...
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.

We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment...
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.

We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment...
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.

Stop, be silent, and notice...
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.

We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment...
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful

Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

The internationally acclaimed poet, peace advocate, and Muscular Dystrophy Association National Goodwill Ambassador, Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, or “Mattie” as he’s nationally known, died on June 22, 2004 in Washington, D.C. He had been hospitalized since early March with complications related to the disease that impaired most of his bodily functions.

Stepanek, of Rockville, Maryland, had dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a genetic disease that impaired his heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion, and caused muscle weakness. Mattie was hospitalized many times over the years. He navigated around his home in a wheelchair he nicknamed “Slick,” and relied on a feeding tube, a ventilator, and frequent blood transfusions to stay alive.

Mattie was the author of five volumes of poetry, three of which reached the New York Times’ best-seller list. He became a beacon of hope to the millions of adults and children who have been inspired by his words, making him one of the best-selling poets in recent years. His admirers include Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, and former President Jimmy Carter.

Despite his physical condition, the effervescent and playful philosopher was upbeat, saying he didn’t fear death. His work was full of life, a quest for peace, hope, and the inner voice he called a “heartsong,” which he explained as “our inner beauty, our message, the songs in our hearts.” He explained, “My life mission is to spread peace to the world.”

After the September 11, 2001 tragedy, Mattie wrote the poem to the left.

Mattie advised that, “Poetry is a great way to express your feelings and life experiences so that others can understand and get through the same situation. We all have life storms. We need to celebrate that we get through them, instead of mourning and waiting for the next one to come along and wipe us out again. Remember to play after every storm. Celebrate life no matter how bad it seems. Life is a gift, and there’s always something beautiful that you can find. We have to make the best of life and do what we’re meant to do. Everyone has a special song inside their hearts. If you believe you can be happy, then you, too, will hear your song.”

Mattie was thirteen years old at the time of his death. He was the recipient of several awards, including the 2002 Children’s Hope Medal of Honor and the 2002 Verizon Courage Award. President Carter, in eulogizing Mattie, said, “I have known kings, queens, presidents, and prime ministers. But the most extraordinary person I have ever known was Mattie Stepanek.”

Contributions in Mattie’s name may be made at: www.mda.org or sent to MDA Mattie Fund, P.O. Box 66002, Tucson, AZ 85728.

Go to: www.mattieonline.com for links to purchase his poetry.

* For Our World copyright, April 2002, “Hope Through Heartsongs,” page 49, ISBN 0-7868-6944-5, Hyperion Book.

Norman R. Brown, Disciplined Patience of the Heart, belong to the SDGLBT Buddhists Sangha in San Diego. He is event coordinator and registrar at Solidity Hamlet, Deer Park Monastery.

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Poem: Zadie’s Manifestation

By Clay McLeod

To my ears,
Your cries give voice to the sorrows of the whole world.
To my eyes,
Your smile gives light to the darkest places imaginable.

Your dark eyes hold so many promises
To the world not yet revealed.

I waited my whole life to meet you,
And yet I cannot imagine a time without you.

You are my continuation,
Yet you are so much more than me.

You are the manifestation of love and hope.
With your life, you will unfold
A tapestry of joy and sorrow,
Each moment a sunrise, Each breath a miracle.

I cherish your arrival;
welcome to the world.

Clay McLeod lives and practices in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife Meaghan, his daughter Zadie and the students he teaches.

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New Seth Family Member

By Shantum Seth

We are happy to inform you of the birth of our daughter, Anamika Maitri, at dawn on the seventeenth of September, in New Delhi. She arrived exactly three and a half years after her sister Nandini was born.

Anamika Maitri means “one who cannot be defined by name (and hence contains the virtues of all names) and offers love and friendship.”

Her sister, Nandini, wants to continually kiss and caress her, and her parents and both sets of grandparents are enjoying her miraculous presence.

With love and smiles,

Gitu and Shantum

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Please Help to Complete Thay’s Temple in Saigon

Dear Friends,

Last November the Vietnamese government gave Thay permission to teach an audience of any size in any temple in Vietnam, but not in a theater or stadium. To accommodate the expected audiences, we have been rebuilding the Phap Van temple in Saigon, with your help. We are so grateful for your generous donations, following our first appeal in the Mindfulness Bell. We have received $18,870 in US dollars, and $67,660 from friends in Europe

Now we ask you to help to complete the temple construction. We need $5,000 to add 900 seats outside the lecture hall to the existing 800 indoors seats. We also urgently need twenty-four toilets costs $150 each. Building each square meter of Phap Van Temple costs $130.

Please send your donation Attn: Phap Van Construction to Sr. Chan Khong in Plum Village.

I have summarized below the status and remaining needs of the various spaces.

  • A house for Thay, which will become a library in the future: Has been completed thanks to a $20,000 donation from a friend in France. Thay has named it the “Together Again” house (“Nhà doàn tu”)

  • A three-story building, sixty by fifteen meters, including:

  • A strong foundation: Completed (cost: $14,000).

  • Ground Floor: A large lecture hall; a kitchen; a storage area; a sanitary block with 20 toilets. The lecture hall has supports and walls in place, and the concrete floor has been laid, but there are no doors or floor tiling yet.

  • Second Floor: Ten dormitories, four by twelve meters, each housing up to eighteen people; one dining room; and a study room for monks. The walls are all done; but no tiles, toilets or showers yet.

  • Third Floor: Meditation hall, balcony, and garden – nothing has been done yet except the floor. Cost of work completed so far on Ground Floor and Second Floor: $87,488 from your contribution and $27,500 from a no-interest loan.

  • With thanks and see you in Vietnam!

SOS Help for Hungry People in Tay Nguyen

Five Provinces on the Highlands of Vietnam

Dear Friends,

We have received an SOS appeal from the Buddhist Youth Association of Vietnam Gia Dinh Phat Tu – GDPT in Tay Nguyen to help 8,700 families who will have nothing to eat by March 2005.

Currently, Plum Village is helping our GDPT friends bring fifteen kilograms of rice per month per family for 150 families. We need to help them for seven months, until the next harvest in July.

With a contribution of $35 you can help one family survive. Please make your donation to Unified Buddhist Church, Deer Park Monastery, attention: hungry people in Tay Nguyen Highlands, Sister Tuc Nghiem will send a thank you letter confirming your tax deduction for your generous donation.

With thanks.

Sr. Chan Khong

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