#23 Winter 1998

Waking Up

By Joanne Friday When Thay was in the United States last June, I dreamed he had died. For me, it was a nightmare; I woke in a panic. I immediately started to have regrets. I had wanted to attend the three-week retreat, but was unable, due to finances and litigation I was involved in. I was thinking that I had missed my last opportunity to be in Thay's presence and to learn from his teachings. I was so distraught. Then, I began to consider what I had been doing during those three weeks. I had been involved in litigation with an opposing attorney who attacked my integrity and my character. It required intense practice to keep praying for his instant enlightenment and not to become anger and hatred too. He was a very demanding teacher!

I also had a very good friend who was dying of brain cancer during those three weeks. I sat with him and held his feet. I remembered Thay's teachings about being with Alfred Hassler when he was dying. I reviewed with my friend the contributions he had made and the wonderful legacy he was leaving behind. I was able to be truly present for him and for his wife.

I also remembered Thay's teachings in a recent Mindfulness Bell that a true teacher is one who facilitates your realization of the goodness, truth, and beauty that you embody. Truth isn't outside you in the person of your teacher or lover.

So in the middle of the night, having looked deeply, I realized that there was no missed opportunity. Although I didn't have the pleasure of being in Thay's company, Thay was with me all along because I was practicing the teachings that he had transmitted. What I had mistaken as a nightmare had been a deep teaching on no bilth, no death.

Joanne Friday, Clear Beauty of the Heart, is an artist and counselor, practicing with Clear Heart Sangha in Matunuck, Rhode Island.

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A Rose for My Father

By Glen Schneider I first came across A Rose for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh in a local bookstore. I was a beginning meditator, browsing the shelves, and I read it on the spot. I didn't think any more about the book until it was mentioned at a retreat led by Arnie Kotler, Therese Fitzgerald, and Wendy Johnson. In our small discussion group, Caleb Cushing, my Sangha leader, mentioned that he had followed the teaching and told his mother that he loved her. As he spoke, I thought, "Oh, this is something that people really do."

I was deeply moved by the retreat in many ways, and the teaching about my mother came up again the following Tuesday morning. I woke up thinking about my parents, crying because I had never told them I loved them. My father is 83, an alcoholic, and very hard to reach. My mother is 82. Talking with my wife about my feelings that morning, I said "Well, why don't I go see them today, and tell each of them that I love them."

That afternoon, I took my dad into the woods near their house, to hunt for chanterelle mushrooms. I planned that we would walk to the mushrooms, pick them, and sit under a certain big oak tree where I would tell him. As we walked, my father was very annoying. We were in beautiful nature, but he was not there. His mind raced off into the past and the future after an endless list of this and that. I saw a white butterfly sitting among wild forget-me-nots, but could not get him to see it. And, I was very nervous about how I was going to tell him, feeling him less lovable by the minute. To make things worse, he told me that after we picked mushrooms, we had to stop by Jim's house. Jim is one of my dad's drinking buddies, and I began to get furious, thinking my father had probably trapped me into giving him a ride to get his first drink of the day.

We did find chanterelles and we did sit down under the big oak tree. I was angry and scared and didn't know how I could do it. Finally, as I sensed he was getting ready to get up, I put my hand on his shoulder and, with my voice near tears, said, "Dad, I love you." He reached his hand towards me, and then pulled it back and said, "Of course, we feel the same about you." Then he began to talk about some repair to the house that he was worried about. On the way back to the car, we made small talk. I felt good that I had told him, but very disappointed that he could not really respond. I figured that was it. His friend was not home, so we went back to my parents' house. I figured I would have tea with my mom, and tell her. But my dad decided he would have a cup of tea with us, too-the first time for him. He talked and talked until it was time for me to go. I would have to tell my mother some other time.

As we got up from the table to say good-bye, I gave my mother a hug, as usual, and then turned towards my dad. I didn't know what to do, so I began to put out my hand to shake his. All of a sudden, he spread his arms wide and said, "Let's have a big hug." He had never hugged me before. I was completely dumbfounded. The seeds I had planted that afternoon flowered on the same day. And ever since, my father always hugs me good-bye.

That was in early March. I did tell my mother I loved her soon thereafter and the two of us had a lovely talk. About a month later, my dad and I were having lunch alone, and he started talking about his mother. Out of the blue he said, "One of my big regrets is that I never told my mother I loved her, like you did to me that day in the woods. I felt so great."

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And the story continues. For nearly ten years, my family has been talking about organizing an intervention to get my father into alcoholic treatment. Four days ago, twelve family and friends sat down with my father. Each of us read him a heartfelt letter and we all asked him to enter a treatment program. After a few objections, he agreed. We drove him immediately to a residential treatment program, where he has been for five days. On the third day, he told me over the phone, "I guess I am an alcoholic .... We probably should have done this a couple of years ago."

Thay's teaching helped me greatly. My father's response gave me the courage to help organize my family to get him into treatment. I am grateful for the teaching which helped change my life, my father's life, and the life of my family.

Glen Schneider sits with the Pot Luck Sangha in Oakland, California.

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Poem: Walking with Mother

Day 1New hip, right side, burden and promise. One step, two steps, move the walker. Canes in uncertain hands, she looks back. The walker beckons, an old friend waiting. Breathing in, breathing out. One step, two steps, move the canes. With her I walk mindfully, half indoor pace. Breathing in, breathing out. Like a treed black squirrel she chatters, Unhappy about leaves underfoot, clouds, unwelcome cats. Right foot, breathing in, rhythm irregular as her steps. One, two, three, move the canes.

Day 2 One, two, move the canes. Slower than yesterday. Merging plastic and steel, old joints, stolen time, wandering mind. Breathing in, breathing out. Left, in, right, out. "Then your father says . .. ", Breathing, right inBut it's three steps and move, then four Before sunshine glimpses cats loving the slow walking, Attention given and returned. Breathing in, left foot, five and the canes catch up.

Day 3 "Don't tell me what to do; when I'm ready I'll walk!" Breathing in, breathing out. Seeking right action. Three steps, four, move the canes. Six, seven, eight, her eyes like cat companions in the warm afternoon sun. Breathing in, left foot. Breathing out, right foot. Listening to aging frustrations, to find clear thoughts entering the stream. Five remembrances ripple through my mind. Breathing in the marvels as she sails Twenty feet without pause, Every step earth-caressed.

Day 4 I went walking with my mother.

Bill Woodall Boise, Idaho

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Seeds of Childhood

By Peggy Denial My first memory of gatha practice, though we didn't call it that, was when I was two or three years old. Whenever I went out the door my grandmother would say, "May your guardian angel" and I would respond, "protect me and save me." When I stayed with her she had other similar sayings for when she woke me up or put me to bed. Gathas are now one of the tools I use most in daily practice to bring me back to the present moment. It's hard for me to open a door without the door-opening gatha running through my mind. Sometimes I'm still not present but my chances of returning to the present moment are greater.

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For years, I fought gatha practice, thinking it a "Mickey Mouse" practice. Thay would highly recommend the practice each retreat. I'd come home and try again. Over the years, I started to do the practice more regularly, but I had to keep renewing my efforts.

When my son Matthew moved in with us almost four years ago, the memory of my grandmother returned. Suddenly, the practice became more solid and my attitude toward it changed. I used gathas with Matthew the same way my grandmother practiced with me. We use it less now that he is ten but when he was seven and eight, he just loved it. I would say gathas when I combed his hair, when we dressed, washed hands, and brushed teeth. Sometimes we would say them as written and other times we had fun. I would say "While putting on my clothes, I hope" and he would answer "that all animals have lots of fur that keeps them warm." Through the practice with Matthew, my grandmother came back to me. The strong seeds she sowed were watered and grew into a nourishing daily gatha practice.

Order aspirant Peggy Denial, Medicine of the Heart, practices with her family in Cotati, California.

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Prison Sanghas

By Rowan Conrad Prison is a foreign country with a unique culture. This article attempts to address frequently-asked questions about practice with prison Sanghas. I share from my limited experience-three years practicing with inmates in two different institutions. Every prison has unique elements and my experiences may not match yours. Security levels, state regulations, and views of minority religion differ. Thay has reminded us that the only right view is no view.

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The front gate of a prison is like an international border. Past that portal, assume you don't know how anything works. Engage beginner's mind. Please start by asking and listening. "You aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto!"-even if you are in Kansas. Respect the culture, the rules, and the people. You are a guest. Inmates and staff are your teachers. If we teach anything in prison Sanghas, we teach by the example of our own mindfulness, not by proselytizing. The variety and options "inside" are severely limited, so everything expands to fill this space. Little is big, medium is huge, and big is super-jumbo. All actions have meaning and impact, but within prisons, the meaning and impact will be magnified.

Respect that this is the inmates' Sangha. Give guidance, suggestions, and support, but do not take over the details of the structure, leadership, or program of the Sangha-no matter how extensive and deep your personal experience may be. Inmates have very little control in their lives. Let any naming come fully from them. It is more important that the Sangha is theirs than that it have our ideal structure, process, or teaching. Our purpose is to support them in their own practice, not to impose ours.

Be yourself. Inmates have a lot of time to study people. They can spot phonies at 50 paces. Talk with people; don't talk "Dharma" at them. Don't talk down or judge.

Don't ask about specific offenses. It is rude and invasive. But be prepared to hear about the offenses without judgment if the information is volunteered. My experience is that people do volunteer this information at some point sometimes as a kind of "final exam" to see how I respond.

If you work with opposite sex prisoners, you may be the only non-staff person of the opposite sex they see outside the visiting room. Life in prison can be very lonely. Expect a rich fantasy life to develop around you. Take care to dress down and act with great propriety. Do not allow yourself ever to be alone or out of sight with inmates of the opposite sex. Monastic rules for conduct with members of the opposite sex are good guidelines. Helping build a prison Sangha takes time and commitment. If your Sangha is interested in working with prisoners, realistically consider how much time and energy you're willing to spend and estimate how long you'll be able to sustain your commitment. Choose an activity that suits your ability. You can support prisoners by writing letters, sponsoring a meditation group, or visiting. If you can only visit once, don't try to start a new group. Like any budding  Sangha, a prison Sangha deserves our persistent, dedicated practice.

When you're ready to start, contact the community affairs office or the chaplain about how to proceed. Most prisons require volunteer training. Most volunteers write to prisoners from a post office box. Even if you trust your correspondent, others may get information from letters by simply looking over a shoulder.

Prisoners leave prison. The transition is exceedingly difficult and often made with little orientation. Most people coming out of prison have few resources and great need. If your Sangha has supported a prison Sangha, consider that upon release, these people may be joining your Sangha. How are you ready and willing to help with the transition? What are your judgments about people who have committed crimes? Violent crimes? Sex crimes? If the people are condemned in the Sangha for past behavior, they will leave. Every resource they lose increases the chance of recidivism. But to completely ignore risks posed by specific individuals is foolish. Be realistic. If you are going into prisons, be ready as a Sangha to deal with "prison Buddhists" who become "community Buddhists." People in prison are like people out of prison. Some are trustworthy and straightforward; some are devious and manipulative. Don't vilify prisoners, but don't be blind either. A good Buddhist motto is "Expect nothing, be ready for anything."

Rowan Conrad, True Dharma Strength, practices with the Open Way Sangha in Missoula, Montana.

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Poem: Call Me by My True Names, Reprise

Thay tells me he is a twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And my heart expands. He is a frog, swimming in a lake and also the grass snake, eating the frog. And my heart expands. We pray on the Jewish Holy days with our German friends, and he asks me to find the non-Hitler parts of Hitler and the Hitler parts in me. And my heart expands.

know I am the teenage boy murdered in Mississippi, And I am the white-hooded murderer, smug in disguise. I am the black-haired girl from Laguna Pueblo, molested from birth by her father, uncles, grandpa, and I am those men, hopeless. I am the campesino, tending beehives in Guatemala, And I am the soldier who executes him. And my heart expands.

mb23-CallI am a twelve-year-old boy, a can of nails hurled at my head And I am his mother, unable to help or stop his leaving home, as I whirl away to avoid being hit by a pot of spaghetti hot from the stove, which decorates my chairs with red and white streamers before it clatters and rolls on the floor.

And I am the man overflowing with rage, who throws his anger at the people he loves. And my heart expands to contain his suffering Even while I say NO, at the risk of my life.

-Anonymous

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The Nameless Bodhisattvas

By Sister Chan Khong Vietnam recently experienced the worst flooding in over 30 years. Eight provinces are under the fierce waters. We desperately need your help to bring relief to these people. We send money only to the very able friends who have dedicated their lives to helping destitute people, not entrusting your gifts to the unreliable government agents. In comparison with the courageous, compassionate service of these nameless bodhisattvas, our gifts are so small. There are not enough words to thank them.

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These friends undertake dangerous trips to bring your gifts, evidence of your love, to the needy. They could easily lose their lives, sitting on trucks full of your gifts on muddy, broken roads or tiding through stormy waters on boats heavily loaded with your gifts. These live bodhisattvas radiate the energy of Love and Fearlessness. They go in place of us to face dangers and bring our gifts to the neediest people who are dying of hunger and cold.

Please touch the earth deeply in gratitude for their efforts, and then send your donation to help the people suffering from the storm and floods. Dear friends, even if you can only afford to give one dollar, if you offer it with all your love, then this act will touch three thousand worlds in the cosmos, and the wonderful energy of God, of the Buddhas, will embrace you and protect you and the people you love.

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What you can do to help: • $1.00 can buy seven pounds of rice or fifteen instant noodle packages. • $5.00 can buy a blanket for a family. • $15.00 can help one family start their lives again.

Please send your tax deductible donation, marked "for flood victims," to UBC Relief Committee of Green Mountain Dharma Center, P.O. Box 182, Hattland-Four Corners, VT, 05049, or wire funds to UBC Maple Forest Monastery, AL Bank, Route 4, East Woodstock, VT, 05091, Account #01001-24920.

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Letters of Thanks

In November 1998, Plum Village sent $2,500 to Sisters Hanh Toan and Hanh Lien from Quang Nga and $10,000 to Hue, to help victims of the recent typhoons in Vietnam. These letters are in response to this aid. On December 14, 1998, after receiving Sister Hanh Toan's letter (below), Sister Chan Khong sent another $6,000, all the money left in the relief budget, to Sister Hanh Toan. From Sister Hanh Toan, Tinh Nghiem Temple, Quang Ngai: 

We live in Quang Ngai City, away from the center or the storm and the damage here is small. With your help, we have tried to go to villages where the heavy rains caused creeks to rise, flooding and catTying away houses and crops-places like Binh Son, Ba To, Minh Long, Tra Bong, Sun T§.y. Very few relief groups dare to come to these areas, because the rains destroyed the roads and left them impossible to drive.

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After three consecutive typhoons, all families have depleted their rice supply. They eat manioc leaves or other raw forest leaves to survive. And they pray that relief people will come to save them. Hearing that our delegation of Buddhist nuns was coming to the district city, victims from nearby villages tried to meet us in the city. Although their villages are not more than fifteen kilometers away, the trip took nearly two days. The roads and bridges have been destroyed. The villagers crossed mountainous ravines and raging creeks, searching for unflooded jungle so they might reach us. In the end, we faced each other across swollen river waters. The bridge was broken and the water so high and fierce that no one and no boat dared to cross. The hungry victims stood on one shore and we stood on the other, incapable of reaching each other! With tears in our eyes, we left your gifts with friends, hoping they might cross the river in a few days, and continued our journey to Binh Dong.

Binh Dong is a remote village, 45 kilometers from the district city, and the road was very bad. When we got closer, it became impossible to drive. We left our truck and carried big boxes of food over a kilometer on a muddy, slippery road. As we crossed the river with the village on the other shore, the wind and rain became very strong. Our boat nearly threw us all into the river to drown. We sat very still and prayed in deep concentration.

When we arrived safely on the shore, we found everyone thin and pale, looking like hungry ghosts. They threw themselves upon us, pulled our dresses, kneeled down, and cried: "Sister, we are so hungry!" "Sister, my mother is dying, please give me a handful of rice to prepare soup for her!" "Sister, my young children are so hungry, please help us!" The people shivered in wet rags. We saw an old woman wrap herself in a torn mat, waiting for her daughter to return and prepare her soup. But when her daughter came home with some lice, she had already died of cold and hunger. Later, I witnessed another death because we came too late.

Most people are desperate. They have no food, not even a dry slice of potato. The waters are polluted with human and animal corpses, and other dirty, rotting things. People are so thirsty they must drink this water, and we will soon face epidemics of dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, and plague. These people have only wet rags to wear, no shelter, no beds, no tools for cooking, no blankets, no mats. There are 200,000 victims in Binh Son and Binh Dong, and many more in Minh Long, Ba To, Son Tay, and elsewhere. We do not dare to visit now, because we have already given away all of the money you sent.

From Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa on behalf of Binh Dong victims: We send our deep thanks to you for helping relieve our misery following the floods. Disasters crushed us as four typhoons, one after the other, lashed through our village. The waters rose and ran fiercely. The wind tore away trees and houses and threw them about. Everything was carried away by the raging waters. We ran with empty hands, trying to save ourselves.

Now, nothing remains. Nearly all of us are homeless. The sky is our roof and the earth our floor. No one has a grain of rice or a slice of dry potato to fill an empty stomach. No one has a glass of clean water or dry clothes. We look helplessly at those who died, but cannot be buried.

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As we faced such tragedy, your sudden presence was a light shedding grace on our misery. We are like one near drowning who suddenly catches hold of a log. We thank the Buddha of Compassion who heard our cries. You have come to distribute the food of love. Your bags for 320 families are not enough for all 200,000 victims in Birth Son, but thanks to your gifts, many children and weak, elderly people have a handful of rice. We bow deeply to thank your divine, immense grace.

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Maple Forest Update

Twelve monks and twelve nuns are now residing in Vermont for the Winter Retreat. We are also expanding our guest facilities. The Winter Retreat is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your practice and understanding of the Dharma. It began November 15 and will continue until February 18. The daily schedule includes sitting and walking meditation, working in mindfulness, sutra chanting, and mindful meals. Days of Mindfulness are observed Thursdays (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Sundays (10 a.m.-4.30 p.m.). Every first Saturday of the month is Children's Day (10 a.m.- 3 p.m.) with a children 's Dharma Talk and activities such as drawing, singing, tea meditation, learning to invite the bell, and walking with the monks and nuns. A young monk or nun usually coordinates the activities.

On the last Saturday in the month, people can come and offer their work for projects in the house and garden. You are very welcome to come and work with us on Saturday and stay the night for the Day of Mindfulness on Sunday. If you would like to stay with us, please write in advance. You can come most easily by private car. We can also arrange to collect you from Hanover, New Hampshire or White River Junction, Vermont if you arrive at a suitable time. A suggested donation of $25 per day per person covers room, board, and any teachings. Recently videotaped Dharma Talks by Thay are cUlTently being viewed on Days of Mindfulness at Green Mountain Dharma Center.

Please bring a sleeping bag; we supply only a mattress. Warm clothes and warm footwear are highly recommended Please bring stereo headphones for the English translation of Thay's Dharma Talk. We very much look forward to seeing you in Vermont and hope that we shall be receiving guests from all parts of North America.

We feel that we are just another hamlet of Plum Village--on the other shore of the Atlantic. We offer the same practices as those offered in Plum Village and are closely in touch with developments there. Th§.y visits us every year and at the same time, offers two retreats in the Northeast as well as Public Talks.

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For women's accommodations, please write to Guest Mistress, P.O. Box 182, Hartland-Four Corners, VT, 05049, USA; Tel: (802)436-1102. For men's or couple's accommodations, please write to the Brother Phap Dung, P.O. Box 354, South Woodstock, VT, 05071 -0354, USA; Tel: (802)457-2786. If you wish to be on our mailing list, please write to either address.

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Haus Maitreya

I n the tradition and under the direction of Thich Nhat Hanh, Haus Maitreya will open May 22 in lower Bavaria. The new center will offer retreats for the general public, as well as specific retreats for Sangha leaders and Order of Interbeing members. Spiritual and organizational guidance at the center will be provided by three Dharmacharyas: Helga and Dr. Karl Riedl, and Karl Schmied. The center has a residential Sangha that models its daily schedule after Plum Village, and practices in harmony and mindfulness. The center offers the opportunity to live with its resident Sangha for periods of three months to one year, to deepen the practice of mindful living. Friends who would like to share the life of the community can apply directly to Karl and Helga Riedl. People who would like to become residents and are able to commit to at least one year should also apply in writing to Karl and Helga.

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Please write for a schedule of 1999 events. Intersein Zentrum fur Leben in Achtsamkeit, Haus Maitreya, Unterkashof 2 1/3, 94545 Hohenau, Germany.

Reprinted with permission from Intersein.

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A Center in Hawai'i

The Community of Mindful Living's dream of helping start a residential mindfulness retreat center took a significant step forward this month (January 1999). Bennett Dorrance, Healing Touch of the Heart, has purchased the 638-acre historic Bond Estate on the Big Island of Hawai'i, and offered CML the Kohala Girls' School parcel to begin a center for the cultivation of mindfulness, community, healing, creativity, and responsible land stewardship. This beautiful campus is surrounded by lush vegetation, including banyan, coconut palm, macadamia, banana, and papaya trees, and passion fruit and wood-apple vines. During the coming years, Bennett's organization, New Moon LLC, will improve all the structures, including the chapel, a large dormitory, a dining room and kitchen, and several smaller buildings. mb23-ACenter1

A Day of Mindfulness with nearly 75 local people was held on the land January 10, led by Arnie Kotler and Therese Fitzgerald. Arnie and Therese are planning to relocate from California to this retreat center within a year. In February, Dharma teacher and CML Board member Wendy Johnson and her family will visit, and Wendy will lead a workshop on meditation and gardening.

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Over the past fourteen years, the Community of Mindful Living has been accompanied by many wonderful co-practitioners in the efforts to help create a residential practice center. Wholehearted  thanks to John Nelson, Kim Cary, Anh Huong and Thu Nguyen, Richard Brady, Pritam Singh, Mitchell Ratner, Betty Rogers, Kay Allison, Paul Norton, Jack Kornfield, Irving Kramer, and so many others in Virginia, California, and elsewhere, all of whose steady efforts have contributed toward making this possible. Special thanks to John Balaam, True Original Mountain, and our deepest thanks to Bennett Dorrance who found the "home" for practice on the Big Island. Undying thanks and a deep bow of appreciation to Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong for their unwavering support all these years. We look forward to the unfolding of this wondrous dream with the participation of the wide Sangha.

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North American Gathering

By Michael Trigilio On October 10, 1998, North American Order of Interbeing members gathered for a three-day retreat at Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont. Seasoned practitioners and "rookies" like me traveled from all over the continent to share the joy of being together.

One of the first things Sister Annabel told us upon our arrival was that Thay wanted us to relax and just have a good time. Throughout the weekend emphasis was placed upon simply "being wonderfully together." As the New England foliage was transforming from summer green into autumn splendor, being wonderfully together was a simple and delightful task.

Though scheduled events were regularly delayed or displaced, the days were spent with ease and necessary detachment from expectations. I am very grateful to Sister Annabel, Barbara DiPietro, Richard Brady, and the many others who worked hard to organize our beautiful weekend together.

On Sunday, Thay called from Plum Village and gave a teleconference Dharma talk. Through the phone-link between Green Mountain and Thay's hermitage, we sang songs together and invited the bell to sound its call to mindfulness across the ocean. Much of Thay's talk was in response to  questions we had formulated the evening before in Dharma-discussion groups. He focused on the importance of practicing with great solidity and diligence, and healing the conflicts within our Sanghas and within the Order itself. "I'm not saying you don't have a right to suffer," Thay instructed us. "But, you don't have a right not to practice."

The Tiep Hien gathering was, in many ways, like a very large and uncharacteristically constructive family reunion. Friends who see each other rarely had the opportunity to greet, hug, and smile together in beautiful Vermont. The weekend was not, however, simply a three-day pat-on-the-back-practice. Significant grievances and reservations were aired during Dharma discussions, as well as in private conversations. We carefully examined the constantlychanging role of lay Order members in the United States and Canada, especially in regards to the new responsibilities of the monks and nuns at Maple Forest Monastery. Though this retreat was not a business meeting, the fact that such topics were broached in a relaxed, weekend environment certainly encouraged many of us to discuss these issues with one another and with our Sanghas for many weeks to come.

This gathering was one of the most supportive retreats in my practice within the Order. As many as 85 Order members from many different parts of the continent traveled to be together and to discuss issues of great importance to them and to the international Sangha. As many others have in the past, I had been very curious about my place in the Order and the Order's place in North American Buddhism. Coming together this way allowed me to see that the most essential elements of our practice and of our community are already within us. The words "I have arrived, I am home" never sounded so beautiful.

Michael Trigilio, True Birth of Peace, is an activist, artist, and student in San Antonio. He practices with the Sangha del Corazon in San Antonio, Texas.

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Report from Jerusalem

By Yacov Granot Learning of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1996, Michael Rosenbush invited Thich Nhat Hanh to Israel to plant seeds of healing. Thay agreed and in May 1997 led two short retreats and gave Dharma talks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Following his visit, several new Sanghas began, and have continued to grow.

The Jerusalem Sangha has been meeting weekly in member Yael Avnon's living room. We do not use a statue, flowers, or incense. There are just people and sometimes Yael's dog, Cloud, visiting or barking from another room. Those attending are from many different backgrounds with different ideas of what the practice is. No attempt is made to direct people in a specific direction. The suggestion is simply to breathe in and breathe out. Sometimes we are fortunate to have a guest from abroad.

Four Days of Mindfulness have been organized thus far, attended by people from allover the country. Dharma teacher Lyn Fine recently led a two-day retreat at Kibbutz Inbar in northern Israel with 50 people and a Day of Mindfulness in Jerusalem with 35 people. I was fortunate to attend the retreat at Inbar in late October.

My lasting impression of Lyn is of her continual smile, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. What do I remember of Lyn' s main Dharma talk? Nothing at all! It doesn't matter, though. I feel I internalized the message. The experience of the retreat changed me, made me calmer, happier, wanting to help more. And much more mindful. Lyn taught us a four-finger exercise, touching your thumb to each finger in turn, breathing in and out each time. It seemed a bit like cheating to me-like using training wheels on a bicycle. But the practice is very helpful and now, I use it several times each day.

During the retreat, I received a Jewish insight as I listened to Lyn. Moses struck the stone to get water from it, instead of speaking to it, and was punished by not being allowed to enter the Promised Land. The question is sometimes raised whether this punishment was too severe-depriving Moses of the culmination of his life's work for a single act. Listening to Lyn, I saw that God was asking Moses to demonstrate to the Jews the power of loving speech. Lyn, I feel, would have been able to get water from the stone through loving speech.

After the retreat, wow! A few minutes after we left, a car approached from the opposite direction and stopped. The driver, a big guy, and I looked at each other for a few seconds. Then, he shouted at us, like our sergeant in basic training: "Where is what's-his-name?" I answered politely that I did not know and suggested that he ask at the kibbutz. Then, I said to the other passengers, "We have now returned to the harsh, crude reality of the real world." The next morning, I realized that I had failed my very first test. When the driver and I looked at each other, I did not say hello or even smile.

Today, when I woke up, I started breathing mindfully and smiled. I was mindful at home. I left the house and began walking mindfully. "This is so easy," I thought, "There is nothing to it." I stopped and breathed mindfully for a while. Everything is as it should be. I have arrived, right here, right now.

Yacov Granot grew up in New York and has lived in Jerusalem since 1966.

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Announcements

Passages Died: Samar Andert, True Original Mirror, of Stuttgart, Germany died on January 4, 1998.

Sister Jina New Abbess 

On December 20, 1998, Sister Jina was joyfully installed as abbess of Dharma Nectar Temple (Lower Hamlet) at Plum Village.

Virginia Mindfulness Practice Center

Dharma teachers Anh-Huong Nguyen and Thu Nguyen facilitate the new Mindfuless Practice Center of Fairfax, which is open Monday through Fridays. For Center hours and an up-to-date schedule of events, please contact MPCF, P.O. Box l30, Oakton, VA, 22124; (703)938-l377.

Netherland Days of Mindfulness

At age 82, Dharma teacher Nora de Graaf, True Fruition, participates with the Sangha infrequently, because of her health. She welcomes visitors who would like to join her for an occasional Day of Mindfulness in Utrecht, Holland. Please call before you come. 090-2870905.

Teens and Young Adults Program

We want to research and develop a program for late teens and young adults-ages 15-25-and invite your input, preferably from personal or Sangha experience. We hope to run a meaningful pilot program during the 1999 summer retreats in Vermont or Plum Village. Any programs offered will need staff to implement it during a retreat. If this sounds like your true self, please contact Brother Ivar/Phap Trf at Maple Forest Monastery, P.O. Box 354, South Woodstock, VT 05071-0354.

Lay Sangha Near Plum Village

Daniel Reeves is looking for families or small groups to help develop an informal lay practice at a farm three kilometers from Plum Village Upper Hamlet. The property includes two farm houses, barns, and outbuildings. For more information, please contact Daniel Reeves, 12 Falkland Street, Hyndland, Glasgow, Scotland, G12 9PR; Tel: 0141 337-2510; shakti@easynet.co.uk.

Group Accommodations for Vermont Retreat

Several members of the Vermont Sangha helped locate the Ascutney Mountain Resort for the mindfulness retreat with Th§y from Monday, August 23 through Saturday, August 28,1999. The resort provides a variety of accommodations, allowing for special group rates. Participants may register singly or in groups of up to nine people to receive the discount. For more information, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Green Mountain Dharma Center (Attn.: VT retreat), P.O. Box 182, Hartland FourCorners, VT 05049

Beginning Mindfulness Book Available

Andrew Weiss, True Shining, recently self-published a book based on the eight-part mindfulness program he teaches in Boston. The course is suitable for beginners and those seeking to solidify and deepen their practice. Copies are available for $14.95 plus shipping ($10.50 per copy for five or more). Please contact Andrew Weiss, 20 Elm Street, Maynard, MA 01754; Tel: (978)897-0796; E-mail: anhdru @excelonline.com

Building Bridges Between Traditions

In A Jewish Mother in Shangri-la, Rosie Rosenzweig writes beautifully and openly of journeying with her son, Ben, as she struggled to understand and accept his choice of a Buddhist  spiritual practice. Rosie writes of her own spiritual explorations, the strength she found in her Jewish roots, her loving questions about Ben's path, and discoveries she made about herself and Ben. The book includes several chapters about their trip to Plum Village. (Shambhala Publications 1998)

Urgent Appeal for Green Mountain Dharma Center

During the application process for zoning as a retreat center, it was determined that the poor drainage of the Green Mountain property limits its residential capacity to 50 people. An adjoining 55-acres has good drainage and is for sale. Acquiring this property would allow the Dharma Center to build much-needed residential facilities. The cost is approximately $80,000. Maple Forest Monastery has received a gift of $40,000 toward the purchase. We appeal to you, the greater mindfulness community, to contribute the $40,000 balance to make the purchase possible. Contributions are tax-deductible. Please fax Sister Chan Khong (33-556-6161 -51) or Sister Annabel (802-436-1011) with your pledge, or wire the money to Maple Forest Monastery, Unified Buddhist Church, AL Bank, Route 4, East Woodstock, VT, 05091, Account #01001-24970. Thank you for your help.

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