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Category Archives: Interbeing

MLK monument

Many of my great teachers are small in stature but huge in spirit, in courage, in their actions for peace and social justice.  This photo of Martin Luther King, I took last week at his memorial reminds me of the importance of standing up to current insanity, lies and blatant greed in our government, to the harm planned by gutting the Medicaid program for millions.  A powerful reading from Together We are ONE by Thich Nhat Hanh this morning reminded me that Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa were physically small people with actions that still resound around the world and in our hearts.    Larry Ward’s article in that wonderful book was a call to action – huge action by each one of us.  He asked the question, “How can we NOT be as big” as our teachers?  We stand on the shoulders of giants!  Their courage and insights are in us.  “Our actions matter, our thoughts matter, our speech matters, because they live on when we have disappeared.  Our actions, our thoughts, our speech are continued in the stream of time and space, and also go beyond time and space.” (p. 131).

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What we water in ourselves is what grows into this world, right?  If there is violence, racism, ideas of “me,” “mine”and separation, where did they come from but our minds, our wrong notions of reality?

The practice of mindfulness has helped me come to know my true self better, to see that I am not separate from any other human, any suffering or any joy in this world.  “Suffering that appears far away is closer than you think.  It is all near, because it is all US.  What if we are already in heaven and are missing it because of our wrong ideas?”

We read these words before our morning meditation several days ago from Together we are One by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This specific chapter by Larry Ward is full of great insights about the false notion of “race” and the suffering that flows from it.  If our meditation can transform not only our thinking but our actions, heaven is right here, right now.  Mindfulness can guide us to transforming war into peace, police killings into unified communities.  We are ONE, but we often don’t realize this truth, become fearful and act in ways that harm one another.  What if there is really no need for fear or anger or revenge?  What if our unity, our deep love for one another IS heaven!

Why not live this one day as if we have already arrived in the Ultimate and dwell there?  Together.

J at Sunrise 5:17

Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, after doing Sunlight Qi Gong slowly to the rising sun, my mind tries to hold all the suffering in the world. The seemingly endless suffering feels so overwhelming, so huge – Syrian people bombed, children raped in Nigeria (reflecting the Untamed State, a novel about a kidnapping in Haiti I’m reading), and the insanity of our government. How can one heart and mind hold it all? Even knowing a small portion of the suffering, I could drown in it all, lose myself, my perspective so easily. I would possibly, if I were in the midst of being raped or watching my child die of starvation. These horrors are happening to some woman right now. In my safety, surrounded by beauty, I try to hold her suffering in my heart, send her love, gentleness, the power of the rising sun.

Practicing breathing mindfully, moving slowly, bringing the energy of the sun, ocean, sand and clear air into my mind, my body and my heart is more important now than ever. These are the times we have been practicing for – these moments of great uncertainty, fear, war, poverty, chaos and suffering. The world needs our mindful energy so much, our compassion for suffering, our openness to beauty, goodness, kindness and love.

As I hug my husband, I hug all suffering people in the world and send them the energy of hope.

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I just had an insight, walking slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Climate March April 29th. What we experienced there, our teacher urging us to gather, walk slowly, mindfully, to sing together, be a strong presence in the midst of a huge, loud, often wild scene is really a picture of the highest reality! All the “news” that’s reported about Trump is ‘blah, blah’ noise by comparison. What is REAL, WHAT IS TRUE NEWS is that there are people, groups, a world-wide movement for peace, love, sanity, justice and preservation of Mother Earth. He looks big when magnified by TV news, but he is a blip on the screen of life and history compared to Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Buddha, Jesus and the millions of people around the world making peace.

We have to keep our perspective, to see what is REAL, lasting, on the Ultimate dimension of REALITY – an amazingly huge Universe that humans have barely begun to explore or understand!

We have to be extra mindful when surrounded by messages that are meant to provoke fear, confusion and dispersion of our energy.  Real damage is being done, many are suffering as a result of ignorance and greed.  But together we are truly larger, stronger and more powerful than any president, any government. If we get distracted by tweets, games, threats and noise, we might forget that we are made of stars, that we are as old as the Universe, as vast, as powerful, as beautiful.  What is REAL, what is TRUE is LOVE, PEACE, Inter-BEING.  We need to change, to act, to stay vigilant and we DID in January and last weekend! But most importantly, we need to keep our perspective, to see what is true, what is real. We need to protect our minds, hearts and emotions, so our lizard brain won’t jerk us into reacting from anger or fear. Every day we nourish our peace, our joy, our freedom, our unity with one another on this precious planet in the vast Universe of which we are a part.

Let us keep walking, marching, smiling, breathing together.

 

Redbud and BEE

Suffering surrounds us – the starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, the bombs in Syria, frightening threats from our government to the Earth’s survival.  Yet we breathe, have breakfast, hear the bees in the redbud tree in the back yard.  How can such deep suffering within and around us and such beauty and joy co-exist?

My meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says that mindfulness has two functions.  The first is to get in touch with the wonderful and beautiful things all around us.  The second is to get in touch with the difficult emotions, like anger, fear, pain and sorrow inside and around us.  Mindfulness can help us recognize and embrace these difficulties and transform them. (Together We are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection, p. 84).

Three things help me do this work of transformation:  a daily habit of mindfulness meditation , connection with community and active resistance to war, poverty, discrimination and destruction of our Mother Earth.  Suffering exists.  How do we transform it today within ourselves, in our world?

Beach FL '17

Unable to walk

on the beach – I become

the ocean instead.

A haiku by John Snyder (RIP March 5, 2017)

Just returned from this beautiful beach on Anna Maria Island, FL after a fabulous Women’s Retreat with Ruth Fishel (www.ruthfishel.com).  It was too cold and windy for swimming, but I did have a short walk there.  Now back home, I envision the sky, clouds, waves and sand and become the whole Gulf.  I can also enjoy the blue sky and strong sun that is sure to melt the ice and snow here in Maryland.

I love meditation visualizations that help me calm my body, mind and spirit, becoming the sand, the waves, the whole ocean in my mind.  Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that it is true that we are the ocean, the sky, the clouds, the sun, the moon.  We are all made up of these elements that sustain our lives.  The ocean is in me and I am in the ocean.  Whenever I am unable to walk on the beach and feel the waves on my body, I can call up these images that help me remember my true self.

Did you have an enjoyable meditation this morning?  Let me know.

Peace, joy and love to every wave within you today.

Eurythmie by Lyn

Today my task is to accept this bronchitis as my path for the day.  I woke many times during the night, still coughing, lungs rattling, difficult to breathe or really rest.  This will be my fifth day of illness, feeling unable to do much of anything.

About 5:30am, I tried Ruth’s meditation, thinking about all the people in this neighborhood, in the city, county, the state, the world suffering from the same illness. I am not alone, never am alone, in joy or suffering. There are so many people suffering much more greatly right now from war, poverty and oppression…and many suffering the way I am today. As I breathe in, I know I am breathing in; as I breathe out, I hear the “wheez” of my lungs rattling. A reminder that I am alive. I am here…in the here and now. I am grateful to be alive, to be slowly healing, to embrace impermanence. I think of my teacher, Thay, recovering from a serious stroke over two years ago, able to travel to Thailand, re-learning speech and movement, one muscle at a time. He inspires me to relax, to rest, to be where I am, with all those around the world who are sick in this moment. I am not alone.  I have my precious husband caring for me. I am breathing in, breathing out.

bell-outdoors

“May the sound of this bell reach suffering ones in the whole cosmos, sending healing, comfort and peace.”  These words from my meditation teacher, Anh Huong Nguyen (www.mpcf.com) last Saturday morning, brought tears of joy and relief to my soul.

I had just traveled half way around the world from a wonderful visit to family living in Malaysia.  I had suffered the night before from lack of sleep and justified anger directed at me from a loved one.  I ate cereal in the car on the ride to this beautiful annual ceremony to transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings to a member of WMC and many others from MCPF, Stillwater and other sanghas on the east coast.  I had been filled with remorse for my mindless actions that had hurt and angered someone I love dearly.  My body was still adjusting to crossing 12 time zones and being greeted by bitter 16 degree weather.  My spirit needed the silence, the beautiful church with huge windows revealing gently falling snow, a fox trotting by in the woods, the warmth of dozens of beloved sisters and brothers surrounding me.  I took a deep breath, relaxed and let myself cry.

I often find in meditation that the first person who needs the healing sound of the bell is me.  My suffering is so small compared to that of families dying daily in Aleppo, women raped and beaten in many countries, children starved and abused, all people suffering from war, poverty, oppression and fear of their political leaders.

Yet this body is the one I feel most closely, can breathe in most easily, can feed, rest, comfort and nourish.  I hope it is true – as Thich Nhat Hanh and his niece Anh Huong teach me – that in taking care of myself, I am taking care of the whole cosmos.  All suffering beings are present in me and me in them.  We “inter-are.”  I am the child in Aleppo.  I am the woman in Nigeria bearing a child of rape.  I am the coal miner in West Virginia worried about feeding his children.  I am determined to take care of all of me, all of the suffering in the world in my breathing, in the sound of this bell going out to the whole cosmos.

Thay with candle

Many friends have been disturbed by the recent political election.  Thich Nhat Hanh gives me some perspective to see more clearly, to calm mind and feelings, to act with love and compassion.  He suggests that “Every time you have a presidential election, you think in terms of Democrats and Republicans, and you take a side.  You suffer or you are happy because one party wins or loses.  But, if we look more deeply we see that the two parties are made of each other and have a lot of things in common.  The success of one party is made of the lack of success of the other party.” (Mindfulness Bell, Autumn 2016)

He is telling us that we are all part of one whole, that we “inter-are.” Our thinking in opposites (right/left, bad/good, wrong/right) is not the whole picture of reality and brings us much suffering.  My suffering came in the form of disbelief, shock, fear and anger, a desire to change the great suffering that will come of this decision.  However, I cannot live in fear and anger for more than a few moments without increasing the suffering in myself and my world.  I remembered Thay’s teaching on Inter-being, that we are not separate from one another, my friends simply identified as “left, right, good” and the president-elect as “right, wrong and bad.”  We inter-are and all had something to do with the conditions that brought about the results of this election.

On a practical level I need to stay calm, to reach out to my neighbors, friends and strangers who are suffering.  I can assure them that I will continue to practice, to come back to the present moment where we are still alive, capable of compassion and love for one another.  I am sticking close to my spiritual communities, listening as deeply as possible, trying to respond with courage to do the things I can see and do, one day at a time.

J at GC GC colors GC with trees

Wow!  The Grand Canyon is a great place to touch the Energy of the Universe!  So powerful in majestic beauty, and in geological, historical, social energy.  I was able to absorb the beauty of these colors, breathe the air, look as far as the eye can see on our Women’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona.  Fourteen women gathered for a week absorbing the energy of the vortexes, meditating, practicing Qi Gong and yoga, resting and sharing deeply from our hearts about blocks we want to transform to receive energy into our bodies, minds and lives.  Then nine of us were able to travel to the Grand Canyon for our final day in Arizona.

Thank you, Ruth and other sisters on this journey.  Thank you, Mother Earth, for these magnificent mountains, rocks, and fire at your core.  Thank you, Father Sun for blessing us with life every day, whether we see you or not.  Thank you, amazing Universe, for holding us, connecting us in your Energy and Love.