1-24-15 Sangha Update

photo by Bruce Nichols HAPPY SNOWY MORNING!

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful...How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural--you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Nhah

“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ” Thich Nhat Hanh

“Around us, life bursts with miracles--a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life's daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Friends,

I hope you are well and happy and cozy and warm....and being mindful of the miracles!!!

Thank you to all of you who came to celebrate Thay and Martin Luther King last week. It is such a joy to know that we have access to the teachings of such beings in this lifetime. They have given us all the instruction we need...now all we need to do is practice!!!

There will be a gathering tomorrow evening at the home of the Van Horns at 6PM with sitting/walking/sitting meditation and sharing the Dharma. Directions to their home and their contact info is included below. I hope you will be able to make it.

GREAT NEWS!!! Cindy has set up our long awaited, much anticipated email list serve for the Sangha!!!!! Thank you, Cindy!!! We will now have a way to communicate directly with the Sangha (without having to rely on my less than perfect memory to include announcements in these emails!) It is a google group and requires that you be invited to participate, so that we can limit any spam and keep our conversations focused on our Sangha. If you would like to participate, simply email Cindy and she will send you an invitation. She is at westnest5@verizon.net

There is a very interesting event coming up which Kate shared with us at the last Sangha gathering. George Kassis, who was born in Syria, educated in Lebanon and now lives in Portsmouth, RI will be giving an overview of the situation in the Middle East to help us to deepen our understanding of this very complex situation. Mr. Kassis now teaches at Salve Regina University, in the Circle of Scholars Program on understanding the Middle East, the Arab Israeli Conflict and the Syria and Iraq situation. Mr Kassis will offer his presentation on Friday, January 30 at Christ the King Church, 180 Old North Road, Kingston on the URI campus at 7 PM. Kate has heard this presentation and has highly recommended it,

I hope to see you soon and in the meantime, I hope you are enjoying this moment!

with much love and many hugs Joanne

Directions to and Parking for the Van Horn Home
  Address: 24 Mallory Lane Wakefield, RI 02879
Phone: 401-871-1838 
From the North: Take US 1-S to RI-138
Turn right onto RI-138; drive for about 3.5 miles
Turn left onto RI-108 S/Kingstown Rd.; drive for 2 miles. You will pass the SK police station, then later a pond, and the Pump House Restaurant on your right.
Take the next left onto Rodman Street. (Street sign is hard to see; Dennis Moffit Painting is on the corner and the Peace Dale Mill is on the left.) You will pass the bike path and one stop sign.
Mallory Lane will be on your left. Our house is the second on the left.
See below for parking. From the South/West:
Take US-1/N past the Matunuck exits
Take the Pond St. exit. (right after an exit for Post Rd.)
Turn left onto Pond St. Continue until Pond dead ends onto Main.
Turn right onto Main. Drive a short distance.
Turn left onto High St. Drive past town hall.
In about 0.6 mi, turn left onto Allen.
At stop sign, turn right onto Rodman. Continue past one stop sign. Mallory Lane is on the right. Our house is the second on the left. Parking: Our street is narrow, so we ask that you not part on the street. 3-4 cars will fit in our driveway. If there is no space left in the driveway, you can park on Jennifer Dr. Turn left back onto Rodman, and make a quick right onto Jennifer Dr. Thank you!!!

Syria, Iraq, Islamist Fundamentalism and US Foreign Policy

Trying to comprehend headlines and newsfeeds about complexities in the Middle East, let alone the role of the United States government, past and present, can be perplexing.  Even more confusing are reports indicating weapons and resources used to perpetrate sectarian violence originated with the US military. For Americans to understand this pivotal global issue, and how we got to here, it would be necessary to have a highly informed guide.

Rhode Island is fortunate enough to have one. George Kassis of Portsmouth has developed a roadmap through the history of Islamic countries, clearly defining the evolution of sects and the impact of the World Wars and occupying governments.

In his words, “The latest iteration of my talk about Syria and Iraq I have entitled “Syria & Iraq, Islamist Fundamentalism and US Foreign Policy.”  The talk will focus on developing an understanding of these two countries and deal with several inconvenient truths that are rarely discussed, in the hope that participants will get a firm basic understanding of issues and be able to take an intelligent stand regarding US policy in Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, based on our values as a people and a nation, rather than expediency and economic interests.”

Mr Kassis was born in Aleppo, Syria, to a Christian Armenian family. He spent his first seventeen years in Syria, before moving to Lebanon to attend the American University of Beirut where he received his Masters degree in Science. He joined the United Nations, serving in various senior capacities in the Middle East and Africa before moving to UN Headquarters in New York in 1985.  His work with the United Nations included serving in Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen.

For the past five years, Mr Kassis and his wife have lived in Portsmouth, RI. He now teaches at Salve Regina University, in the Circle of Scholars Program on understanding the Middle East, the Arab Israeli Conflict and the Syria and Iraq situation.

Mr Kassis will offer his presentation on Friday, January 30 at Christ the King Church, 180 Old North Road, Kingston on the URI campus at 7 PM.