5-7-15 Sangha Update please read CHANGE OF VENUE!

Happy Mothers' Day

Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their 
sons. Below is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870


Dear Friends,

I hope you are well and happy and enjoying this beautiful spring evening. I am listening to a raucous chorus of peepers, having watched hummingbirds and rabbits do their mating dances today.It is truly springtime!

I wanted to let you know that the Sangha Gathering this Sunday, which is usually at the West residence, will be at our home at 725 Matunuck School House Rd. in Matunuck at 6 PM instead. I hope you will be able to be with us. We will enjoy a sitting meditation and a walking meditation in the garden…with whatever daffodils are still here…..I will offer a short talk and we will share the Dharma. It will be wonderful to be able to be with those of you who are able to join us. A deep bow of gratitude to Cindy for being willing to host at her home the following Sunday when I will need to be at the Aldersgate Retreat.

I apologize for having been out of touch….The month of March was spent moving Richard’s mother’s things from her home and having a memorial service to celebrate her life. Then I had three five day retreats in April. The last was the OI/Aspirant retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery. It turned out to have been live-streamed…so for any of you who would like to listen to any of the offerings…they can be found on youtube if you type in “Bcm OI Retreat’. Also Br. Phap Khong posted two of the talks on my Facebook page, for those of you who can access Facebook. Below I am including a beautiful account of the gathering  from Dharma Teacher, Dennis Bohn of the Rock Blossom Sangha in Brooklyn, NY. He has provided a link to the new version of the Heart Sutra which is very beautiful.

At the retreat we listened to a Dharma Talk by Thay. Buddhism has been adapted by every culture that has adopted it. Thay speaks about how in the West, because of our strong conditioning with consumption, individualism and materialism,  the Dharma is being translated as a tool to use to get something or somewhere – ie, better grades, more money, a winning edge, etc.  and not as a Path to freedom as the Buddha taught. It was a very rich talk for me. It was given at the 21 day retreat last year on June 15.

Please remember that there will be a gathering of the Generations Sangha this coming Saturday morning at the Westminster Unitarian Church on Kenyon Ave. in East Greenwich from 10-11:30. This is a Sangha for all ages and can be a lot of fun. This week we will observe Mother’s Day and the topic is “Nurturing Ourselves and Each Other “.

An Order member has created an app for the iPhone that gives daily quotes and timed reminders...ie..."breathe to your diaphragm 3 times! " You can read his letter below  and here is the link to find out about it. Enjoy! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chill/id986509491?mt=8 In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying this beautiful evening.

with much love and the sweet sounds of a springtime night to lull you to sleep, Joanne


Dear Beloved Sanghas,

Four of us from the Rock Blossom Sangha and three from the Riverside Sangha attended a retreat for OI members and Aspirants last week with the theme of "Continuing Joyfully Together".  More than 100 lay folks from across the US and Canada were able to be present.  I have much gratitude for all of the folks who practice in their daily lives, build sangha and managed to take the time away from work and family to attend.  Tho the weather was challenging(1) with rain squalls and a couple of snow showers the sangha was strong. The spirit of the retreat was strength, joy and commitment to carry on Thay's spirit.  It was clear that our Dear Teacher has prepared us well for many years in the expectation of his illness and ultimate passing. I know all of us gained a tremendous amount of spiritual energy that we hope to bring back to our sanghas.

A couple of things really stand out for me from the retreat: Of course there was the name and theme: "Continuing Joyfully Together"  We all spent some time exploring the levels of that idea.  That we are Thay's continuation, the continuation of the Buddha's teachings.  That it is our desire, need and obligation to be joyful in that continuation.  That we go together as drops in the river of the sangha, and not as separate individuals.

Another is to remember that our responsibility is to transform suffering.  By transforming our own suffering, we help transform the suffering of the world.  As Thay has said, to suffer is not enough.  We must practice to transform the suffering.  If transformation is not occurring for people in our sangha, we should look into what we need to do to help transform suffering.  What brought us to the practice?  How has our relationship to those conditions changed?  Do we see the interbeing nature of the Four Noble Truths?

It was a real inspiration to spend time with my sister Nhun (sp?) from Montreal.  I have been acquainted with her slightly for many years but as a result of language barriers have only gotten to know her in the past four years.  Nhun was one of the original six ordinees into the Order of Interbeing in 1966 and was in the very first class of Thay's School of Youth for Social Service in 1964.  Even now she is doing so much with great energy: supporting numerous sanghas in Eastern Quebec, organizing quarterly Canada-wide retreats and (if I understood correctly) three other large retreats this year.  Her strong intention, energy and Bodhicitta really moved me: of course this strong Bodhicitta is what led her to Thay as a young college student during the war. Her life and her actions are a real inspiration.

We spent a good bit of time at the retreat learning the new Heart Sutra.  Michael Ciborsky recorded a lovely version of the new Heart Sutra which was composed by Brother Phap Linh.  Here is a link to a dropbox zip file containing an mp3 of the new version as well as copies of the sutra, sheet music and Thay's commentary:


Sr. The Ngiem (True Vow) was simply amazing in teaching the group of us this chant going over it line by line each morning of the retreat.  I think even the most un-musical of us (Dennis raises his hand) found it enjoyable.

Joanne and Sister The did the Dharma talk on Saturday morning and they were both simply amazing.  I strongly encourage you to see the video of the talks: http://goo.gl/5lDUti

Finally, it was wonderful seeing so many old friends and participating in deep sharing about our practice and our sanghas; sharing ideas with others and hearing how others are doing things.  Much good cross-polination.

metta, dennis __________________________________________________ MINDFULNESS APP the mindfulness-inspiration app I've been working on. It's now available! It's called "Chill" and I love it and am thrilled to share it with you.

It provides daily inspirational quotes from the Buddha, Thay, Lao Tzu, etc, and Mindfulness Reminders to pull you back to yourself throughout the day. Some are playful (like today's) and some are quite substantial. And for those of you with a penchant for social media, a way to share your favorites on Facebook, Instagram, etc. It's for the iPhone. Here's a link:


The research to create it has been such a pleasure, pouring over sutras I hadn't visited in a long time, in fact many that I've never read before. I hope some of you might find it useful and joyful in your practice. And of course please do share it with your communities if you enjoy it!

And to those of you that have been encouraging me as I've worked on it-- thank you!!

with a bow of gratitude, Soren Kisiel True Land of Serenity ______________________________________________________________ Mothers' Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870 Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their 
sons. Here is the original Mother's Day Proclamation from 1870,

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
 whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! 

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by 
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
 with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be 
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach 
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
 country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From 
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance 
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. 
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
 of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

 Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the 
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each 
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
 but of God. 

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
 general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
 appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at 
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the 
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement 
of international questions, the great and general interests of 
peace. Julia Ward Howe,