In, Out Happy Thank you So Happy!
Thay's first words
We are so happy to welcome 23 new members to the Order of Interbeing! The photo is of those who were ordained at the Miracle of Mindfulness Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery. It was a pure joy to be able to be present for the ordination. It was also so moving to see how Thay is continuing so beautifully in the wonderful Dharma talks given by monastic Dharma teachers (they are on youtube " miracle of mindfulness bcm") and the community of practitioners...half of whom, had never been on a retreat with Thay.....I know this would make Thay very, very happy!
Those from our RI Sanghas were Cindy West (Clear Heart Sangha) and Wendy Warburton (Radiant Bell and Clear Path Sanghas). A deep bow to both!
This is a reminder that there will be a gathering at our home on Sunday at 6 PM. We will enjoy sitting and walking meditation (in the garden, weather permitting) I will give a short talk and we will enjoy some refreshments and celebrate Cindy!
This is a reminder that there will be an OI/Aspirant gathering for Order members, aspirants and anyone interested in learning more about our Order....at the Bell Street Chapel this coming Saturday the 19th at 10 AM. We will celebrate our new members, recite the 14 Mindulness Trainings and continue to focus on one of the Trainings at each of our meetings. This past month we were invited to practice with the First Training....to watch where we get caught in dualistic or discriminative thinking and to look at everything from the insight of interbeing ...for some of us, more than a full time job! This gathering is held right after the Radiant Bell Sangha meeting from 8 - 9:45. All are welcome at that meeting also. Between the two we will celebrate!!!
Later in the day, there will be a PeaceFest to commemorate the International Day of Peace in Downtown Providence at Burnside Park in Kennedy Plaza...from 1-5. (see below) There will be storyteller Len Cabral, Peace Flag making, Flash Mob dancing, etc, etc,etc. Between 4 and 5 PM we will have a silent walking meditation. I hope that you will be able to be with us for that.
For those of you who are nearby, the RI Community of Mindfulness will have it's annual Sangha Picnic on Saturday, September 26, at Colt State Park in Bristol, RI from 11-3 PM at site #3. Please join us and bring family,pets, friends, a vegetarian dish to share, games, poems, songs, instruments, This is always fun...a beautiful place with wonderful people....I hope you will be able to be with us.
Thay is continuing to make progress and an update is included below. Please continue to hold him and those who are caring for him in your prayers. Also, if you are able, you can contribute to his care...or to the upkeep and care of our monasteries at tnhfoundation.org
This tour of the monastics is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the publishing of Thay's book, "The Miracle of Mindfulness ", one of my very favorites. They are inviting us all to participate in this by being "Part of the Miracle" Go to http://www.tnhtour.org/2015/08/25/miracle-of-mindfulness/
Our brothers and sisters from Montana are quite an inspiration...they offered a very creative way to join in on the fun....
with much love and the joy of interbeing with all of you, Joanne
Plum Village, France September 8, 2015
To all Plum Village Practice Centers, To all Practice Centers and Sanghas worldwide, To our Dear Beloved Friends,
It has been two months now since Thay arrived in America, with the hope of getting more intensive treatment to recover from his stroke. Thanks to the incredible support of our Beloved Community we have been able to obtain the very best doctors and therapists for Thay, across all treatment modalities. We are happy to be able to share that Thay is benefitting from the best of Western, Eastern, conventional, and alternative medical approaches. Thay is receiving acupuncture every day, as well as physical therapy, speech therapy, osteopathy, and neurofeedback, with the support and oversight of a phenomenal team of doctors at UCSF.
With Thay’s advanced age, the severity of the hemorrhage, as well as various complex health issues, recovery is extremely challenging. When Thay first started physical therapy, Thay was very engaged and enthusiastic with his therapists and the program that they had created for him. Preparing for Thay’s sessions of physical therapy, we could all feel the joyful determination in his body language. We would tell him, “Thay, let’s get ready for physical therapy” and Thay would raise his fist in the air and smile, as if to say “Let’s go!”
However, the level of fatigue and physical discomfort that Thay was experiencing when we first arrived in the US limited his ability to participate in the sessions. With the help of the whole team of doctors and therapists we have been able create an integrated program of treatment which allows Thay to have restful sleep, and more alertness, ease and peace in his body, enabling him to more fully participate in the sessions of therapy.
A recent breakthrough has been that whilst using a partial weight support walking frame, Thay’s right leg has started to make small movements, initiating the stepping motion.
Thay has received training from three different speech therapists over the last two months, one of whom was able to help Thay speak his first words since the stroke. It was a legendary day. We are happy to be able to share his very first words:
In, out (several times) Happy (several times) Thank you (several times) and “Vui quá” (meaning, “So happy,” in Vietnamese)
It was like a guided meditation. Everyone was crying and laughing at the same time, including Thay.
Unfortunately, as the speech therapist who helped him to achieve this breakthrough lives far from San Francisco, she had to go back home after three days and Thay lost some momentum. We have tried a number of other speech therapists but have not been able to maintain Thay’s initial rapid progress. We are still looking for a local speech therapist, ideally fluent in Vietnamese, who would be able to work with Thay several times per week.
Besides all the medical treatments and therapy, Thay has been able to enjoy the Bay Area, going to visit the beach at least twice a week, enjoying beautiful views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, being in touch with nature and the wonderful fresh Pacific air. Every day Thay continues to remind us to enjoy the wonders of life, often pointing at the blue sky and helping us come back to the present moment. Sometimes Thay playfully switches roles with the doctors and therapists, putting a finger on his lips and inviting them to stop. In these moments he often indicates for us to prepare tea so his doctors can have a chance to enjoy a cup of tea in mindfulness. One therapist knelt down by his side, looking out of the window and began to cry silently. She later shared with us that it was perhaps the first time in her life that she had really stopped and appreciated the blue of the sky.
A very good friend of Thay’s came to visit and shared his own experience of balancing his intention to live in the present moment with the natural wish for a loved one to recover as much as they can. He said that every moment with Thay is a “bonus moment,” and that all we have to do is cherish these bonus moments. Every moment that Thay has to breathe, to smile, and to enjoy the blue sky is indeed a bonus moment, reminding us all to appreciate life fully, without expectation, peacefully accepting things as they manifest.
This is the spirit in which we have been continuing our large mindfulness retreats, both in Europe and now in the United States. We know that it has long been Thay’s deepest wish to build a Beloved Community of practitioners, and it has been powerful and joyful for thousands of us to come together and realise that dream in France, Germany and now here at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York, where we have just finished a 5-day retreat. We have generated a strong collective energy in our silent sitting meditations under starlit skies, and in our walking meditations along streams and forest paths. We have sung together, laughed together, cried together, and celebrated the miracle of community. We see so clearly our Teacher’s presence here with us at this retreat; he is not only in San Francisco. As Thay said in 2009 when for health reasons he could not be at the retreat in Colorado: The presence of the Sangha carries Thay’s presence. Please let me walk with your strong feet, breathe with your healthy lungs and smile with your beautiful smiles.
With great gratitude we thank you for keeping your practice alive, with your mindful breathing, your mindful steps, and your gentle smiles. When we come together to generate a strong collective energy of mindfulness, compassion and insight, we are manifesting Thay’s vision for our collective future. Together we are discovering ways to continue Thay’s legacy of bringing peace, happiness and healing to ourselves and the world.
Please join us at our retreats and events in the US this fall: tnhtour.org
With love and trust, The Plum Village Monks and Nuns