12-11-15 Sangha Update

P1000480P1010080The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona....and the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Us

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.” ~ Hafsat Abiola

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Dear Friends,

I hope you are well and happy and enjoying this lovely evening.

We were recently able to spend some time in Spain....seeing what can manifest from the highest and best of human consciousness, while the absolute worst was manifesting in Paris. In a country that has a history of religious conflict, we visited Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Cathedral which is a glorious celebration of the oneness of all life, and the Alhambra, an exquisite expression of beauty and peace. So we experienced the highest and best of Christians and Muslims. May all beings awaken to our true nature of interbeing.

We have an opportunity to awaken and  deepen our understanding and our practice Sunday evening at 6 PM at the home of Cindy and John West.(directions below) There will be  sitting and walking meditation, and....since a new book has been chosen -  "The Mindfulness Survival Kit"  - which is a wonderful book of Thay's commentaries on the Five Trainings, Cindy is going to offer a Dharma talk by Thay on the Trainings as an introduction to practicing with the new book in January.  I hope that you will be able to be there. We are very fortunate that in these challenging times we can all take refuge in the Sangha.

And...tomorrow is the Generations Sangha from 10 AM at Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich. We will be focusing on Relaxing in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season. This is open to all ages. There will be songs, deep relaxation, Dharma sharing for the adults and from 11:30 till noon we share some refreshments and fellowship. I hope you will be able to be with us.

Along with all of the blessings in our lives, we are living in a very challenging time. I used a  quote by Dr. King above....see the similarity to what the Buddha said  -  "Hatred does not cease by hatred, but by love alone. It is the universal law." This is one of the hardest things for us to do. We are conditioned to respond to being hurt, by wanting to hurt. This has been going on forever....and if history is any indication, it has not been working very well for us. To not react, but to look deeply to get to the root of the problem is our practice...and a very deep one it is!  We need to expand our capacity to be mindful of our minds, so that we can respond from a place of clarity, not hatred anger and fear.

Those of you who have sat retreats with me, know that I often refer to the words of Hermann Goering, second in command to Hitler, as a caution to not allow ourselves to be manipulated by fear.

“Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

We are very lucky to have a practice that helps us to see through the surface of things and respond rather than react and not be manipulated....and gratitude is a wonderful antidote to falling into fear and confusion.

It is very encouraging the so many of the nations of the world have come together to look together at ways to take care of our planet and our species at the Paris Climate Change Summit, It has been extended while they continue to try to come to agreements.  Please send lots of prayers for clarity to all the participants and best wishes for success. Our Order has formed a global, web-based  Earth Holders Sangha for folks around the world who are interested in working to take good care of our planet. If this is something you might be interested in, the latest announcement and the website are below.

As I mentioned last time...

This is also the season for being grateful for our blessings and sharing our abundance with others who might not be as fortunate. We can deepen our practice of the paramita of generosity. One thing we have to give is our time, our true presence....to be present for someone and to deeply listen is a true gift.  If you are aware of members of our Sangha who are in need...or if you are a member of our Sangha and are in need, please let me know. We need to be supporting each other as well as we are able.

If we have been fortunate enough to have material goods or money to share, there are countless opportunities and worthy charities with which to share.  All Dana that is contributed to the Sangha and to me during the month of December will be donated to a local charity. Those which have been suggested include the Jonnycake Center, Welcome House and the RI Food Bank. If you have a preference, please respond to this email. The Sanghas have already been very generous. Whichever charity gets  the most responses will receive the Sangha donation. If you would like to bring gift cards from local markets to put in the dana basket they will be donated and deeply appreciated.

I feel deep gratitude for all of you who are practicing in order to contribute your highest and best to the collective consciousness and make this world a better place.

I hope that those of you who are celebrating  Hanukkah are having a blessed holiday. Until we are together again, may we all  breathe and focus on the miracles!

with much love and gratitude for all of you, Joanne

"Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you.  Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation.  The choice is draw the blinds and shut it all out, or believe."  Barbara Kingsolver ~ High Tide in Tucson.


We live about 2 miles from URI.  From rt 138, go north onto Old North Rd.  (across the street from  big sign ““Kingston Hill Store  Books  Used and Rare””.  Also, just a smidge west of the 138/108 traffic light).  Old North Rd starts off as a one way, continues on as a two way street, and finally ends as a T.  You will see our corner property from there.  Go left at the T (Old North Rd meets Stoneyfort Rd), and then a quick right onto Plantation Dr.  We are the first home on the right (2nd driveway is easiest).  Come on in the side door (porch/kitchen)!

Latest Update on the Climate Summit from the Earth Holders Sangha

Dear Friends of Mother Earth:

The COP21 Climate Summit in Paris is scheduled to end today, although I have seen reports that it may run into overtime. There are some encouraging signs, and no one there seems to want to repeat the failure of COP15 from 2009.

As I read some articles this morning, I was struck by a quote from our Secretary of State, John Kerry.  It reminded me of Thay's statement, in his 2012 book Good Citizens, about the risk of not coming together as a "sangha of nations". I so appreciate these two leaders in my life, and in the future of my descendants. Here are the quotes:

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who hopes to help seal a deal, told reporters Wednesday that inaction was unthinkable. “Unless the global community takes bold steps now to transition away from a high-carbon economy, we are facing unthinkable harm to our habitat, our infrastructure, our food production, our water supplies and potentially to life itself,” he said.

And from Thay:

“Now is the time when we have to build the Sangha of all nations…If we fail in this task of Sangha-building, then the suffering of the twenty-first century will be indescribable.”

May we all continue our #ClimatePrayer today for success at the Summit, and also include gratitude for these two leaders and all those in Paris who are working for the benefit of all beings.


George Hoguet

"To meditate is to give ourselves a chance to free ourselves from despair, to touch non-fear, and to nurture our compassion. With the insight and fearlessness born from meditation, we will be able to help not only ourselves, but also other species, and our planet." Love Letter to the Earth" , 2013  Thich Nhat Hanh     www.earthholder.org