“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Thich Nhat Hanh “Our own life has to be our message.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I hope you are all well and enjoying the miracle of this spring like day in the middle of February!
First I would like to thank all of you for all of your care and love and notes of condolence. I also want to offer a heartfelt thanks to Clare and Cindy for organizing a Ceremony for the Deceased at our last gathering at Cindy's home. It was very moving. Thank you, thank you. We are so blessed to be supported by such sweet beings!
We celebrated the Order's 50th Anniversary today at the Radiant Bell Sangha and with the Order members and Aspirants. It was wonderful to be with everyone and I am feeling enormous gratitude for the Sangha and all that Thay has given us.
The celebration will continue tomorrow. We will enjoy a vegetarian potluck at 4 PM at our home...for those of you who can join us. We will then have our regular sitting meditation at 6, with a Dharma talk and some stories about the evolution of our practice and our Order. You can come for both or join us at 6 for the sit. I hope that you will be able to be with us.
Registration is now open for the Aldersgate Retreat.. Embracing Our Fears: Healing Ourselves and the World A five-day mindfulness retreat in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh with Dharma teacher Joanne Friday May 20-24, 2016 Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, Rhode Island Register by March 15 and save $25.you can get all of the info and registration forms at joannefriday.com/calendar This retreat is mostly in silence. I have included some of Thay's thoughts on the importance of silence, below. The retreat tends to fill very fast. If you are thinking of joining us, please register as soon as you can. It is always a lovely gathering and a wonderful opportunity to immerse ourselves in our practice.
Don't forget the Day of Mindfulness in Franklin, MA on March 5. All the info and registration information for that is at joannefriday.com/calendar There will be a formal transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings at that gathering. If you are interested in receiving them, please return the application from the website and you might like to read The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh...which is his commentary on the Five Trainings.
And a special anniversary present for you.....(thanks to Robb for sharing it with me!)
Roses and Garbage: Meditation and Peace – Thich Nhat Hanh (The Meridian Trust - Buddhist Film Archive)
Recorded at Quaker International Centre London, UK - 15 September 1987 Includes intro song by Sister Chan Khong
with much love and lots of joy for interbeing with all of you, Joanne
Dear Thay, dear Sangha, last week I practiced two days of noble silence and during that time I was able to recognize my habit energy of always wanting to react and to judge people and situations around me. I was able to recognize it and to calm it down. But yesterday when I started talking again, very quickly I got lost again. How can I continue practicing this recognition and calming while engaging in conversations?
When you practice noble silence, you have to recognize and take care of the mental discourse in you. When you are confronted with a situation, although you don’t say anything, there is always a reaction inside. There is a tendency to say something, and that something may be hurtful and you don’t want to say it, so just observe it without acting. Don’t try to fight or judge. Later you might like to write it down on a piece of paper titled, “This is what I wanted to say but I did not say it.”
Next time you are confronted with another situation and you would like to respond but you don’t, you recognize it and again you write it down. At the end of the day you will review your writings, and you will see it was good that you did not say these things. It’s much wiser not to say them. If we practice for a number of days, we have the capacity to refrain from responding right away and can see in advance the outcome of such a response.
I think two days is not enough. Some of us practice one or two weeks of silence, or even three months. After that we are able to change our way of responding to situations. We learn how to respond with a smile, a way of looking. Be aware that even if you don’t respond with words, people see your reaction by looking at your face. The practice of mindful breathing and becoming aware of your bodily expression is a deep practice.
There is an oppressive silence that makes a situation worse, while noble silence can heal and transform and nourish. Without some understanding and compassion, the silence we create will not be noble. When you practice noble silence, not only are your words silent, your thinking is also silent. You need to stop your thinking, your mental discourse.
Instead of thinking, you try to be: you try to be with your breath, your steps, the trees, the flowers, the blue sky, the sunshine. You just want to be with them. This can be very healing. You choose what to be. You choose to be your in-breath and out-breath. If your in-breath and out-breath are harmonious and peaceful, then you will feel nourished.
You choose to be the sound of the wind in the pine trees, and you listen to the rain. These sounds can be very joyful. Instead of thinking, you are deeply in touch with the wonderful sounds, the wonderful sights. There are so many refreshing and healing elements in you and around you. When you hear the sound of the bell or the song of the bird, if you listen deeply with enjoyment, there is peace, there is joy, there is life and nourishment and healing. At that time your silence is truly noble silence.
Later on, when you encounter a sound or sight that is not pleasant, you will develop the capacity to respond with compassion, without anger. And that kind of response is also noble silence. Facing some kind of provocation, you are able to keep your noble silence alive. And your way of listening to him or to her, your way of smiling to him or to her, proves that you are protected by your noble silence even in a situation of provocation. This is a wonderful practice.