8-6-17 Sangha Update



If we are at war with our parents, our family, our society, or our church, there is probably a war going on inside us also, so the most basic work for peace is to return to ourselves and create harmony among the elements within us - our feelings, our perceptions, and our mental states. That is why the practice of meditation, looking deeply , is so important. Thich Nhat Hanh


Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well and peaceful and enjoying this perfect summer day.

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I know there are various opinions about that. However, for me, whenever we have to resort to violence of any kind it is a failure for our species. Thay has given us so many practices to transform and heal the woundedness in ourselves and to be peace, so that we can help others to heal and be peace also. We will be gathering this evening at 6 PM to deepen our practice together and honor the memory of all those who have died in wars, by cultivating our capacity to contribute peace to the collective consciousness. Peace is not passive...being peace is a very deep practice.

We will meet at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County at the Lily Pads Complex on North Rd. in Peace Dale. We will enjoy sitting/walking/sitting meditation, continue to share Thay's teachings from his book, "Creating True Peace", recite the Mindfulness Trainings and enjoy our togetherness. I hope you can join us.

The World Peace Prayer Society had an observance in Japan last evening as it was already the 6th there. You can still offer prayers to the people of Hiroshima at their website, if you would like to. World Peace Prayer Society http://www.worldpeace.org May Peace Prevail on Earth!

Along those same lines, I have copied below a writing on our practice of Beginning Anew by Leslie Rawls , from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Book Club. It is a good resource if you would like to deepen your understanding. They have supporting materials for studying Thay's books, "The Sun My Heart " and "One Buddha is Not Enough". https://www.thichnhathanhfoundation.org/bookclub Enjoy!

The plans for bringing Thay's film, Walk With Me, have still not been firmed up...as we are waiting for the theater to confirm the dates...but stay tuned!

SAVE THE DATE! MARK YOUR CALENDAR! The dates for our Annual Sangha Picnic, have, however, been confirmed. We will be gathering at Colt State Park, Shelter #3 on September 30 from 11-3....I hope you will all be able to be with us.. this will be part of our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the RI Community of Mindfulness! Bring a vegetarian dish to share, bring friends, family, songs, instruments, and games along with your loving, open hearts and we will have a wonderful time!

If you would like to receive information, requests for prayers, announcements of practice opportunities and communicate directly with other Sangha members...please consider joining our clear heart google group. Cindy is kind enough to oversee that group...you can send her a request to join and she will get you connected. westnest5@verizon.net.

Here is something to water every single one of your seeds of joy and gratitude ...and to remind us that in the midst of a world that sometimes seems to be pretty dark....it's truly a wonderful world! Enjoy!


with much love and the deep peace of a summer garden for you, Joanne


Dear Friends, This is an article from the Thich Nhat Hanh Book Club on our practice of Beginning Anew. I would like to add that I have found the most important step for me is the preparation I do, before engaging in the practice with another person. To spend at least 24 hours looking deeply at the part I played in the difficulty to understand the conditioning that has led to my reaction and then doing the healing in myself. We don’t want to try to do Beginning Anew before we have done that step. That only leads to blaming and airing resentments which is not helpful. The whole purpose is not to win an argument or prove that we are right, but to strengthen our relationship with the other person and clear our consciousness.

Here is the article….

To celebrate our summer theme of "Family and Sangha Building", we hope you enjoy the following article on Beginning Anew, written by Dharma Teacher Leslie Rawls. The practice of Beginning Anew not only will benefit relationships in your family but also in your Sangha as well.

Use Beginning Anew to Build Connection, Love, and Trust

Lay practitioners not living in a monastery or practice community may wonder how to practice Beginning Anew, particularly with friends, family, and coworkers unfamiliar with the practice. I would like to suggest we make Beginning Anew alive and relevant to the circumstances in which we live, being careful to use the steps as guides and suggestions not as a precise recipe that must be followed in a specific order. Some of our relationships may not be amenable to formal Beginning Anew, and still, the substance, the heart of Beginning Anew practice, can nourish and heal those relationships too.

Sometimes we think of Beginning Anew only as a tool for conflict resolution, to be brought out when times are tough. But using Beginning Anew when we are not in conflict can help build connections, love, and trust. Then, when we are in conflict, these foundations will help us —particularly laypeople — engage in Beginning Anew without feeling threatened or unsafe. How to Practice Beginning Anew

Step 1: Flower Watering

Formal Beginning Anew starts with flower watering. We recognize and appreciate the other person’s gifts. Of course, the recipient will be happy to have her flowers watered, and perhaps feel encouraged to cultivate those qualities even more strongly. And flower watering also benefits the giver. When we appreciate another person, our heart opens to that person. Even if we are in difficulty, we realize our relationship is about more than the difficulty, and the other person is more than the words or actions that we think contributed to the difficulty.

Flower watering is also a facet of Beginning Anew we can use anytime, anywhere. We do not have to be in a formal Beginning Anew session to water someone’s flowers. Offering appreciation to another in any setting helps connect us in a community. It encourages the other person to strengthen their gifts. And it can help us cultivate a life of generosity and gratitude. Sometimes, this step of Beginning Anew is all we need to practice, particularly in an informal setting.

Step 2: Expressing Regrets for Our Actions

The next step in Beginning Anew, offering regrets, can be difficult when we are not in a practice community. We may feel vulnerable or at risk when we admit we made a mistake or caused harm. Our culture and society seem more geared toward blaming rather than admitting our own contribution to a problem. Often, the two come hand-in-hand: “I’m sorry I did such and such. But you know that person made it worse by doing this and that.” This shifting blame undermines our truly expressing regrets, which helps us and the other heal. And again, if we practice expressing regrets around small things, then we will be prepared to honestly examine our contribution to larger difficulties, and express regrets then.

Step 3: Putting Down the Burden

In the step Brother Phap Ho calls “putting down the burden,” we are simply present with our suffering, and invite the other to be aware of it. The collective energy of our Sanghas can support us just through being present. In this step of Beginning Anew, we talk about our difficulties and find support through the sharing, we also know the collective energy of the Sangha supports us just by our practice together. Sitting quietly in meditation, we feel the community’s presence holding us. When we suffer, the Sangha energy is healing. And sometimes, sitting in that energy helps us prepare to “put down the burden” so we can see it more clearly and transform our suffering.

Step 4: Asking for Support

Finally, in Beginning Anew, we share our suffering in relation to the other person. When there is difficulty in a relationship, one person does not suffer alone. This step requires us to offer from our hearts, the mantra Thay has given, “Darling, I suffer. Please help.” Our words may differ from the mantra, but using the spirit of the mantra, we will be more open to sharing our difficulty and accepting help. “Darling” may not be a word we speak often. In this practice, it reminds us of the preciousness of the other person, leading us away from blaming, stepping back from “I suffer, and it’s your fault.” “Darling” changes that. Sharing that we hurt can also mean being open and vulnerable in unfamiliar ways. If we or the other person is not ready for this openness, it can be confusing and perhaps damaging. In lay society, we should consider where and how we can best use this mantra and this step of Beginning Anew to help heal and connect us, to really Begin Anew.

Reflections on Beginning Anew

Expressing regrets and other Beginning Anew steps require us to be vulnerable and open. To fully practice Beginning Anew requires all participants to be ready to give and accept the practice in a loving way. Can we listen to the other person’s suffering without feeling judged or defensive? Can we share our own suffering without blaming? Not all lay settings offer the opportunity for such openness. Thus, it is important to be prepared for Beginning Anew, and to consider how we might best practice it in the specific setting where we feel the need.

Perhaps we can introduce the whole practice and ask the other person to engage with us in a day or two when he has had time to prepare. Perhaps we can simply apply parts of the practice that are useful to the circumstances — flower watering or beneficial regret, for example — without ever naming the practice to the other. Perhaps we can cultivate ongoing Beginning Anew practice in some relationships, particularly in our Sanghas, so we are ready to share and support each other.