In the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, we do not wish people “Happy Birthday” because at the ultimate level of insight, there is no birth and no death. To be born would be to imply that something (someone) arose from nothing, which is an impossibility. The First Law of Thermodynamics explains this truth just as well as Buddhism: energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed.To say that I did not exist before I was born ignores the truth of interbeing – that I am composed entirely of “non-I” elements. If you try to remove from “me” the sun, the rain, my parents, the food I eat, the agricultural producers who grow that food – if you try to remove any part of the whole cosmos from “me”, “I” would not exist. I am in all and all is in me. Like a river, which can never be stepped in twice because the water is constantly flowing, I am a stream of consciousness and karma, impermanent and constantly subject to change. Continue reading
I’m back! First of all, I’m very excited to report that I did successfully cross the 50,000-word finish line of NaNoWriMo on November 20th. My novel still has a ways to go before completion, but I’ve made an excellent start and look forward to a collaborative finish with my husband’s assistance; we make an excellent writing team. Secondly, I want to say that while it was very useful to prewrite blogs so that I could focus on my noveling, I actually did miss the more spontaneous approach of writing a blog the same week as I posted it, which is so much more in keeping with the present moment. So I’m glad to get back to something a little closer to “real time” blogging.
Throughout November I’ve thought about what I’d like to write about on my return. I strongly considered Grasping, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Hopefulness, and Hopelessness – each of which may make an appearance in blogs to come. However, ultimately, I decided on Community. In particular, I want to focus on the Buddhist word for spiritual community: sangha.
Back in January, nearly a year ago, I received the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the Plum Village mindfulness practice tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Making the decision to receive the trainings felt very momentous at the time. My Buddhist foundations are in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, but I’ve struggled to find a nearby affiliated sangha at which I felt at home. I felt some trepidation about transitioning to mindfulness practice, even though all of my experiences with the Still Water Mindfulness Community had been very positive. At base, I was worried about making spiritual commitments to a different tradition. However, I knew that my practice was faltering because I did not have the support of a sangha, and I knew that the Five Mindfulness Trainings were rooted in the Five Precepts, which I already had committed to when I formally became a Buddhist. I decided that this was the right step for me to take. Continue reading