SUNDAY February 21st at St Ignatius Retreat House 10:30AM-12:30 PM Our Regular Sitting Practice Peace is Every Step Reading (please bring your copy with you if you have one....if not, bring yourself, we can share!)
"He's been a Buddhist monk for more than 60 years, as well as a teacher, writer, and vocal opponent of war—a stance that left him exiled from his native Vietnam for four decades. Now the man Martin Luther King Jr. called "an apostle of peace and nonviolence" reflects on the beauty of the present moment, being grateful for every breath, and the freedom and happiness to be found in a simple cup of tea. The moment I meet Thich Nhat Hanh at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, I feel his sense of calm. A deeply tranquil presence seems to surround the Zen Buddhist master.
But beneath Nhat Hanh's serene demeanor is a courageous warrior. The 83-year-old native of Vietnam, who joined the monastery when he was 16, valiantly opposed his own government during the Vietnam War. Even as he embraced the contemplative life of a monk, the war confronted him with a choice: Should he remain hidden away in the monastery tending to matters of the spirit, or go out and help the villagers who were suffering? Nhat Hanh's decision to do both is what gave birth to "Engaged Buddhism"—a movement that involves peaceful activism for the purpose of social reform. It's also what led Martin Luther King Jr. to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.
As part of his denunciation of the violence inflicted on his countrymen, Nhat Hanh founded a relief organization that rebuilt bombed Vietnamese villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled homeless families. Nhat Hanh also created a Buddhist university, a publishing house, and a peace activist magazine—all of which led the Vietnamese government to forbid him, in 1966, to return home after he'd left the country on a peace mission. He remained in exile for 39 years.
Before his exile, Nhat Hanh had spent time in the West (studying at Princeton and teaching at Columbia University in the early 1960s), and it was to the West that he now returned. Seeing an opportunity to spread Buddhist thought and encourage peaceful activism, he led the Buddhist Peace Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in 1969, established the Unified Buddhist Church in France, and went on to write more than 100 books, including the 1995 best-seller Living Buddha, Living Christ—a volume that never leaves my nightstand.
Nhat Hanh eventually settled in Southern France and founded Plum Village, the Buddhist meditation practice center and monastery where he still lives. Thousands of people travel there each year to join him in exploring the tenets of Buddhism—including mindfulness (intentionally tuning in to the present moment), the development of a practice (a regular activity, such as mindful walking, that redirects you toward right thinking), and enlightenment (the liberation from suffering that comes when you wake up to the true nature of reality). These principles were introduced to the world more than 2,000 years ago by Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, the Indian-born prince who left a life of ease and indulgence in order to seek enlightenment—and founded a religion along the way.
Thich Nhat Hanh—or, as his students call him, Thây, the Vietnamese word for "teacher"—brings along a group of Plum Village monks and nuns to listen in on our conversation. In some spiritual traditions, there is a concept called "holding the space"—or showing up as a compassionate listener. Thây's friends are the space holders who have traveled with him from France, and as we take a photograph together just before our chat, they usher in a peaceful mood by collectively singing a Buddhist song: "We are all the leaves of one tree; we are all the waves of one sea; the time has come for all to live as one."
Oprah interviews Thich Nhat Hanh in O Magazine. On news stands,February 15th. Feature title, Call Me By My True Names.
Thich Nhat Hanh article in Shambhala Sun, Mindfulness Is a Source of Happiness. On news stands, February 1st (see below)
Shambhala Sun March 2010 You'll find this article on page 34 of the magazine.
MINDFUL LIVING: MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
Thich Nhat Hanh on The Practice of Mindfulness
“Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.” It is such a simple practice, but it can transform your life. The great meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches five mindfulness exercises to help you live with happiness and joy.
Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and the now. Life is available only in the here and the now, and it is our true home.
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. But when you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.
Most people are forgetful; they are not really there a lot of the time. Their mind is caught in their worries, their fears, their anger, and their regrets, and they are not mindful of being there. That state of being is called forgetfulness—you are there but you are not there. You are caught in the past or in the future. You are not there in the present moment, living your life deeply. That is forgetfulness.
Excerpted from the March 2010 issue of the Shambhala Sun.
Lunar New Year aka "Tet" or "Chinese New Year" is Feb 14 2010; The Year of the Tiger....Another chance to begin a new!... and to eat wonderful things! In the tradition of our four fold sangha, one of the special foods for the celebration are "Earth Cake/Sky Cake"..."Banhchung"
Please check out this lovely video made by our monastic brothers and sisters.
"During the New Year of 2009, we felt the need to explain the meaning of wrapping earth cakes, because practitioners that come to visit Plum Village each year during the Lunar New Year are quite surprised to see the four-fold sangha spending one whole day wrapping earth cakes and staying up the whole night to cook them. So please enjoy this video performance made by the monks and nuns of Plum Village…"
Ingredients 3 lbs sticky rice, uncooked, soaked 1 night and drained 3 c mung beans, raw 6T oil banana leaves
Directions Cook mung beans according to package instructions. After mung beans are cooked, mash until smooth, then make into 8 square patties, .75 inches thick.
Add oil to uncooked sticky rice and mix well.
On a big piece of banana leaf, put .5 cup sticky rice. Put 1 mung bean patty on top. Pour .75 cup sticky rice on top and wrap tightly in banana leaf. Tie with twine to hold leaf in place. After all 8 have been wrapped, boil submerged in water for 6 hours until cooked.
Makes 8 banhchung, each having 8 servings for a total of 64.
Number of Servings: 64
* if you go onto Youtube there are hundreds of videos of families gathering to make this treat. There are many videos showing how to wrap these delicacies, unfortunately they all show the use of animal products. Traditionally meat is used, but the Vegetarian ones are so much more yummy and better for you!
St Ignatius just contacted us to tell us this weekend there will not be any staff available to host us on Sunday sit so we will not be able to meet to sit this weekend at St Ignatius. Our next scheduled sit is the following Sunday Feb 21st.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master, poet, peace activist, and the author of many books, including Peace Is Every Step and The Miracle of Mindfulness. He was born in Vietnam in 1926, and left home as a teen of 16 to become a Zen monk. He founded the School of Youth for Social Services, Van Hanh Buddhist University and the Tiep Hien Order (Order of Interbeing), in Vietnam. He has taught at Columbia University, Princeton University and the Sorbonne, was Chair of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks, and was nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was exiled from Vietnam in 1966 and lives in a monastic community in southwestern France called Plum Village, where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees worldwide. "We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do." Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step
Green Island Sangha
The Green Island Sangha is inspired by the teachings and practice of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh; we belong to the international Sangha which he founded: the Order of Interbeing, a "fourfold community" of lay women and men, nuns and monks. We are a grassroots Sangha, beginners and more experienced practitioners learning from and supporting one other on the path of awakening. We are also a part of The Community of Mindfulness New York Metro.
Our aspiration is to bring mindfulness, concentration, and insight to daily living. During our sessions, we apply the practice of conscious breathing to sitting and walking, as well as communicating with compassionate listening and loving speech. Our gatherings also reflect the values of openness. For example, many members continue to participate within other religious or ethical traditions. We are a Sangha of practitioners from the entire length and breath of Long Island and consider ourselves to be part of a world wide Sangha. Beginners are welcome.
Green Island Sangha Directions/Information
Come Practice With Us:
Nassau Hall 1864 Muttontown Road, Syosset, NY 11791
Nassau Hall is on the south side of Muttontown Road. Please follow the driveway to the house and park in the parking area to the left of the house. The front door will be locked; please enter through the door around the left side of the house.
"Sit or lie down in a way that allows your body to rest. Sitting, your head and spine form a straight line. Relax all your muscles. Find a way of sitting that allows you to sit for at least 20 minutes without becoming too stiff or tired. As soon as you sit down, pay attention to your breath. Then notice your posture, a little bit everywhere. Relax the muscles in your face. If you are angry or worried, those muscles will be tense. Smile lightly, and you will relax hundreds of muscles in your face. Then notice your shoulders, and let go of the tension there. Don’t try too hard. Just breathe mindfully, and scan your whole body."
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Mindfulness Bell, Issue 23, pages 1,4.
Walking Meditation "Walk more slowly than you usually do, but not too slowly, while breathing normally. Do not try to control your breathing. Walk along this way for a few minutes. Then notice how many steps you take as your lungs fill and how many steps you take as they empty. In this way, your attention includes both breath and steps. You are mindful of both.... Your half-smile brings calmness and delight to your steps and your breath.... After a few hours of serious practice, you will find that the four of them — the breath, the counting, the steps, and the half-smile — blend together in a marvelous balance of mindfulness. This is equanimity, created by the practice of walking meditation. The four elements of breathing, counting, stepping, and the half-smile become one."
Thich Nhat Hanh, A Guide to Walking Meditation.
Five Mindfulness Trainings
Five Mindfulness Trainings
The Five Mindfulness Trainings were developed during the time of the Buddha to be the foundation of practice for the entire practice community, including monastic and lay members. The basis for the trainings is mindfulness.All Sangha members and guests are requested to observe these trainings to support our practice of mindfulness and living harmoniously together. No smoking, no drinking and no sexual misconduct constitute part of the Five Mindfulness Trainings to be observed at a practice center. The Five Mindfulness Trainings protect our freedom and make life beautiful. As guidelines for our daily lives they are the basis of happiness for individuals, couples, families and society. ___________________________________
Reverence For Life
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.
Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.
Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.