12-16-16 Sangha Update

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May your holidays be blessed – seeing everyone and everything as a miracle.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
― August Wilson

“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.”
― Howard ZinnYou Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
― John Lennon

Dear  Friends,

I hope you are well and happy, maintaining your equanimity and are in love as we navigate these interesting times .

This is just a reminder that we will be gathering on Sunday evening at 6 PM at our home….725 Matunuck School House Rd.

We will enjoy stopping and breathing together amidst all of the hustle and bustle of the season.  We will have a sitting meditation,

I will offer a talk about using the basic teachings of the Buddha and Thay to maintain our balance and joy in the midst of life’s challenges.

I hope you will be able to be with us.  Renee and Eva will be offering refreshments and Eva will be minding the bell. If you would like to do either of those things in the future, there will be a sign up sheet available.

There will be a Day of Mindfulness on Facilitation and Sangha Building on Saturday, January 7 from 10-3:30at the Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich. This will be offered for anyone who is interested in looking together at ways to strengthen our Sanghas and learn more about facilitation. There were ten folks from the various Sanghas that make up the RI Community of Mindfulness who attended the Facilitation Retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery and they will be sharing the things they learned. More info and registration details will be sent out soon.

I sent out the notes from our Care Givers Meeting  with my last email. There was a lot of good energy generated at that gathering. The Social Justice Committee will be offering lots of opportunities for engaged practice. They would love to have you join them…you can contact  Kate at ktokula@verizon.net   or Carol at cblanpied@yahoo.com    and will be using our google groups to do that. So if you have not yet signed up, please contact Cindy at westnest5@verizon.net and ask to be added.

I know some are celebrating and some are struggling with the outcome of the election…

I have been inundated with calls lately.  Many are concerned about how to address the issues that have arisen in this campaign and election. There was yet another hate crime committed in Providence last weekend. During these times of fear and separation in our country, it is important for all of us to deepen our practice.

There have been many questions regarding skillful means within our Sanghas as we are instructed in the Tenth Trainng to not use  the Sangha as a  political instrument. Some interpret this as an injunction against speaking about these issues. This is not correct. In the same Training that speaks to the importance of not using the Sangha as a political instrument…we are also instructed that as a spiritual community we must stand up to injustice. In the Ninth Training we are told we must speak out against injustice even when doing so can threaten our own safety. We do not have to fall into a dualistic, them and us mentality in order to do this. We do not have to hate anyone or take sides. This is not about partisan politics, it is about human rights and all of our civil rights. We can simply look deeply, as we are told to do in the Fourth Training to get to the root causes of the suffering. When we do, we see that our situation is the outcome of infinite causes and conditions, much more complex than any one person.

We can have compassion for those who are causing suffering out of having been conditioned themselves by the three poisons of hatred, greed and delusion (ignorance) AND we can do everything possible to take action to marginalize their ability to cause suffering . We can do this without having to water any of the seeds of hatred, greed and delusion in ourselves, without having to create an enemy or an “other”. We can simply address the root of the problem by taking actions to stop those who are creating suffering. (This is actually an act of compassion for those who are acting out of ignorance and creating a lot of unwholesome karma for themselves.) We can simply take action with love and compassion in our hearts to help those who are experiencing injustice.

We need to be very well informed, and mindful to not exceed our capacity. We need to water lots of seeds of joy to expand our capacity. We need to deepen our practice of mindfulness and concentration, so that we can be aware of any difficult emotions  arising in us…anger, fear, resentment, indignation, self-righteousness, etc. Then we need to stop and breathe and acknowledge, embrace and understand those difficult emotions, so we can become calm and clear and know what to do and what not to do….So we can use that energy to take skillful, effective action.  We are so blessed to have the most wonderful teacher. Thay has embodied this so beautifully, given us wonderful instruction and shown us the way!

Beyond all that, one positive outcome I have seen is the outpouring of love and concern and how energized people are to be proactive at looking together at ways to protect the most vulnerable among us. The Resist Hate RI group met again last weekend and came up with lots of ways to help.For those of you who are interested, I have put their info below.  In the future these notices will be posted to our google group. This lovely logo and slogan has also emerged!!!

I hope you will be able to be with us on Sunday……in the meantime, here is a wonderful reminder of how sweet human beings can be….The John Lennon quote above…inspired me to send this….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgcR9bj6qwQ

Enjoy!

May we all be peace and love one another,

Joanne

RESIST HATE RI , you can find them on FaceBook or click the link below.

Missed Saturday’s Meeting? Join an Organizing Team Here!

If you couldn’t make it this Saturday, but want to get involved in one of our organizing teams, please sign up here. Fill out this form, and an organizing team leader will reach out and fill you in on next steps.

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