1-19-18 Sangha Update

Remember Them: Champions For Humanity Monument, by Oakland sculptor Mario Chiodo

“Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged”
Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

“It is never too late to give up your prejudices”
Henry David Thoreau

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

[Commencement Address at American University, June 10 1963]”
John F. Kennedy

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all well and happy and experiencing a wonderful sense of interbeing with all beings on this beautiful planet of ours!

This is a reminder that we will be gathering on Sunday evening at 6 PM at the home of Cindy and John West (directions below). We will enjoy sitting/walking/sitting meditation, we will continue to look at the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh from his book “Silence” and share the Dharma. We hope that you will be able to be with us .

This is also a reminder that there will be an OI/Aspirant gathering at the Bell Street Chapel tomorrow morning at 10 AM. We will recite the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and share the Dharma. I will be offering a Dharma talk at the Radiant Bell Sangha meeting at 8 AM that morning.

We will end our OI meeting before noon on Saturday so that we can take part in the Women’s March at the State House at noon.

Anyone who would like to join us…we will be gathering at the plaza in front of the State House on Smith Street before noon. If you would like to join us, you will hopefully be able to find us, as we will have the RI Community of Mindfulness Banner and a large banner with a photo of Thich Nhat Hanh. We will gather on the plaza and walk around the State House to join the Rally.

We had a much larger response than we had anticipated for the Day of Mindfulness on Saturday Jan 27. So registration is closed. There is a wait list, if you did not get registered before it closed. I am sorry for any disappointment this has caused, but the space is limited.

In the times in which we are living it is important that we recall the great folks who have gone before and shown us the way to be compassionate human beings. I have included information below about al those who are depicted in the statue above.

I hope that you will be able to be with us sometime this weekend. In the meantime, I hope this can water some seeds of joy…sing along!

with much love the joy of interbeing with you,


We live about 2 miles from URI. From rt 138, go north onto Old North Rd. (across the street from big sign ““Kingston Hill Store Books Used and Rare””. Also, just a smidge west of the 138/108 traffic light). Old North Rd starts off as a one way, continues on as a two way street, and finally ends as a T. You will see our corner property from there. Go left at the T (Old North Rd meets Stoneyfort Rd), and then a quick right onto Plantation Dr. We are the first home on the right (2nd driveway is easiest). Come on in the side door (porch/kitchen)!

The Remember Them: Champions For Humanity Monument, by Oakland sculptor Mario Chiodo, is located in the Henry J. Kaiser Memorial Park at the corner of 19th and Rashida Muhammad Streets. The bronze with cast stone base sculpture measures 25′ high and 52′ wide, covers 1,000 sq. ft. and is in four sections weighing over 60,000 lbs. With four sections, this is the largest bronze monument on the west coast, and the only monument in the country dedicated to Civil Rights.

The Remember Them Monument highlights the accomplishments of 25 global humanitarians: 2 (Oakland Local list)

  • The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy (1926-1990): Partner with Martin Luther King Jr. in civil rights activism
  • Maya Angelou (1928-2014): Poet, playwright, civil rights activist
  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): Human rights activist who fought for women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery
  • Ruby Bridges (1954-present): At age 6 braved an angry mob to become first black student in all-white school in the South
  • Cesar Chavez (1927-1993): Civil rights activist and agricultural workers labor leader
  • Chief Joseph (1846-1904): Head of the Nez Perce Nation and human rights activist
  • Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965): British prime minister during WWII, alone at first against Nazi fascism
  • Frederick Douglass (1817-1895): A former slave who became a foremost leader in the abolitionist movement
  • Shirin Ebadi (1947-present): Human rights activist for Middle East issues and Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948): Pacifist who lead India to independence from Great Britain
  • Helen Keller (1880-1968): Fought for rights for those with disabilities
  • Coretta Scott King (1927-2006): Civil rights activist
  • The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968): Civil rights leader
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): American president who abolished slavery
  • Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): Human rights activist and first democratically elected president of South Africa
  • Harvey Milk (1930-1978): A leader of the gay rights movement
  • Mother Teresa (1910-1997): Leader of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, won 1979 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Rosa Parks (1913-2005): Civil rights activist
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945): United States president during WWII, who also established the United Nations
  • Oskar Schindler (1908-1974): German business man who outwitted Nazis to save more than 1,200 Jewish lives
  • Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-present): Pacifist Vietnamese Buddhist monk who is a human rights and anti-war activist
  • Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1959-present): Human rights activist for indigenous people in Latin America
  • The Unknown Rebel of Tiananmen Square (1989): Stood in front of tanks during student human rights uprising in China
  • Elie Wiesel (1928-present): Holocaust survivor dedicated to preventing genocide
  • Malcolm X (1925-1965): Black nationalist, civil rights leader
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1-14-18 Sangha Update

“We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

I hope that this finds you enjoying twenty-four brand new hours.

We are remembering Dr. King this weekend on the anniversary of his birth.
I am glad that we will be gathering this evening at our home at 725 Matunuck School House Rd, Wakefield, at 6 PM. Dr. King and Thay were very close friends. Dr. King actually nominated Thay for a Nobel Prize. They shared their vision for a beloved community…that is why Thay has been so focused on the importance of us building Sanghas. ( I have included the talk I gave about this below) So it is wonderful that we can come together and have the beloved community manifest. We will enjoy a sitting meditation, I will offer a short talk, we will share the Dharma and enjoy sharing some freedom songs. I hope you can join us.

I wanted to thank all of you who came to the New Year Ceremony to honor our ancestors. It was so beautiful to be able to hear about all of the strengths that are alive in all of us. I shared a Lakota Chant about our ancestors to begin our meditation. There is a dance that goes with it that is so beautiful that I wanted to share it ….here is the link….enjoy!

DAY OF MINDFULNESS -Jan 27 is FULL – REGISTRATION HAS BEEN CLOSED. I hope that all of you who wanted to be with us, registered for the day. I am sorry if you did not…we had not anticipated the huge response we have had.

Engaged Practice:

It is very clear by the terrible happenings of this past week that the practices that Dr. King and Thay have given us have never been more needed. The Ninth Mindfulness Training of the Order of Interbeing ends with this instructions… We will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may cause difficulties for us or threaten our safety.
We need to stand up and speak out against hatred, bigotry and injustice if we want the values for which our country is supposed to stand to be upheld. There has been a collapse of what was designed to be checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of the government and there is a concerted effort to co opt the judiciary branch as well. I have included below something I wrote this week about how I am practicing with all that is happening. We have our work cut out for us. Let’s do it!

In order to be with all that is….we need to water seeds of joy… and perhaps engage in some hugging meditation! Enjoy!

I do hope that you will be able to be with us this evening.

with much love and the deep gratitude for our spiritual ancestors who light our way,

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. ”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this anniversary when we commemorate Dr. King who was the embodiment of courage, I am so saddened and ashamed of our country, and how far we still have to go to be a beloved community. I am ashamed of our president who is harboring such hideous, racist views and trying to make them the policies of our country and alienating the rest of the world. I am also deeply ashamed and disappointed in the members of our Congress who put their own self interest before all of the values for which our country is supposed to stand. It is so sad to see men who don’t have the courage to speak truth to power and stand up to the racism, bigotry, hatred and lies and Instead defend this horrific behavior. . I am sorry about what they are doing to their own consciousness out of ignorance and I am sorry that they have all been so badly conditioned that they have so little love and awareness of connection.

I will pray for them and not allow them to make me stoop so low as to hate them. I will do everything I can to stop the wreckage and suffering they are causing and help those who are suffering injustice. I will look deeply at myself to see the part I am contributing in perpetuating this and look deeply at what I can do to help.

It has been interesting to see that because of their own shame and unwillingness to accept responsibility for their words and actions, the members of the administration and Congress have attacked Dick Durbin, who let us know the obscene comments that were made by the president, to give us some insight into the reason for the draconian immigration policies that he has tried to get enacted. And as punishment for speaking the truth, Senator Durbin is being bullied and demeaned and told that he should never hope to get anything else done with this White House.

It is so sad. We have our work cut out for us. or as Dr. King said….”We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.” This will only be possible with a tremendous amount of determination and will on our part. Let’s do it!

Joanne Friday, January 11, 2018

Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King as Brothers.

The practice of Engaged Buddhism is very similar to Dr. King’s practice of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that compassion is a verb. Compassion without action is not very meaningful. We practice love in action. What Dr. King was practicing was also love in action as a spiritual path to liberation.

I was a teenager when the civil rights movement was happening. I was so amazed at the power of this one teacher. That he could inspire and motivate people who were being beaten and abused to respond with love and nonviolence and thus change the course of history. it was truly astonishing. What was it that he did? How did he do that?

He said the night before he was killed, “I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man”

The promised land was his vision of a world in which all beings are equal and treat each other with love and respect. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land and what he saw was the truth – that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality – tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. “ In our practice we refer to this as interbeing.

In 1956 at the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and social change, he stated that “love might well be the salvation of our civilization…the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. …It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” And he was right. It did.

He was able to look deeply and not get caught in the surface of things. To see beyond our impulse to have an immediate knee jerk response to violence, and to understand the long term implications of our actions. He had experienced God’s unconditional love and his calling was to share that love with the world, even at the cost of his own life. He said “To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.” And he had sense enough and religion enough. He said,” Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love.”

But he did more than say it. On the night of January 30 1956, he was at a meeting and learned that his house had been bombed. He rushed home and found that Coretta and their baby Yolanda weren’t hurt, but there was an angry mob of black men wanting a showdown with the police on the scene. King raised one hand to quiet the crowd and then said, ”I want you to go home and put down your weapons. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with non-violence. We must meet hate with love.”

He embodied the practice of nonviolence. He practiced what he preached – Love, non-violence and fearlessness. He was a man whose house had been bombed, the two people he loved most were in danger and right in the midst of it he could maintain his equanimity and practice nonviolence.

He did not get caught in the surface of things . He did not just react to hatred with hatred, to injustice with injustice, to violence with violence. He looked beyond the surface to see that “mankind must evolve …a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

He looked deeply enough to see that Jesus wasn’t just talking to hear himself talk when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself. ..Love your enemy”. He knew it was the only thing that would work. It’s not unrealistic, naïve idealism. It is absolute pragmatism. He looked beyond the horrible events of the present – the hatred and violence to see that moving toward the promised land of respect and equality is the only way we will survive.

We have been conditioned to believe that revenge is the only answer. If someone hurts you, hurt him more. I would ask…”How’s it working for us?” Look at the Middle East and the answer is obvious. We may win a battle, but if in doing so we have planted thousands of seeds of hatred and fear..the war is not over- only the present conflict has ceased. There will be no peace as long as we react to violence with violence.

That is true in our personal lives as well as in our national and international politics. If I am harboring hatred, anger and resentment, I am not at peace. Peace is not simply an absence of war or conflict. Peace is a deep personal practice of transformation. If I am not at peace, I cannot create peace on this planet.

Many look at responding to violence with love as being weak- as being a doormat. King said “Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them.” Love is the ultimate position of strength.

In talking about the power of love, He said, “We shall match your ability to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force… You throw us in jail, …bomb our homes,… beat us and we’ll still love you. …We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be double victory.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Dr. King did not put himself in the path of a bullet so that we would come together once a year and parrot his glorious words and think,’what a shame,’ what a tragedy that he is gone. NO. He put himself in the path of that bullet because he was the embodiment of what he preached – Love, justice, fearlessness, peace. He had a calling. He did not let his small self, his own fears, his own doubts, his own desires to see his children grow up, supersede his larger truth. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land and he knew that he would never die . His body may be gone, but he is alive and well in every cell of every being that was touched by him. His death was a mandate for all of us who were touched by him to change the way we live and the choices we make, to transform the hatred, anger and violence in our own hearts. To practice what he preached. To embody his teachings. To be peace. To be love.

Until everyone feels safe, no one is safe. Until everyone feels happy we all suffer. Until everyone feels loved we all suffer. In the peace movement there is a slogan. If you want peace, work for justice. As long as our prosperity comes at the price of suffering, starvation and deprivation for others, there will not be peace on earth. As long as we refuse to acknowledge that other people’s suffering is our business, and do what we can to alleviate it, there will not be peace on earth.

The highest tribute we could offer Dr. King is not to praise him, but to be his continuation -to embody the practice of peace and non-violence. To be the beloved community. As he proved….It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.

May we do our best to take good care of ourselves and each other so that we can create the conditions to manifest peace on earth.

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