Bending Bough ~ March 2022

Wednesday, March 02, 2022 6:14 PM | Ryan Wenzel (Administrator)

Responding Gate

Words from our Guiding Teacher

Dear Sangha,

Like many of us, I've really appreciated our Shuso Seiu Hannah's leadership in exploring the Diamond Sutra this Practice Period. It was especially moving to read and share Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings around the sutra as he passed from this world after so many years of teaching and sharing this wisdom.  The odd repeated logic of prajna paramita emptiness teachings in the sutra do feel strange at first. "It exists, but it doesn't exist in the way you think it is does, and that's why we call it what it is." The sutra reminds us of the power of our minds to define and create the world. It reminds of the power of perspective. That all views are narrow and that a bigger more inclusive understanding is always right here. Right here. These teachings remind of us of the absolute necessity of radical flexibility, deep acceptance, and compassion. 

But, this world. Glancing at the news just now: Russian tanks roll towards Kyiv, Ukraine; another dire climate change report coming out while, and meanwhile the Supreme Court is hearing a legal challenge that might undermine the EPA's ability to regulate the emissions that contribute to climate change. Yet again that Joni Mitchell line rolls through the mind, "I read the news today and it all looked bad, they won't give peace a chance, it was just an idea a few of us had." 

And yet there is love; there is family; there is community. There is practice. There is this life with support of sangha. Every tiny shift towards more awareness, more clarity, and more kindness is significant. It helps me so much to remember that everyday throughout the world billions of people wake up, have breakfast with their families, go to work, take care of things, take care of each other, feel joy along with the sorrows, and are willing to keep going. That's this world too.

This gift of practice we've received - a line from one of our chants: "now you have it so keep it well." And we keep it together. Thich Nhat Hanh reminding us again and again in his teachings of the importance of practicing together as sangha. 

As the Omicron wave fades and living with Covid shifts again we're returning to in-person practice. I'm grateful for Zoom - it's really helped us stay connected and broadened the field of practice - and I'm looking forward to feeling again, in the body, the value of being together in space. We're starting modestly with weekly Thursday evening practice. Saturday morning to follow as we get our routine down at the Unitarian church. Some programs (weekday morning, Sunday Zen Alive) are staying just on Zoom.

And I'm thrilled that we'll be able to return to Samish Island for our week-long sesshin with Norman in June. Many friends join us from near and far for this retreat, Samish has become a sangha of it's own over the years and I'd love for you to be a part of that. As you'll see we're opening registration first to Red Cedar members. It's likely to fill so please consider if you can come. 

Another joy is this year's Wilderness Dharma program is in the works and will include more accessible close-by walks and gentle hikes along with the usual day hikes and the classic Mountains and Rivers backpack in August. 

Lastly I want to add a thank you to all of our supporters as we seek our ultimate home. Thank you not only for the generous donations but also, now, for trusting the Board and our real estate advisors as we take the unexpected step of buying into the market initially with a building that we probably won't turn into a zendo. This took me a minute to get my mind around, but it makes sense. It should lead to a good outcome. And wow, also another opportunity to practice flexibility and letting go as plans, predictions, and ideas meet the rapidly changing world.

Thank you for all of it. May we heal and grow together. And may our practice of awareness and compassion benefit this world.

Nomon Tim

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