Calling all Mindfulness Practitioners to
Go As A River at the Women’s March on Washington
Saturday, January 21
~ Meditation is no longer the work of individuals; meditation in our time should be a collective practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, Calming the Fearful Mind, p22.
Supported by the ARISE Sangha – Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity.*
Call to Action
Join members of the Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha and other traditions from across the country as we march together in peace for justice for all at the Women’s March on Washington. People of all genders are invited. We will practice Marching Meditation to hold love for each other as a Beloved Community committed to justice for the disenfranchised as so many of our ancestors have done before. Sangha members will also participate in marching meditation in New York City, San Francisco and other sister cities.
Click here for the Sangha facebook page organizing housing and events in Washington DC (including sitting meditation, Dharma Sharing, Deep Listening and more) to turn the march into a true Day of Mindfulness. Please reply to this email if you would like your local event linked to this. See the full description of the march and other links below.
Call to Practice
We invite all practitioners and Sanghas in the United States and beyond to dedicate their practice during the week of Monday, January 16th (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to Sunday, January 22nd (the weekend following the inauguration) to cultivating understanding and compassion for ourselves and our country, and healing from the violence, hatred, and fear that has intensified during the past year’s election. We recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
We encourage you to dedicate your walking meditation and sitting meditation practice to generating the energy of compassion and healing with each step and each breath you take. Practice Deep Listening with someone you don’t understand and bring Loving Speech into your conversations (see the 4th MT below). Read Thay’s “Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen Response to Terrorism” and practice Dharma Sharing on the topics raised. These teachings are remarkably relevant today. Practice Touching the Earth (below). Listen to and meditate upon Alone Again, the song created from Thay’s poem Recommendation. See a full list of resources for practice here.
We cannot escape our interdependence with other people, with other nations in the world. Let us take this moment to look deeply and find a path of liberation. (TNH Calming the Fearful Mind, p.9)
This call to practice and to action is supported by the ARISE Sangha – Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity.*
ARISE is a group of lay practitioners and monastics in the Plum Village tradition who have come together to heal the wounds of racial injustice and racial and social systemic inequity within ourselves and within the Mahasangha, with the energy of compassion, understanding and love.
We aspire to engage the Plum Village community worldwide in the work of healing the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity, beginning with looking deeply within ourselves. We seek a worldwide Manyfold Community that is consciously and committedly engaged in the work of transformation and healing of racial injustice and social inequity. In so doing, we aspire to nourish and protect Beloved Community in our Manyfold Community and beyond.
The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us–women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
How to connect with Sangha members attending the March?
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: 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.
Touching the Earth – Oneness with All Beings
Lord Buddha, I see that I am part of the wonderful pattern of life that stretches out in all directions. I see my close relationship with every person and every species. The happiness and suffering of all humans and all other species are my own happiness and suffering. I am one with someone who has been born disabled, or someone who is disabled because of war, accident, or sickness. I am one with people who are caught in situations of war, oppression, and exploitation. I am one with people who have never found happiness in their family and society. They do not have roots; they do not have peace of mind; they are hungry for understanding and love. They are looking for something beautiful, true, and wholesome to hold on to and to believe in. I am one with people at their last breath who are afraid because they do not know where they are going. I am the child living in miserable poverty and disease, whose legs and arms are as thin as sticks, without any future. I am also the person who is producing armaments to sell to poor countries.
I am the frog swimming in the lake, but I am also the water snake who needs to nourish its body with the body of the frog. I am the caterpillar and the ant, but I am also the bird who is looking for the caterpillar and the ant to eat. I am the forest that is being cut down, the water and the air that are being polluted. I am also the one who cuts down the forest and pollutes the water and the air. I see myself in all species and all species in myself.
I am one with the great beings who have witnessed the truth of no birth and no death, who are able to look at the appearances of birth, death, happiness, and suffering with calm eyes. I am one with the wise and good people who are present a little bit everywhere in this world. I am one with those who are in touch with what is wonderful and can nourish and heal life. I am one with those who are able to embrace the whole of this world with their heart of love and their two arms of caring action. I am a person who has enough peace, joy, and freedom to be able to offer fearlessness and the joy of life to living beings around me. I see that I am not alone. The love and the joy of great beings present in this world are supporting me and not allowing me to drown in despair. They help me to live my life peacefully and joyfully, fully and meaningfully. I see myself in all the great beings and all the great
beings in myself.
Touching the Earth
Lord Buddha, I shall touch the earth three times to recognize that I am one with all the great bodhisattvas who are presently on this Earth and to receive their tremendous energy. I also touch the earth to be in touch with the suffering of all species so that the energy of compassion can arise and grow in me. [Bell]
Touching the Earth – Sitting Like the Buddha
Lord Buddha, I truly want to sit as you sat, with my posture still, solid, and powerful. As your disciple, I also want to have your composure. I have been taught to sit with my back upright and relaxed, my head a straight continuation of my spine without leaning forward or leaning backward, my two shoulders relaxed, and one hand placed lightly on top of the other. I feel both solid and relaxed in this position. I know that in my own time most people are too busy and very few have the opportunity to sit still with inner freedom. I vow that I shall practice sitting meditation in such a way that I experience happiness and freedom while sitting, whether I sit in the full lotus, the half lotus, or on a chair with my two feet placed flat on the earth. I shall sit as someone who has freedom. I shall sit in such a way that my body and my mind are calm and peaceful. With mindful breathing I shall adjust my posture, helping my body to be calm and at ease. With mindful breathing I shall recognize and help to calm down feelings and emotions.
With mindful breathing I shall light up the awareness that I have all the conditions necessary to unite body and mind and to give rise to joy and happiness. With mindful breathing I shall look deeply into my perceptions and other mental formations when they manifest. I shall look deeply into their roots so that I can see where they have come from.
Lord Buddha, I shall not look at sitting meditation as an effort to constrain body and mind, or as a means of forcing myself to be or do something, or as a kind of hard labor that will bring happiness only in the future. I vow to practice sitting in such a way that I nourish myself with peace and joy while sitting. Many of my blood ancestors have never been able to taste the great happiness of mindful sitting and I vow to sit for those ancestors. I want to sit for my father, mother, brothers, and sisters who do not have the fortune to be able to practice sitting meditation. When I am nourished by my practice of sitting
meditation, all my ancestors and relatives are also nourished. Every breath, every moment of looking deeply, every smile during the session of sitting meditation can become a gift for my ancestors, my descendants, and for myself. I want to remember to go to sleep early so that I can wake up when it is still dark and practice sitting meditation without feeling sleepy. When I am eating, drinking tea, listening to a Dharma talk, or participating in Dharma discussion, I shall also practice sitting solidly and at ease. On the hill, on the beach, at the foot of a tree, on a rock, in the guest room, on the bus, in a demonstration against war, or in a fast for human rights, I shall also sit like this. I vow that I shall not sit in places of unwholesome activity, in places where there is gambling and drinking, in places where people are fighting, arguing, blaming, and judging others, except when I have made the deep vow to come to those places to rescue people.
Lord Buddha, I vow that I shall sit for you. Sitting with a deep serenity and solidity, I shall represent my spiritual teacher, who has given me birth in the spiritual life. I am aware that if everyone in the world has the capacity to sit still, then peace and happiness will surely come to this Earth.
Touching the Earth
Shakyamuni Buddha, I touch the earth before you and before the two elder brothers of your Sangha, the Venerable Shariputra and the Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana. [Bell]
We also invite you to practice with Touching the Earth with our Land Ancestors, pg. 229, “Together We Are One”, by Thich Nhat Hath
Dharma sharing is an opportunity to benefit from each other’s insights and experience of the practice. It is a special time for us to share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties and our questions relating to the practice of mindfulness. By practicing deep listening while others are speaking, we help create a calm and receptive environment. By learning to speak out about our happiness and our difficulties in the practice, we contribute to the collective insight and understanding of the Sangha.
Please base our sharing on our own experience of the practice rather than about abstract ideas and theoretical topics. We may realize that many of us share similar difficulties and aspirations. Sitting, listening and sharing together, we recognize our true connections to one another.
Please remember that whatever is shared during the Dharma discussion time is confidential. If a friend shares about a difficulty he or she is facing, respect that he or she may or may not wish to talk about this individually outside of the Dharma discussion time.
Songs for Marching Meditation
There is True Love Right Here
No Discrimination (make up your own verses!)
If it’s not love