Stream Entering Meditation Centre – Spring 2015 News
Plum Village Australia
Unified Buddhist Church- Australia

Editors' welcome

Dear Thay, Dear Sangha,

As we put the last touches of this newsletter together for you, the second Nhap Luu annual Spring Opening Retreat is literally just drawing to a close. 159 retreatants  including 26 children came together from all quarters (yes even from Darwin and Western Australia) of this big sprawling country like drops of water becoming one with the river once again. They came to practice, to learn deeply from each other and from the insightful teachings of our Dharma teachers Thích Chân Pháp Khâm and Chân Lương Nghiêm,and to reinforce their sense of being one Sangha. Of being one big community. In fact, this particular retreat had as its theme “Nourishing our beloved community" It has been a very wonderful experience, truly reflecting what Thay Phap Kham reminded us of, which is that the very spirit of Plum Village itself - the qualities that make it so unique - are it's inclusiveness and lack of boundaries. Both locally and internationally, we are all one big sangha. The strength and survival of our sangha, and the continued integrity and wholeness of the practice as Thay gave it to us,depend on these factors remaining strong, and they are a reflection of the Dharma Seals of Plum Village.

On the local front, some very lovely news has come to light.One of our OI Sangha members from the Gippsland region ( far eastern rural Victoria), already experienced in Sangha building and facilitation in that place, has just relocated to the small town of Raglan right next door to Beaufort( where our Nhap Luu Practice Centre is located). Soon we will see Thay's teaching of the practice being facilitated in this farmland place, as a regional Sangha buds and blooms. This is an until now missinglink between Nhap Luu and the rural community it nestles in, and the fact that it is imminent brings joy to the heart. So beautiful. A bridge-building event borne of aspirations.

We are already able to share evocative retreat photos with you, and while some Retreatants share with you here based on their own 2015 experiences ( we are saving more of these sharings for the Summer edition) we do also continue  with our theme of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. This time, we explore the Fourth Mindfulness Training – Right Speech and Deep Listening through wonderful Dharma teaching from Thay. 

Deep listening does not always come easily to us. We often find ourselves thinking of a response while someone else is still speaking, and  our lives are often so busy that we don’t take the time to give our full presence to  friends and families. We interrupt, and we second-guess what we think people are going to say. Yet as Thay teaches, if we know how to listen, peace can penetrate every cell of our body, and when we speak with compassion that is based on love, and on awareness of our interconnectedness, then we are using right, or appropriate, speech

For this Training, rather than just one Dharma Talk from Thich Nhat Hanh we give you short extracts about Right Speech and Deep Listening from a variety of  talks he has given over the years. We have also included a Plum Village article on the guidelines for discussion within our Sanghas, because Dharma Sharing time is such a wonderful opportunity to learn how to practise loving speech and deep listening.

We offer all these things in the hope that they may bring you and others joy.
 

Susan Wirawan (Chân Nguyện Lưu) 
True Aspiration of The Stream.                                            


 

Jenny Pittman, 
True Shore of Virtue.

The NHAP LUU NEWS Team:  
Susan Wirawan (True Aspiration of the Stream)
Jenny Pittman (True Shore of Virtue)
Leonie Clark
 
Nhap Luu Spring Opening Retreat 2015 - Cave Hill Creek.
Photo courtesy of Tanh Hong (My Lien).

Frozen Grass

The grass is frosted

As you walk it crunches

White and shiny grass

Anonymous. Cave Hill Creek September 2105

 

IN THIS ISSUE

Gatha to use just before using or answering the phone:

Words can travel thousands of miles. 

May my words create mutual understanding and love.    

May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.

(Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment)
 

 

Retreat Dharma Insights  

SEVEN SUPPORTS FOR STRONGER DAILY PRACTICE. 

A message left with us to close her first Retreat Dharma talk in Australia, by SisterChân Lương Nghiêm:

*  Slow down

* Talk less

* Do one thing at a time, and reduce multitasking

* Focus on your breath as much as you can while doing daily activities.

* Make good use of routine things as reminders to slow right down, stop, and come back to your breath and to the present., (Bells. Clock chimes. Ringing Phones. Red traffic lights. Gathas.)

* Sing Plum Village Practice Songs.

* Simplify your life. Give up lesser pleasures for the greater ones.
 

Tỉnh Thức 

*Nghe tiếng chuông ngân lắng cõi lòng
*Buôn đời trần tục lắm bi ai
*Nỗi sầu nhân thế bao giờ hết
*Để chốn dương giang thấy niết bàn
*Chấp ngã sân si tỉnh mộng trần.” 
*Vô thường khi đến có ai hay
*Tiếng chuông là bến bờ tỉnh thức
*Đưa bước chân tôi thoát nỗi lòng

Mai Trần – Sydney
(Chân Lương)
 

Paul Davis, CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG
(True Hall of Merits) USA.

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 practise mindful breathing and walking in order to recognise 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 practise 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.

http://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/the-5-mindfulness-trainings/
Photo courtesy of Joyce Davies.
Five Mindfulness Trainings and Taking Refuge ceremony - Cave Hill Creek September 2015.
 


From the Nhap Luu Sisters


 
The Meditation Hall has a  verandah now...and wheelchair access.  We had  hoped to show you a new toilet block at the hall, but though the permits are in place- builder is otherwise engaged!
Our new Monastic Sisters.
Most of them just arrived.
L-R back Srs. Chan Phat Nghiem, Tuu Nghiem, Trang Thuon Tru, Trang Son Hong,
Front: Sr. Chan Tinh Quang & Sr. Trang Co Duyen

Dear Sangha, we'd like to share with you a quite eventful last quarter. Six new Sisters have been sponsored from Vietnam and they all arrived with us during this time. They are settling into their new home now, and you can meet them in the photo that is here. Now we are eight at Nhap Luu. While this has been going on there has also been a lot of work related to improving the Nhap Luu property, which Sr Thuan Tien has mainly taken responsibility for supported and advised by architect Tim Sullivan: permits to be applied for, chased, and acquired as just one example. Builders and tradesmen to be found and dealt with too. You can read all about the building plans at www.nhapluu.org, but so far, as a result of our work, you can see our “new look” Meditation Hall here, with it's concrete verandah on four sides and wheel-chair access ramp.  We also already have a permit for and accessible toilet block  near the Hall. The builder we have chosen will be free soon to start work. 

In June, some of the Sisters travelled to Newcastle and carried out a Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings Transmission for two Sangha members there, and in August, about fifty lay Sangha members joined us for a special Day of Mindfulness to celebrate the annual Rose Ceremony.

Following all of this there has also been an intense preparation time for the second Spring Opening Retreat, which some retreatants have written about, as well as for a short retreat for the Order of Interbeing members Retreat which followed straight on after the main one.The Monastics including the team from Hong Kong who came to lead the retreat also attended evenings in the city for both the Vietnamese-speaking Sangha and for the English-speaking Sangha before the Retreat itself.

It's been a really happy experience again to welcome so many people to practice together.  We feel extremely fortunate to have found and to be able to use Cave Hill Creek as our annual national retreat venue while we are still developing our own facilities. We hope to see more of you there 2016.The dates have been set and are September 16th to 21st. This time, we had 159 Australians practising together, and there is room for more. Please enjoy what he sangha shares with you here about their experiences.

Photograph courtesy of Caz Hamilton, 
Ararat, Victoria
"Our own" sister Natalie (Chan Uu Bat)  passed through Melbourne recently on her way to serve a while in Blue Cliff Monastery, New York State. She sat with the Birarung Sangha Melbourne. (By the time we had re-located the camera... three of those sitting that night had slipped away home, and then one was behind the camera...).  
Recently ordained in Newcastle into the Order of Interbeing ( June 2015): Miriam Brooks and Hannah Perkins. (True Stream of Harmony and True Stream of Reverence.)
 

Dharma Talk Excerpt - Deep Listening

Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don't interrupt. You don't argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.

http://cultureofempathy.com/references/Experts/Thich-Nhat-Hanh.htm

Cave Hill Creek Lake view in the mist - early morning.
Photo courtesy Canh Lac Phan.
 

Dharma Talk Excerpt - Noble Silence

Silence is also part of Right Speech and Deep Listening. Silence helps us to avoid speaking unwisely. It helps us to be mindful, and also helps us to be able to take care of ourselves.

At retreats we are encouraged to practise another kind of silence, Noble Silence. We usually begin at the end of the day and continue until after breakfast, although we can make use of this silence at any time we choose, on or off retreat. The word ‘noble’ is sometimes translated as ‘holy’. So, we are being asked to do more than just be quiet. Noble silence is conscious and intentional. It’s a silence that has the power to heal because we look deeply and begin to stop our internal chatter. We calm and quiet our thinking. We become still inside. Thus we create a spaciousness that gives us an awareness of what is happening around as well as inside us, but without being caught up in everything. Noble silence comes from our hearts. It promotes compassion, understanding and self awareness or insight.

Birrarung Sangha at Spring Opening Retreat.  Some of Melbourne's Birrarung Sangha enjoy the afternoon trip to Nhap Luu. Photo Canh Lac Phan
Many generations: Spring Opening Retreat September 2015. Photo Can Lac Phan

Dharma Talk Excerpt - Right Speech

When we say something, that speech will have an effect on our body, on our mind, and on the world. Good speech will give us joy and health — physical and moral health — and it will change the world in the direction of goodness. We should produce right speech, which inspires understanding, joy, hope, brotherhood, and sisterhood. Your speech is the seed, it is the cause. And what it produces in you and in the world is the karmaphala, the karma-fruit. Action as cause and action as fruit. Sometimes action-fruit manifests immediately after the action-cause. Sometimes it takes months or years before it leads to a result, but sooner or later the cause must become the effect.

(Thich Nhat Hanh. Reproduced with kind permission of the editors of The Mindfulness Bell. Edition 41 Winter/Spring 2006).

Dharma Sharing - Spring Opening style. September 2015. Photo Can Lac Phan
 

Reflections on the 2015 Spring Opening Retreat


Anticipation, moments of misgiving, flashes of excitement, and feelings of certainty. All these things and more preceded the day  when we finally set off for Cave Hill Creek, for the Spring Opening Retreat of the Australia-wide Thich Nhat Hanh Sanghas and friends.

The setting and surroundings at Cave Hill Creek are perfect, with trees, birds, hills, a beautiful lake, and friendly people to take care of us. The first sound of the bell produced tears and an overwhelming sense of gratitude, comfort, and familiarity. I so much love being with others on the same path as we sit  and listen deeply to each other. There is a tacit kindness and openness which is sometimes not so evident in the big wide world. 

Thay says retreats are about transformation, and I have certainly had moments of powerful feelings and thoughts coming up to be worked with. This is very much part of what we come to a retreat for;  it is equally a very special and  precious thing I realise, that we have children taking part too. Amongst other things, they help us to reconnect with our sense of fun and spontaneity. 

I feel very blessed actually to have found Thay as my teacher  and to have been fortunate enough to come on this Retreat. As it draws to a close there is a strong sense of reinforced commitment in me to both Sangha building, and to holding the space for all those who wish to come along on the journey many of us have begun.

Marcia Stillwell (Diligent Practice of the Heart),
Loving Kindness Sangha - Adelaide Hills

At this retreat...

I realised that Thay's teachings live on and are beautifully, powerfully transmitted by the Sangha and the Teaching community. This makes me very joyful, and I know that Thay's teachings are in me too. 

Andrea Rankin (Peaceful River of The Heart)
Loving Kindness Sangha. Adelaide Hills.

Australian Spring Raglan, Victoria.
 September 2015. photo Canh Lac Phan
Retreat Scenes.
 

Dharma Talk Excerpt

 

We generally think of listening as listening to those around us, but there are other kinds of listening. … listening to ourselves is the first step in being able to listen well to others. What we find, if we listen to us, is not a separate single voice, no separate self that simply appeared out of nowhere. This is one of the insights that come from practising mindfulness. We discover how deeply connected we are with everyone who has come before us so that we may manifest. We are a community of cells and all our ancestors are within us. We can hear their voices; we just need to listen.

(Thich Nhat Hanh, “Silence: the power of quiet in a world full of noise”, Ebury Publishing:2015).

Dharma Sharing - Guidelines from Plum Village

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 practising 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.

We 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 the Dharma discussion time.

http://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/dharma-sharing/

 

LOOKING FOR A PRACTICE GROUP?

If you would like to find your nearest established local sangha

to meditate with and become part of, check out this link:

http://www.nhapluu.org/en/sangha-building/australia-sangha-listing

 

Donate

DANA, or generosity is a characteristic valued and cultivated in Buddhism.

In the time of the Buddha, he and his monks and nuns offered deep teaching of the Dharma to the village, and that community in turn offered to them food, robes, and shelter. This tradition of reciprocity has carried forward down the generations, and it is partially as a result of this that we have our teachers, and our practice, here and available for us today. 

Traditionally Buddhist Monastics and other teachers still do depend on the generosity of their lay community for actual livelihood, and the necessities of life. Giving generously is still how we demonstrate our appreciation of their offering of Dharma teaching, and of the  practice example that they set for us. In this way, we  ensure that these jewels will continue on into the future.

It can be helpful to understand that costs specified for retreats are often calculated just to cover running costs. Thus, in addition, often retreatants choose to offer discretionary dana.

Donations to the Sisters of Nhap Luu may be made by Cheque made out to Unified Buddhist Church Australia, and posted to PO Box 10 Beaufort, Vic, 3373; or by EFT to BSB 633000, A/C No 137099818. Regular (monthly) affordable, automatic transfers are also something you could consider setting in place as your way of supporting the continuation of the Practice.

*When considering donating household cleaning items and personal products, please be mindful to offer brands that are both gentle and kind to the environment( stated to be bio-degradable and garden safe) and cruelty free (stated to be vegan or entirely plant based/ not tested on animals). This reflects the real spirit of the Mindfulness Trainings,or Precepts, which the Buddha and Thay have given us as our guide to ethical and compassionate living, and which the Monastics do strive to exemplify in the way they live.

 

Have something to share?

We welcome contributions to Nhap Luu News.

Broadly speaking -here are our guidelines:

  • in most cases, our preferred length is within 500 words. That way, we can give you more variety in a newsletter. We also welcome shorter contributions, but do understand that if what you send is significantly longer than 500 words, your writing might be cut back.
     
  • try to always give a real" practice" flavour to your contribution, and to stay away from the theoretical. Sharing Sangha facilitation methods is great, as are personal" dharma sharing" experiences. Editors’ preference will always be given to articles that are from personal practice. 
     
  • if you have an inspiration for a longer feature article, or even for a series,that is great. Feel free to email us and discuss.
     
  • relevant photographs add visual interest, and we definitely request that you include them, but they are not mandatory.
     
  • if you happen to have taken the Five or Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings(Precepts) please include your Lineage Name, or Dharma Name.
  • understand that we do reserve the right to edit, but that we also will strive to do so only minimally.   Also sometimes we may hold something back for a later edition.
     
  • check your writing for odd spacing, typos, inconsistent use of capitals, or extra long sentences, before you send it to us. It saves us time.
     
  • Then: send everything together to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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